Thursday, September 11, 2014

320605 Pte Harry Hall, 12th Norfolk Regiment

Harry Hall was born in Chailey in 1897, his birth registered at Lewes district in the December quarter of that year.  He appears on the 1901 census as a three year old living at Station Cottage, Chailey with his family.  The household comprised Thomas Hall (head, aged 52, a railway plate layer), his wife Rhoda Hall (aged 47) and their four children: Rosey Hall (aged 12), Charles Hall (aged nine), George Hall (aged seven) and Harry.  All three boys would later serve in the First World War. 

Census returns for 1891 and 1881 reveal other Hall children as well: Elizabeth, aged 15 in 1891, another daughter – the name is difficult to decipher – aged 11 in 1891 and Annie Hall, aged four in 1891.  The 1881 census additionally notes John Hall, aged three. 

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes an H Hall in November 1916, reporting that he is a Gunner serving with the RFA in England.  By January 1917 however, he is recorded as being with the 7th Training Reserve Battalion.  The following information about the Training Reserve Battalions is taken from Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail: 

On 1 September 1916, a considerable re-organisation of the reserve infantry battalions took place. Before this date, most of the infantry regiments contained one or more reserve battalions. Recruits would be posted to these battalions for basic training, before they were posted to an active service unit. With the introduction of conscription, the regimental system simply could not cope with numbers, hence this development. Thus, in combination with conscription, the local nature of recruitment for infantry regiments was abandoned.
After 1 September 1916, these regimental distinctions disappeared, and the reserve battalions were re-designated as battalions of the Training Reserve. They were organised into new Brigades of the Training Reserve. No Guards, Irish or TF Battalions converted to Training Reserve, and this change did not affect the Special Reserve or Extra Reserve battalions of the regular army (normally the 3rd and 4th Battalions of a regiment).  The official complement of the Training Reserve was a little over 208,500 soldiers.

Men who attended the Training Reserve battalions were not allocated to any particular regiment when the time came for them to be posted. Thus, in combination with conscription, the local nature of recruitment for infantry regiments was abandoned. Later, from May 1917, this arrangement was itself altered when the units of the Training Reserve became Graduated and Young Soldier battalions.

The 7th TRB had its origins in the 9th (Reserve) Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment but Harry does not appear to have joined this regiment.  In December 1917, Chailey Parish Magazine reported that he had been wounded whilst serving with the 12th Norfolk Regiment and the following April, still with the 12th Norfolks, he was reported as having been wounded again.

His final entry in Chailey Parish Magazine appears in July 1919 where it reports: Hall, Pte H, 12th Norfolk Regiment.  Twice wounded.
The 12th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Battalion was a Territorial Force battalion formed in Egypt in February 1917 from the dismounted 1/1st Norfolk Yeomanry of the 230th Brigade in the 74th Division.  On 1st May 1918 it sailed from Alexandria, arriving in Marseilles six days later.  It remained on the Western Front for the remainder of the war. Harry would therefore appear to have been wounded - or injured - whilst the battalion was stationed in Egypt.
The National Archives notes three men with the name Harry Hall who served overseas with the Norfolk Regiment.  The Chailey Harry Hall is almost certainly the man noted as 320605 Harry Hall as this number falls within the block of numbers (315001 – 325000) allocated to the 12th Norfolks when the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917.
Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry.

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