June 2014

The Bulletin of the Birmingham Branch of the WFA

Compiled by Bob Butcher

THE TANGLED WEB

On Saturday 27 October 1917 a Nottingham draper, Ernest H Cullen of West Bridgford, a Nottingham suburb, was tried by the Nottingham magistrates for food hoarding. Four sacks of flour containing a total of a quarter of a ton of flour had been found in his bathroom. It was enough to feed his household for a year.

Frederick W Gladdish,the miller's agent who had supplied the flour, was also tried for breaking the law forbidding the sale of flour for hoarding. Ernest C Chambers, a baker, was tried for having falsely claimed two pounds, three shillings and a penny as compensation from the government for having been unable to sell the flour in question because of the laws against selling for hoarding. William Smith, a grocer and special constable, was accused o signing a certificate to say that Chamber was telling the truth.

All four men were convicted. Chambers was fined £50, Cullen and Gladdish £25 each and Smith £5. They were also ordered to pay £40 costs divided between them according to the size of their fines. I leave it to the reader to work out how much each had to pay out extra.

Such fines would have been a heavy blow for small businessmen. To work out what they would mean today one must multiply the amounts by at least a hundred. The penalty† This was the equivalent of a hundred pounds by our standards.

The Reverend Pratt remained vicar of St Michael and All Angels, Eastbourne until his death on 12 March 1935. Occasionally people's names match their character. Our family once used a dog kennels run by Mrs Barker!

J.P. Lethbridge

A MATTER OF PRECISION

The Army likes to be very precise in its language so as to avoid any misunderstanding in the heat of battle. Sometimes it slips up though. For example, the newcomer may be forgiven for wondering whether 1st Battalion The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was the same unit as 1st (City) Battalion The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers). Of course the former was a regular battalion, the second belonged to the Territorial London Regiment but was affiliated to the Royal Fusiliers

In 1915 the BEF withdrew the heavy batteries from the infantry divisions and grouped them with the siege batteries guns to form the Heavy Artillery Corps (HAC). However those initials were also those of the Honourable Artillery Company, so the Heavy Artillery Corps was re-titled the Heavy Artillery Reserve (HAR). Actually the title of the Honourable Artillery Company was misleading because it was a regiment, not a company, and included infantry as well as artillery.

The Cameron Highlanders have often been confused with the Cameronians, a Lowland regiment, which would have offended both. The Cameronians themselves often caused confusion as they were the result of a Cardwell shot gun marriage between the Cameronians (26th Foot) and the Scottish Rifles (90th Foot), their official title being The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). The two regiments had hated each other (something to do with religion) and carried on this enmity even when they belonged to the same regiment to the extent that the two regular battalions used titles which did not include the others' name. Thus it was always 1st Battalion The Cameronians and 2nd Battalion The Scottish Rifles.

Precision also extended to commodities. For example though we use the terms supplies and stores as if they are interchangeable, in the Army supplies meant 'food, forage and fuel' whereas stores meant 'clothing and all other warlike and non-warlike equipment.'

Similarly a 'formation' was commanded by a general officer commanding (GOC) and consisted of units commanded by a commanding officer (CO) a unit consisted of sub-units commanded by an officer commanding (OC) who had lesser disciplinary and administrative powers than the CO.

The same goes for other items. I remember that at one time I was given the task of checking the company's equipment against Army Form G1098 which listed everything that the company should have. It was not too bad until I had to identify a 'bowl, pudding mixing, large' from some other bowl. Now that was a problem. I can imagine a committee hidden away in some corner of the War Office earnestly deliberating on the official title of, say, a cup. Bob Butcher

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