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Runner in WW1


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#1 Bryan

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 09:34 PM

Could any of the experts out there, tell me what the function and duties of a runner was in WW1. Would he have been armed whilst carrying out these duties.

Thankyou

#2 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 09:53 PM

The duties were quite straightforward - to carry messages to and from commanders; from a platoon officer stuck in a trench to his battalion CO; from the Battalion to Company commanders, and so on. Dangerous (frequently), suicidal (sometimes), VC winning (occasionally).

Not sure about weapons - I guess not having a rifle would make it easier to move, but not having a rifle might also make you more likely to appear suspicious to the MPs.

I believe runners were often identified by brassards, tapes round the arm, etc.

Not a job I'd fancy, frankly.

PS - welcome to the Forum!

#3 Canadawwi

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 10:09 PM

Pte. Benjamin Phillips McCormack, 228134, 19th Battalion CEF, was a runner during the war. After the war he was persuaded to recount some of his war experiences as a runner so that his church could put out an Honour Roll book.

You can view his story here: The Runner and more about Pte. McCormack - here.

#4 Bryan

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 03:51 AM

QUOTE (Canadawwi @ Jun 27 2006, 10:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Pte. Benjamin Phillips McCormack, 228134, 19th Battalion CEF, was a runner during the war. After the war he was persuaded to recount some of his war experiences as a runner so that his church could put out an Honour Roll book.

You can view his story here: The Runner and more about Pte. McCormack - here.


#5 Bryan

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 03:54 AM

Thankyou Steven and Canadaww1 for your concise and interesting replies which have added to my knowledge.

#6 jhill

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 04:47 AM

Operaional Orders I have looked at recently, especially for the Somme operations of September 1916 and the Passchendaele operations of October and November of 1917, indicate clearly that all ranks, including runners, were to wear full fighting kit. However, while normal riflemen were to carry 220 rounds of small arms ammunition, runners would only cary 50. Also, it appears runners were not burdened with entrenching tools, which most of the other infantrymen had to carry. Some variations occurred in some operations and with some units, but it seems runners were aways armed. They were, after all, infantrymen.

I am always willing to hear of exceptions to this rule.

#7 Bazezah

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 01:43 PM

Hi, Just had a though. Hitler was a Runner in WW1.
Bazezah

#8 Tony Fewkes

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 08:20 PM

A late reply to the Runners thread that I have just seen.

What weapons did they carry? Well here’s a couple of Runners from the 49th Edmonton Bn CEF who were, apparently, allowed a bit of slack. My father, the one on the left, was rather proud of his ‘acquired’ Colt 1911
.45 Auto. His mate clearly prefers the size of what I assume to be a Webley service revolver. No doubt the Arms experts will put me right on that point.

I’m pretty sure the picture was taken in 1918 - maybe standing orders regarding personal weapons was more relaxed by then. The Runners Brassards can be seen on their left arms. The location of the photograph is interesting - a bit of realism with the battle scarred backgound.

http://i121.photobuc...eFrance1918.jpg

#9 Chris Henschke

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 10:06 PM

From my understanding of Runners duties, it was not as "quite straightforward" as Post No. 2 suggests.

'SS 148 Forward Inter-Communication in Battle' (March 1917) suggested that officers' batmen should act as runners.

As far as first ANZAC Corps was concerned, in early November, 1917, all batmen of officers attending courses at the Corps School were given "training in pigeon duties, map reading, semaphore" and general message work. The training was conducted by the Corps Signal School.

Another Australian syllabus of late 1917 detailed that the main points in training runners would include;

a) Deportment and manners in presence of officers,
B) Powers of observation and recognition of landmarks,
c) How to convey a verbal message and get a receipt,
d) How to work in pairs,
e) Speed, fitness, care of feet, sense of urgency of different messages, comradeship in taking turns for dangerous runs,
f) A knowledge of trench systems, lie of the ground, plan of attack, duckwalks, headquarters,
g) Recognition of staff badges, signs for different headquarters, dumps, etc.
h) Compass points, direction of enemy,
i) Relay stations and discipline therein,
j) Pigeon handling,
k) Simple map reading, especially in trench maps, and
l) Semaphore.

At the time the last two points were covered in detail, and the men on the course were tested by giving them a trench map with routes to various headquarters marked in, and then working them over it by night.

If available, written messages were enclosed in a message envelope (Army Form C. 398) which was signed by the recipient, and the envelope was returned to the sender, confirming the message had been delivered and the time of it's receipt.

Younger, very fit men were often selected. Runners were identified (normally) by a red brassard.

An image of an original used by Pte 'Snowy' Vinall, of 32nd Battalion, A.I.F., has previously been posted on this forum, by Grantsmil.

Chris Henschke