The Third Reinforcement Draft
On 26th February 1917 what remained of the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers had embarked at Dar es Salaam in German East Africa and proceeded to South Africa for some desperately needed rest and recuperation. They arrived in Durban on the 7th March and entrained there for Cape Town, arriving on the 14th March. On arrival in Cape Town they were met by the third reinforcement draft from the 6th (Reserve) Battalion Royal Fusiliers and composed of a mix of Derby scheme men, conscripts and men transferred to the battalion after recovering from wounds, sickness etc.
This draft had left Plymouth aboard the “s.s. Marathon”, a 7,848 ton ship of the Aberdeen Line, on the 10th February and had arrived in Cape Town the day before, 13th March.
The rest period in Cape Town finished on the 12th May 1917 when the battalion, including the latest reinforcements, entrained there for the three day journey to Durban. A further week of training etc. followed in Durban before, on the 21st May, the battalion embarked once more for East Africa, this time aboard the “s.s. Medic”.
The “Medic” was an 11,985 ton vessel of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company/White Star Line and normally operated on the Liverpool - Cape Town - Sydney route but had been requisitioned for the purposes of troop movement under the liner requisition scheme. On 29th May 1917 the battalion disembarked at the German East African port of Lindi.
The embarkation return(1) for the third reinforcement draft bound for the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers in East Africa shows that they proceeded overseas on 11th February with an establishment of 117 men under the command of Major T. Deacon and Lieutenant W. G. Stone. In addition to the draft of Royal Fusiliers aboard the “Marathon” there were Military Mounted Police, Royal Garrison Artillery, and Army Ordnance Corps details also bound for East Africa whilst the bulk of the troops onboard were destined for India and Mesopotamia.
(1) National Archives Reference WO 25/3556
Embarkation Returns, At Home for Abroad - Jan. to Mar. 1917.
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