I had assumed that John, being a new recruit answering Kitchener’s drive for fresh troops, would have been excluded from the title of an “Old Contemptible” and was the first wave of “Kitchener’s Army.”
However, it seems that “Kitchener’s Army” (or Fred Karno’s Army, as the regulars called them) was a matter of structure; John was in the 2nd KSLI, which was in the 27th Division: a regular army division. There’s apparently some disagreement as to whether the new recruits to the regular army count or if only those in service at the time of the outbreak of war fall under the heading, but there seems to be enough consensus among historians that the distinction is based more on division than on enlistment dates.
The fact that John volunteered for the KSLI may have had to do with his desire to join the regular army and get to the front lines faster than the Territorial Forces, of which the Herefordshire Regiment (his local regiment) was a part.
This actually supports my memories of a man who was anxious to get to the front. As to why, I still feel (as I have since these memories broke) it was both a romantic disappointment (as I cannot even remember my wife or if I was married) and no small amount of Edwardian “Father would have wanted it” sentimentality (Lord Kitchener looked like my father… go figure).
At any rate, I have a tendency for my emotions to rule me (as did Phil), so volunteering to go over as an Old Contemptible isn’t that surprising given the time and place (and the fact that I considered doing the same a few times in this life, though depression and physical health prevented me from repeating the same mistakes twice).