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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Volunteers Unfit for Overseas Posting / Front Line


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I wonder if anyone can help with this one?

My man volunteered around 1913 / 1914 for the territorials in London and had the number 1349 in the 6th London Rifles. However, he was never posted overseas (Egypt) until 1917 where he served a garrison battalion and then the labour corps. The only time he was posted to a front line unit was in the second half of 1918 presumably when Allenby had given up so many men to the Western Front that they reclassified unfit men for the infantry? Tragically he was KIA on the first day of Megiddo 19th September 1918 not long before the armistice.

All I know about my man is that he was quite short and wore glasses. Were height and eyesight key factors in selection for overseas and frontline duty?

Hope you can help and many thanks in anticipation.



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I have certainly seen a man invalided out aged 44, due to defective eyesight caused by the "onset of natural middle age deterioration" according to his papers ( I know the feeling). He had been downgraded to a non combatant unit initially and then discharged. I would imagine a standard eyesight test was a prerequisite for entry to HM Forces as it is now, I don't know how deterioration of the eyes would be detected in front line situations though unless it obviously presented itself.

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Not an expert but I think there was a height requirement. This was later (I think) relaxed a bit to increase the size of the replacement pool and also to allow keen (but short) Welsmen to join Bantam battalions!

It was said that generations of men in Wales (probably elsewhere, too) who worked in low mining galleries over time produced children suited to those conditions - i.e. short and strong.


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