View Full Version : Old Contemptables.
08-01-2005, 6:06 AM
My Grandfather was in the first world war. He was originally from England and was sent to Canada when he was a young boy. A British home Child. He joined the army in England where he was a ferrier, I think in the Calvary. He returned home to Canada following the war. In His later years he was asked to travel back to England to obtain a metal from the queen. He was unable to travel at that time. I do not know the year.The metal was to be given in honour of the last few remaining men that were among the solders called the Old Contemptables.
My question is what metal would this be and what possible year would it have been given. I don't know a lot of history when it comes to the military. I would like to obtain my grandfathers records, but thats another long road to travel. Any thoughts out there on this bit of war history would be greatly appreciated.
12-01-2005, 9:24 PM
Haven't been able to find anything about a special medal for the last surviving "old contemptibles". So a couple, or so questions. Do you know if it was a medal that your Granddad was entitled to ,but by being in Canada he couldn't actually get to receive it? If so, as an Old Contemptible it was probably the 1914 Star, aka the Mons Star. Also, if he went through the War, he may have been eligible for others.
There were enormous numbers of horses used during the War, all using the services of Farriers, so he might not have been Cavalry and could have been on the Artillery side. If you let us know his name and any other details, it may be possible to narrow your search.
13-01-2005, 3:08 AM
I suggest you visit The Long Trail website which chronicles WW1 better than any other. Here is a snippet I found:
"The "Old Contemptibles" was the title proudly adopted by the men of the BEF who saw service before 22nd November 1914. They were the originals, and most were regular soldiers or reservists. They derive their honourable title from the famous "Order of the Day" given by Kaiser Wilhelm II at his headquarters in Aix-la-Chapelle on the 19th August, 1914:- "It is my Royal and Imperial Command that you concentrate your energies, for the immediate present upon one single purpose, and that is that you address all your skill and all the valour of my soldiers to exterminate first the treacherous English; walk over General French's contemptible little Army." The precise translation has been debated endlessly, but the irony of the choice of title is clear."
It also suggests your grandfather could have been in any one of branches of the services - artillery, cavalry, transport, infantry.
13-01-2005, 3:14 AM
Further from the Long Trail part 1:
In the last days of peace, the British Government committed only four, not six, infantry Divisions to the Expeditionary Force going to France. There were genuine fears of German invasion of the home country, and troops would be needed. Mobilisation and embarkation for France proceeded faultlessly, and all men and equipment moved across the Channel as planned. They moved swiftly into position and first encountered the enemy at Mons (http://www.1914-1918.net/bat1.htm) on 23rd August 1914.
13-01-2005, 3:23 AM
The 4th Division, which was already mobilised in England in accordance with pre-war planning, moved to France just in time to take part in the defensive stand made at South Africa and Gibraltar. They were formed up into the 7th Division, arguably amongst the strongest units assembled by the British, consisting of trained soldiers, needing fewer reservists to be made up to full strength. The 7th Division was initially ordered to the defence of Antwerp, and landed at Zeebrugge on 6th October 1914 - but it was soon moved to the vicinity of Ypres, where it played a central role in the first defensive battle there. All of the Divisions named thus far were very heavily engaged in these early days of the war; indeed by the close of the First Battle of Ypres, they were all but destroyed. They took great pride in their achievements, and were always known as The Old Contemptibles. (Officially, men qualified for an oak leaf attachment to the 1914 Star if they served up to and including the 22nd November 1914).
13-01-2005, 4:08 AM
I very much appreciate your answers, thank you Terry and Peter. I do Know he was in France. He had trench mouth and had lost all his teeth, also pneumonia and was hospitilized with it. My other Aunt thought he was in the artillary. His name was Henry Brown No middle name. Born in April 13 1891.Born in chorlton district Manchester. He discovered he was a year older in later years.He did receive a Burnt pension. I will follow up on the sites you have sent me.All his metals were stolen when he returned back to Canada following the war. I just don't have a concrete thing to base my search on, just bits and peices he disclosed over the years.
13-01-2005, 4:52 AM
Did your grandfather have a middle name? I ask because you mentioned he was awarded medals - you can search the meadals on online in the National Archives but alas, there are 897 Henry Browns!! |shakehead The other avenue would be to view the "burnt records" available on microfilm at your nearest LDS FHC. About 70% of the ww1 army records were lost during the blitz in ww2 but the PRO and the LDS Church worked for 8 years to restore/preserve the remainder and film them for family historians.
13-01-2005, 5:15 AM
Terry my Grandfather had no middle name so (sigh) . I have looked on that site and for me its very difficult to search for anything. I end up very frustrated. A good point, to sent for films, I will look into that. Is Henry Brown a common name or what? It's like a needle in a hay stack.
Again thank you so much for help.
13-01-2005, 9:08 AM
No matter as without his regiment number or unit, you would be looking at of GBP3,000 worth of downloads! I recalled that finding the burnt records in the LDS catalogue was a bit of a pain so I looked up the films you will need to order at the FHC. The Henry Browns are on films FHL 2092810 through to FHL 2092814. Have your local FHC confirm that on their catalogues (spelt catalog over there) but the cost is only a few dollars for a 4 week hire per film. Allow yourself about 10 hours to view a single film as you will need to go through each record one by one to try and match the birth date with the service records. The staff at the FHC will advise you on how to do this. Here's hoping you find him on the first film!
If you do find him, come back to the forum with his regimental number and unit and we can look up the medal roll for you.
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