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5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders

Territorial Force Attestation Papers


 Attestation form for No2939 Alexander Baird, 16th January 1915.
4 years’ Service in the United Kingdom

2. Are you willing to be attested for service in the Territorial Force for this term of 4 years (provided His Majesty should so long require your services) for the County of Aberdeen to serve in the 5th (Res) Bn Gordon Highlanders?

3. Have you received a notice stating the liabilities you are incurring by enlisting, and do you understand them?

4. Do you now belong to, or have you ever served in the Royal Navy, the Army, the Royal Marines, the Militia, the Special Reserve, the Territorial Force, the Imperial Yeomanry, the Volunteers, the Army Reserve, the Militia Reserve, or any Naval Reserve Force? If so, state which unit and, if discharged, cause of discharge.

I, Alexander Baird swear by Almighty God, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to His Majesty King George the Fifth, His Heirs, and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend His Majesty, His Heirs, and Successors, in Person, Crown, and Dignity against all enemies, according to the conditions of my service.

[For more examples of later enlistment forms see here ]

Alexander Baird opted for Home Service, possible because he was the father of a young family.  His medical record dated the same day shows him as being  fit for service and he was then appointed to the 5th (1st Reserve) Battalion.

Baird's military career was short lived.  He was discharged as medically unfit for service,  due to rheumatism, on 2nd February 1916 at Greenock.  His unit at that time was was given as  “B” Company,  2nd/5th Battalion.

It can be seen that there was no question regarding the age of the man on this form. However on the medical inspection report, the examining doctor was required to enter an "Apparent age" for the recruit.

The 'War Book of Turriff', contains an interesting chapter regarding  the experiences of a member of the 2/5th Battalion, reproduced in part below. Apart from containing an anacdote about a man named Baird, who may well be the man mentioned above, it describes in a light-hearted way, not only the make up of these Reserve Battalions, but also the familiar relationship between the men and their NCOs which was a feature of the Territorial Force in the early years.  It also highlights the inexperience of many of those NCOs.

In December 1914 the War Office seemed to be aroused to the fact that a number of ex-soldiers, ex-Volunteers, and ex-Terriers, had signed little 'scraps of paper', promising their service to their country in the event of necessity. 

The 28th December [1914] found many of us proceeding to Peterhead in answer to a gentle reminder that we had not yet fulfilled 'our honourable obligation'.  A hefty lot we were, varying in age from thirty to fifty, just a little on the 'wechty' side maybe, but as a platoon easily taking the shine out of the the youngsters.  We practically all passed the doctor, were sworn-in in a bunch, signed some papers - we were not particular as to what we signed then.

Our soldiering commenced on 5th January 1915.  Peterhead weather was as usual at that time of year, raw and cold.  Squad drill, physical jerks, company drill and routine marches, kept us warm.

As to soldiering - well, my time on the square was short - 25 days' service saw me a full-blown C.Q.M.S - raw but willing. My ignorance of Army methods and Army routine was profound, but I was uplifted with the idea that I could learn, and, not knowing many things, I was happy in my ignorance. Returns . . . were an ever-recurring nuisance:

'How many men in your company have had measles?*  How many ditto have not had measles?  How many are not sure? Return to be at H.Q one half-hour hence.'  A sprint to the parade ground, the company in column of platoons - the sorting out of 'hads' and 'had nots' and doubtfuls; total 180; 230 in company: average struck : return completed, and the P & M book once more claimed my attention:

'Fit na wye his my wife nae got ony separation allooance yet?'
'Well, Baird, you're a fortnight joined just.'
'Aye, bit div ye think a'm gaun tae see 'er an' the bairns stairvin'?  A fine adee fan a man leaves a'thing fer his country an' gets trated this wye.'
'You can hardly expect T.F. Secretary to have you only in view, surely? Practice patience a wee.  I'll drop a note.'
'Ye'd jeest better or -----'
'Get out, d----- you.'
The note is dropped in the usual business way, signed 'yours truly'.

Two days later there is a hasty summons for C.Q.M.S of 'C' Coy. to report himself at H.Q.
The Adjutant looks severe.  The letter is produced, and a calm judicial voice asks if I know anything about it.  Of course I do.  Then the enormity of my offence is pointed out - all memos must be signed by O.C company, passed for the C.O.'s covering memo, and then dispatched. 'Please note for future guidence'.

*This reference to measles was obviously made necessary because of the epidemic that had struck amongst the troop in Bedford that winter.

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Carolyn Morrisey