I'm researching the Great Grandad we never knew as he died a few years after his service (1898 to 1910) ended.
He went by the name of Henry Aird and in peace time was a servant so may well have been a batman. His discharge parchment has irregularities. First is the signature which is in the same handwriting as the rest of the form but preceded by a handwritten p/d symbol. If someone signed on his behalf P/P is expected. Does anyone know what p/d means?
Oddly no signature was required at recruitment only when transferred to reserves. Perhaps it was common for that to be done in a soldier's absence to speed up processing . The other discrepancy is the entry age which does not tally with a subsequent Marriage Certificate where our great grandad ages suddenly by 5 years more than expected by the 12 years enlisted.: Was there a minimum age (say less than 26) to be enlisted around the time of the 2nd Boer War? The top age to enlist as a private is around 32 isn't it?.
According to Edward M Spiers' "The Late Victorian Army", the War Office experimented with the "recruiting age band" and set a recruiting age of nineteen to twenty five years from 1881 to 1883; when it was restored to eighteen to twenty five years. Of course, the difficulty for the Medical Officer undertaking a recruit's examination was whether the stated age corresponded with what he had in front of him. Doubtless, the official line was blurred on numerous occasions. Every enlistment paper I have seen has provision for a signature and usually the handwriting was good to excellent.
Standards of literacy amongst soldiers of the Victorian era appear to be the subject of some dispute. By 1889, the Army annual returns described just 1.9% of other ranks as illiterate; with 85.4% rated as possessing a "superior education". Those percentages were disputed by the Director of Military Education based on the soldiers who possessed a 4th class Army Education Certificate.
The birth date given at enlistment in 1895 may now make sense. He wanted to enter and stay in the army for at least 12 years (as a batman). As yet, no birth record can be traced though we know the father's name and a marriage date. We don't have the enlistment record, only the discharge paper/parchment. He attained both 3rd and 2nd class Army Education Certificates. The symbol (s/d) appears twice; for "Man" and "Commanding Officer" a colonel of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers in Dublin at the time of reserve transfer in 1906. It does look like a routine use of the device to speed admin up. The document we have (form D 426) was likely created at discharge in 1910 from other records by a Lieutenant or Captain (signature unreadable).