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

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Posted by: Peter {Email left}
Location: Billingham
Date: Friday 4th July 2014 at 4:13 PM
Dear Alan Hope you can help me with this one
Major Arthur William ScottSon of Henry anad Sarah Ann Scott Born 1865 Kingston upon Hull died 25th September 1915.
Best Regards Peter.
Posted by: Tess
Location: Newton Abbot
Date: Friday 4th July 2014 at 3:14 PM
Hi Alan,
I have been asked to research the owner of a Prayer Book inscribed:

"Pte A R Hale, B Company, No. 2709, 3/4th Queen's Battalion, 27 Jan 1916, 18yrs 10 months"

In the Medal Card Index I can find an Alphonso R Hale, but with longer regimental numbers:
The Queen's Regiment Pte. 37912
North Staffordshire Regiment No. 43244

Is there a formula or list of how the shorter numbers equate with the longer regimental numbers and so prove A.R.Hale is Alphonso R Hale?
Thanks for your help, as ever,
Posted by: Graham
Location: Newark
Date: Sunday 29th June 2014 at 5:31 PM
Dear Alan, I have been researching the 1st War activities of George Bell. Born Worksop, Nottinghamshire, 19.10.1892. Attested Sherwood Foresters 10.11.1914. Reg. No. 18695. Re mustered Royal Engineers 25.6.1916 Reg. No. 156467. 181 Tunnelling Company his civilian occupation being Coal Miner. In his records is a hand written application for transfer and an official form for transfer to the 181st. I have two questions. Would this transfer be part of a recruting drive for tunnellers or of his own volition. 2nd question. What would be the rate of pay for a tunneller in 1916? Another question. Is there any easily available information regarding the activities of the 181 Tunnelling Company. Best regards, Graham.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 29th June 2014 at 6:58 PM

Dear Graham,
George Bell would have "volunteered" to join the Royal Engineers as the result of the Royal Engineers' trawling for former coal miners and sewer tunnellers ("clay kickers") to be released from infantry battalions. Railway men and quarrymen were also in demand at different times and were "combed out" of infantry regiments and other corps. The adjutant of the 1st Battalion Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) might have drawn up a list of all former miners as a result of a War Office letter being circulated, dated 8th March 1915, which gave the Royal Engineers authority for such transfers. Alternatively, the RSM might have had all the men on parade and ordered: "All former miners: one pace forward." The paperwork was then duly drawn up to record that everyone from the Brigade commander of 24th Infantry Brigade to Private Bell was happy with the transfer.
George was transferred to the Royal Engineers on 25th June 1916 and on 26th June 1916 he joined 181st Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers as a sapper. All men with similar Royal Engineers regimental numbers to George's had also served previously in an infantry regiment. A sapper was a private soldier with a trade skill, whose rate of pay started at 1s 3d a day. George was promptly re-mustered as a tunneller's mate at the tunneller's mate's rate of pay of 2s and 2d a day (the date is illegible). On 17th September 1916 he was re-mustered as a tunneller. Tunnellers were paid six shillings a day. He was treated for four days at 51st Field Ambulance between 18th and 22nd October 1916. He was granted ten days' leave to the UK on 16th January 1917. In 1917 the 181st Company was working on the caves and tunnels beneath Arras and the surrounding district. See:
On November 9th 1918 the War Office required the return of all skilled miners to the UK to go back underground for the war effort at home. This was known as being transferred to Class W Reserve "for all those soldiers whose services are deemed to be more valuable to the country in civil rather than military employment". George returned to the UK and went back to work as a collier in December 1918.
There is some general information about the Tunnelling Companies at:
One of the 181st Company officers wrote a book in 1923 which is available as a reprint. See:
The war diary of 181st Tunnelling Company is held at the UK National Archives.
You would need to visit the Archives at Kew or you could have the diary photographed economically by a professional researcher such as Lee Richards:

With kind regards,
Reply from: Graham
Date: Sunday 29th June 2014 at 10:30 PM

Dear alan, I have been looking for the above information for some time. You have supplied it within a few hours. Many thanks. Best regards, Graham.
Posted by: Nigel Cox {Email left}
Location: Stamford
Date: Sunday 29th June 2014 at 6:31 AM
Dear Alan

I am looking for some information on Annas Rowland Pollard, who I believe was killed on 3rd October 1917 and I think was in the Leicestershire regiment (number 31190)

also for Frank Pollard, possibly killed 31st July 1917, maybe Lincolnshire regiment (number 12085)

they were both born in my home village of Easton on the Hill Northamptonshire

many thanks

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 29th June 2014 at 2:03 PM

Dear Nigel,
No individual service record has survived for Annas Rowland Pollard so it is not possible to state his military service. He qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. As he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star for service overseas before December 31st 1915, he did not go abroad until some date after January 1st 1916. He died of wounds on October 3rd 1917 when serving with the 8th Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment. The 8th Battalion had been in France and Flanders since 29th July 1915, so Annas would have been part of a later draft of reinforcements. He was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery a few miles west of Ypres where there had been a number of casualty clearing stations. The CWGC stated he was aged 37, the son of Edward Pollard, of Easton, Stamford, Lincs. [Easton on the Hill, Northamptonshire] and the husband of Mrs. Pollard, of 26, Old Milton St., Leicester. Annas had married Harriett Noble in 1902 and a daughter Eveline, was born in 1910. Annas' father, Edward Pollard, was a police constable. Annas had been a tailor's presser.
The war diary of the 8th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment can be downloaded from the National archives in two parts at a cost of GBP 3.30 each. See:
for July 1916 to May 1918 and
for 1914-1916.
The 8th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment served in the 110th Infantry Brigade in the 21st Division. They had been fighting at The Battle of Polygon Wood from 26th September 1917 to 3rd October 1917. As Annas had died at a casualty clearing station he had probably been wounded within the previous twenty-four hours.
Annas (or Annis) is a name from the Old Testament meaning "grace of our Lord" in Hebrew.

There is no surviving individual service record for Frank Pollard. Annas had a brother three years younger than himself, called Frank, who was also a tailor's presser and then became a railway porter. Frank married and had three children recorded in the 1911 census. None of the available military records provide any biographical information to further identify him as the son of Edward, although "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) stated he was born at Easton, Northants. Frank Pollard, 12085, served as a corporal and then a serjeant in the 8th Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment. He first entered France on 10th September 1915, which was the date the 8th Battalion landed at Boulogne. Raised at Lincoln in September 1914, the Battalion initially served with the 63rd Brigade in the 21st Division and trained at Halton Park, Wendover, until August 1915 when it moved to Witley Camp, Surrey, prior to embarkation on 9th September 1915. See:
The 21st Division was put into battle very shortly after landing in France in 1915, fighting at Loos (25th September 18th October 1915). In 1916 it fought on the opening day of the Battles of the Somme at The Battle of Albert on July 1st 1916. On 8th July 1916 the Brigade transferred to the 37th Division in the Ypres sector.
Serjeant Pollard was killed in action on 31st July 1917 and has no marked grave. He would have been 34 years old. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres. The date of his death was the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres. The war diary of the 8th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment is available to download from the National archives. See:
for August 1916 to March 1919 (37 Division) and
for September 1915 to July 1916 (21st Division).
Edward and Catherine Pollard's eldest son, George Edward, appears to have survived the war.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Nigel Cox
Date: Monday 30th June 2014 at 6:08 AM

Thanks as always Alan


Posted by: Annalea
Location: Canada
Date: Friday 27th June 2014 at 5:59 PM
Dear Alan,

Trying to trace my grandfather John Joseph Byrne Rgmt#8271 Lancashire Fusiliers Rank: Private attested Jan.11/1901 Liverpool (age 20yrs old. ) Born:Liverpool Trade on Enlistment:Driver Served in C Company At Depot in Bury Enlisted on Short Service (7yrs army & 5yrs,army reserve )

Cert.copy Entry of Death Rgmt#8271 Rank:Private Country of Birth:England Date of Death 19/02/1916 Age at death:( 35yrs.old) Place of Death:France /Cause of Death:Killed in action /.Buried @ Sucrerie Military Cementery ColincampSSomme,France

1907 Marriage St Chrysostum Church Everton/Liverpool John Joseph Byrne (age27yrs) To Agnes Walmsley
We also have my grand father in the 1911 Census for Lancanshire /Liverpool living with his wife Agnes /3 children/1 niece /1 nephew.

We have never been able to confirm a birth/baptismal record for my grandfather John Joseph Byrne born 1880/1881 .We have requested a birth cert.however it was not him.

Would be interested in any information you could provide regarding his Military service from 1901 to 1907.

I have checked the Census for Bury Depot 1901,however he is not listed there?

Kind Regards-Annalea
Reply from: Annalea
Date: Friday 27th June 2014 at 9:41 PM

Opps I mixed up the dates would be interested in any information you could provide regarding his Military service from 1901-1907 and or 1914 until his death Feb.19/1916.

Kind Regards-Annalea
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 28th June 2014 at 2:39 PM

Dear Annalea,
Unfortunately no military records from the period have survived for John Joseph Byrne of the Lancashire Fusiliers so it is not possible to state in which battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers he enlisted. If he enlisted for seven years with the colours on January 11th 1901, he should have been in the army still when he married on December 1st 1907, yet his marriage certificate stated he was a fruit porter. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded J.J. Byrne was serving with the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers on the day he died: 19th February 1916. The 2nd Battalion had gone to France on 20th August 1914. A medal index card for J. T. (sic) Byrne 8217 Lancashire Fusiliers recorded he entered France on 11th September 1914, so he appears to have been part of a draft of reinforcements and his posting on mobilization would probably have been to the 2nd Battalion.
The General Register Office War Deaths listed him as Joseph J. Byrne, however there are no matching military records under that name. He qualified for the 1914 Star with Mons Clasp, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal. There is no positive evidence for which battalion he served in throughout the First World War although it was most probably the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. He went abroad in September 1914. The 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers were in India and Aden in 1914-15, so it is probable, by date, that he served with the 2nd Battalion. The 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers served in the British 4th Division until 4th November 1915. John Byrne would probably have seen fighting, in 1914, at The Battle of Messines and, in 1915, at The Second Battle of Ypres. The 2nd Battalion then moved to the 36th Division from 4th November 1915 until 3rd February 1916 when the Battalion returned to the 4th Division in the area of Albert, on the Somme. The war diary of the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers for the period can be downloaded for GBP 3.50 from:

With kind regards,

For further research the following may be of interest: John Joseph's marriage certificate stated his father was named Joseph. In the 1891 census there is an entry for a John J Byrne, aged 10, the son of Joseph, a widower, warehouseman, at 96 Stanfield Road, Everton. Joseph, aged 32, was residing with his mother Mary Byrne, aged 56 and brother, Andrew, aged 22. In 1871, Joseph and Andrew appear to have been the son of Joseph, a cooper at sea, born about 1831 and his wife Mary, born in Ireland.
In the April 1881 census a Joseph Byrne, aged 22, married to Hannah, aged 21, who had a son, John Joseph, aged seven months, was living at 128, Comus Street, Liverpool.
A possible birth registration could be John Joseph Byrne; 1880 Jul-Aug-Sep; Liverpool; Lancashire; vol 8B; page 183. Or: John Byrne; 1880 Oct-Nov-Dec; Liverpool; Lancashire; vol 8B; Page 180.
In 1901 there was a census entry for Mary Byrne, aged 68, widow, with a son, Joseph aged 43, provision dealer, widower; and a son Andrew, 32, single, cotton porter; and a grandson aged 20, John J. Byrne, a freight clerk, all living at 10, Chelsea Road, Litherland¸ Lancashire.
However, it would be difficult to reconcile the April 1901 census entry with John J. Byrne's enlistment in the Army in January 1901 unless he had been swiftly discharged.
Reply from: Annalea
Date: Sunday 29th June 2014 at 12:34 AM

Dear Alan,

I was so excited to receive, and read through your post regarding by Grandfather John Joseph Byrne.
Your knowledge, and sharing of your expertise of Military Service and genealogy research is so appreciated.
The wonder of discovery,reading about your post on the movement of the troops, dates and conflicts,learning about the history of the war, and creating sources for others .I feel with the information that you have provided, I will forged ahead with a better understanding in tracing my ancestors,and the sources that are available.

Thank you Alan.

I will make a donation to the Canadian Legion.

Warm Regards
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 29th June 2014 at 9:40 PM

Dear Annalea,
Thank you for making a donation to the Canadian Legion. It makes my work worthwhile.
With kind regards,
Posted by: Howard Barkell {Email left}
Location: Lydford Devon
Date: Monday 23rd June 2014 at 12:52 PM
Dear Alan,

I have a faded photograph of Albert Bennett Stratton (I think Royal Artillery) as a young soldier. He is wearing what I call a forage cap (fore and aft) and a dress jacket decorated with epaulettes and braid ending in tassels. He is wearing one medal and what appears to be a medal ribbon beside it. I know that he served in the First World War, R.F.A. No. 24791, but I should think the photograph, taken by Lugg and Sons, Okehampton, dates from much earlier. Are you able to fill in any of his career details for me, please?

Kind Regards,

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 23rd June 2014 at 6:23 PM

Dear Howard,
Albert Bennett Stratton stated he was aged 19 and four months in December 1897, which would have given a birth year of 1878. He stated he was born at St Neots in Huntingdonshire. From the GRO birth index it is likely he was born in Huntingdonshire in April June 1880.
He moved to Southwark where he was a carman and a coachman. He enlisted in the local militia: the 4th Battalion The East Surrey Regiment. Within four months he had enlisted in the regular army joining the Royal Artillery at Woolwich on 10th December 1897. Between 9th January 1898 and 12th December 1898 he served as a driver with the 85th Battery Royal Artillery. The 85th was stationed at Clonmel, County Tipperary, in February 1898.
On 12th December 1898, Albert was posted to the 47th Battery Royal Artillery where he remained for the next seven years. In September 1898 the 47th Battery was stationed at Mean Meer (Mian Mir) which was the military cantonment three miles east of the civil station of Lahore, India. 47th Battery usually had a strength of five officers and 114 men with 85 horses. They had 15-pounder guns. The Battery served in South Africa during the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899 1902). The Battery was involved in the Defence of Ladysmith. Conditions on the March in 1900 were harsh. One soldier recorded that they ate breakfast at 5 a.m. and then were "starved until 6 p.m." living on "boiled grass and bones", but with bully beef once a week on Sundays.
Albert was promoted to Bombardier on 1st July 1904.
On 12th December 1905 Albert's term of service ended after eight years and he then remained on the Reserve for 12 years, renewing the first four-year period on 18th December 1909 and voluntarily extending that period for another four years in December 1913. The 47th Battery served with 41st Brigade in India and returned to the U.K. in 1906 where it was garrisoned at Fulwood Barracks, Preston. It was garrisoned at Leeds between March 1907 and December 1909 when it returned to Preston.
Albert, whose address was Poplar, London, a bachelor, labourer, the son of Alfred, married Bessie Ann Shaddick on April 16th 1906, which was Easter Monday, at St Bridget's Church, Bridestowe. He stated his age as 26, which appears to have been accurate, giving a birth year of 1880. In the 1911 census his address was Fore Street, Bridestowe, and his employment was as a platelayer with the L.S.W. Railway (London and South Western Railway).
Albert was mobilized from the Reserve on 4th August 1914 and served in the U.K. until being promoted to Sergeant on 1st April 1915 and being sent to the B.E.F. in France on the same date where he was posted to the Lahore Divisional Ammunition Column. He returned to "base" on 22nd September 1917. This may indicate he had been wounded and hospitalized as on 15th July 1918 he was transferred to the Labour Corps (611269). He served with 22nd Prisoner of War Company Labour Corps for three months before being posted to the 349th PoW Company Labour Corps on 29th October 1918. These companies could be used for labour providing they were out of range of enemy artillery. The British soldiers were known as "prisoner escorts". He was promoted to acting Company Sergeant Major with the 349th PoW Company on 7th January 1919. Albert was transferred to the Reserve on 21st February 1919 when he gave his address as Fore Street, Bridestowe, Devon.
He died at Ramsgate in July 1935. He had been a packer on the Southern Railway. He "had lived at Bridestowe for many years" where he was also a member of the Bridestowe British Legion.
The medals in the photograph could be the Queen's South Africa and King's South Africa medals.
He qualified for the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Howard Barkell
Date: Tuesday 24th June 2014 at 7:44 AM

Dear Alan,

Thank you for such a prompt, comprehensive reply. I thought perhaps the medals were from the Boer War. He appears to have married in uniform. Perhaps as a Reservist he was entitled to do so. The bit about his working with prisoners of war is particularly interesting.

With many thanks.

Posted by: Eleanor {Email left}
Location: Clipstone Notts
Date: Thursday 19th June 2014 at 7:40 AM
Dear Alan,
Although I am aware that 30,000 soldiers were trained, demobbed or passed through Clipstone Camp in Notts, is there anywhere that would have an official list of some sort that could be used as a part of the forthcoming anniversary exhibition to be held at the Museum in Mansfield in October,?There are 27 War graves plus one of a nurse that worked at the military hospital all located at Forest Town Notts.
We are also keen to find if anyone has a photograph of the Camp Hospital as all that is available at present is the plan.
There were many Post Cards issued for camp use which have surfaced over the years so if there is anyone out there who has anything that would contribute to the event it would be gratefully received and returned if required.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 19th June 2014 at 6:41 PM

Dear Eleanor,
Clipstone Camp had accommodation for 30,000 men. Given that the training and other battalions based there eventually moved-on and that each man might only spend a few weeks or months at Clipstone, the number of men who passed through the camp between 1915 and 1920 would be measured in hundreds of thousands.
With kind regards,
Posted by: Tess
Location: Newton Abbot
Date: Tuesday 17th June 2014 at 10:34 AM
I am working on Christow, Devon's War service & deaths.
I have stood in front of a Commonwealth War Grave in the Churchyard inscribed:

315018 PRIVATE
27TH MAY 1920

Yet I can find no record to help me determine who he was. Could you assist me, please?
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 18th June 2014 at 7:03 PM

Dear Tess,
This is a difficult one.
The only male C. Avery whose death was registered in Devon by the General Register Office in 1920 was a Charles Avery, in the April, May, June quarter of 1920 at Exeter District, vol 5b, page 98. He was aged 39 (born 1880-81). There was no comparable military death recorded in 1920, so this appears to be the only death registered in 1920. Although Exeter District did not cover Christow parish until 1974, it did include the Exeter hospitals.
On the Devon Heritage website, the war grave at St James's Church, Christow, is (mistakenly) attributed to Charles Fred Avery, the son of Charles and Elizabeth Avery who had been born in West Buckland in the June quarter of 1880 and lived at Brembridge Farm. He was known as Fred Avery. See:

The Christow grave is unlikely to be that of Charles Fred Avery as Charles Fred Avery, born at Brembridge in 1880, enlisted in the 5th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment in February 1916 with the wartime, general-service, regimental number 23176. He was discharged from the army in September 1917 through sickness (rheumatism), with the same regimental number, 23176. The death of a Charles F. Avery, born in 1880, was registered in Barnstaple district in 1959.

The only other male births with the surname Avery with the initial C registered in Devon between 1879 and 1882 were: Charles William Avery in 1879 at Newton Abbott, Devon; Charley Avery in 1880 at St Thomas Registration District in Devon; and Christopher Avery at Plympton, Devon.
It was implied from the 1920 death record that his name was Charles, therefore Christopher could be eliminated. The CWGC Debt of Honour has three men named Charles William Avery, none of whom was of the correct age and none served in The Devonshire Regiment.
The St Thomas Registration District had sub-districts: Alphington, Broadclyst, Christow, East Budleigh, Exmouth, Heavitree, Kenton, St. Thomas, Topsham, and Woodbury.
Charley Avery appeared to be the likely candidate.
The birth of a Charley Avery was registered in the last quarter of 1880 (St Thomas, Devon, vol. 5b, page 61). He was baptised as "Charley Avery" at St John the Baptist Church, Holcombe Burnell, Devon, on November 7th 1880, the son of Malachi and Grace Avery, who, at the time, lived at Hackeydown. St John's church is remote and the nearest village is Longdown near Exeter. The former manor house next to the church is known as Holcombe Burnell Barton ("barton" is a Devonshire word for a manor farm).

Charley Avery is not listed on the Roll of Honour board inside St James's Church, Christow. His war- grave headstone bears the regimental badge of The Devonshire Regiment although the CWCG Debt of Honour recorded he had been transferred to the 654th Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps. See:

The CWGC recorded that he served in the 4th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment with the regimental number 315018. That number had been allotted to the 15th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment in the first weeks of 1917 when all Territorial Force soldiers were re-numbered from four-digit numbers to six-digit numbers.
It would appear he had enlisted in the 4th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment and had been subsequently posted to the 15th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment which was created on 1st January 1917 from the 86th Provisional Battalion which was made up of Home Service personnel of the Territorials from Devon and Cornwall, including the 4th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment. Provisional Battalions existed from mid-1915 to January1917 and were made up of men of lower medical categories. They were garrisoned on the East coast, where they could be used for coastal defence duties. The 86th Provisional Battalion was based at Herne Bay. In 1918, what had become the 15th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment (Home Service) moved to Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, where it remained until the end of the war.
The two 4th Devonshire Territorial battalions that served overseas, 1st/4th and 2nd/4th The Devonshire Regiment, served in India and the Middle East whilst the 3rd/4th Battalion remained in the UK.
It would appear Charles Avery had enlisted in the 4th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment. He was allocated Home Service duties in the 86th Provisional Battalion. Early in 1917 the 86th Provisional Battalion became the 15th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment in which Charley was allotted a new regimental number 315018. At some date after 1917 he was transferred to the Labour Corps where he worked in 654th Agricultural Company.
Agricultural Companies were formed to work on farmland. During the war it was essential to maintain farm labour, despite the enlistment of agricultural workers which rendered it impossible to maintain agricultural production at pre-war levels. It was also necessary to provide additional labour for the increased cultivation which was essential to assure the food supply of the country. The area of arable land increased from 10,998,250 acres in 1914; to 10,965,710 acres in 1915; 11,051,100 acres in 1916; 11,246,110 acres in 1917 and 12,398,640 acres in 1918 ("The Maintenance of the Agricultural Labour Supply in England and Wales During the War", J.K. Montgomery, 1922).
Women, Boy Scouts, Belgian refugees and Prisoners of War all became involved in farming.

There is no silver War Badge record for Charley Avery being discharged through wounds or sickness which suggests that he was placed in a low medical category when he first enlisted and remained in the UK on Home Service. He probably enlisted with the 3rd/4th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment and served in the 86th Provisional Battalion; the 15th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment and then was transferred to the Labour Corps. The cause of his death would be recorded on his death certificate. The CWGC provided war graves for those who had died as a result of military service between 4th August 1914 and 31st August 1921, which was the date set by the Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act 1918. The government expected the termination of the war to be, as nearly as possible, simultaneous with the ratification of peace with Britain's enemies, but power was given to His Majesty in Council to declare what date was to be treated as the date of the termination of war with any particular State. The war with Germany ended on 10th January 1920; Austria, 16th July 1920; Bulgaria, 9th August 1920 and finally Hungary, on 31st August 1921.
The official final day of military service for "the duration of the war" for war-time enlistments was March 31st 1921, but that date passed un-noticed by most men who had long-since returned home in 1919.
Charley Avery had spent most of his service with The Devonshire Regiment and would have worn that regiment's cap-badge even while under the 86th Provisional Battalion.
Was Charley Avery connected to Christow?
A possible entry for him in the 1911 census at Higher Burrowdon, Broadclyst, recorded he had been born at Bridford, Devon, although in 1891 his birth parish was stated as Whit[e]stone which is at Holcombe Burnell where he was baptised. In 1911, his mother, Grace Avery, a widow, (Malachi died in 1910) was living with her second son, Ernest W. Avery, and daughter, Rose, who had been born at Bridford in about 1883. Grace's address in 1911 was Bridford, Dunsford. Bridford was the next village to Christow.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Tess
Date: Wednesday 18th June 2014 at 7:36 PM

Well Alan, I believe you!
Charley Avery, son of Malachi and Grace is the man in Christow graveyard.
There's a certain pleasure in knowing who he is. If you believe in such things, he must have been unsettled by the Devon Heritage site mis-naming him. I have found that it is wrong about a few of the details for Christow and at the end of my task I will get the record amended for future researchers.

So from a very minor sleuth, to a really Major Sleuth - Thank you - excellent deduction work!

With kind regards,
Posted by: Mike Winkett {Email left}
Location: Birmingham
Date: Sunday 15th June 2014 at 2:26 PM
Hello, Alan.

I am wondering whether you can help me to interpret some WW1 Pension Records I have found for William Edward Owen, born in Aston, Birmingham on 19 October 1883. These records appear on Ancestry's website in their data set "British Army WW1 Pension Records 1914-1920 (Image no.'s 8991- 8998 inclusive)". Also on Ancestry, in their "British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920" data set, is an image showing William's enlistment into the Worcester Regiment on 1.6.16 and his date of discharge on 1.9.16.

My first query relates to the Medal Rolls Index Card record, which has reference to "VDH Sickness". Could you tell me what "VDH" stands for, please.

My second query relates to the enlistment date showing on this card i.e. 1.6.16 which seems to be at variance with his Attestation record form (Ancestry Image no. 8994) which appears to show an enlistment date of 10 December 1915. Why this difference in dates?

My third query relates to his answer to question 7 on the Attestation form in which he answers "Yes (Militia ? ?)" to the question "Have you ever served in any branch of His Majesty's Forces..etc". I can't make out what the two words after "Milita" are, even by using Ancestry's useful "Invert Colours" Tool and wondered whether your own expertise enables you to hazard a guess as to what the exact wording is. Presumably, by answering "Yes" here, he was expecting to qualify for the usual joining-up bounty given to previously-serving men was this the fee referred to as "the King's shilling"?

The Regimental no. quoted on the "Medal Rolls" record card is 5625, whereas the one on the Attestation Form is 33910. Presumably the change of number was because at some stage every 4-figure no. in the army was changed to a 5-figure number, rather than being due to a change of regiment in this case?

The "Statement of the Services of..." form (Ancestry Image no. 8996), has an entry " Transferred under ? authority of S C Telegram...etc." Are you able to confirm what the abbreviation " S C" is, please?

My next queries relate to William's discharge, which in his case invoked King's Regulations Para 392 Section iii(c), which upon investigation I gather was due to his "not being likely to become an efficient soldier". The "Medical History of..." Form (Ancestry Image no. 8997), shows William was examined on 15.June 1916 and although some slight defects were recorded, these were not deemed sufficient to cause rejection and the Medical Officer recorded "Fit for Garrison Service Abroad". What puzzles me about this form is that an earlier date is quoted at the bottom of the form (10 December 1915) showing that he was being transferred to the "82nd Provisional Battalion" and that he actually became "non-effective" on 1 September 1916. Was William simply being transferred to this Provisional Battalion as somewhere to "hold" him before his discharge and would this battalion still have been within the Worcester Regiment?

As far as his slight defects are concerned ("VV Right leg and foot"), have you come across the abbreviation "V V" before? I'm guessing this meant "Varicose Veins Right Leg and Foot". It appears the Medical Officer had rank "B1" and I wonder if you can tell me what these various ranks were and the Medical Officer was based at "W Aston RMB"; would this mean "West Aston Regional Medical Board"? (I'm trying to build up a database of military abbreviations for deciphering military forms).

From the wording at the top of the "Medical History of..." form (Ancestry Image no. 8997), would William have been a member of the Territorial Force who had been admitted to hospital? I can find no hospital stamps on this or other documents relating to William, but the wording suggests this may have been a possibility.

A further query relates to the "Award Sheet First Award (Ancestry Image no. 8998). This form states that he enlisted on 10 December 1915, which again is at variance with the Attestation Form. The date quoted appears to be the date he was posted to the 82nd Provisional Battalion, so I am surmising that the relatively short period of 70 days' service which counted towards his pension only relates from this date to the time he was discharged. I assume time spent in the Reserves didn't count towards his pension. I am having difficulty arriving at this 70 days figure using the information on the "Medical History of..." form and the "Statement of the Services of..." form (Ancestry Image no. 8995). Also, on Ancestry Image 8992, the calculation quotes 79 days, rather than 70 days very confusing! Does the award stated on the "Award Sheet First Award" form (Ancestry Image 8998) mean he was to receive 18 shillings for a 13-week period, based on the fact he had 7 children? This was recorded as a "final" payment, so presumably no further payments would be due after 13 weeks had elapsed? Is the date of 13 December 1916 at the bottom of Ancestry Image 8991 the date the pension payment commenced? The pension award payment appears to have been proposed and approved on 10.1.19 and I am puzzled by this because he was discharged much earlier on 1.9.16.

I notice that William was discharged at Walton-on-Naze, but am I correct in assuming that William would not necessarily have been based there and that this was simply the place dealing with his discharge? Can you say where the Worcester Regiment was based during William's short career with them?

Am I correct in assuming that William's discharge had been instigated by the Army, rather than by William himself, as section 9 on Ancestry Image 8992 is left blank and this section is headed "I hereby declare that I do of my own free will request to be discharged from His Majesty's Service". As a matter of interest, if it had been William's choice, would he have had to pay a forfeit to be discharged had he been in good health?

Presumably William didn't qualify for a Silver War Badge regarding his "VDH" sickness; was this something only those posted abroad received after being wounded or because of sickness?

My final query is a general one; as a Territorial Force soldier, when William was enlisted into the Worcester Regiment 7th Battalion, would this have been his own choice? Research tells me that as a Territorial he could not have later been posted to a different unit, unless this was at his own request, but did he have a choice when first enlisting? Similarly, as Territorials were Home-based unless a national emergency arose when they could then volunteer for service abroad, because "Fit for Garrison Service Abroad" had been written on his "Medical History of." form, can I infer from this that William had volunteered for overseas service, or was the Medical Officer merely confirming that he was able to carry out such duties abroad, providing he did at some stage volunteer?

I am sorry to have raised so many questions, but this will help me better understand this man's all-too-brief military career and I would be extremely grateful for any light you can shine on the above queries. I shall of course be sending a donation to the British Legion in due course and look forward to receiving any help you can give me.

Best regards,
Mike Winkett
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 15th June 2014 at 6:25 PM

Dear Mike,
William Edward Owen enlisted voluntarily at Birmingham on December 10th 1915. The date indicates he enlisted under the Derby Scheme that closed on December 15th 1915 which was the last call for volunteers before compulsory conscription was introduced in 1916. These men agreed to serve in the army when called-for under what was termed "deferred enlistment". They were sent home again on the same day they enlisted to return to their civilian jobs, but were classed as being army reservists. In December 1915, William was allotted the number 5625 in the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. This was probably the 3rd/7th Worcestershire Regiment raised at Worcester in April 1915 to provide recruits and drafts of reinforcements to the original 1st/7th Battalion which was a pre-war, part-time, Territorial Force (TF) battalion and had been in France and Flanders since 31st March 1915. William was called up on 16th June 1916 and after a medical examination on the previous day (98 years ago today) was classed as medical category B1 which meant he could serve in garrisons but not the front line. V.V. stood for varicose veins. When he was called-up he was posted to the 1st (Reserve) Garrison Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment which was stationed at Portsmouth. Garrison battalions absorbed the medically unfit and the old for garrison duties. Almost immediately he was transferred to the 82nd Provisional Battalion which was stationed at Walton-on-the-Naze and was affiliated to the Gloucestershire Regiment. Provisional Battalions were formed with men of lower medical category. He would have undergone basic training with the 82nd Provisional Battalion during which time it emerged he had VDH which was valvular disease of the heart; a relatively common cause of discharge. His record stated this was not caused by or agg[ravated] by service. He was discharged on 1st September 1915.
His "medal index-card" is a War Badge index-card which recorded he was granted a silver War Badge for being discharged through sickness. William's qualification for a silver War Badge is on a War Badge Roll which is available on the ancestry website by searching under the military card index for UK Silver War Badge Rolls. (Click on "search"; click on "military"; click on "view all in card catalogue").
He had previously served in the Militia "finished time", meaning he had served his term of service. His militia unit was not stated. There was no bounty for joining-up in wartime having served in the militia. A bounty was paid to militiamen who joined the pre-war regular army. The "King's shilling" referred originally to the impressment and recruitment of men in the 18th and 19th Century, although the minimum pay in the First World War was one shilling a day, so a man "took the King's Shilling".
Many Militia records are available on the website (charges apply).
Four-digit numbers in the army were not changed to five digit numbers. Five-digit numbers were generally those issued for wartime service only. In William's case 33910 could have been the number allotted to him when he was called-up. It was struck out on his Medial History Sheet (ancestry 8997) next to 1st Garrison Battalion. Beneath "82nd Provisional Battalion" the words "7 War." Have been inserted, indicating his original 1915 number. The Provisional Battalions were still part of the Territorial Force. The Territorials had their own administration and William's papers were sent to the TF record office at Warwick on his discharge for the record office to process them. The record office struck out his general service number and replaced it with the number they referred to him by: 5625 of the 7th Worcestershires, so that his name and number were removed from the strength of the 7th Battalion.
The Provisional Battalions were made up of Territorial men but served under their own identity in Provisional Brigades until they were altered in 1917 and reverted back to a regimental association. The 82nd became the 17th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment on 1 January 1917.
An S.C. telegram was the type of message that carried the instruction. I believe S.C. stood for special courier. The telegram was dated two days after William re-joined at Birmingham and it might well have contained a list of men intended for the 1st Garrison Battalion Worcestershire Regiment but who were to be immediately transferred to the 82nd Provisional Battalion rather than being sent down to Portsmouth to join the main body of the 1st Garrison Battalion.
The work "rank" adjacent to the medical category B1 relates to the rank of the medical officer who did not sign his name in the space above but initialled the entry J.W. A man's medical category could change as the war progressed. See:
RMB would have been regional medical board. There were also TMBs: travelling medical boards. The Ministry of Pensions employed their own medical boards for army pensioners. There is no record of William having hospital treatment. The Medical History sheet was received at the Territorial Force Record Office at Warwick on 31 August 1916.
Section 9 on his discharge form was left blank, indicating he did not apply to leave at his own request.
He served 78 days in the Army in 1916 and one day on 10th December 1915. What appears to be written as 70 is 78.
The award sheet would have been compiled after his discharge by members of a medical board assessing his condition and circumstances after the award of 18 shillings for 13 weeks. That was probably payable from his discharge until December 1916 when it came up for review after 13 weeks. The board decided not to renew the award, probably because the condition was not caused by or aggravated by military service. As a matter of interest, the "pension records" on the ancestry website are records of men who were no longer receiving a pension. The records had been stored at Blackpool by the Ministry of Pensions, which is how they survived when so many other records were destroyed in the London Blitz of September 1940. The War Office was not enthusiastic to pay pensions and men usually settled for a lump sum, or applied for a pension if they believed there would be greater benefit.
William would have had a choice of regiment in 1915, although the local regiment might have been recommended to him, particularly if his Militia service had been with that regiment. Fit for garrison duties abroad was a medical restriction which was not connected to the "Imperial Service obligation" which was for Territorials who volunteered to serve abroad in the early days of the war.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 15th June 2014 at 10:11 PM

Two belated proof-reading changes. His discharge date was 1 September 1916 and not 1915 as printed in the second paragraph. "7 War" should read "7 Wor".
Reply from: Mike Winkett
Date: Monday 16th June 2014 at 2:27 PM

Dear Alan,

Thank you so much for your most impressive and speedy reply. Your answers have made life much easier for me in writing-up a storyline for William.

You have included some information which is not immediately obvious from the set of Ancestry records, so if I may, could I ask you a few further questions as to your sources for some of the information you have provided as I would very much like to learn how to trace the history of various regiments.

I visited the excellent Long Long Trail website which you have recommended in the past and was able to find (by entering Worcestershire Regiment into the search box) all their various battalions, including those of the Territorial Force. I am curious how you worked out the affiliation of the 82nd Provisional Battalion to the Gloucestershire Regiment. I take it that as the 3rd/7th Worcestershire Regiment was a "depot/training ("third line") unit, they were effectively reserves for the original regiment - i.e. 1st/7th Battalion, which I see was part of Gloucester and Worcester Brigade. Is this how you worked it out? I did look up the Gloucestershire Regiment on the Long Long Trail too, but can see no reference to the 82nd Provisional Battalion, even in the "Other Battalions" section. A little insight into how you found this information would be most helpful in improving my future use of this excellent website.

I note that the 7th Battalion absorbed the 8th Battalion on the very day William became discharged, so I'm guessing this was no coincidence - they wanted him "gone" before this absorption took place. I note that the 3rd/8th Battalion was also a "third line" unit, whereas the 2nd/7th Battalion was referred to as a "second line" unit. I assume "first line" units were front line units, "second line" were held in reserve, but during hostilities could be called to the front as reinforcement/replacements, whilst "third line" units were always home-based/training units - have I got this right, Alan?

I understand from the information on the Long Long Trail that when he was called-up on 16 June 1916, the battalion had by then moved to Weston-Super-Mare, the move having taken place on 8 April 1916. Can I safely quote that William had at one time been based at Weston-Super-Mare in William's storyline I am currently writing-up?

There is one query (in my fourth-last paragraph) you didn't comment upon in your reply, but then again I did raise a lot of queries! I was curious to know that if a fully-fit man wanted to leave the army, what were the rules regarding this at the time? Having committed to serving for x number of years with Colours and Reserves upon attestation, were there any ways in which a soldier could leave before completing his time - e.g. by paying a "forfeit" of some kind? I imagine the Army made this hard for soldiers to do, especially as strength in numbers was required in times of war, so I suppose only normal/compassionate leave was usually allowed and that a man couldn't ask to quit the Army simply because he didn't like a posting, etc. I assume that during active service the same rules applied to the Territorial Force as it did for the Regular Army. Am I correct in my assumptions, and do the King's Regulations Para 392 contain the definitive list of all possible reasons, Alan?

Thank you for pointing me to Ancestry's record of William's Silver War Badge entitlement.

I am curious what the abbreviation "7 Wor" which you alluded to on the Medical History Sheet (Ancestry image 8997) actually meant. Thanks again for your help - it's all so very much appreciated!

Best wishes,
Mike Winkett
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 17th June 2014 at 12:26 PM

Dear Mike,
The affiliations of the 82nd Provisional Battalion are recorded in the definitive book: "British Regiments 1914 18", by Brigadier E.A. James (1978) which I have on my shelves. The information about the Gloucestershire Regiment that you sought is available on the Long Long Trail website under the entry for the Gloucestershire Regiment Territorial Battalions where it states: "17th Battalion: Formed at Walton-on-the-Naze on 1 January 1917 from what had previously been the 82nd Provisional Battalion of the TF" etc. (
In December 1915, the 1st/7th and 2nd/7th Battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment had already been recruited up to strength and trained for active service. They were serving with their respective Infantry Brigades under command of their respective Divisions. The 3rd/7th Battalion was not formed until April 1915 and was the one unit of the 7th Battalion still based in its home location, not at its war station, in December 1915.
You are correct about the roles of the first, second and third line battalions.
William would probably have not physically served with the 3rd/7th Battalion except on the day he enlisted in December 1915. From then on he was on their books, but on the same day was placed on the reserve until he was called-up in 1916. His records would have been kept by the Worcestershire Regiment with a copy at the Warwick record office. When he was eventually mobilized in 1916, William, who was then in the reserves as a private of the 7th Worcestershire Regiment, was called-up for the 1st Garrison Battalion Worcestershire Regiment (not a Territorial Force battalion, hence the different regimental number) before being swiftly sent to the 82nd Provisional Battalion. There is nothing in his record to suggest he actually went to Weston-super-Mare to join the 3rd/7th Battalion there. He was called-up at Birmingham and destined for the 1st Garrison Battalion Worcestershire Regiment in Portsmouth. But, within two days, a telegram was received (perhaps in Birmingham) transferring him to the 82nd Provisional Battalion at Walton-on-the-Naze, which was part of the Territorial Force. Other than any days spent travelling on trains, his time in uniform would have been spent at Walton-on-the-Naze with the 82nd Provisional Battalion.
The abbreviation "7 Wor" stood for 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.
William was serving with the 82nd Provisional Battalion at Walton-on-the-Naze when he was discharged on 1st September 1916. The 3/7th and 3/8th Battalions Worcestershire Regiment were stationed on Salisbury Plain at that time. The medical record of an individual recruit in the 82nd Provisional Battalion serving on the coast of Essex would not have influenced the Army's decision in September 1916 to amalgamate two reserve battalions of a regiment stationed on Salisbury Plain.
A man could not ask to leave the Army during war. Pre-war regular soldiers served specific durations with the colours and reserves (which service could come to an end during the war). Wartime recruits were enlisted for "the duration of the war". King's Regulations para 392 covered all the conditions of discharge.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Mike Winkett
Date: Tuesday 17th June 2014 at 8:45 PM

Dear Alan,

Thank you so much for answering my further queries regarding William's brief military career. The information you provide on this forum really does bring to life the people being enquired into. Much is owed to those who served, many of whom never talked much about their experiences to family and friends, so it is very interesting to find out how/where/when they served and gain some insight into their life and their experiences.

Hopefully, the book to which you alluded ["British Regiments 1914 18", by Brigadier E.A. James (1978)] is still in print and I will try and add it to my steadily-growing collection. I'm still a relative newcomer when it comes to deciphering military records and good books such as the ones you often recommend are a boon to people such as I!

I can myself recommend a book to readers of your forum for those interested in the Territorials, which I have just received. This is titled "The Territorials 1908-1914 A Guide For Military And Family Historians", written by Ray Westlake (ISBN 184884360-7). I obtained my own copy from The Naval & Military Press.

Thanks again, Alan. As mentioned in my original posting, I will be sending a donation to the British Legion shortly.

Best wishes,
Mike Winkett
Posted by: Tess
Location: Newton Abbot
Date: Wednesday 11th June 2014 at 10:43 PM
I am doing some work for the Christow Local History group this time!
I have the following record for Gordon Wills, who appears on Christow's War Memorial in Devon:

Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919:
Name: Gordon Wills
Rank: Act Ldg Smn
Birth Date: 5 Mar 1888
Birth Place: Exeter, Devon, England
Branch of Service: Royal Navy
Cause of Death: Killed or died by means other than disease, accident or enemy action
Official Number Port Division: S.S.1368 (R.F.R.Dev.B.3738) (Dev)
Death Date: 27 Apr 1919
Ship or Unit: SS Belgie
Location of Grave: Nazareth Section. 2185.
Name and Address of Cemetery: Evergreen Cemetery Brooklyn, New York, USA
Relatives Notified and Address: Wife: Ethel May, 5 Church Street Cottages, Dawlish

1919 New York, Death Index:
Name: Gordon Wills
Birth Year: abt 1885
Age: 34
Death Date: 27 Apr 1919
Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA
Certificate Number: 15218

I can find no report of Gordon Wills' death in the New York papers of the time and can't find much reference to SS Belgie so I'm not sure what she was doing in New York in 1919?
Any suggestions on how I might find out what happened to Gordon?
Thanks for your help
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 12th June 2014 at 12:39 AM

Dear Tess,
On the surface it appears to be a death from natural causes of a serving member of the Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve who served on the vessel SS "Belgic" at the age of 32. The vessel SS "Belgenland", built in 1914, served as a freighter and then a troopship in the First World War with the White Star Line under the name of SS "Belgic". Acting Leading Seaman of the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) had been born at Exeter on 5th March 1886 (not 1888). The RFR was a pre-war reserve of former Royal Navy men who maintained one week of training every year. In the First World War Gordon Wills crossed the Atlantic numerous times on the "Belgic" which was later converted to carry 3,000 troops in 1918.
On his last voyage, the "Belgic" sailed from Liverpool and arrived at New York on 25th April 1919.
Reservists' service documents have survived only in part. See:
As a reservist he had served previously in the Royal Navy from 1905. To download his R.N. service record (cost £3.30) go to:
Gordon Wills qualified for the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal, which were sent to is widow.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Tess
Date: Saturday 14th June 2014 at 11:33 AM

Thanks Alan,
With your kind help, I now have a direction and can search a little deeper.
Christow will be pleased to sort out the mystery - 6 of the 14 names on their War Memorial are Wills !
With kind regards,
Reply from: Tess
Date: Thursday 19th June 2014 at 8:17 PM

Following the lead given by Alan, I can give further information from National Archives record for SB1368 Gordon Wills free to anyone who is interested.
At Vivid I on enlistment,as Ordinary Seaman: 31.12.1906.
Ship: Vengeance 15.05.1906: to Able Seaman: 21.11.1907.
Back to Vivid I base 05.05.08. On Caesar 06.08; Temeraire 05.09. To Vivid I: 04.11
Transferred to RFR April 11.
Called off reserve july 1914 - onto Drake, Excellent, Victory I, President III, To Vivid I
Then to President III 1916-1919.
Died April 1919 - "fell into the hold of SS Belgic"
If any relative has a photo I'd appreciate a copy to add to his history at Christow church.
with kind regards, Tess
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 24th June 2014 at 10:50 PM

Dear Tess,
Thanks for posting the additional information. "Fell into the hold of SS Belgic" seems an unfortunate way for Gordon Wills to end his service but is an explicit description and hardly "natural causes" as I stated. That'll teach me.
Keep up the good work,
Reply from: Sonia
Date: Monday 4th August 2014 at 11:36 PM

Dear Tess

Gordon Samuel Wills was my great grandfather I have a photo of him and so does my mother.

I live in Dawlish so please send me private email (scltwrthy at aol dot com)

I will be happy to help you


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