The Old and the Bold

The Second Reinforcement Draft

As per the first reinforcement draft, the second draft to be sent out to the Battalion in East Africa was also composed predominantly of men who had enlisted voluntarily under the Derby Scheme in either November or December 1915.  Their mobilisation had commenced in March 1916 and they had proceeded to the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers’ Reserve Company at Hounslow Heath.  However, instead of proceeding overseas with the first draft, these men were held back and subsequently posted to the 5th (Reserve) Battalion Royal Fusiliers at Dover.

The second reinforcement draft embarked at Portland aboard the “s.s. Ajana”, a 7,759 ton ship of the Australind Steam Shipping Company on 17th October 1916.  Her route to East Africa was via the west coast of Africa and South Africa.  On 11th November the draft transshipped at Durban onto the “s.s. Kinfauns Castle”, a 9,664 ton ship of the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company to complete the last leg of the journey to the German East Africa port of Dar es Salaam on 30th November 1916.

The embarkation return(1) for the second reinforcement draft bound for the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers in East Africa fails to record their presence aboard the “Ajana” but another document(2) found shows, that at the request of the Commander in Chief in East Africa, a return was made showing the reinforcement demands on the War Office and other authorities and recorded the numbers sent.  This return includes the detail that 1 Officer and 106 other ranks of the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers arrived on the 30th November 1916 aboard the “Kinfauns Castle”.   

(1) National Archives Reference WO 25/3547

   Embarkation Returns, At Home for Abroad - Oct. to Dec. 1916.

(2) National Archives Reference WO 95/5351-5-1

    Adjutant General (Base) War Diary March 1917.

s.s. “Ajana”

s.s. “Kinfauns Castle”

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