The Post Office Rifles from Portsmouth

I’ve been doing a little bit of work on my WW1 Portsmouth War Dead database, as a bit of light relief from working on promoting my WW1 Book. I’ve been using Tim Backhouse’s eternally useful memorials in Portsmouth website to flesh out some details on the names on my list. Tim has listed pretty much every name on every kind of memorial in Portsmouth. I have been using his listing of the WW1 Cenotaph to create the bulk of my database – without his listing I would have had to do twice as much work.

Aside from the main memorials, Tim has also listed names from the plethora of other memorials around in Portsmouth. Of chief interest to me are three kinds – Company and Organisation Memorials; School Memorials; and Parish Memorials. In terms of Organisations and Companies we have names for the Portsmouth Gas Company, the Electric Company, the Passenger Transport Depot, the Police, and even Handleys, a local Department store. Schools are chiefly the local Grammar and public schools – Portsmouth Grammar School, St Johns College, Southern Grammar School for Boys and Northern Grammar School. The Parish listings are also useful too, helping me to confirm where in the city somebody came from, and sweeping up a few names that are not on the Cenotaph. Funily enough, many of the names from RC parishes have a distinctively Irish ring to them. St Johns Cathedral even has some latin sounding names – from Malta, perhaps?

Just to give an example of from one company joined up, lets take a look at the Portsmouth District of the Post Office. Four men from the Portsmouth Posties joined the 8th Battalions of the London Regiment – or, the Post Office Rifles. The London Regiment was a Territorial-only Regiment, and the Post Office Rifles are a fine example of a profession-based unit.

Rifleman A. Toleman was killed on 18 May 1915. He is buried at Bethune in France. Rifleman Victor Papworth was just 19 when he was killed on 21 May 1916, and is remembered on the Arras Memorial in France. Rifleman Thomas Brady was killed the next day, aged 20. He is buried in Barlin Cemetery. Lance Corporal Leonard Cox was killed on 20 September 1917, and is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial. Another Portsmouth man was killed serving with the Post Office Rifles, but does not seem to haved been a postie – Rifleman G Croad, who was killed on 7 June 1917 and is buried in Voormezeele. He joined the Army in September 1916, and seems to have gone to the front in January 1917, suggesting that he joined the Post Office Rifles as a replacement. As the wore drew on and the manpower situation became more acute, earlier recruiting loyalties and conventions were quietly ignored and men were sent to wherever they were needed.

The Post Office Rifles are a unique example – for Portsmouth, at any rate – of how men could join the armed forces based on their professional loyalties.




Filed under portsmouth heroes, western front, World War One

15 responses to “The Post Office Rifles from Portsmouth

  1. Thanks for the great historical education! After all, I thought “going postal” referred to our American letter-carriers getting angry after termination and going back to shoot the joint up, not creating a military unit of former postmen! (Okay, bad joke time is now over. ūüėÄ )
    Seriously, weren’t there a number of “professional” regiments, drawn up from common occupations? I thought I remembered reading about a couple from the city of London alone.

    • James Daly

      The London Regiment in particular served as an umbrella Regiment for all kinds of professional Battalions. There were the Civil Service Rifles, the Artists Rifles and of course the Post Office Rifles. Some of the City of London Battalions were manned by financial workers from the City of London. Other Battalions recruited primarily from a certain district or profession, but for whatever reason did not carry their identity in their name.

      The Middlesex Regiment (London north of the Thames) also had the Public Schools, Footballers and Public Works Pioneers Battalions. The Kings Own Yorkshire LI had a Miners Battalion, and the KRRC had a Church Lads Brigade Bn, a British Empire League Bn, and even an Arts and Crafts Battalion.

      • Impressive! Maybe that could be one of your next books – “An Idiot’s (read: Yank’s) Guide To British Regiments? ūüėČ

        • James Daly

          I only ‘borrowed’ it from the Long Long Trail – excellent website, lists every Battalion that served in the BEF, when they were formed, and where they served. Fantastic resource.

  2. x

    An Arts and Crafts Battalion? Wow.

  3. Pingback: Enligt bekräftade bestyr äger mut- och ekobrottsmyndighetens åklagare i Malmö inlett ett förundersökning och sammanställning av SEKO fackordförande villig SEKO Körbana Ban Skåne. Läs alltsammans artiklen närvarande om det.

  4. Pingback: Lieutenant Nowall Oxland – Portsmouth’s War Poet « Daly History Blog

  5. Clive Seager

    My paternal grandfather served in the 8th City of London Post Office Rifles and my father served in the 7th City of London Post Office Rifles (Shiny7th).

  6. Remarkable ideas. Investigation has shown that it is
    effective towards appetite suppression fats burning and increased energy metabolism.
    Saffron Extract will be loaded with vital vitamins, fibers, minerals and
    additional healthy nutrients and vitamins the physique requires.
    Today the question will be what really happen to be the benefits to deciding on
    and using Garcinina? Let’s have a closer glimpse at Saffron Extract success

  7. The large gain can also be these terms can be long enough to achieve extra time to you.
    That’s correct, the game may tell you exactly what you
    have to do to progress.

  8. Hey there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with
    us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely enjoying
    the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my
    followers! Great blog and great style and design.

  9. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends.
    I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this website.

  10. Hello, I desire to subscribe for this website to get newest updates,
    therefore where can i do itt please help.

  11. Hi there to every one, it’s really a nice for me to visit this web site,
    it contains important Information.

  12. Malcolm Stevens

    My research into family history has revealed a further member of the Post Office Rifles who was killed in action on 25 October 1915, aged 19 years. His name was Albert Robert Glenday. Born in Portsmouth in 1896 and became a fully fledged Portsmouth postman in April 1914 prior to joining the POR in London. Buried in Philosophe British Cemetery at Mazingarbe near Calais.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s