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Gareth Davies

Hackney Gurkhas

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Gareth Davies
25 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

        Martin- Thanks for the input.  May I ask which of the Essex TA  battalions had drill stations in Hackney?   My trusty Army List for October 1914 doesn't help.  Perhaps the 7th  Essex?  I believe it's recruiting area was originally part of Hackney, as well as Walthamstow, where it was based.  The "regimental" for the Essex Regiment (Burrows) says that the 7th was understrength and in some degree of administrative chaos in August 1914 because a portion of it's recruiting area in Hackney had been re-assigned to the Royal Fusiliers.  Does your source for the drill stations have a particular date?   (As it was, one of my local casualties was the Quartermaster of the 7th- a time-expired "Hon.Major" of the AOC- killed himself in November 1914). Army recruiting does seem very true in 1914-1915 to the local government areas of the time. 

    Yes, East End and East London are elusive concepts- but the distinctions between them-and Essex-are germane to me in figuring out the "army logic" (Is that an oxymoron?) in the assignment of men before the MSA.  As a teacher many years ago at a boy's grammar school, I remember that the school was contacted by City firms every Summer to find out if there were any 16 year old school leavers-or 18 years old school leavers not going to university- who might want jobs in the City -consciously for the barrow boy, trading-pit mentality. It was actually the quietest (and middle-class)  of my former pupils, who went on to do hard science at Cambridge who was subsequently banned for life by the regulators for trying to "ring" a Bank gilts auction. The most aggressively career minded  lad (son of a Black Cabbie) is now a QC- there are moral sinks lower than a City trading pit.

 

      Hackney of 1914 was substantially middle class  - no-one who travels from St.John's Hackney towards Islington through the De Beauvoir Estate or along Middleton Road-with all it's villas could think that it was poor-either then or now. The Haggerston/Hoxton ends were. What I find is that quite a number of men commissioned up from my area of study were from Hackney families- many born there- with parents who had made good and moved further out- the movement of families out from the City and further away from the Thames is a consistent sign of career prosperity from mid-Victorian times onwards.

 

 

How is this relevant? 

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stiletto_33853

So, we now have the 10th London's, I.O.W. Rifles and 4th Yorkshire Regiment all unofficially using the word Gurkha in their names. Any more?? Steve's indication re. the Yorkshires using that title to denote fierceness I think says it all.

 

Andy

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QGE
1 hour ago, voltaire60 said:

 

        Martin- Thanks for the input.  May I ask which of the Essex TA  battalions had drill stations in Hackney?  

 

TF not TA...and they had lost Hackney in 1912. My error.

 

The 4th Volunteer Battalion Essex Regt when transferred to the Territorial Force in 1908 had its HQ in Hackney. It became the 7th Bn Essex Regt TF  until October 1912 when The Essex Regt lost Hackney as a recruiting area to the newly deignated 10th Bn County of London Regiment (Hackney Rifles) (TF) on its formation (the subject Battalion of this thread). The Hackney Rifles were formed to replace the 10th Paddington Rifles which was failing due to poor recruitment.  The process involved transferring the three local companies of the 7th Bn Essex Regt (TF) to form the nucleus of the new Battalion of the London Regiment. Col B T B Cobbet and Major E J Walker both were gazetted to the Hackney Rifles having previously served in the 7th Bn Essex Regt (TF). 

 

The 7th Bn Essex Regt (TF) had its colours presented in 1911 on Hackney Downs. It  had three Companies in Hackney, two in Leyton, two in Walthamstow and one in Silvertown.  After Hackney became a separate recruiting area for the Hackney Rifles in 1912, the 7th Bn Essex Regiment (TF) recruiting area was contiguous. The 7th Bn served in Gallipoli in the same Division 54th East (Anglian) Division.

 

My arguments remain. There is no suggestion that the 7th Bn Essex Regt were diminutive in stature despite recruiting from adjacent areas. 

 

The historical timeline of the Hackney Rifles is interesting. When the Great War started it had only existed less than 2 years and of course had no Battle Honours, unlike large numbers of the TF Infantry Battalions which had "South Africa 190-1902" as a sole battle honour. The 1st to 24th Battalions of the London Regiment all carried the Battle Honour "South Africa 1900-1902" with one exception: the 10th (County of London) Bn London Regt (Hackney) (TF). This might be important context. I wonder if the relatively short existence and lack of any distinguished history was a driver behind the Hackney Rifles' desire to be recognised. My speculation. Martin.

 

Edited

Edited by QGE

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QGE

I just noticed that in the May 1915 Army List the 10th Londons were simply "Hackney" and not "Hackney Rifles"... I assume the addition of 'Rifles' in its title only happened when it became a TF battalion of the Rifle Brigade in 1916.... 

 

One bit of trivia: the Medical Officer to the 2/10th in 1915 was a Lt H C C Hackney RAMC (TF)

Edited by QGE

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stiletto_33853

Correct Martin, as you rightly point out they came into existence in 1912 from the old 10th County of London battalion (Paddington), an old 36th then 18th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps,  no mention of Rifles in any of their official titles. The 10th (Paddington) version however did send a detachment to South Africa who served with City Imperial Volunteers.

Just checked Haines notes on the 10th, he also only refers to them as 10th (Hackney), as The Rifle Brigade do also when they became a Territorial Battalion in 1916.

 

Andy

Edited by stiletto_33853

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voltaire60
On 8/4/2017 at 08:59, Gareth Davies said:

 

How is this relevant? 

 

   

 

Edited by voltaire60

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Gareth Davies
1 minute ago, voltaire60 said:

 

     Because the thread is  "Hackney Gurkhas"  and is the focal point for any concerns relating to a) Hackney ii)  10th Londons.  c) Who they were and why they might have acquired a particular nickname d) Other Hackney-based units and their backgrounds.

 

      Why don't you lock the topic?

 

 

 

Your pupil's ban by the regulators is irrelevant.  

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voltaire60
On 8/4/2017 at 10:45, Gareth Davies said:

 

Your pupil's ban by the regulators is irrelevant.  

 

     

Edited by voltaire60
Vain attempt to avoid a personality transplant

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QGE

Hackney Gurkha Demographics. There are 341 men who died serving in the 1/10th and 2/10th London Regt in the Great War who have details of birthplace or residence on the CWGC database.

 

They came from 154 different towns and villages or boroughs of London. Here are the top 30 by count (see below). While East London (rather than the East End) is well represented, it is clear that the Regiment was made up of men from a dispersed locations across London and beyond. The 'diminutive' arguments would have to apply across a much larger geographic area than Hackney for the theory to hold any water

 

Hackney (modern) includes Clapton, Dalston, Homerton and Stoke Newington. Combined these make up 25% of the known fatal casualties.

Tower Hamlets (Bethnal Green, Bow, Stepney, Limehouse, Mile End, Whitechapel, Poplar) Combined accounts for 13% ditto

Waltham Forset (Walthamstow, Leyton, Leytonstone) Combined accounts for 6% ditto

The remaining 56% are spread across what would is now Greater London with a handful from further afield. It simply illustrates the fact that Territorial battalions recruited from beyond their technical boundaries.

 

Modern Hackney is the 1965 merger of the old Metroplitan Boroughs of Hackney, Stoke Newington and Shoreditch. On a 1914 basis, only 21% of the men came from the old Metropolitan Borough of Hackney. One might reasonably argue that only one in four men were from Hackney.

 

 

 

 

Hackney 31 9%
Clapton 22 6%
Bethnal Green 18 5%
Walthamstow 13 4%
Bow 11 3%
Dalston 10 3%
Homerton 8 2%
London 8 2%
Stoke Newington 8 2%
Mile End 7 2%
Islington 5 1%
Birmingham 4 1%
Leyton 4 1%
Leytonstone 4 1%
Plaistow 4 1%
Whitechapel 4 1%
East Ham 3 1%
Haggerston 3 1%
Highbury 3 1%
Ilford 3 1%
Limehouse 3 1%
Manor Park 3 1%
Shoreditch 3 1%
Stepney 3 1%
Stratford 3 1%
Tottenham 3 1%
Willesden 3 1%
Woodford 3 1%
Barking 2 1%
Battersea 2

1%

 

Edited by QGE

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voltaire60

 .

Edited by voltaire60

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MBrockway
4 hours ago, stiletto_33853 said:

Correct Martin, as you rightly point out they came into existence in 1912 from the old 10th County of London battalion (Paddington), an old 36th then 18th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps,  no mention of Rifles in any of their official titles. The 10th (Paddington) version however did send a detachment to South Africa who served with City Imperial Volunteers.

Just checked Haines notes on the 10th, he also only refers to them as 10th (Hackney), as The Rifle Brigade do also when they became a Territorial Battalion in 1916.

 

Andy

 

I don't think Andy meant to imply there was any continuity of the lineage of the Paddington Rifles (and its 36th and 18th Middlesex RVC/VRC antecedents) and the newly raised 10th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Hackney) unit.

 

According to notes I received from Pal Wienand Drenth, the Paddington Rifles men remaining after the 1912 disbandment were absorbed by the 3rd (City of London) Battalion (The Royal Fusiliers), The London Regiment.

 

According to Pal shinglma and corroborated by Wienand, 3/LR also continued to make use of the old Paddington Rifles drill hall at 208-209 Harrow Road as well as their original drill hall at 21 Edward Street, Hampstead Road, St Pancras, NW1.

 

Picture of the Harrow Road drill hall and much other relevant info here:

The assertion by Martin and Andy that the newly raised 10th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Hackney) was never officially known as the "Hackney Rifles" tallies with all my London region rifle volunteer material as well.

 

Nor do any of my sources show evidence of Gurkhali being spoken in the unit, whether by dwarfs or otherwise.

 

The new 10/LR (Hackney) battalion had its drill hall at 49-57 The Grove, Hackney, NE  (NB the London 'NE' postcode district was scrapped in 1866 ... and please leave me out of the whole topic of defining "the East End" : 100% NOT INTERESTED!).

 

The western arm of The Grove was demolished ?around 1934? when the new Hackney Town Hall was built set back further to the west of its original location on Mare Street.  A new road called Hillman Street was added along the rear of the new Town Hall.  I am not clear whether the main body of the Drill Hall remained intact - there is a large building marked on the older of the two maps in the link below - but certainly the houses immediately to its east on what was now Hillman Street must have been seriously effected.

 

Whatever, the drill hall is now underneath re-development from 2014 at what is now 1 Hillman Street, Hackney E8 1DY.

 

These historic maps give one the general idea:

http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=18&lat=51.5453&lon=-0.0564&layers=168&right=173

 

As an interesting aside, the Hackney Territorial Drill Hall was one of the buildings occupied by "the Unemployed" during agitation in Nov/Dec 1920 - see article on p.9 of The Times, Fri 03 Dec 1920 for further detail.

 

The 10/LR (Hackney) Great War memorial is at St John-at-Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road,  London E5 0PD

 

Mark

 

 

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Bartimeus
5 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

d.  Because they were small?

           No evidence for this at all.

 

I'm not sure I would completely write off the question of stature, nor need it necessarily follow that an apparent prevalence of men of diminutive stature in a battalion is reflective of physical characteristics in the general population of the area from which they primarily recruited.

 

Rather, I think it may reflect a willingness in certain Territorial units during the first year of the war to accept recruits who were underage, undersized or otherwise of lesser medical fitness than was the case elsewhere. With regard to 10th Londons, I admit to only having a couple of points of reference to back that up. The first was a reading of the parts of Lord Dunalley's memoir, dealing with his time as Adjutant of 10th Londons from its raising until he was wounded with them at Gallipoli. I particularly recall he made some remarks about the physical attributes of the men (or lack of them) - I think there was some comment on smaller stature, and also a phrase along the lines of "the only time they had ever broken into a run before was to catch a bus or to evade the law". The other comes from personal acquaintance with an 11th London Gallipoli veteran nearly thirty years ago. As it happens he was in fact of very small stature ! He told me how he had originally served in 10th Londons before the start of the war. Unfortunately he was prone to fainting fits, and so they couldn't do much else than discharge him soon after mobilisation. At that he simply went straight away to the recruiting office of 11th Londons and they were happy to sign him up on the spot.

 

I can offer more comprehensive information on another battalion in 54th Division at Gallipoli, 8th Hampshire. Of 930 or so men in the ranks who landed at Suvla I have age data for about 90%, and I think have looked through as many service papers as have survived or are presently accessible. Given that at this stage of the war it was still officially the case that soldiers going on active service had to be aged 19 or over, I found it surprising that at least 196 men (nearly 24%) were aged between 15 and 18 (and half of this cohort were between 15 and 17). A further 97 men are known to have just qualified at 19 years of age - so effectively a third of 1/8th Hants at Gallipoli were teenagers.

 

That the battalion bore a pretty youthful appearance is specifically referred to by the officer who took temporary command when 1/8th were moved to the ANZAC sector:

 

"The Major next told of a letter he received from the Colonel of an Australian regiment praising the men of the 8th Hants who were attached to his regiment. The letter stated that when he saw the 8th arriving he thought the Major was in command of an infant school. The men were small compared with the Colonials. Though small and obviously weak from exposure, nobody could possibly have done better during the time they were with him; he was very sorry indeed to lose them. From that time onward the Major said he was always known as 'the officer commanding the infant school.' "

 

There's no suggestion that the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight at the time were generally of poor physical stature compared to anywhere else; having looked at several photographs of groups of 8th Hants Riflemen prior to and early in the war they mostly look to be a pretty robust bunch. I think problems did arise though from the pressure of having to find a whole other, second line, battalion from September 1914. 8th Hants had tended to struggle before the war to get up to strength; they managed it circa 1910-12, but once the initial four-year engagements of the new recruits they had secured in 1908-09 started to expire then numbers began to decline again and that was the position they were in by mid-1914. Between the outbreak of war and the onset of the Derby scheme at the end of 1915, 8th Hants managed to recruit a little under 1200 men. Many of these were quickly discharged as unsuitable and others transferred to other units, so it would seem that a full-strength first line battalion and an under-strength second line unit was the very most that the Island could ever produce for its local Regiment (of course very many others chose to enlist in Regular or new Army units, as well as locally-raised TF units of other arms, and the RN). In these circumstances the surviving service papers seem to indicate something of a dip in fitness standards during 1915. In particular, there was a contingent of around 100 men recruited in Buckinghamshire. Quite a number of these were very young, some having already been rejected from units local to them on account of age or medical unfitness.

 

If the medical standards for the ANZAC troops sent to Gallipoli were somewhat stricter than those permitted in certain units of the Territorial Force, it wouldn't be surprising that differences in stature would be remarked upon. But that wouldn't mean that Australia and New Zealand were entire nations of bronzed Greek gods and the citizens of North East London and the Isle of Wight uniformly pygmies !

 

Bart

Edited by Bartimeus

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Gareth Davies
25 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

   So far we have a reference to "Hackney Gurkhas" at 1938- origin unknown.   The standard way of tracking down something like this is earliest usage.  British Newspaper Archive has no reference in any of it's newspapers to "Hackney Gurkhas". Thus,-although it appears a common term for the 10th Londons in WW2, and existed before 1938, there is as yet nothing to say that it dates from the Great War-or before that.

   My copy of Partridge "Soldiers Slang and Songs" is currently boxed up somewhere in north Essex- Could anyone oblige with a look-up on Partridge-in any of his editions???  Or let's start looking for the earliest reference to it's actual use. It is quite possible that it is psot-Great War given that no-one has as yet put up a Great War or pre-Great War usage.

 

It's first use is definitely earlier than 1938.  @IPT has its (note no need for an apostrophe) use in 1930 in post #16 and I have also seen it used in a book published that year.

Edited by Gareth Davies

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Bartimeus
On ‎03‎/‎08‎/‎2017 at 08:31, T8HANTS said:

The 10th Londons were not the only unit to have the term 'Gurkha' applied to the them.

Princess Beatrice's Isle of Wight Rifles were also referred to as Isle of Wight Gurkhas.

I have not studied the etymology of its use, but I believe its post WW1 and by coincidence the Rifles also fought at Gallipoli.

However I had always assumed (risky thing to do) that the title was applied because of the similarity of the full dress Rifle uniforms. 

 

With apologies for straying from Hackney to the Isle of Wight again, I'd have to say that the application of the term Gurkha to the Isle of Wight Rifles is something of a red herring.

 

I can't ever recall coming across "Isle of Wight Gurkhas" in any primary source material, whether letters, diaries or local newspaper reports. There are a couple of passing references to encounters with (bona fide) Gurkhas in letters home from Gallipoli, but that's about it, and no suggestion of a particular bond between units or appropriation as a nickname. The only place I have seen it used is in a thin booklet of regimental history privately printed during the 1970s. It includes the statement:

 

"Due to the similarity of the uniform of the Rifles to that of the Ghurka's [sic], the battalion obtained a new nickname for itself during the First World War, they were known as 'The Isle of Wight Ghurka's [sic].' This name was to stick, even after their conversion to artillery in 1937."

 

The author offers no source for this. His booklet was the only published work of regimental history for 8th Hants until relatively recently, and the booklet was pretty widely available, so my feeling is that it is itself the source of what little currency the phrase has attained, and was never in common usage. It may perhaps have its origin in the booklet in confusion with the term "Hackney Gurkhas"; 10th Londons and 8th Hants served alongside each other in 54th Division throughout the war and it could quite easily be the sort of thing an individual  Isle of Wight Rifleman could have heard and later repeated. As an aside, the Brigade of Gurkhas had a bit of profile on the Isle of Wight during the 1970s and 1980s, with pretty regular visits by their band. I believe this was largely due to the presence locally of a retired officer who was very active in the Gurkha Welfare Trust and did much fundraising.

 

Bart

 

 

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voltaire60

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Edited by voltaire60

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Gareth Davies
1 minute ago, voltaire60 said:

  So let me get this right- thus far, there is no connection whatever of the name "Gurkha Rifles" and the 10th Londons in the Great War?

      And even if there was, was it 1/10 or 2/10th?

      Perhaps it might be useful to find a Great War reference the term "Hackney Gurkhas" before we go any further. Over to you,GD. Find the Great War reference,it's relevant-if not, then post-war nicknames are not relevant to this thread. Eh?

 

Sadly you have got it wrong.  There is a connection.  

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voltaire60
On 8/4/2017 at 17:39, Gareth Davies said:

 

Sadly you have got it wrong.  There is a connection.  

 

.

Edited by voltaire60

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Gareth Davies
9 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

   Then please provide it FOR THE GREAT WAR, NOT 1938 ONWARDS

 

There's no need to shout.

 

 

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QGE

It is definitely a Great War construct.

 

"500 Cockney War Stories" has an account mentioning Hackney Gurkhas from 1916 about men being carried in Camel Baskets and one saying that they would have to pay to do this in the zoo. Note 1/10th Londons had an exceptionally quiet 1916 with only 22 fatal casualties (mostly non battle casualities to boot).... which naturally raises the question how in 1916 could this nickname alluding to martial prowess have started...and by extension is it more likely to have started in 1915 when the Battalion was actually in the thick of it.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Best-500-Cockney-War-Stories/dp/184868424X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501872337&sr=8-1&keywords=cockney+war+stories

 

 

 

Edited by QGE

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stiletto_33853

Yes definitely ww1 and have heard the term used before.

 

Voltaire, I think Gareth started this thread trying to pool resources to get to the bottom of this seemingly self appointed title, never mind the niceties or otherwise of East London. After all, I for one turn to Gareth and a couple of others regarding information on Tanks, which is not my forte. Just as i am sure infantry battalions are not Gareth's strong point.

 

There used to be a member on here called Hackney Gurkha who was extremely knowledgable regarding the battalion, however I have not heard from him or seen him post in years.

 

In officialdom they never had the title or even the Rifles title, an innocent question regarding does anyone know is hardly a case for shouting.

 

Andy

Edited by stiletto_33853

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Gareth Davies
31 minutes ago, QGE said:

It is definitely a Great War construct.

 

"500 Cockney War Stories" has an account mentioning Hackney Gurkhas from 1916 about men being carried in Camel Baskets and one saying that they would have to pay to do this in the zoo. Note 1/10th Londons had an exceptionally quiet 1916 with only 22 fatal casualties (mostly non battle casualities to boot).... which naturally raises the question how in 1916 could this nickname alluding to martial prowess have started...and by extension is it more likely to have started in 1915 when the Battalion was actually in the thick of it.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Best-500-Cockney-War-Stories/dp/184868424X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501872337&sr=8-1&keywords=cockney+war+stories

 

 

 

 

Sydney Hatton's memoirs (Yarn of a Yeoman) also include the term in relation to the Bn in Palestine. He also talks of another Bn that are called the Mile Enders.

21 minutes ago, stiletto_33853 said:

Yes definitely ww1 and have heard the term used before.

 

Voltaire, I think Gareth started this thread trying to pool resources to get to the bottom of this seemingly self appointed title, never mind the niceties or otherwise of East London. After all, I for one turn to Gareth and a couple of others regarding information on Tanks, which is not my forte. Just as i am sure infantry battalions are not Gareth's strong point.

 

There used to be a member on here called Hackney Gurkha who was extremely knowledgable regarding the battalion, however I have not heard from him or seen him post in years.

 

In officialdom they never had the title or even the Rifles title, an innocent question regarding does anyone know is hardly a case for shouting.

 

Andy

 

Thanks Andy.

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QGE
2 minutes ago, Gareth Davies said:

 

Sydney Hatton's memoirs (Yarn of a Yeoman) also include the term in relation to the Bn in Palestine. He also talks of another Bn that are called the Mile Enders.

 

QED.

 

Tall Stories. I find the idea that the Hackney battalion were diminutive utterly ridiculous rather challenging  on a number of levels. I am having a 'Kipling moment' where I feel an urge to crunch a lot of data to prove something that should be blindingly obvious: If a Battalion was demonstrably visibly shorter than others, it could only be as a result of a deliberate policy. It is a myth that TF battalions went to war exclusively with locally recruited men. Most TF units were severely under War Establishment in July 1914 (there are hard stats on this) and had been for decades (ditto), meaning they had to recruit hard and fast in 1914, a period when there was  massive choice and a choice from men who had prior service .. as the attestation forms demonstrate...men who would have fulfilled pre war regular height criteria. 

 

The Infantry, by necessity had the lowest height criteria of any Arm as they had the highest numerical demand. Ex the Guards, the Line Infantry (Regular, New Army and TF) would reflect 'average' height for infantry recruits. If a particular battalion stood out as being particularly short, it would have had to be pretty extreme. It is inextricably linked to the law of large numbers: 850 men all demonstrably shorter. I would argue it was virtually impossible for a battalion to recruit men of shorter than average stature unless there was a deliberate policy. I don't belive there was. The concept of short 'East Enders' from the urban slums is a ill-informed class bias. Poverty also breeds survivors in a Darwinian sense, who breed survivors. It is nature and self-selection, particularly when there are the means to provide nutrition for infants (a key determinant of adult height) by way of immediate and consistent employment and wages; London was expanding in the 20 years before the Great War and volunteering was driven by the working classes and lower middle classes in 1914. The 10th London had a large choice. A very large choice and almost a year to reorganise its manpower before committing to battle. 

 

Aside from the simple fact that there were height limits for recruiting, and the fact that the 10th Bn was not a Bantam battalion, the CWGC data clearly proves that the Battalion recruited from across London; if they were visibly shorter than average, it would suggest a deliberate policy to recruit smaller men (than the average infantry recruit) during a period of mass volunteering (1914 - early 1915) where Battalions had an utterly massive choice. Battalions were turning men away in 1914. ..... or a deliberate policy during Conscription where the regiment would also have a massive choice. I don't buy it. It makes no sense whatsoever.... so just to make sure I was not going mad, I have done a random sample of the attestation and medical papers of 100 men who served in the 10th London

 

Average height: 5' 6" ..... unsurprisingly exactly the same as the height of the average adult male in the UK in 1914. This actually surprised me on the upside as I thought, given the higher height requirements of the Cavalry Guards etc, the average Infantry recruit would be shorter that the average British male in 1914. It seems not to be the case and maybe simply reflects that fact that 'average' height of adult males in the UK means little and the average height of men of military age (and fitness) was slightly higher.

 

Tall Stories in my view. 

Edited by QGE

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voltaire60
On 8/4/2017 at 19:14, Gareth Davies said:

 

There's no need to shout.

 

 

 

 .

 

Edited by voltaire60

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voltaire60
On 8/4/2017 at 19:14, Gareth Davies said:
On 8/4/2017 at 19:47, QGE said:

It is definitely a Great War construct.

 

"500 Cockney War Stories" has an account mentioning Hackney Gurkhas from 1916 about men being carried in Camel Baskets and one saying that they would have to pay to do this in the zoo. Note 1/10th Londons had an exceptionally quiet 1916 with only 22 fatal casualties (mostly non battle casualities to boot).... which naturally raises the question how in 1916 could this nickname alluding to martial prowess have started...and by extension is it more likely to have started in 1915 when the Battalion was actually in the thick of it.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Best-500-Cockney-War-Stories/dp/184868424X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501872337&sr=8-1&keywords=cockney+war+stories

 

 

 

 

  

           .

Edited by voltaire60

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Bartimeus
6 hours ago, QGE said:

Hackney Gurkha Demographics. There are 341 men who died serving in the 1/10th and 2/10th London Regt in the Great War who have details of birthplace or residence on the CWGC database.

 

They came from 154 different towns and villages or boroughs of London. Here are the top 30 by count (see below). While East London (rather than the East End) is well represented, it is clear that the Regiment was made up of men from a dispersed locations across London and beyond. The 'diminutive' arguments would have to apply across a much larger geographic area than Hackney for the theory to hold any water

 

50 minutes ago, QGE said:

the CWGC data clearly proves that the Battalion recruited from across London

 

I'm not sure the CWGC data quite supports this, for two reasons.

 

1. The 'additional information' field captures the details of residence of next of kin of the casualty at the time that they submitted it, not that of the casualty themselves at the time of their death. That opens up quite a large margin for error if one is trying to demonstrate (or disprove) a pattern of residence of the soldiers in question. Beyond that, I'd suggest that there would be greater mobility within the metropolis for relatives than might be the case in the provinces. Whereas a move of a mile or two within London might put you in a completely different borough (and recruiting area), a similar move elsewhere in the country would be far less likely to change your potential cap badge.

 

2. That aside, I don't think that looking at the details of all casualties for 10th Londons between 1914 and 1919 will be very useful either. In the case of the particular battalion of 54th division which I've studied (8th Hampshire), it's clear that their natural recruiting area was pretty much tapped out by the end of 1915. Thereafter their new recruits came via the Derby scheme, most of whom were resident across the water in Hampshire, or further afield. These were about 300 in number. The bulk of the personnel coming into the Regiment in 1916, which formed the overwhelming majority of the reinforcement drafts sent out to Egypt in the first half of the year to rebuild 1/8th after Gallipoli, were drafts from the Special Reserve battalions of the Wiltshires, Berkshires and Hampshires, many of whom had already seen active service. The last of the drafts for Egypt went out in July 1916, after which the second line battalion was broken up. So, after mid-1916 perhaps 50% of 1/8th's personnel had no personal connection to the battalion's natural recruiting ground. That territorial connection was further diluted in 1917, when 1/8th had to be rebuilt again following the disastrous battle at Gaza in April. This time (and from then on) all reinforcements came from personnel already serving within the Middle East, from a variety of cap badges. I have a strong suspicion (though I don't know for sure) that a similar pattern would have been followed for any of the battalions in 54th Division. Certainly the two County of London units - 10th and 11th Londons - were far from being counted among the 'smart' metropolitan units such as the London Rifle Brigade, London Scottish, Artists Rifles and so on, and I'm far from convinced that they had their pick of recruits, or were inundated, especially after the initial rush. If the CWGC data for the whole period of the war shows personnel from all across London that is not surprising, if half way through Territorial Force recruiting had been superceded by conscription and regionally-sourced reinforcement.

 

Since the working hypothesis seems to be that the "Hackney Gurkhas" nickname came about following their time in Gallipoli, it might be more instructive to limit the CWGC data to the end of 1916, before the composition of the battalion most likely altered dramatically from its natural geographical base. That reduces the sample with some suggestion of affiliation of place to only 49 other ranks:

 

Hackney / South Hackney 9
Bethnal Green 7
Clapton / Clapton Park / Lower Clapton / Upper Clapton 5
Dalston 2
Leytonstone 2
South Woodford 2
Stamford Hill 2
Stepney 2
Stoke Newington 2
Bow 1
Forest Gate 1
Homerton 1
Hornsey 1
Islington 1
Limehouse 1
Lower Edmonton 1
Old Ford 1
South Tottenham 1
Walthamstow 1
Grays Inn Road 1
Hampstead 1
Paddington 1
Chelsea 1

(The other two are from much further afield - Staffordshire and Cumberland).

 

Small as it is, that looks like much more of a concentration in North-East and East London, where you would expect 10th Londons to be recruiting from in the normal scheme of things.

 

As to the origins of any nickname, it seems to me that physical appearance is always going to be the most common factor in explaining it, followed perhaps by demeanour. The two options suggested by this thread are dress (i.e. uniform / insignia) and physical stature. So I would understand the stereotypical Gurkha image of the time to be of a stocky, cheerful fellow (fond of his rum and a fight), wearing black buttons and badges on his uniform. If 10th London had worn black rifle regiment buttons and badges like the Gurkhas then that might make sense, but that doesn't seem to have been the case; it's difficult to imagine that generic tropical drill clothing or khaki SD would have radically marked either out from anyone else; and the Londoners didn't have a highly distinctive weapon / multitool such as the kukri to mark them apart either.

 

So we come back to physical stature, which I think is slightly different from concentrating solely on height, and perhaps we also need to take account of who else was around to provide a comparison. I mentioned in a previous post that the Australians and New Zealanders at ANZAC noticed the slightness of the young Isle of Wighters in comparison to their own men. 10th Londons would have also come into contact with Colonials at the same time - could it be that this was where the Gurkha comparison was first made ? Were the ANZACs encountered at Gallipoli likely to have been taller and better physically developed than the 5' 6" average UK male, and likely to bestow a nickname suggesting diminutiveness on others they encountered that didn't measure up to their own physiques ? 

 

Bart

 

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