Tag Archives: Stripe

In September 1915, while stationed at the Hillsborough barracks in Sheffield, Arthur Linfoot received a promotion to the rank of lance-corporal. This was subsequently (and possibly mistakenly) revoked during Arthur Linfoot’s deployment to France in May/June 1916.

9 June 1916; Friday

Up at 6 o’clock. Shaved and washed in a bucket of pond water, – green. Scrambled through breakfast, dinner and tea. Got to know men a bit better . On fatigue in the morning and afternoon. Physical drill first thing in the morning – a short double. Beginning to get to know men better.

Paraded before a Captain Newton and told him that I had been a lance-corporal1.

  1. See note on 31 May about ALL’s possibly mistaken demotion to Private while aboard Karnak. In an interview given in 1976, ALL recalled a conversation with an officer about his demotion shortly after his arrival in France. This may have been the same conversation with “Captain Newton” as is recorded in this diary entry, although ALL did not mention a name during the interview.

    ALL said, “When I was made Lance Corporal in the barracks at Sheffield, I was full Lance Corporal with pay. I was moved up to Alnwick. We came back and we were there a month or two before I went to France. Now almost invariably Lance Corporal was acting rank and when he crossed overseas he took down his stripes and when I was on the boat there was a strange officer who didn’t know me at all and said ‘take your stripes down’ and I did as I was told. When we got to the unit in France where I was going to, I remember the officer who saw me, examined you when you joined up. He looked up at me and he said ‘but you were a Lance Corporal and now you are a Private’. He said ‘do you mind acting as a Private?’ I said, ‘no, not at all.’ He said, ‘alright’, but I had Lance Corporal’s pay.” 

31 May 1916; Wednesday

[At top of page above date – ] Big North Sea Battle1 Queen Mary, Indefatigable, Invincible, and many other ships lost.

Reveille at 4 o’clock. Paraded 5.15 for breakfast. Marched to station. Left 6.40. Beautiful country. Past Nottingham, Leicester, Sansbury†2, Oxford, Winchester and to Southampton. Arrived Southampton 1.153. Weren’t in ship until 5.15. Shaved and washed in strange conditions. Went aboard “Karnak4 at 5.15. Received lifebelts. Saw two aeroplanes.

Sailed for France

Left Southampton about 8 o’clock. Very fine night. Sunset over before past the Isle of Wight. Coast looked splendid. Two destroyers escorted us out. Watched searchlights playing over the 3 boats and over the harbour. Enjoyed the sailing until about 10 o’clock and then lay down on deck to sleep. Pretty cold. Up two or three times. Slept pretty well considering.

Had stripes taken off 5.

  1. The “Big North Sea Battle” was of course Jutland

  2. I can’t find any Sansbury between Leicester and Oxford (or indeed anywhere), nor any location to match any possible interpretation of the shorthand, though it is comparatively clearly written. The troop train may have taken a circuitous route to avoid the timetabled traffic, but it must have passed through some station which ALL noted or remembered as something like Sansbury. Even Aylesbury, which is just about plausible on pre-Beeching railway lines, is simply not deducible from the shorthand outline. Wednesbury might be just about possible route-wise, though in that case Birmingham might well have been mentioned. Many troop trains from the North to Southampton converged on Banbury, where the big Grimsbury muntions factory adjoined the railway station, and while neither of these names fits the shorthand, this was very probably ALL’s route. (DL)

    A longer note on the mystery of Sansbury may be found here

  3. The map shows the entire journey from Sheffield (A), via Nottingham (B), Leicester (C), Grimsbury (D – see previous footnote and the longer explanation here), Oxford (E) and Winchester (F) to Southampton (G). 

  4. The Karnak, a French passenger ship, was operated by Messageries Maritimes, Marseille. She was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-32 in the Mediterranean on November 27th, 1916 about 70 miles SE of Valetta, Malta when en route from Marseilles and Malta to Saloniki. 

  5. ALL had been promoted to Lance Corporal in September 1915. It was common for soldiers with acting rank to revert to their former rank on deployment to the field. According to an interview he gave in 1976, while he was aboard Karnak ALL was ordered to remove his stripes by “a strange officer who didn’t know me at all”. In the same interview, he went on to say “I am the only man in France who went through the war Lance Corporal acting Private with Lance Corporal’s pay.” It would appear that ALL’s demotion from “acting” Lance Corporal may have been a mistake. 

7 September 1915; Tuesday

On parade as usual. Busy all day. Went to Inwoods’ at night. Received stripe Tuesday12.

  1. “Stripe”:  this  was  a  single  stripe,  denoting  lance-­corporal;  a  full  corporal  got  two  stripes,  a  sergeant  three.  On this day ALL also sent his mother a post card to inform her of his promotion – see photo accompanying the 4 September entry. This  may have  been  promotion  to  ‘acting’,  ie  temporary,  rank  –  ALL  reverted  to  Private  on  arrival  in  France;  see  31  May  1916 – but see also the second footnote. 

  2. In an interview given by ALL in 1976, he says “I am the only man in France who went through the war Lance Corporal acting Private with Lance Corporal’s pay.” It would appear that ALL’s later demotion from “acting” Lance Corporal may have been a mistake. 

4 September 1915; Saturday

Had breakfasts at 7 o’clock. Welsh Party left at about 7.30. Charlie came in the afternoon. Had photos taken1 and then spent most of the night at Inwoods’ singing and playing. Stayed until late & Charlie was locked out of S. [Soldiers’] Home & had to sleep in Guard Room.

Group of 12 servicemen, presumably at Hillsborough Barracks, Sheffield: ALL in centre of middle row.
Group of 12 servicemen, presumably at Hillsborough Barracks, Sheffield: ALL in centre of middle row.

  1. The photo accompanying this diary entry is a postcard, posted on 7 September 1915 to ALL’s mother, with a message saying he was now a lance-corporal. It may be one of those taken on 4th September.