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When did Archie go to France?

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When did Archie go to France?

Postby phsvm » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:07 pm

I'm researching Archie Silver (b. 1891, Chilton, Berks) who attested in Abingdon in May 1916. I know he originally joined the 2nd Life Guards (number 3986) but moved to the Household Batallion at some stage (number 878). He died on 12 Oct 1917 at Poelcapelle.

I'm trying to confirm when he went to France.

The diary of a Forgotten Battalion by Gerald Harvey states:

"On Friday, 1st September 1916, The Household Battalion formed at Hyde Park Barracks, under the wing of the Reserve Regiment of The 1st Life Guards. ..... Of the 84 Officers who eventually served in the new unit, 15 were 1st Life Guards, 11 were 2nd Life Guards,......
The new infantry battalion trained in Hyde Park and later in September, moved to camp in Richmond Park. Shortly after The Household Battalion entrained for France, on 8th and 9th November 1916, the Reserve of the Battalion moved from London to Combermere Barracks. Windsor, with the Reserve Regiment of The 2nd Life Guards. From here, drafts of over 2,000 men were sent out to the Western Front to replace casualties suffered by the Household Battalion during its 14 months of combatant service. ......"

Later on he states:

(3rd May and 12/13th May 1917)
...... The Household Battalion attacked on 3rd May. ......The Household Battalion won one Military Cross and nine Military Medals and forced the Germans out of Roeux at bayonet point. ..... cost The Household Battalion nine Officers killed and a total of nearly 500 casualties ..... The remnant moved to the cellars under the old city of Arras, ruined and bleak. They rested here for some days while their losses in manpower were made good by new faces - recruits from Windsor."

Does this mean that the 1st Life Guards went to France first and that none of the 2nd Life Guards went out until May. In other words was Archie, who was in the 2nd LGs stayed in England until sent as reinforcements in May, or am I reading this wrongly?

Advice please!
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Re: When did Archie go to France?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:47 pm

You can get the campaign details from "The Long Long Trail"
http://www.1914-1918.net/cavalry.htm

The first links refer to the various parts of the Household Cavalry, including the Life Guards and the Household Battalion. The Life Guards had been in France from 1914 - both 1st and 2nd - but with their training reserves still in the UK, I guess. If Archie was first in the 2nd LG, then the Household Battalion, then he was probably in the reserve of the 2nd LG to start with, still in the UK. When he moved over to the Household Battalion - I'm not sure we can tell.

His service records may survive - apparently all Household Cavalry records survive and are at Kew in class WO400.
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Re: When did Archie go to France?

Postby phsvm » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:08 pm

Thanks Adrian but for once the Long Long Trail has let me down. They simply don't have the details I'm after. I've posted a similar query on their forum but am getting no further there.

Gerald Harvey's comments are much more detailed but I'm still not clear in my mind about this.

From my reading of the piece by Gerald Harvey it sounds as if he's saying that even when the 1st and 2nd Life Guards (and the others) were combined (for want of a better word) to form the Household Bn some of them became the Reserve Bn and reading on from that "the Reserve of the Battalion moved from London to Combermere Barracks. Windsor, with the Reserve Regiment of The 2nd Life Guards".that although they were now the Household Battalion, those that HAD been the 2nd Life Guards now made up the Reserve Regiment.

I may be reading this incorrectly and what he's actually saying is that those who made up the Household Battalion were all lumped (for want of a better word) together and those who he later refers to as "the Reserve Regiment of The 2nd Life Guards" were a completely different group of men (who had never been considered part of the Household Btn).

If this latter is the case then it would imply that my man went to France in Nov 16, not as one of the back up soldiers sent in May 1917 when numbers of the original Household Bn had been seriously depleted.

Gerald Harvey states that the original Household Bn was 900 strong. Archie SIlver was number 878 so presumably this means he was moved from the 2nd Life Guards to the Household Bn when it was formed in September 1916?

I'm on a VERY steep learning curve here so any help would be much appreciated.

Apparently the WO400 series should be available on line soon so I may have to wait until then.
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Re: When did Archie go to France?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:11 pm

I read the LLT links as saying that the Household Battalion was formed from reserve troops from several units right from the beginning.

Sent from my GT-I8190N
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Re: When did Archie go to France?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:05 pm

OK - here's how I read it....

Pre-Sept 1916, the fighting parts of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards were in France. There were, in the UK, reserve units of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards, training up, supplying reinforcements on a probably fairly frequent basis. (Looks like they are referred to as Reserve Regiments of the 1st or 2nd LG.)

1 September 1916, the Household Battalion is formed. It draws its initial manpower from the reserve units in the UK of the Household Cavalry (the 1st and 2nd Life Guards and the Royal Horse Guards - 15 officers from the 1st LGs, etc.). I read that as being only a transfer of men into a new unit (the Household Battalion) and the reserve units of the Household Cavalry would have continued to exist - probably short of men at the start of Sept 1916.

When your first quote said "The Household Battalion formed at Hyde Park Barracks, under the wing of the Reserve Regiment of The 1st Life Guards" I believe we should interpret that as saying that it was their site and facilities - the HB is not, however, part of the Reserve Regiment of The 1st Life Guards, I suggest.

So after Sept 1916, I think we have:
- the fighting part of the 1st Life Guards in France;
- the fighting part of the 2nd Life Guards in France;
- the reserve part of the 1st Life Guards in the UK (initially a bit short on manpower) - known as the Reserve Regiment of the 1st LG, it seems;
- the reserve part of the 2nd Life Guards in the UK (initially a bit short on manpower) - known as the Reserve Regiment of the 2nd LG, it seems;
- the Household Battalion in the UK - while this is part of the Household Cavalry, it is not part of the 1st or 2nd LGs, nor of the Royal Horse Guards.

(In fact, we're getting a major clash in terminology at this point - a battalion is an infantry concept and would normally be part of a regiment. In the Household Cavalry, before this, there seem to have been 3 regiments, 1st LGs, 2nd LGs, and RHG. The Household Battalion is level in organisational terms with these 3 regiments - if it were cavalry, it would be a 4th regiment. Since it's infantry it's called a battalion, even though it's not part of a regiment. If that's confused things, ignore this bit in brackets!);

9 Nov 1916, the fighting part of the Household Battalion lands in France.

It leaves behind "the Reserve of the [Household] Battalion [which] moved from London to Combermere Barracks." Your first quote goes on to mention "with the Reserve Regiment of the 2nd Life Guards" (my italics). I read that as confirming that the reserves of the 2nd LG continued in existence as a separate unit, distinct from the Household Battalion. Logical - how else will the fight parts of the LGs be supplied with men? Again, the Reserve of the Household Battalion is on the same site as the Reserve Regiment of the 2nd Life Guards, but it is not part of that unit.

So, we then have, I suggest:
- the fighting part of the 1st Life Guards in France;
- the fighting part of the 2nd Life Guards in France;
- the Reserve Regiment of the 1st Life Guards in the UK;
- the Reserve Regiment of the 2nd Life Guards in the UK;
- the fighting part of the Household Battalion in France;
- the reserve of the Household Battalion in the UK;

And I think that means the correct interpretation is what you refer to in "I may be reading this incorrectly and what he's actually saying is that those who made up the Household Battalion were all lumped (for want of a better word) together and those who he later refers to as "the Reserve Regiment of The 2nd Life Guards" were a completely different group of men (who had never been considered part of the Household Btn)."

If the original Household Bn was 900 strong and Archie Silver was number 878, then he just gets into the initial formation - unless the 900 includes officers, in which case he might not make it? (Officers aren't numbered). But numbers are surely rarely as exact as that. Even if he was part of the original formation, there's no guarantee he didn't get kept back for some reason and cross to France later. Until you see the WO400 papers, we won't know for certain, but certainly there's a very good chance he went out either with the first lot in Nov 1916 or soon after. I don't think there's any real reason to think there wouldn't have been any reinforcements sent out until May 1917.

Caveat - all this is theory and a best guess at working out the most likely scenario. All we know now is he went out before Oct 1917 - somewhere on the WO400 papers there'll be the answer - probably one single line!
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Re: When did Archie go to France?

Postby phsvm » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:21 pm

AdrianB38. Thank you so, so much. You've taken a lot of trouble to help me sort this out. I appreciate your caveat - I know you can't give a definative answer but at least NOW I think I have a very good idea of likely scenarios.

Gerald Harvey states there were 28 officers and 900 men.
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Re: When did Archie go to France?

Postby Rob1968 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:30 pm

I have a great Uncle who was killed while serving with the household battalion, I have all kinds of information including his service record, the unit war diaries and my Uncles personal diaries if you contact me by email I will gladly share everything I have with you, I do apologise but I'm very new to Forum so not sure of the protocols, Corporal Robert Cannon Jefferay was killed in April 1917 and is remembered at the Arras memorial
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Re: When did Archie go to France?

Postby phsvm » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:13 pm

Rob

I'll need to get my head around all this again - I've moved on to researching another of 'my men' but will e-mail you privately when I've got everything together. Many thanks.
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