Age for Foreign Service

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Age for Foreign Service

Postby Andre Chissel » 31 Jan 2012 00:08

Dear all,

Two questions:

In 1898, how old did you have to be in the British Army stationed in the UK before you could serve in India on so called "Foreign Service" ?

If your Battalion was sent overseas and you had to remain in the UK because you were too younf for foreign service and were sent to your sister battalion ""on detatchment" based elsewhere in the UK, did you become a member of that sister battalion or were you still regarded as a member of the other battalion throughout your time with your sister battalion ?

Thanks

Andre
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby grumpy » 31 Jan 2012 11:45

"Boys" if drummers, buglers, or tumpeters could, in theory go with their unit to India at 14 years.

Adult soldiers began at 18 years, but since no proof af age was required, there are well-authenticated accounts of younger "men" going on active service.

There were, of course, routine drafts to India and the Colonies, as opposed to whole units proceeding as a whole to fight the Queen's enemies.

A soldier [and indeed an officer] did not "belong" to one battalion or the other, he was posted Depot/1st battalion/2nd battalion as circumstances demanded ...... thus a 1st battalion at home was annually stripped of as many men as were necessary for the 2nd battalion overseas, as the latte'r time-expired men came home.

Finally, children of the regiment, born overseas, would frequently go from Boy to Drummer before 18 and serve e.g. on the NW Frontier
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby Andre Chissel » 01 Feb 2012 00:40

Hmmmmmmmm

Appreciate the response but this is the first time I have to disagree with the age thing.

My relative was born on the 12th April 1879, He joined the Gordon Highlanders on the 1st November 1897 (18 years old) and was posted to the 2nd Battalion which was based in Aldershot at the time.

His diary says that:

"After about 10 months [I believe that as what is in my possession is a typed transcript, the number '6' which was probably written down as the number '6' was poorly scribbled and was mistaken for a '1' and a '0' giving us '10'] the 2nd Battalion deployed to India. As I was too young for foreign service I was sent on detatchment to Edinburgh Castle".

Now, if it was 10 months he would have been 19, if it was 6 months he could still have been 18 - either way 18 or 19 the situation is clear, at whatever age he was, he was too young for foreign service.

I was hoping someone would initially respond with "You had to be 19 or 20 to be deployed overseas" but 18 has to be too young.

One way of wrapping this up I suppose is to find out the date that the 2nd Battalion actually deployed to India - at least then I would know for sure how old Edmond was 18 or 19 (probably 18 as {and I am guessing} 19 was probably the foreign service age - lets face it 19 was the foregin service age during the 14-18 war [until it was lowered late on in the war as we were running out of people to send to the front] and I believe it is still the same today) I just want to find some evidence to support my conclusion !!!

Hope I have not ruffled any feathers - I do appreciate your response as your penultimate paragraph was particularly useful for my needs. Apologies for my extensive use of brackets !

Thanks

Andre
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby Liz » 01 Feb 2012 08:21

Andre

It may be a timing issue - rules and attitudes to children working changed significantly over the Victorian era. Check out these posts for some examples of 'underage' soldiers:
http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2360&p=9141
http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=1185

I am sure there are many more examples on the forum but must run. Cheers,

Liz
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby Andre Chissel » 01 Feb 2012 09:05

Thanks Liz.

Ok the 2nd Battalion left Southampton in early September so the issue of 10 months or 6 months has been resolved - it was 10 months - therefore, he would have been 19 and yet apparently too young - ok let me think about this - it is late for me (live in NZ) - I'll check your links tomorrow.

Andre
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby grumpy » 01 Feb 2012 11:20

I have given some thought to the age/foreign service issue.

As I said, young drummers etc could serve overseas from a very early age.

Setting that aside, Man service began at age 18.

An 18 or 19 year-old not taken with his unit or the annual draft [not necessarily active service: a shooting war] was unlikely to be given any explanation [not touchy-feely in the Good Queen's day!]. He might not be fully trained [6 months was the norm], he might not be fully fit, he might be mid-course [vide Pte Frank Richards 1901/2, who was held back because he was a u/t signaller], and if it was a unit move [all 1000 men] he might be surplus to requirements or, if an annual draft, might not have been chosen.

Either way, there were no strict rules that I can find before 1914, and I have a complete run of QV Army Regs, and most of the Pay Warrants. First ref. I have to an age limit for overseas is the Mobilization Regs 1914.
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby Andre Chissel » 03 Feb 2012 10:45

Thanks Grumpy,

Good answer ! I am happy with it !

Appreciate the time you and Liz have spent on this.

Andre
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby petercharleskennedy » 16 Sep 2012 21:27

Somewhere I read that the age to serve overseas was twenty "under the amendments made by the Secretary of State for War, Hugh Childers, to the Cardwell Reforms of the Army 1881". Can't find the reference now.

Peter.
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby zerostate » 16 Sep 2012 23:50

petercharleskennedy wrote:Somewhere I read that the age to serve overseas was twenty "under the amendments made by the Secretary of State for War, Hugh Childers, to the Cardwell Reforms of the Army 1881". Can't find the reference now.

Peter.


The regulation you refer to was that soldiers below the age of twenty or those with less than one year's service were not to be sent abroad. It was not always practised however. I can't find the direct source where I saw this referenced (possibly the same one Peter has seen), so here is some other evidence from Hansard...

Edit: I should note that what grumpy said about under-age recruits should be taken into consideration - as the twenty years old in question would be the soldiers' 'army age'. Also, this only refers to the post 1881 period. To the OP - soldiers who did not qualify for foreign service exchanged battalions (which begs the question of what happened when both battalions were abroad?).

27 July 1882, Lords Sitting, THE QUEEN'S MESSAGE (RESERVE FORCES).

LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE said, that he understood the noble Earl (the Earl of Morley) had stated that no soldiers would be sent abroad who had served less than one year. He (Lord Oranmore and Browne) believed, however, that a regiment had been ordered on foreign service—namely, to Gibraltar or Malta, containing 300 men, who had only been in the ranks for three months. Was it so?
THE EARL OF MORLEY , in reply, said, that what he had said referred to the despatch of men on active foreign service. Men below the age of 20, and who had served less than one year, had been sent with the battalions which were to form the garrisons at Gibraltar and Malta, replacing the battalions which had proceeded from these places to the field. He saw no objection to this, for these young soldiers would not be sent into the field; but he did not see why they should not be trained at Gibraltar or Malta just as well as at Portsmouth or Plymouth."


Childers, 7 Aug. 1882. House of Commons:

A great deal of pressure had been put on the Government in that House and in India not to send young soldiers there, and after considerable discussion it was decided that no soldier should go to India as a recruit who was under a year's service, or under 20 years of age."


6th May 1897, House of Commons:

SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS (1ST. BATT.).

HC Deb 06 May 1897 vol 48 c1614 1614
§MR. F. B. MILDMAY (Devon, Totnes) I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether he can inform the House how many men it was necessary to transfer from the 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders (home coming from India) to the 1st Battalion of the same regiment, now stationed in Crete, in order that the latter battalion might be made up to proper strength for foreign service?
§MR. BRODRICK The relief of the Seaforth Highlanders was carried out in complete accordance with the system of linked battalions. The one linked battalion relieved the other. The battalion coming home left 500 men for further foreign service; these the battalion going abroad took over, leaving at home about 250 men, mostly below the age for foreign service, to complete the home-coming battalion on its arrival. When, therefore, the 1st Battalion was ordered to Crete it was not necessary to transfer any men to it. The battalion was already at full strength of men in the best condition as to age and service."


23rd July 1897, House of Commons, Mr Brodrick:

Last year over 9,000 men were sent to India and of those not a single man was under 20, or of less than one year's service. These facts ought to be taken into consideration by those who only saw the worst of the short service system."


Chris

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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby SWB » 17 Sep 2012 06:35

(which begs the question of what happened when both battalions were abroad?).


surely they went to the regimental depot (in the UK)?
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby zerostate » 17 Sep 2012 12:10

SWB wrote:
(which begs the question of what happened when both battalions were abroad?).


surely they went to the regimental depot (in the UK)?


Of course! It might leave the four depot companies stripped of old soldiers, but yes.

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby SWB » 17 Sep 2012 18:01

It might leave the four depot companies stripped of old soldiers


not always, I have an LSGC to a soldier of the South Wales Borderers who spent 24 years in the UK between 1883 and 1908 - he missed campaigns in Burma and South Africa and postings to Gibraltar, Egypt, Malta and India, how?
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby zerostate » 17 Sep 2012 19:55

SWB wrote:not always, I have an LSGC to a soldier of the South Wales Borderers who spent 24 years in the UK between 1883 and 1908 - he missed campaigns in Burma and South Africa and postings to Gibraltar, Egypt, Malta and India, how?


He might have been one of the depot's tradesman (one of the ones not necessarily associated with an NCOs rank). I am definitely intrigued as soldiers from the 40 per company whom were not recruits were supposed to be transferred away from the depot after eight years service there.

Chris

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby SWB » 17 Sep 2012 22:20

Hello Chris

There is no indication on the chap's papers - 879 EF Watts, that he was a tradesman. His trade on enlistment was 'Groom' and on discharge his trade was 'Groom' - perhaps he looked after the Depot's horses?

I have another LSGC to a contemporary of Watts' who was the bootmaker to the 1st battalion and travelled the world with them, but did not see active service.

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Re: Age for Foreign Service

Postby Andre Chissel » 18 Sep 2012 13:20

Brilliant !

I have also recently read the relevant portion of 'The Life of a Regiment' (Vol III) about the Gordons prior, during and post Boer War and it says:

"When war broke out, the 1st Battalion had been less than a year in Edinburgh Castle where it had arrived from abroad on 9th December 1898. Most of its men were due for discharge but it found waiting for it 345 immature soldiers left by its sister battalion"

This included Edmond as the 2nd Battalion had deployed to India from Aldershot.

Edmond had been 10 months with the 2nd Battalion but had served with the Volunteers prior to joining the Regulars. However, even if he was able to overcome this obstacle and the time in the Volunteers counted, he still could not escape the fact that he was still was under 20.

However it all fits - the term 'immature' was of some concern to me when I read it as it implies that 345 indivduals were quite literally young and childish 'boy soldiers' whereas it meant under 20 and under one year's service.

Thank you all once again for sorting THIS one out as well !

Hopefully, I will be in a position to sort out a website dedicated to Edmond 'Blackadder' Chissel in the not too distant future.

Andre
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