Length of overseas service

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Length of overseas service

Postby susancammas » 24 Feb 2017 09:16

Good morning again.

The more I delve into my ancestors’ military lives, the more questions crop up! I wonder whether any of the experts could help on the following:

1868: My great grandfather enlisted for 12 years. He was a gunner in the RHA.
1876: He went to India. His wife was with him (it’s not clear whether she was on the strength).
1880: He reenlisted for a further 9 years
1882: A daughter born in March

By 1882 T. Hosking had spent 6 years in India.

First Question: Would it be fair to conclude that in accordance with the Cardwell reforms (1870:
“the length of service overseas was limited to six years followed by six years in the reserve”) he was due to return “Home”?

Second question: Would it be fair to conclude that he probably returned to GB between Feb and May (trooping season)?

Having read a number of reports on conditions on board troopships, I can’t imagine how dreadful the voyage must have been for them with a baby of a few months old.

(There's a big gap in his biography between the birth of his daughter in 1882 and 1888 when I know for a fact that he was back in GB).

Again, many thanks
Susan
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Re: Length of overseas service

Postby Frogsmile » 24 Feb 2017 10:50

Susan the six and six engagement was a baseline of the terms and conditions of service for RA (and some others), but not set in concrete. Men could and often did volunteer to extend their service overseas, most frequently by opting to join newly arrived units, when their own unit went home, or by going to another battery in another garrison that needed men. This was virtually routine because units at home were of smaller established strength that always then had to be boosted for overseas service. The leavening with experienced, 'old India hands' also helped to speed the assimilation and effectiveness of those newly arrived. Sergeants in particular were very welcome, especially if recommended as 'good men' by their officers.

As regards his wife being on the strength, this is almost certain to have been the case, as a man on working wages would not have the wherewithal to fund her passage. A soldier, either brought his wife as part of the permitted allocation on a troopship, or found one from among the female community, frequently of Anglo/Indian stock, already in the country. Army wives who were adaptable, resourceful and physically robust, with a good constitution less likely to succumb to disease, could lead a good lifestyle in India of a level and with servants that they could never have afforded at home.

At that time (turn of the century) the RA batteries allocated to India tended to stay in-situ for at least 15-years before being exchanged with another from home, and men passed to and fro in small drafts of reinforcements with equal numbers of so-called "time expired" men returning home to be discharged.
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Re: Length of overseas service

Postby susancammas » 24 Feb 2017 18:39

Thank you - thank you Frogsmile for your full and interesting answer.
I don' know what this Forum would do without your knowledgeable insight :D
My great grandparents were married in Woolwich in fact, a couple of months before he was drafted to India - I suspect he could see which way the wind was blowing!
Even on a gunner's wages, could they have had the lifestyle you describe? At that time (circa 1880), would they have been living in married quarters (bungalow?) or behind a blanket in a cornered off part of the barrack room?

Susan
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Re: Length of overseas service

Postby Frogsmile » 24 Feb 2017 21:00

susancammas wrote:Thank you - thank you Frogsmile for your full and interesting answer.
I don' know what this Forum would do without your knowledgeable insight :D
My great grandparents were married in Woolwich in fact, a couple of months before he was drafted to India - I suspect he could see which way the wind was blowing!
Even on a gunner's wages, could they have had the lifestyle you describe? At that time (circa 1880), would they have been living in married quarters (bungalow?) or behind a blanket in a cornered off part of the barrack room?

Susan


Glad to help Susan, I answered your query regarding furlough too.

In 1880 your GGF pay was limited and marital allowances did not yet exist (the 2nd Anglo/Boer war 1899-1902 marked the change to better terms and conditions) so things would have been tough, but even so a private soldier/gunner would have been able to afford an adult servant and a child servant (frequently related), which would have been inconceivable at home.

In Britain, there would indeed have been a blanketed corner of a barrack room, or in more enlightened stations a few barrack blocks set aside specifically for the married families (marginally better), whereas in India they were allocated a rudimentary bungalow, albeit greatly inferior to that allocated to more senior ranks. Nevertheless, it was a start and with a degree of privacy that must have been seen as a step up from life in Victorian Britain.

P.S. I enlisted and attested at Blackheath in the early 1970s and lived in the RA Barracks at Woolwich between 1995-96. There is no doubt that I walked around and paraded on the same 'Front Parade' as he would have known well, sadly shortly to be sold off.
Last edited by Frogsmile on 26 Feb 2017 01:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Length of overseas service

Postby susancammas » 25 Feb 2017 19:30

Thanks Forgsmile - what's the difference between Enlistment and Attestation?
Susan
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Re: Length of overseas service

Postby Frogsmile » 26 Feb 2017 02:05

susancammas wrote:Thanks Forgsmile - what's the difference between Enlistment and Attestation?
Susan


Attestation is the legal bit that was carried about by a magistrate or attesting officer ( a commissioned officer on recruiting duties), originally the articles of war were read out and then you made the oath of allegiance (made to the Sovereign). From that point you are legally a recruit in the army and thus subject to military law, which meant if you absconded you would be pursued as having committed an offence. Attestation is in effect the legal 'stamp' upon the enlistment process.
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Re: Length of overseas service

Postby susancammas » 26 Feb 2017 12:45

Thanks :)
Susan
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