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Uniform of which Regiment?


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#1 Doug_R

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 11:41 AM

The attached photo shows my grandfather standing on the right (born Sep 1883). He volunteered for service 15th Dec 1915 and was assigned to the Royal Regiment of Artillery - Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA). Promoted to Gunner Aug 1916. In early 1918 he was transferred to the Royal Engineers (RE). On his attestation papers he stated he served in the 4th Notts & Derbys Volunteers.

Can any member identify any features on this photo that define which uniform he is wearing - 4th Notts & Derbys Volunteers, RGA or RE?

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#2 FROGSMILE

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 11:46 AM

The attached photo shows my grandfather standing on the right (born Sep 1883). He volunteered for service 15th Dec 1915 and was assigned to the Royal Regiment of Artillery - Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA). Promoted to Gunner Aug 1916. In early 1918 he was transferred to the Royal Engineers (RE). On his attestation papers he stated he served in the 4th Notts & Derbys Volunteers.

Can any member identify any features on this photo that define which uniform he is wearing - 4th Notts & Derbys Volunteers, RGA or RE?


It is a lovely large photo, but his plain 1902 pattern Service Dress uniform does not bear any obvious distinguishing marks. It is possible to see that he has large lettered brass shoulder titles but both RA and RE used that size. One possible clue is that he is not wearing a whitish lanyard which the RA wore as a strict item of dress at the shoulder. That is significant, but not definitive evidence, as other soldiers also wore lanyards. That said, on balance, it seems more likely that he is in the RE in this photo, as a Gunner would almost certainly be wearing his regimental lanyard in accordance with RA regulations. The man in the centre is in a Rifle regiment as told by his black buttons.

#3 squirrel

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 12:05 PM

On his attestation papers he stated he served in 4th Notts & Derbys Volunteers.


Having stated that he had served with the 4th Notts & Derbys Volunteers on his attestation papers it would appear that this was previous to his volunteering in 1915. Had he still been serving with this unit he would not have joined another unit, RGA or RE, until he had obtained a discharge from the N & D.

As Frogsmile says, there is nothing on his uniform to indicate whether he was in the RGA or RA when the photograph was taken but it looks like a very new issue jacket so maybe taken shortly after he volunteered?

#4 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 12:10 PM

He is not 4th Notts and Derby Volunteer.

Did your Grandfather serve overseas? The lack of Overseas chevrons on the two left hand soldiers may be telling--Only instituted in Jan 1918.

Nothing definative due to lack of insignia etc.

The center man sitting is IMHO not in a Rifle unit but instead wearing a standard SD jacket with leather royal arms buttons which were fairly common mid to late war.

I would also but less emphasis on a white clasp knife lanyard not being present as in this period they were universally issued. Particularly to units with horse duties which included RE.

If your Grandfather served Overseas I would say he is RGA.

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#5 Doug_R

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 12:42 PM

Thanks for replies thus far.

Joe,

Did he serve overseas? Although his service records survive they are, like most, damaged and largely illegible. I can see enough to confirm he was in injured (possible 3 or 4 times) when in France and can read the word "Rouen" against one entry. So he was overseas but have no more detail beyond that.

You say the man in the centre "is IMHO not in a rifle unit.." - I'm a novice here - whats IMHO?

You seem quite certain he is not 4th Notts & Derby Volunteer. Can you say why you are so certain?

#6 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 01:01 PM

Doug,


The fact his Attestation papers say 4th BN is like what squirrel says, it pre dates his entry into Great War service.

Given service overseas I would guess this photo was taken prior to Aug 1916 and posting overseas. He would then be RGA.

Given so many injuries I would assume he would have been eligible for a wound stripe at least one of those times. No wound stripe apparant. He could have been accident prone and put in Hospital for reasons that would not have been wound stripe eligible either.


My guess he was posted to REs due based on injuries taking him out of A1 health classifiaction in 1918.

All this is guess work.

INHO=In My Humble Opinion (meaning I'm not 100% sure)

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#7 centurion

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 01:09 PM

You say the man in the centre "is IMHO not in a rifle unit.." - I'm a novice here - whats IMHO?


In My Humble Opinion - a phrase I hate as the 'humble' is often quite hypocritic. What's wrong with plain English ie "I don't think he's in a rifle unit"

#8 KevinBattle

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 01:10 PM

Hello and welcome Doug
IMHO = In My Honest Opinion, a bit of txt abbreviation.....
Any chance of more details, Names, reason why not enlisting until Dec 1915 (what was he doing since Aug '14?)
Are the men with him any relatives (they don't look to have much family resemblance, to me at least).

Sometimes the clues aren't in the uniform, but judging ages of the men. He was born 1887, so he looks older than 17, thus into the 1900's, in fact he could be 27, so 1910's...
Then his description of previous service 4th Battalion N&D Volunters
Wiki (OK, not reliable, but easy info) gives:-

The regiment was formed as part of the reorganisation of the infantry by the Childers reforms. The 45th (Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot (raised in 1741) and the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot (raised in 1755) were redesignated as the 1st and 2nd battalions of The Sherwood Foresters (Derbyshire Regiment), while the Derbyshire and the Royal Sherwood Foresters Militias became the 3rd and 4th Battalions respectively. These were joined by the 1st and 2nd (Derbyshire) and 3rd and 4th (Nottinghamshire) Volunteer Battalions. In 1902 the Nottinghamshire association was made explicit, the name changing to The Sherwood Foresters (Nottingham and Derbyshire) Regiment. The Headquarters of the Regimental District was established at Derby.

So, seems after 1902, so age 19 upwards.... Also the uniform is a type that came into use from 1902.... not many other clues at all, no real insignia or accoutrements, but very well turned out, so likely to be shortly after issue!

That's why some more background could help... when was he in the 4th N&D? Why did he not stay in the Infantry but move to RGA or RE?
What was his civilian occupation that an Army recruiter saw as being useful for Artillery or Engineers rather than PBI (Poor Bl00dy Infantry)?
so, name address, occupation would all contribute to us making an educated guess, rather than pure guesses.....
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#9 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 01:22 PM

In My Humble Opinion - a phrase I hate as the 'humble' is often quite hypocritic. What's wrong with plain English ie "I don't think he's in a rifle unit"


I use what I prefer not what you prefer.

#10 Piorun

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 02:09 PM

I would also but less emphasis on a white clasp knife lanyard not being present as in this period they were universally issued. Particularly to units with horse duties which included RE.
Joe Sweeney

:blink: What am I missing, Joe? I think that was C's point. He should have been wearing one. He isn't. Ergo, he may not be Arty. I'm also not sure who they were "universally issued" to. Certainly not every soldier. I'd be grateful if you could educate me further. Yours, Antony

#11 4thGordons

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 02:09 PM

Just one minor and possibly irrelevant observation (I agree with Joe's assessment of the buttons on the soldier in the centre BTW) - all of the men have their puttees wound in the normal fashion (ie tapes at the top) as opposed to top to bottom which was common for soldiers in mounted roles.
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#12 Doug_R

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 02:27 PM

Thanks for the explanation of IMHO!

I dont know when my grandfather joined the 4th Notts & Derby Volunteers or indeed when he left. It seems logical to me that had he still been serving with them in Dec 1915 then he would have been assigned to the Sherwood Foresters (see Squirrels comment). So it seems likely he left before Dec 1915. He married in May 1911 - that may have triggered his departure.

My grandfather was born in Retford and lived there all his life. He volunteered for service on the same day as his elder brother. My grandfather was a joiner and his elder brother was a bricklayer; they each worked for the family building business established by my gt grandfather and by 1914 had each achieved key supervisory positions. Whilst my grandfather was assigned to RGA his elder brother went to the Medical Corps.

The other 2 gentlemen in the photo are not related.

My grandfather was born Sep 1883 so if this photo shows him in pre-war Volunteers uniform in c1910/11 he would have been 26/28yrs, in RGA c1916 32/33yrs and RE in 1918 34/35yrs.

Comments to date give reasons why its not RGA and why its not RE so at present I'm favouring Volunteers - am I safe with that?

#13 truthergw

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:24 PM

There is little to go on but I think the decision is leaning away from Volunteers. That is just my reading of the thread so far. TTFN ( Am I allowed to say that?)

#14 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:31 PM

If he were wearing the uniform of a Volunteer Battalion it would be pre-1908, so probably not Service Dress? Also, the shoulder title (such as can be seen) looks a bit small to be more than a couple of letters.

And, like Uriah Heep, I am so very 'umble.

#15 Andrew Upton

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 05:24 PM

:blink: What am I missing, Joe? I think that was C's point. He should have been wearing one. He isn't. Ergo, he may not be Arty. I'm also not sure who they were "universally issued" to. Certainly not every soldier. I'd be grateful if you could educate me further. Yours, Antony


Basically, pre-war the white lanyard was the reserve of the Artillery. However, on mobilization ALL soldiers were supposed to get one (in theory to attach the clasp knife to), but in practice this didn't always happen during the war, and sometimes substitutions occurred (such as khaki instead of white). So in reality the presence or absence of an ordinary lanyard on its own is not a sound basis to establish what unit a soldier might have been in without other evidence to support it.

#16 truthergw

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 05:52 PM

I think, however, that artillerymen normally wore one. An RA man without one would be unusual would he not?

#17 FROGSMILE

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 05:54 PM

Basically, pre-war the white lanyard was the reserve of the Artillery. However, on mobilization ALL soldiers were supposed to get one (in theory to attach the clasp knife to), but in practice this didn't always happen during the war, and sometimes substitutions occurred (such as khaki instead of white). So in reality the presence or absence of an ordinary lanyard on its own is not a sound basis to establish what unit a soldier might have been in without other evidence to support it.


lol....I could have sworn that was what I said !

#18 Andrew Upton

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 06:43 PM

I think, however, that artillerymen normally wore one. An RA man without one would be unusual would he not?


If he'd served pre-war yes, but a war-time volunteer would have been privvy to the same shortages affecting everyone else and might not have got one.

#19 squirrel

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 07:01 PM

These chaps have not been photographed in any "formal" or "walking out dress"; no caps,no belts,no swagger sticks or riding crops and no spurs. Possibly the reason that none of them is wearing a lanyard either. It is an informal photograph and they wouldn't have got very far walking down the street like that before they were pulled up for being "improperly dressed".

IIRC the Cavalry wore the lanyard pre war as well as the RA. 1914 GRO 377 of 671 shows that a lanyard and clasp knife were supposed to have been issued to all soldiers irrespective of unit; where or when they were actually issued and were worn or not may have been due to unit standing orders regarding orders of dress or a host of other reasons.

#20 FROGSMILE

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 07:56 PM

If he'd served pre-war yes, but a war-time volunteer would have been privvy to the same shortages affecting everyone else and might not have got one.


Yes, that is why I said that the absence of a lanyard - "is significant, but not definitive evidence".

#21 FROGSMILE

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 07:59 PM

The center man sitting is IMHO not in a Rifle unit but instead wearing a standard SD jacket with leather royal arms buttons which were fairly common mid to late war.

Joe Sweeney


Yes Joe, looking again I think you may well be right, the buttons do have the hint of a 'football' look about them.

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#22 Wainfleet

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 09:07 PM

The men are wearing B5 boots, which didn’t really appear before the end of 1916. As Joe mentions, the seated man’s tunic has leather GS buttons, which I’ve only ever seen on late war tunics and the 1918 gaberdine cap – purely an empirical observation. Also I think the title is a bit short of the shoulder strap edge for RGA, so I'm more inclined to plump for RE. Either unit could be wearing breeches and mounted puttees without spurs so that doesn’t help, but IMHO such evidence as there is points to later in the war and these chaps being RE.

#23 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 11:50 PM

:blink: What am I missing, Joe? I think that was C's point. He should have been wearing one. He isn't. Ergo, he may not be Arty. I'm also not sure who they were "universally issued" to. Certainly not every soldier. I'd be grateful if you could educate me further. Yours, Antony

Antony,

Prior to, and up to 1914 the following were issued Claps knife with Lanyard, this included the Household Cavalry, Cavalry of the Line, MMP, RHA, RFA, RGA, RE, ASC, AVC, RFC, and AOC (Clothing Regulations). Issue was usually to those performing mounted duties, or in units with horses. In the case of the Army Service Corps Horse Transport personnel got the knife/lanyard but Motor Transport personnel did not. After mobilization began it is apparent that issue of the clasp knife/lanyard more or less became universal (clothing issue scales BEF, MEF and Salonika). By October 1914 Infantry were being issued these knives/Lanyards.

My only point with the lanyard not being a great indicator is the fact it was so universally issued to mounted duties---then every one else its presence or none presence might not be too telling. It may just indicate they don't have their clasp knives with them.


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#24 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 11:52 PM

For such a clear photo it's frustrating that more of the shoulder isn't showing to clear this up.

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#25 FROGSMILE

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 12:27 AM

Antony,

Prior to, and up to 1914 the following were issued Claps knife with Lanyard, this included the Household Cavalry, Cavalry of the Line, MMP, RHA, RFA, RGA, RE, ASC, AVC, RFC, and AOC (Clothing Regulations). Issue was usually to those performing mounted duties, or in units with horses. In the case of the Army Service Corps Horse Transport personnel got the knife/lanyard but Motor Transport personnel did not. After mobilization began it is apparent that issue of the clasp knife/lanyard more or less became universal (clothing issue scales BEF, MEF and Salonika). By October 1914 Infantry were being issued these knives/Lanyards.

My only point with the lanyard not being a great indicator is the fact it was so universally issued to mounted duties---then every one else its presence or none presence might not be too telling. It may just indicate they don't have their clasp knives with them.


Joe Sweeney


Except for the RA Joe, where by all accounts it was a mandatory part of the dress. I don't know why they got such a bee in their bonnet about it, but the matter seems to be well documented. There was even an order changing the shoulder on which it was to be worn that was something to do with the 1903 patt bandolier I think.. Perhaps you have a copy of the order. It's not that you don't ever see a gunner without his lanyard, it's that it's very rare to see one without.