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Would a batman have accompanied his officer......?

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MAW

Would an officer's batman have accompanied his officer during a major attack?

 

With rifle and bayonet ready to defend his master?

 

Or, would he have stayed behind to serve him his cup of tea on his (hopeful) return?

 

Mark

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Retlaw
1 hour ago, MAW said:

Would an officer's batman have accompanied his officer during a major attack?

 

With rifle and bayonet ready to defend his master?

 

Or, would he have stayed behind to serve him his cup of tea on his (hopeful) return?

 

Mark

He would be with his officer,  several men who served in regiments in my patch, are known to have been killed or wounded whilst tending their officer on the battlefield.

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kenf48

As always George Coppard (MGC)is a reliable witness, appointed or as he puts it relegated to the role of batman to Lt Wilkie. He relishes the fact he is out of the front line, compared to his mates in the front line the dugout he shared with his officer was 'a little bit of heaven'. To answer your specific question he states, "Mr Wilkie was a very conscientious officer and frequently visited the four guns in his charge; and I was always with him.  When on patrol, my role was that of bodyguard , guide and guarantor of the officer's bona fides."

 

Of course the dugout, where George was responsible for food etc, was not entirely a safe haven and he describes how 'minnies'  were often landing nearby, one so close his officer was slightly injured and both badly shaken they each had a tot of rum.

 

George Coppard 'With a machine gun to Cambrai'

 

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stevebecker

Mate,

 

While I am sure some Batman were with there officers, most were not.

 

There job often ment they remained behind with the gear.

 

MY research into those in the Camel Corps found many LOB and stayed with the mounts (Camels or horses) .

 

But in the Mounted units, most officers had not only a batman but a groom, but some times only a batman so he had to look after the officers mount.

 

But I am unsure if the Infantry always took there batman into action, but I don't think they always did.

 

S.B

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MAW

An interesting range of responses - thank you.

 

I suppose it was the individual choice of the officer, rather than an Army requirement, to be accompanied or not by a batman during an attack.

 

Mark

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Steven Broomfield
16 hours ago, kenf48 said:

 

 

George Coppard 'With a machine gun to Cambrai'

 

 

A lovely book.

 

Out of interest, am I right in thinking that officers (in the British service, at least) had 'Servants' while the RSM had a 'batman'? No idea why I think that, to be honest.

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PaddyO

Hi Mark and Steven,

 

Another example which springs to mind is Second Lieutenant Arthur Conway Young, 7th Royal Irish Fusiliers describing their recent action at Ginchy in September 1916 who reports in a letter to his Aunt:

 

'... The bombardment was now intense.  Our shells bursting in the village of Ginchy made it belch forth smoke like a volcano.  The Hun shells were bursting on the slope in front of us.  The noise was deafening.  I turned to my servant O'Brien, who has always been a cheery, optimistic soul, and said, "Well O'Brien, how do you think we'll fare?" and his manner was for once not encouraging.  "We'll never come out alive sir!" was his answer.  Happily we both came out alive, but I never thought we should at the time.'

 

My great grandfather Pte William O'Brien served in this battalion at Ginchy and I have often wondered if he was the servant referred to in this letter (which is the last in that splendid book Letters of fallen Englishmen) although I understand this officer transferred in from another Regiment which begs a fresh question - did officers' servants transfer with them ever?

 

Edited by PaddyO
grammar - apostrophe added

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Ron Clifton
28 minutes ago, Steven Broomfield said:

Out of interest, am I right in thinking that officers (in the British service, at least) had 'Servants' while the RSM had a 'batman'? No idea why I think that, to be honest.

War Establishments uses the term "batman" throughout, to refer to both servants and grooms. Many officers would have referred to them as "servants", especially when writing letters home, as being a term more readily understood outside the Army.

 

Ron

 

 

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helpjpl

10996 Private Paul Gaskell was batman to the Commanding Officer of the 6th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Lieut-Col. Henry George Levinge, who was KIA in action at Chunuk Bair on 10 August 1915. In 1917, Private Gaskell published an account 'My Experiences in Gallipoli'. 

https://www.loyalregiment.com/my-experiences-in-gallipoli/

 

JP

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tullybrone
1 hour ago, PaddyO said:

 I understand this officer transferred in from another Regiment which begs a fresh question - did officers' servants transfer with them ever?

 

 

Hi,

 

My g u regular Soldier serving in Coldstream Guards - see signature below - was transferred to GHQ Italian Expeditionary Force in 1918. As no Guards battalions served in that theatre I’ve always suspected he transferred as an officers servant. He was an older soldier and was a Company Cook in 1911 census.

 

Steve

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PaddyO
23 minutes ago, tullybrone said:

 

Hi,

 

My g u regular Soldier serving in Coldstream Guards - see signature below - was transferred to GHQ Italian Expeditionary Force in 1918. As no Guards battalions served in that theatre I’ve always suspected he transferred as an officers servant. He was an older soldier and was a Company Cook in 1911 census.

 

Steve

Thanks Steve I did suspect this did happen on occasions.

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Don Regiano

Another example is 21090 Pte Arthur Bunting of 22 Manchesters who was batman (servant) to Capt Charlie May and with him when he was hit by shell fire on 1 July 1916.  Details in Charlie May's diaries published as "To fight alongside friends".

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Muerrisch

I believe "officers' servants" pre-war became officially "batmen" on mobilization to War Establishment.

 

But yes, pre-war only the SM had a batman, although in the Foot Guards, and indeed some elites, senior NCOs and WOs with wide-ranging and substantial responsibilities were allowed to retain a paid soldier to look after their clothing, accoutrements and arms.

 

We don't think GSM London District bulls his own boots, do we?

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Stoppage Drill

Guards officers have orderlies, "batmen" being the term used for the assistants appointed to some Guards Warrant Officers.

 

 

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nthornton1979

 

My great-grandfather was badly wounded by shell fire on the Somme during an attack. He was an officer's batman and said that his officer simply disappeared before his eyes. Luckily for me my great-grandfather survived. 

 

I would think that many accompanied their officer into action  - after all, somebody would be needed to brew up for them once they had taken their objective - whilst others, no doubt at the request of the officer, remained behind (perhaps more so during minor actions and raids etc). 

 

In my book, Led By Lions, that is released next month (shameless plug!), I write of Captain Pollock, East Yorkshire Regiment, who was the last man to leave an enemy trench that had been counter-attacked and from which orders had been given to fall back. He was killed by machine-gun fire whilst carrying his severely wounded batman on his back.

 

Neil

 

 

Edited by nthornton1979

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Andy Wade

Lt Joseph Maude D.C.M. was captured on 20th July 1918, along with his servant 26947 Private G. Thomas, when they ventured too far forward to the German line and were spotted by German machine gunners.

This was the subject of a contentious disciplinary action after the war because Lt Maude was accused of giving himself up too easily and encouraging others to do the same. He'd already been discharged before the Army could take action against him, although this didn't stop them taking his medals and pension. The Army took no court martial action against him because they weren't prepared to try a man who had already been discharged, plus the fact he'd won a D.C.M. earlier in his career held his character in good stead.

 

Edited to add: One of the witness statements refers to Private Thomas as Lieutenant Maude's servant.

Edited by Andy Wade
change batman to servant

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Steven Broomfield
5 hours ago, nthornton1979 said:

 

 

In my book, Led By Lions, that is released next month (shameless plug!),

Neil

 

 

 

And another shameless plug (and , no, I am not on any form of sales commission), the PDF looks very good. So far I am happy to recommend.

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Wexflyer

How could an officer possibly go into action without a batman to keep his boots shinning, and equipment buffed? In other words, yes. 

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Muerrisch

In the main these were good men serving good men in an era we can not understand.

The young officers were themselves servants.

In the front line polish was not of the essence.

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Stoppage Drill

We were together since the war began.

He was my servant 

- and the better man.

 

Kipling, R.

Epitaphs of the Great War.

Edited by Stoppage Drill

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BullerTurner

Batsmen were not supernumerary to a rifle platoon.  It is therefore more likely they did go over the plank.  However if the batman was a good orderly, a bit older perhaps and not a good rifleman...then he could be LOB quite acceptably...

 

On 10/11/2017 at 23:31, Muerrisch said:

We don't think GSM London District bulls his own boots, do we?

 

Is this intended to spark a controversy to make John Kipling's grave site and rank a mere trifle by comparison??  If nothing else it is a very bold point to make!

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Muerrisch
23 minutes ago, BullerTurner said:

Batsmen were not supernumerary to a rifle platoon.  It is therefore more likely they did go over the plank.  However if the batman was a good orderly, a bit older perhaps and not a good rifleman...then he could be LOB quite acceptably...

 

 

Is this intended to spark a controversy to make John Kipling's grave site and rank a mere trifle by comparison??  If nothing else it is a very bold point to make!

 

The point being?

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