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The World War 1 Forum (Page 89)

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Posted by: Trevor Purnell {Email left}
Location: Tillington W Sussex
Date: Monday 7th April 2014 at 8:31 AM
Dear Alan,

I am really stuck with Private George Peacock 8186, 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (1st Division). Our church Roll of Honour states that he was a regular soldier, born Petworth, Sussex, taken prisoner and died in captivity in Germany on 29th December 1914 (buried Hamburg Cemetery). The CWGC confirms this burial. His Medal Card states he was BEF 1914 with a disembarkation date of 12/8/14, yet he was only entitled to the Victory and British medals. Against his name it only states 'Death'. I have searched the TNA on line catalogue but only came up with his MIC. I just cannot find any real information on this fallen soldier.

Once again grateful thanks for any assistance.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 7th April 2014 at 3:22 PM

Dear Trevor,
George Peacock did qualify for the 1914 Star with Mons clasp (5 Aug 22 Nov 1914), which was referred to at the time as the "mark of distinction to the 1914 Bronze Star".
In the 1911 Census, a George Peacock, aged 26, single, born Petworth, Sussex, was recorded as a private soldier serving with the 2nd Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Ghorpuri Barracks, Poona, India.
In the 1901 Census, a George Peacock, born at Tillington, was recorded at Tillington as a bricklayer, aged 16. In the 1891 Census a George Peacock, aged 6, was recorded living at Tillington with his parents, William, a bricklayer, and Fanny Peacock. He was probably born in 1884 (a birth was registered Oct-Dec 1884).
No individual service record has survived for George Peacock. An Army medal rolls index card was created for the qualification of the 1914 Star which was instigated in April 1917. The medal card stated: Campaign: "BEF 1914" which indicated the campaign medal, which was the 1914 Bronze Star. The award of the Mons clasp was then recorded as "clasp". The qualification was contained on the medal roll numbered H/2/2 page 119 which is held at the National Archives as "First World War. 1914 Star: other ranks. Loyal North Lancashire Regiment other ranks: medal rolls H/2-66. Pages 3-185. 1914 Star. C 454."
On the medal card in the column "B" "present situation" was recorded "death", which was more usually recorded as "dead". In 1919 when the post-war medals were instigated the original card was rubber stamped with the additional British War and Victory medals.
The CWGC Debt of Honour recorded his burial at Hamburg on December 29th 1914. The CWGC states: "During the First World War, Hamburg Cemetery was used for the burial of more than 300 Allied servicemen who died as prisoners of war. In 1923, it was decided that the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died all over Germany should be brought together into four permanent cemeteries. Hamburg was one of those chosen, and burials were brought into the cemetery from 120 burial grounds in Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, Oldenburg, Hanover, Saxony, Brunswick and Westphalia. The majority died as prisoners, but a few were sailors whose bodies were washed ashore on the Frisian Islands".
"Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) stated he was from Petworth and "died" on 29th December 1914 with the 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. (As his death occurred in Germany it would not have been known how he died).
It is probable that George died of wounds, after being taken prisoner. It is not possible to state when he was taken prisoner. Details of prisoners of war were recorded by the German Red Cross and are held in the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The records are presently inaccessible but they will be put online in August 2014.
The 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment served in the 2nd Infantry Brigade in the 1st Division. They entrained at Farnborough on August 11th 1914 and embarked at Southampton. Their ship collided with another vessel in the Solent and the battalion made a night crossing during the evening of the 12th/13th August, landing on the 13th August. The date complies with George's medal card, indicating George was with the 1st Battalion at the beginning of the war. Either he had been posted from the 2nd Battalion, which was still in India, or he had been mobilized from the reserves. (A common enlistment was at a man's 18th birthday for 12 years to be served as seven years with the colours (eight if the seventh year was overseas) and five with the reserve. Had George enlisted at 18, in 1903, his eighth year would have been in India and he could have been transferred to the reserve after eight years in 1911).
George could have been taken prisoner any time after engaging with the enemy. On August 21st 1914 the 1st Battalion started its march towards Belgium. On 2nd September 1914 they were the last battalion to cross the bridge over the Marne before it was destroyed by the Royal Engineers. Between September 13th and 15th the battalion suffered 400 men killed, wounded or missing during The Battle of the Aisne with they advanced on the enemy. Their next major fight was at Bixchoote near Ypres on October 13th. On October 31st they attacked Gueluveldt (Geluveld) but had to withdraw and were forced to leave behind their wounded.
After fighting at Veldpoek on 7th November 1914, the 1st Battalion was reduced to two officers and 100 rifles. On 18th November the Battalion's first phase of the war ended and they moved to Hazebrouck for refitting and remained out of the line until 19th December 1914 when they were called forward to attack the enemy trenches in front of an orchard at La Quinque Rue. The Battalion moved through Le Touret and attacked from Rue de L'Epinette on the night of December 21st/ 22nd. By the end of the day on December 22nd 1914 they had lost 408 men killed, wounded, or missing.
The Battalion withdrew and on December 29th 1914 were in billets at Cambrin.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Trevor Purnell
Date: Monday 7th April 2014 at 3:44 PM


Thank you so much for your reply, full of detail as usual. I can only extend my sincere thanks to you once again.


Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 6th August 2014 at 1:13 PM

Dear Trevor,
The International Red Cross record cards are now online. See:

Search by surname and then scroll down the results on the left to locate the regiment. Scroll through the results and hover over the image to click on "more information about this person".
George Peacock was captured at Ypres and a prisoner at Gustrow where he died (verstorben) 29.12.14 and was initially buried in a single grave (Einzel Grab) No 47.
There is a list of abbreviations at

There are many photographs of the camp at the German website:

With kind regards,

Posted by: Rb3 {No contact email}
Location: Craigavon
Date: Sunday 6th April 2014 at 8:48 PM
Hello Alan,

I discovered my ancestor Arthur B J McArdle ( Irish) enlisted in 1917 with the USA military (Bronx NYC) . I discovered his registration card in Ancestory.co.uk. I would like more detail of where he served and how long for. It appears to be more difficult than the British WW1 records. Can you please advise ?


Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 6th April 2014 at 9:52 PM

Dear RB,
An Arthur B J McArdle travelled to New York on RMS Lusitania from Liverpool to New York on 17th April 1915.
The existence of a draft registration card does not necessarily mean a man served in the war. The United States of America declared war on Germany on 6th April 1917 and on 18th May 1917, the Selective Service Act required every man in the United States between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to register for the draft. There were three drafts depending on the man's year of birth.
Many documents from the First World War (known as "World War One" by the Americans) were destroyed in an accidental fire. Those that have survived are held by the National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63138, USA. The starting point for applications is shown at:

American soldiers who were killed during the war are commemorated by the American Battle Monuments Commission at:

With kind regards,

Did you know? America was not an ally of the British in the First World War but an "associated power" because they could not bring themselves to be again under the control of an English monarch after the War of Independence (1775 1783) in which 13 colonies shook off British rule to become the United States. The Americans have always fought under their own commanders which is why there have been American supreme commanders over British forces from D-Day through United Nations forces to the Gulf War (2 August 1990 28 February 1991) and the invasion of Iraq (19 March 2003 to 1 May 2003).

Posted by: Catherine Phythian {Email left}
Location: Loddiswell
Date: Sunday 6th April 2014 at 9:03 AM
Hi Alan,

I hope that you will be able to help my 85 year old uncle. He has a lot of items and documents relating to his father's service in World War 1 (enlistment papers, pay book, cap badge etc) but what he would really like to know is in which theatre of war his father actually served & when. This is what we do know:

Joseph Bardens, DOB 12/8/1898, enlisted Bude 15/5/1916 in Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, trained at the Curragh and at some point transferred to be a Gunner in the Field Artillery, service number 652072

Any information or pointers on where to look would be much appreciated.

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 6th April 2014 at 7:03 PM

Dear Catherine,
No individual service record has survived for Joseph Bardens so it is not possible to state his military record. He was born in 1898 and would have been compulsorily conscripted on or after his 18th birthday. An Army medal rolls index card showed he had the regimental numbers 652072 and 184127 in the Royal Field Artillery. He qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The regimental number 652072 was a Territorial Force number allotted to the two Edinburgh-based Lowland Brigades of the Royal Field, Artillery early in 1917. The 2nd/1st Lowland Brigade was also referred to as 325 Brigade RFA and served in the 65th Division and was in Ireland from February 1917. It did not serve overseas, but men from the Brigade were sent overseas.
His medal index card indicates he went abroad as 652072 of the 2nd/1st Lowland Brigade RFA but was transferred to another Brigade that was not in the Territorials and was given another regimental number, 184127. It is not possible to state where he served or with which unit he served overseas.

With kind regards,
Reply from: Catherine Phythian
Date: Monday 7th April 2014 at 4:47 PM


Many thanks for your assistance. Its a pity that we will not know the individual service details but we will follow up on the generic information about 325 Brigade RFA and the role of Drivers and Gunners generally.

Posted by: Jim Regan {Email left}
Location: Garden City Ny Usa
Date: Saturday 5th April 2014 at 8:14 PM
I am trying to find World War l information regarding a relative Private William O'Donnell 393 . He was in the 9th Bn. Royal Munster Fusiliers Reg#7441. He died in action on Jan 8 1916 and buried at the Ninth Avenue Cemetery Pas de Calais France. plot 4. he was born in Ardpatrick, Co Limerick. he may have also been in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Reg. 32674. any information would be greatly appreciated Jim Regan
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 5th April 2014 at 9:25 PM

Dear Jim,
These regimental numbers refer to two individuals. William O'Donnell, 393, Royal Munster Fusiliers served with the 9th Battalion in France from 19 December 1915. He was killed in action on 8th January 1916. There is no surviving individual record for him as most records were destroyed in the London Blitz of 1940. The 9th Battalion served with 48th Infantry Brigade in the 16th Division before being disbanded on 30th May 1916.
William O'Donnell, 7441, Royal Munster Fusiliers served with the 1st Battalion at Gallipoli from 25th April 1915. He survived the war and lived in Manchester.
The Nineth Avenue Cemetery was named after a trench near the village of Haisnes which was in German hands. It contains 40 graves all of which are for men of the Cameron highlanders and date from 1915 apart from two: William O'Donnell and Lance Corporal M. Punch of the 9th Royal Munster Fusiliers, buried side by side.
The 9th Battalion was raised after the outbreak of war in 1914 and trained at Kilworth until January 1915 when it moved to Ballyvonare near Buttevant. In June 1915 it moved to Ballyhooly near Fermoy and in September 1915 it moved to England to train at Blackdown, near Aldershot. It crossed to France on 20th December 1915. The 9th Battalion moved into billets at Noeux-les-Mines at midnight on 21st/22nd December 1915 and remained there until December 27th when they moved to back billets at Nedonchell. They remained there until 4th January 1916 when they started a six-day stint of learning trench routine with the 1st Black Watch and the London Scottish in trenches at Philosophe, a small mining village straddling the road from Loos to Bethune, just outside Loos, before Mazingarbe. William and Corporal Punch were killed on their second day in the trench.
Once the 16th Division started fighting in earnest in the Loos sector they took over the Philosophe Cemetery, but William's death was an early event and he was buried in the Cameron's cemetery.
William qualified for the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Jim Regan
Date: Saturday 5th April 2014 at 11:04 PM

I greatly appreciate your quick response to my inquiry and the information you were able to provide regarding my ancestor William O'Donnell. all best wishes Jim Regan
Posted by: Allan {Email left}
Location: Dundee
Date: Friday 4th April 2014 at 7:13 PM
Looking for information about a James Lyall who was a private in the Cameron Highlanders in 1917.
many thanks
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 4th April 2014 at 10:31 PM

Dear Allan,
It is not possible to positively identify records of a soldier by name only. There were at least two James Lyalls of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. The first was aged 43 in 1914 and was named James Alexander Lyall, of 17 Cheyne Street, Edinburgh. He was not considered fit enough for war service and was discharged on October 16th 1914.
The second was James Lyall, regimental number 9240, who was probably his son, who appears to have been serving in India with the 2nd Battalion when war broke out. He had enlisted as a boy bandsman at the age of 14, on 6th February 1912. He served at Aldershot until going to India on 13th December 1912, returning to the UK on 14th October 1914. The 2nd Battalion then went to France where James was wounded on 12th January 1915. (He would have been below active service age at 17 when that happened). One record says he was wounded in the hand the other in the head, which was probably confusion over hand-written records. James returned to the UK on 13th January 1915 on the hospital ship "St David". He remained in England until January 2nd 1917 when he was sent to France via the 19th Infantry Base Depot from where he was posted to the 1st Battalion Cameron Highlanders, joining them on 21 January 1917. The 1st Battalion served in the 1st Infantry Brigade in the 1st Division. See:

James remained with the Battalion as part of the British Army of Occupation in Germany until 15th April 1919 and then remained with the Battalion in the UK where he was appointed a lance-corporal until seeking his discharge on 10th July 1920 when he passed onto the Reserve. He gave his address as 17 Cheyne Street, Edinburgh, where he returned to become a Constable. In 1922 he elected to serve for 4 years in the "D" Army Reserve which was for former soldiers who volunteered to extend their part-time reserve commitment.
James Lyall, 9240 Cameron Highlanders, qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

There was a third candidate recorded as J. Lyall 5721 Cameron highlanders, but he appears to have been named George Lyall in other records.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Allan
Date: Saturday 5th April 2014 at 2:02 PM

Hi Alan,
the third candidate could possibly be the one I am looking for because his sons middle name was George and he possibly belonged the Inverness area, he married a Catherine Jane Mac Donald on the 1st of April 1918 at Rosskeen in Ross & Cromarty when he was still a private in the Cameron Highlanders hope this may help. many thanks Allan
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 5th April 2014 at 9:19 PM

Dear Allan,
The third candidate was named George Lyall, born 1883 the son of William Lyall of Cathcart Place Edinburgh. He married a Catherine Patterson in December 1918 and later lived at Caledonian Place, Edinburgh.
With kind regards,
Posted by: Becca {Email left}
Location: East Yorks
Date: Wednesday 2nd April 2014 at 11:07 PM
Hello again Alan,
I have found yet again another military man for our records. I wonder if you can help me with Herbert John Hearse
born 1876 in Radstock. Somerset. I believe he first served with the Middlesex Regt, then with the Devonshire Regt where he became a Second Lieutenant and later Major H J Hearse.
He married Dora E Terry in Farnham in 1905 and emigrated in 1920 to America with their two sons.
I should be most grateful for any information you may find on his military career.

With thanks

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 3rd April 2014 at 5:25 PM

Dear Becca,
Officers' service records from the First World War are held at The National Archives at Kew. Copies can be ordered online (charges apply). See:
With kind regards,
Reply from: Becca
Date: Thursday 3rd April 2014 at 5:33 PM

Thank you once again Alan. I now know where to go for them.

Kind regards
Posted by: Becca {Email left}
Location: East Yorks
Date: Tuesday 1st April 2014 at 7:56 PM
Dear Alan,
I wonder if you could solve this mystery for me. I am researching Rev.Thomas Dorsey Dodsworth born 1867 in Kirkella, Yorkshire, the son of Gregory Dodsworth and Sarah Dorsey. During the WW1 he appears to have been going back and forth to America, and though I cannot find any military connection, there is a referral in his obituary to his being in France, and involvement with the YMCA.
Would he have been enlisted into a military unit or not, and if so are there any records about him?
Otherwise, have you any suggestion as to where I can go next, to find out more as to why he made so many journeys.

He died in Devon in 1934

With many thanks and kind regards

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 1st April 2014 at 8:52 PM

Dear Becca,
A civilian medal index card showed the Reverend Thomas D. Dodsworth qualified for the British War Medal for service in Salonica after 18th November 1916 with the Young Men's Christian Association, an organisation that provided comforts and canteens for soldiers, known famously as the "YMCA Huts" displaying the inverted red triangle symbol.
Thomas Dodsworth had been a Primitive Methodist lay evangelist preacher from about 1891 training at Aston, Birmingham, under Joseph Odell.
It is possible he was fund raising in America.
The Archive of the YMCA (1838-1996) is held at The University of Birmingham Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections. See:

With kind regards,
Reply from: Becca
Date: Tuesday 1st April 2014 at 9:05 PM

Hello Alan,
As ever you turn up trumps and are able to give help where needed. Thank you so much again, and I shall go from here and look up more from the site you suggest.


Posted by: Brian Renshall {Email left}
Location: Rainhill Prescot Merseyside
Date: Monday 31st March 2014 at 6:44 PM
Hello Alan, I am trying to find out information on a Herbert Fitzhugh.He was born in 1886 in Rainhill and at the time of the 1901 Census was living age 15 in Stoney Lane,Rainhill.In 1906 he married Gertrude Jones in West Derby (Liverpool) and went on to have three children, a female name unknown, and two sons,Cecil Herbert (1909-1979) and John Edmund (1911-1993) He died in Highfield(Liverpool) Infirmary in 1921 at which time he was living at 84,Hawthorne Road,Bootle(Liverpool) Now for the bit I don't know.On 23rd,March 1926 the Imperial War Graves Commission offered the Vicar of St.Ann's Church,Rainhill,10 shillings a year to look maintain his grave which presumably means that after his death his body was returned to his birthplace (Rainhill).However although we know (from church records) where his grave "should" be,it's not there.What I have been unable to find out is from what he died and why the WGC only asked for his grave to be maintained five years after his death. Can you help ?
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 31st March 2014 at 9:28 PM

Dear Brian,
The erecting and maintenance of war grave headstones in churchyards at home was not always straightforward. In the First World War, soldiers' graves dated from 1914 but the design of the white 2ft 6ins War Graves Commission headstone was first approved in January 1918 and the earliest stones were erected in France where the first war cemetery at Forceville was completed by the end of August 1920.
The Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission was able to commemorate the dead in perpetuity in special cemeteries overseas because allied countries had passed land laws granting the land for each of the cemeteries to the Commission as "a piece of England". No such land laws were passed in Britain and the CWGC felt it would be unable to prevent families from erecting private memorials over graves at home. The Church of England has its own planning regulations. Any changes required a "Faculty" before approval by the Parochial Church Council, although a recognised CWGC grave stone does not require a Faculty. The CWGC assumed responsibility for the maintenance of all war graves in churchyards that were "not cared for by the relatives".
A grave cared for by relatives may have had a private or no memorial stone. The relatives may not have handed-over the grave to the War Graves Commission.
The rights of the Commission in the UK were restricted to sites that had been purchased by the Services. Phil Longworth, writing "The Unending Vigil" stated: "The rest of the graves, scattered all over the British Isles had to be acquired piecemeal from relatives, cemetery companies, and church and local authorities. If a particular mayor disliked a Commission headstone and frequently the influence of a local relative was greater than that of the Commission he could not be forced to erect it. Negotiation, diplomacy, and cajolery were the Commission's only means, and however strenuously it tried, it was obvious that many private memorials would remain." ("The Unending Vigil", Phil Longworth, Constable, 1967, page 45).
The CWGC was insistent on uniformity in its own cemeteries although it allowed short inscriptions, submitted by relatives, which were censored since "it is clearly undesirable to allow free scope for the effusions of the mortuary mason, the sentimental versifier or the crank" ("War Graves. How the Cemeteries Abroad will be Designed" (The Kenyon Report) HMSO, 1918, pp 7-9).

Qualification for a war grave fell into three categories: those killed or who died in the war while on active service between 4th August 1914 and 21st August 1921; those serving or former servicemen who died at home or abroad as a result of active service during the same timescale; members of certain civilian organisation such as the Mercantile Marine and the Red Cross.

The death certificate for Herbert Fitzhugh would show his cause of death. It is likely to be:
FITZHUGH, Herbert; Registration district: West Derby, Lancashire; 1921; Quarter of registration: Apr-May-Jun; Age at death: 35; Volume: 8B Page: 661. It can be ordered from the GRO online (£10 charge applies) See:

There is no surviving individual Army or Navy service record for Herbert Fitzhugh. However, I suggest he might have been Gunner 77174 Herbert Fitzhugh, 44th Company Royal Garrison Artillery (Pembroke Dock; Western Coast Defences) who first enlisted on 15th November 1915 and was discharged as no longer physically fit for war service, caused by sickness, on 21st December 1916. He did not serve overseas. (National Archives Catalogue reference WO 372/7/79654 refers to the only "Herbert Fitzhugh" on the UK War Badge rolls, via ancestry.co.uk). The date of enlistment suggests a possible deferred enlistment under the Derby Scheme, which was the last call for volunteers in October December 1915 before compulsory conscription in March 1916. These men enlisted for one day in 1915 and were placed on the Reserve to await call up part-way through 1916. It is possible, therefore, that his sickness was discovered or manifested itself shortly after he enlisted. (Many recruits had heart disease which was revealed through vigorous physical training). If he died of sickness exacerbated by war service at home, he could have been buried locally by his relatives. The stipulation for a war grave was for personnel who had been discharged from or retired from the military before their deaths during the period Aug 1914 Aug 1921 of an injury or illness caused by or exacerbated by their service during the same qualifying period. These cases qualified only if it were proven to the authorities' satisfaction that death was attributable to war service. There might have been some discussion over the length of war service a recruit might have undergone.
By 1921, the Commission was providing war grave headstones but is it not certain when they were first provided at St Ann's Church, which had five First World War burials dating from 1914. It is possible that by 1926 the Commission had lost touch with the relatives to see if they wished to maintain the grave and instead contacted the church. If the church felt disinclined to respond, or considered a CWGC headstone unnecessary, the grave may have gone un-marked.
It is possible the CWGC archives may have some correspondence on the matter. See:

The address of his father in law, Owen Jones was 84,Hawthorne Road,Bootle.Gertrude and Cecil were recorded there in 1911.

With kind regards,
Reply from: Brian Renshall
Date: Tuesday 1st April 2014 at 6:47 PM

Thank you for your quick response to my query,there is certainly a lot to digest and ponder over,if I I make any further headway I will let you know.
Posted by: Robert Snowden {Email left}
Location: Ontario Canada
Date: Sunday 30th March 2014 at 5:35 AM
Hi Alan,

You did some great work for my brother Ken and me, on some family members who served in WW1 a while back. In particular, my Dad's father Matthew Snowden (14/9627) and his brother John (6325) of the 14th Royal Irish Rifles (YCV). John was killed on May 5, 1917. I received copies of 3 letters sent to his mother from Capt. F. Lewis, Chaplain John Knowles (Presbyterian) and Pte. R. Douglas, who seemed to be a friend of John's from the tone of his letter. I was wondering if you would have any information on any of these individuals. I am particularly interested in Pte. R. Douglas. I did find a Pte. Richard Douglas (#16446) of the 14th RIR, who was killed August 16, 1917 in France and wonder if you know of any way into tying him into C Company?

I was also wondering if you know how "solid" the reporting of personnel missing in action was in regiments. My Grandfather Joseph King (3/9459) was posted "Missing in Action" on March 24, 1918 by a postcard the family received. The German offensive, Operation Michael, started on March 21, 1918, and by the 24th only 150 men of the 2nd battalion RIR were left, and by the end of that day apparently the 2nd RIR ceased to exist as 102 of the survivors were killed and only 48 remained to be taken as POWs, after holding out for hours from a German bombardment, an aircraft strafing attack and then a final attack from German troops during which they were overwhelmed. Do you know what the chance might be of my Grandpa Joe being one of the 48 who survived as his Army Service Records (which survived the Blitz) also show him as being recorded as Missing in Action (and presumably a POW) on that exact date, March 24, 1918?

Once again many thanks for your help, it is very much appreciated.

Robert Snowden
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 30th March 2014 at 5:54 PM

Dear Robert,
It is not possible to positively identify officers or soldiers by their names only. Officers' service records are held at the UK National Archives at Kew. Hand-written name indexes can be downloaded from their website. It would then be necessary to see the original documentation to positively identify an individual. See:

Officers did not have regimental numbers and were often identified by their initials rather than forenames.
It might be a co-incidence, but the only medal card for an F. Lewis serving as an officer in the RIR was a Second-Lieutenant Frederic Homer Lewis (born 1894) whose parents lived on Shore Road in Belfast. He was commissioned on 29th August 1917. The CWGC recorded he served with the 10th Battalion RIR (South Belfast) and was killed on 29th April 1918 while on attachment with the 1st Battalion.
The chaplain appears to have been The Reverend John Knowles of the Royal Army Chaplain's Department (RAChD) who served in France and Flanders from October 1915 (which was also when the 14th Battalion went to France). He survived the war and in 1925 gave his address as Tullylish Manse, Laurence Town, Co. Down. There is a Tullylish Presbyterian Church at Laurence Town.
Medal cards exist for both a Robert Douglas and a Richard Douglas serving in the 14th RIR but neither can be further identified.
Rifleman Joseph King's record showed he was reported missing from the 2nd Battalion RIR on 24th March 1918 and was reported as a Prisoner of War in a War Office list dated 31 October 1918. He was repatriated on 28th December 1918.
Records of Prisoners of War are held by the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The records will be online after August. See:

With kind regards,
Posted by: Rick Conti {Email left}
Location: Perth Western Australia
Date: Saturday 29th March 2014 at 9:51 AM
Hi Alan,

Hope you can help. I am looking for any information about my great-grandfather and his military service. I found an old album that belonged to him mostly made up of photos in the early twenties. One photo shows him in WW1 uniform, (leather patch noticeable on inner thigh) puttees, stiff trench cap with an unkn badge (appears circular with Kings Crown on top), sam brown that appears to have shoulder strap hanging down and the rank of staff sgt or company sgt major. He is leaning against a bicycle in front of a fence and hedge. He has written above it "Outside Billet in ashford, Middlesex 1915".

Another photo later in the album shows him in what appears to be an officers uniform and it appears that there is a type of metal eagle or wings badge just above the left sleeve.

I am very curious to learn more about him. His name was Frank HOOK. I believe he was born in Broadstairs, Kent and lived in Croyden after the war. In 1923 he was appointed the first music librarian for the BBC. He died in 1945.

Unfortunately being in Australia, it is difficult to access the national archives at Kew. I even joined a military ancestry site but that proved fruitless.

Any assistance in this would be greatly appreciated.


Rick Conti
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 29th March 2014 at 7:17 PM

Dear Rick,
Unfortunately, it is not possible to identify a soldier by his name only. Few individual soldiers' records have survived and the surviving medal rolls index cards rarely record any biographical detail, so it is essential to know a man's regiment and regimental number to identify any surviving record.
If he was later commissioned as an officer there should be a brief service record retained at the UK National Archives at Kew. However, there is none listed in the handwritten index (WO338). See:

With kind regards,

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