Jersey Flag
The Channel Islands and the Great War
Guernsey Flag

The Royal Jersey Garrison Battalion

The Muster Roll is useful for three other factors. First, it gives an indication of the everyday unit duties that had to be performed such as messing, running the Orderly Room and the need for such services as Carpentry, Shoemaking, and Tailoring, even to providing a secretary for the local Royal Army Temperance Association (RATA)! Secondly, it lists those with specialist skills such as Instructors in Physical and Bayonet Training, or Telephone Operators. Lastly, the Roll tells us of those men who had previously served in France, Salonika, Egypt or the Dardanelles, awards they may have received including in a few cases, the Tirah and South Africa Medals, if they had previously served in the Jersey Contingent, and whether they had been wounded or gassed.

As a result, the Muster Roll provides some clues to the composition and nature of the RJGB when coupled with an analysis of the UK National Archive's Medal Roll Index and other data, for one can see that the regimental numbering system reached 1035, a figure 125% more than the establishment of Sergeants and below.

There was clearly a core of those who having enlisted in the RJGB in February 1917, remained on strength until the Armistice, and it may be that the assumption can be drawn that most of these men were insufficiently fit for what the army described as general service, or outside the age limits for conscription. Meanwhile, there is evidence of men who, having joined the RJGB, are later to be found with a British regiment such as the Hampshires, and some having been Killed in Action (KIA) or Dying of Wounds (DOW). Then, there are those men with prior service in France, Salonika and elsewhere, and it would seem clear that these men could no be longer regarded by the Army as fit for general service. In that regard, the RJGB provided the means to retain their useful military skills in a somewhat more benign environment. With the overall turnover, the RJGB must have had the appearance of transit unit.

One surprising factor emerges. Having thought that the RJGB would have consisted of Jerseymen and Jersey residents, it is interesting to note that a draft of 100 men from famous British regiments such as the Durham Light Infantry and the Yorks and Lancasters appear to have joined the RJGB. Their names can be found in the range of regimental numbers 880 to 979.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) commemorates the deaths of seven men who died while serving with the RJGB:

998Pte G Baudains25th October, 1918
892Pte G Brierley31st October, 1918
1026Pte SW Ecobichon19th October, 1918
668Pte HG Robert29th October, 1918
85Pte AB Cain31st May, 1919
109 Sgt FG Godfray24th April, 1919
772 Pte FW Brown (or Leaman)27th March 1920

In the 1918 cases, the four deaths within a fortnight resulted from the Spanish Influenza epidemic, and at the Brighton Road Military Hospital in St Helier, Jersey. For Pte Brierley (an Ex-Manchester Regiment man), the CWGC incorrectly shows in its record and on his headstone that he was in the RGLI. nb.This has now been corrected and a new headstone dedicated in November 2008.

A list of RJGB members as is currently can be read here.

Any details that can help fill the gaps will be most welcome by the author.

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Nominal Roll

© 2006 Barrie Bertram

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