At the start of the centenary commemorations of the First World War in 2014, I was surprised to discover that my maternal great-grandfather had served in the forces. This had never been mentioned (as far as I can recall) and I had assumed (always a fatal mistake) that, like my paternal great-grandfather, he had not been called up andÂ not volunteered.
Charles Edward McPherson,Â however, born in 1881, did volunteer in the summer of 1915, aged 34.
He joined on 27 August 1915 in Malvern, Worcestershire. An engineer and fitter by trade, he specifically volunteered to join the Army Service Corps (ASC). He had had some previous military experience, having served five years in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment.
Now, recently widowed, he made the decision to join up, leaving his young family in the care of his parents.Â On attesting he gave as his next of kin his nine year old daughter Dorothy. He also gave details of his late wife Anne, and his other children: Donald, aged seven, and Stanley, aged five months.
He must have written to the Central Recruiting Depot and received a War Office pro forma letter to report to the recruiting officer in Malvern. He was appointed to the Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport Branch) joining at the MT Depot, Grove Park, Lee on 2 September. Grove Park was a former workhouse owned by Greenwich Board of Guardians, which had been taken over by the War Office and used as an ASC barracks for training recruits. After his initial training he was allocated to 373 (MT) Company, ASC on 6 November. The company was based at Bedford with sub-workshops at Chelmsford, Essex and East Bergholt, Suffolk. 1
M2/120027 Pte Charles Edward McPherson was appointed unpaid acting lance corporal on 16 July 1916. He was probably based at the sub-workshop at Chelmsford, where he was transferred to the newly formed 978 Company on 1 October 1917. The work of the company was to supply and maintain all MT vehicles attached to units in the whole of Essex and Suffolk south of a line from Haverhill to Aldburgh. Continue reading »
- 1.Â Service papers of M2/120027 Charles Edward McPherson, Army Service Corps (WO 363/M880) ^