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WW1 veterans Who Served in WW2


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#1 Essexboy68

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 03:40 PM

Folks

I have been puzzling over this question for some time now, my interest having been aroused by a number of things, such as an interview with a (now sadly deceased) WW1 veteran who claimed to have been turned down for service in WW2 on age grounds (he would have been about 41 in 1939) & also the ages of reservists, both ex-regular & voluntary who have been mobilised in recent years.

Basically, what percentage of those men who had served in WW1 during their teens & early 20s went on to serve in WW2, whether as regulars, recalled reservists, TA or even as volunteers for Hostilities Only engagements? I know that today it is possible to serve as a reguar until age 55 (in the RAF) & many FTRS personnel serve until 60 & the TAVR, RNR & RauxAF take men well into their 40's on enlistment.

I am intrigued as it seems only 2 of the known surviving WW1 British veterans served in WW2, namely Bill Stone (regular RN) & Kenneth Cummins (WW1 RN Midshipman, WW2 MN officer). I am aware that Philip Mayne & Henry Allingham were in Reserved occupations (Mr Allingham was involved in mine countermeasure work, I understand) & that Albert "Smiler" Marshall (sadly no longer with us) lost an eye in early 1939, rendering him unfit on medical grounds.

Also, would it be prudent to say that the number of those WW1 veterans who survived into old age was artifically low due to some being killed in WW2?

As an aside, I know that the CO of a TA RA unit was sent home from North Africa in WW2 as he was deemed too old for active service, allegedly after an inspecting officer had recognised his Boer War campaign medals!!! I also seem to remember reading that there was a 60+ RSM serving in North Africa, but not sure if he was a regular or reservist.

Look forward to your replies Pals.

Mark

#2 ypres1418

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 03:43 PM

I can recall one who after being demobbed joined up as a regular and served during the second but know nothing of his service. He loved the Army and signed up underage and his Mum went and got him back so he waited for conscription!
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#3 Essexboy68

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 03:48 PM

Mandy

Many thanks for your prompt reply.

Oh I forgot to mention that Arthur Halestrap (now sadly deceased, like so many others) served during WW2, I seem to recall he worked with SOE signals, & was awarded the MBE for his efforts, Also, I know many WW1 veterans served in the LDV, ARP, ROC etc, but I am particularly intersted in those who saw active service.

Cheers

Mark

#4 NeilH

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 04:11 PM

Many, if not all?, senior commanders in WW2 served as junior officers in WW1 (Montgomery for instance) and whilst I'm sure it was different for enlisted men (I guess you can linger longer as an officer in an HQ tent somewhere) there must have been many senior NCO's who'd served in WW1. But I'm sure some more knowledgeable pals will be able to comment smile.gif

Regards,

Neil

#5 ianw

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 04:32 PM

I remember meeting an old chap in Le Tommy at Pozieres quite a few years ago. He sported a WW1 pair and WW2 medals. In a brief conversation , he modestly reported an infantry career that saw him at 3rd Ypres and the 1918 battles then Dunkirk, N.Africa , D-Day and through to Germany. I was gob-smacked.

#6 Peter Leonard

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 06:49 PM

QUOTE (ianw @ May 14 2006, 05:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I remember meeting an old chap in Le Tommy at Pozieres quite a few years ago. He sported a WW1 pair and WW2 medals. In a brief conversation , he modestly reported an infantry career that saw him at 3rd Ypres and the 1918 battles then Dunkirk, N.Africa , D-Day and through to Germany. I was gob-smacked.



Presumably, if you researched the quantity or % of Officers service papers from WW1 that are still retained due to the continuation of service after 1921, you would start on the road to understanding how many junior officers from WW1 either carried on or rejoined in 39/40. I have the medals of a 2Lt commissioned in 1917 aged 21, who left the army in 1919, but rejoined in 1940 and retired in 48 as a Major. His service papers are still with the MOD. The Army List is the other place to make a comparison. Interesting stuff. My grandfather, a Private in the RMLI invalided in 1920 aged 20, was a Pilot Officer with the ATC in Scotland in 44, then worked for the War Ministry until 46.

Josturm cool.gif

#7 snavek

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 09:38 PM

I know of a couple. My step grandfather was a gunner for most of the time from 1916 until 1919. In 1939 he was BSM of 230 Battery, 58th Medium Regiment when they sailed for France. At Dunkirk he's shown as RSM detailed to go with the Adjutant, Capt. Twomey to disable the Regiments' vehicles. LG records he was commissioned to 2nd Lt. 15/2/1941. He ended the war as a Captain at Sennybridge.

The other was a Norwich man. In 1910 he signed on for 12 years in the Navy, he went all through WW1 ending up as a Stoker Petty Officer with the Russian Relief Force at Archangel. He came out of the Navy c1926 (must have signed on for an extra stint). From 1939-1945 he served on HMS Cyclops. Sadly about 2 weeks after his discharge in 1945 he died.

Keith

#8 Essexboy68

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 09:23 PM

Folks

Many thanks for your replies, all very interesting, & I think it goes to show that many WW1 veterans did serve in WW2. I had always believed that a lot of WW1 veterans went on to serve in WW2, & that a lot would have been in the BEF or (if regulars, reservists, or TA) in the Far East, thus meaning a large number would probably have ended up as casualties. However, if anyone has any concrete evidence, I would be grateful.

Cheers

Mark

#9 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 09:33 PM

Can't remember the name, but I believe an Aussie VC winner from the Great War died in Malaya in 1942; also Daniel Beak, VC, etc, was with the BEF as battalion CO in the East Lancs.

#10 Desmond7

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 09:47 PM

I reckon this oul lad could handle himself. laugh.gif
Growl!

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#11 Adrian Roberts

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 11:31 PM

I imagine many of those in the regular army served in both wars if their age was appropriate even if they were not senior officers. One VC holder from WW1 was killed by a sniper in France in January 1940; unfortunately I can't remember his name.

Very few British airman flew in action in both wars officially - a few others managed unofficial flights. Stanley Vincent (later Air Vice Marshal) was the only British pilot to shoot down enemy aircraft in both wars, though there was another chap who flew as an observer/gunner in WW1 and as a Defiant gunner in WW2 and scored victories. W E 'Bull' Staton (also later AVM) and one or two others flew as fighter pilots in WW1 and as Bomber pilots in the early months of WW2; he was later a Japanese POW but survived. Air Commodore BJ Silly was a DH4 pilot in WW1 and sadly did not survive being a Japanese POW in WW2.

The Luftwaffe was a little more relaxed about ages than the RAF. Two German pilots were aces in both wars - Theodore Osterkamp and Harry Bulow-Bothkamp. At least two other WW1 aces got themselves killed in WW2.

Adrian

#12 healdav

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 06:42 AM

There must have been a reasonable number.
Punch published a cartoon in 1939 showing two British Tommies walking through a wrecked town somewhere in northern France, with shells hurtling above their heads. One is saying to the other, 'hasn't changed much since 1918, has it?'

#13 Stephen Nulty

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 07:53 AM

When the Second World War broke out, my late grandfather Thomas Nulty (details in signature), decided that his four years of fighting in the First War hadn't been enough, and so despite being almost 45 years old and married with 8 children, he went out in December 1939 and signed up for some more.

Fortunately, by March 1941, the authorities had decided that he wasn't fit enough to go through it all again and so he was discharged, with the reason being "Ceasing to fulfil army physical requirements".

He went back to working on the docks at Liverpool for the duration.

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#14 Stephen Nulty

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 07:55 AM

The reverse side of his discharge certificate

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#15 Deleted_Ali Holmes_*

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 08:46 PM

QUOTE (Stephen Nulty @ May 17 2006, 08:55 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The reverse side of his discharge certificate

Hi

My grandfather joined the regular army in 1909 and went to France as part of the BEF. He spent 4 years fighting in France and remained in the army until 1921. He then joined the Royal Irish Constabulary (later to become the RUC.) At the outbreak of WW2 he re-enlisted and was also told in 1941 that he was unfit for service and was discharged in July 1941. The reason we understand was the ill-efffects of being gassed during WW1. As he was fit to carry on serving after the war, to then join the police and then to re-enlist again, could there be some other reason why older soldiers were having the leave the services.

Alison

#16 Audax

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 09:18 PM

Rev W R F Addison who won his VC at Saani-i-Yat, Mesopotamia (Iraq) in 1916 was still serving with the Army at Home up to 1943.

More Famously, Lord Gort VC was C-in-C British Field Force in France 1939-40. he won his VC in September 1918 on the Canal du Nord, nr Felsquieres while commanding 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards.

Rev G H Wooley who won his VC as a 2/Lt in the 9th Londons at Hill 60 in April 1915. He served in WW2 as an Army Chaplain in North Africa.

#17 KONDOA

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 09:23 PM

The number may be less than one would imagine. Many WW1 troops joined the TA after the war, partly as a social activity but also for the comradeship that they had previously known.

By the mid 1930s a very large proportion of WW1 men were already too old for enlistment. A man born 1897 would have been 40 plus at the outbreak of war in 1939. Unless they were in the regular forces there is not a great chance of them being enlisted in droves. LDV and other units and specialities certainly but not massed ranks maching to war.

Roop

#18 Ciaran Byrne

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 04:23 AM

My Great Uncle who served with the 5th Lancers from 1908 to 1919, joined the Merchant Navy during World War Two and also had two sons killed during WWII in the Navy.
I suppose the medical for the Merchant Navy wasn't as stringent as the Armed Forces!
My mate's grandad served with the Queens Infantry during WWI and joined the catering corps during WWII.

#19 NeilH

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 06:07 AM

QUOTE (Ali Holmes @ May 17 2006, 10:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
...As he was fit to carry on serving after the war, to then join the police and then to re-enlist again, could there be some other reason why older soldiers were having the leave the services...


Probably something to do with the 20 years that had passed! biggrin.gif

#20 Graeme Heavey

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 07:54 AM

My gt grandad was discharged wounded from 4 RF in March 1917, rejoined the RASC in 1918 and according to his papers, rocked up again in 1940 to be told he was now too old. Plus I think he may have had a problem being outranked by my grandad!!

#21 Bombadier

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 06:56 PM

My Grandfather was in the navy. He served in HMS Blanche at Jutland as a boy sailor and left the navy in the late 50s as a Lieutenant Commander.

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#22 Essexboy68

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 08:57 PM

Folks

Many thanks for your replies.

Roop - I think the age factor is a bit of a red herring, as I seem to recall that conscription covered men into their 40's, but I need to check this when I have time. Bear in mind that a man who served in 1916 at 19 would have been 42 in 1939, & (admittedly today) at least 2 of the armed forces engage men of SNCO rank to age 47, 30yrs service, or age 55 & at least 1 reserve force enlists men until age 49 on entry. Personally, I believe that many WW1 veterans would have served, not necessarily in the infantry though.

Thanks

Mark

P.S I know that the "Monocled Mutineer" has been debunked ad nauseum here, but at least 1 man mentioned in the book served in WW2, despite having lost a leg in 1916!

#23 J T Gray

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:09 PM

Archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler (later Sir) served in both world wars. I do not have the book to hand to check but the Butte de Warlencourt crops up in connection with his WW1 servive, and North Africa in WW2.

Of course, being officer class probably helped a great deal...

Adrian

#24 HarryBettsMCDCM

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:11 PM

Interestingly,I have just received a set of Service Papers for a Canadian RCEME Staff Sergt,a George VI CD Holder,The Attestation Document has the printed question "Service in the Great War of 1914-1918?" with space for details,so it must have been considered prudent to have such a section on the form

#25 Essexboy68

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 10:38 PM

Harry

Thanks for that - mind you I recall reading somewhere that the Canadian Army managed to enlist a man in his 70's for Korea! (However, like the limbless veterans who also tried to volunteer, he was weeded out pretty quickly!)

cheers

Mark