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Northern Soul

Special Reserve

13 posts in this topic

I'm sure there must be a straightforward answer to this question, but, if so, it escapes me!

Why, on the outbreak of war, did men who wished to join up, join the Special Reserve rather than just enlisting as a Kitchener man? Assuming they were sound in wind and limb they all seemed to end up out in France so what were the advantages of doing so?

Cheers.

Andy.

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Thanks, but I already knew what the SR was. It's just that I can't figure out why a man who wanted to join and fight (as most did who joined in the sudden wave of patriotic fervor in August/September 1914) would join the SR rather than the Regular Army. The SR terms of enlistment were that in the event of a general mobilisation (which there was) then they would be expected to be called upon to go and fight........................so what was so appealing about the SR that made it preferable to the Regulars?

Cheers.

Andy.

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Hi Andy i think what i picked up from the LLT page was that they had 6 months full time training paid as per a regular,pre war this may have been an attraction to those who did not want to comit to full time peace time service but needed a paid job.They could go Teritorial but no 6 months pay.just a thought .john

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Hello Andy

Might it not have been simply who was running the recruiting office where the men turned up? In August-September 1914 there was recruiting for the New Armies and the Territorial Force but there was also an established mechanism for recruiting for the SR. I think it was a case of "all recruiters to the pumps" and as long as the men were obtained, any anomalies and discrepancies could be sorted out later.

I'm not an expert on terms and conditions but it may have been the case that, for some men, jopining the SR might have suited both the men and the Army better than the straightforward "three years or the duration" of the Service battalions. The latter had certain age limits, too, which might not have been applicable to some men, especially those with special skills who might be needed in technical arms.

Ron

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I've seen reference to men who were not quite fit enough but who had had previous military experience (albeit only with a volunteer unit) put in the special reserve on the grounds that they would be sent for active service as soon as they became sufficiently fit.

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Thanks for all the replies. I think there may be a bit of truth in all of them, although Centurion's take on it is quite interesting. I've spotted a couple of SR men who joined post-4/8/14 and, although young, seemed to get posted to the BEF very quickly (within a month or so); this may suggest some prior military service, and in one case I have some corroborating evidence. I think I'll start hunting down some Service Records. Maybe it was a result of "prioritisation."

Cheers.

Andy.

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Pre-war the Special Reserve (being the pre-1909 Militia) would have attracted candidates who had no "steady" job but who didn't want to commit to Regular service. I have seen quite a few service papers for men who after a while did switch to the Regulars, but the majority were content to do their 6 months then turn up for the annual trainings.

Though a little simplistic as a survey, their occupations as I've noted in passing were those which would allow them to take so much time off (bear in mind that few employers would be happy to see their workers disappear for 3-4 weeks each summer) - painter, knife grinder, agricultural or other labourer, and so on. I also know of at least one gipsy, and some would probably have been more accurately described as "tramps".

The SR was obviously still enlisting at the start of the War, but (recollecting here a post by Grumpy on this subject) the numbers of recruits soon dwindled and by the start of 1915 there were hardly any takers, since as you say the terms offered by the New Army - in addition to expectations of a short War - made them competitive in this particular market.

I can only quote one personal account in this respect, of an agricultural labourer from Anglesey who in his memoirs recalled being so impressed by a recruiting serjeant in full scarlet uniform about Sept/Oct 1914 that the next thing, he was in a pub signing some papers whose import (being in English) was lost on him. He had seemingly signed up to the SR for a full 6-year term of service and didn't get out till at least 1920.

Clive

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Northern Soul - link to the actual AO's concerning the formation of the Special Reserve;-

http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/2009/02/creation-of-special-reserve-in-1908.html

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Also for officers, the SR provided a simpler back door to a commission without the onerous entrance exams for Sandhurst (and the cost) as SR service could count towards commissioning.

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My late Dad as a 16 year old,joined a "Home" Battalion,in 1917.

But that is the point. Did "He" join for patriotic reasons,accepting he was a teenager and may have been influenced by living through WW1 and its Home reality.

Or else felt the need to train,in the anticipation,of receiving his "call up papers" in 1919?

George

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Also for officers, the SR provided a simpler back door to a commission without the onerous entrance exams for Sandhurst (and the cost) as SR service could count towards commissioning.

A route taken by Henry H Wilson, the future CIGS and Field Marshal, among others!

Ron

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Hi

in the DLI Special Reservists were posted to Kitchener Battalions as instructors and later ptes were sent to bring embarking battalions up to strength.

This list is from my next book "With Bayonets Fixed" 12 & 13/DLI in the Great war 1914 - 1918 The date after the name is the date they landed in France. There is also a large contingent of 4 (Extra Reserve)Bn DLI with 13/DLI but none qual;ified for the 14/15 Star. The NCO's had mostly been with Battalion since its formation. One way of finding these men is when checking a soldiers record on ancestry look at the names of the reporting NCO's on the Company and Regimental Conduct sheets, its surprising what turns up. Sgts in Feb 15 embark as Ptes in Aug 15.

3/10157 SGT ELGY WILLIAM 25/08/15

3/10402 PTE BARNWELL WILLIAM 12/10/15

3/10749 PTE MAUGHAN JOSEPH NO STAR

3/10847 SGT HANDS JAMES W 25/08/15

3/11063 PTE DAVISON GEORGE 03/10/15

3/11227 CPL BERRY ROBERT H 25/08/15

3/11273 SGT SMITH PETER B 25/08/15

3/11299 PTE BURNS FRANCIS 25/08/15

3/11324 WO II BAZELEY WILLIAM T 12/10/15

3/11444 PTE DAVIES WILLIAM H 25/08/15

3/11593 PTE GARDNER MATTHEW THOMAS 25/08/15

3/11661 PTE McCONNELL MATTHEW 25/08/15

3/11814 SGT DOWNIE PATRICK 11/09/15

regards

John

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