What reg­i­ment were these sol­diers in?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q & A -

QCould you help iden­tify the reg­i­ment of these sol­diers? The one sit­ting is James Henry Roberts, born 7 De­cem­ber 1879 in Perth, West­ern Aus­tralia. He ar­rived in Southamp­ton on 16 May 1914, en­listed in the Bri­tish Army and pre­sum­ably served in France, but I don’t know which reg­i­ment. He re­turned to Aus­tralia in 1919.

He sent this post­card to my cousin’s grand­fa­ther. The mes­sage on the reverse says, “To brother Fred – some­where

in France from brother Jim, some­where in France.” I haven’t found him in any of the ser­vice records.

Bob Shaw

A This is a stu­dio photo of a Bri­tish and an Aus­tralian soldier, taken in 1917 or 1918. The Bri­tish soldier is a pri­vate, prob­a­bly from the Mid­dle­sex or Suf­folk Reg­i­ment. The Aus­tralian is also a pri­vate, and prob­a­bly an in­fantry­man. Aus­tralian troops ar­rived in Bri­tain from mid-1916. They needed a de­pot for troops to go to when their wounded were dis­charged from UK hos­pi­tals, and later had train­ing camps in the south. If no ser­vice record can be found for Pri­vate Roberts, try Medal In­dex Cards (on an­ces­try.co.uk and The Na­tional Archives’ site at bit.ly/tna-mic). As Pri­vate Roberts served in France there should be a Card for him though he may not have de­clared both first names. TNA’s site is eas­ier to use and will give the soldier’s num­ber, which you can then use on other web­sites. Phil To­maselli


The cap Pri­vate Roberts is wear­ing is a soft Ser­vice Dress cap, only in­tro­duced in 1917 to re­place the orig­i­nal Ser­vice Dress cap which was far stiffer, with a stiff peak which had proved awk­ward in the trenches.


The badge ap­pears to con­sist of a cir­clet of veg­e­ta­tion around an insignia. The Mid­dle­sex Reg­i­ment badge has the Prince of Wales Plume sur­rounded by a lau­rel wreath. The Suf­folk Reg­i­ment badge has Gi­bral­tar Cas­tle cen­tral among a wreath of oak leaves.


Aus­tralians are usu­ally iden­ti­fi­able by their slouch hats, but here we can also see the sun­burst badge of the Aus­tralian Im­pe­rial Force. His shoul­der badge might iden­tify his bat­tal­ion, but it isn’t clear enough here.


The shoul­der strap might have, very faintly, some let­ters or num­bers, pos­si­bly S2 or 32. The 32nd Mid­dle­sex Bat­tal­ion was cre­ated in 1917 from men who never served abroad and re­mained in Bri­tain through­out the war.


Pri­vate Roberts’ uni­form has pocket pleats and a uni­form khaki colour, sug­gest­ing that the pro­duc­tion prob­lems of the early years of the war have now been re­solved.

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