London Scottish troops waiting for a train, somewhere in France, 1914. How many of these men would survive the war unscathed, I wonder?
The men pictured in this post all fought with the London Regiment in the Great War. The London Regiment, part of the Territorial Force (soon to become the Territorial Army, and from 2013 the Army Reserve) was formed in 1908 and consisted, at the time, of twenty six battalions. It would expand to a total of eighty eight battalions during the course of the Great War, of which forty nine would see action on the Western Front, and thirty three in other theatres. The first two groups of men in this post I can tell you little about, other than their names – Fred, Ralph, Ben & George above, and Sydney, Alfred, Harry & Henry below, and their ranks,…
…six privates, one acting corporal, and one sergeant. Faces of the Great War.
Two privates, Frederick on the left, Edward on the right, both 15th (Prince of Wales’s Own Civil Service Rifles) Battalion. Frederick was wounded on the Somme at Beaumont Hamel on 16th October 1916, his left arm partly blown off, and a piece of shrapnel – ‘foreign body between 2nd & 3rd vertebrae’ – lodged in his neck. He was not, however, paralysed, as records show that he was discharged from the army on 18th July 1917 after three years & six days service (which must make him one of those who joined up at the very start – mid-July 1914), and yet he did not enter hospital until 1941, in his late fifties, by which time his legs and right hand were referred to as ‘weak & unreliable’. Nevertheless, Frederick would live until 1964, by which time he would have reached the age of eighty. On the other hand, I think it quite possible that Edward was a conscripted man. When he was discharged from the army in August 1918, having been wounded in the left arm in 1917, he had served for two years and eight months, which takes us back to January 1916, and the introduction of conscription. Diagnosed with disseminated sclerosis – a chronic, progressing disease of nervous system – in the 1920s, he would die in December 1943, aged 50.
On the left, Augustus, a rifleman with 8th (City of London) Battalion, the Post Office Rifles, who served from August 1916 until November 1919, by which time he too had begun to suffer with disseminate sclerosis which would see him hospitalised in 1927, and where he would die twenty years later, on 23rd June 1947, aged 59. On the right, Charles, a 14th Battalion (London Scottish) private who was wounded at Vimy Ridge in 1917, losing most of his right forearm. He had only served for a year, and may well have been a 1916 conscript. Eventually hospitalised in 1937, he would die of a heart attack on 30th June 1947, just a few days after Augustus, and just a few months older.
We end this short post with Albert, on the left, and Joseph, on the right, two 20th (County of London) Battalion privates, both of whom suffered wounds during the war. Albert joined up in early 1915 and despite a wound to the left wrist in October 1916, served throughout the war before his discharge in February 1919. He perhaps paid too little attention to his mother’s warnings about those wicked French girls, and would be afflicted by tabes dorsalis in 1920, dying twenty years later of the long-term effects aged 55. Joseph may have been another conscript; certainly, he had only served for seven months when wounded at High Wood on the Somme on 15th September 1916, an injury that resulted in partial paraplegia. His army discharge would follow in December 1916, and I suspect his life was probably spent in various hospitals from then until his death, thirty seven years later in 1953, at the age of 67.
These are the men who came home.