Old Soldier

Old Soldier

WILLIAM PACKER was an 'old soldier' and was born in 1863 in Long Buckby, Northamptonshire. He lived in Northamptonshire with his parents & relatives, in 1881 he is listed as an "unemployed Shoemaker and Finisher". On the 20th April 1881 he joined the army, probably as a result of his unemployment. He was 18 years and 9 months old and enlisted at Leicester with the 27th Brigade signing on for 12 years 'General Service' he was given service number 3598, in June of that year he transferred to the 26th Brigade he was only with that Brigade for two weeks and on the 1st July 1881 he moved to the 2nd Battalion The Derbyshire Regiment (The Sherwood Foresters). He was described as being 5 feet nine inches tall of a fair complexion with grey eyes and light hair, he gave his religion as a 'Baptist'. He served 'at home' including Ireland until March 1883 when he went to India achieving the rank of Lance Sergeant in 1887 and extended his army service (with the colours) to 12 years. In 1888 he was appointed Sergeant this however did not last long as he was arrested for absence, tried and convicted in July of that year and reduced in rank to Corporal. During his time in Ireland and India he was hospitalised several times for amongst other things venereal disease on at least 5 occasions. He re-engaged for a further period (up to a total of 21 years) in 1891 by which time he was a Lance Sergeant, however in September of that year he was transferred to the 'home' battalion - 1st Battalion The Derbyshire Regiment (The Sherwood Foresters). He had served in India for nearly 9 years and taken part in all the major deployments including the Sikkim expedition. He remained 'at home' being promoted to Sergeant in May 1892 before being transferred to the 3rd Battalion in October 1892, he was finally discharged with the substantive rank of Sergeant in April 1893 having completed 12 years service. He must have missed army life as we find that in January 1894 he signed on again for a period of 4 years with the 3rd Battalion The Sherwood Foresters - this was the 'Militia' Battalion (reserve), he had moved to Derby at this time, was married and employed at the Midland Railway as a 'finisher'. He was 30 years of age and although he enlisted as a Private he was immediately given his old rank of Sergeant. He completed his service in January 1898. At 34 and having given the Army 16 years of his life you would have thought that he was content to continue in civilian life but the army was obviously in his blood and only 4 months after completing his second term he enlisted again in May 1898 for a further 4 years with the 3rd Battalion. He was at this time living in Whitecross Street, Derby and was employed as a Clerk at Handyside and Co. He was immediately given his old rank of Sergeant and in July 1898 he was transferred to the Militia Reserve, he was 'called to the colours' and his rank 'embodied' on the 23rd January 1900 where upon he left the service of Handyside and Co. There are some accounts of him fighting in the South African War (Boer War 1899-1902),however his service record does not show this and I cannot find a record of any medals being awarded to him for this campaign. There are no transfer's to another Battalion and only the 1st, 4th Battalions and Service Companies of the Volunteer Battalions of the Sherwood Foresters took part in the South African War. It is possible that he was called to the colours as part of replacements within the 3rd Battalion for those soldiers who had either been transferred to other battalions or had volunteered to fight in South Africa. He certainly was not back to full time soldiering for long as his service record for this period shows that he was disembodied (i.e. returned to part time) on the 4th December 1900. He completed his service on the 8th May 1902 and was discharged. When war was declared in August 1914 the soldier in William must have awoken for on the 21st September 1914 he signed on again at Derby, he was 51 years of age! It was remarkable that he was accepted for service at this age, but obviously still a fit man standing 5feet 10inches tall and weighing 168 pounds and he passed the medical. He joined as a Private and was attached to the "Depot" but was promoted straight away to Sergeant (probably on account of his previous service) and posted to the 12th (Service)Battalion (Pioneers) Sherwood Foresters - part of Kitcheners New Armies. He was promoted again on the 12th November to 2nd Company Sergeant, this was substantiated in rank to Company Quartermaster Sergeant.

Created by: Geoff60552

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    British Army 7443 Company Quarter Master Serjeant Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment

    British Army 7443 Colour Serjeant Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment