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Royal Defence Corps


sjustice
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Nothing mysterious about 1/4th Dorsets. They were a pre-war TF unit that was sent to India on the outbreak of war and served in various garrisons until Feb 1916. They then went to Mesopotamia and saw out the rest of the war there. They were engaged in at least four major engagements in that theatre.

Greg

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This is not 1/4th Dorsets, but 4th Dorsets, unless of course they just missed off the '1'. His attestation papers say clearly, Fred Wareham 4th Bn Dorsets. When he joined up in 1914, he was in the Reserves.

You may be right Greg, and 1/4 has been abbreviated to just '4'. Not totally convinced though.

Anthony

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Anthony

It was the norm to abbreviate such battalions thus. It may not have been totally correct but it was easier to say and write.

Possibly some confusion might have crept in when second and third line territorial battalions started to form and were numbered 2/4th or 3/4th Whatsitshires but the 1/4th or 1/5th were generally known as 4th or 5th battalions.

Greg

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This may help put the Royal Defence Corps into perspective. It is actually quite difficult to find a lot of material on this Corps. I wrote the following in an effort to summarise in one page (!) the defence of Britain during the war. Some of the numbers may be a bit rubbery, because every different source that I consulted gave me different figures!

I hope that this helps a little.

"The First World War – the Defence of Britain

¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

In the years leading up to the War the role of the British Regular Army was considered to be principally that of policing the British Empire. The responsibility of protecting Britain itself from invasion was that of the Royal Navy, just two Divisions of the Regular Army, the volunteer soldiers of the Territorial Force, and various reservists. Coastal defences were concentrated around the main naval ports, although some fortification of the more vulnerable expanses of coastline had been carried out. Discounting the two Regular Army Divisions, which were soon to go to France, Britain’s “Home Army” at the outbreak of war consisted of Royal Garrison Artillery and Royal Engineers manning coastal batteries and forts, approximately 60,000 men of the Special Reserve in the 3rd battalions of the Regular Army, 260,000 men in the Territorial Force, and 215,000 men in the National Reserve, which was no more than a register kept by the Territorials of men with military experience but with no obligation to serve. Throughout the war, the Home Army was to suffer a bewildering number of reorganizations and redesignations of its various units, and it was to suffer shortages of weapons, equipment, training facilities and accommodation. Fortunately, its ability to respond to an actual invasion was never tested.

In October 1914 the National Reserve was formed into Protection Companies, which were attached to existing Territorial battalions and which undertook the guarding of “vulnerable points” such as railways, bridges and reservoirs. After the best men had been stripped out of the Reserve, in March 1915 the Protection Companies became Supernumerary Companies, and in March/April 1916 were consolidated into the Royal Defence Corps (RDC), a corps of the Regular Army although administered by the City of London Territorial Force Association. The ranks of the RDC temporarily swelled to about 70,000 in August 1917, with the incorporation of 18 Home Service (Garrison) Battalions, but were soon reduced again to about 27,000 by April 1918. Men wounded in the war and unable to rejoin their units were also transferred into the corps. The main roles of the RDC were the guarding of prisoners-or-war, vulnerable points, and special military areas such as docks, and duties in Ireland.

The Volunteer Force (VF) was a collection of corps spontaneously formed by men over military age who shared some common bond such as a trade, profession, employer, or even hobby. The VF had an ambiguous relationship with the War Office throughout the war. In 1916 these part-time volunteers were recognised as part of the home army when they were allowed to wear a green uniform (which they bought themselves) and were encouraged to dig defences and guard factories, although they enjoyed no conventional military rank and no prospect of being armed or equipped at public expense. The VF peaked at 315,000 men in 1917.

The various coastal batteries, forts and anti-aircraft emplacements around Britain were manned by men of the Regular Army’s Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) and Royal Engineers (RE), together with Territorial Force RGA and RE men. In addition to the gunners of the RGA, coastal garrisons included RE Electric Light Sections (for searchlights), RE Signal Sections, and RE Works Companies for labour and maintenance. In August and September 1918 the coastal garrisons were reorganised in a system of Fire Commands. As with the rest of the home army, the garrisons were regularly stripped of fit men, and by the end of the war most were manned by men of low medical grade."

Noel

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4th Battalion would be correct in 1914. TF battalions weren't officially 1/4th. 1/5th etc until 1915, and even then it was quite common for them to still be called 4th or 5th in practice as Greg said. I think their brigades and divisions were changed from names to numbers around the same time.

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  • 3 weeks later...

What was the role of the Royal Defence Corps? (Remembering Today, 16/12/07) What were they defending?

I've seen them mentioned on several gravestones but never been able to find out more.

Adrian

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Adrian

The Royal Defence Corps was a corps of the British Army formed in August 1917 and disbanded in 1936.It was initially formed by converting the (Home Service) Garrison battalions of line infantry regiments. Garrison battalions were composed of soldiers either too old or medically unfit for active front-line service; the Home Service status indicated they were unable to be transferred overseas. Eighteen battalions were converted in this way.The role of the regiment was to provide troops for security and guard duties inside the United Kingdom; guarding important locations such as ports or bridges. It also provided independent companies for guarding prisoner-of-war camps. The regiment was never intended to be employed on overseas service.In many respects, they fulfilled the same role as the Second World War's Local Defence Volunteers or the later Home Service Force.

1st Bn. 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Bn Royal Scots.

2nd Bn. 1st (Home Service) Garrison Bn Buffs.

3rd Bn. 3rd (Home Service) Garrison Bn King’s.

4th Bn. 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Bn Lincolnshire Regt.

5th Bn. 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Bn Devonshire Regt.

6th Bn. 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Bn Suffolk Regt.

7th Bn. 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Bn West Yorkshire Regt.

8th Bn. 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Bn East Yorkshire Regt.

9th Bn. 1st (Homer Service) Garrison Bn Leicestershire Regt.

10th Bn. 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Bn Yorkshire Regt.

11th Bn. 3rd (Home Service) Garrison Bn Cheshire Regt.

12th Bn. 5th (Home Service) Garrison Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

13th Bn. 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Bn Northamptonshire Regt.

14th Bn. 1st (Home Service) Garrison Bn Royal Berkshire Regt.

15th Bn. 1st (Home Service) Garrison Bn Queen’s Own.

16th Bn. 1st (Home Service) Garrison Bn Middlesex Regt.

17th Bn. 2nd (Home Service Garrison Bn North Staffordshire Regt.

18th Bn. 1st (Home Service) Garrison Bn Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.

All the best

Wull

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  • 8 months later...
I have the complete ACI for the raising of the RDC and it's role & structure, what would you like to know?

Graham.

I hope you can help, after a long time since your posting. I am looking for detail of RDC Protection Coy 328. As these RDC Co's had no location clue in their names apart from Wetsern, Northern Command etc,I am looking for links to Shropshire or Herefordshire tracing a Major CHW Dodgson and his brother, Lieut. R H L Dodgson. Thankyou, David

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I have a photograph of Lieut. R H L Dodgson grave. If you'd like it pm me your email address.

He's aso listed upon the war memorial, situated in St. Lawrence's curch Ludlow

Neil

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  • 1 month later...

I would be most grateful if anyone can tell me to which Command "337 Protection Coy" belonged, where they would be based and what they "protected".

This will help greatly in our research into my wife's grandfather, who served in India with the Northumberland Fusiliers, in South Africa and France with the Border Regiment and then joined the RDC after being invalided out.

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  • 1 month later...

Basically, anything of strategic importance which might be sabotaged. Bridges, main railway lines, important road junctions, factories of war material, gas, water and electricity stations and lines.

The RDC were not the direct forerunners of the WW2 Home Guard but if you recall what "Dad's Army" got up to, and leave out the novelty rock emporium, :lol: you will get a fair idea.

Ron

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More importantly the Corps wasn't disbanded in 1936 at all and the Encyclopedia version of events totally misleading. There were two phases to the Corps, and the Corps that was re-raised in 1934 was different to that of 1917 and then went onto form the National Defence Companies in 1936. All of the information I and others have on the Corps coming from Army Council Instructions and other War Office documents.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
Hi Simon,

I have it in triplicate:- its states 454 Coy on his MSM card, LG for MSM and CWGC Certificate. I wish I knew more about their involvement in Ireland, but have very little information. I also believe a 465 Coy also existed in Ireland in 1919.

Kind regards,

Simon

Hello Simon and Piley

Just a quick message to see if you guys got any further with your researching into the RDC. As it happens I learned today that my Grandfather, John Milliken was injured at the Somme whilst serving with the 15th RIR and was later redeployed to the 465 Pro Co RDC. He was originally from Belfast so it is nice to hear that he was serving in Ireland but do you know where 465 were stationed?

Any guide where I could look for more information.

Gary

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  • 4 weeks later...
Hi Simon,

In my collection I have a MSM for the RDC. Awarded to 17975 to CSM Joseph Wood he was with 454th Coy. stationed in Cork. His MSM is actually awarded for Ireland. He was aged 52 when he died in Cork and was buried in Manchester. The RDC were used in Ireland at the Docks, Prison duties and I have found evidence of 'body guards' to Crown subjects sent to Ireland, eg Judges and in one case an Executioner.

Pity no real 'history' or documents exist.

Regards,

Simon

Hi Simon

I am currently doing some research into my family history; in particular CSM Joseph Wood. Joseph is my husbands Great grandfather. My Father-in-law knew that Joseph died in Ireland in 1919, but we know very little else. I have found his burial location in Manchester, Philips Park Cemetery from the CWGC website. I did a quick search using his service number 17975 on Google and found this post. I can't believe it, do you actually have his medal in your collection?

I would be greatfull for any more details you might have regarding Joseph or the RDC. Would it be possible to see a photo of the medal? Or any evidence, documents you might have.

Thanks and Kind Regards

Jane

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I am currently looking for information on a WILLIAM BATCHEN DUNN, Royal Defence Corps No. 81019 (Previously 18th Manchesters No. 11102). He was born in Aberdeen but was living and working in Manchester in 1914 when he enlisted with the Manchesters. Any information would be of great interest.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello,

Late on parade for this thread,but was there a 253 Protection Company at Sandhills Park,Bishops Lydeard nr Taunton does anyone know? It's hard to imagine what might have needed protecting there at that time,but my grandads service record suggests he might have been there.

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Anyone have anything on 123rd Company RDC? My GGF served with them and died 1917 on home service.

Chris C

Edited by ChrisC
new information
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  • 6 months later...

For anyone with an interest in the 310 Coy, RDC, I have pension records for a man in that company. It states he was based at the following:

Hereford until 30/9/1915

Knockaloe 30/9/1915 - 14/12/1916 (internment camp for German civilians on IOM)

Frongoch 14/12/1916 - 17/1/1917 (internment camp for German POW's and later Irish political prisoners)

Douglas 17/1/1917 - 9/2/1917 (POW's)

Knockaloe 9/2/1917

Hope this helps.

Julie

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  • 4 weeks later...
Sounds like he may well have been wounded/sick and not fit enough to serve further overseas and was discharged into, or joined shortly after, the RDC. What was the discharge reason and date? Also, were his medals awarded as RDC? Does his MiC show him as being entitled to the Silver War Badge?

Kind Regards,

SMJ

He served 12th Kings Liverpools france 3/12/17 to 14/4/18 dates from the medal roll his medals are impressed 204605 to the Kings Mic adds RDC 94200, so dont know reason for return to uk, Presume he would have returned and joined RDC in the uk, dont now much about RDC at all or what where he would have been doing with them ?

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I was wondering if anyone could tell me if men were transferred from the RDC to front line, reserve, or any other units?

Just been trying to put together a mans record of service. We have a pic of him in ranks of older Lincs men minus a cap badge. He married in March, 1918 and was listed as a RDC soldier. Later on, April 1918 to August 1918, he ended up with the 37th NF.

He was guarding a railway bridge at Stamford and guard an explosives factory in Yorkshire. He was from Grimsby, Lincs.

Dick

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