28 December 2016

11th Hussars - Other Rank PoWs 1914


The following fifty men, all serving with the 11th Hussars, became Prisoners of War of the Germans before 25th December 1914.

A number of the men appear on more than one list, catalogued today at The Imperial War Museum under B.O.2 1/157 and 
B.O.2 1/158. The full entries, not transcribed here, also include the men's home addresses. 

6039, later 46125 Private A Allcock 
5767, later 46096 Sergeant J W Allison 
6232 Private H Applegarth 
6040, later 46126 Private C Austin 
7527 Private D Austin 
29742 Private Walter Ayres 
6565 Private Frank G Bangay 
6174 Private B Clarke 
9198 Private F Cockram
1356 Corporal E Garner
6723 Private Phillip Garthwaite 
5704, later 46088 Private Samuel S Gash 
6601 Private C Goodwin 
5731 Private H Groom 
7564 Private C Hall 
5835 Lance-Corporal B Hart 
10016 Private T Hasprey 
9445 Private John Helme 
9597 Corporal Arthur Hinchliffe 
8251 Private P S Huggett 
8245 Lance-Corporal B Jackson 
6992 Private M Knowles 
5674 Private F Lake 
5585, later 46072 Private (Bandsman) T Lazenby 
5077, later 46032 Private Frank Ledger 
2921 Private T Lennon 
9376 Private L Mansell 
837 Lance-Corporal C Massey 
8541 Private R W Morgan 
5738, later 46145 Corporal Thomas F Noble 
8242 Lance-Corporal F Penrice 
8135 Lance-Corporal H Peplow 
5814, later 46100 Private A L Reeson 
1391 Private J Robins 
6391 Corporal R W Robinson 
9195 Private A T Saunders 
5775, later 46097 Private A Sessions 
9373 Private G Shaw 
10865 Private A E Sketes 
9571 Private T Spiers 
5555, later 46065 Private J Stott 
5318 Private J Surridge 
9208 Private W Talbot 
3937 Sergeant F C Taylor 
6015, later 46121 Private Harry Towner 
9576 Private J Ward 
5558, later 46055 Private James Welsh 
9577 Private B J White 
5561 Private E Woodley 
3784 Private C Wright 

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22 December 2016

Section or Platoon Roll Book - Gale & Polden


I recently won this little item on eBay and paid considerably more than the original price of 6d for it. There is no publication date but my guess is that it dates to around the time of the First World War. Its purpose, as explained on the opening page, was to record the names of NCOs and men and to include for each, their marital status, date of enlistment, age on enlistment etc; in fact everything including the man's rifle number and rifle bolt number, as well as details of certificates awarded and classes passed. This being the case, I suppose it's hardly surprising that my copy of this little gem is largely uncompleted. The officer or senior NCO who bought this must have balked at the thought of recording so much detail for all of the men under his charge.

Nevertheless, there are some details which have been recorded and which the vendor on eBay omitted to reveal. 

The middle page here notes "Dining hall fatigue, Sept 27th 1918" whilst the first page notes, "Roll of 9th Platoon / Se", followed by a list of 14 names.

A quick search of medal index cards and service records reveals that these men, at the time this roll was taken, were all serving with a Training Reserve Battalion. For instance, the third man on the list, 34798 A Beresford, was TR/9/34798 Alexander Beresford who enlisted at Warwick on the 22nd May 1917 was posted to the 47th Training Reserve Battalion two days later and finally, by way of the Essex Regiment and two further Training Reserve battalions, found himself in France with the Machine Gun Corps by May 1918.

There is no service record for 34602 T E Deptford but there is a medal index card and medal roll which reveal a similar pattern to that of Alexander Beresford, namely Training Reserve, Essex Regiment and Machine Gun Corps. Thomas Deptford also has the Royal Engineers added in for good measure, although this seven-digit number indicates that he joined the RE from 1920 as this number is from the new army service number series rather than the regimental number series which had operated prior to this time.


Helpfully, the medal roll entry gives more detail and confirms that he too served with the 47th Training Reserve Battalion, then the 3rd Essex Regiment, then the 84th TRB, followed by the 8th Machine Gun Corps, and finally the Royal Engineers.


The ironically named H F Coffin was latterly 137342 Harold Frederick Coffin who was killed in action on the 13th July 1918 whilst serving with the 6th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps. Soldiers Died in the Great War notes that he was formerly 46200 Essex Regiment, and my platoon roll book records that he was 34719, TRB. Note the similarity in regimental numbers to those of Thomas Deptford.

So all in all, a nice item to own, I think, and I would guess that most of these men were probably young soldiers and that the majority went on to serve with the Essex Regiment and then Machine Gun Corps. Preliminary medal card searches reveals this to be the case.

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21 December 2016

Regimental numbers research tip - medal index cards


I'll try and keep this simple.

There are three resources where you can search First World War campaign medal index cards free of charge: Ancestry, Findmypast and The National Archives (TNA).

Ancestry
Ancestry has the best images but the lousiest, most inflexible search. If you are looking for a medal index card on Ancestry you will quickly realise that a) not all of the regimental numbers have been indexed and b) the actual search is not as flexible as it is on Findmypast or TNA. It is possible to just enter LONDON for instance, in the regiment field and see all results returned for the London Regiment. Similarly, if you were to just enter the number 1234 you would see all exact results plus this number with various prefixes: T/1234, MS/1234 etc. You can also use wildcard searching on Ancestry but you have to enter a minimum of three characters. So NIX* would return my surname (and variations) whereas NI* would return nothing.




It is also worth pointing out that the index to the medal index cards on the Ancestry site is Ancestry's own index and so there will be differences between search results here and on the other two sites. Talking of which, there are some real howlers on Ancestry that a good clean-up of data would improve no end.

But no doubt about it, the images on Ancestry are superb; both sides scanned, and scanned to a very high standard. It is no exaggeration to say that I look at these images daily.

Findmypast
You won't find images on Findmypast, and the index is the same index published on TNA's site. Locating the correct man will take you to the results' page which then offers the option to click through to the black and white image on TNA's site - which you'll need to pay £3.45 to view.

In terms of searching on Findmypast, be sure to use the wildcard. If you type LONDON in the regiment field on Findmypast you'll get just two results. However, typing *LONDON* will yield 198,000+ results. Always, always, always use the wildcard when searching on Findmypast - and unlike Ancestry, you can wildcard search on a single character if you wish.



Findmypast has recently clubbed all of its medal collections together under a single search and this certainly makes sense for most users of the service who won't always necessarily know what their ancestor's medal entitlement was. Furthermore, it is possible now to view a man's DCM medal card alongside his DCM citation. Note too, that Findmypast has a comprehensively indexed Military Medal card search.

TNA  

In my opinion this is the most flexible and quickest search. The home page will invite you to type information in the relevant fields. And here, unlike on Findmypast, typing LONDON will bring up any regimental result which has the word London in the title.




However, the real beauty of the TNA search is the flexibility of the search from the search results' page (above). This is effectively a free search so gone is the need to type in information in specific fields. Simply type the information you want in the single search box. 



As far as I'm aware, it doesn't matter in which order you type the information, and the search results highlight where the information appears.



Summary
Use the TNA site to quickly find the card you want and then, armed with that information, view the image on Ancestry. You can view the images on TNA's site but these are inferior black and white images and only the front of the card has been imaged.

16 December 2016

Regimental numbers research tip: British War & Victory Medal roll


With so little information surviving for so many men who served overseas during the First World War, correctly interpreting the information that does survive takes on even greater importance.

The information that survives on British War and Victory Medals varies enormously according to the regiment. Some rolls give very detailed information which may include theatre of war served in, and the dates served (the London Regiment is a great example here), whilst other regiments give very little information (my heart always sinks when I see that a man ended up in the Labour Corps as these rolls offer very little information). Other information also to be found on this particular medal roll might include a comment in the remarks' column such as date of demobilisation. Comments regarding amendment to the medal, or entitlement to the medal are routinely included. After all, this is a roll of medal entitlement, and the ticks and annotations are those of the clerk - on behalf of the officer in charge of records at the particular infantry record office - that the information is correct.


But I want to draw attention to repetition on these rolls. In the example above, Henry Hewson originally served overseas with the 19th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and with the regimental number 31125. He then transferred to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was given a new regimental number 29618, and served overseas with the 6th Battalion. Underneath this entry, on the next two lines, we see "do" or "ditto". This repetition indicates that Henry had broken service with this battalion and returned to England twice. If this had been a London Regiment record, the dates would also have been included:


In the example above we can see that Charles Francis of the 9th London Regiment served overseas until the 23rd November 1914, returned to England and then served overseas again from the 22nd April 1915.

So for me, when I am researching soldiers' service histories, this duplication of line entries is important because it's a signpost that the man returned to England either sick or wounded and may get a mention in a local newspaper or in an official casualty list.  Findmypast, in partnership with the British Library, continues to publish thousands of newspaper pages each week and I continually update my 1914-1918 newspaper listing. I also make sure I check The Times newspaper for official casualty lists. Many UK libraries have digital versions and in my case I access the online version via Essex Libraries. Where dates are recorded on medal rolls I would be checking war diaries to see if that provided any clues as to why the man would have returned to England when he did.  

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14 December 2016

20th Hussars - Other Rank PoWs 1914


The following men, all serving with the 20th Hussars, became Prisoners of War of the Germans before 25th December 1914. In the spirit of Christmas giving, I am also including their home addresses as recorded by the officer in charge of cavalry records (Hussars) when he wrote to Sir Ernest Goodhart in January 1919.

The original documentation is housed at The Imperial War Museum under B.O.2 1/164.

9842 Private E Blackford,  56 Liverpool Road, Watford 
6425 Private E Burns, 33 Conway Street, Beswick, Manchester 
47336 Private W M Death, 166 Wood Street, Walthamstow 
9357 Bandsman G F Foley, 15 Park Street, Windsor 
8167 Private B J Guppy, 10 Alexandra Terrace, Teignmouth 
4826 Private J Harvey, Yellow Road, Waterford 
47322 Private J Hope, 5 London Road, Walton, Liverpool 
4893 Private E Kavanagh, 9 Middle Gardener Street, Dublin 
7254 Lance-Corporal C H Lloyd, Habblesthorpe Farm, Near Leverton, Notts 
4556 Private R Lloyd, 6 Boyne Road, Liverpool 
2798 Private J Logan, Union Jack Club, London 
8869 Private J Lovell, Crown & Anchor Hotel, Wakefield 
47371 Private J P Mason, 19 Honiton Street, Carlton Grove, Peckham, London SE 
47378 Private V H McAuley, 27 Castle Road, Grays, Essex 
5663 Lance-Sergeant C Nunn, 21 Clarissa Road, Chadwell Heath 
804 Lance-Corporal T Ramsbottom, 12 Wooler Street, Scarborough 
11183 Lance-Sergeant T Roxby, 291 Heath Street, Winson Green, Birmingham 
3303 Private E A Vaughan, 2 Suffolk Cottage, Copse Lane, Freshwater, Isle of Wight 
8954 Private R Ward, High Street, Skelton-in Cleveland

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3 December 2016

Regimental numbers research tip: duplicate number series


On this blog you will find lists of regimental number series. Back in 2003 I started to compile a database of regimental numbers and the known dates on which these were issued. I embarked on this mission because I was researching a community in Chailey and quickly realised that for the most part, the only surviving record of military service was a medal card and medal rolls. I felt sure that there was method to the way in which regimental numbers were issued, and so it turned out to be.

I want to use this opportunity though, once again, to talk about duplicate regimental number series. I have covered this topic periodically over the eight years that this blog has been in existence, but it does no harm to cover it again.

First of all, we need to have a picture in our minds of a typical line infantry regiment in July 1881. With the exception of the Rifle Brigade, all regiments have started a new regimental number series. Their designations have also changed and, with the singular exception of the 79th Regiment of Foot, single battalion regiments of foot from the 26th Regiment of Foot upwards have been formally paired with other regiments. Gone are the old numerical "Regiment of Foot" titles and in their place are county titles.  Using my own local regiment as an example, the old 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot and the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot have been formally merged to create the brand new two-battalion Essex Regiment. Men joining this new regiment from July 1881 are issued with new numbers beginning at 1. The numbers are issued when the men arrive at the regimental depot, NOT on the day on which they attest (although in many cases this will be the same day of attestation).

This is our first Essex Regiment regimental numbers series - numbers issued to regular soldiers.

The Essex Regiment also has two militia battalions in 1881. These are the 3rd East Essex Rifles and the 4th West Essex Militia. Both of these battalions have their own regimental series. 

In addition to the regular number series (covering the 1st and 2nd Battalions), a regimental number series for the 3rd Battalion, and a regimental numbers series for the 4th Battalion, the Essex Regiment also has four Volunteer Force battalions, each of these battalions operating its own regimental number series.

So in total, in 1881, the Essex Regiment has seven separate regimental number series being used concurrently.

Fast forward to 1908. There are no changes to regular battalions. The Special Reserve and Extra Reserve replace the militia. The Territorial Force replaces the Volunteer Force. The Essex Regiment is one of several regiments to lose one of its militia battalions. Men transferring into the new 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion from  the old 3rd (Militia) Battalion keep their old militia regimental numbers. Men transferring in from the old 4th (Militia) Battalion as well as new recruits who have never served in the militia before are all issued with new regimental numbers from a new series beginning at 1.

The Volunteer Force has been replaced by the Territorial Force, the old 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th VF battalions being replaced by the new 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Battalions. All of these battalions have their own regimental number series and all begin at number 1 in 1908. In 1910 an 8th (Cyclist) Battalion will also be formed and it will start numbering from 1 as well.

Fast forward to August 1914. The Essex Regiment will start to raise new service battalions. All of these battalions will issue numbers from the series being used by the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

The point is this.  There is massive duplication of regimental numbers in the Essex Regiment and in all line infantry regiments.

1. By the end of 1914 the Essex Regiment has two regular battalions (the 1st & 2nd Battalions) and five service battalions (the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th Battalions) all using regimental numbers from the same series.
2. The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion uses numbers from another series.
3. The five Territorial Force battalions all have their own regimental number series

In theory therefore, by 1914 there could be four men in the Essex Regiment who all have the same number. The number 3000 would have been issued to:

1. A man joining the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion in September 1914
2. A man joining the 5th Battalion in November 1914
3. A man joining the 6th Battalion in October 1914
4. A man joining the 7th Battalion in November 1914

The number 3000 would also have been issued to a regular recruit in 1890. It would also be issued to a man in the 4th Battalion in January 1915 and a man in the 8th Battalion in October 1916. 

This duplication of numbers is evident across all infantry regiments to a greater or lesser degree, and similar duplication of numbers appears in Territorial Force numbers for other Corps. This was the principal reason that the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917 except of course that it still resulted in massive duplication of numbers across regiments. The number 200001, for instance was issued by 56 different regiments, as was the number 200002, 200003 and so on.

On this blog you will find man different regimental number sequences explained, but there are many many more sequences which I have not published. Take a look at my posts on the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders regimental number sequences (see here for the INDEX) and then imagine that same scenario repeating across the majority of the other infantry regiments (excluding Irish regiments which had no Territorial Force battalions). 

I hope this post has been helpful. Use the information here and elsewhere to narrow down the enlistment and/or transfer dates of your own British Army ancestor but remember, if you get stuck:

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2 December 2016

19th Hussars - Other Rank PoWs 1914


Here are some more cavalrymen, a small list of 12 men, captured by the Germans before Christmas 1914; this time men from the 19th (Queen Alexandra's Own) Hussars.

As I have said before, what I call the Princess Mary tin PoW lists are certainly incomplete but they're also a great starting point.  I have augmented the information I hold in these lists by looking at The Times casualty lists and also the Prisoners of War on Findmypast.  There are close to 2.7m indexed records in total and over 69,000 First World War PoW records. This is an ongoing task.


All of these men appear in a document held at the Imperial War Museum in B.O.2 1/163 which is a two-page hand-written letter to Sire Ernest Goodhart from the officer in charge of cavalry records at York. The letter is dated 7th January 1919.

2109 Private J Black,  19th Hussars, 65 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London E13 
46523 Sergeant W A Ducker,  19th Hussars, Fleech Hotel, Canterbury 
9701 Private G E Line,  19th Hussars, 75 St Peters Road, Edmonton 
5985 Private T McGrory,  19th Hussars, 36 Forest Street, Stonefield, Cantyre, Blantyre 
6754 Private C McGuire,  19th Hussars, 74 Everson Lane, Sheffield 
3044 Private N Phelan,  19th Hussars, 25 Burton, Kingston-on-Thames 
2924 Private G J Saunders,  19th Hussars, Petworth, Sussex 
8069 Private J W Seth,  19th Hussars, 5 Cemetery Lane, Shepperton, Middlesex 
3283 S/Sgt Frank Underhill,  19th Hussars, Regents Cottage, Edenbridge 
745 Private J Whitney.  19th Hussars. 77 Cambridge Street, Springfield, Northampton 
46500 Private Thomas Whybourne,  19th Hussars, Manor Farm, Guildford 
9684 Private W L Wills,  19th Hussars, Wyesham, Near Monmouth

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Contact me if you need help with your military ancestor.