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  1. #1
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    Default Did granddad join the RA at Woolwich Arsenal?

    My grandfather, James Henry Dorrell, enlisted in the RGA in either 1903 or 04. He lived in Hackney in London's east end and did not come from a military family. It is likely that he joined through hardship. All of his military records were destroyed in the Blitz apart from his medal card which only relates to his service in World War 1. I know that he served in Belfast in 15 Coy. RGA until 1911 when he married and was moved into the reserve.

    I have been told that in order to join the RGA he would have had to report to one of its depots and as they are mainly in coastal locations it seems a bit of a stretch to accept that a young man joining up through hardship would have travelled to, say, Portsmouth to join.

    Is it feasible that he would have presented himself at Woolwich been signed on and then been posted to the RGA as opposed to the RFA or RHA? Is that how it may have happened?

    I am trying to plumb the depths of a black hole, so any suggestions will be welcomed.

    Paul

  2. #2
    Super Moderator christanel's Avatar
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    To get some background - is this your grandfather?

    WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
    Unit - Royal Garrison Artillery
    James Henry Dorrell
    Military Year - 1914-1920
    Rank - Gunner
    Medal Awarded - British War Medal and Victory Medal
    Regiment or Corps - Royal Garrison Artillery
    Regimental Number - 16063
    Previous Units - 32. Sge. Bty. R.G.A. 16063 Gr.

    When was he born? Parent's names?

    Christina
    Sometimes paranoia is just having all the facts.
    William Burroughs

  3. #3
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    Hello Christina,

    Yes, that's him. He was born on June 9, 1884 and his parents were James and Jane (nee Harrold) Dorrell. He was born at 4 Janes Pace, Homerton. His father, a boot maker, died in 1900. Granddad was living with his mother and younger sister, Amy, at 27 Benn Street (E9) at the time of his enlistment.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Paul

  4. #4
    TomBen
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulDorrell View Post
    My grandfather, James Henry Dorrell, enlisted in the RGA in either 1903 or 04. He lived in Hackney in London's east end and did not come from a military family. It is likely that he joined through hardship. All of his military records were destroyed in the Blitz apart from his medal card which only relates to his service in World War 1. I know that he served in Belfast in 15 Coy. RGA until 1911 when he married and was moved into the reserve.

    I have been told that in order to join the RGA he would have had to report to one of its depots and as they are mainly in coastal locations it seems a bit of a stretch to accept that a young man joining up through hardship would have travelled to, say, Portsmouth to join.

    Is it feasible that he would have presented himself at Woolwich been signed on and then been posted to the RGA as opposed to the RFA or RHA? Is that how it may have happened?

    I am trying to plumb the depths of a black hole, so any suggestions will be welcomed.

    Paul
    Hi Paul,

    The RGA maintained numerous depots around the country and in Empire countries.

    I know of the following depots:

    The Eastern Division, HQ at Dover.
    Depot companies at Dover and Great Yarmouth.

    The Southern Division, HQ at Portsmouth.
    Depot companies at Gosport and Seaforth (near Liverpool).

    The Western Division, HQ at Devonport.
    Depot companies at Plymouth and Scarborough.

    There were also about 40 Service Companies scattered around the country, regrettably I don't know the locations for any of these as well as 37 in the Empire and about 29 in India.

    As far as I am aware, the RGA were like any other regiment in the British Army, you didn't have to be a local to join the Manchester Regiment or the Wiltshire Regiment, the pals battalions being the obvious exceptions.

    It's possible he was attested locally in Hackney or wherever he was living in 1902 and chose to join the RGA and was sent to perhaps the Depot Company at Dover?

    Alas without the full service history I'm unsure whether this question will ever get beyond a best guess answer. The Census' wont be any help due to his enlistment and discharge to reserves dates falling between 1901 and 1911.

    Have you tried the Royal Artillery Museum? They might be able to shed a more expert light on the recruiting practices of the RGA.

    I'm sorry I couldn't help more.

    Kind Regards,

    Tom

  5. #5
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    Thanks Tom,

    Your information has helped me to understand the recruiting process a little better. I'm visiting the Firepower museum at the end of the month so maybe, as you suggest, they'll be able to add some more detail.

    Thanks again,

    Paul

  6. #6
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    Paul

    As you have probably gathered, something called Army Book 358 (attestation book) for the Royal Artillery was put on line by FMP. This came from the museum. I wonder if the museum might have the equivalent for the the Royal Garrison Artillery.

    Some background information in an FOI request here - https://apps.nationalarchives.gov.uk/...tion-books.htm

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    Several of my ancestors were in the Royal Artillery and I've had some success rummaging through National Archives series WO69 (not online, requires visit). However, looking at the catalogue, I can see Royal Artillery and RHA stuff there but nothing for RGA. Pity. Just a thought.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for your thoughts Peter. Sorry for the delay in acknowledgement - I've been off air for a few days.

    Paul

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