Saturday, 28 October 2017

Cadet Class, Cairo

T.B. Minshall,
Langley Park, Norfolk
Thomas Minshall, of Northwich, Cheshire, enlisted with Cheshire Yeomanry at Chester, on 27 August 1914. The Cheshire, Denbighshire and Shropshire Yeomanry constituted the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade. In September the Brigade was posted to Norwich to join the 1st Mounted Division, the division being formed in August for the purpose of home defence.

The period September 1914 to March 1916 was spent on the Norfolk Coast. On 3 March 1916 Cheshire Yeomanry sailed from Devonport, arriving at Alexandria, Egypt, on 14 March 1916. The regiment comprised 25 officers and 451 men.

During his time in the UK, and later in Egypt, Thomas gained the following promotions:

- Appointed Lance Corporal - 17 February 1915
- Appointed Acting Corporal - 21 February 1916
- Appointed Lance Sergeant - 22 October 1916

Through 1916 the regiment took part in operations against the Senussi, and in the Baharia Expedition. At the end of the year Cheshire Yeomanry learnt it was to be formed into an infantry battalion.

As the establishment of an infantry battalion was so much greater than that of a cavalry regiment it was necessary for some amalgamations. On 1 March 1917 Shropshire Yeomanry arrived from Sherira at Helmieh Camp, Zietoun, near Cairo. The following day Cheshire Yeomanry arrived at the camp from Alamein. Here the regiments amalgamated to form 10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Bn. King's Shropshire Light Infantry.

In April 1917 Thomas witnessed scenes from the Second Battle of Gaza, the 10th Bn. KSLI being in reserve at the time.

On 19 June 1917 Thomas was appointed Acting Sergeant.

By the end of October, for Thomas at least, there was to be some respite from the desert and military operations - although perhaps not a time of rest! He was studying at “Cadet Class, Cairo”. The Imperial School of Instruction was at Zeitoun, a suburb of Cairo, and it is assumed that this is where his class was.

YMCA Huts, Zeitoun School, Cairo

A 200 page book of Thomas’ beautifully written notes from his class survives, neatly inscribed with the date, his name, company, platoon and section. It is dated 28 October 1917 and carries the note, “Cadet Class, Cairo”.

Thomas’ notes are indexed and cover the following subjects:
Care of Arms
Bayonet Fighting
Military Law
Field Training
Physical Training
Organisation & Training of a Platoon
Out-PostsRange Charts
Field Fortifications
Lewis & Machine Gun
March Discipline
Message Forms
Advance Guards
Artillery Formation
Range Duties & Discipline
Trench Routine
Artillery Co-operations
Orders & Messages
Interior Economy
Organisation of a Battalion
Night Operations
Evacuation of Wounded
Some information on the establishment at Zeitoun can be gleaned from Sir Archibald Murray’s Despatches.*
First Despatch, General Headquarters, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 1st June 1916.The Imperial School of Instruction at Zeitoun (suburb of Cairo), which came under my control after 19th March, has since been increased in size so as to train officers in all branches of warfare. Under its commandant, Lieut.-Colonel the Hon. E. M. Colston, M.V.O., its work has been most valuable. Besides the ordinary courses for officers and non-commissioned officers, it holds machine-gun, Lewis gun, signal and telephone, artillery, Stokes gun, and grenadier classes. Between 7th January and 31st May, 1,166 officers and 5,512 other ranks attended and passed in the various classes.
Fourth Despatch, General Headquarters, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 28th June 1917.
In spite of the important operations in progress during this time, military training has been continued with undiminished vigour. The Imperial School of Instruction at Zeitoun has by now passed over 22,000 officers and non-commissioned officers through its hands.
* Sir Archibald Murray’s Despatches (June 1916-June 1917), published by J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1920.

On 8 December 1917 Thomas Minshall was appointed to a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Battalion Suffolk Regiment.

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