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First World War soldiers of the South Staffordshire Regiment

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 19, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • Arthur Francis stands, back row middle, with his South Staffs comrades

  • Young South Staffs soldiers on fatigues, peeling potatoes

  • No.1 Platoon A Company 3rd South Staffs

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WE have more pictures of young local lads in khaki from the First World War, courtesy of Bernard Francis of Walsall.

His pictures show members of the South Staffordshire Regiment and his father Arthur is among the young infantrymen.

In our first picture Arthur Francis is the soldier sitting cross-legged on the ground. We have no names for the other soldiers but they are most likely to have come from the Black Country or nearby. The picture appears to have been taken in barracks, judging by the wooden hut behind them.

The photograph is labelled "No.1 Platoon, A Company, 3rd South Staffs". The third battalion was the reserve battalion of the regiment and on the outbreak of the war in August 1914 they were stationed at the Whittington Barracks in Lichfield – perhaps that is where this picture was taken.

The 3rd South Staffs was a training unit and remained in Britain throughout the war. On mobilisation in 1914 the battalion was sent to Plymouth but in May 1915 it transferred to Sunderland. In November 1916 it switched to Newcastle for duties with the Tyne Garrison and remained there for the rest of the war.

Our second picture was perhaps also taken in barracks as it shows a group of soldiers around a galvanized tub, peeling potatoes. Arthur Francis is at the extreme left of the back row.

There are no clues as to the location of the third photograph but Arthur stands at the middle of the back row, smoking a cigarette.

In the course of the First World War the South Staffordshire Regiment raised 18 battalions and was awarded three Victoria Crosses and 66 battle honours. Of those, ten representative honours were chosen for display on the regiment's colours – Mons; Marne 1914; Aisne 1914, 1918; Ypres 1914, 1917; Loos; Somme, 1916, 1918; Cambrai, 1917, 1918; St Quentin Canal; Vittorio Veneto; and Suvla. In all the regiment lost 6,357 men in the war.

Have you any pictures or stories from the First World War to share with Bugle readers? Contact dshaw@blackcountry bugle.co.uk or write to 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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