WW1 Regimental confusion, can anyone help?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Grownup_Rafbrat, Sep 23, 2009.

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  1. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    I've just started to look into the history of my Grandfather's service, and am confused by some Army terms, and some apparently conflicting information. Can anyone help, please?

    The service record says he joined up in May 1916 and was posted to 99Bn Training Reserve. That's easy to understand. But then:

    20th May 1917 Posted to ROYAL WEST KENT Regt and Embarked for BEF.
    According to their Regimental History site, the Royal West Kents spend much of the war in India, Pakistan and the Dardanelles. Can anyone help with that mystery?

    And then
    5th June 1917 posted to 2 Bn Royal Fusiliers

    Their history website doesn't have details before August 1917, so can anyone help with that?

    Then, he was in sick bay and there are some abbreviations I don't understand so can anyone advise what's meant by

    - Deck to Fd Amb: Field?
    Apparently this happened at Dullens Road Etaples which is now a big cemetery but may have had a field hospital.

    Then he 'joined Ex2 Con Dept' still at Etaples. What does this mean?

    Then he was classed P.B. due to injuries. What does that mean?

    Then he seems to have been a naughty boy as he had '3 days CC not complying with an order'. Would CC be 'confined to something'?

    Finally he moved to the Labour Corps (possibly as he wasn't fit to return?)
    joining 715 Coy and moving to 49 Coy in October 1919. I can't find any record of where they were at those times. Again, can anyone help?

    Sorry if it's such a long post, but I'm hoping different people might help with different areas of his career in France. He was born in 1899 so would have been 17 years 3 months old when he joined, and one month short of his 21st birthday when he left.
     
  2. the RWK did fight on the Western Front.

    http://www.1914-1918.net/rwk.htm

    1st Battalion
    August 1914 : in Dublin. Part of 13th Brigade in 5th Division.
    15 August 1914 : landed at Le Havre.
    December 1917 : moved with Division to Italy. Returned to France April 1918.

    2nd Battalion
    August 1914 : in Multan, India. Moved to Mesopotamia, arriving Basra 6 February 1915, attached to 12th Indian Brigade. Two Companies were attached to the 30th Brigade in the 6th (Poona) Division in November 1915 and became beseiged at Kut-al-Amara, where they were captured on 29 April 1916. The remaining Companies were attached to 34th Brigade which was part of 15th Indian Division, transferring to 17th Indian Division in August 1917. Remained in Mesopotamia throughout the war.

    3rd (Reserve) Battalion

    August 1914 : in Maidstone. A depot/training unit, it moved on mobilisation to Chatham. Moved to Leysdown (Isle of Sheppey) in summer 1918 as part of the Thames & Medway Garrison.

    Battalions of the Territorial Force

    1/4th Battalion
    August 1914 : in Tonbridge. Part of Kent Brigade in the Home Counties Division.
    30 October 1914 : moved to India, remaining there throughout the war. The Division was broken up on arrival in Bombay and the battalion transferred to the Jubbulpore Brigade in the 5th (Mhow) Division of the Indian Army. Transferred in February 1918 to 3rd Quetta Brigade in 4th (Quetta) division. Brigade was retitled as 57th Brigade in July 1918.

    1/5th Battalion
    August 1914 : in Bromley. Part of Kent Brigade in the Home Counties Division.
    30 October 1914 : moved to India, remaining there throughout the war. The Division was broken up on arrival in Bombay and the battalion transferred to the Jhansi Brigade in the 5th (Mhow) Division of the Indian Army. Transferred in March 1916 to 4th Rawalpindi Brigade in 2nd (Rawalpindi) Division. Returned to 5th (Mhow) Division in March 1917 and into Jubbulpore Brigade. In December 1917, moved to Mesopotamia and joined 54th Brigade in 18th (Indian) Division.

    2/4th Battalion
    Formed at Tonbridge in September 1914 as a second line unit. Moved to Ascot in November and attached to 2nd Kent Brigade in 2nd Home Counties Division.
    Brigade formed a "Kent Composite Battalion" from HQ and a company from this bn plus companies from 2/th East Kent and 2/5th Royal West Kent. On 24 April 1915 this composite unit transferred to 160th Brigade in 53rd (Welsh) Division at Cambridge. On 14 June this unit was retitled as 2/4th Bn. Moved to Bedford.
    Sailed from Southampton on 20 July 1915. Landed at Suvla Bay 10 August 1915.
    13 December 1915 : evacuated from Gallpoli and moved to Egypt.
    25 August 1918 : left the Division. Disbanded in Egypt on 13 September 1918.

    2/5th Battalion
    Formed at Bromley in September 1914 as a second line unit. Moved to Ascot in November and attached to 2nd Kent Brigade in 2nd Home Counties Division.
    Remained in kent, moving at various stages to Canterbury and Ashford.
    November 1917 : disbanded at Canterbury.

    3/4th Battalion
    Formed on 14 June 1915 from the remaining portion of the original 2/4th Bn that had not been transferred into the "Kent Composite Battalion" (see above).
    1 June 1917 : landed at Le Havre and temporarily attached to both 9th (Scottish) Division and 34th Division.
    22 June 1917 : transferred to 51st Brigade in 17th (Northern) Division.
    12 July to 2 August 1917 : acted as Pioneer Battalion to same Division.
    3 August 1917 : transferred to 52nd Brigade in same Division.
    20 February 1918 : disbanded in France.

    3/5th Battalion
    Formed at Bromley in July 1915 and moved to Cambridge.
    8 April 1915 : at Crowborough and became 5th Reserve Bn.
    1 September 1916 : absorbed by 4th Reserve Bn.

    4/4th Battalion
    Formed in July 1915 and moved to Cambridge.
    8 April 1915 : at Crowborough and became 4th Reserve Bn.
    1 September 1916 : absorbed the 5th Reserve Bn. Moved to Tunbridge Wells by October 1916.

    Battalions of the New Armies

    6th (Service) Battalion
    Formed at Maidstone on 14 August 1914 as part of K1 and attached to 37th Brigade in 12th (Eastern) Division. Moved initially to Colchester and on to Purfleet in September 1914 before going to billets in Hythe in December. Moved to Aldershot in February 1915.
    1 June 1915 : landed at Boulogne.

    7th (Service) Battalion
    Formed at Maidstone on 5 September 1914 as part of K2 and attached to 55th Brigade in 18th (Eastern) Division. Moved to Colchester in April 1915 and on to Salisbury Plain in May.
    27 July 1915 : landed at Le Havre.

    8th (Service) Battalion
    Formed at Maidstone on 12 September 1914 as part of K3 and attached to 72nd Brigade in 24th Division. Moved to Shoreham and then to billets in Worthing in December 1914. Returned to Shoreham in April 1915 and then on to Blackdown in July 1915.
    30 August 1915 : landed at Boulogne.

    9th (Reserve) Battalion
    Formed at Chatham on 24 October 1914 as a Service battalion for K4 and attached to 93rd Brigade, original 31st Division.
    10 April 1915 : converted into a reserve battalion. Moved in June 1915 to Canterbury and on to Colchester next month.
    1 September 1916 : absorbed into Training Reserve Battalions of 5th Reserve Brigade at Shoreham.

    10th (Service) Battalion (Kent County)
    Formed at Maidstone on 3 May 1915 by Lord Harris, Vice Lieutenant of Kent, at the request of the Army Council. Attached in July 1915 to 118th Brigade in 39th Division but transferred in October to 123rd Brigade in 41st Division. Moved to Aldershot in January 1916.
    4 May 1916 : landed in France.
    November 1917 : moved with the Division to Italy but returned to France in March 1918.

    11th (Service) Battalion (Lewisham)
    Formed at Lewisham on 5 May 1915 by the Mayor and a local committee. Trained at Catford. Attached in July 1915 to 118th Brigade in 39th Division but transferred in October to 122nd Brigade in 41st Division. Moved to Aldershot in January 1916.
    3 May 1916 : landed in France.
    November 1917 : moved with the Division to Italy but returned to France in March 1918.
    16 March 1918 : disbanded in France.

    12th (Reserve) Battalion
    Formed in February 1916 from the depot companies of the 10th and 11th Bns. Moved initially to Northampton and then to Aldershot in May 1916..
    1 September 1916 : converted into 99th Training Reserve Battalion of 23rd Reserve Brigade at Aldershot.

    Other Battalions

    13th Battalion
    Formed at Cromer on 1 June 1918 but absorbed by 11th Bn, the Royal Sussex Regiment, in July.

    1st (Home Service) Garrison Battalion
    Formed at Rochester in March 1916. In August 1917, became the 15th Bn, the Royal Defence Corps.
     
  3. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    Thanks. I found that, but couldn't work out how a bloke that joined up in Colchester could have gone into 1, 2 or 3 Bn, and he definitely wasn't TA. Maybe I'll have to assume he was posted to 1Bn who were 'over there' already.

    Wish I'd asked when I had the chance .....
     
  4. By 1917 battalions could no longer be considered Reg or TA as the originals had mostly been killed or wounded. The numbers were made up new recruits who were sent wherever the replacements were needed regardless of local affiliations or nationalities. It wasn't uncommon for a batch of Cockney recruits to be badged as Hampshire Reg but end up in the Black Watch when they got to the front. Even returning wounded were never sure of which regiment they would end up in. For example my paternal grandfather joined the 7th Londons in 1915, was wounded at Cambrai in 1917 and ended up in the Essex Reg before being medically discharged.
     
  5. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    Ah thanks. That might also explain the transfer to the Royal Fusiliers - plugging gaps!
     
  6. Close Confinement - i.e. guardroom or cells rather than extra work & duties.
     
  7. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    Ooops! Wonder what that was about. I doubt there are surviving records, sadly. Thanks for the info though.
     
  8. The first entry says 20 May Poster RWK and posted to the BEF. Followed by 7 June posted 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers

    After the introduction of conscription soldiers were often drafted into whatever regiment needed men, regardless fo their geographical origin or prior cap badge. When he was posted to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France he would have been a member of the Royal West Kents, but was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, who may have needed reinforcements after their part in the battles around Arras April-May 1917. 2nd Royal Fusiliers were part of 86 Brigade of 29th Division. The Arras battles of 1917 were some of the most intensively fought in the Great War. Although the British army suffered fewer casualties in the Arras offensive than in 3rd Ypres, (Passchendalele), the Somme the daily casualty rate of 3.8k British casualties a day were s were some of the highest in the war. This compares with about 2.6k casualties a day on the Somme and through 3rd Ypres.

    Etaples was the main base for the BEF. There were several hospitals in the area as well as Convalascent Depots, (Con dpt) where soldiers discharged from, hospital would recover their strength and undergo training. The sand dunes East of Etaples were the location of the infamous Bull ring where the Soldiers were trained before being sent to their units. OPTAG 1917 style had lots of PT and bayonet practice! It looks as if he was graded as PB duties, which I think means "Permanent Base" - almost as good as a blighty. This would have meant guards and fatigues in the Permanent Base area - Etaples. CC probably means confind to camp.

    There is relatively little left of the Etaples base area apart from the cemeteries. The delightful town of Montreuil was the HQ of the BEF for most of the war. There are some relics there and , currently an excellent exhibition.
     
  9. Cemetries often followed on from hospitals, if you know what I mean. After the war they couldn't see a good reason to move all the graves.

    There's a map of the camp here:
    http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/gwa/document/9127/4558?DMSCALE=75.00000&DMWIDTH=600&DMHEIGHT=600&DMMODE=viewer&DMFULL=0&DMOLDSCALE=9.37500&DMX=0&DMY=0&DMTEXT=&DMTHUMB=1&REC=1&DMROTATE=&x=8&y=55

    I would guess that Ex 2 Con dept would be Extension (?) 2 Convalescent Depot, but I'm no expert.

    Do you have the dates for when he was at Etaples? There was a lot of not complying with orders going on there in September 1917 :D CC is probably Confined to Camp.
     
  10. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    That is absolutely brilliant, Poppy. Thank you so much for filling in a lot of gaps.
     
  11. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    Thanks, angular.

    I do see what you mean regarding cemeteries and hospitals; just been reading the stats about casualty outcomes.

    It seems he was at Etaples in June/July 1917, and the 3 days Confinement was on 30th July 1917. He was classed PB on 16th of that month. Posted to 197 Labour Corps on 4th October that year (reason - Benefit of the Service). So could have been involved in whatever was going on that September!
     
  12. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    I've registered, and will ask the question once I'm approved. Thanks for the tip.

    I can see this getting in the way of my 'paid job', it's so fascinating. And I haven't started on my other Grandad yet!!!
     
  13. Have you thought of checking with The National Archives at Kew?
    The Regimental Records for the Royal Fusiliers are at WO 379/29
    The War Diaries of the 2nd Batt are at WO 95/2301 for Feb 1916 - March 1919
     
  14. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    I have got some info from there, and will look again. I only found out the full service record this week, and got rather excited!

    Thanks for the tip.