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Men transferred from the East Surrey Regiment to Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers during the First World War

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While researching George Honeyball, whose service records do not survive, the relevant page (1146) of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers' medal roll (WO 329/1133) was checked to determine his original battalion in the East Surrey Regiment, and also in the hope that his date of transfer and possibly that of his original enlistment would be given. Unfortunately, no dates were given, but the same page showed that two other men also transferred to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Checking the surrounding pages showed that there were several other such men. Since the service numbers were very close together, it seemed likely that the men were transferred at the same time.[1]

In case other men had been transferred at the same time, but subsequently transferred again to other units, the medal index cards in DocumentsOnline were searched by putting "Inniskilling" in the "Corps" box, and "Surrey" in the "Other Keywords". This returned 63 results.[1] Investigating these showed that some men had been transferred in the opposite direction, and returned some false positives where the regiments involved were actually the Royal West Surrey Regiment (the Queen's Regiment) or the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons.

Where the transfer was between the correct regiments, and in the correct order, the names and service numbers were tabulated, the table was then ordered in ascending order by the men's Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers number. In all 31 men with prior service in the East Surrey Regiment were found with Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers service numbers between 41129 and 41186. A few other men were found with numbers some way outside this range, so it seems likely they transferred at different times. If the medal card recorded service in other units, the unit and service number was recorded in an additional column. The battalion each man served in was extracted from the medal rolls. The names were then checked against the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database and the Soldiers Died in the Great War CDROM, and any additional data recorded. Finally the WO 363 ("burnt records"/service records) and WO 364 ("unburnt records"/pension records) were searched on Ancestry, and where records were found, details were added to the table. Only where the men's number fell in the 411nn range were the records searched, and for one of these the man's name, Frederick Smith, was so common that the number of results returned was unmanageable.

Sometimes the various sources did not entirely agree, this has been noted in the table. The names given are as recorded in the medal index cards, additions, or variances in spelling, from other sources are in brackets.

In all, five men had surviving sets of records. This was slightly lower than hoped, in general around 30-40% of records survive, so closer to 10 sets of records might have been anticipated, but the destruction was not evenly distributed, so this low level of success was not entirely unexpected either. In two of these cases, the surviving pages did not give any information on the transfer between the two regiments. In the remaining three cases (whose service numbers fall either side of Honeyball's), the men seem to have completed training in the UK with depot/training units of the East Surrey Regiment and were posted to France in March 1917 to join fighting battalions of that regiment, however, when they arrived at Base Depots in France, prior to joining those battalions they were suddenly transferred to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. These transfers seem to have occurred at the end of March 1917, with the men joining their new units in early April 1917.

The table shows that the range of service numbers within the East Surrey Regiment was much wider, making it harder to draw any conclusions about when Honeyball might actually have enlisted. However, Alfred Munday had service number 31316 just 17 lower than that of Honeyball (31333) suggesting they enlisted fairly close together, which would place Honeyball's enlistment in November 1916, with his training starting just before Christmas 1916.

Further confidence in these findings could be established by extending the search for surviving records to those men who the medal rolls show had no previous unit before the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and whose numbers fall in the same 411nn range and checking their enlistment and posting dates. To try to confirm the date assumed for Honeyball's enlistment, similarly the men of the East Surrey whose service numbers fall around 313nn could be searched. It is also intended to check the 7th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers war diary in WO 95/1977 to see if this records the arrival of the men.

Name Record in WO 363 or WO364 East Surrey Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Other Fate
Battalion Number Battalion Number Date transferred
Herbert, Charles H Not checked 14500 24376 Army Service Corps M/380452 Possibly died 14 June 1920 [1] same name and unit, different service number
Grinsted, George Not checked 2853 7th 30150 KIA 16 August 1917, [2]
Vince, Frederick Not checked L/11494, L/12449 40991 Transferred back to East Surreys. Survived?
Cuzner, Victor J Not checked 21770 40992 Royal Irish Fusiliers 29161 Survived?
Perryman, Charles E L Not checked 21672, L/12351 41067 Survived?
Wessen, Philip No 8th 24936 1st 41129 Survived? Though there is [3] (10th Hussars)
Barrow, Arthur No 8th 21919 1st 41130 Survived?
Boon, Robert Yes, in both 8th 21218 1st? 41131 1 April 1917 Royal Irish Regiment 18801, 35117 Survived, re-enlisted, later discharged-varicose veins, 1920
Dawson, Leonard P No 11736, L/13499 41132 Transferred back to East Surreys. Survived?
Allen, Arthur No 8th 22635 1st 41133 Survived?
Baynes, Douglas No 8th 10994 1st 41134 Survived?
Brombilla, Thomas No 8th 22216 1st 41135 Survived, discharged with SWB, list B/540
Ford, Herbert (Leon) No 8th 124295 1st 41136 Died 25 April 1917, [4]
Montague, Albert H No G3/21557 41138 Army Service Corps M/380247 Survived?
Turner, Harry Not as Harry 8th 21547 5th 41140 Survived?
Munn, Harold No 8th 21089 1st 41141 Survived?
Webb, Robert No 8th 24310 1st 41142 Survived?
Harrington, Frederick T No 210519 41143 Royal Sussex Regiment 207705 Survived?
Gauntlett, Frederick No, though records for other one do 8th 203430 1st 41147 Survived? Though there is [5] but this man died 14 February 1915
Smith, Fred(erick C) Not really searched due to name 8th 4493 1st 41149 Died 18 July 1917, [6]
Buse, William G(eorge) Yes, [7] [8]

Attested 26 November 1916, mobilised 24 January 1916 for general service

9th – posted 9 March 1917, B Company G/17617 7th 41161 Posted 26 March 1917

Joined 9 April 1917

Royal Engineers WR/347941 Survived? GSW leg 18? August 1917 (Langemark?) transferred to RE transportation branch – civilian job was railway clerk. Granted leave 4-14th December 1917 after war hospital in Bradford. Originally trained Cherry Hinton?
Cheeseman, Charles (Charlie) No 9th 21686 1st 41162 Survived, discharged with SWB, list B/1438
Choate, Herbert No 9th 21703 1st per medal roll,

7th per CWGC

41163 KIA 16 August 1917, [9]
Dore, Walter No 9th 21694 1st 41164 Survived?
Gray, Walter (A) No 9th 21689 7th/8th 41166 Died 25 January 1918, [10]
Honeyball, George No 9th 31333 7th 41167 KIA 16 August 1917, [11]
Munday, Alfred H(enry) Yes, pension [12]

"Posted for duty Kingston 21 December 1916", enlisted 11/11/1916

3rd 31316 7th 41173 Posted 26 March 1917 "From 38 IBA"

Joined 9 April 1917

Royal Irish Regiment 18588, 2nd Battalion, later 3rd Bn Survived? Demobbed 16 February 1919. GSW face 10% disability, wounded 29 September 1918 (shrapnel), hospitalised London 8 October 1918. Previously casualty clearing station 4 August 1917 – so missed Langemark? Rejoined 3 October 1917 (now 7th/8th presumably?). Previously Railway Fitters mate, London Brighton South Coast Rly
Marsh, Walter (Alfred) No 9th 21671 7th 41174 POW? Died Germany 30 August 1917, [13]
Marter, Robert B No 31927 41175 Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 57486 Survived?
Merritt, George Lubbock No 31334 41176 Royal Army Ordnance Corps 040719 Survived?
Jacobs, Henry No 1st 21523 7th 41181 Survived?
Mudd, Charles H No L/12855 41182 Survived?
Ahronson, Charles (Joseph)

Enlisted Birmingham 2 November? 1915

1st 14799 7th 41183 Survived, discharged with SWB, list B/452, 25 September 1917. Intending to reside Birmingham. Formerly Stores dept of Post Office. Discharge cause DAH? 50% disability, had fever and diarrhoea, subsequent heart problems. Died TB? 7 July 1920.
E(l)liott, Clarendon (William) Yes, pension [14]

Enlisted 27 June 1916, Kingston

1st 23712 7th 41184 Survived?
Evenden, William No 1st 11479 7th 41185 Survived?
Gibson, Alexander No 10733, L/12447 41186 Survived? Transferred back to East Surreys
Woodward, George Not checked 841084 44147 Royal Fusiliers 2393 Survived?
Deacon, John C Not checked 11917 44504 King's Royal Rifle Corps 49831 Survived?
Bowers, Harry Not checked 32208 44505 York and Lancaster Regiment 37272 Survived?

References