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Alan Greveson's World War 1 Forum (Page 24)

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Posted by: Rab Lavery {No contact email}
Location: Shankill Road Belfast
Date: Thursday 11th June 2015 at 6:37 PM
Dear Alan

I would be grateful if you could inform me of any information on the following brave Soldier.


As thus far im aware he was killed at the opening battle of Messines and is mentioned on The Menin Gate.
I'm actually trying to pinpoint the exact area where he was killed.

Many Thanks In Advance Alan

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 11th June 2015 at 9:06 PM

Dear Rab,
Unfortunately, from the surviving documents that are readily available it is not possible to state where a soldier was killed. Sergeant Martin was listed only as killed in action. Detail of a death is normally found in family correspondence where an officer or friend wrote to the widow or relative. The Battalion war diary might make mention of Sgt Martin. It can be downloaded for GBP 3.30 from:
The published regimental history might have more detail about the fighting at Messines. See:
With kind regards,
Posted by: Lorenzo David Stevens {Email left}
Location: Sussex England
Date: Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 2:28 PM
My paternal Grandfather, LORENZO DAVID STEVENS Reg. No: 136786 served with the Royal Engineers from Nov 1915 until demob at end of WW1 as a Driver/Shoe Smith. We had uncovered a report in the Sussex Express of early 1918 that he was awarded the DCM and MM and would like to discover any details relating to these, but his military record does not show these medals, can anybody throw any light on these awards?
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 6:58 PM

Gallantry awards were promulgated in the official government publication, The London Gazette. There was no entry for the regimental number 136786. The Gazette can be searched online at
Posted by: Michael {Email left}
Location: Salisbury Wiltshire
Date: Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 2:14 PM
Dear Alan,
My grandfather, Captain Harold Patton Williams MC, served in 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on the Western Front from 1916 to 1918, during which time he commanded A Company. According to information I have been able to obtain, he was promoted A/Captain on 10th August 1916 just after the 1st Inniskillings suffered a phosgene attack at Potijze in the Ypres sector during 8th/9th August (Sprig of Shillelagh, December 1916). By my reckoning he remained in command of A Company from then until February 1918, when he was posted to 4th (Extra Reserve) Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Buncrana in Co Donegal, relinquishing his acting rank, a period of some 18 months commanding a rifle company on active service on the Western Front.
This seems an extraordinary length of time, given average life expectancy within infantry battalions during the period, and I was wondering if this represents some sort of record, or at least a remarkable length of tenure for that theatre of operations and whether you have a view on this, given your extensive experience researching records of service?
Kind regards,
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 6:47 PM

Dear Michael,
It was not that unusual for an officer to remain in command of a company for eighteen months. Siegfried Sassoon served for two years (May 1915 to April 1917) before being wounded, although he had suffered fever in between. What is remarkable is that a Second Lieutenant promoted to temporary Captain should be commanding a company in a Regular Army battalion (1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers) for eighteen months. The London Gazette of 14th December 1917 recorded him as Williams; 2nd Lt. (temp Capt.) H.P.. Mind you, in November 1917 there was another company in the 1st Battalion that was commanded by a Second-Lieutenant O Brien.
The London Gazette recorded that Harold Patton Williams was promoted to acting Captain while commanding a company on 10th August 1916. He relinquished the rank on 24th February 1918, so it seems likely he relinquished the rank on ceasing to command a company, but it would be necessary to see his service record to establish that that was the case. It is identified in The National Archives:
The battalion war diary refers to his award of the M.I.D. and M.C. in an entry marked 15th to 17th January 1917. He is only referred to as Captain Williams and the entry does not specify whether he was still with the battalion or not. He was fighting at Cambrai in November 1917 and was not listed as wounded afterwards, so he was certainly physically with the 1st Battalion until the end of 1917, but there is no further entry of his name between then and May 1918.
He must have been proficient as a company commander if he held the position in the rank of a temporary captain for that length of time; and his Commanding Officer obviously did not feel he needed to replace him. The fact he was awarded the M.C. while commanding one company and re-organising two others in battle speaks volumes of the regard in which he would have been held.
As far as life expectancy went, he was more fortunate not to have been killed when in charge of a platoon as a subaltern when he joined the regiment in April 1916.
Life expectancy of a mere six weeks is often quoted for junior officers, but that related only to certain periods of the war and to the young, inexperienced subalterns. (If a subaltern had been shot climbing out of the trench and died of wounds five months later, was his life expectancy a few minutes into the battle or five months beyond? Seventeen per cent of British officers were killed in the war, so eighty-three per cent had better odds than six weeks.)
The calculation of six weeks might have started with the publication in 1937 of Stand To: A Diary of the Trenches, by Capt F.C. Hitchcock MC, 2nd Leinster Regiment, who calculated the average life expectancy of a subaltern was six weeks, but he was referring only to the years 1916 and 1917. However, Robert Graves, who was not renowned for his accuracy, stated that a soldier who had the honour to serve with one of the better divisions could count on no more than three months trench service before being killed or wounded; a junior officer, a mere six weeks. That unfortunately has lead people to interpret trench service as Life Expectancy, which is not necessarily what Graves meant.
Harold Williams had been in the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps, so even as a Second-Lieutenant he would have had more training and military experience than many junior officers in 1916. It was probably his OTC experience that qualified him for being an acting Captain while commanding a company.
He was Mentioned in Despatches by Sir Douglas Haig in his despatch of 7th November 1917 for action in the Cambrai operations of November 1917 (London Gazette 14th December 1917 page 13234) and was obviously a gallant and gentlemanly officer who led from the front, as his citation for the award of the Military Cross in the same actions at Cambrai said (London Gazette; 16 July 1918; Supplement; 30801; Page; 8477).
Three of his brothers were killed in the war, so Harold also had luck on his side.
With kind regards

The war diary of the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers is in two parts for the years 1916 to 1918. They can be downloaded (GBP 3-30 for each part) from:
The diaries are also available on the ancestry.co.uk website (subscription required).
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 11:33 PM

Correction: In paragraph four where it reads The battalion war diary refers to his award of the M.I.D. and M.C. in an entry marked 15th to 17th January 1917 should read 15th to 17th January 1918.
Reply from: Michael
Date: Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 10:06 AM

Dear Alan,

Very many thanks for your prompt and illuminating response to my query, which is much appreciated. It certainly adds a perspective to my grandfather's experiences during the war, and of course his three brothers, who I was denied the chance to know. I am very grateful.
With kind regards,
Posted by: Kerry Milutin {No contact email}
Location: Bakersfield California Usa
Date: Monday 8th June 2015 at 6:37 PM
Dear Mr Greveson thank you for your help i recived from the canadian house of commons a beautiful letter and copys from the b ook of remembance with joseph willette name and his brother midy. can you please help point me to where i might find pictures of them i would be for ever in your dept kerry milutin
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 8th June 2015 at 11:19 PM

Dear Kerry,
I am pleased you have been able to receive a copy of the book of remembrance.
I have no knowledge of a photograph of Joseph Willette. The only mention of a photograph on this website referring to the 102nd was in some correspondence between two readers which referred to the 102nd (Lincolnshire and East Riding Yeomanry) Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps, which was a British unit not a Canadian one. You are the only correspondent to have mentioned Joseph Willette.
The Canadian Forces did not routinely take individual photographs in the First World War and so any individual portrait would remain with the family. Local newspapers of the time might have reproduced a photograph if they reported the death.
There were probably group photographs taken when not at the Front. See, for example:
The regimental history is available online: See:
With kind regards,
Posted by: Ashleigh {Email left}
Location: Dudley West Midlands
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 9:42 PM
sorry to bother you but I am interested if you could help me, I have been tasked to find local World War 1 heroes service men how served in the Army. It could be in Walsall, West Bromwich, Oldbury, Dudley, Brownhills or Bloxwich.
But I would need the Following Information about the personal if you could.

-Background info, where they were born, what school, family and if they worked at all.
- When and why they joined the army?
- Experience in the army? where they served, where he was based, regiment, rank service number, where he was berried.
- effects of the war

if you could get back to me that would be great help
Regards Cadet Sergeant Ashleigh Rowe From Staffordshire And West Midlands North Sector Army Cadets
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 11:08 PM

Dear Ashleigh,
You have been set an impossible task.
But do not worry as there is a solution. The number of men from those areas who served in the Army in the First World War would be such that a lifetime would be required to identify them and their service, involving great expense.
I would suggest you focus your research on what has already been published, because it is a rule of genealogy and family history that research should not involve duplicating the effort.
The starting point would be to discover if there was a Roll of Honour for one of the towns. You can search for these on Google by entering the place name followed by (space) AND in capital letters (space) and then Roll of Honour within quotation marks.
Try it for Dudley:
All the First World War dead are recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. If you enter only the name of the town Walsall, for example, in the keywords box on their search page labelled Find War Dead, it produces 1,682 records which mention the name Walsall. This might not be a complete list of men from Walsall as many records do not mention the town. You could select a few as representative examples, perhaps by age, regiment and rank.
Most First World War records were destroyed in the London blitz in 1940 and to access the ones that have survived for individual soldiers would cost you hundreds of pounds in travelling expenses or charges. Even then, only an expert can decipher the records and place them into an accurate historical context. Researching my own grandfather in the First World War has taken me years, and that is just one man. And I have yet to finish it!
Whoever set the task has no knowledge of the immensity of it. A keyword search in Soldiers Died in the Great War returned 2,267 names related to Walsall alone.
Why not select a search on this website at the top of the page and enter the name of a town to find the research already done on men from that town? If you cite your sources, you will have plenty of examples.
School records are not widely available, but some schools do have Rolls of Honour, perhaps Queen Mary School, Walsall. Try searching for name of town AND school AND roll of honour. A visit to the local library might reveal a history book about a local school with its roll of honour.
The minimum school leaving age in 1914 was 12, so many boys did work and those that joined up had had a few years at work or as apprentices. Grammar School boys and Public Schoolboys were often in the sixth form aged about 17 in 1914 and had served in the Officer Training Corps.
When and Why They Joined Up can be answered in two parts: the volunteers of 1914 who enlisted because of the Lord Kitchener appeals to the nation and the volunteers of 1915 which by then had started to decline; followed by compulsory conscription in 1916 for men aged over 18 because not enough volunteers came forward. See this link for Kitchener:
and this for conscription:
The effects of the war on the men involved the effects of disablement and wounds; lack of employment in the 1920s; shell shock; poor pensions and a general lack of understanding of what they had undergone by the general public. See:
The end of the war in France was achieved by the involvement of many young men aged 19 who had been conscripted in 1918 and had been sent to France to replace battle casualties.
In Britain, the name of the war fought during 1914-1918 was The Great War which was derived from the medal inscription: The Great War for Civilization. After the Second World War the name in Britain became the First World War. Only in America was it numbered World War One. With the advent of the internet, the American name, however inapplicable, has become commonly, if incorrectly, used. British Army history understands it as The First World War.
Copying and pasting from websites is plagiarism (copying more than six words in a row), so it would be wise to re-write the information you find on the internet or in books in your own words.
Good luck,
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 11:21 PM

It will not do your promotion prospects any good if you suggest that the person setting the task did not understand the enormity of it. Simply state that you were surprised by the number of men involved locally.
Reply from: Joan Beach
Date: Sunday 23rd August 2015 at 3:43 PM

There is a book published "The fallen of Oldbury, Langley & Warley 1914 - 1918 by Langley Local History Society My Great Uncle George Boswell is in it although they have no photo of him - I do - in his uniform just before he died on 30th July 1915 Ypres. I have his medals too. This book lists very many men
Posted by: David Kennedy {Email left}
Location: Manchester
Date: Saturday 6th June 2015 at 2:31 AM
Hi Alan,

This may be a tough one, I'm looking for info for a grand uncle, I have him on a census in 1911, age 19, but after this he disappeared, I believe he must have died in ww1 but I could be wrong, his parents where Frederick fowler kennedy and Alice kennedy (nee bird), he lived in miles platting with his parents in 1911 on lansdowne St, Manchester. I have found some medal cards etc but nothing that ties properly, I don't know if this is enough to find him but hopefully you may have some guidance

Kindest regards

Reply from: Dave
Date: Saturday 6th June 2015 at 2:33 AM

Sorry, I don't know why I put Allan
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 6th June 2015 at 1:42 PM

Dear Dave,
The 19-year-old son of Frederick Fowler Kennedy recorded at Lansdowne Street, Manchester, in 1911 census was named William. This William Kennedy married Ethel McElroy at Prestwich, Manchester, on 8th July 1916 (GRO Marriages, Prestwich , July to September 1916, volume 8D page 629). A child, Ida Kennedy (maiden surname McElroy), was born on 6th November 1917 at Prestwich (GRO Births, Stockport, October to December 1917 Volume 8A page 137).
Frederick Kennedy was conscripted into the Royal Flying Corps as a labourer on January 7th 1918. He served initially as Airman 3rd Class with the official number 118318 and joined No.1 Stores Distributing Park, which was at Bradford. That store was disbanded in July 1918 and William was posted to No. 11 Stores Distributing Park which was not attached to an aerodrome having occupied The Distillery, Marrowbone Lane, Dublin, with an additional pair of large sheds on the site. The No. 11 Stores Distributing Park supplied all R.A.F. stations in No 11 (Irish) Group in Ireland with technical stores. It held sufficient stock to supply just over 200 aircraft and had on its roll ten officers; thirteen Non Commissioned Officers ; four corporals; 66 men; 62 women: and ten domestic staff.
When the R.F.C. became the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918, the AM3 rank was given the new rank of Private 2nd Class; labourer miscellaneous. AM3 and AM2 were airmen ranks whilst 3AM and 2AM were Air Mechanics.
William Kennedy, Airman Second Class, 118318 RAF, died of Spanish Flu in the epidemic of 1919. He died at The King George V Hospital, Dublin, on 5th March 1919. He was taken back to England and buried in the Cheetham Hill Wesleyan Cemetery, Manchester, and his name was commemorated on a Commonwealth War Graves Commission screen wall at Manchester Southern Cemetery. His wife Ethel, gave her address as 6, Sawyer Street, Queen�s Road, Manchester.
The Cheetham Hill Wesleyan Cemetery was closed to allow a Tesco supermarket to be built on the land and William Kennedy�s grave was among those graves exhumed on 20th February 2003 and re-buried in Manchester Southern Cemetery.
Burial documentation can be found at:
His service record is available free by visiting The National Archives at Kew, Surrey, or can be downloaded online (Pay as you go) via:
With kind regards,
Reply from: Dave
Date: Saturday 6th June 2015 at 2:06 PM

Hi Alan,

Absolutely unbelievable, I have tried and tried, I don't know how you did that but my family will be eternally great full for the information, if you're up for another one my mum would love to hear about her dad, he survived the war and was married some Time after to my grandmother, he is was called William Robert hannaby, married to Florence Eliza Holland. But the marriage was much later, I believe his parents where Reginald w d hannaby and Ada Florence Winn, if you have anything on Reginald also that would be amazing because my mum didn't even know his name until I traced it, a photo would be amazing, anyway William lied about his age to get in the war, when he came back he had shrapnel in his legs and we know he threw his medals into a canal (Manchester ship canal I think) I think his number was 37473.

Again I'm blown away by you're answer, wow

Massive thanks

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 2:25 PM

Dear Dave,
William Robert Hannaby was born at Hope Street, Salford, in 1899, the son of Reginald William and Ada Florence Hannaby (probably GRO Births October to December 1899, Salford, Volume 8d page 158). He was baptised on 4th October 1899 at St. Bartholomew parish church, Salford (England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, index, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NTGS-Q4W). Reginald William Davis Hannaby, aged 19, married Ada Florence Winn at the parish church of St Michael, Hulme, on 3rd April 1899.
In the 1911 census the parents of William Robert Hannaby were recorded living at different addresses. William, aged 12, and his mother were boarders at the home of William Froggatt where his mother, Ada Florence Hannaby, was shown as a domestic servant. Reginald, the father, was recorded as a carter, married, living at a lodging house in Hulme.
On 3rd May 1915, William Robert Hannaby, a cart driver, of 15 Sheffield Street, Hulme, Manchester, enlisted in the Welsh Regiment. He stated he was aged 19; born at Salford. He was 5ft 3 1/2 inches tall, with brown hair and a fresh complexion. He stated his next-of-kin as being his mother, not his father.
He had lied about his age and would actually have been about 15-and-a-half when he enlisted.
William was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion The Welsh Regiment on May 5th 1915 and underwent his recruit training at Porthcawl on the south coast of Wales. Within seventeen days he had run away and was detained in Manchester by the civil police before being returned to Porthcawl. He absented himself on four more occasions and was further punished for using obscene language in the dining tent; reporting sick without cause; and being improperly dressed on the Commanding Officers Parade.
William was posted to France on 3rd October 1915. He sailed from Southampton with a draft of reinforcements on the night of October 2nd. He passed through a base depot and joined the 2nd Battalion Welsh Regiment in the field on 6th October 1915. He was sent on a grenade- throwing course at the 1st Division Bombing School in November 1915. The 2nd Battalion Welsh Regiment served in the 1st Division which saw action during The Affairs of Cuinchy on 29th January 1916.
At a diminutive 5ft 3 inches and aged only 16, William would have been noticed within a regular army battalion such as the 2nd Welsh. On 4th February 1916 he was declared medically unfit for service at the front which was probably the only reason they could use to describe his intended discharge before they could prove he was under-age. There is no record of his being wounded or being admitted to hospital. Indeed, on 7th February 1916 he was returned to No. 1 Infantry Base Depot at Havre on the French coast. While he was there, the commander wrote to the Salford registrar and asked for a copy of the birth certificate for William Robert Hannaby. On 19th February 1916 William was returned to England and he was discharged from the Army on 11th March 1916 having miss-stated his age on enlistment; being under 17 years of age at date of application for discharge.
Eight weeks later, on 15th May 1916, William Robert Hannaby, who have the address of his mother as 15 Sheffield Street, Hulme, turned up at Liverpool and enlisted in the Marines, who at the time were known as the Royal Marine Light Infantry. He stated he was born on 25th September 1897 which would have implied he was 19 years old. He was posted to the RMLI Recruit depot at Deal until December 1916 when he was posted to RMLI Chatham with the registered number 20658. He went absent from Chatham for 11 days in August 1917. In November 1917 he was administered by the shore base Victory V at Portsmouth. He might have served as an infantry soldier with the Royal Naval Division in France with the Royal Marine Brigade between November 8th 1917 and 31st December 1917.
This part of his record is unclear. He was in the UK in 1918, as he appears to have been with 1st Reserve Battalion RMLI from January 1st 1918 to 31st December 1918. This battalion was stationed at Blandford Camp in Dorset until March 1918 when the Royal Naval Division Depot moved to Aldershot. At Aldershot the 1st RMLI Reserve Battalion was housed in Salamanca Barracks. He and appears to have lost some 200 or more days service towards pension, which would have been punishments. He appears to have been sentenced to Field Punishment in December 1918. On July 19th 1919 he was posted to Chatham from where he was discharged, services no longer required, on 5th November 1919. Services no longer required was not a punishment but was not an honourable discharge. It often applied to
undisciplined individuals whose retention would be to the detriment of the Service.
The Marines were part of the Admiralty and served on board ships and took part in naval landings. However, there was a surplus of Royal Navy men at the outbreak of war and a Royal Naval Division (RND) was formed in which the men served as foot soldiers. This might not have pleased those who thought they would be serving at sea.
His character in the Army was described as fair, which was one-up from the lowest which was Poor. In the RMLI he was described as indifferent which was two-up from the lowest: Bad.
He qualified for the 1914-15 Star for service abroad before December 31st 1915; the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
There were two possible marriage entries. One was William R Hannaby married Matilda Cleary, July to September 1917 at Chorlton registration district which included Hulme (GRO Marriages 1917, Chorlton, Vol 8c page 1553). This cannot be eliminated until the marriage certificate has been seen to further identify the couple. There is also a William R Hannaby married at Smethwick District, West Midlands, in the July to September quarter of 1943 (GRO Marriages; maiden name Holland, Smethwick, 1943 Vol 6B, page 1901).
A copy of his outline RMLI service is held at the UK National Archives and can be downloaded from their website (GBP 3-30) It is partially illegible. See:
A fuller attestation pack would be held by the archives of the Fleet Air Arm Museum to whom you can apply for any surviving records. See:
William certainly received his 1914-15 Star as he signed a receipt for it on 14th July 1921. The Navy despatched his War and Victory medals in 1921. Whether he threw his medals into the canal might be apocryphal. (Siegfried Sassoon, the author and war poet supposedly hurled his Military Cross into the River Mersey in 1917 in exasperation about the war. However, he was in uniform at the time and simply took off the ribbon of the Military Cross and in his own words: I ripped the MC ribbon off my tunic and threw it into the mouth of the Mersey. The other war medals had not been issued in 1917 and so Sassoon would have had just the MC ribbon on his chest. The medal itself turned up in an attic on the Isle of Mull in 2007.)
With kind regards,
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 2:28 PM

I'll look for Reginald later
Reply from: Dave
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 3:21 PM

Hi Alan,

Once again you've givin information that has blown me away, I have read you're entire reply to my mum, I have to say she got a little emotional, she has given me more about her dad, I was incorrect on a few pionts, she said William r hannaby her father was injured on a ship, he was shot but doesn't know why or how etc, she also told me he threw his medals into a canal in sale stating they where of no use to him etc.
She said he had scars up his back and crevis and large indents on his shoulder blade areas, she remembers he loved swimming but wouldn't because of how his injury so look, he had shrapnel embedded at the back of his head at the neck which was visible as a lump, this shrapnel was left in because it was thought it may cause brain damage if it was removed, she doesn't know where he got thie shrapnel, shoulder and back injurys. I guess he is lucky to have survived, She says the first marriage you listed is incorrect, the second one is absolutely correct, but there is a lot of time between the 2 so maybe there was a marriage that only he knew about?

Thank you Alan, I will absolutely be donating and I look forward to any other info you can give, I don't know how you are doing it but it is absolutely amazing
Reply from: Dave
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 4:30 PM

Just an additional point Alan I thought Reginald was Reginald William driver hannaby, but could be Davis. His parents as far as have traced which could be incorrect are William hannaby and Eliza Pearson
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 5:56 PM

His marriage certificate shows Davis (All Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 via ancestry.co.uk). His baptism showed Davies (Wrexham, Denbighshire Baptisms).
Elizabeth Pearson was a widow, aged 24, when she married William in August 1879. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Davies. Denbigh records are available to view via the Findmypast.co.uk website (pay as you go).
I mentioned the 1917 marriage because it needs eliminating as a possibility, mainly because Reginald was absent from Chatham in August 1917. Hopefully, you will be able to get a fuller record of his service from the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 6:02 PM

Dear Dave,
Reginald Hannaby, aged 34, a labourer of 18 Dorrington Street, Hulme, enlisted in the Manchester Regiment at Ardwick on 4th September 1914. He stated he was born at Wrexham. The baptism of Reginald William Davies Hannaby was recorded on February 23rd 1880 the son of William and Elizabeth Hannaby at Wrexham. Elizabeth Pearson had been a widow when she married William Hannaby and her maiden name was Davies. Reginald Hannaby served 47 days until he was discharged as being unlikely to become an efficient soldier on 20th October 1914. He had been with the 2nd/8th Battalion Manchester Regiment at Ardwick.
Later, on 17th November 1915, he took advantage of the Derby Scheme for deferred enlistment and again volunteered for service before the introduction of compulsory conscription. He was temporarily enlisted in the Manchester Regiment and was eventually called up to serve with the Royal Engineers as a private soldier (ranked as a pioneer, with no specialist trade or skill). He arrived in France on 28th March 1916 and from 30th March 1916 he served with the No 2 Battalion Special Brigade, Royal Engineers (Fourth Army). These were the units that released poison gas. See:
Each Special Battalion had four companies. Reginald served either with G or P Special Company until 27th February 1918, although he had many short stays in hospital and was eventually medically down-graded to B1(Garrison duties abroad) on 27th February 1918 at Rouen, France. This meant he was no longer fit to serve at the Front with the Royal Engineers and so he was transferred on 3rd April 1918 to the 11th Battalion the Manchester Regiment where he remained for four days (if he ever arrived) before being sent to serve with the Labour Corps at their H Depot at Etaples, France, on 7th April 1918. On 13th April he passed through the Labour Corps Employment Companies Base Depot and on 16th April 1918 he joined 956 Area Employment (Garrison Guard) Company Labour Corps in Calais from where he joined No 3 newly formed Garrison Guard Company at Calais on April 18th 1918. Calais was the port reserved for the unloading of materiel from England.
On 20th September 1918 he was transferred to the Royal Fusiliers with the 43rd Garrison Guard Battalion (18th Garrison Guard Company) of the Royal Fusiliers for guard duties at one of the five Army Headquarters in France. It is likely that the 3rd Garrison Guard Company as a whole was transferred to the Royal Fusiliers. Reginald was granted leave on 1st November 1918 until 15th November 1918, so he was at home when the Armistice with Germany was declared on November 11th 1918. He returned to 18th Garrison Guard Company (43rd Royal Fusiliers) in France on 15th November 1915. On 15th January 1919 he was admitted to No 30 General Hospital at Calais suffering influenza caused by a marching epidemic (the Spanish Flu epidemic). He was returned to the UK from Calais on board SS Brighton on 23rd January 1919. See:
Reginald recovered and was passed fit by a medical board at Colchester on 25th February 1919. He had remained in England with the 42nd Reserve Battalion Royal Fusiliers and was transferred to the Z Class Reserve on 28th March 1919. The Z Class Reserve was for soldiers who would be recalled if the Armistice with Germany did not hold. Reserve service was deemed to have ended on March 31st 1920. Reginald qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
The Royal Engineers Special Company war diaries are held at The National Archives at Kew and have yet to be digitised. There are four war diaries for both the Depot and Headquarters of the Special Brigades of the Royal Engineers which can be downloaded (GBP 3-30 each) from The National Archives. See:
With kind regards,
Reply from: Dave
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 6:29 PM

Ah, that makes sense because I have William and Eliza Pearson on the family tree, I was unaware of the Davies connection, they are the parents of Reginald then Reginald is the father of William, slightly confusing.
The older Williams parents I have as joeseph hannaby and Margaret gee.
Further to my mums father, my grandfather, my mum says he caught malaria also at one point, there has to be some info on his illnesses and war wounds somewhere.

I find it phenomenal that you are able to find all this info, I will telephone my mum and let her know about Reginald.
We are all extremely great full

Thank you
Reply from: Dave
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 6:51 PM

Additional Alan, the froggatt connection is correct also, Ada had 2 children with William froggatt, which one of them was George the other was Samuel, I have a photo of my grandfather and George on a motorbike and a picture of Samuel sat on a doorstep with my mum as a child on a swing, Sam had a wife rose and unfortunately Sam and rose committed suicide together, gassed themselves on walmer St rushholme, I don't know why, my mum lived across the road at the time with her parents number 31.
My mum said her gran her dads mum at some point was running a boarding house in Glenn St Blackpool, but somehow moved back to walmer St.
Reply from: Dave
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 7:11 PM

Hi Alan,

I've read that to my mum, she's overjoyed at the information, she has mentioned more about her dad, as kids they asked him to tell them about the war, he told them he was in the trenches and we have all heard the Christmas story of the Germans and British having a inpomtu Christmas party, he told her he was there in the trenches and something was threw at the trench he was in, they thought it was a grenade or something at first but it turned out to be a present of some sort (she doesn't know what it was), he told her that after this they all gingerly left the trenches and played football etc, he told her that nobody wanted to fight after because of how young everyone was, in particularly on the German side, he told her they where all kids.
Further to his malaria, she remembers her mum having to sit on her dad because he used to have fits.

The trench story is likely to be true because her father was loved by everyone and was honest but then again it might be just a nice story rather than a horrible one to tell kids about.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 7th June 2015 at 9:08 PM

Dear Dave,
The story about Samuel and Rose is sad. I had a relative who ran a boarding house in Blackpool although I suspect it was a matter of taking-in people to help pay the rent rather than making a profit from providing holiday accommodation as people do today with B&B.
I wish you all the best with your research and thank you for making a donation to the Royal British Legion as it makes all the hard work worth while. Please pass my regards to your mother.
With kind regards,
Posted by: Darren Walker {Email left}
Location: Nottingham
Date: Wednesday 3rd June 2015 at 4:23 PM
Dear sir
Can you help me get some information on my late uncle private Thomas Ward.army number 4826 he served with the 1s Battalion the sherwood foresters ( Notts and Derby regiment ) All I know is that he died of wounds at flanders on the 17 03 1915. And that he his buried in merville communal cemetery.
An information would be great or a photograph ( a long shot I know ) many thanks.
Darren Walker . ps he joined the regiment on the 19 1 1915.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 3rd June 2015 at 8:07 PM

Dear Darren,
No individual service record has survived for Thomas Ward so it is not possible to state his military service in detail. He was born at Leicester in about 1895 and resided at Ruddington, Nottinghamshire. The Army medal rolls recorded he first went overseas during the First World War on 27th December 1914, so he would have trained with the Sherwood Foresters in the U.K. before that. The 1st Battalion Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) had been in France since 5th November 1914, so Thomas would have been part of a draft of reinforcements. On arriving in France he would have spent some days at a base camp on the French coast before being posted to the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters. He then would have travelled to join the 1st Battalion which, in January 1915, was in the area of Richebourg, Pas de Calais, serving with the 24th Infantry Brigade which was in the 8th Division.
The Battalion moved into the area of Neuve Chapelle spending their time in trench routine at Sign Post Corner for a few days alternating with a few days in billets at Pont du Hem crossroads. On the night of 11th/12th March 1915, the Battalion was holding two lines of trenches with fewer than 700 men when the enemy attacked with more than a thousand men. The trench lines in the village were 100 to 200 yards apart. The attack began at 5 a.m. on 12th March and involved hand to hand fighting. The Sherwood Foresters eventually fought off the enemy with effective rifle fire and immediately counter-attacked the withdrawing enemy, attacking them with grenades, rifle fire and then an infantry charge. By 7.30 a.m. the Battalion had regained its trenches but had lost half of its strength killed or wounded. Thomas Ward would probably have been wounded in this attack, as the Battalion then withdrew to billets and then went into reserve trenches in the following days. The Register of Soldiers Effects recorded he was taken to No 6 Casualty Clearing Station at Merville where he died of wounds on the 17th of March. He was buried in the cemetery of the local commune.
Thomas Ward qualified for the 1914-15 Star; the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
The war diary of the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters is available to download from The National Archives (cost GBP 3-30) from:
With kind regards,
Reply from: Darren Walker
Date: Wednesday 3rd June 2015 at 10:13 PM

Thank you do much for this information. How do I apply for his medals ( if I am allowed to ) or any photos.
Again many thanks
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 3rd June 2015 at 10:31 PM

Dear Darren,
His medals would have been sent to his parents after the war ended. They would remain within the family. It is not possible to order First World War medals. The army did not photograph individual soldiers and any portrait photo would remain with the family. Regimental museums often have group photographs but they are rarely annotated with soldiers names. See:
Country record offices also might have archived group photographs.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Darren Walker
Date: Friday 5th June 2015 at 1:37 PM

Again many thanks
You have given me lots of information
Thank you for your time..
Posted by: Jonboy {Email left}
Location: Harlow Essex England
Date: Monday 1st June 2015 at 11:03 AM
Hi Alan
Hope all is well with you, i have a strange one here that i found amongst my late Parents paperwork its a E J Jordan who joined the Royal Engineers i think in 1915 his No was 117783. The strange thing about this is that i cant seem to connect him to my Tree , Jordan was on my Fathers Mothers side, who his Parents were i just don't know but as it was amongst all my Parents paperwork then i have to assume he is part of the Family, hopefully you might be able to come up with something.I don't even know what the initials E J stand for.

Kind regards
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 1st June 2015 at 8:42 PM

Dear Jonboy,
I am keeping well, thanks.
E.J. Jordan was Edwin John Jordan born in 1872. He married Sophie Gardiner at Hendon Register Office on 13th January 1902. Sophie Gardiner had an illegitimate daughter, Rose Elizabeth Gardiner, born at Hendon on 25th October 1901. Edwin and Sophie had two further children before 1915. They were Joseph William Jordan, born at Hendon 28th February 1903; and Florence Sarah Jordan, born 24th June 1904.
The three children were baptised at St Mary�s Church, Harrow. On February 24th 1904, Rose Elizabeth was baptised at the stated age of two-and-a-half as Rose Elizabeth Jordan. Her brother Joseph William was baptised at the same time. The parents were Edwin and Sophie Jordan, of 22 Nelson Road, Harrow. Edwin was a labourer. The third child, Florence Sarah Jordan was baptised on 10th August 1904 with the same family details.
The family has proved elusive in the 1911 census records.
However, in the 1901 Census for 22 Nelson Road, Harrow, there is an entry for an Edward (sic) Jordan, single, aged 26, labourer, staying as a boarder with the Gardner (sic) family, headed by a widow, W. Gardner and her two sons, Harold, 8; and John, 1. John Gardner had been born at Evenley, Northamptonshire. Edward Jordan had been born near Brackley, Northamptonshire. Edwin might have been known as Eddie which could then have been written formally as Edward, by the head of the household. It was possible both the Jordan and Gardner families had connections in Northamptonshire. Sure enough, the 1891 census recorded Edwin John Jordan, agricultural labourer, aged 18, born at Evenley, the third son of widow Emma Jordan, at Post Office Row, Evenley. His siblings were Albert Edward (1868) Ag. Lab; Frederick Thomas (1870) Ag. Lab; Rhoda Alice (1875) Domestic servant; Annie Elizabeth (1877).
The same family in 1881 was recorded On The Green, Evenley, Brackley, Northamptonshire.
The head was Joseph Jordan, agricultural labourer, aged 62, born about 1819 at Evenley, married to Emma, aged 49, born about 1832 at Preston Bissett, Buckinghamshire.
Edwin John Jordan had been baptised at the church of St George, Evenley, Northamptonshire, on 21st May 1872, the son of Joseph and Emma.
Emma appears to have been Joseph�s second wife, as earlier censuses recorded his wife as Hannah, a pillow lace maker. Earlier censuses stated his birth as 1811 at Evenley. His death registration in1889 stated he was 79 years old; born in 1810. A Joseph Jordan had married Hannah Shepherd on 14th October 1835 at Evenley, St George church. Hannah Shepherd was the daughter of William and Mary Shepherd and was baptised on May 26th 1816 at Evenley. She appears to have died at Evenley and was buried there on 4th July 1864. Joseph then married Emma Knight at Buckinghamshire later in 1864. She had been born at Preston Bissett, Buckinghamshire, in about 1832.
Edwin John Jordan volunteered to join the army at the stated age of 43 and enlisted in one of the Labour Battalions of the Royal Engineers being raised in 1915. These were formed of men who were older or less fit and were experienced in physical labouring such as road-making.
Edwin Jordan, of 32 Wilson Road, Harrow-on-the-Hill, enlisted at London on 25th August 1915 and swiftly passed through the Labour Battalions Base Depot at Southampton a week later. He was immediately posted to the 6th Labour Battalion and sent to France on the night of September 2nd/3rd 1915, a week after enlisting. He was 5ft 6ins tall and served as an unskilled private with the rank of Pioneer, qualifying for the Labour section rates of pay at three shillings per day.
The 6th Labour Battalion came under the command of General Headquarters was on the Somme by July 1st 1916. However, Edwin was returned to the UK on 23rd April 1916 suffering an unspecified sickness. He was discharged as no longer physically fit on 14th July 1916. He qualified for the 1914-14 Star; the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
A possible death for Edwin Jordan was registered at Hendon in 1938.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Jonboy
Date: Tuesday 2nd June 2015 at 9:36 AM

Alan !
You are outstanding ! so much so i am sending you my Tree to carry on with it Ha Ha ! (only joking) somewhere along the line i missed out what his initials stood for, i knew he was part of my Nans side Laura Ethal Jordan Born Evenley but just couldn't tie it up i have been doing research for about 4 years now and i think i still have a lot to learn,i think my biggest problem is when i cant research someone i tend to move on instead of sticking to one person at a time whether it takes weeks or months because eventually you forget what you have previously done. Thank you so much for that because it has helped me to move on now (and maybe slow down a bit and concentrate. on one person at a time). Luke will drop a Donation into British Legion later.
Kind regards
Posted by: Galena {Email left}
Location: Kent
Date: Sunday 31st May 2015 at 8:35 AM
I have the details of an air mechanic in WWI who transferred from the RNAS to the RAF stationed at Manston. However, his RAF records state, under 'Movements' that he moved from 42 TDS, which I understand means 42 Training Depot and was at Hounslow to 18 Wg ARS. It is difficult to determine if this should be read as he was posted to 42 Training Depot [Hounslow] and worked in the 18th Wing - Aircraft Repair Section there.

Has anybody any thoughts on these abbreviations please and if this is a correct interpretation?

Many thanks

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 31st May 2015 at 3:14 PM

Dear Galena,
18th Wing was a training wing for the London area. 18th Wing ARS and 42 TDS were co-located at Hounslow, so it would appear he was posted to 42 Training Depot Station [Hounslow] which was part of 18 Wing in No 1 (Training) Group, South Eastern area, Hounslow, and then worked in the 18th Wing - Aircraft Repair Section there.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Galena
Date: Sunday 31st May 2015 at 7:27 PM

Thank you Alan for your detailed reply. I appreciate you taking the time to answer.

There are two other abbreviations as well that I am not sure about if you would kindly look at them for me?

Under 'Remarks' 'NP' before what appear to be promotions or qualifications e.g. NP 2707/17 Rated [on the following line] Act. AMII 15 Dec 16.

Am I correct in thinking this means that the promotion was a non-permanent [NP] promotion [for the duration of the war]? If not please could you offer your interpretation? [Both of these are on his RNAS record].

On his RAF record there is no date of discharge but what appears to be CGD across the 'Movements' columns midway down the sheet? Could this mean his discharge/demob but without a date. He was transferred to RAF G [?Ground crew] Reserve on 27.2.19 RDO/101.

Many thanks

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 31st May 2015 at 9:52 PM

Dear Galena,
The N.P. would be an abbreviation for the Naval Personnel branch of the Admiralty, referencing their memorandum or instruction numbered 2707 of 1917 (NP 2707/17) confirming the man had a particular naval rank, or rate, which took into account any specialist skills. He would have worn a rank badge and a skills badge. Act. AMII would be his rating as an Acting Air Mechanic Second Class with a date from which that rate applied; 15th December 1916. So, memorandum NP 2707/17 would be the authority confirming his non-permanent appointment as an acting Air Mechanic Second Class with effect from 15th December 1916.
An acting rank was a non-permanent rank that was generally the next level above the rank or rate held as a substantive rank. A substantive rank was one that received the pay for that rating and could not be taken away except by the Admiralty as punishment for an offence. An Aircraftsman, the lowest RNAS rank (AC) could become the next highest rank, an Acting Air Mechanic Second Class, to replace someone who had, say, gone sick or had been posted elsewhere for some time. Men who were suitable to fill a more senior position could be temporarily appointed, but not officially promoted, to the higher rank until they were actually promoted to fill the post or reverted to their lower rank when the original post-holder returned. The man wore the badge of the higher rank but might not have received the pay. A man could be acting-paid or acting un-paid. If he was competent eventually he might have been promoted into the acting position as a substantive rank and received the additional pay.
The CGD on his record could be CCD signifying the casualty card had been destroyed. The card would have listed any wounds or sickness. Had the card existed, a clerk would have transcribed its entries onto the RAF record. Where there was no card, the clerk wrote, or scrawled, CCD meaning: casualty card destroyed, to indicate it could not be transcribed.
His date of leaving the RAF was the date he was transferred to the RAF G (General) Reserve which was 27.2.19. The G Reserve was for fit men who left the service and would be recalled if the Armistice with Germany did not hold. On 16th February 1919, the third prolongation of the Armistice was imposed on Germany until the League of Nations covenant and the Treaty of Versailles finally took effect at 4.15 p.m. on 10th January 1920 when the war against Germany ended. The Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act 1918 listed the other treaties that ended the First World War with other states as Austria on 16 July 1920; Bulgaria on 9 August 1920; Hungary on 26 July 1921; and Turkey on 6 August 1924. For all other purposes, the war was officially declared to have ended throughout the British Empire on 31st August 1921.
Because the RAF had kept the G Reserve men on file, so as not to lose track of them after they returned to civilian life, the men had not been permanently discharged from the RAF, but transferred to the reserve. They were kept on the books although the men did not undertake any further military service and were deemed to have ended their reserve service on April 30th 1920.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 31st May 2015 at 10:02 PM

I have used the expression non-permanent as a description of ranks to avoid the use of Temporary which had a different meaning within rank structures. Non-permanent has no relevance to the N.P. in the RNAS record despite both you and I using the same expression. I think there was some TOMT there (Transference of Mental Thoughts).
Reply from: Galena
Date: Monday 1st June 2015 at 6:48 AM

Alan, thank you so much once again for your detailed reply to my query.

Posted by: Sassysal {Email left}
Location: Salisbury
Date: Saturday 30th May 2015 at 7:20 AM
Hi, I am trying to find further details of my grandfather's WW1 service.

He was - Ernest Alfred SIMISTER Private Reg No 118456 10 Platoon C Co. of 1/8th Btn Sherwood Foresters (Notts. & Derbys Reg.) Enlisted 9/12/15; Mobilised 7/6/18. He survived.

A search was made at the NA a while a go and turned up nothing - records probably lost in the Blitz?

I particularly would like to know where he went when mobilised in 1918. I have looked online but cannot find anything that I understand, nor can I discover where I should look for the records that the Notts & Derbys hold and which might hold his service record.

Can anybody kindly help me?
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 30th May 2015 at 5:55 PM

Unfortunately, no individual service record has survived for Ernest Alfred Simister so it is not possible to state his wartime service. The 1/8th Battalion Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) went to France in February 1915. Ernest Simister probably enlisted under the Derby Scheme for deferred enlistment (enlist now, serve later). The scheme ended in December 1915 prior to the introduction of conscription. He would have remained in his civilian job until he was mobilized. He would then have spent perhaps twelve weeks in training before being sent overseas as part of a draft of reinforcements. The 1/8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters fought with the 139th (Sherwood Forester) Infantry Brigade in the 46th (North Midland) Division. In 1918 the Division fought at The Battle of the St Quentin Canal; The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line; the Battle of Cambrai (1918); The Battle of the Selle; and The Battle of Sambre.
The war diary of the 1/8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters can be downloaded from The National Archives website for a small charge. See:
Ernest Simister qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Regimental records do not include individual service records. The records had been archived by the War Office and were destroyed when the repository was bombed in 1940.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Sassysal
Date: Sunday 31st May 2015 at 7:47 AM

Many thanks for that useful reply Alan.

I have an (empty) envelope postmarked 7 Oct 1919 addressed to my grandfather at:

Attach. R.Ls
Dennebraecy Dump (think that's what it says)
A.P.O.S. 32
B.F in France

Do you have any idea where or what this was?

By the way I have one of his war medals and both sets of ribbons.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 31st May 2015 at 3:17 PM

I have not seen the envelope so I can only suggest what it might say. Attach would mean attached to. R.L.s would normally suggest the name of a regiment: attached to Royal Lancaster Regiment (Royal Lancasters) is a possibility as that was the only regiment with the initials R.L. although it could be Royal Irish or even Royal Engineers. The Army provided field post offices and larger stationary offices (static, not envelopes). Stationary Offices were given the title Army Post Office with the code letter S followed by an identification number. They served concentrations of units at places such as bases and large towns with troops located in the surrounding area. So, Army Post Office (S) No. 32 would be somewhere in France, serving a particular area.
Dennebraecy would be Dennebroeucq which is a commune in the departement of Pas-de-Calais in the region Nord-Pas-de-Calais. It was South of St Omer, half way between the coast and Bethune, in an area which had been used as a general headquarters to the rear of the former battlefields.
A dump was an ammunition or stores dump. It might also read Camp.
B.F. was British Forces.
Soldiers who had served for some time in France and Flanders had priority for being demobilized by the summer of 1919. Those who had served less time in France remained to help clear up and salvage materiel.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Sassysal
Date: Sunday 31st May 2015 at 4:28 PM

Once again, thanks for your excellent help.

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