I have been looking at why soldiers were gaining commissions in the LH during the war. While most of this area is covered else where, little is known of why men were being prom?
The first officers to gain commission happened in 1915 during the fighting at Gallipoli.
Who were they prom?
From what I can see there was no reason why, sure many of these men had some education (uni and such), but many didn't, and were prom from there CMF expirences, or some employment that commanded groups of men, like overseers. While this was not always the reason?
Clearly the idea, that we prom from the ranks in untrue, while a very small number of Pte soldiers were commissioned, most were to the Infantry not the LH, these were drawn from the NCO ranks or more closely from the SNCO ranks.
Yes a small number of Pte soldiers gained commissions in Infantry Bn's while at Anzac, and the odd man to the Engineers few became LH officers?
close to 90% or more were commissioned from the NCO ranks.
How were they prom?
It appears that while some officers names were submitted to higher HQ (Bde and some times Div) these were only to inform them that the commanding officer was doing and he had the power to prom officers?
No formal training was for officers, other then what they learned during there limited service in the AIF or any pre war expirences either in the CMF or in civilian life?
What problems this caused was not seen in many officers, while there were failures, most went on the greater things.
After Gallipoli, CO's continued to prom officers in the field, again not formal education (military) is shown in their records and during 1916 and 1917 new officers were continuing without any training as such.
This changed during 1916, when officers were being sent to the (Imperial) school of Instruction at Zeitoun, this was due to intro of the new Cavalry course, which later changed to what they called, Officers General course. A small number of new officers were sent on these, while not all were, and some older prom officers (between 1915-17) also were sent, but again not all.
So the training levels on many officers must have been limited or more correctly what they leaned on the job and they did very well to a degree.
British officers during 1917 were being sent to the new OCS at Zeitoun and in December 1917, we sent our first group of men to this OCS school, where they took three months to lean to be officers. This was in difference to the Cavalry and officer general courses that lasted for about one month?
This continued into 1918, but to confuse the issue some new officers were being sent to what was called, the Jnr Officers course at Kelab. while this school gave the officer some training it was only about one month?
an Interesting coment in the 4th LH Bde war diary dated May 1918 shows what could have happened , but didn't always?
dated 26-5-18 (an early order had asked for 13 candidates for OCS)
GOC 4 LH Bde to interview candidates for admissions to officer cadet unit;
T/Cpl Brodie 4 LHR
Sgt Cruckshank 4 LHR
Sgt Rede 4 LHR
Sgt Whitfield 4 LHR
SSM Griffiths 11 LHR
Sgt Billington 11 LHR
SSM Adams 11 LHR
Sgt Allan 11 LHR
Sgt Smith 12 LHR
RSM Finlayson 12 LHR
Arm/Cpl Eyre 12 LHR
Sgt Haydon 12 LHR
Sgt Keay 4 MGS
L/Cpl Taylor 4 MGS
Wo1 Story 4 LHFA
Follow this interview the following names were withdrawn;
But the records show that later did go on another course
SMITH Nathaniel Henry 380 Pte 12 LHR B Sqn 4 Troop? att DSqn/7 LHR 8-15 (G) rtn 2-16 to L/Cpl 5-16 to Cpl (from Court) 6-16 to T/Sgt (from Robb) 6-17 revert 8-17 to L/Sgt 8-17 att scout (for admin) 11 LHR 9-17 to Bde scout Sgt 4 LH Bde HQ 10-17 MM - for his actions as a scout at Wadi el Sufi 2-10-17 (B) rtn Sgt B Sqn? 4 Troop? (from Robb) 31-10-17 to cadet OCS Zeitoun 8-18 prom 2/Lt 1-19 rtn C Sqn ? Troop 2-19 (D Troop ASqn/11 LH CMF 4 years later WWII )
But this list does show the main source of officers were SNCO's;
8 x Sgts
2 x SSM (Wo2)
2 x RSM (Wo1)
So what qualifications did Nat Smith have to be an officer?
He is recorded as a Labourer (in civil life), so not civil reason (education) for prom, while he did have 4 years pre war service in the CMF LH, his main reason was his very interesting Military career to date, a brave and intelligent man no dought helped by his pre war training?
Just to show the lowest rank in that list
TAYLOR Vernon Aubrey 624 Pte 12 LHR C Sqn att DSqn/6 LHR 8-15 evac to hosp (influ & enteric) 11-15 (G) RTA enteric relist 16R/6 LHR to 2 LHTR 6-16 tos CSqn/12 LHR 7-16 to MG Sect 11-16 to 4 LH MGS 2-17 to L/Cpl (from hassall) 5-17 (B) to cadet OCS Zeitoun 7-18 prom 2/Lt 15-12-18 rtn 4 LH MGS 3-19
Taylor is shown as an overseer in civil life, while he had no CMF training, he has not shown any other reason to be an officer, like higher rank or an award, so why prom him over say Nat Smith?
Compare to the other 4 LH MGS candidate;
KEAY William James 1914 A/Cpl 11 LHR 11R Tos 10-16 to 4 LH MGS 2-17 to L/Cpl 5-17 to Cpl 9-17 to Sgt 11-17 recom MID - for his actions at Black Hill near Es Salt 1/3-5-18 (Boer War Cpl CSqn/1 NSWMR (330) AKA William James Fraser Keay
We may never know?
More to follow