Wednesday, 11 January 2017

NEW BOOK REVIEW

Book Review
Michael Crawley "The Unknown Grandfather"
Cawley, Michael Robinson, The Unknown Grandfather. ( Greyhound Self-Publishing: Worcester, 2015). 121p 81 illus 1map. ISBN 978-1-909219-25-0
As the title suggests this is the biography of the author’s grandfather, Robert Robinson Cawley, a Lancashire man, who served with 1 RWF in India, the Boer War and in the UK between 1890 and 1906. He was the battalion Drum Major before leaving the Army. At the outbreak of the First World War he was recalled to the Colours and posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion RWF which formed at Wrexham. As an ex-regular his experience would have been in high demand in this brand new Battalion with very few men with prior military service. He served with 8 RWF in Gallipoli and Mesopotamia before being awarded a Quartermaster’s commission and posted to India to assist in the training of Indian Army units. Tragically he died of Malaria on 30 June 1918 aged 41. This is a useful book as little has been written about 8 RWF and the author makes good use of existing service records and some personal papers to tell his grandfather’s story. A worthwhile addition our knowledge of the Old Contemptibles who fought in both the Boer and First World Wars.

24 RWF


Photograph of SNCOs from 24 RWF
An excellent photograph of what is believed to be some of the SNCOs of the 24th Battalion, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The full details of the individuals in the photo are not known but the Regimental Sergeant Major seated centre is WO1 RSM James Crinyion. Crinyion was the son of a Fishmonger from Birkenhead and had a twin brother served in the Royal West Kent's (SSgt). Crinyion served as RSM of both the Denbighshire Hussars Yeomanry (DHY) and also when the Regiment was subsumed into the RWF as the 24th Battalion on 4th March 1917. Crinyion was later commissioned and went onto serve with the 15th Hussars post war.
There is much information in the photo. Firstly the RSM is wearing his DHY cap badge which he was not officially authorised to do! When yeomanry regiments were re-designated into infantry battalions the officers were allowed to retain their yeomanry regiment’s collar badges only. The remainder of the regiment wore the badges of their new Regiment. This is clearly Crinyion’s stamp of character on his position.
Those men with their right forearm visible are showing four overseas service chevrons which denote four years service outside of Great Britain. This puts the year that the photograph was taken as 1918. 24 RWF were moved along with the rest of the 74th (Yeomanry) Division from Palestine to the western front, France in early May 1918. The German spring offensives had left the British Army dangerously short of manpower on the western front leading to several divisions being transferred from General Allenby’s force in Palestine to France. Examining the background, the terrain looks arid and the troops on the high ground to the rear look like they could be Indian troops. This therefore may suggest that the photograph was taken in Palestine in the early part of 1918.
All the SNCOs are wearing a battalion shoulder flash for recognition purposes. This appears to be a diamond with a white stripe down the middle. Whilst there are examples of a similar flash for the 5th/6th RWF in the Regimental museum archive we do not possess an example of the 24th Battalions shoulder flash.
Also note that the RSM and the Company Sergeant Major to his right are wearing Jodhpurs. This is possibly another reference to their previous service at a yeomanry regiment.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas 1916


Christmas 1916 saw the Second Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers in the trenches on the Western Front. They did however manage Christmas dinner.
Dinner for the men was:
"soup; roast meat with potato, carrort, turnip and onion; plum pudding; an apple, or orange, and nuts. The sergeants had whisky, port and cigars."
Dinner for the officers was:
"pate de foie gras, julienne, curried prawns, roast goose, potato and cauliflower, plum-pudding, anchovy on toast, dessert; Veuve Cliquot, port, cognac, benedictine; coffee."
taken from 'The War The Infantry Knew - 1914-1919' by Captain J.C.Dunn.
(http://universalsoldieruk.blogspot.co.uk/2005/12/christmas-1916.html)

A special addendum within the War Diary of the 15th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers can be seen for the 25th of December 1916.  A room at Bollezeele Station in northern France was hired, cleaned, furnished and decorated for a Battalion Christmas dinner.  Six hundred men were served soup, turkey and vegetables, Christmas pudding and sweets which were washed down with stout and beer, and a concert followed which was given entirely by the men and lasted until eleven o’clock in the evening, when all were “well satisfied”.

http://cymru1914.org/en/view/manuscripts/3437194



Thursday, 15 December 2016

15th DECEMBER 1702 – ON THIS DAY IN RWF HISTORY


First formed into a fusilier regiment, called the ‘Welch Regiment of Fusileers’, 1702

It was announced in the Daily Courant that Ingoldsby’s Regiment was to be known as the ‘Welch Regiment of Fusileers’. The title derives from the fusil or flintlock musket which by the end of the 17th century had superceded the matchlock which was fired by a slow-burning match. The flintlock was first introduced for foot soldiers who guarded the artillery to avoid having burning matches in the vicinity of gunpowder. It was a great honour for the Regiment.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

28th November 1885 – ON THIS DAY IN RWF HISTORY


Surrender of King Theebaw, Burma, 1885
1 RWF, serving in India, was ordered to join the force about to leave for Rangoon because of strained relations between the King of Burma and the Indian Government. A brigade, which included 1 RWF, was sent to Ava. The Burmese requested an armistice. This was refused until King Theebaw surrendered himself. On the 27th this was agreed and next day he surrendered unconditionally, and was escorted by B Company to the waiting steamer.


25th November 1917 – ON THIS DAY IN RWF HISTORY


40th Division, with 19 RWF, at attack on Bourlon Wood, France, 1917
The failure to take Bourlon ridge during the tank battle of Cambrai meant its capture was given to 40th Division with 19 RWF, a ‘bantam’ battalion of men under 5' 3". The wood was cleared, and the ridge occupied with difficulty. The Germans counter-attacked from dawn on the 24th and the defenders were driven off in the afternoon. It was regained by an assortment of ad hoc units. When relieved on 26th/27th 19 RWF had suffered 370 casualties.

18th November 1857 – ON THIS DAY IN RWF HISTORY


Lieut TB Hackett and Boy G Monger won VCs, 1857
In capturing the hospital at Secundra Bagh, Lucknow, India its thatched roof caught fire. Lieut Hackett and Boy Monger rescued a corporal of the 23rd who was lying in the open and exposed to very heavy fire. They then climbed on the roof of a bungalow and cut down the thatch to prevent it being set on fire. They were both awarded VCs.
“For daring gallantry at Secundra Bagh, Lucknow, on the 18th of November, 1857, in having volunteered to accompany Lieutenant Hackett, whom he assisted in bringing in a Corporal of the 23rd Regiment, who was lying
wounded in an exposed position.”
LG 12th April 1859
“For daring gallantry at Secundra Bagh, Lucknow, on the 18th November, 1857, in having with others, rescued a Corporal of the 23rd Regiment, who was lying wounded and exposed to very heavy fire. Also, for conspicuous bravery, in having, under a heavy fire, ascended the roof, and cut down the thatch of a Bungalow, to prevent its being set on fire. This was a most important service at the time.”