Friday, 5 August 2016

Army Form B.59 - Special Reserve attestation

This post will look at Army Form B.59, the document used to recruit men to the Special Reserve. It may be helpful to read this in conjunction with posts on my army service numbers blog which detail the Army Order announcing the creation of the Special Reserve in 1908  and the appendices to that Army Order. Men enlisted for six years' service which, in peace-time, would barely have affected their usual civil routines. There was an initial period of training - supposed to be six months - and like its predecessor, the militia, the Special Reserve was seen as an ideal way for men to assess whether they liked army life and, if they wanted to do so, to then enlist with the regular army.  

If a man was eighteen years old, he could join the regular army after three months' training. If he had not reached the age of 18, he could enlist with the regular army only after completing six months' training. Above all though, men joining the Special Reserve did so on the understanding that in the event their country went to war, they would be recalled for service with the regular army and would be sent as drafts to replace casualties in the regular (and latter 'service') battalions.

This obligation is made very clear in clause 17b which states (or asks): "Are you aware that if so called out you will be liable to be detained in Army Service for the unexpired portion of your term of service in the Army Reserve and for a further period not exceeding 12 months if so directed by the competent Military Authority?" Thus the regular army in 1914 (and earlier) was well prepared for a national emergency and could call upon a) serving soldiers b) soldiers who had been discharged to the army reserve c) men who had chosen to extend their period of reserve service by signing on for a further four years as Section D reservists d) men of the Special and Extra Reserve.

Men signing up for the Special and Extra Reserve signed up with their local regiment. So a man living in Essex would typically have signed up with the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Essex Regiment. Living in Essex, he would not have been able, for instance, to enlist with the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. This simple, logical fact means that if you know a soldier attested with a particular special or extra reserve unit, he must also have been resident in that particular recruiting district or catchment area.

In the examples I have posted on this page - and all images on this page are Crown Copyright, The National Archives - Martin Groden was born in Edinburgh but attested with the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) at Lancaster and must have been living in Lancashire at the time of his attestation in April 1914.  

The last document on this post is a General Mobilization notice which was sent to men of the Special Reserve in August 1914. I have written about this elsewhere. Click on the link to read more.

I research soldiers. Contact me if you need help.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Army Form E.624 - Imperial Service obligation

Men serving in the Territorial Force and Yeomanry were not obliged to serve overseas. The original terms of their enlistment stated that their obligation was for home service only. This form - Army Form E.624 - was the man's assent that in the event of a National Emergency, he could be sent anywhere outside the United Kingdom. Thousands of men signed this form and thus this is very commonly found in files for men who served with Territorial Force or Yeomanry units.

Helpfully, the conditions attached to the signing of this form are explained on the reverse. Note that a man was only obliged to serve with his own unit. He could not be drafted to another unit (condition 2). The badge mentioned in the final paragraph is very commonly seen:

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Army Form E.522 - Militia Reserve Attestation

"The Militia Reserve", states the Army Book for the British Empire, published in 1893, "is a force, institited in 1867, enlisted from the militia of the United Kingdom, either for six years or for the residue of the man's militia engagement... A man in the militia reserve is liable to be called out for an annual training not exceeding 56 days with either regular or auxiliary forces in substitution for the ordinary militia annual training. He may be called out by Royal proclamation, and then becomes for all purposes a soldier in the regular forces, and can be appointed to any corps. He is not liable to serve beyond the unexpired term of his service in the militia reserve, except under certain eventualities when he can be detailed for one year longer. Until called out for permanent service he remains for all purposes a militiaman."

In 1899 in "The British Army", Lieutenant Colonel James Moncrieff Grierson - who had also authored chapters in the Army Book for the British Empire, wrote, "The militia reserve is not, what its name seems to imply, a reserve for the militia, but for the regular army. It consists of militia-men whose number must not exceed a quarter of the establishment of a battalion of infantry or a third of a battalion of garrison artillery, and who bind themselves in return for a bounty of £1 a year, to remain with the militia either 6 years or the whole time of their service."

Moncrieff Grierson continues, "On entering the militia reserve the men must be between 19 and 34 years of age, and must have passed through two drill periods of the militia; they are liable to be called out to a yearly practice of 56 days. Service in the militia-reserve cannot be extended beyond the age of 34."

The images I have used on this post are all Crown Copyright the National Archives (series WO 96) and relate to the service of Arthur Nixon (no relation) who had originally joined the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment as an 18-year-old in 1894. He joined the militia reserve in 1898, attesting to serve for General Service for the unexpired portion of his militia engagement. 

Friday, 4 December 2015

Army Form A.22 - marriage and baptisms

This form is not commonly seen in surviving service records but it can provide much useful information; almost a surrogate parish register entry. In the example above we see the date of the marriage, the names of the married couple, the church where they were married, the witnesses, and the name of the officiating minister, in this case a Catholic priest.
The man concerned, had been discharged to the Army Reserve only a few weeks earlier, but as he was still on the Army Reserve, this form found its way into his record.
This image is from series WO 97 and is Crown Copyright, The National Archives.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Army Form B.110 - Attestation: Post Office Corps & Royal Engineers

You don't see this form every day, although judging by the date at the top, it had probably been in circulation for a while. This particular attestation paper dates to 1897 and a print-run of 1000 of which this particular form was the eighth version.

The man concerned was 4607 William Henry Butt, a 27-year-old telegraphist by trade who would go on to extend his service to 12 years and finally get discharged in 1912. Two years later he would be back in uniform, still with the Royal Engineers, and earning the 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals and Medaille Militaire to add to his Boer War pair. I bought some of these medals at auction last week.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Army Form B.463B - General Mobilization (Special Reserve)

Here's an interesting document dating to August 1914. How many times have we read about the procedures for mobilization; the notices displayed in towns and villages as well as those issued to the men themselves along with travel warrants?
Well here's just such a notice and a warrant, in this case issued to a man of the Special Reserve. The document informs the man that he is to present at Edinburgh on 5th August 1914 and to bring with him his "Small Book", Life Certificate and Identity Certificate. It continues,
"Take this notice to the nearest Money Order Office and the Postmaster will, on your signing the attached receipt, pay you the sum of three shillings as an advance of pay to be adjusted when you join."
If the man needed to travel by train to his place of assembly, the left hand portion of the form has this covered as it is a travel warrant granting the man free travel to or from the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The Railway Company would, in time, claim the fare back from the War Office.
This form was to be issued to men of the Special Reserve and there was presumably an almost identical form which was used for men of the Army Reserve; possibly - and I'm guessing here - Army Form B.463A.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Army Form E.504 - Militia Attestation

There are plenty of these forms in WO 363 (First World War service records), WO 364 (pension records)  and, of course, WO 96 (militia attestations). The militia, replaced by the Special Reserve in 1908, was an ideal testing ground for many men who wanted to see if they were suited for army life, but without the full-time commitment.
The forms are very similar to the forms used by the regular army, and give that essential detail so beloved by family and military historians: place of birth, place of residence, age, occupation... in short, all the essential detail that can act as a springboard for further research.
The papers in WO 96 are certainly the best preserved and I think in general that this series can often be overlooked. To my mind, it's always worthy of further investigation and on more than one occasion I have discovered papers here for a man whose First World War papers went up in smoke in 1940.
In common with other army forms - and attestation forms in particular, Army Form E.504 went through various iterations and amendments. The version I have reproduced here dates to April 1891 and was the 13th variant of this particular document.
Images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives.