"Resigns his commission"

Discussion in 'General' started by harkness, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    I've been researching this chap: John Jebsen Whyley (1918-2008).

    The war interrupted his Law studies at Cambridge (his Solicitor father had been a JP and County Coroner for Bedfordshire).
    He was gazetted 2nd Lieut on. 27th July 1940 (Sandhurst).
    Posted to the 15/19th Hussars he then joined the newly-formed 23rd Hussars on 12 Dec 1940.
    Then this:


    He next surfaces as a Mechanic on board MS Braganza, sailing from Montevideo to Freetown to join a convoy for the U.K.. The ship caught fire on 12 Oct 1944 and sank. Whyley was one of the survivors.

    Could an officer simply 'jack it in' and walk away like that? Or is there more to this than meets the eye?
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
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  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
    Name: John Jebsen Whyley
    Death Age: 86
    Birth Date: 12 Sep 1918
    Registration Date: Aug 2005
    Registration district: Oxfordshire
    Inferred County: Oxfordshire
    Register Number: B09D
    District and Subdistrict: 695/1B


    England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
    Name: John J Whyley
    Registration Date: 1918
    Registration district: Bedford
    Inferred County: Bedfordshire
    Re-registration Year: 1918
    Mother's Maiden Name: Jobson
    Volume Number: 3b
    Page Number: 412
  3. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Yeah, sorry TD, I made a typo with his birth year. His mother's maiden name was Jebsen - she was Norwegian - hence John's middle name.

    Here's father:


    John J gets a mention here:

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  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Might be worth sending off for his service record, makes you wonder where he was late 1943, early 1944. It might mention which hospital perhaps he was sent to and from that deduce what may have been wrong??

  5. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Officers could resign a commission in wartime but would then be subject to conscription.

    I’ve no knowledge of this man but other examples I’ve seen (mainly WW1 related) reasons stated included - assessed as temperamentally unsuited to the rank by superior officers, resigned commission while disciplinary proceedings pending (often but not always for offences of criminal rather than military dishonesty), bankruptcy, immoral behaviour etc. Perhaps if you search for him in the newspaper archive you may glean more information.

    The answer will likely be in his records but may not be in the papers that MOD routinely release.

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  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Resigning a commission was always an option for an officer but during wartime he would as Steve has said be subject to the National Service Acts conscription but there was also the option to join the Merchant Navy instead which for some reason he did.

    Lt J J Whyley held a war substantive commission and as I see it,would have probably been reduced to an OR at the end of the war until demobbed.
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  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    I have seen quite a few "resigns his commission" in the London Gazette - i.e. The London Gazette "resigns his commission" - Google Search

    For what, I guess, are a great variety of reasons.

    Lawrence of Arabia: The man behind the robes | National Army Museum

    For example has: "In 1921 Winston Churchill chose Lawrence as his adviser. He resigned in 1922 to withdraw from public life. He then joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) under an assumed name, but he was found out and had to leave. He later joined the Tank Corps (also under an alias) before returning to the RAF in 1925."

    As an aside, officers resigning their commissions seems to pop up in fiction a fair bit, for diverse reasons too.

    i.e. The Four Feathers - Wikipedia

    "The novel tells the story of a British officer, Harry Feversham, who resigns from his commission in the Royal North Surrey Regiment"

    And in: BBC Radio 4 Extra - Willougby's Phoney War

    There is quite a bit on an officer resigning their commission (at about the 58 mins mark) of this fictional radio play that was repeated on BBC 4extra the other day.

    The character played by Jeremy Irons resigns his current (dull/frustrating) commission in order to go to another unit and (hopefully, he thinks) do a (more active) job he would rather do.

    Willoughby's Phoney War - 1978 BBC audio drame

    Radio 4 Extra celebrates Jeremy Irons’ 70th birthday with a classic performance from 40 years ago.

    In a radio drama that hasn’t been broadcast for four decades, Jeremy Irons plays the young rookie officer in William Fox’s Willoughby’s Phoney War.

    It’s 1939, and Charles Willoughby has quit Oxford to follow a career on the stage. Enraged by a fellow resident playing the Horst-Wessel-Lied, he marches off to sign up at Chelsea Barracks - so convenient for Harrods - but is diverted to the Territorial Army.

    What follows, up until the formal declaration of war, is a catalogue of misadventures and misunderstandings. However, the ludicrous frustrations of peacetime are nothing compared to the absurdities of the war that follow.

    First heard on Radio 4 in 1978.

    Directed by John Tydeman
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  9. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your input chaps. His life certainly changed after the death of his father.

    In the second article, above, it states that Gregory left John "when qualified the benefit of his practice". Yet I have seen no evidence that John entered the legal profession.

    I'll keep looking.

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