The World War Forum (Page 32)

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Posted by: Jonboy {Email left}
Location: Harlow
Date: Wednesday 30th March 2016 at 8:26 PM
Hi Alan
Strange one here for you if you can help please, back in 2012 I asked about my Gt Uncle Edward Charles Bartlett who I couldn't find on Census after 1881, you came up with being in the Army for a While, well just found a document of some sort saying he was in the Navy at some time back in late 1880s service No 98199, it states his occupation was a Paper Hanger which as History goes in that Family they were mostly all paper Hangers or Decorators could this be the same person ?.
Kind regards
Jonby
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 31st March 2016 at 2:42 PM

Dear Jonboy,
Edward Charles Bartlett, born Hoxton, 20th August 1860, enlisted in the Royal Navy as a boy on 20th October 1876 at HMS Fisgard, a training establishment at Woolwich. He was aged 16 and therefore was rated as Boy Second Class (aged between 15 and 17). He was described as being 5ft 2ins tall; dark brown eyes; brown hair; fresh complexion; birthmark on chest. His trade was paper hanger. After a week at Fisgard, on 27th October 1876 he went to HMS Impregnable which was a training ship for boys at Devonport, Plymouth. On November 5th 1876 he joined HMS Implacable, a training ship for boys in the Hamoaze, River Tamar, Devonport.
On 8th January 1878 he deserted from Implacable. On 20th August 1878 he would have been aged 18 and then committed to 10 years continuous man’s service in the Royal Navy.
He was apparently apprehended on 29th April 1879 and on May 2nd 1879 he was sentenced to 54 days with hard labour at Bodmin Gaol. Bodmin Gaol was taken over by the Admiralty in 1869 and used until 1922.
In the 1881 census Edward Bartlett was recorded as aged 23 [he was 21]; paper hanger, living with his wife, Lucy, aged 23, at Mills Buildings, 3, Prince Edward Street, Islington, London.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Jonboy
Date: Thursday 31st March 2016 at 2:55 PM

Hi Alan
Thanks for that, now presuming this is the same Edward Charles Bartlett which im 99% sure it is , how did he manage to sign up in the Army with his previous record of Desertion in the Navy ?.Luke says its possible as they did not check up properly on your past and also he could have lied by not telling them about his past. Is this true ?.
Kind regards
Jonboy
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 31st March 2016 at 3:07 PM

It is the same person as his army record stated his mother was Matilda.
Luke’s correct. The Army of the 1880’s was not bothered about a recruit’s background or whether they were telling the truth; and there was no centralised system for cross-checking of information as there would be today. There was also a money-making scam that men employed by joining the part-time Territorial Army and then offering themselves for transfer to the regular Army for which they were paid a bounty of ten pounds. They would do the basic training; take the money and then desert.
Alan
Reply from: Jonboy
Date: Thursday 31st March 2016 at 4:05 PM

Ha Ha thanks Alan its mind boggling. Well done Luke (for the umpteenth time).
Regards
Jonboy

Posted by: Katherine Brown {Email left}
Location: Norwich
Date: Wednesday 30th March 2016 at 7:48 PM
Hi Alan,

I'm trying to find information on my grandfather, Henry Albert Brown, who fought in WW1. He enlisted at Edmonton and on the RFA Attestations his Service No. Is listed as 1003811 and his former service no. was 58990. Is there a way to find what brigade/division he was in so I can find out what battles he was involved in please?
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 30th March 2016 at 9:59 PM

Dear Katherine,
Henry Albert Brown first served overseas in France from 12th May 1915. As he again served after the war, indicated by his regimental number from 1921, his service record is not in the public domain and would be held by the Ministry of Defence. The MoD will release certain amounts of detail to next-of-kin or general enquirers for a charge of £30 and proof of the former soldier’s death (copy of death certificate). See:
https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records/overview
With kind regards,
Alan

Posted by: Ian Gotts {Email left}
Location: St Albans
Date: Wednesday 30th March 2016 at 6:11 PM
I have a Matthew Gotts in 178th Tunnellers, who died 8/2/16 in the tunnel he was digging, when the Germans exploded a mine at Tambour Duclos. I assume this is the same as the three Tambour mines west of Fricourt, and these were just behind the New Military Cemetery. I've got the trench map via National Library of Scotland and shows a region due West of Fricourt called Tambour.

I am trying to find where the tunnels were started, and drawing a blank.

The battalion diary states a telephone line was laid to the mines from MEAULTE to the mines three miles away.. Any ideas on where the entrances were?
Thanks
Reply from: Ian Gotts
Date: Sunday 10th April 2016 at 10:25 AM

Digging into this further, makes me wonder exactly where the position of the three Tambour mines was. Has anyone found a map reference in the Company Orders for where they were supposed to be placed?

The reason I ask is this:
On the NLS overlay maps for 62D 25 April 1916 the blue line for the British front line cuts the top of square '7.3.c' at about 20,100.
The Tambour is not marked, but on the McMaster map http://digitalarchive.mcmaster.ca/islandora/object/macrepo%3A4038
it shows the area between two trench systems as named as German Tambour (7.3.c.35.30). This is on the South East corner of the wooded area to the South East of the New Military Cemetery.

On the NLS map for 15 June 1916 there is a Tambour area marked at 7.3.c.30.100. This is on the North West side of the same wooded area.

On 8 Feb 1916 my Matthew Gotts, Tunneller, was buried because the Enemy exploded a mine at 'Tambour Du Clos, ref F.3.c.5.95', (as stated in the Battalion diary) which corresponds to where our front line was in April. To me, it seems that the area marked 'The Tambour' was part of our front line, and unless our front line fell back between Feb & June, our three Tambour mines would have been placed under the German Tambour area on the South East corner of the wood.

I understand this may be slightly at odds with one or two websites, but I can't see why I would be wrong.
Your comments or extra information is welcome!
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 10th April 2016 at 9:26 PM

Dear Ian,
I don’t know if it helps, but the three Tambour mine craters have not moved, although they are perhaps overgrown. If you copy and paste
49°59'58.0"N 2°42'35.8"E
into Google maps and Google Earth you can pin point them and compare the location with older maps.
For precise details of sap entrances it would be necessary to see a Royal Engineers map or plans of the particular mine saps you are referring to, as the small area of the Tambour and Tambour du Clos experienced the explosion of at least nine mines from October 1915 prior to the “Triple Tambour” of July 1st 1916. There was other work in the area, including plans to blow three mines by the British on Boxing Day 1915, apart from the most famous Tambour mines that were exploded by the British on July 1st 1916, although the largest of the three failed to go off at the stipulated time of 7.28 a.m. because after it was completed its chamber had flooded: “Z Day. Mines in G3E, G19A exploded at 7:28 a.m. 2 minutes before Zero. G15b not successful”.
At the time of the explosions, the Tambour was in German hands and for months they had been undermining the French and British positions at depths of 120 feet, trying to hide tons of white chalk spoil from view. It is possible that tunnelling in February 1916 by the 178th Tunnelling Company RE was related to the three Tambour mines planned for July 1916.
Excavations for mining in front of Fricourt began with the French Army and were taken over by the British upon their arrival at Albert in August 1915. The name “Tambour” was given to a bulge (salient) in the French front line by its occupants; the name means “drum”. The Germans named the area: die Kniewerk (from “knee”: a “kick of the knee”) or the “Fricourt west sector”.
There can be no single trench map for any one area as the situation changed frequently and maps were produced regularly at different scales for different purposes and regularly updated.
More specialised maps would be needed to identify the location of sap entrances.
As a general guide, at the end of December 1915, the 8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment was attached to 178th Tunnelling Company R.E. and entries in their war diary indicate that the entrances to the saps were in the front of their trenches in the D3 Sector. The tunnels, or “saps”, went forward to beneath the German lines; whilst the Germans were tunnelling towards the English in a similar manner beneath no man’s land which was only about 100 yards wide at this point because of the bulge in the British line.
There is a map showing the British trenches (in blue) in D3 with the bulge in the line under the “o” of Fricourt at:
http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/uploads/monthly_07_2014/post-32914-0-78235900-1404905677.jpg
I am afraid I can only offer that as a guide as my own trench map collection of the period stops just above Fricourt. The maps that would help most would be in square 62D N.E.. but would need to be of a large scale. Various mine craters already blown at Fricourt are marked as red asterisks on the trench map of 25th April 1916 at:
http://maps.nls.uk/view/101465323
The war diary of Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) 18th Division might include maps and map references of saps begun in 1915 in the sector facing Fricourt, which was occupied by 55th Infantry Brigade of 18th Division in late 1915 when work was begun. The diary of CRE 18 Division is available to download (£3.45) from:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7352952
The book “War Underground” by Alexander Barrie might be of interest:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/War-Underground-The-Tunnellers-Great/dp/1862270813
I apologise that your original post has not received a response earlier than today.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Ian Gotts
Date: Sunday 10th April 2016 at 10:00 PM

Hi Alan,
Thanks for your detailed reply.
The NE bearings give you smack bang in the middle of the wooded area. The trench map you referenced shows that No-Mans Land was very narrow, so they weren't tunneling very far, but 120 feet deep is a lot.
I will see what photos I can get when I am out there next week.
Thanks
Posted by: Cliff {Email left}
Location: Long Island Ny Usa
Date: Tuesday 29th March 2016 at 5:59 PM
Alan;

Can you please help? I'm trying to find out about my great-uncle, Daniel Falvey. The information

I have on him is a little sketchy. What I think I know is, that he was born in 1896 in Innishannon, Cork,

Ireland. He enlisted into the Army in November of 1915. I believe that he was in the Leinster Regiment,

the 7th or 8th Battalion. His serial numbers were: 3549/658161. He was supposed to have been

wounded in March of 1918, and survived his wounds only to be shipped back in November.

Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Cliff
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 29th March 2016 at 7:21 PM

Dear Cliff,
No individual service record has survived for Daniel Falvey so it is not possible to state his military service. Most records were destroyed during enemy bombing of London in 1940. The Army medal rolls recorded Daniel Falvey first served overseas in France and Flanders from 17th December 1915 as a private soldier number 3549 with the Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment. He was discharged from the Labour Corps (numbered 658161) on 11th May 1919. The Labour Corps employed less able men on labouring and farming duties.
There was no 8th Battalion Leinster Regiment. The 7th Battalion Leinster Regiment went to France on the night of 17th/18th December 1915 (a date that matches the medal records). The 7th Battalion served there with the 47th Infantry Brigade in the 16th (Irish) Division until the Battalion was disbanded at Tincourt, Somme, France, on 14th February 1918 during the re-organisation of the British Army. The men were absorbed by the 2nd Battalion Leinster Regiment and the 19th Entrenching Battalion which was a form of holding battalion. The re-organised 2nd Battalion moved from the 47th Brigade to the 88th Brigade (29 Division) on 23rd April 1918. There is no record of when Daniel Falvey transferred to the Labour Corps. His service in the Labour Corps might well have been after he recovered from wounds and might have been in the U.K.
For the engagements of the 16th Division see Chris Baker’s website:
http://www.1914-1918.net/16div.htm
The war diary of the 7th Battalion Leinster Regiment can be purchased for download (£3.45) from:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7352855
Being wounded in March 1918 is plausible as the 7th Battalion was enveloped in the German’s Spring Offensive (Operation Michael) from March 21st 1918 at St Quentin.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Cliff
Date: Wednesday 30th March 2016 at 12:57 PM

Alan

Thank you so very much for the amazingly quick and informative response. The information you

provided will be a great asset to us.

Thank you again for all that you do.

Cliff
Posted by: Young Buzzard {Email left}
Location: Newton Abbot
Date: Tuesday 29th March 2016 at 10:17 AM
Hi Alan

I am researching the Beard family, well known and plentious in our village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor up here on Dartmoor. I am trying to find "war service" information in respect of the following 3 men.

WILLIAM RICHARD BEARD b 30.08.1891, father James Beard, mother Eliza (nee French) - family stories say he was a signaller/spotter during the war, but no actual details of his service are known?

WILLIAM THOMAS HAMLYN BEARD b 16.04.1896 - father Thomas Beard (listed in the census as a widower). It is known he served in the 3rd/6th Bat Devonshire Regiment Service No 4019 and later with the Somerset Light Infantry Service No 275133. Could you please tell me where and when he served in France etc?.

ERNEST BEARD b 1879 in Widecombe, married Lucy in Exeter in 1906. He is listed on the 1918 Electoral Roll as being a Military/Naval voter but I can find no records of his service. (Some of the family think he may have been a coastguard?)

Any information on any or all of the "lads" listed above would, as usual, be greatly appreciated.

David.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 29th March 2016 at 7:16 PM

Dear David,
Generally, it is not possible to identify military personnel by their name only and very few surviving military records state a date of birth or parents. Therefore it is not possible to identify records for William Richard Beard or to positively identify Ernest Beard.
A signaller could have served in the Royal Engineers signals section; a spotter could have served in the Royal Artillery.
An army medal roll for a William Thomas Hamlyn Beard recorded he served as a Lance-corporal in the Devonshire Regiment (4019) and Prince Albert’s Somerset Light Infantry (275133). No individual service record has survived so it is not possible to state his military service in detail or to further identify him. There were certainly two men of that name living in Devon at the time; however the older appears to have been born in 1856, so the war-time record probably refers to the younger man, born in 1896. The medal roll stated William Thomas Hamlyn Beard had qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and had served in the 3rd/6th Battalion Devonshire Regiment and the 1st F.S.G. Battalion Somerset Light Infantry. The 3rd/6th Devonshire Regiment was formed on 25th March 1915 at Barnstaple as a third-line battalion and did not serve overseas as a battalion. It became the 6th Reserve Battalion in April 1916 and was absorbed into the 4th Reserve Battalion in September 1916 at Winchester. The 4th Reserve Battalion then trained at Bournemouth, Sutton Veny, and Larkhill until April 1918 when it moved to Ireland. It undertook garrison duties and basic training for men who could be sent abroad as drafts of reinforcements as required.
During the summer of 1915 those personnel who were in third-line battalions and were not available for posting overseas because they were not medically fit enough were moved into what became Provisional Battalions. Provisional Battalions were converted on January 1st 1917 to Home Service Battalions of the Territorial Force units within infantry regiments. On 1st January 1917 the 85th Provisional Battalion at Whitstable, which dated from April 1915, became the 11th (Home Service) Battalion Somerset Light Infantry.
The 11th Battalion was raised for Home Service from Territorial Force soldiers in the South West of England who were of low medical grades and could not serve at the front and had been placed in provisional battalions. The regimental number 275133 in the Somerset Light Infantry was allotted by the 11th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry in January 1917, so his regimental number suggests Lance-corporal Beard served with the 11th Battalion when that number was allotted as the battalion was formed. However, he ended the war with the 1st (Foreign Service) Garrison Battalion Somerset Light Infantry which had been formed in Plymouth in January 1917 and sailed for India in February 1917 where it joined the Rawalpindi Brigade in 2nd (Rawalpindi) Division in May 1917 before moving to Lahore in September 1918. For the various locations of the Division see Chris Baker’s website:
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/2nd-rawalpindi-division/
It appears Lance-Corporal Beard served in garrison battalions at Home, with the Devonshire Regiment and a Provisional Battalion until January or February 1917 when he was posted to the newly-raised 1st (Foreign Service) Garrison Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, which then served on Garrison duties in India until the end of the war.

It is not possible to positively identify a record for Ernest Beard. He was born in 1878 (GRO Births, April – June 1898 Newton Abbot; Vol 5B page 134) and appears to have died in 1948 at Newton Abbot. He was baptised on August 30th 1878 at Widecombe-in-the-Moor, the son of William Thomas Hamlyn Beard (senior) of Cator, who had married his first wife Gertrude Ann (née Leaman), on September 20th 1877. There was also an Ernest Beard born at Newton Abbot district in 1896; who appears to have died in 1976 at Newton Abbot (GRO Births Newton Abbot, April – June 1896 volume 5B Page 129).

In the U.K., “Coastguard” is spelled as one word, but it can appear as Coast Guard in some records as well as being Coast Guard in the U.S.A., including Google.
There is a Navy medal index record for a Lg Btn Ernest Beard which would be Leading Boatman, which was a Coastguard shore rating. His number was 205322. He qualified for the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal which were despatched to “C.G. Mablethorpe” [Coastguard Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire]. However, it has not been possible to identify him further although he was the only Ernest Beard listed as a Coastguard rating. A Leading Boatman was a Coastguard rating on shore created in 1907 from the former title of “commissioned boatman” and who had been rated after 1st October, 1907. Additional pay was awarded for duties that could include gunnery; mines; signalling and wireless telegraphy.
Coastguard records are held at the U.K. National Archives at Kew, Surrey. Personnel records are divided between Officers indexes ADM175/103 to 107; 109 and 110 (1886 – 1947); and ADM175 82A to 84B for ratings (1900 -1923 service record cards) and Medal awards (ADM 1771). See:
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/coastguard-records/
You would need to visit Kew to see the records. Other coastal duties could include lighthouse and sea-pilot duties operated by The Corporation of Trinity House and Deptford Strond. In the First World War the Corporation undertook various duties such as buoying shipping lanes and naval operations, moving light-vessels and laying hundreds of marker buoys.
Some Trinity House pilots and keepers’ records have survived at the Guildhall Library. See:
http://www.history.ac.uk/gh/thouse2.htm
Due to the lack of biographical information in the surviving records, the details presented on this web forum have been suggested in good faith and are offered for general information. It is not possible to warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information.
With kind regards,
Alan
Posted by: Kerrie Smith {No contact email}
Location: Queensland Australia
Date: Saturday 26th March 2016 at 11:43 PM
Many thanks Alan, much appreciated, Cheers Kerrie
Posted by: Kerrie Smith {No contact email}
Location: Queensland Australia
Date: Saturday 26th March 2016 at 10:45 AM
Hi Alan, I am researching a family tree and have come across the name General Cecil Havelock Williams born 1885. I think he may have been born in India. Would you be able to find any information on him please.
Cheers Kerrie
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 26th March 2016 at 4:55 PM

Dear Kerrie,
There is no formal or military record of a “General” Cecil Havelock Williams.
There is a submitted public entry on the ancestry.co.uk website for a “General Havelock Cecil (sic) Williams”.
Cecil Havelock Williams, aged 26, bachelor, accountant, of Poona, son of Alexander Williams married Constance Jane Hemingway, aged 19, spinster, of Poona, daughter of Joseph Hemingway, on 29th March 1911 at the Methodist Episcopal Church, Poona, India.
(http://search.fibis.org/frontis/bin/aps_detail.php?id=234127)
Cecil Havelock Williams was baptised on 15th August 1885 at St Paul’s, Poona, the son of Alexander and Jane Elizabeth Williams. Alexander was a civil servant employed by Her Majesty’s Abkari Department at Surat, India. Abkari was an excise or revenue tax on the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors or drugs. Cecil Havelock Williams had been born on July 9th 1885. Jane Elizabeth might have been Jane Elizabeth Harrison who had married an Alexander Williams at Bombay Cathedral on February 10th 1876.
The death of a Cecil Havelock Williams, aged 35 (sic), European, engineer, occurred on May 3rd 1923. He died of Phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) and was buried on the same date at Sewri Cemetery, India. His age does not quite match (he would have been nearly 38) but ages at death could only be provided by someone else.
(The British army General Havelock who gave his name to a public house, and a ship, was Sir Henry Havelock who was famous for recapturing Cawnpore during the rebellion of 1857).
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 26th March 2016 at 5:59 PM

The Cecil H Williams born Cannock, 1885, submitted to the ancestry website as "General Havelock Cecil Williams" was the son of John Williams, a coal miner, and his wife Elizabeth who lived at Walsall, Staffordshire (1891 and 1901 England censuses).
Posted by: Rab Lavery {Email left}
Location: Belfast
Date: Friday 25th March 2016 at 8:57 PM
Hi Alan

Alan heres hoping you can help me , I'm looking for information on Private 1885 Thomas Faulkner 1st Bat Irish Guards KIA 18/05/1915. I'm aware his parents lived in Ahoghill near Ballymena Northern Ireland. I'm also aware he is listed on the Le Touret Memorial France but other than that small detail I'm at a stand still Alan.
Any information no matter how small would be gladly appreciated.
Many Thanks In Advance for the amazing work you do.

Regards Rab
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 26th March 2016 at 12:24 PM

Dear Rab,
Guardsman Thomas Faulkner was presumed to have died on or after 18th May 1915. He had entered France on 27th August 1914 which was two weeks later than the 1st Battalion Irish Guards (which arrived on 13th August 1914), so he would have been part of a draft of reinforcements, perhaps from reserves. He would have seen action at The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, and the First Battle of Ypres 1915 and the Winter Operations of 1914-15. He was killed during the Battle of Festubert (15th – 25th May 1915) with 4th Guards Brigade in the 2nd Division. Thomas was married to Sarah, of 10 Somerset Street, Belfast. He qualified for the 1914 Star with dated Aug-Nov 1914 clasp; the British War Medal and the Victory medal.
Service records of individual guardsmen have survived with their regiment but are not available online. Those seeking information should write to the Regiment directly at The Regimental Archivist; The Irish Guards, Regimental Headquarters, Wellington Barracks,
Birdcage Walk, London SW1E 6HQ. A minimum charge of £30 may be made.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Rab Lavery
Date: Saturday 26th March 2016 at 3:15 PM

Thank you so much Alan I really appreciate all the work you put into this.
With kind regards, Rab Lavery.
Posted by: Bob Herbert {Email left}
Location: Kinlochleven
Date: Wednesday 23rd March 2016 at 11:17 AM
Doing some research for Brother-in-law.
Any information about 1st Blackwatch (Royal Highlanders) serving as dockers at Liverpool and Bootle docks 1914.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 23rd March 2016 at 11:28 PM

Dear Bob,
I can find no record of that. The 1st Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) was stationed throughout 1914 at Oudenarde Barracks, Aldershot, and remained there until going to France on 14th August 1914. Their regimental band and dancers did travel to Birmingham and Coventry at Whitsuntide in 1914.
The Dock Labourers’ Union was in discussion with management, through the joint committees, in June 1914 over pay and conditions, including the 25,000 casual labourers, and bonus proposals which did lead to an occasional “sectional strike” in the summer of 1914 but there is no report of state intervention.
The 13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada), CEF, was authorized on 1st September 1914 and embarked for Great Britain on 26th September 1914 and might have passed through Liverpool.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 23rd March 2016 at 11:42 PM

Aside from the minimum wage argument of 1914 and the call for guaranteed hours rather than casual work, The Liverpool Dockers’ Battalion was formed on April 8th 1915 at Liverpool Town Hall when many volunteers from the union members of the Dockers’ Union agreed to wear Army uniform and work under the Army Act with the intention of “instantly handling Government transport work” during the war. They were about 350 strong and were paid the docker’s wage of 35 shillings a week plus one shilling-a-day Army Pay. They were not strike breakers. They were based at the Regent Road clearing house for Canada Dock and were known as the 1st Dock Battalion (Liverpool Regiment). They worked in gangs on a ship: 8 in the hold; 8 on the dock and 4 on the ship’s deck.
Posted by: Sue Browell {No contact email}
Location: Ashington
Date: Tuesday 22nd March 2016 at 7:26 PM
My Great Great Uncle Thomas Common Caisley Dixon was in the RAMC during World War 1. His number was 51804 and he was a Corporal and Private. The first theatre of war he was in was France 6 June 1915. At the time he enlisted he was living in Bedlington, Northumberland. I have been told that he was not territorial ( and therefore not with the Northumbrian Field Ambulance) but as the only records that survive are his medal card, I am at a loss as to to which medical unit he was in or to whom he was attached. Any help appreciated.

Sue
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 22nd March 2016 at 11:43 PM

Dear Sue,
Without a full service record for Thomas Dixon it is not possible to state his military service. As with most Medal Rolls Index-Cards, his card provides no clues to his service, other than his qualification for campaign medals.
However, if you wish to pursue the elimination of possibilities hoping to find something, his card recorded he first served in France from 6th June 1915 and his regimental number was 51804. He rose to the rank of corporal. The actual medal rolls to which the card refers add no further information other than that he ended the war as corporal with the appointment of an acting lance-sergeant in the RAMC.
There are some facts that can be deduced: he was a volunteer because he first served in 1915 or earlier and therefore he was not a conscientious objector of the compulsory conscription introduced in March 1916, serving in the un-armed medical corps (The RAMC could carry arms only for their personal defence or the defence of their patients); he enlisted after the war had started because he was allotted a five-digit “wartime” regimental number on enlistment; he went to France comparatively early compared to the majority of units that went to France some weeks or months later than 6th June 1915.
If he had been in a draft of reinforcements, his regimental number does not preclude him from serving with a Territorial unit, but as the Territorials initially had four-digit and then six-digit numbers (from January 1917), it does appear the Territorials can be eliminated, as you have been told already.
He could have gone to France as part of a complete Field Ambulance unit posted overseas in June 1915, or he could have been posted as part of a draft of casualty replacements or reinforcements for any of many units or hospitals of the RAMC which had been in France and Flanders since August 1914.
It is not possible to say which.
From my own look at the records, only the 15th Scottish Division, with the 45th; 46th and 47th Field Ambulances RAMC, appears to have been sent to France in June 1915. But that does not prove Thomas was amongst them. For details of the 15th Division see Chris Baker’s Website, The Long, Long trail at:
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/15th-scottish-division/
The date of arrival in a theatre of war recorded on medal cards was not always precise. Ships sailed at night-time to cross the English Channel in darkness and arrived in France during the early hours, so the date 6th June could have been the evening of the 6th on embarkation at Folkestone or Southampton; or the morning of the 6th on disembarkation at Boulogne or Havre, depending on who had written-up the record. Also, the date refers to the qualifying date for the 1914-15 Star medal with a given RAMC unit, and some men who arrived much later in 1915 to reinforce a given unit after the original disembarkation date were recorded on their Medal Rolls Index-Cards with the original disembarkation date of 1915. The date was not necessarily the date they arrived; it was the date the unit arrived in theatre to qualify for the 1914-15 Star. That said, in the majority of incidences the date on a medal index-card is an accurate date of arrival.
The 15th Division disembarked from 7th June 1915 in France so the first units would have sailed on the 6th. It would be worth further checking the dates of arrival for other divisions also. The dates can be seen by selecting each division in turn from the index on Chris Baker’s Website:
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/
It has to be stressed though, that the Divisional order of battle only includes (mobile) Field Ambulances and sanitary units, and if Thomas Dixon worked in a hospital, his date of arrival in France would not be helpful in tracing that hospital.
Trawling through war diaries of medical units stationed abroad for three years or more would be a long process. RAMC units were quite small and war diaries often mentioned people by name, so there is a slight chance of finding a reference to him if, and I stress if, he had gone to France with the 15th Division. It depends on how keen you are to trace his unit and how much time and effort you want devote to searching.
The war diary of 45 Field Ambulance is available to download (very large files at £3.45 each) from:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7352779
46 Field Ambulance
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7352780
47 Field Ambulance
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7352782
Finally, you could pay £25 for a manual look up of pension record cards held by the Western Front Association. Not every soldier applied for a pension but the WFA’s archive holds some six million records not available anywhere else, so on the off-chance it might be money well spent. There is a £15 refund for failed searches. See:
http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/all-about-the-wfa/wfa-news-events/pension-records.html
The odds are against you finding any surviving documentation, but if you don’t try eliminating the possibilities, you’ll never be satisfied that you have tried all avenues.
With kind regards,
Alan

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