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Devon Labour Corp


Twiglet
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All I know is that my Great Grandfather, Henry William Wood (born c 1880 - 1965) served as a stretcher bearer/medic in this regiment.

Were they based in Devon? What was a Labour Corp? Would he have joined up in London?

Any information greatly appreciated.

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twiglet, the Labour Corp was set up in 1917 (I think) to service the front line soldiers in things such as supply, maintenance etc and provide manpower where needed. It was made up of those unfit for service for reasons such as age, medical condition, wounded.

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The Labour Corps is basically a logistical corps responsible for the fetching and carrying of any material required to keep the Army in the field. They also undertook general labouring for any task they me allocated. The ranks of the Labour Corps contained may men transferred from other units who were not deemed fit enough to do 'Frontline Soldiering' , but strikes me as strange they then had them doing hard manual graft.

The pressure for an ever-increasing supply of labour resulted in 1916 in the reclassification of men who had been medically graded as unfit for active service in the Front Line. These men were drafted into Infantry Labour Battalions. Additionally, following the promulgation of the Military Service Act in March 1916, Conscientious Objectors were inducted into Non-combatant Companies for deployment as general labour in military establishments. (As posted by John Duncan on September 27 last year)

No doubt a few men of the Labour Corps were based in Devon. By 1916 connections between where a man enlisted, his regiment, and his place of training were very diffuse.

Moonraker

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Twiglet

The 12th, 13th and 14th Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment all became Labour Corps units. All were originally established in Devon although the 12th & 14th went to France. The Devons also had 12 Infantry Labour Companies that went to France and became Labour Corps Companies and 10 Works Companies that became Home Service Companies of the Labour Corps.

If you let me have his Labour Corps number I may be able to identify which Company he was in.

Ivor

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Moonraker

Just to clarify your reference to Conscientious Objectors - the Non Combatant Corps, whilst used as labour troops, was not part of the Labour Corps.

We have evidence of men of the Labour Corps fighting men in combat units who called them "conscies"

The Labour Corps often worked for weeks or even months at a time unarmed and within the range of German guns.

Ivor

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I knew I could rely on you guys! So interesting to learn more, many thanks.

Dickie & Moonraker - the bit about these men being 'unfit' for front line soldiery is ringing bells about my G Grandad, but I'll double check this bit with my Mum (she's on her hols at the mo). Like you say, it seems like a hard enough job for men that weren't in tip top condition. Quite ironic really.

Ivor - I'll try and find his number, but it may take some digging, not even sure I will find it. Leave it with me!

Thanks again.

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Dunno if I'm muddying the waters (and I don't know much about researching a soldier, but I've got an empty evening :() but there's a medal index card to a Henry William Wood, number 4723, who served with the Royal Defence Corps, another unit whose ranks included men not fit for the Front Line.

Moonraker

(who's about to log off, leaving the field to people who know more what they're talking about than I do)

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Thanks Moonraker, that's the trouble with the name Wood... there's so many of the blighters, lol. It could be him, but without double checking, I can't say for certain.

If it helps, he was born around 1890 and later married Alice Day.

I need to write to my Aunt, me thinks - she's the only remaining child of theirs.

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Some more information I've managed to find out.....

Not a concienscious objector - originally applied for the Royal Field Artillery but was turned down - we don't know why.

Joined up 8 December 1915

Discharged 5.1.1917

102454 Private Henry William Wood.

Not a stretcher bearer as first thought, but an assistant cook! However, he was known to have rescued someone from the front lines on a stretcher, hence the confusion.

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Twiglet

His number places him in the 3rd Infantry Labour Company, Devons which in April 1917 became 168 Company.

But am confused as you say he was discharged 5 January 1917 and the Labour Corps did not exist then. Could it have been either 1918 or 1919?

If you can confirm the date I will PM you with the information we have on the 3rd ILC Devons/168 Company.

Ivor

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