Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An interesting attestation

I came across an interesting attestation form today whilst engaged on some non-Chailey research and I thought I'd share it here.

William Baldwin was born in November 1868 in Heathfield, Sussex and like thousands of men throughout the British Empire, when his country called, he answered.

His attestation form is dated 16th November 1914 and it would appear that he presented himself at Eastbourne intending to join the Special Reserve for one year. However, when it became clear that he was a time expired soldier who had already served 12 years with the regular 1st Sussex Regiment, I'm guessing that the powers that be persuaded him to join the newly formed 12th Sussex Regiment (also known as the 2nd South Down Battalion). On the top right of the document is written, "for immediate promotion to the rank sergeant". "Sergeant" has then been crossed out and "corporal" written instead. Men like William, who had significant soldiering under their belts, even if it was a while back (he had enlisted in 1890 and been discharged in 1902), were worth their weight in gold, particularly to newly forming battalions where officers and experienced NCOs were often in short supply.

On 12th January 1915, William was promoted to sergeant and on 1st July 1916, to acting Company Sergeant Major. He relinquished this appointment the following month, but was re-appointed CSM in November 1916. He was posted back to the regimental depot at Shoreham in March 1917 and in July that year was transferred to the Royal Defence Corps. The number on the top left of his attestation form - 45711 - is his RDC number.

William served with the RDC for the remainder of the war and was finally transferred to class Z Reserve (ie effectively discharged from the army) in November 1919. By this time he would have notched up seventeen years serving his country.

William's documents are held at The National Archives and can be accessed on-line through Ancestry.

No comments: