29 September 2011

King's Shropshire Light Infantry 1895/96


Some while back I bought a group of medals that had belonged to 1093 Colour Sergeant Charles Smith of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. Along with his 1882-dated Egypt Medal, Khedive's Star and Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal was this rather fine photo of D Company Football team (no battalion given) taken after they had won the Company Challenge Shield for the season 1895-1896 (they'd been runners-up the previous year). The men in the photo are all named, Colour Sergeant Smith sitting cross-legged far right.

Here are the names, left to right, of the victorious team:

Back Row: L/Cpl C Crooke, L/Cpl T Corbett, Pte J Lewis, Cpl W Keight, Cpl J Gibbons (linesman)
Middle Row: Clr Sgt E Beale, Cpl F Woodland, Capt W C Cass, Sgt A Nicholls
Front Row: Pte J Pearson, Pte T Morton, Clr Sgt R Woodland, Pte F Harrison, Clr Sgt Charles Smith

I decided to see if I could find service records for any of these men. Charles Smith had nothing in WO 97 but a record does survive in WO 363 which shows that he enlisted with the 21st Brigade on the 7th January 1879 and was discharged on the 30th September 1908 having served a grand total of 29 years and 272 days. He died of a cerebral haemmorhage on the 13th April 1939 aged 78; the death certificate in the name of Frederick Charles Smith.

L/Cpl Charles Crooke
Nothing in WO 97, WO 364 or WO 363. Charles Jeffery C Crooke was born in 1877, his birth recorded in the June quarter of that year in Walsall, Staffordshire. He enlisted with the KSLI around the 5th September 1894, served with the regiment in South Africa during the Second South African War and was awarded the QSA with clasps for Cape Colony, Paardeberg, Driefontein and Johannesburg. He appears on the QSA medal roll as sergeant and was a colour sergeant by 1902.  He was the best man at the 1906 wedding of Sergeant Bugler Henry Crew, also of the KSLI and also a Boer War veteran. Charles Crooke served during the First World War, his medal index card indicating that he arrived overseas with the regiment as a quartermaster sergeant on the 21st December 1914.  He was commissioned second lieutenant on the 24th May 1918 and was mentioned in dispatches in July 1922.  The address on his MIC is given as Binswood Cottage, New Road, Meole Brace, Shropshire. Charles Crooke died in Cheshire in 1962 at the age of 85. My thanks to Robert Crew for contributing information - see comments.

L/Cpl Thomas Corbett
Nothing in WO 97 but there is a Thomas Corbett who joined the 3rd Militia Bn (WO 96) as a seventeen-year-old in 1889. WO 364 has the same man as 3327 Thomas Corbett who joined the regiment on the 24th October 1890 aged 18 years and eight months and was already serving with the 3rd Militia Battalion. He was a lance-corporal by July 1895 and would go on to serve during the Boer War earning the QSA with clasps for Cape Colony, Paardeburg and Driefontein. Returned to England on the 17th May 1900, he would serve a total of 12 years.

Pte J Lewis
Too many options to be certain. There is, in WO 97, a 3356 Pte John Lewis who was serving with the regiment, based at the regimental depot, when D Company won the Challenge Shield.  This man also served in South Africa during the Second South African War and was awarded the QSA with clasps for Cape Colony, Paardeberg, Driefontein and Johannesburg.  Remarks note he was posted to the Army Reserve.

Cpl Walter Keight
In WO 97 there is a 1607 Walter Keight who joined the regiment on the 11th June 1885, although this man was a sergeant by 1895/1896. Served in South Africa during the Second South African War and was awarded the QSA with clasps for Cape Colony, Paardeberg, Driefontein and Johannesburg.  Remarks note he was posted to the 3rd Battalion.

Cpl John Gibbons
Nothing in WO 97. WO 364 has 2207 John Gibbons who had joined the regiment on 8th March 1887 and who was a corporal by December 1895. He was discharged in March 1908, by then a sergeant and with 21 years' service under his belt.

Sgt Ernest Beale
Nothing in WO 97. The WW1 medal index cards have a 1603 Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant E Beale whose number indicates that he joined the KSLI in 1885. This man was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal with gratuity in 1944. There is a further card for 13032 RQMS Ernest Beale of the 6th KSLI who served overseas from the 24th July 1915 and who was discharged to commission with the Labour Corps on the 25th August 1915.  He was subsequently captain and qaurtermaster sergeant with the 25th Labour Group.  The address on his MIC gives 14 College Hills, Shrewsbury.  Possibly the same Ernest Beale who died in Rowley Regis, Staffordshire in 1957 at the age of 89.

Cpl Frederick George Woodland
WO 97 has 3280 Frederick George Woodland, born in Colchester Barracks in approximately June 1872, joined the KSLI at Shrewsbury on 2nd August 1890, discharged in July 1911 having served 21 years. He was certainly in England when D Company won its shield but he was a sergeant by September 1894. He died in 1951 aged 78. The 1881 census shows him as an eight-year-old living at Copthorn Barracks Shrewsbury, his father a 41 year-old staff-sergeant with the Shropshire Militia.

Captain W C Cass
Unresearched.

Sgt A Nicholls
Nothing in WO 97.

Pte J Pearson
Nothing in WO 97. A 2724 Private J Pearson served in South African during the Second South African War and was awarded the QSA qith clasps for Cape Colony and Paardeberg.  He was returned to England on the 7th July 1900.  His QSA is in private hands.

Pte Thomas Morton
WO 97 has 5022 Pte Thomas Morton who joined the regiment in February 1896 aged 18 years and six months. The T Morton in the photograph looks young enough to be this man. Thomas would go on to serve 15 years and 41 days with the regiment before being discharged in March 1911. His brother, Titus Morton, was a regular with the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots.

Clr Sgt R Woodland
Nothing in WO 97. Possibly related to Frederick Woodland although I have been unable to find a R Woodland listed in the Woodland household on census returns (apart from father Richard who would have been too old to be playing football in the mid 1890s).

Pte F Harrison
Too many options to be certain.

If anyone can shed any more light on any of these men, please let me know.

2 comments:

Robert Crew said...

I was fascinated to see this photo -- thank you for posting. Colour Sgt. C.J. Crooke was best man at the 1906 wedding of my grandfather, Sgt. Bugler Henry Crew, also of the KSLI. They had served together in South Africa. Sgt. Crooke had his three stripes by 1901 and was Colour Sgt. the following year.

Paul Nixon said...

Robert, thanks very much for the additional information which I have added to L/Cpl Crooke's mini write-up.