The World War Forum (Page 88)

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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,

Howard
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,
Alan
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.

Howard

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.
Sincerely,
Eleanor.
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,
Alan
Posted by: Tess {No contact email}
Location: Newton Abbot
Date: Tuesday 17th June 2014 at 10:34 AM
HI,
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
C AVERY
DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
27TH MAY 1920

Yet I can find no record to help me determine who he was. Could you assist me, please?
Thanks
Tess
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:
(http://www.devonheritage.org/Nonplace/WarMemorials/VirtualMemAtoC.htm)

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:
http://thebignote.com/2012/03/28/christow-st-james-church/

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,
Alan
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,
Tess

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 Findmypast.co.uk 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:
http://www.epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk/MedicalCategories.html
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,
Alan
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".
Alan
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. (http://www.1914-1918.net/glos.htm)
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,
Alan
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 {No contact email}
Location: Newton Abbot
Date: Wednesday 11th June 2014 at 10:43 PM
Hi,
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
Tess
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:
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/royal-naval-volunteer-reserve-service-records.htm
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:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=D7093616
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,
Alan
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,
Tess
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.
Briefly:
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,
Alan
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

Sonia
Posted by: Lisa Ekman {Email left}
Location: Bridgend
Date: Wednesday 11th June 2014 at 8:23 PM
Dear Alan,

I wonder if you would be able to help me with regards to my Great Grandfather William Garlick. The details I have are from a WW1 medal index card which give his number as 10652 Ches R - which corresponds to medals that a family member has. The card states Date of Entry was 26/6/1915 theatre of war 2B Balkans. D of W 30/4/1916. Where would he have fought? Did my grandfather die in France or elsewhere? Also, he was known as Philip by his children/wife and there is a memorial in Bargoed to that effect. He is listed as living with his family in the 1911 census as P Garlick but it appears that he went to war under a different name. I cannot find any trace of Philip/William Garlick prior to the 1911 census. It's all a bit puzzling. Where did he sign up? Did he serve in any earlier wars? I appreciate this is a long shot but any information/tips for further research would be very gratefully received. I would dearly love to get to know a little bit more of my Great Grandfather.

Yours sincerely,

Miss Lisa Ekman
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 11th June 2014 at 10:13 PM

Dear Miss Ekman,
No individual service record has survived for Sergeant William Garlick, so it is not possible to state his wartime service in detail. He served in the 8th Battalion The Cheshire Regiment which had been raised on 12th August 1914 at Chester. The Battalion served in the 40th Infantry Brigade in the 13th Division. After training in the UK the Battalion sailed to Egypt in June 1915 in anticipation of moving to the landings on the beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey in July 1915. They landed at Cape Helles in July, withdrew and then returned at Anzac Cove in August 1915. They subsequently fought at The Battle of Sari Bair, 6th 10th August 1915; The Battle of Russell's Top, 7th August; The Battle of Hill 60, 27th 28th August 1915 and The last Turkish attacks at Helles on their withdrawal on 7th January 1916. They served on the peninsula until the first week of January 1916 when they were evacuated back to Egypt. In February 1916 they were sent to Mesopotamia (Iraq).
There, they took part in the relief of the siege of Kut al Amara where the British Army was besieged by the Turks in Mesopotamia (Iraq). By 27th March 1916, the Division had assembled near Sheikh Sa'ad and came under orders of the Tigris Corps. It then took part in the unsuccessful attempts to relieve the siege of Kut (7th December 1915 29th April 1916). The British Army besieged at Kut eventually surrendered to the Turks with great losses.
Sergeant William Garlick was buried at Amara War Cemetery after he had died of wounds on 30th April 1916. Seven general hospitals and some smaller units were stationed there. See:
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/628423/GARLICK,%20W

"Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) recorded he was born in "Fairview" Gloucestershire, which was probably an erroneous entry for Fairford in the Cirencester registration district. It stated his residence in 1914 was Pengam, Monmouthshire. His surviving military records provide no further biographical information. Garlick has the alternative spellings of Garlic and Garlich. Philip can also be spelled Phillip. William was sometimes abbreviated to Wm.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Lisa Ekman
Date: Thursday 12th June 2014 at 12:33 PM

Wow!

Thank you so, so much for your time and generosity Alan. I am amazed by all this information and it actually made me quite emotional. I'm still having trouble finding William/Philip Garlick prior to the 1911 census - could he have served in the Boer War?( Not sure of dates - history is not my strong point!) I can't really find his wife Lydia (Jones) prior to 1911 either. This is all new to me and I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing but I will persist. I have managed to find William and Lydia's marriage certificate. It appears they didn't actually get married until 3rd Jany (it is difficult to read the print) 1915. So it appears they had most of their 4 children (Edward, Phylis, Frederick, then in 1916 Philip, out of wedlock even though I am lead to believe by family members that they were strict 'Chapel' My Nan (Phylis) certainly was! They must have got married just before he went to war. This is all so heartbreaking...and I'm just typing out loud so to speak.

I can't find a registration for Edward's (the oldest) birth either. Phylis (my Nan) wasn't actually registered until 7th December 1915 when she was actually born 26th Dec 1908 (Name and occupation of father is blank! ) Would this be because William/Philip wasn't present at the registration? My Nan remembered her father going to war - she called him Dad - he was definitely her father. It's all a complete mystery and probably too much for an amateur like me to unravel. Perhaps I just have to accept that they didn't want to be found. How did Lydia and William meet...she was from a mining family in North Wales... William/Philip was from Gloucestershire!

At least I know a little more about where William/Philip served and where he is. I would like to visit his grave one day - I may have to wait a while for that to be possible however! But, at least now I can research the 8th battalion...

Thank you once again. I am going to make a donation to the British Legion today. I think perhaps this is going to be one of my preferred charities from now on.

Kindest regards,

Lisa
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 12th June 2014 at 10:25 PM

Dear Lisa,
There is a brief service record for a William Garlick of Fair View, Cheltenham, who enlisted in the militia in 1892 and transferred to the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment at the stated age of 17. I cannot transcribe it for you for reasons of copyright. It can be downloaded for the purchase of 30 credits for a few pounds from the findmypast.co.uk. website. It is under Military - British Army Service Records 1760 to 1915 Garlick William 1875 1892 Fair View, Cheltenham. He would appear to be the same man who served in the First World War (so "Fairford", as I suggested yesterday, was not his parish, but "Fair View" was). He appears to have served in the Second Anglo-Boer War. Medal entitlements can be found on the ancestry.co.uk website searching under initial only: "W. Garlick" in "UK, Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949". He qualified for the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps for Orange Free State and Natal.
In the 1911 Welsh Census the family of Phillip Garlick and Lydia are recorded living a Pleasant View, Fler de Lis, Monmouthshire. Lydia stated her age was 31 (1879) and she was born at Ruabon, Denbighshire. For details of the parish and chapels see:
http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/DEN/Ruabon/index.html
In the 1881 Welsh Census a Lydia Jones, aged 1, (about 1880) was recorded at Ruabon with her her parents Edward and Ann at 31, Burton Terrace, Ruabon. (Class: RG11; Piece: 5514; Folio: 7; Page: 9)
Her birth was probably Apr-May-Jun 1880 Wrexham, Denbighshire, vol 11b page 310
In 1891 the Jones family was living at Cefn mawr (Class: RG12; Piece: 4613; Folio: 122; Page: 3)
In 1901 a Lydia Jones who stated she came from Cefn Mawr, Denbighshire, Wales, aged 20, was a domestic servant for a Frances Daw, widow, at Birkenhead. (Class: RG13; Piece: 3395; Folio: 151; Page: 42)
This Lydia Jones does not appear in the 1911 England or 1911 Wales Censuses so it appears she was the Lydia Garlick recorded with Phillip Garlick in the 1911 Census of Wales at Fler de Lis, Mynyddislwyn, Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales. (Class: RG14; Piece: 32031; Schedule Number: 174.)
Phyllis was probably Phyllis M Garlick, Oct Dec 1908, Newport M, Monmouthshire, volume 11a page 15. Although she was recorded in the 1911 Wales census as being born at Bargoed, Glamorgan which was on the Glamorgan and Monmouthshire boundary. Bargoed was also referred to as Gelligaer. For chapels etc. see:
http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/GLA/Gelligaer/
Edward was also shown in the 1911 census to have been born at Bargoed about 1902. His GRO birth record is elusive.
Frederick was shown on the 1911 census as being two months old, born at Pengam, the same place as William Garlick's residence in 1914. Frederick might have been registered as Frederick J. Garlick, April June 1911, Newport M, Monmouthshire, page 310 vol 11a.
Philip Garlick junior appears to have been born in 1915:
Philip Garlick; District: Bedwellty Monmouthshire; Mother's Maiden Name: Jones; Quarter: 2; 1915; Volume: 11a; Page: 291.
Gloucestershire is adjacent to Wales on the opposite bank of the River Wye (indeed, some Gloucestershire births were registered in Monmouth district) so it was quite likely that a miner would seek work in Wales where he might have come into contact with Lydia and her family.
I hope that provides some areas for further research.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Lisa Ekman
Date: Friday 13th June 2014 at 7:50 PM

Dear Alan,

I am truly lost for words. I can't tell you how much this means to me. The personal details contained in the documents really brought William to life and made it all so real. Perhaps the Gloucester Regiment service history explains the name change! I have so much to work with now.

I have set up a standing order with the Royal British Legion as a small thank you for your generosity but this doesn't seem enough somehow. Bless you.

Kindest regards

Lisa
Posted by: Leyther {Email left}
Location: Lancashire
Date: Tuesday 10th June 2014 at 8:57 AM
Good morning Alan

I have researched a family member who died in WW1 and I have been asked to write a short article about him in our local library magazine to commemortate the local war.heroes

I have found details on his private life through the census records and found his death record on Ancestry. From this Ancestry record, can you see more about him maybe or even just a little about the campaigns his regiments would have been involved with up to his death in May 1916? I would like to pad out the article with this info if possible.

I have also found a newspaper archive showing actual picture which is fantastic, and the article says he "died a hero as he was one of the lads who rushed up to stop the Germans advancing. Sadly he was buried by a shell and his Platoon - No 7 - tried in vain to dig him out"...Does this mean he was buried by debris from a bomb? He was aged just 19 when killed. The letter his Mother recieved was from a George Pendlebury (Assume from the regiment?).

Here is his death record anyway, any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you Alan.

Name: William Bell
Birth Place: Wigan, Lancs
Residence: Wigan
Death Date: 21 May 1916
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Hindley, Lancs
Rank: Private
Regiment: Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Battalion: 8th Battalion
Number: 19029
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Best regards
Leyther
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 10th June 2014 at 7:03 PM

Dear Leyther,
No individual service record has survived for 19029 William Bell so it is not possible to be certain about his wartime service. An Army medal rolls index-card recorded he first went overseas with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 25th September 1915 which matches the departure for France of the 8th and 9th Battalions Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was killed in action on May 21st 1916 while serving with the 8th Battalion so it seems likely that his service was confined to that battalion.
The 8th Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was raised at Preston in September 1914 and trained at Salisbury Plain with the 74th Brigade in the 25th Division. The Battalion then trained at Boscombe (Dec 1914); Bournemouth (Jan 1915); Boscombe (Mar 1915); Romsey (May 1915); Aldershot (June 1915) and then went to France in September 1915. The 8th Battalion then transferred to the 7th Brigade in the 25th Division. Soldiers did not always fight in every engagement, because one third of any unit was usually left out of battle to form a reserve and the nucleus of the future of the unit.
The 25th Division's history can be seen at:
http://www.1914-1918.net/25div.htm

For more detailed information about the 8th Battalion LNLR, the Battalion's war diary can be downloaded for £3.30 from The National Archives:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C7353362

The newspaper article does describe the effect of a shell landing nearby, exploding and burying men under the debris. There was a George Pendlebury who served in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and appears to have survived the war.
William Bell qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Leyther
Date: Wednesday 11th June 2014 at 8:00 AM

You are star Alan - thank you for this. It is a pity his full war records have not survived, but you have certainly helped piece information together with the dates / locations provided.
I will certainly download the Battalions War Diary - did not know I could obtain these.
This information will help tell the story of WIlliam Bell further.
Thanks again
Leyther
Posted by: Tess {Email left}
Location: Newton Abbot
Date: Monday 9th June 2014 at 4:55 PM
I have a pair of identity discs I have been asked to research.
The number impressed seems too long for a WW1 Regimental No. - 10708181 for the soldier SMART, Religion GS or CS.
I have read Army Order No. 287 of 1916. These discs comply with that description.
I can find nothing on Ancestry to associate the name Smart with that number.
Could anyone suggest another source to identify the soldier and his regiment, please.
Thanks
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 9th June 2014 at 5:51 PM

Dear Tess,
The number is too long to be a First World War number. It probably dates from later. The Ministry of Defence will release certain amounts of information about a deceased person depending on whether you are next of kin or not. You can apply using the forms for next of kin, or with permission of next of kin, or as a general enquirer. See:
https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records
You will need proof of death; date of birth or service number; next of kin's permission (unless you are the direct next of kin); a cheque and completed Application forms Part 1 and 2: If you are not next-of-kin you can make a general enquiry using both the "Request for Service personnel details: general enquirer's form (v6) (DOC)" and then the Part 2 form which is entitled "Request for Service personnel details: British Army part 2 (DOC)". There are forms for the RAF and the Navy, also.
A cheque for GBP 30 should be made payable to the "MOD Accounting Officer" and sent to Army Personnel Centre Secretariat, Disclosures 2, Mail Point 515, Kentigern House, 65, Brown Street, Glasgow G2 8EX Scotland with all the paperwork.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Tess
Date: Wednesday 11th June 2014 at 10:17 PM

Very thorough. Thanks.
I will pass it on to the relatives. They'll be pleased to know that they can actually do something to solve this little mystery.
Kind regards
Tess.
Posted by: Chilli {Email left}
Location: London
Date: Monday 9th June 2014 at 3:00 PM
Hi Alan,

I really hope you can help provide more information on my great-grandfather William Mair, who chose to lose contact with his young family after WW1. I have his Army Form B 199a form, which provides record of his postings and promotions, but why am I unable to find any army records for him elsewhere? And why would he have possession of the 199a form rather than the army? I would really like to know more detail as to how he was engaged in WW1, and any sources where he may have been mentioned. He was born in 1880 in Strichen, Aberdeenshire, joined the Royal Artillery (no 23200) in 1899, and his history is as follows:
Short Garrison course Malta 1903
School of Gunnery Shoeburyness and Woolwich 1904
School of musketry machine gun Hythe 1911
Commissioned from ranks Woolwich 6 Mar 15
Posted to 26 siege battery RGA Lydd 23 Mar 15 to 3 Aug 15 home 3 Aug 15 to 1 Dec 16 abroad
Posted to 4th army arty school Cpt Instructor France 1 Dec 16 to 1 Jun 17 abroad
Apptd acting Capt whilst employed as Cpt Instr. France 1 Dec 16 abroad
Posted to command 282 siege battery RGA France 1 Jun 17 to 13 Nov 17 abroad
Apptd acting Major to Command bty 1 Jun 17 abroad
Promoted Lieutenant 8 Jun 16 abroad
Posted to command 517 siege battery RGA Lupont(?) Aldershot 13 Nov 17 to 9 Mar 18 home
Posted to command 514 siege battery RGA Lydd & France 10 Mar 18 to 26 Jul 18 home 26 Jul 18 to 27 Feb 20 abroad
Promoted to Captain 24 May 18
Posted for duty with Graves Reg Commission Dover 26 Apr 20 to 10 Mar 21 home
Posted to 31 (M) Bty RGA Exeter 11 Mar 21 to 21 Jul 21 home
Posted for temporary duty to GHQ Ireland Ireland 22 Jul 21 to 26 Jan 22 home
Posted to No 1 Depot RGA Catterick 15 Feb 22 to (blank)
Posted to Hartlepool defences Hartlepool 27 Jul 22
Retired on retired pay 23 Jan 20
Suitability to recall ceased 12 Aug 29

After his return from France, he seems to have had a number of fairly short-term assignments - would he have most likely lived in army accommodation and been free to visit family on leave?

Many thanks for any information you can provide.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 9th June 2014 at 6:10 PM

Dear Chilli,
Officers' records are held at the UK National Archives at Kew. You would need to see the record to positively identify the officer was your ancestor. There is one William Mair of the Royal Garrison Artillery in the catalogue. See:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C1078071
The ancestry website has three reference cards for the two occasions of being mentioned in despatches, indexed under W. Mair in Medal rolls index cards. These refer to the entries (by name only) in the London Gazette. His actual medal index card is under the name of William Mair and records he qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The London Gazette can be searched online if you have the patience of a saint. See "search all notices" and adjust the search dates at:
https://www.thegazette.co.uk/

Officers did not have regimental numbers and the name William could be reduced to Wm or W. His regiment was "Royal Garrison Artillery".
As an officer he would have resided in the Officers' Mess of his particular unit during the war and while serving overseas. While on home service after the war he could have shared accommodation with his wife otherwise he would certainly have been free to visit at weekends and when granted leave.
With kind regards,
Alan
Posted by: Geoff {Email left}
Location: Maidenhead
Date: Sunday 8th June 2014 at 9:30 PM
Hi Alan,
You were such a great help to me before, I thought I would ask for your help again.
I previously requested information re Frank Horton. At the time I believed he was born in Walsall in 1891. This was probably wrong.
I have since discovered he enlisted in the Army Service Corps in WW1, in 1914 at Liverpool. His place of birth was Edge Hill, Liverpool. Father, George. Frank`s regimental number was 12084. can you possibly give me any additional information re his war service.
Best regards,
Geoff.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 9th June 2014 at 5:52 PM

Dear Geoff,
Frank Horton enlisted in the Army Service Corps as a horse driver on 17th September 1914 at Liverpool. He joined 146 Company ASC, which was part of 17th Divisional ASC train at Coombe Keynes, Wool, Dorset. On November 1st 1914 he went absent for four days and forfeited 4 days' pay. On 30th November 1914 he was admitted to hospital with acute appendicitis. He was discharged from the army as medically unfit and not likely to become an efficient soldier on 8th January 1915 under paragraph 392 iii (d) of King's Regulations.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Geoff
Date: Monday 9th June 2014 at 5:57 PM

Thanks a lot Alan . That`s great.
Reply from: Geoff
Date: Thursday 3rd July 2014 at 7:35 AM

Hi Alan,
Re the above information about Frank Horton. We know this was him because of the address he gave.
How accurate would the information be on a soldier`s war record in WW1?
In Frank`s record the medical examiner`s report is that Frank was only 5ft 4 1/2" and fair skinned. We know he was about 5ft 9" and slightly tanned. I know a lot of men lied about their age, but were there any documents required to enlist, i.e. proof of next of kin or address etc?
In other words, can we trust the information on war records? Unless of course someone lied.
Thanks,
Geoff.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 3rd July 2014 at 5:42 PM

Dear Geoff,
The information recorded on army records was not necessarily accurate, just as details on census records are frequently inconsistent. Some recruits disguised their age or birthplace; others genuinely did not know where they had been born or their exact date of birth.
Frank Horton stated his parish of birth was Edge Hill, which was in the Liverpool Registration District. Edge Hill was not a parish, but a city suburb which contained five chapelries of St Mary, St Stephen, St Jude, St Timothy, and St Catherine. The GRO birth index has no matching birth registered in Liverpool in 1892 or early 1893, so it is probable he was living in Edge Hill at the time he enlisted, not born there, which would mean there was no record in his army paperwork of where he was born. He gave two addresses: in September 1914, his next-of-kin was stated as his father: George Horton; 14 Alfred Street, Liverpool, and then, on discharge in January 1915, his intended place of residence was 23 Harbord Street, Wavertree Road, Liverpool, both of which are in Edge Hill. Birth information given by the recruit himself might not have been accurate: he might not have known where he was born, or he might have misstated his age. No documentary proof was required unless the recruit wished to make an allotment from his pay towards a separation allowance for his family, in which case his marriage and children's birth certificates would be required. As Frank's father was apparently his next-of-kin, Frank would have been un-married.
There is no immediately obvious census entry for a Frank or Francis Horton born about 1892 with a father named George.
On enlistment on September 17th 1914, he stated his age as 21 years and 276 days (which would mean a birthday of 15th/16th December 1892). On December 9th 1914 his "Application for Discharge" form stated his age was 22 and 2 days (giving a birthday of December 7th 1892). On his "Proceedings on Discharge" on January 8th 1915 he was aged 22 years and 25 days giving a birthday of December 15th1892.
On enlistment a recruit was medically examined by a doctor. Frank's measurements were taken by a medical officer who signed his name as Kinglsey O'Sullivan and should have been accurate. Height was usually measured using a scale with an adjustable slide against which a recruit stood to be measured. There is no reason to dispute the doctor's measurement of 5ft 4 1/2 inches. The record did not state he was fair skinned but stated he had a "fresh complexion" which meant healthy-looking without being pale or pasty.
On December 9th 1914, Kingsley O'Sullivan recorded Frank's height was 5ft 4 1/4ins.
Ideally, biographical information should be sought from three separate primary sources to provide corroborative proof, but that is frequently not possible to achieve. The ABC suggests: Assume nothing; Believe no-one; Check everything. Unfortunately, the surviving army documentation for Frank Horton is unhelpful as it does not indicate his place of birth or provide any biographical detail that can readily identify other documentation.
As Frank was discharged very early in the war, because of appendicitis, he could have voluntarily re-enlisted once he had recovered and from March 1916 he could have been compulsorily conscripted, even if only for home service. "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) recorded a Frank Horton, 23808, who was born in Walsall was killed in action on 13th November 1916 while serving with the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, but the CWGC does not list him and there are no biographical details for him. The GRO War Deaths, Army Other Ranks, (1914 to 1921) did list a Frank Horton 23808 as dying in 1916.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Geoff
Date: Thursday 3rd July 2014 at 6:06 PM

Thank you Alan,
That is a big help.
Your site is very informative and I will definately recommend you to others.
Best regards,
Geoff.
Reply from: Geoff
Date: Tuesday 15th July 2014 at 12:20 PM

Hi Alan,
Re the information regarding Frank Horton`s age.
As you say, there are 2 or 3 different birth dates re his given age on his military document.
Who would have calculated Frank`s age? Would he have given the info himself or, how would it have been calculated?
Thanks,
Geoff.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 15th July 2014 at 7:05 PM

Dear Geoff,
A recruit would have spoken his age when asked at the time he enlisted. The recruiter would have calculated the age from the man's stated birthday. On enlistment on September 17th 1914, Frank Horton stated his age as 21 years and 276 days (which would mean a birthday of 15th/16th December 1892). On December 9th 1914 his "Application for Discharge" form stated his age was 22 and 2 days (giving a birthday of December 7th 1892). On his "Proceedings on Discharge" on January 8th 1915 he was aged 22 years and 25 days giving a birthday of December 15th1892.
As his age was said to be 22 and two days on 9th December 1914, it would appear he had celebrated his birthday two days previously. The discharging medical officer would have asked him how old he was and would have written down the answer. Had he maintained a birthday of 15th/16th December 1892, his application for discharge would have shown an age of 21 years and 359 days.
The Army would have liked his age on enlistment and on discharge to be consistent, so they would have calculated that he was 22 years and 25 days old when he was discharged.
It was always plausible that the recruiting officer had miss-calculated the age of 21 and 276 days by sliding his finger along the calendar for an additional week. Of course, there was nothing to prevent the recruit making-up his age. The age of majority in 1914 was 21 and a man under that age could not rent rooms in his own name, so many young men "became" 21 some years earlier that their actual age. As a general rule, ages stated on Army forms do not constitute evidence.
With kind regards,
Alan

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