Alan Greveson's World War 1 Forum (Page 89)

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Posted by: Bella
Location: Esher
Date: Monday 27th August 2012 at 8:15 PM
Dear Alan,

You have been extremely helpful in the past and I wonder if I could ask you to assist me once again. My Grandfather, William J. Whitehead, born 21 August 1862, Bermondsey, Surrey, enlisted in the Royal Navy 1880 for 10 years. He served on various ships Impregnable?, Bacchanti, Excellent, Canada and Seahorse. It appears he was invalidid out in 1887 and I can't seem to find the reason. Would he have had a pension?

Any light you can throw on this would be extremely helpful.

Kind regards.

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 28th August 2012 at 6:44 PM

Dear Bella,
William John Whitehead was a model seaman.
He joined the Royal Navy on July 23rd 1878, at the age of 15 years and eleven months as a Boy Seaman Second Class. As a boy second class he was not yet able to go to sea and so he trained at HMS "Impregnable" which was a training ship dating from 1862 at Devonport. On First Entry (FE) he was granted a clothing gratuity (CG) of five pounds entered in the cash journal of Michaelmas (Michs) 1878. On 30th July 1879 he was raised to Boy Seaman First Class. He received a further clothing gratuity of two pounds ten shillings and his character was recorded as "very good". He had satisfactorily completed his basic training and achieved the required level of skill and education to enable him to serve at sea.
He grew from 5ft 4ins to 5ft 5ins; had dark hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. He had an anchor tattooed on his right arm and "trophies of flags" tattooed on both wrists. Trophies of flags were coloured flags displayed in a fan pattern.
On May 15th 1880, William joined the crew of HMS "Bacchante" and was promoted to Ordinary Seaman on August 21st 1880. This was his 18th Birthday and was the date from which his adult, pensionable service was calculated. He initially signed for a ten year period and under normal circumstance this would have been renewed after ten years for a further ten years to make 20 years' pensionable service. His conduct again was "very good". He served on HMS "Bacchante" for two years (Captain Lord Charles Scott). The ship was employed in a squadron patrolling the sea lanes of the British Empire. In 1879, the two sons of the Prince of Wales, the princes George Frederick and his elder brother, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence joined HMS "Bacchante" as midshipmen. The rest of the crew were said to be specially selected. In June 1880 the "Bacchante" was a Holyhead, Anglesey, for the royal opening of the new harbour. On 10th July 1880, she sailed for the Channel Squadron at Bantry Bay before sailing to Vigo and Lisbon. The "Bacchante" then sailed to the Cape de Verd Islands and Monte Video before crossing the South Atlantic to the Cape of Good Hope. In June 1881, the "Bacchante" went missing in a gale while sailing to Australia. She had put in to Albany with a damaged rudder and arrived at Sydney by August 1st 1881. From there they visited Japan and Christmas 1881 was spent at Hong Kong. In January 1882 they sailed for Suez to visit Singapore and Ceylon. The cruise continued to Colombo, Athens, Suda Bay, Corfu, Palermo, and Gibraltar. The "royal" tour of duty ended in August 1882 when the ship returned to safely England via Cowes. William remained on the ship throughout the voyage until August 31st. On 1st December 1881 he had been granted "T.M." which stood for "Trained Man" which was the lowest specialist training level which demonstrated competence in all his basic skills. This was required for promotion from Ordinary Seaman to Able Seaman (A.B.) which occurred on 1st May 1882.
On 1st September 1882, William joined HMS "Excellent" which was the Royal Navy's gunnery school which was also known as Portsmouth Gunnery School or Whale Island when it move to a permanent shore base. He remained there until 10th May 1883. While there he passed SGIC on May 1st 1883 (shown under Gunnery Engagements). This was probably "Service Gunnery Instruction Class or Course." However, it may have been "Gunnery Instructor". In the remarks column, his "Trained Man" pay ceased on 30th April 1883. The next day he passed SGIC, so that probably indicated a change in rate of pay.
On 11th May 1883, he joined the crew of HMS "Canada" on which he served for three and a half years. Prince George was also aboard. The "Canada" was launched in 1881 and was commissioned on May 1st 1883 by Captain A.C. Curtis. "Canada" sailed for Madeira and then the southern route to join the North American squadron at Halifax, but was reported a week overdue in June 1883. Anxiety was unfounded and "Canada" later sailed to Bermuda and then joined the West Indies squadron at Barbados at the end of the year, visiting St Vincent, Trinidad, Tobago and Demerera. In May 1884 she was back at Halifax and in July 1884 "Canada" was cruising off the coast of Newfoundland then returned South and in November 1884 one man was killed and three injured when a gun cartridge exploded during firing practice at Bermuda. At the end of 1884, Prince George left the "Canada". In March 1885, some of the crew got mixed up in the revolution in Columbia when some shots were fired at one of the "Canada's" small boats. In May, at Bermuda, a fire was started on board but was soon extinguished. It was one of a series of terrorist fires attributed to an "Irish-American Dynamite Party". In 1886 it was decided "Canada" would remain on the North American and West Indies station and a new crew was sailed out from England on the troopship "Himalaya", so "Canada's" crew could return home by October 1886.

William's character was "Exy" which meant exemplary. From 21st August 1883 he was marked "G.I." which may have been Gunnery Instructor. On 23rd October 1886, William returned to HMS "Excellent" until February 1887 when he joined HMS "Seahorse" (Captain Tomlins) for twenty days. The ship was at Devonport and Portsmouth. On 26th February 1887 he returned to HMS "Excellent" until he was invalided out of the Navy on 4th March 1887. It appears that "Excellent" may have been his shore base and he might have been injured on HMS "Seahorse".
His record was marked "traced P 12.3.87" which meant his pension had started on 12th March 1887. The record was later endorsed "Trace to medical department 16th December 1912; services etc. to CS Commission". This would probably have been the Civil Superannuity Commission.

His record does not show why he was invalided. For further records you would need to visit the National Archives. See:

Kind regards,
Reply from: Bella
Date: Tuesday 28th August 2012 at 7:08 PM

Dear Alan,

What a treasure you are, literally.

Thank you so much for so much information, and that best way I can thank you is by forwarding a donation to your favorite charity.

My best regards.

Posted by: David Fraser {Email left}
Location: Glasgow
Date: Monday 27th August 2012 at 4:00 PM
Hi Alan

I am trying to trace my fathers naval history but cant seem to find it. He was leading wireman John Fraser D/MX73549 he was on several ships during the second world.
We know he was on HMS Hermione which was sunk by U-205 which he survived. Like most fathers he never talk to his children about his naval life. he passed He away 13.12.2009 not telling us about his past. Iwould be very grateful if you could help.

David Fraser
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 27th August 2012 at 7:21 PM

Dear David,
Records from the Second World War are held securely by the UK Ministry of Defence. The MOD will conduct a search (cost 30 GBP) and will release certain amounts of information about a deceased person depending on whether you are the direct next-of-kin, or not. You can apply for a search using the different Part One application forms for next-of-kin, or with permission of next-of-kin, or as a general enquirer. See:

You will need a Part One form as well as a Part Two form for Royal Navy Personnel. You will need to provide his service details and proof of death.
Kind regards,
Posted by: Jimchelsea {Email left}
Location: Belfast
Date: Sunday 26th August 2012 at 12:03 PM
Hi Alan
I would be very greatful for any info you could find on the following soldier, SAMUEL DITTY, Royal Irish Rifles, service number 5/6070, and another number for him is for the Rifle Brigade 49239.He was born c,1899 Belfast.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 26th August 2012 at 8:07 PM

Dear Jim,
No individual service record has survived for Samuel Ditty so it is not possible to state his wartime service in full. The birth of a Samuel Ditty was registered at Belfast in the third quarter of 1899 which would have made him about 15 when war was declared in August 1914. A Samuel Ditty, aged 12, was recorded in the April 1911 Census at Dagmar Street, Antrim. His family was Methodist.
An Army medal rolls index card, which has no biographical information, recorded that Samuel Ditty served in the Royal Irish Rifles (5/6070) and the Rifle Brigade (49239). He qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. As he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star for service overseas in 1915, he did not serve overseas until after January 1st 1916. The British War Medal was issued in the name of the regiment in which a man first served overseas, so Samuel first went abroad as part of a draft of the Royal Irish Rifles.
The regimental number was prefixed by "5" which indicated it was allotted by the 5th (Extra Reserve) Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles. This battalion, formerly the South Down Militia, was mobilized on August 8th 1914 and was accommodated at Ulster Hall, Belfast, before moving into Victoria Barracks, Belfast. As a reserve battalion it did not serve overseas but acted as a recruit training battalion and, later, as a holding battalion for wounded men preparing to return to the front. The 5th Battalion sent drafts to reinforce other battalions of the Royal Irish Rifles, so the regimental number cannot identify with which battalion Samuel served in France. In May 1915, the 5th Battalion moved to Palace Barracks, Holywood, Co Wicklow, from where the drafts of newer recruits started to be sent to France.
The Battalion was at Holywood during the Easter Rising in Dublin at Easter 1916, although it is not listed as part of the British Army Order of Battle, so it may have been present but not necessarily active. From August 1916, the 5th Battalion took on the role of holding all the Royal Irish Rifles recruits who were under 18-and-a-half which had become the official minimum age for serving overseas.
In March 1918, the Battalion moved to Clandeboye Camp, which had been the training ground of the 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division under the shadow of Helen's Tower. After the war, a replica of the tower was built as the Ulster Tower, on the Somme battlefield at Thiepval.
The 5th Battalion then moved to England to Larkhill Camp in the summer of 1918.

Samuel would have gone to France some time in 1916 or even 1917 as part of a draft of reinforcements to one of the other battalions. The wartime service battalions of the Royal Irish Rifles
were included in the 36th (Ulster) Division. Some were disbanded or amalgamated in late 1917 and early 1918, which was probably the time when Samuel transferred to the Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own). It is not possible to say which battalion he served with. A search of "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) showed that a dozen or so men in the Rifle Brigade of 1918, with numbers starting 492 had died whilst serving with the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade. They had all served previously in other regiments, implying they had been transferred. Samuel may have served in 1918 with the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade but there is no other evidence for that.
The record of the 36th (Ulster) Division can be seen at:

The 1st Rifle Brigade served with the 11th Infantry Brigade in the 4th Division. See:

The book, "Belfast Boys" by Richard Grayson, stated on page 164: "Samuel Ditty of Carlow Street was a loyalist and part time policeman as a "B Special". He had served in the Royal Irish Rifles, first in the 5th Battalion, and was in Dublin for the Easter Rising before being sent to France. He was arrested in December 1922 on suspicion of being involved in "one of the most dangerous armed hold-up gangs in the City". He had powerful supporters in the police, including District Inspector John Nixon. Nixon said that Ditty was innocent of all crimes and the police officers who had given evidence against him were unreliable. Despite Nixon's support, Ditty was interned for six months until June 1923".
This may be the same Samuel Ditty of 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles: the medal index listed only one.
His internment papers are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in HA/5/2261.

Kind regards,
Reply from: Jimchelsea
Date: Sunday 26th August 2012 at 9:42 PM

Thank you very much Alan for you prompt and detailed reply, i shall pass this info onto the family.
Posted by: Leyther1 {Email left}
Location: Lancs
Date: Friday 24th August 2012 at 11:31 AM
Dear Alan
I have found records for my G Grandfather and he seems to have several army numbers in WW1 as he never lasted long in each regiment and was discharged. if I have researchd correctly in Ancestry I have :

#5910 Lancs Fusillers - Aged 21yrs Joined 29.8.14 - discharged 9.9.14
#35849 Royal Medical Corps - aged 21yrs & 285 days - joined 21.9.14 - discharged 23.9.14
#16329 South Lancs Regiment aged 21years & 357 days - joined 7.1.15 - discharged 22.1.15
#3692 - batt? - resided at Smith St Leigh, joined 21.6.15 - discharged 11.12.15

I also have a letter scanned onto image 116495 of 174681 in Ancestry of a letter from the army saying they were having difficulty in locating "your husband # 201207 5th Manchester Regiment who enlisted 21st ? (This bit is missing on the letter) in Wigan"...The letter is dated 8.12.19
On image 116498 of 174681 there is a scrap of a letter from his Wife explaining he was with her at 13 Jones Square LEIGH and that his regiment had left for soemwhere and he was discharged but lost his papers.

What do you make of this Alan? Can you see any full record or number 201201 Manchester Regiment? This is the missing link for me - I would like to know when he joined this regiment and why he says he was discharged yet the army was lookig for him? Is is possible liek I have been advised in Rootschat that maybe he was just a "tryer" but kept getting rejected?

Any info / advice / opionions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 24th August 2012 at 7:39 PM

Dear Leyther,
From the outset of the "volunteers' war" John Warburton attempted to join the army, although he was issued with a uniform probably only once. His records show he had an abscess scar from an old injury on his right thigh, and which was in a state of necrosis, meaning that dead tissue did not receive blood, a condition that could not be treated. Although there is a tendency to research individuals in isolation, it is likely that John volunteered in the company of friends adding to the desire for acceptance.
John first volunteered after Lord Kitchener issued his appeal for the creation of the New Army from volunteers. An Army Order, dated 21st August 1914, specified that six new Divisions would be created from battalions formed of the volunteers, which became known as Kitchener's first New Army.
On 29th August 1914, John applied to join the Lancashire Fusiliers whose depot ("D") was at Bury. Initially he was accepted, but on September 4th the Lancashire Fusiliers applied to the ADMS (Assistant Director of Medical Services) of Western Command for John's discharge under Paragraph 392 III (c) of King's Regulations because on medical grounds he was "a recruit unlikely to become an efficient soldier". On September 8th 1914 the application was marked "I concur" on behalf of the Deputy Director of Medical Services. John was discharged the next day having served 12 days.

His second application was made shortly after Lord Kitchener had made another appeal for volunteers that was dated 11th September 1914, and called for an additional six Divisions to be formed into the second New Army. Thus encouraged, on September 21st 1914, John applied again, this time to the Royal Army Medical Corps at Leigh. He may have applied to join this non-combatant corps in the hope that his gammy leg would make no difference. However, the RAMC were more specific about his old leg injury and they discharged him for the same reason after three days.

John had married in 1913 and his wife, Elizabeth, had had a child but John was obviously determined to join the army and serve his country (or escape from his civilian life) as he applied a third time on 7th January 1915 to join the South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Volunteers) at Atherton. He was apparently medically examined at the Military Hospital, Warrington, on 19th January 1915 and was medically discharged on 22nd January 1915 because of an "old injury to right leg". He had served 16 days.

In those early months of the war, recruitment had been such that the Army could afford to be selective in its acceptance of volunteers, with battalions wishing to retain only the best. By mid-1915, recruiting had declined. In May 1915 the upper age limit was raised to 40 and the minimum height was reduced by an inch, in an attempt to draw in more men. In June 1915, the National Registration Bill was passed as the first step towards the possibility of compulsory conscription which was being debated but was still widely opposed. The army no longer had the luxury of selecting only the best. John re-applied. This time, on 21st June 1915, he enlisted in the Manchester Regiment at Wigan. He joined what was titled the 3rd/5th Battalion The Manchester Regiment which had been recruiting in Wigan from May 1915. This battalion was the third sister battalion to the pre-war 5th Battalion Manchester Regiment which was a Territorial Army battalion. As the war progressed, the Territorial battalions were sent abroad and were replaced at home by new recruits who would eventually act as drafts of reinforcements to the 5th Battalion. The 3rd/5th Battalion was a home-service Reserve battalion for recruit training. John was "attested" (swore an oath of allegiance) and "embodied" (served under Regular Army, not Territorial Army, conditions) on June 21st 1915 and remained with the 3rd/5th Battalion until December 1915. His regimental number in the Manchester Regiment was 3692. On 11th December 1915 he was discharged on medical grounds as a recruit with more than three months' service unlikely to become a proficient soldier.
He was out of the army for good. When compulsory conscription was introduced in March 1916, he would have been excluded because of his medical record.

John's individual file was held with the Manchester Regiment and the local infantry records office at Preston. Although he was no longer serving, his regimental number was changed in March 1917 along with all the other Territorial soldiers in the Army. The re-numbering was to remove the confusing system of different men sharing the same number, so the four-digit numbers were replaced with six digit numbers. The numbers in the range 200001 to 250000 in the Manchester Regiment were allotted to the 5th Battalion. John's number was changed because his file was still in existence. (Even men who were listed as "missing" were allotted new numbers, long after they had died). Hence, John's Manchester Regiment number became 201207 in his absence.

Because John had been discharged from his first three regiments within days, his records with those regiments would have become inactive, because he had never actually become a soldier. His file with the Manchester Regiment would have remained active, because he had become a soldier, even though only a recruit of six months' service. Immediately after John was discharged in December 1915, the army became focussed on compulsory conscription. The opportunity for volunteering had been removed; John was excluded on medical grounds. He was forgotten about.
After the war had ended, the records office at Preston must have noticed his file was incomplete. It apparently did not have a record of his discharge, although the date of discharge on 11th December 1915 had been belatedly confirmed by a memo from the officer commanding the 5th Battalion dated May 12th 1918. The records office wrote to John's last known address asking his whereabouts. They had not lost a man, as such. Their "difficulty in locating" him was an un-resolved administrative issue: had he been transferred; had he died; was he in hospital? The letter was addressed to Elizabeth and she replied. He had been discharged when the battalion moved from Southport to Codford (on Salisbury Plain) and was now living at home at the address at Jones Square. There is, therefore, no missing link. In his absence, John had been re-numbered and after the war, the record office brought his file up to date.
Yes, he was a trier.

In civilian life, John was described as a "hawker". Under "An Act to Consolidate the Law Relating to Excise Licences for Hawkers" dated 13th August 1888, a hawker was described as any person "who travels with a horse or any other beast bearing or drawing burden, and goes from place to place or to other men's houses, carrying to sell, or exposing for sale, any goods, wares or merchandise to any place in which he does not usually reside and there sells at any shop, room, booth, stall or other place used by him for that purpose."
Had John applied to join the Army Service Corps, which was tasked, in part, with delivering stores by horse and cart, he might well have been accepted.

Kind regards,
Reply from: Leyther
Date: Friday 24th August 2012 at 8:32 PM

Dear Alan

WOW! what can I say - this is brilliant...linking it all up like you have with missing details I would have never have found is wonderful. THANK YOU so has certainly helped me think differently especially with the more detailed leg injury information, what a shame for him.

I am also very grateful for the full explanation on the letter on file to his Wife where he wasn't actually "missing", but merely needed for record completion - I would never have known or discovered that. : )

A donation is on its way to the British Legion via cheque first thing in the morning...: )

Would it be possible now if you could shed further light on Johns father? he was William SMITH, also a HAWKER and now you have said the age limit was lifted, it explains how I have a record dated Aug 16th 1916 of him aged 46 living at Bolton, serving with the RDC # 3334 stating previously serving South Lancs regiment # 5389. He was medically discharged for TB of the lungs and got a pension - can you see any further details on him as we know he left the family (Left Wife harriet in the Workhouse) and went to and eventually died in Bolton alone. I always wondered why he was 46 years old and joining up?

Thanks again Alan - I am thrilled with this information.

Best regards
Leyther (Lorraine)
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 25th August 2012 at 2:28 PM

Dear Lorraine,
Thank you for making a donation to the Royal British Legion.
William Smith did not serve in the South Lancashire Regiment in the First World War.
As a young man he had served in the citizen's Militia, the volunteer home defence force of the South Lancashire Regiment. He had been discharged at the end of his service in 1898. Part-time service in the Militia was generally for four years' at a time, with some six months of full-time basic training followed by a minimum number of days' attendances as required and annual camps of a few weeks' duration.
During the First World War William was too old to serve as the maximum age did not go higher than 41 (except in 1918 when the maximum age was raised to 50 between April and November).
On August 7th 1916, William Smith, aged 46, volunteered to join the Royal Defence Corps whose role was to defend such places as railway stations and prisoner of war camps. The RDC was formed from the "old and bold" who had military experience but were not young or fit enough to serve overseas. The RDC was formed of Protection Companies which were affiliated to the local Territorial Army units in William's case, the South Lancashire Regiment.
Many sources state that the RDC was formed in August 1917. William's record, dated August 1916 and "The Times" of Monday March 20th 1916 prove otherwise. "The Times" reported the King's issuing of a Royal Warrant dated 17th March 1916: "We have deemed it expedient to authorize the formation of a corps to be entitled The Royal Defence Corps". The newspaper commented: "At the beginning of the war a large number of time-expired Territorials and old soldiers offered their services. Those that were fit for foreign service were taken on in that capacity and the remainder were put to the duty of guarding bridges and vulnerable points. The effect of the order is to give them fuller recognition and the title of Royal" (© Times Newspapers).
William enlisted at Bolton on August 7th 1916. He was medically graded C1 the next day at Preston and his attestation was signed at Lathom Park, Ormskirk, on August 10th where he joined 319 Protection Company Royal Defence Corps with the number 33334. On October 14th 1916 he was posted to 349 Protection Company and ten days later he was posted to 327 Protection Company with which he served throughout the winter until February 8th 1917. He was employed protecting a German prisoner of war barracks at Shrewsbury.
William was discharged from the RDC as "no longer physically fit for war service" on February 8th 1917. A medical board of 18th January 1917 recorded he had been under treatment for many years and had lost two stones in weight. His disability was permanent and was caused prior to enlistment but was aggravated by ordinary military service. His discharge from the army was approved on 19th January 1917 with an incapacity benefit of ten shillings a week for six months until August 1917. A weekly allowance of one shilling and sixpence for each of his three youngest daughters was also made (Annie, Harriet and Sarah Ellen). In August 1917 William was medically re-examined and TB was found to be present. He was granted an interim pension for total incapacity. This was renewed in October 1917 when his medical card was marked "sanatorium accepted" (see notes below). On 31 January 1919 the "SWPC" wrote to army in connection with claiming a "constant attendance allowance". The SWPC could have been the Shakerley and Westleigh Parish Council.
His pension notes recorded his previous military service as "Cols 6/12" which meant six months with the colours. This would be accounted for by his six months' permanent service whilst training for the Militia.

In 1911, William and Harriet, with six children, were living at 5, Canal Street, Leigh. When William joined the Royal Defence Corps his address was 33, Reservoir Street, Bolton. His wife's address was initially shown as the same but was later crossed through and replaced with "The Union" Leigh. This may have been the Leigh Union Workhouse. William's address also changed and was shown as 10 Wallace Street, Bolton, in 1917. Wallace Street no longer exists but apparently was off the present-day Gaskell Street and had a reservoir at each end.

The three youngest daughters were listed by name to receive a child allowance in 1917 but there is an indistinct comment beneath their names which appears to be an address as Kenyon? Homes, near Culcheth.

One conclusion is that William needed permanent care in a TB Sanatorium. It is possible his pension went towards his "constant attendance allowance" at a sanatorium and for the support of Annie, Harriet and Sarah Ellen in a care home. His wife had to resort the work-house.

Notes: I have separated the following information as it is uncertain. What appears to be "Kenyon Homes nr Culcheth" beneath the names of the children could be Kenyons Houses at Turton, or may refer to the parish of Kenyon. It may be connected to the Salford Union children's cottage homes at Culcheth, which were close to Kenyon Hall. At the time, Kenyon Hall was a boys' school (Culcheth College). It is now a golf club. See:

and scroll down to Culcheth. The Culcheth Cottage Homes for children were opened in 1903 and were approached from Kenyon Junction railway station. This could have given the reference to "Kenyon Homes near Culcheth".
There was a sanatorium at "Dam House" which was also known as "Astley Hall" at Tyldesley. "The Union" Leigh, may be the Leigh Workhouse see:

William's record is available on the website (subscription required) under British Army pension records as William Smith, born 1870, residence Bolton, RDC No 33334. Many libraries provide free access to the ancestry website.

Kind regards,
Reply from: Leyther
Date: Saturday 25th August 2012 at 9:38 PM

Hello Alan
You have done wonders again - thank you. The cheque went this morning and unsure if they need to know but I have mentioned it is donated on behalf of your services and help. : )

This info on William Smith makes some good sense - I had thought really he had left his Wife in the Workhouse and simply "done a runner" but him being ill in a sanitorium fits eveyrthing better as I have found records of him dying in Bolton in qtr 3 1919 agd 48. No One knows where though exactly so would need to get the death cert to see if that helps. As for the children I am 100% certain Kenyon Homes is the home in the Parish of Kenyon as this is near to where I live now and I am in the same area of my it fits. The home in Culcheth is around 10mins max from the streets where William and Harriet and their children lived in 1911. Dam House is around 5 mins away. I just don't know why they ended up in Bolton as the family did not seem to move from the Leigh/Culcheth area at any other time so that is a bit of a mystery. The Son John William Warburton remained in Leigh after his marriage.

I know Harriet the Wife was in the Leigh Union Workhouse a couple of times - the first in 1913 when she had a brain haemorhage and was pregnant and then again around 1919 (from the records). So you are right with that assumption of what the Union was : )

So all this is fitting nicely into a story now - I would just need to find where William Smith died and was buried and if poss find why they were in Bolton - maybe when Harriet went into the Workhouse hospital in 1913 he moved to Bolton with other friends / family I do not know about and she joined him when she came out which is why he was there when he joined the RDC in 1916...wish me luck! haha

And thanks again for all your help with this - it is great - and invaluable to me!

Best regards
Posted by: Doug Taylor {Email left}
Location: Westbourne W Sussex
Date: Thursday 23rd August 2012 at 1:43 PM
In searching my Family Tree, etc., I found my father's "Certificate of Transfer to Reserve on Demobilisation", Army form Z21. He didn't talk much about his experiences, except that he was in the Machine Gun Corps, had been gassed, and had been a machine gunner in a tank.
My father's name was Private, Albert Harry Taylor, dob 20/03/1899 in Islington. I understand that OR's records for WW1 were destroyed in WW2 in a air raid.
From his Demob. Cert. his regimental number was 133476, 29btn, MGC; enlisted 19th April 1917, called up 1st August 1917 to the 19th London Regt., also served in the 20th Training Btn. Transferred to Army Reserve 22/03/1920 "in consequence of Demobilization" "Has served overseas on Active Service" is also on the form. Also stamped on the top of the form are the words "MGC records ZR 60/20/135".
I am interested to know where he served and where he went during his service. Somewhere I have a German belt buckle "Gott mit Uns" that he said came from a german that he helped save from a bayonet wound. Any details as to how find more information, or the means of finding, would be welcome. Thanks D. Taylor
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 23rd August 2012 at 9:45 PM

Dear Doug,
Unfortunately, the discharge document you have provides insufficient information to suggest where Albert Taylor served.
It shows the unit he joined when he was conscripted and it shows the unit from which he was discharged in 1920. But there is no evidence for his service in between those dates.
Following the Military Service Acts of 1916, young men were first called-up for attestation and a medical examination one month after their 18th birthday. Albert Taylor was born 20th March 1899 and was attested on 19th April 1917. He was placed on the reserves (went back home) until August 1st 1917 when he was mobilized and joined the 19th Reserve Battalion The London Regiment. The 19th Battalion London Regiment actually had three battalions with fractional numbers 1st/19th, 2nd/19th and 3rd/19th . The first and second 19th Battalions were fighting in France in 1917, so Albert would have been enlisted into the 3rd/19th Battalion which, in April 1916, dropped the fractional title and adopted the "Reserve" title. When he enlisted, Albert would have had a London Regiment regimental number in the range 610001 to 630000.

Reserve battalions were training battalions that did not serve overseas. At the time, the 19th Reserve Battalion London Regiment was based at Morn Hill Camp at Winchester until November 1917 when it moved to Chiseldon. This was an infantry training battalion, so at some stage after basic training, Albert would have been transferred to the Machine Gun Corps.
Soldiers conscripted on their 18th birthdays were not supposed to serve at the front until they were 19 years old, although they could be sent overseas at the age of 18 and six months. In theory, at least, Albert would have been in training for six to 12 months from August 1917 before going abroad. The reference to the 20th Training Battalion is incomplete. It could refer to the 20th Reserve Battalion of The London Regiment which was also at Chiselden. It could refer to the 20th Training Reserve Battalion which was affiliated to the King's Royal Rifle Corps. Or, it could refer to the 20th Training Reserve Brigade which was associated with the training companies of the Machine Gun Corps at Grantham.
An Army medal rolls index card for Albert Taylor recorded he qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The rules for issuing the British War Medal stated that it should have the details of the corps with which the man was serving when he first went overseas. The card listed Machine Gun Corps 133476 which implied Albert trained with the MGC in the UK before being posted overseas to one of their units abroad. There is nothing to show which unit he served with. Given that he was mobilized in August 1917, he probably went abroad in early 1918.

The 29th Battalion Machine Gun Corps was created on 15th February 1918 by combining the existing Machine Gun companies of the 29th Division into one battalion. These were infantry machine gunners. Gunners for the tanks were generally provided by the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps. At the end of the war, the 29th Division was among those that advanced into Germany, as part of the Army of Occupation. They arrived in Cologne in December 1918 and most of the soldiers had been demobilized by March 1919.
Younger soldiers, who had seen less war service, were retained to replace those who were demobilized first. The war diary of the 29th Battalion MGC ends in January 1920, suggesting a return to the UK about that time. Albert Taylor was demobilized on 22 March 1920 and transferred to the reserves. This may have been the Class Z Reserve which would account for the ZR file reference number. Service in the Class Z Reserve was deemed to have ended on March 31st 1920.
Men in the MGC could serve in various battalions during their service and as there is no record of when he joined the 29th Battalion MGC, it is not possible to say where he served other than he was with them in early 1920 when his demobilization was approved.
For further research, see:
The war diaries of the 29th Battalion MGC are held at the National Archives at Kew in catalogue references WO 95/2294 (February 1918 to October 1919) and WO 95/152 (November 1919 to January 1920).
Kind regards,
Reply from: D Taylor
Date: Friday 24th August 2012 at 3:45 PM

Incredible! How do you do it! Your reference to the 29th BTn MGC being in Cologne, is confirming what my Dad did say about being there, when I was much younger. you mentioned the British Legion being your favoured charity, I will see that they get a good contribution, Thanks again. I will also contact the National Archives to see what they have. D. Taylor.
Posted by: Nicky {Email left}
Location: Oldham
Date: Monday 20th August 2012 at 8:37 PM
Hi Alan,

I've just found this site, and hope you can help.

I'm tracing my tree and have got an obituary for my great, great grandfather - Joseph Edward Bannister.
It says that he was a Sergeant in the 7th Batallion of the Duke of Wellingtons West Riding Territorial Regiment, and served with them in the 1st World War. It also says that he had a long connection with them, when he died in 1927 a detachment attended his funeral and they fired a volley and the buglers sounded the last post.

I'd love to know more about his military connections and wonder if you can point me in the right direction. I've tried researching about his battalion, but it gets rather confusing due to the changes made to the battalion numbers.

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 20th August 2012 at 10:00 PM

Dear Nicky,
The 7th Battalion The Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) was one of the pre-war Territorial Army battalions of the regiment. Men served voluntarily and part-time; training on weekly drill-nights; on frequent weekends; and at an annual camp. The Territorial Army was formed in 1908 from the former Volunteer Battalions of regiments. When war was declared in August 1914, the Territorials were mobilized full time, or "embodied" as the Army called it, because they were embodied into regular army conditions of service. The Territorial battalions initially formed the Territorial Force for home defence which was distinct from the British Expeditionary Force for fighting overseas. Territorial soldiers signed what was known as an "Imperial Service" agreement, to indicate they were prepared to fight overseas, as their terms of employment were only for home defence. When the BEF suffered heavy losses, the Territorials were sent to abroad and the distinction between the TF and the BEF was lost, although the original Territorials were jealously proud of their volunteer status and traditions. The headquarters of the 7th Battalion The Duke of Wellington's ("The Dukes") was based at Milnsbridge. It had company-sized drill halls in the surrounding towns of Slaithwaite, Lees, Mossley, Marsden, and Uppermill. Despite its title, the men were recruited from the Colne Valley, and may have come from Yorkshire, Lancashire or Cheshire. At the outbreak of war, the 7th Battalion was part of the West Riding Brigade whose wartime task was defending the coast at Hull and Grimsby, astride the Humber Estuary. By November 1914 this task was ended and the Battalion moved to Doncaster for further training. On the night of 14th/15th April 1915, the Battalion crossed the Channel to France where it was to serve in the 147th Brigade of the 49th Division. Back in England, the drill halls in the Colne Valley would have been empty if the DoW's had not recruited sister battalions to reinforce the original Battalion now in France. These sister battalions adopted the fractional titles, the 2nd/7th and the 3rd/7th Battalions, so the original battalion was sometimes referred to as the 1st/7th Battalion during the war.
There was more than one J Bannister who served with the Duke of Wellington's, however, the most likely medal record is that for J. Bannister 2049 and Joseph Bannister 305565.
Joseph Bannister had three regimental numbers with the battalion. His original number was a four- digit number, 2049. When he went to France in April 1915, he was a lance-corporal. He qualified for the 1914-15 Star for service abroad before December 31st 1915. He also qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. In March 1917, all territorial soldiers were allotted new numbers, to tidy up the system, and Joseph was given the number 305565. As he continued to serve after the war, he was eventually given a new army number, 4601352. In 1923, he was awarded the Territorial Efficiency Medal which could be awarded for 12 years' service.
As he served after 1921, his record of service would still be held by the Ministry of Defence. The MOD 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:

The 7th Battalion served with the 49th Division throughout the war. Joseph was "dis-embodied" (i.e. went back to civilian life and part-time soldiering) on February 24th 1919. The war record of the 49th Division can be seen at:

The war diary of the 7th Battalion is held at the National Archives in catalogue reference WO 95/2802, although the regimental museum at Halifax may have a copy.

Kind regards,
Posted by: Murray {Email left}
Location: Leeds
Date: Monday 20th August 2012 at 12:07 PM
Hi. My grandfather (CHARLES HAWTIN 1883-1948 born Oxfordshire UK) served in WW1. He was a Pioneer in the Royal Engineers (117514) and Private in the Labour Corps (292710). But that is all I know about his service. Could anyone kindly help me find out exactly where he went and what he did in the Ward?
Thanks very much
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 20th August 2012 at 4:24 PM

Dear Murray,
The soldier, private Charles Hawtin 117514 Royal Engineers; 292710 Labour Corps, was not born in Oxfordshire in 1883. He was born in Warwickshire in December 1871, the son of John and Adeline Hawtin. He had married Mary Maria Morris on May 15th 1893 at Leamington, Warwickshire.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Murray
Date: Monday 20th August 2012 at 5:18 PM

Dear Alan
That is very interesting thank you very much - I must have been working with the wrong record. In that case I know even less about his War career.
Charles was born in Sandford st Martin Oxon and married Lilly Nora Sue Castle before the War. I thought he was in the RE. As far as I know he came through unscathed (physically). Where can I start to find out more?

Thanks again

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 20th August 2012 at 7:50 PM

Dear Murray,
It is not possible to conduct a satisfactory search of First World War records unless you know the regiment and regimental number of the man from family sources. Comparatively few individual records that indicate an age or address have survived. There were 5.7 million soldiers who enlisted in the UK out of a total of 8.6 million Commonwealth forces. Most British soldiers' service records were destroyed by enemy bombing in 1940. Officers' records are held at the National Archives and records of men who continued to serve after the end of 1920 are not in the public domain. About two million army service records either survived the 1940 bombing or were reconstructed from pension records. So there is only a 40 per-cent chance of finding the records of a particular soldier. The most complete index is that of the medal rolls index-cards which has some 5 million cards that apply to the Army; Royal Flying Corps; some Indian soldiers; and civilians, such as Red Cross workers. However, these cards record only the men (and women) who were eligible for campaign medals by serving overseas. Men who served only in the UK would not be listed. The cards rarely have any biographical information that identifies a soldier other than by regiment and regimental number.

Kind regards,
Reply from: Murray
Date: Saturday 25th August 2012 at 5:19 PM

Hi Alan
Looks like a needle in a haystack? However, I have a little more information as I have found his 1914-1918 medal. Round the edge it says 57537 Pte C. Hawtin North D Fus
Does this help?
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 25th August 2012 at 9:44 PM

Dear Murray,
No individual service record has survived for Charles Hawtin 57537 of the Northumberland Fusiliers, so it is not possible to suggest his wartime service. The regimental number 57537 was a typical wartime-service number of five digits which does not identify an individual battalion within the Northumberland Fusiliers. The medal index card for Charles Hawtin showed he also served in the Labour Corps with the regimental number 421637. He qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. As he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star for service overseas before December 31st 1915, he did not serve overseas until after January 1st 1916. It is not possible to say when he transferred to the Labour Corps.

A small sample of "Soldiers Died in the Great War" showed that men with the numbers 57533; 57534; 57573 and 57510 had all served with the 17th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers in 1917. Three had also served in other regiments, suggesting they had been transferred into the 17th Battalion. A search of similar numbers in the Army medal rolls index showed 57530 had moved to the Labour Corps as 421631; and 57538 had moved to the Labour Corps as 421642, showing they had been transferred out of the Northumberland Fusiliers.
There appeared to be a connection between these men of the Northumberland Fusiliers and the Labour Corps. The original recruits of the 17th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers in 1914 had regimental numbers with three digits, prefixed by 17/. These men with five-digit numbers appeared to have formed later replacements to the 17th Battalion, which had gone abroad in 1915.
The link may have been that the 17th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers was a pioneer battalion employed on railway construction. The battalion served throughout the war, so any transfers may have been through a "combing out" process to find men of certain skills. If an individual had transferred it is unlikely the regimental numbers would have stayed in some sequence when they moved.
A Samuel George Oakins, Labour Corps 421646 had served at the Royal Engineers depot before transferring to 20th Labour Company, Labour Corps, according to the CWGC. However, his medal card showed only that he was 57825 Northumberland Fusiliers and 421646 Labour Corps.
Other Labour Corps soldiers with numbers starting 421 served in other Labour Companies, so there is no evidence for which company Charles Hawtin served in. Some may have spent a brief time in the Labour Corps. Of those who died, many are recorded under their original battalion by the CWGC although they are recorded under the Labour Corps in "Soldiers Died in the Great War". Nothing is clear cut.

Medal cards recorded the British War Medal in the name of the regiment in which a man was serving when he first went abroad. In Charles Hawtin's case this was the Northumberland Fusiliers. It was also the case for Samuel George Oakins, suggesting his Royal Engineers service was only in the UK.

As you believed Charles Hawtin served in the Royal Engineers, it is interesting to note that he may have served in a pioneer battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers and the Labour Corps alongside men who had also served in the Royal Engineers. The work of railway construction, the Labour Corps and the Royal Engineers was closely related.

The 17th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers served with 32 and 52 Divisions as well as GHQ railway construction. 20th Labour Company was at Ypres in late 1917. The war diary of the 17th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers is held at the National Archives in Catalogue item WO95/2385/1.

None of the above comparisons can provide evidence for Charles Hawtin's service, but they do point towards areas of similarity and further research.
Kind regards
Reply from: Murray
Date: Sunday 26th August 2012 at 2:51 AM

Alan. Thanks so much for such a full and interesting reply. Much to think about there and possible leads to follow up. Most helpful I will indeed be donating.
Reply from: Murray
Date: Sunday 26th August 2012 at 11:37 PM

Alan. Sorry to keep pestering you but I have just found what appears to be by my inexpert view a cap badge for the Royal Fusiliers (city of London). Does this makes sense to you - could my Grandfather have been on loan to them? By the way, he was a skilled carpenter which may explain why he was in a pioneering regiment even though he ce from Oxfordshire? Thanks again
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 27th August 2012 at 3:46 PM

Dear Murray,
The record showed Charles Hawtin served with the Northumberland Fusiliers and the Labour Corps. His own cap badges would have been those of the Northumberland Fusiliers and the Labour Corps. The first Labour Corps cap badge in 1917 was the General Service badge of the Royal Arms. The Labour Corps approved its own cap badge in October 1918 which was issued from December 1918.
Five Labour Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers converted to the Labour Corps in April 1917.
A cap badge on its own does not constitute evidence. It could have been worn by Charles, or it could have been a swap or a souvenir.
Kind regards,
Posted by: Steviebyday {Email left}
Location: Liverpool
Date: Sunday 19th August 2012 at 2:53 PM
Hi been in touch with you before about my grandfather 202583 pt s mason 4th bat royal welsh fusiliers, i have been informed that he is on the casualty list for 11/06/1918, and that on his medal roll (page 11268) relates to the 13th bat, can you help with any more information, and is there any way of finding out more about his injuries. regards steve.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 19th August 2012 at 6:45 PM

The information you are seeking, such as casualty lists, might be contained in the war diary of the 13th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers which is held at the National Archives at Kew, London, in Catalogue reference WO95 2555.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Steviebyday
Date: Sunday 19th August 2012 at 7:48 PM

Thanks for your time and help steve
Posted by: Renesfondon {Email left}
Location: Norfolk
Date: Friday 17th August 2012 at 10:33 PM

I am new to this forum and wonder if anyone can help

my husbands grt grandmother married a man called ARTHUR ROBERT BROWNE in 1917 at Dover ...he was 29 years old .. his occupation is given as B:E:F ----- so am assuming he was a soldier

Anyone help or give advise where to look

May Thanks
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 18th August 2012 at 9:34 AM

It is not possible to identify Arthur Robert Browne in military records by his name only. You would need to know from other sources his regiment and regimental number. If you are fortunate his record may be among the army service records that have survived at the National Archives or online via the website (subscription). Any surviving record would identify him by age and place of residence when he enlisted and you may be able to glean that information from his marriage certificate. The 1911 census might indicate what name he went by (Arthur or Robert). Otherwise you would need to know the name he enlisted under, his regiment and regimental number from private sources.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Renesfondon
Date: Saturday 18th August 2012 at 2:26 PM

Thank you Alan

I only know what was written on marriage cert... this was a shot in the dark ... using B.E.F ... I have searched the census ( I know also from marriage cert his father was William Robert a fish salesman ... and have searched various commercial sites ( Ancestry and FindmyPast ) ... by occupation ... ie Browne Fish Salesman -------- ( I actually had a lot of results but they were mostly women )

Ah such is life ...another brick wall ...

Many Thanks
Posted by: Becca {Email left}
Location: East Yorkshire
Date: Friday 17th August 2012 at 2:22 PM
Hello Alan, I wonder if you could help me again in finding more about this soldier please?

He was William Dorsey born circa 1863 in Hanley Staffs. In 1880 he enlisted in the N Staff Regt (Prince of Wales)
64th & 98th foot at the age of 17. His number was 8593.
This is all I know of him, so would appreciate anything you can tell me about him.

With many thanks

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 17th August 2012 at 7:19 PM

Dear Becca,
William Dorsey served in the part-time Militia from December 1880. After a few months of full-time training in infantry skills, he would have returned to his civilian job and continued to serve in the Militia part-time; attending training and an annual camp for about a month each year. He joined the 3rd Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment. The 64th Regiment of Foot was re-named The Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire Regiment) in 1881 and the Militia Battalion became the 3rd Battalion. From 1880 it was based at Whittington Barracks, which had been constructed in 1880 between Lichfield and Tamworth. His part-time service in the Militia would have ended after six years.

There was a marriage recorded in 1886 of a William Dorsey at Stoke on Trent district which may have been the same person. A marriage certificate might help trace him further as he is difficult to identify further.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Becca
Date: Friday 17th August 2012 at 8:09 PM

Hello Alan,
Many thanks again for your rapid answer to my query.
I shall send off for the marriage certificate, to see if that gives any further clues. The trouble is that the Dorsey clan kept using the name William in successive generations and families, so it is sometimes hard to place and individual without other evidence.

Once again my thanks

Kind regards


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