Category Archives: Reinforcements

118815 Private Harry Watson and the 118*** series of Regimental numbers…….

A recent purchase that I am very happy with because I believe the recipient – 118815 Pte Harry Watson – has a special tale to tell in the story of the 1/6th Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters.

Harry was issued the Regimental Number of 118815, which were numbers issued to conscripted men posted to the 3rd/4th and 5th/7th (Reserve) Battalions for training in early summer 1918.

The 118*** Series of Regimental Numbers

From studying surviving service records we can draw some broad conclusions:-

Men numbered between 118044 (Pte William Walters) and 118239 (Pte Sidney Nunn) were posted to the 3rd or 4th Battalions between 25th and 29th May 1918. Following training these men arrived in France in Sept/Oct 1918.

Men numbered between 118272 (Pte Charles Leedel) and 118287 (Pte Street) were posted to the 5th Reserve Battalion at Saltfleet on the 28th and 29th May 1918. Following training these men arrived in France in Sept/Oct 1918.

Men numbered between 118431 (Pte Hartwell) and 118547 (Pte Walker) were posted to the 3rd Battalion at Sunderland between on the 12th and 13th June 1918. Following training these men arrived in France on 4th Oct 1918.

Men numbered between 118785 (Pte McLocklin) and 118889 (Pte Hand) were posted to the 5th and 7th Reserve Battalions at Saltfleet between 18th and 20th June 1918. Following training these men arrived in France in mid Oct 1918.

Medal Roll of 118815 Harry Watson

From his service number of 118215 we can surmise that Harry Watson was posted to either the 5th or 7th Reserve Battalions in mid June 1918 and was highly likely to have arrived in France and posted to the 1/6th Battalion in October 1918.

And why is that important?……..It would make Harry one of the last reinforcements to join the 1/6th Battalion, most likely to replace losses following the storming of the Hindenburg Line.

Note: On the medal roll there is no longer a distinction between the 1/6th and 2/6th Battalions, the latter of which had been finally disbanded on 31st July 1918.

103039 Pte Frederick Blaydon – one of the ‘Bedfordshire Lads’………

Sherwood Foresters Cap Badge

Unfortunately, I carelessly let this Medal Pair ‘get away from me’ on a well known internet auction site last night, but I thought that I would still try to piece together Frederick’s story.

Frederick was one of approximately 112 men who were transferred to the 2/6th Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters from the Bedfordshire Regiment and issued the new Regimental numbers running from 103024 (Herbert Meekins) to 103137 (George Webster). Many of these men had previously been numbered with a post-1917 6-digit Bedfordshire Territorial Force Regimental number (see below).

Section of the Sherwood Forester Medal Roll showing the transfer of Men from the Bedfordshire Regiment to the 2/6th Battalion.

But when and why did this transfer happen?

Fortunately the Service Records of at least two of this group of 112 men still exist:

103035 Pte John Male from Bath (see above).

103065 Pte Horace Crowle from Cornwall.

Casualty Form – Active service for 204038 Pte John Male
Casualty Form – Active Service for 103035 Pte John Male
Casualty Form – Active Service for 103065 Pte Horace Crowie

These documents confirm that Pte John Male and Pte Horace Crowle – and by inference Pte Frederick Blaydon – were posted to the 5th Reserve Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, before proceeding to France from Folkestone on the 28th March 1918.

They arrived at “L” Infantry Base Depot and were transferred to the 2/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on the 31st March 1918. This transfer was due to the losses suffered by the 2/6th Battalion (178th Bde, 59th Division) on the 21st March 1918 during the German Spring Offensive.

Neither John Male or Horace Cowle would survive the month

59th Division Casualties for April 1918

John Male was killed in action with B Company, 2/6th Battalion on the 16th April aged 48. He was the Son of Mr and Mrs Male of 13, Maytree Rd., Bitterne, Southampton. John’s body was exhumed near Kemmel Hall in July 1919 and he is now buried in La Clytte Military Cemetery.

Mount Kemmel – John’s body was found at 19 D, near to Kemmel Hall

Horace Cowle served with B Company and was listed as ‘missing in action’ during the defence of Kemmel on the 18th April 1918 aged 19. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Crowle of 1 Chapel Terrace, St. Blazey, Cornwall. Horace is commemorated on The Ploegsteert Memorial.

Horace had enlisted underage in November 1915. He arrived in France in December 1916 and was posted to the 1st Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. However, in January 1917 he was returned to England.

Frederick Blaydon was later transferred to the 1/6th Battalion when the 2/6th was reduced to Cadre in May 1918 and survived the War.

On this day 30th May 1917

30.51917 Trenches: Draft of 24 other ranks arrived as reinforcements.

30.5.1917 Trenches: Lieut GKK MAUGHAN rejoined from short leave to England.

Gardyne Keith Kilgour Maughan

30.5.1917 MARQUEFFLES FARM: Divisional Commander presented medal ribbons to the following:-


DC MEDAL 240513 Sergeant F LONGSONLongson DCM June 1917

MILITARY MEDAL 240076 Sergeant JG RAVEY, 242442 Pte L BEASTALL, 241360 L/Cpl A EVANS240076 Ravey April 1917242442 Beastall April 1917241360 Evans April 1917

MARQUEFFLES FARM was next to MARQUEFFLES coal mine at the foot of the Northern slopes of the Lorette Ridge. The Companies were all billeted in the farm, and the Officers in tenet outside, while a home made marquee was used as a mess.

On this day 21st May 1917

21.5.1917 PETIT SAINS: Draft of 21 other ranks arrived as reinforcements.

This was the 33rd Reinforcement

1/6th Battalion War Diary [WO/95/2694]

May 21-24 Rest: No change. Time devoted to close order Ceremonial and Attack drill. Two Battalions employed on wiring the “CRASSIER SWITCH” Line and on working for 137 Bde.

139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]

1729/240235 Pte Thomas Beswick and the 33rd Reinforcement1729 Bestwick1769 beswick sig33 Reinforcement 1729 Beswick

Service Record for 1729/240235 Pte Thomas Beswick recording his arrival in France with the 33rd Reinforcement, which had embarked from Folkestone on the 6th April 1917. Tom was a quarryman from Peak Dale who worked at the Buxton Lime Firm. He was a Pre-War Territorial who enlisted in September 1914 aged 18 and served with “B” (Chapel-en-le-Frith) Company. Tom arrived in France with the 46th Division in February 1915 and returned to England in  October 1916 suffering from sycosis. Tom was finally disembodied on the 24th February 1919.

40th Trench Duty 7th – 11th January 1917

7.1.1917: Relieved 5th Battalion in RIGHT SECTOR.

Draft of 180 Other Ranks (160 partly trained) joined Battalion and sent to 139 Brigade Training Depot.

80 of these men comprise the 28th Reinforcement (see below), but the origin the of the other 100 men is not clear.

1/6th Battalion War Diary [WO/95/2694]

 7th: 6th and 8th Battalions take over the front line.

139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]

The January Reinforcement

Some of these these men came from the 14th Infantry Base Depot and formed the 28th Reinforcement to the 1/6th Battalion.

YeomanryThis Reinforcement comprised many men from the South Nottinghamshire Hussars (left) and Derbyshire Yeomanry (right).


Army Service Record for 7804/242592 Pte Percy McNeil recording that he had left Folkstone on the 4th January 1916 and had been posted to the 14th Infantry Base Depot before transferring to the 1/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.

Percy had originally enlisted into the South Nottinghamshire Hussars on the 22nd August 1914 and embarked for Gallipoli (via Alexandria) in August 1915. He was taken sick with enteritis and dysentery and returned to England on Hospital Ship FORMOSA in February 1916. After treatment and recuperation he was transferred to the 5th Reserve Battalion Sherwood Foresters before disembarking from Folkestone for Boulogne in January 1917.7711 Atkinson

Army Service Record for 669 Pte John Atkinson of ‘D Squadron’ 1/1st South Nottinghamshire Hussars who also transferred to the 5th battalion Sherwood Foresters on the 2nd January 1917, two days before leaving for France.

31st Trench Duty 28th August – 3rd September 1916

28.8.1916 TRENCHES: Relieved 5th Battalion in RIGHT SECTOR.

Reinforcements August 191628.8.1916 TRENCHES: Draft of 11 Signallers and 15 Lewis Gunners arrived.

War Diary [WO/95/2694]

3276 Pidcock

Amongst the men that arrived in the draft (part of the 17th Reinforcement) was 3276 Pte John Rupert Pidcock (1894-1968) a gardener from Darley Dale near to Matlock. John was granted Proficeny Pay Class I on the 1st July 1917. He was later transferred to the Labour Corps.

28th: 6th Battalion relieved the 5th in the RIGHT SECTOR & 8th Battalion relieved the 7th in the LEFT SECTOR.

GrosvilleA few shells fired into GROSVILLE during the evening.

139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]

On this day 12th July 1916

12.7.1916 BAILLEULMONT: Draft of 8 other ranks arrived from Base under 2/Lt E JonesJones E

Ernest Jones

12th: Trenches 162-166 inclusive were taken over today by the 8th Sherwood Foresters from the 6th Battn Liverpool Regiment, 165th Infantry Brigade on our left.  The relief was carried out by day. The new line taken over is very good.

It consists of a very strong firing line with a good support line in rear. Both are well wired.

There is a good supply of deep dugouts for the garrisons of the front line trenches, but more are required for the support line. There are a few posts in rear of the support line, namely:-Bellacourt Posts


These are well formed and in very good condition.

In conjunction with these posts there is what is known as the Village Line, which runs at intervals along the LISIERE of the Village. This line is fairly well wired but the trenches require improving.

The length of the line now held by the Brigade is over 5000 yards. The enemy trenches are some 400 yards distant on an average.

It appears to be a very quite part of the line. We have the 165th Infantry Brigade of the 55th Division on our left and the 137th Infantry Brigade on our right. We have never taken over such clean trenches before. They are mainly floor boarded throughout and are well supplied with grenade stores. The ammunition kept in the trenches would not appear to be sufficient and require to be augmented.

139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]