17 February 2018

1911 census revelations

Some while ago I wrote a post called Unpicking the 1911 census in which I demonstrated how men of the 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment had been enumerated. I continue to unpick the 1911 census myself and have set myself the task this year of completing a full transcription of all men serving overseas in 1911. I began this project some while ago, one of several uncompleted transcription or editing tasks that I aim to complete in 2018.

The 1911 census of the British Army is important because it is a virtual census of a large portion of the 1914 British Expeditionary Force. Men enumerated in 1911 would, for the most part, still be serving - or on the Army Reserve - in August 1914, and understanding how the census was compiled can add useful information about soldiers for whom no service record now survives.

For the most part, and talking about infantry only for the time being, men tended to be enumerated in two main ways: by company, or in order of longevity or seniority. Officers may or may not be enumerated separately.

In the screen shot below, I have added regimental numbers by searching for the men on my British Army Ancestors website. It's  a very easy process. I looked for the man with most unusual name - in this case, DULIEU - and typed in WILLIAM DULIEU RIFLES. That gave me his regimental number 3573. I then typed DERMODY RIFLES which gave me that man's number, 4430.

You can see that I have also added regimental numbers for some other men; the point being that I wanted to prove my theory correct, that these men had been enumerated in order of seniority, or longevity, or regimental number order; call it what you will, they all amount to the same thing. 

I had thought this regimental number precedence probably was the system in play when I noticed senior NCOs interspersed with privates, and so I'm feeling rather smug that I proved myself correct.  Better still, some of these men have surviving service records in WO 97 (and WO 363 and WO 364). 4487 Hugh Bonar is a case in point here. He joined the Cameronians in 1892 and was discharged as Time Expired in 1913 having completed 21 years exactly. He was appointed lance-corporal in March 1905 but reverted to private in November that year at his own request.

The photo above shows officers of the 2nd Battalion, Cameronians in Malta in 1913.

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10 February 2018

North Staffordshire Regiment - PoW Other Ranks 1914

There is only a single entry in the 'Princess Mary tin' prisoner of war collection that I found and that is 8501 Private George Raven of the 1st Battalion who was captured in October 1914. The entry additionally adds that his home address was 221 Windmill Street, Carlton Hill, Nottingham and that he returned to his home on the 6th November 1918.

Between September 1914 and February 1914, 352 non-fatal North Staffordshire Regiment casualties, officers and men, were reported in The Times casualty lists. I know this because I have transcribed all 78,460 non-fatal casualties reported up until the 27th February 1915. 

George Raven was recorded as J Raven and reported missing in a War Office list published on the 2nd November 1914 and then reported in The Times on the 4th December 1914. In the same issue, 6780 Pte H Appleby (recorded as J Appleby) was also reported missing:

Harry Appleby must have subsequently turned up, almost certainly wounded, as he was discharged in April 1916. I couldn't find a record for him in the ICRC collection and there is no indication on his medal index card that he was a prisoner of war.

There are two officer casualties who were reported as wounded and prisoners of war but George Raven appears to be the only North Staffordshire other rank who was captured by the Germans before Christmas 1914. The ICRC website records that he arrived at Hull as a repatriated prisoner of war on the 27th November 1918 (which sounds more plausible than the 6th November date on the Princess Mary tin list.

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Contact me if you need help with your military ancestor. 

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