Frederick H. Dulling was born in 1895, the son of Albert and Emily Keenor who had been married on October 12th 1892, and who were living in Centre House, the High Street. The children were Clara Camilla (1893), Frederick H.J. (1895), Sydney Herbert (1896) and Albert (1898). Sadly, Emily died in 1910. The 1911 census records Albert now 47 and a widower living in Barnstaple Street. Frederick had by this time become a grocer’s apprentice, Sydney was elsewhere on census night, young Albert was 13, while a fifth child, Harold now aged 10 had been born in 1901.
Frederick’s father, Albert, (17 in 1881) began life as a tailor, following the example of his own father, James Dulling, who was both a draper and tailor. Albert had an elder brother Henry (24 in 1881) who also became a tailor, and the two brothers played a very important role in the life of Winkleigh. Besides tailoring, Albert Dulling ran the large draper’s shop in the Square and his name often appears in local Winkleigh records. He supplied, for example, all the needlework materials required at Winkleigh School. Frederick Dulling and his brother Sydney both enlisted together by October 1914, their names proudly recorded in the lists published in the Ashreigney Deanery Magazine as volunteering for the Army Service Corps. Their army numbers were consecutive. The website ‘The Long Long Trail’ supplies us with an introduction to the Army Service Corps:
The ASC was organised into Companies, each fulfilling a specific role. Some were under orders of or attached to the Divisions of the army; the rest were under direct orders of the higher formations of Corps, Army or the GHQ of the army in each theatre of war.
• Base Depots
• Horse Transport Companies (including Companies in Divisional Trains, Reserve Parks and Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) Trains)
• Mechanical Transport Companies (including Companies in Divisional
Supply Columns and Ammunition Parks, Companies attached to the
heavy artillery, Omnibus Companies, Motor Ambulance Convoys,
Bridging and Pontoon units and Workshops)
• The Army Remounts Service (Companies involved in the provision of
• The ASC Labour Companies
However, it appears that the two brothers were soon transferred to the Royal Field Artillery, where they served as Drivers. Each 18lb field gun was drawn by 6 horses, with a driver to each pair. The units of the Regular Army in 1914 contained a mixture of serving regulars, recalled army reservists who had also completed their five years of regular service, and from October 1914 onwards supplemented by new wartime recruits. Territorial and new army units were under the command of their own divisions.
The RFA was divided into Brigades, the basic tactical unit, usually consisting of 4 Batteries and Brigade Headquarters, with a total establishment of about 770 men and 23 officers. Details given in the website ‘The Long Trail’ show that the Brigade was usually commanded by an officer with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Brigade HQ also had two other officers : a Captain or Lieutenant filled the role of Adjutant (in charge of administration); similarly a Captain or Lieutenant was the Orderly Officer (responsible for stores and transport); an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps was attached, as was an officer of the Veterinary Corps. Brigade HQ also included a Sergeant-Major plus two Corporals, two Bombardiers, nine Drivers, 7 Gunners, a Clerk, and aTrumpeter. These filled roles as signallers, telephonsists and assisted with range-taking duties. A Corporal and 3 privates of the Royal Army Medical Corps were attached for water duties; 8 Gunners acted as Officers Batmen (personal servants), and 2 as Orderlies for the Medical Officer. The Brigade HQ was in command of 3 Batteries and an Ammunition Column.
Usually lettered A to D, each of the Batteries numbered 198 heads at full establishment. Each was commanded by a Major or Captain, with a Captain as Second-in-Command, and 3 Lieutenants or Second-Lieutenants in charge of 2-gun sections. Battery establishment also included a Battery Sergeant-Major , a Battery Quartermaster Sergeant , a Farrier-Sergeant, 4 Shoeing Smiths (of which 1 would be a Corporal), 2 Saddlers, 2 Wheelers, 2 Trumpeters, 7 Sergeants, 7 Corporals, 11 Bombardiers, 75 Gunners, 70 Drivers and 10 Gunners acting as Batmen.
Sadly, Frederick’s personal military records were destroyed in the London blitz, but we have his medal card which carries more interesting information. He was awarded the usual Victory and British medals, but not the Star, which shows that he did not serve abroad in a theatre of war by the end of 1915. He was certainly eligible (19 when he enlisted), and in the normal way he would certainly have been trained and in France or Belgium (or even Gallipoli) by then. On the other hand he was awarded the rare Silver War Badge. This medal was instituted in 1918 and awarded to men who were honourably discharged, usually because they were unfit because of serious illness or wounded (and hence commonly referred to, but not accurately, as ‘the wounds medal’). There were various categories of the regulations, and the exact reason for this award will be traced later from records at the National Archives.
It is possible that Frederick served in India and Mesopotamia (areas which did not qualify for the 1915 Star, but where we know that the Silver Star was in some cases awarded) in which case one guess could be that he might have served in the 43rd Western Division, which included the 4th, 5th and 6th Devons and thus many of his friends in Winkleigh. There were three Artillery Brigades of Field Artillery attached to the Division - 215, 216 and 218 Brigade. There is, however, absolutely no evidence available for this, and we await further research into the Silver War Badge citation to give us a further clue. Any family research would be greatly welcomed.
16 July 2011