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Author Topic: Prom of LH officers during the war  (Read 146 times)
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« on: 13 March 2017, 09:58:21 am »


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 Officers General course, which later with a new Cavalry officers course. A small number of new officers were sent on these, while not all were, and some older prom officers (between 1915-16) 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;

T/Cpl Brodie
Sgt Allan
Sgt Smith
Sgt Keay

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;

1x L/Cpl
2x Cpls
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
« Last Edit: 02 April 2017, 11:08:41 am by stevebecker » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: 19 March 2017, 10:40:56 am »


I have been trying to track down more on this place but Aussie records are short on of this British Training Area.

But the AOWH by Gullett has some details page 533.

But he stated 1918 we started to send cadets there in Dec 1917.

Zeitoun was a large British training Area, courses were going on there for NCO's and officers, these included the skill at arms courses like, Musketry, and MG (Lewis, Hotchkiss and Vickers) courses. They also ran fighting courses like bayonet, trench warfare and bombing courses. Then they also ran the prom courses for NCO and officers like the cavalry and Officer general courses as well as a Topography course for officers. An interesting course for NCO's and officers was the Range Finding/Taking course.

I am sure I missed some of those courses, as finding a list of the units there, and what they did has been a problem, But both officers and NCO (with some soldiers) spent some time at this place leaning the skills of a soldier and officer in the Army.

As to war went on, the appointment of officers was made more formal, this included the introduction of a form (no name or number) or Application in 1916, from the CO, to the Bde commander, then Div commander, see personal file page 24 for this officer;

GREGORY   Stanley Edmund   305   Cpl   01 LHR   B Sqn WIA 24-7-15 R/arm shrapnel in Monash Valley evac to hosp 8-15 (G) RTA wounded reemb A/Sgt 16R to 1 LHTR 6-16 tos Cpl - T/Sgt (from Weston) B Sqn 7-16 revert to Cpl 8-16 prom 2/Lt C Sqn ? Troop (from Capt Harris WIA) 16-9-16 T/att school of Instruction (unknown course) Zeitoun 1-17 to hosp (rectum) 5-17 rtn 7-17 T/att school of Instruction (unknown course) Zeitoun 9-17 to 2ic C Sqn 10-17 to RHQ 12-17 rtn B Sqn 1-18 shown t/att liaison officer 181 Bde 3-18 rtn possibly B Sqn B Troop? 4-18 shown T/OC B Sqn 7-18 MC - for his actions at Abu Tellul 14-7-18 T/att school of Instruction (unknown course) Zeitoun 8-18 shown t/att Adjt RHQ 11-18 (C Troop ASqn/11 LH CMF)

This also came in another form see page 54 this mans file;

EGAN   John Bede   49   Pte   01 LHR   A Sqn D Troop? tos 8-15 (NP) to L/Cpl 10-15 to T/Cpl (from Gardiner) 10-15 to Cpl (from Wright) 11-15 (G) to Sgt A Sqn A Troop 1-16 att WFF to SSM A Sqn (from Mckeown) 7-16 recom MID - for his actions at Romani 4-8-16 prom 2/Lt B Sqn? A Troop? (from McQuiggin KIA) 7-9-16 T/att school of Instruction (unknown course) Zeitoun 2-17 rtn 3-17 WIA 20-4-17 R/thigh bomb reported Lt Egan and two men wounded when bombed in air attack near Wadi Sheikh Nuran RTA wounded disch 16-10-18 amputated R/leg brothers Francis 6 LHR and Herbert FAB

These forms (both types) were only used for a short period during 1916, then they disappear. Again not all officers have these forms, so were all new officers names sent to Bde and Div commanders for approval, as there records don't show that?

(sorry have to go more to follow)
« Last Edit: 02 April 2017, 11:06:12 am by stevebecker » Logged
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