The knowledge of members of the Great War Forum – and their willingness to help – never ceases to amaze me.
In the past few days, I published a picture on the Forum of someone I believed to be one of my ancestors in his Great War uniform.
I had an idea of who he was, but did not know which regiment he was in or where he may have served.
I hoped that someone on the Forum would perhaps identify the distinctive uniform and provide clues to the soldier’s war service.
Within an hour, two members – Squirrel and Frogsmile – confirmed that the soldier was wearing a Royal Marines Light Infantry uniform.
Believing him to be Walter Roberts, of Devon, I checked military records for him on the National Archives – and found his RMLI service record.
It confirmed that he was indeed Walter Roberts, of Mill Lane, Sandford, near Crediton, born on January 1, 1896.
It showed that he initially enlisted in the Army before being transferred to the RMLI in early March, 1917.
Walter was based at the Portsmouth Naval Barracks between April 1917 and December 19 and served with the 1st RM Battalion in France.
His service record was hard to interpret. When I sought help in understanding it, Forum member Max D stepped forward to assist.
He went through it line by line, offering a comprehensive insight into Walter’s years at war.
Another member – Loader – revealed that Walter was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.
Within just a few hours, the mystery over Walter’s war service had been resolved, thanks to the Great War Forum.
Walter was one of three brothers to serve in the war. The others were Archie, who served in the Machine Gun Corps, and Harry, whose war service is still not known.
The sons of Henry and Mary Roberts, of Sandford, they all survived the war and went on to marry and have children.
Walter, Archie and Harry were three of 30 grandsons of retired farm worker John Roberts to serve in the war.
The story of John and his grandsons is told in the new book, History Maker.
The pictures show Walter, Archie and Harry. The photographs have been kindly supplied by descendants of the family.