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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Paperwork for the soldier


Guinness
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I'm curious as to what paperwork a soldier would carry with him, on his person, in the field. Certainly I've read accounts where the individual soldiers surrendered their identity discs and paperwork when going on a raid, but what of the other "routine" time in the trenches, or in the rearward areas?

-Guinness

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Basically just his pay book, as far as official documentation is concerned. He might well have a Bible or prayer book (tales of them stopping bullets abound) and letters from home etc.

On trench raids, any items from which the man, and particularly his unit, could be identified were normally handed in at the outset as you say. This would include the papers, identity disc, any metal shoulder titles or badges, and possibly his watch, if it had any personal markings.

There is an earlier thread somewhere on the Forum on this subject: try putting "pay book" or "trench raid" into the search engine.

Ron

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As well as the officially accepted paperwork mentioned above, soldiers also carried personal documents and personal keepsakes.

Below is a link showing some items carried by a soldier when he was struck by a projectile.

http://www.grantsmilitaria.com/militariaph...ges.asp?key=391

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The RFC/RAF adopted an 'empty pockets' rule for flights over enemy lines (there is a well known photo of Bristol Fighter crews surrendering their effects before getting into their aircraft). One would assume the same applied anywhere there was a chance of falling into enemy hands - possibly honoured more in the breach than the observance in some cases.

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