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34th Spl. Bn. / Northbrook Bn


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#1 ddycher

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 05:28 AM

Have been tracking a number of men who were returning to the UK via India on the HT Elephanta in May 1919. Their way home seems to have been somewhat eventful but I am finding cross references to a number of units I have never heard of before.

They disembarked from the Elephanta at Bombay on the 30th April 1919. Were transferred to No.34 Special Battalion on the Elephanta on the 3rd May and were then transferred to the “Northbrook Battalion” at Bangalore from the Elephanta on the 8th May 1919. They then went from Bangalore to Deolali on the 4th June and then onto Bombay. From there they embarked again on the Elephanta for the UK on the 12th June.

Cant find any references so far to either No.34 Special Battalion or the Northbrook Battalion.

Anybody any the wiser ?What was this all about ?

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Dave

#2 ddycher

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 12:31 AM

Both Elephanta and Northbrook were RIMS ships. But still no wiser why they should have had a battalion assigned to them or why men were transferred to them as a unit on the way home from Mesopotamia.

Any thoughts anyone ?

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Dave

#3 David Porter

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:16 PM

Dave,

Only just found your posting.

I too have found references to No. 34 Special Battn. aka "Elephanta Battn."
Following men of 2/1st Notts Battery RHA some were in Sheikh Habib on 07-04-19 then disembarked at Bombay for Bangalore ex HT "Elephanta" 30-04-19 and taken on strength of No. 34 Special Battn. and were at RFA Depot Ambala on 30-05-19.
Some went on to be attached to the Kohat Kurram Force Ammunition Column in Aug. 1919.

#4 ddycher

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 01:20 AM

Thanks David.

Will follow up on that and see if it gives me any leads on the men I was tracking. Will post again if I find anything.

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Dave

#5 David Porter

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 02:35 AM

One small bit of infomation is in the service record of George Rivington (spelt wrongly in this memo):

Attached File  GRivington.jpg   79.27KB   0 downloads

George was detained for "Insubordinate Conduct" and "failing to stand to attention during the playing of the National Anthem".
The sentence of 168 hours detention was awarded by Major A.C. Heaslop who commanded the "Elephanta" Battalion.
I see he is mentioned here - http://1914-1918.inv...howtopic=115127

#6 ddycher

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 11:57 AM

David

Julian Putowski's article here...

http://www.marxists....putkowski2.html

...puts some perspective on the Mesopotamian drafts being detained in India at this time.

I also see from the web that Adair Heaslop's private papers (atleast until 1917) are kept at the Imperial War Museum. Wonder if there is anything wrt No.34 Special Battalion in that?

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Dave

#7 David Porter

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 01:42 AM

Excellent detailed article you found there.
However, I have yet to find evidence of a bonus being granted for being "volunteered".
Another little snippet in a service record I found today:

Attached File  No-34-Spl-Bn.jpg   32.17KB   0 downloads

It reads: Battalion ceased to exist & became a Special Coy. attached to No. 1 C.B.I. Depot, Bangalore

#8 ddycher

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 06:13 AM

Churchills comments to the House on the 3rd June certainly paint a distorted picture :

"I am informed that during the month of April reports from India indicated a certain discontent owing to retarded demobilisation, and in consequence it was arranged to continue demobilisation through the hot weather. It was, however, temporarily suspended later, owing to trouble on the North-West Frontier. I am informed that the Commander-in-Chief in India reports that soldiers awaiting embarkation for the United Kingdom at Karachi and Deolali depots were invited by him to volunteer to remain in India, in view of the situation in that country, and that all at Deolali, including details from Mesopotamia, have unconditionally volunteered. He had, however, not received reports from Karachi. He adds that as soon as the situation admits, men will be released and dispatched homewards as shipping becomes available. From this report it is evident that the situation must have been explained or the men would not have volunteered to remain".

Havent seen anything as yet to show that the "volunteers" were paid a bounty.

Regards
Dave

#9 David Porter

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 12:32 AM

I'm also shocked to discover that a service record of one man (Arthur James 692/612290) shows him "Home" from 24-04-19. This was actually the date he embarked on the HT "Elephanta" for Bombay, and he served in India until 22-09-19. Some didn't sail home until November 1919. A lot of these men were entitled to claim the Indian General Service Medal with Afghanistan NWF 1919 clasp but very few from 2/1st Notts RHA did. I've downloaded the rolls for the medal to the RFA and can only find a handful in the list.

#10 ddycher

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 11:38 PM

David

Am seeing similar in tracking the return of the draft of the RE (IWT) I am interested in. Starting to think men were split up at Basra and did not necessarily travel together as I originally thought.

Now have men :

1. Struck off the strength of the MEF on embarking on the Chakdara. (Although they were subsequently with the Elephanta Bn in India)
2. Apparently returning home on the HT Franz Ferdinand and not going to India.
3. Apparently returning home on the HT Egra

So now have atleast three additional ships in the frame for that week. I.e. :

HT Chakdara
HT Franz Ferdinand
HT Egra

as well as the HT Elephanta

Do you have definitive sailing dates for the Elephanta from the service records of your RFA men ? Am wondering if the men I am looking at boarded the Elephanta in Basra at all or were only posted to it in India.

Regards
Dave

#11 David Porter

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 02:16 AM

Dave,

There is definitely a splitting up of men in the records I've seen. Here is a summary:

2/1st Notts RHA as 816 Battery were split between going home, joining 1070 Bty, 1072 Bty or 429 Bty.
12-02-19 some sailed (to UK?) on SS City of Sparta and struck off strength.
23-02-19 some sailed (to UK?) on SS Chakdara and struck off strength.
07-03-19 those left joined these other batteries in 222nd Bde RFA (sometimes written as if still with 215th Bde RFA)
24-03-19 some embarked for UK via India on HT Ekma, others remain at Sheikh Habib (no mention of Basra anywhere).
24-04-19 HT Elephanta embarked for Bombay, arriving 30-04-19, these men taken on strength of No. 34 Special Battn. at Bangalore.
30-05-19 one group moved to RA Depot, Ambala, arriving 04-06-19 and struck off strength of No. 34 Special Battn.
09-06-19 one group moved to No.1 Special Bty, Jubbulpore, arriving 12-06-19 and struck off strength of No. 34 Special Battn.
05-08-19 it looks like one or both groups have moved to Military Base Depot, Rawalpindi and posted to 77th Bty (7th Bde)
(Looks like this is sometimes written as 1.77 Bty in the IGSM rolls)
I've seen a few at other RA Depots at Kirkee, Peshawar and Deolali after this time.
22-09-19 some sailed from India (to UK?) on HT Merkara
24-09-19 some sailed from India (to UK?) on SS City of York

As I only started looking at these records over the last week I'm still finding more to add to this complicated story.
Also possible spelling errors in the ships names as I haven't checked them all out.

#12 ddycher

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 05:21 AM

David

Thanks for sailing date of the HT Elephanta.

Re. your 23rd Feb date. The Chakdara was to sail again (for the UK) on the 18th April. Men struck off the MEF as sailing with her served in No.34 Spec. Bn. in the May. Current thinking is she was shuttling back and forth between Basra and Bombay but could just of easily been going to the UK and men disembarked and embarked on the Elephanta before sailing.

Still checking.

Regards
Dave

#13 ddycher

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 12:00 PM

David

Quick update.

My earlier post already wrong. Men who sailed on the Franz Ferdinand on the 4th ended up in the 12th Spec Bn.

Bit like peeling an onion. The deeper you dig the more interesting it gets.

Dave

#14 David Porter

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 01:58 AM

One soldiers perspective is that they were "forcibly detained" in India:

Attached File  Detained-in-India.jpg   59.91KB   0 downloads

See also - http://hansard.millb...12/men-in-india

#15 David Porter

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 10:12 AM

I have now found a small group who were posted to A/336 Bde RFA in Mesopotamia before being sent home on the HT Egra.
They embarked on 05-05-19 which was well after the others had arrived on the Elephanta (and detained in Bombay then Bangalore).
The service record of 612295 Frank Shaw still says "Embarked per HT Egra for UK" but he is in Lahore by 22-05-19 and doesn't actually sail home until 12-10-19, at least his service in India is noted.

#16 David Porter

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:39 AM

Dave,

I've now found further evidence confirming your initial thoughts about the naming of some of the Battalions after the ships the troops landed in India on.
From the Service Record of a man (911192) from one of the Home Counties Brigades RFA returning from Mesopotamia:

Disembarked ex Chakdina, Bombay 25-04-19
Posted to and joined Chakdina (33 Sp. Bn.) on formation, Bangalore 27-04-19
Joined 34 Sp. Bn. and taken on strength, Bangalore 09-05-19

Obviously short term holding establishments in order to work out how best to deploy them in India.
Also seen are references to men leaving Mespot on 24-04-19 on HT Coconada arriving at Bombay on 06-05-19 and being taken on the strength of 17th Special Battalion the following day.

EDIT Those arriving at Bombay on HT Hardinge on 21-04-19 joined what was termed No. 11 S.S. Bn. on formation 23-04-19

#17 ddycher

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 02:01 PM

Thanks David

Been a while since I last looked at this, got side tracked elsewhere, but battalions formed "on ship" does seem a re-occurring theme.

Regards
Dave

#18 Maureene

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 01:32 AM

Also see thread http://1914-1918.inv...howtopic=197634
Cheers
Maureen



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