Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Gareth Davies

Hackney Gurkhas

Recommended Posts

QGE

Bart

 

1. Next of kin (NOK) of course includes wives, and it is a fair assumption that these data are at least correct. We can also compare CWGC data with SDGW which recorded place of birth and place of enlistment in the vast majority of cases. Where we have both CWGC and SDGW data, the correlation between NOK and place of birth is exceptionally high - well in excess of 90% - as we would expect. I would suggest that we have a very good idea of where these men lived.

 

One of the most significant factors determining adult height is the nutritional intake during infant years. Place of birth would therefore arguably be a better indicator than place of residence or enlistment in populations with alleged stunted growth. Again it no surprise to discover that men were often born, resided and enlisted in the same Borough. Their NOK invariably also lived in the same Borough. Using SDGW data for the 10th London men who died in 1915 and 1916 (the cohort most likely to be associated as 'originals') the data still clearly demonstrates that the recruiting base was wide. More of this cohort were born in Bethnal Green (24%) than in Hackney (22%) followed by Shoreditch (13%). After that some 30 other London Boroughs and a handful of out-liers (Armagh, Rochester etc) provide the remaining 41% of the men who died in 1915 and 1916. Whichever way we look at this, there is the inescapable fact that the Hackney battalion recruited far and wide. This is quite typical for the TF; we often see small majorities from the epicentre of the designated Recruiting District, with a long tail of men from other areas with numbers diminishing the further one moves geographically.

 

2. Strength v War Establishment v Recruiting. According to official returns in the General Annual Report on the British Army (GARBA) in Oct 1913 the Territorial Force was 66,969 men short of its Establishment of 313,569. Put another way for every 5 places on the TF Establishment only 4 had been filled. 

 

For the TF infantry battalions it was even worse. Against an establishment of 196,440 the TF infantry could only muster 146,277. This meant that for every 4 places in the TF infantry, only 3 had been filled. The infantry had to recruit 25% of their establishment. In addition, within just a few months almost every TF battalion had to duplicate itself meaning that the TF had to recruit 125% of original establishment in total. While shortfalls would vary across Regiments, very few Battalions were at Establishment. Even if a battalion was at full establishment it needed to duplicate itself before deploying. In the case of the 10th Londons  their second line battalion was formed in September 1914.

 

I don't have the 10th London data, but by way of Reference the 5th (City of London) Bn London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade) had a strength of 603 in July 1914 against a War Strength in excess of 800. According to K W Mitchinson, the LRB was not considered to have been too seriously under strength when compared to other City Battalions. The LRB would have to recruit more than 200 to make establishment and another 800 to create a second line before deploying overseas.

 

The challenges were further compounded; On mobilization the unfits, were weeded out thereby further reducing the effective strength of the first line Battalions TF. In August 1914 a process started to get men to sign the Overseas Service Obligation. Not all did and this further depleted the ranks of the TF able and willing to serve overseas. The shortfalls were made up through recruiting aggressively in 1914, tapping into the flood of men who were willing to sign up and serve overseas. The creation of second line units was initially seeded by men only willing to serve at Home (the original terms of engagement of the TF). So we have a large scale reorganisation of TF battalions right across the country; this required exchanges of large numbers of men between first line (unwilling to serve overseas) and second line (new recruits willing to serve overseas). 

 

The flood of men attempting to enlist is well recorded. and there is plenty of evidence that London battalions of the TF filled up within days. Men failing in one recruiting station often walked miles to find a recruiting office with vacancies in local units. The New Armies also tapped into this. That over 300 Londoners enlisted in the DCLI in August and by Sep had been diverted to Irish regiments perhaps gives some indication that there was a massive excess of Londoners attempting to volunteer and join any regiment, even ones a s far away as Cornwall. It is difficult to imagine how men willing to go the ends of England would not prefer to join a London based unit that was earmarked for overseas service. I would maintain that the 10th Londons and indeed every London based TF infantry regiment was swamped with recruits and they had a very good choice.

 

There is an indisputable fact that the surplus recruits were overwhelmingly from urban industrialised areas. The WO 114 returns for recruiting through August and September 1914 provide the hard evidence. Some New Army battalions raised 3,000 men before they were instructed to form another battalion. This suggest to me that regiments recruiting in urban areas had a huge choice. There is further evidence in the fatal casualty data for regiments of the Home Counties who could easily benefit from the excess number of London volunteers. I don't agree with the argument that the 10th Londons had a limited choice. I think they had a massive amount of choice. 

 

Given we know from the data (SDGW and CWGC) that the 10th London's recruits came from over 30 different Boroughs we are rather limited in ways to explain the alleged diminutive stature of the Battalion; either the 10th Londons deliberately recruited men shorter than average height, or the male population of an exceptionally large number of London boroughs were shorter than average. There is not a shred of evidence to support either of these explanations and the facts remain that large scale sampling of the remaining records show that the 10th London were, on average, the same height as the average adult male in the UK in 1914. The available hard evidence in CWGC, SDGW and Pension Records and Service Records does not support the idea that the 10th Londons were dominated by Hackney men or that they were of diminutive height.  There is one other explanation worth considering: that the idea is complete nonsense.

 

3. Isle of Wight Rifles. Your study sounds fascinating and I would be keen to see the data. I am not convinced however that the Isle of Wight Rifles is a particularly appropriate benchmark. As an island with limited access, men could not easily travel from neighbouring counties of Hampshire and West Sussex looking for opportunities to sign up. (I can see the Isle of Wight from my study on the Sussex coast). A man trying and failing to enlist,say in the 14th Londons could simply walk to another recruiting station in London, say the 13th Londons and try to enlist. Failing that he could walk to another, say the 10th Londons and so on. By contrast a man in Winchester failing to enlist in the 1/4th Bn Hampshire Regt would find it significantly more difficult to enlist in the 1/8th Bn Hampshire Regt (Isle of Wight Rifles) simply due to limitations of transport, distance and geography. I would argue that the Isle of Wight Rifles is an unusual case and not typical of the TF in general and not a good benchmark to compare a  TF battalion recruiting in high-population density London. 

 

Any mistakes are mine. Martin.

Edited by QGE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stiletto_33853
43 minutes ago, QGE said:

 

2. Strength v War Establishment v Recruiting. According to official returns in the General Annual Report on the British Army (GARBA) in Oct 1913 the Territorial Force was 66,969 men short of its Establishment of 313,569. Put another way for every 5 places on the TF Establishment only 4 had been filled. For the TF infantry battalions it was even worse. Against an establishment of 196,440 the TF infantry could only muster 146,277. This meant that for every 4 places in the TF infantry, only 3 had been filled. The infantry had to recruit 25% of their establishment. In addition, within just a few months almost every TF battalion had to duplicate itself meaning that the TF had to recruit 125% of original establishment in total. While shortfalls would vary across Regiments, very few Battalions were at Establishment. Even if a battalion was at full establishment it needed to duplicate itself before deploying. In the case of the 10th Londons  their second line battalion was formed in September 1914.

 

I don't have the 10th London data, but by way of Reference the 5th (City of London) Bn London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade) had a strength of 603 in July 1914 against a War Strength in excess of 800. According to K W Mitchinson, the LRB was not considered to have been too seriously under strength when compared to other City Battalions. The LRB would have to recruit more than 200 to make establishment and another 800 to create a second line before deploying overseas.

 

The challenges were further compounded; On mobilization the unfits, were weeded out thereby further reducing the effective strength of the first line Battalions TF. In August 1914 a process started to get men to sign the Overseas Service Obligation. Not all did and this further depleted the ranks of the TF able and willing to serve overseas. The shortfalls were made up through recruiting aggressively in 1914, tapping into the flood of men who were willing to sign up and serve overseas. The creation of second line units was initially seeded by men only willing to serve at Home (the original terms of engagement of the TF). So we have a large scale reorganisation of TF battalions right across the country; this required exchanges of large numbers of men between first line (unwilling to serve overseas) and second line (new recruits willing to serve overseas). 

 

The flood of men attempting to enlist is well recorded. and there is plenty of evidence that London battalions of the TF filled up within days. Men failing in one recruiting station often walked miles to find a recruiting office with vacancies in local units. The New Armies also tapped into this. That over 300 Londoners enlisted in the DCLI in August and by Sep had been diverted to Irish regiments perhaps gives some indication that there was a massive excess of Londoners attempting to volunteer and join any regiment, even ones a s far away as Cornwall. It is difficult to imagine how men willing to go the ends of England would not prefer to join a London based unit that was earmarked for overseas service. I would maintain that the 10th Londons and indeed every London based TF infantry regiment was swamped with recruits and they had a very good choice.

 

There is an indisputable fact that the surplus recruits were overwhelmingly from urban industrialised areas. The WO 114 returns for recruiting through August and September 1914 provide the hard evidence. Some New Army battalions raised 3,000 men before they were instructed to form another battalion. This suggest to me that regiments recruiting in urban areas had a huge choice. There is further evidence in the fatal casualty data for regiments of the Home Counties who could easily benefit from the excess number of London volunteers. I don't agree with the argument that the 10th Londons had a limited choice. I think they had a massive amount of choice. 

 

 

 

Any mistakes are mine. Martin.

 In his book Prittie states that after their short stay in Norwich they moved to Hatfield House.

 

"By this time I had got the battalion pretty well into shape, having had nearly three thousand men and some fifty officers through my hands. My rejects formed the 2/10th, now under the command of Lanesborough, an ex regular and distant connection of mine, Cobbett having finally severed his connections with the regiment. In any case he was far too old for service.

A 3/10th was also in process of formation."

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE
2 hours ago, stiletto_33853 said:

 In his book Prittie states that after their short stay in Norwich they moved to Hatfield House.

 

"By this time I had got the battalion pretty well into shape, having had nearly three thousand men and some fifty officers through my hands. My rejects formed the 2/10th, now under the command of Lanesborough, an ex regular and distant connection of mine, Cobbett having finally severed his connections with the regiment. In any case he was far too old for service.

A 3/10th was also in process of formation."

 

 

 

 Any date for this? 3/10th was formed in April 1915

 

The 10th London's 1914-15 Star medal roll has 986 names on it: essentially all the men who disembarked In the Dardanelles in August 1915 plus some later reinforcements. According to Paul Nixon's website, No. 1570 enlisted in September 1914. Separately I have No. 1666 enlisting on 6th Aug 1914, so the chronological sequence and issuing of numbers is out of step. Taking the highest number, 1666, and assuming all men with higher numbers were post declaration recruits and comparing to the 1914-15 Star medal roll it would imply that roughly half  (51%) who fought at Gallipoli joined the regiment after the declaration of war.

 

This clearly illustrates the fact that the composition of this battalion changed somewhat between the declaration of War and disembarking in a theatre of war. There is no doubt about these men being recruits. If the Battalion was diminutive in stature, these recruits must have also been diminutive in stature which raises the question: how? by what mechanism could this Battalion have shorter than average men?

 

If No. 894 Pte Herbert Bird who disembarked on 10th Aug 1915 at Gallipoli was still around, he might have been able to explain. . Enlisted 5th May 1913, mobilized on 5th Aug 14. Discharged no longer fit on 19th Aug 1916 with chronic dysentery. Born in Hackney. He was 5' 9½" tall with his hands in the air. 

 

Martin

 

Edited by QGE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stiletto_33853
25 minutes ago, QGE said:

 

 

 

This clearly illustrates the fact that the composition of this battalion changed somewhat between the declaration of War and disembarking in a theatre of war. There is no doubt about these men being recruits. If the Battalion was diminutive in stature, these recruits must have also been diminutive in stature which raises the question: how? by what mechanism could this Battalion have shorter than average men?

 

 

 

 

The very reason I placed this here.

 

There is no precise date Martin, the only reference date wise is in the same chapter and mentions "June drew on" in the same chapter, starting with the 10th & 11th London now completed a Brigade and finishes with them having received orders for overseas.

 

He states a little later that "In July we were inspected, not once but may times. We made a last weed-out of officers and men."

 

Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bartimeus

Thank you Martin for your comprehensive reply. There's a lot of interesting information in there, and I must bow to your analysis of 10th London's recruiting base. Out of interest I had a look at the location of their drill hall in Hackney, and of others in neighbouring boroughs, and I think the reason for the relatively strong presence of men from Bethnal Green and Shoreditch (apart from the fact that these areas are immediately adjacent to Hackney's southern boundary) is that the only drill hall I can see there at the time was the base for three companies of R.E. Territorials. So if recruits wanted to be infantrymen rather than sappers (who likely wanted men of a more technical bent anyway) it would be natural for them to stray a little to the north.

 

I also entirely agree that comparison between 8th Hampshires and 10th Londons prior to their going on active service together is of limited use. The Isle of Wight's population in 1911 was a mere 88,186 compared to Hackney's 222,533 so the Londoners obviously had a far greater base to draw upon. Looking at the examples for 10th Londons on the Army Service Numbers blog I can see that their (roughly) 1,400th recruit post-mobilisation (number 2818) joined at the end of March 1915, a milestone 8th Hampshires only achieved at the end of January 1916, by which time they were well into their contingent of Derby Scheme recruits, very few of whom had any previous connection to the Island. That 10th London's recruiting was able to continue to around 4,400 wartime recruits by the end of 1916, by which time 8th Hampshire's efforts had long fizzled out, only serves to underline that difference. As an aside on the progress of recruiting in the early months of the war though, I find it interesting that the vast difference in recruiting pace doesn't seem to have kicked in until after Christmas 1914. 10th Londons took on their (roughly) 600th wartime recruit (number 2067)on 3rd November, which the 8th Hants did on 7th December, despite having suspended all recruiting between September 5th and November 26th. I think this was on the instructions of the local TF Association; I wonder why, and if other TF units did likewise ? Perhaps to divert recruits to engagements where they could be sent overseas very quickly, rather than to the Territorials, whose terms of engagement allowed men to get into uniform without having to make an immediate commitment to go abroad ?

 

 

On ‎05‎/‎08‎/‎2017 at 13:26, stiletto_33853 said:

It is difficult to imagine how men willing to go the ends of England would not prefer to join a London based unit that was earmarked for overseas service. I would maintain that the 10th Londons and indeed every London based TF infantry regiment was swamped with recruits and they had a very good choice.

 

I do still wonder whether Territorial units were necessarily the first choice for those caught up with a patriotic desire to fight, and if perhaps the 'best' candidates tended to go elsewhere. I have the impression that in the pre-war period our local Territorials still suffered to some degree from the 'who shot the dog?' style taunting that plagued the Volunteers at one time, and part-time soldiering was not seen as an altogether 'cool' activity by all young men, despite the efforts of local authority figures to push recruiting and make it so. As anecdotal instances, just recently I have come across local newspaper reports of a Rifleman getting into a 'handbags at dawn' sort of scrap with some of his civilian peers when returning home from camp, and not getting much support from other locals, and of the problems of disruption suffered by the Artillery Territorials by the sport of raining stones on their drill hall roof during drill nights.

 

I think you have also presented compelling evidence that there is no reason to suppose 10th London were a particularly diminutive battalion compared to averages within the general UK population. That leads me back to the idea that they (and indeed any other British soldier) only seemed so when compared to others whose physical standards were in excess of the UK average - some of the Colonial troops they would have encountered at Gallipoli for instance. I've tried to find some references to the superior physique of ANZAC troops circa 1915 and have come up with the following:

 

"They are unquestionably from a physical point of view a magnificent body of men and hard and fit as they can possibly be. The finest by far that I have ever seen."

General Sir William Murray to General Sir William Robertson on the subject of Australian troops, private letter, March 1916

 

"I well remember... a reinforcement [at Gallipoli] of a hundred men of the 1st Battalion, conspicuous for their stature and physique"

Major General Sir Nevill Smyth in his forward to The History of the First Battalion, AIF, 1914-1919 (1931)

 

"Subsequently many visitors from Great Britain and the Western Front declared that the Australians and New Zealanders in Egypt and Gallipoli were the biggest men they had seen in any force."

C.E.W. Bean

 

"We had an Australian transport come alongside this morning and I seized the opportunity of going on board and having a talk with some of the officers and men. It is the first time that I had met them, and they struck me as being a very fine lot. The physique of the men is remarkable. We had nothing like it in our Army, except perhaps some of the picked Guards Battalions."

Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, war correspondent. Diary, April 8th 1915

 

I've already pointed out how the soldiers of the Isle of Wight Rifles were nicknamed "the infant school" by the Australians they served alongside at ANZAC on account of their comparative youth and smaller stature, so it's still my best suggestion that the Australians first bestowed the "Hackney Gurkha" nickname on the 10th Londons they would have encountered at the same time. I'd imagine it's the sort of thing the Londoners might have relished, and adopted to a degree. That seems to me more likely than it being an entirely self-bestowed nickname. Finding some documentary proof to back it up is more difficult, but perhaps Australian literature and records might be a good hunting ground.

 

Bart 

 

PS

On ‎05‎/‎08‎/‎2017 at 12:29, QGE said:

As an island with limited access, men could not easily travel from neighbouring counties of Hampshire and West Sussex looking for opportunities to sign up.

 

Yes, largely true, although 8th Hants did recruit about 100 men from the High Wycombe area during 1914 and 1915 due to the CO's connections there (he offered them a quid each to sign up). Closer to your part of the world, I was puzzled to find a dozen or so men from the Chichester area in 8th Hampshires, who seemed to have enlisted together in a couple of small parties. They are the only other contingent of 'overners' that stick out amongst the men that went to Gallipoli. Most seem to have been in agricultural or gardening work. I later found that an IW-born man who enlisted in 8th Hants had been doing similar work in the Chichester area just before the war, so my theory is that he went back to the Island to enlist, persuaded some of his new pals to go with him, and others followed a little later.

Edited by Bartimeus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE

Bart

 

Thank you for your equally comprehensive reply. It seems we have some common ground and views appear to be converging.  Since my last post I have transcribed the 1914-15 Star roll and am starting to populate it with the SDGW and CWGC data do some analysis. Roughly half the men on the roll became casualties of some kind, so there are perhaps a few more avenues to pursue with Soldiers Effects and SWB which may at least corroborate the sampling done so far. 

 

As you have indicated, the Army Numbers can provide a fairly accurate idea of recruiting patterns. It seems clear that the London bsed TF battalions managed to fill the gaps in the first lines and then build second and third lines reasonably easily. My sense is that in Aug-Sep the London recruiting Offices were awash with men willing to volunteer. We know fro official returns that K1 and K2 were filled very quickly (with some Irish and 12th Div exceptions) and all Reserve Battalions raised to 2,000 men and still there were surpluses which were used to fill some rural and Irish gaps. I am happy to be corrected, but my sense is that a man trying to enlist in Aug-Sep 1914 being turned away from K1 and K2 recruiters because the units were filled, may have seen the London TF as a viable alternative particularly as they were all racing to fill vacancies for Overseas Service.The First TF Battalion (14th Londons (London Scottish)) deployed overseas in September, so there was tangible evidence that some TF units would see action well before the New Armies.  By Dec 1914 there were 23 TF Battalions in France, most of them attached to Infantry Brigades in the front line.

 

Physique. I have rebuilt a number of medal rolls over the years and was always struck by the evidently slight physique of men in 1914-15 when trawling the Service Records and Pension Records, regardless of the unit. Chest measurements in the 30's (inches) were particularly noticeable. My perceptions are that British men were of significantly slighter stature in 1914 than now. We know average heights were lower by 4", but physically (weight) they were not a big as modern man (even adjusting for the recent obesity crisis).

 

Bean's comments on the feeble slum bred Englishmen were made (I believe) after encountering the men of the 42nd (East Lancashire Division) (TF) at Gallipoli in May-Jun 1915. I suspect the relative height and weight differentials between the English and Australians was not limited to the 8th Hampshires. To date I have not seen a thorough study of anatomical data of servicemen, but it would be interesting to see the magnitude of the difference. We need to be cautious as some of the comments were written by journalists with a different agenda, and particularly one that might explain the failings at Gallipoli. I have never doubted Bean's observations, however the Australians had plenty of British battalions near them (over 200) so it seems odd to single out the Hackney battalion. This assumes of course that it was the Australians who invented the nickname rather than it being self-selected. 

 

The 13 battalions of the 13th Western Division were embedded in the ANZAC formations from Aug 1915 to the end, as well as a number of Yeomanry units in addition to the 54th Division. One might reasonably assume the New Armies had the pick of the bunch and they may have been physically larger (on average) than their TF counterparts. It is something that I have always thought would be an interesting study. The challenge is that so many of the British records have of course been destroyed; trying to rebuld a large enough sample that had statistical relevance would be difficult. If you have data on the 8th Bn (height, chest measurements etc) it would be interesting to see.

 

I still prefer the theory that it was self selected. I believe 'Gurkha' was used to imply martial prowess, not small stature. MG

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MBrockway
4 hours ago, QGE said:

I still prefer the theory that it was self selected. I believe 'Gurkha' was used to imply martial prowess, not small stature. MG

 

 

That gets my vote too.  No brainer. :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE

Battalion Headquarters of the London Regiment.

 

The maps below show each of the battalion HQs pinned to Google Earth with an old map of the Boroughts. London Regt in Yellow and Essex Regt (TF) in Orange with the OP subject Battalion the 10th Londons (Hackney) in Red.

 

What seems clear is that the London battalions probably didn't have demarked boundaries within the County of London TF Association. Some of the battalions were defined by profession or trade such as the Civil Service Rifles of Post Office Rifles. I assume that a POost Office worker in, Say Bethnal Green could join the Post Office rifles based in Bunhill Row, Finsbury and Hackney based Civil Servant would equally be more comfortable joining the Civil Service Rifles based in Somerset House.. 

 

The maps shows the huge geographic area around the 10th Londons (Hackney). Note the presence of the 17th Londons (Poplar & Stepney Rifles) centred on Bow to the SE of Hackney also the relative proximity of the 4th (City of London) Bn in Shoreditch. It starts to explain how and why the Hackney battalion could recruit from far and wide. It also highlights the fact that battalions had recruits from areas nominally 'covered' by other battalions  - Hackney recruiting men from Stepney, Poplar and Bow, and even from under the noses of the Essex regt (TF).  Some of the battalions waere'Class Corps' requiring certain social status and an entry fee to go with it. One might see the 10th Bn as a working class battalion (for want of a better expression) that was more attractive than, say the LRB to the working classes. This raises all sorts of questions as there is substantial evidence that height was closely related to a number of socio-economic factors. I will revert with some deatail later.

 

Here are the maps, which (for me at least) helps better understand the relative distribution of the London regiment as well as the clear geographic boundry of the Lea River between the limits of London and the beginnings of Essex.

 

Maps gradually fade from the old 1884 Boundary Map to modern Google Earth. Any mistakes are mine. MG

 

 

London Boroughs 1.JPG

 

London Boroughs 3.JPG

Edited by QGE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE

Another version with perhaps a slightly more clear overlay of the Boroughs...

 

 

London Boroughs 6.JPG

London Boroughs 7.JPG

London Boroughs 8.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE

Hackney Gurkhas and height.

 

If men recruited into the Hackney Battalion were shorter than average, it would imply that 'shortness' afflicted men from Hackney and the neighbouring Boroughs. If this was the case, and given the high population densities of London, it is natural to ask why London did not produce any Bantam Battalions?  Most Bantam battalions appear to have been raised in the industrial towns of Wales, the North of England and the industrial belt of Scotland. Two Divisions worth.  - this at least highlights a correlation between industrial communities and shortness in stature. Doing rough samples of the CWGC data does not generate a disproportional number of men conscripted in later years from London. It would appear there were enough diminutive Northerners to fulfill the Bantam experiment. If Hackney/East London/ London had such visibly short men, it seems odd that it did not produce a single Bantam battalion from its massive population. Just a thought.

 

Does anyone know if the height limits were lowered for London TF battalions? 

 

I am very interested in the demographics and socio-economic backdrop to the London Regiment and recruiting as well as the close relationship between health, height and social background. It is a large and complex topic and while parts will be very relevant to this tread I thought it best to start a separate thread lest it drags this one off course. If anything useful comes out of it I will post the conclusions and a link here. 

 

In the meantime, for those with a limited understanding of the geography and residential and population density of London, the maps on the attached links are truly amazing and might help better understand the underlying demographics of the Hackney battalion.

 

London Map 1911  It is interactive and by clicking on the maps it will enlarge each sub-section. It is the nearest map I can find to 1914 and made just a year before the Hackney Battalion was formed. The most interesting aspects are the railway connections which might help explain how the Hackney Battalion could attract men from further afield. 

London Map 1897

London parish and Population Map 1877 . ditto. While older, this gives some idea of the population densities. The parents of the men who went to war.

Edited by QGE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield

I'd assumed the comparison was made out East; if not, I'm pretty sure the Illustrated Press of the time had plenty of pictures of Gurkhas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE

Six battalions of Gurkhas and two Battalions of Garhwal Rifles (often confused with Gurkhas) served on the Western Front 1914-1915. There was plenty of opportunity for TF battalions to meet Gurkhas. In fact one Brigade of the Indian Army had a Battalion of the London TF embedded. 1/3rd City of London Bn London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) (TF) in Garhwal Brigade alongside the 2/3rd QAO Gurkha rifles and 2/8th Gurkha Rifles from Feb 1915.

 

None of the Gurkhas of course in anything but khaki.. The 2/2nd Goorkhas turned up in black greatcoats and the GOC IEF-A spent two weeks focusing on re-equipping them with khaki ones. Clearly he had his priorities misaligned. 

 

MG

Edited by QGE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johnboy

Thanks for that info

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MBrockway

I think even if I waited 100 years I wouldn't grow another four inches no matter what the Daily Mail says :thumbsup:

 

I think by now we (especially Martin) have COMPREHENSIVELY demolished the theory that the Hackney Gurkhas and/or IoW Gurkhas were called so due to diminutive height.

 

Anyone disagree?

 

If none do, then can we drop this from the discussion and focus on more plausible lines?

 

If one wanted to make a point about a unit's average stature, would one pick gurkhas as a comparison yardstick?

 

If one wanted to align one's reputation of martial prowess and ferocity on the other hand ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
keithmroberts

can we move on please.

 

Keith Roberts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker

 

1 hour ago, keithmroberts said:

can we move on please.

 

Keith Roberts

A timely plea.

 

Perhaps this thread contends for the record of being one of the longest and most inconclusive we've had for some time, as well as diverting from the original question :).

 

Which is not to denigrate the detailed demographic input, which is well worth having on record. QGE's research findings could well make a useful monograph that for posterity's sake could be lodged at, among other institutions,

 

the Bishopsgate Institutes's Library

 

into which I wandered recently. It contains much fascinating material for the London social historian.

 

Moonraker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PhilB
On ‎05‎/‎08‎/‎2017 at 13:26, stiletto_33853 said:

 In his book Prittie states that after their short stay in Norwich they moved to Hatfield House.

 

"By this time I had got the battalion pretty well into shape, having had nearly three thousand men and some fifty officers through my hands. My rejects formed the 2/10th, now under the command of Lanesborough, an ex regular and distant connection of mine, Cobbett having finally severed his connections with the regiment. In any case he was far too old for service.

A 3/10th was also in process of formation."

 

 

It surprised me to see the 2/10th being formed from "1/10th rejects". I`d assumed that the 1st line Bn was the first 1000 or so men enlisted and then they went to the 2nd line. Is there evidence that other 2nd line Bns were generally composed of rejects?

 

Re Hackney Gurkhas, I`m reminded of the New York Fire Zouaves who simply liked the title!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker

My own reading of Prittie's book, admittedly 20 years ago, left an impression of a somewhat bombastic individual who didn't hold back in his criticism of those he thought  lacking.

 

Moonraker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield

By 'rejects' they mean men who'd not volunteered for overseas service, the sick, the halt, the lame, the ones with bad teeth, the ones with bad eyesight, the ones who were too old, the ones who were too young, etc, etc. As they needed around a thousand to complete the battalion they would take the best 1,000 and leave the others for use when required.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
53 minutes ago, PhilB said:

t surprised me to see the 2/10th being formed from "1/10th rejects". I`d assumed that the 1st line Bn was the first 1000 or so men enlisted and then they went to the 2nd line. Is there evidence that other 2nd line Bns were generally composed of rejects?

 

      One matter that might help in all of this is the whereabouts of the main corpus of 10th London records- I cannot track any reference to a surviving bloc of materials for this battalion-Nor, for that matter, several of the other London Regiment units in which some of "my" local casualties served. The Royal Fusilers at Tower of London may/may not hold chunks of stuff on the RF battalions  but there seems to have been no locus for "London Regiment". The excellent resources of 14th LR-London Scottish-show what could be done-or what to look for in a perfect world.  Similarly, I cannot track in any of the guides to military resources any reference to  a bloc of records being destroyed-say, by enemy action in WW2.

    As 10th Londons continued for quite some time, then someone,somewhere ought to know what has happened. Again, it is a little unusual that there is no "regimental"- OK, unusual but not unique. Again,-as with some aborted projects-no reference I can trace to any attempted/failed/draft bloc of materials for a history.

   I think that it is germane to this thread to ask for information on possible leads as to where possible records might possibly be held, if any. Kew does not look promising (In fairness, no reason why it should), Hackney Archives-which now has a very good grant-funded archive listing is similarly blank. I have had a go at Bishopsgate Institute-which has good coverage of London regimental materials-but,again, nothing.

    Is it possible-for all of these problem London battalions- (Finsbury,St.Pancras, Hackney) that there are materials lurking in any TA bases across London?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE

Tall Stories II.

 

Some of Bartimeus' comments on height made me re-asses my approach. I am conscious that Confirmation Bias is ever present; if one wants to believe that the Hackney Battalion was shorter (or taller) than average, or that the population of the Battalions' recruiting base in Hackney, Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, Finsbury, Stepney, Poplar  were shorter (or taller) etc. there is a danger that one only looks for data that supports the argument. 

 

A Different Approach. The two main arms of the Army that set a higher than average height limit were the Foot Guards and the Cavalry. I thought I would look at the CWGC data for 1914-1915 and see how many Londoners died while fighting with these 'higher' units. the cut off at end 1915 ensures Conscription does not contaminate the data. If Londoners in general were shorter than average, then London might be under-represented in the data. Similarly if a particular area of London is shorter than average (as implied by one of the theories) we would expect this to show through in the data.  Here's the methodology:

 

Cavalry and Guards - CWGC Data

Number of fatal casualties on CWGC data for France, Belgium and UK..........................7,553

Subtract the Officers (known to be on average inches taller than Other ranks) leave.........6,937

Confine the study to men whose place of birth or residence is recorded, leaves...............4,012

Confine the study to those men with direct links to "London" (birth or residence), leaves.....474

Breakdown:

Number recorded resident or born in the Administrative County (29 Boroughs)...........292

Number recorded resident or born in the Outer Ring of London.................................182

 

Of the 4,012 who have residence of place of birth recorded, the 474 Londoners represents 11.8%.

Administrative County (29 Boroughs) as a % of the 4012.........................................7.3%

Outer Ring as a % of the 4012...............................................................................4.5%

 

Using the 1911 Census (the nearest census to the Great War) we can benchmark London's population as a % of the UK population 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Population--------% of London.....% of UK

The population of the "Administrative County of London" (29 Boroughs)..........................................4,521,658..........63.4%.............10.7%

The population of the London "Outer Ring" (Boroughs of Croydon, Wimbledon, Barnes etc)..............2,729,673.........36.6%...............6.5%

Total Population of the Administrative County of London and the Outer Ring.....................................7,251,358........100.0%.............17.2%

 

Total population of the UK.(Source: Office for National Statistics)...................................................42,082,000

 

First impressions are that 

1. London is under-represented in the sample accounting for 11.8% of the fatal casualties v 17.2% of the population

2. The Administrative County (29 Boroughs) is under-represented with 7.3% of fatal casualties v 10.7% of the population 

 

If we drill into the 29 Boroughs that include Hackney etc, there seems to be no correlation between so-called deprived areas of East London and representation in the fatal casualty data of the Guards and the Cavalry;

 

Within the 29 Boroughs

1. Hackney is over-represented accounting of 4.9% of the population and 8.2% of the fatal casualties

2. Neighbouring Bethnal Green is slightly under-represented with 2.8% of the population and 2.1% of the fatal casualties

3. Poplar in the heart of the East End is over-represented with 3.6% of the population and 4.5% of the fatal casualties. 

 

There seems to be no discernable pattern within the boroughs. The caveat is that the sample size is insufficiently large, and therefore one has to be ultra cautious about drawing any hard conclusions. Despite this, if height was a factor it might suggest this was an issue for London as a whole (being under-represented in regiments with greater height requirements) rather than Hackney.  This is a low conviction view and is still to my mind inconclusive. 

 

Caveats. One might argue that the Foot Guards being able to recruit nationally may well have developed strong recruiting traditions in other parts of the country and did not need to rely on London as there were (pre war) sufficient number available. The data may well be skewed by Scots and Irish Guards and Cav deliberately recruiting in Scotland and Ireland i.e Not in London, which would impact the data. 

 

Other Avenues; The 1911 Census recorded the names and place of birth of serving men. It should be possible to do some analysis of the Cavalry and Guards using the Census data. I may well revert with the Grenadier Guards data.

 

Col D. If the analysis is of no interest I can move it elsewhere. Martin 

 

 

 

London Boroughs  Guards & Cavalry.JPG

Edited by QGE
typos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gareth Davies

It's very much of interest, height was one of the possibilities I raised at the start. But I wonder if it might not receive the wider coverage and attention it deserves if it is here alone. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield

Ref Post 98: is it possible some of the records have been dumped deposited with The Rifles archives? As many of the battalions of the Londons have ended up, one way or another, subsumed into that corps, that might be a place to look. Unfortuantely, as many were also amalgamated or translated into RA or RE units in the 20's, I do wonder how many just binned everything.

 

One of the interesting studies would be to measure 'social class' against the writing of regimental histories, post-war. Was there a correlation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE

Something I prepared earlier. 3rd Bn Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) -  a useful benchmark by which to gauge  London recruiting....  as one might expect recruited heavily in London and the 29 Boroughs.

 

7% of its men (66 in number) hailed from Hackney. 63 from Islington, and 95 (10%) from Tower hamlet (Bethnal Green, Stepney and Poplar). Looking at the relative distribution the Hackney men are over-represented within the 29 Boroughs whereas Islington and Tower Hamlets are slightly under-represented. I think the Royal Fusiliers could be used as a 'control' benchmark for London recruiting. 

 

Separately there is no indication the the Royal Fusiliers ever had trouble recruiting pre-war. It had one of the largest groups of Reservists in the infantry. Given its annual recruiting requirements were around 120 men, this should not be surprising, however we need to be mindful that the RF was in competition with many other Regiments permitted to recruit in London. I have done tis exercise for a few dozen battalions. Hackney men appear everywher...most remarkably in the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in 1911 when they numbered 36 or 4% of this 'Scottish' battalion. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
7 hours ago, Steven Broomfield said:

Ref Post 98: is it possible some of the records have been dumped deposited with The Rifles archives? As many of the battalions of the Londons have ended up, one way or another, subsumed into that corps, that might be a place to look. Unfortuantely, as many were also amalgamated or translated into RA or RE units in the 20's, I do wonder how many just binned everything.

 

One of the interesting studies would be to measure 'social class' against the writing of regimental histories, post-war. Was there a correlation?

 

    Two interesting points- I will follow them up re. London Regiment generally on our migrated thread. Thanks for a mention of The Rifles. The medals of one of my local casualties, 1/5 LRB have ended up there but I haven't had a sniff of Hackney anywhere near Winton. There ought to be some stuff in Hacney archives-open shelf printed rather than MS. Next port of call.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×