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Royal Marines records now on Documentsonline


annswabey
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Please note these are the Registers of Service (ADM 159) introduced in 1885. You will also need to look at a man's service papers either in ADM 157 at TNA or the service packs at FAAM for supporting material.

According to a file at the TNA within the RMO papers for 1885, (ADM 1/6796), the idea of the Registers of Service was first aired in a circular dated 24 December 1884 from the Deputy Adjutant General, RM and they officially came into use from the start of the September quarter of 1885 on 24 June that year, although the register numbers appear to have been issued for all men from 1st January 1885. It appears to have been introduced as an economy measure to help centralise information as the following quote from the original circular shows:

“The different particulars of a Marine’s services which are now recorded in various separate books will be brought together in this Central Register, and when the system is fairly established will render the use of the ‘General Description Book’, (R23), as well as the ‘Size Book for Recruits’, (R20), the Adjutants Effective List, (R2), the Embarkation and Disembarkation Books (R3 & R7) and Drill Register, (R31), no longer necessary.

The record of each Mans’ services to be indicated by a Register number, and with a view to uniformity at each Division as well as to ensure that the numbers shall be arranged approximately according to length of service, it is suggested that the numbering should commence with the oldest soldiers whose names appear in the Description Book under letter A, for a period say of 5 years, that it be then continued to those recorded to letter B for the same period, and this course pursued until all the letters of the alphabet have been so dealt with. The next oldest portion of the Division should then be taken in like manner through the alphabet, and then the next, until the numbering has been completed, the periods taken being longer or shorter as may be considered most convenient and practicable.

This numbering of the Division should be proceeded with at once, in existing Description Books, so that the work of transcription may be facilitated and the numbers to be given to men newly joined from 1st January [1885?] fixed.

By the adoption of this Register the preparation of duplicate Parchment certificates for every man will no longer be necessary, the duplicate certificates already prepared may be retained but no further entries need to be made on them unless called for.”

The Deputy Adjutant General RM then sent out the following circular 1930/85 on the 23 April 1885 [a revised copy of a draft he had sent out on 10 August]:

“In view of the adoption of Register numbers for purposes of description and race(?) of men of the Royal Marines, the following instructions are to be observed at the Division under your command:-

1 . . The present system of numbered Companies is to be abolished and, in future, the Division is to consist of a series of Companies designated by letters of the Alphabet.

2 . . The Divisional Companies at present forming the 1st Parade Company are to be amalgamated and become ‘A Company’; the 2nd Parade Compy. ‘B Company’; 3rd ‘C Company’; and so on.

3 . . The several Companies to be kept at equal strength with respect to N. C. Officers, Musicians and Buglers, and to be equalised as far as possible in regard to Privates by Recruits being posted, as at present, to those having the most vacancies.

4 . . Men not to be removed from the Company to which first posted except on promotion, transfer from Drummer to Private, or under other analogous circumstances.

5 . . In all correspondence, returns, reports, documents in connection with Courts Martial, Defaulter Sheets, Muster Rolls, Discharges, etc. (except laid down in para: 6) the Register Number, in conjunction with letters indicating their Division, is to be stated before the names of marines, - thus:-

No. RMA/1641, Gunner James Smith. [Art in the draft]

No. Ch/1004, Sergeant Henry Cooper

No. Po/1868, Corpl. Geo: Barker

No. Ply/1920, Private John Jackson

6 . . In documents and books which do not leave the Division, the letters denoting the Division are not to be placed over the Register number, but in lieu the Company letter is to be used where necessary.

In lists of men prepared by Companies for purely Divisional purposes, which contain the Company letter at the head (except in the case of Pay Lists) the Register Number alone to be stated.

In the Company Pay Lists, a Pay Call number, as at present, to be used without the Register number.

As regards men of other Divisions, the Divisional letters and Register number should invariably be stated, except perhaps in Company Pay Lists.

7 . . A complete list of the Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the Division, in order of Register numbers to be hektographed (?), and a copy furnished to each Department, Company Pay Office and Orderly Room – the following form suggested

Register No. Name Company Former Divisional Company

1 Smith John B 5 (1)

2 Hobson W G 37

3 Jones T D 17

4 Ward H J A 4

5 Smith John B 5 (2)

6 Thompson R H 45

Etc Etc

The lists to be corrected daily from the Casualty Vouchers, new names being added and those struck off the strength of the Division erased. The corrections in the Company Pay Offices to be limited to men belonging to the particular Companies concerned.

8 . . The series of numbers at each Division to extend to 19,999. [Cancelled by letter of 8/10/1915]. On this number being nearly approached, authority to be obtained from the Deputy Adjutant General to commence a new series. The number of a marine struck off the strength of a Division not to be given to any other marine.

9 . . The Register number of men serving away from their Division to be communicated forthwith to their present Commanding Officers, unless new Parchment Certificates have been already forwarded, in which case steps to be taken for the letters indicating Division to be placed above Register number on such certificates.

10 . . It will doubtless frequently occur, for some months at least that correspondence will be necessary in connection with men who have been the subject of previous correspondence in which their Divisional Company and not their Register number has been stated. In cases of this description, in order to preserve the identity of the man, his old Divisional Company is to be stated, in parenthesis, after his number.”

It was suggested that each Division keep a General Register of Service Numbers Indexes and this was taken up and these eventually formed the vast part of ADM 313 at TNA. Interestingly, many of the separate indexes had been withdrawn as consolidated indexes were filmed from these for each Division. The release of ADM 159 online will now render vast parts of ADM 313 SUPERFLUOUS.

Regards

Bootneck

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The NA website states "The service registers of some 110,000 seamen [!] who joined the Royal Marines between 1842 and 1936 are now available to search and download."

The 1936 date is puzzling because records of men enlisting after about 1925 have not been released. By this statement the files should included large number of 'X' (post-October 1925) men but I suspect not. To what does the 1936 date refer - latest date of service?

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What these records are, are in fact service sheets. They are a single sheet and the document lay out is not unlike the Royal Navy Service sheets.

Bootneck is correct in what he says. You would be foolish to conclude your research just on the basis of one of these service sheets alone. They really arent very detailed particulary if the marine served with the Royal Naval Division.

In my opinion these sheets arent very detailed and in the cases where I have the the service file and service sheet a great deal of information is missing from the service sheet. Namely wounds and special service. Also there will be no annotation on these to tell if the ship the marine served onboard was sunk, you have to research that for yourself.

Julie,

There is usually a copy of the service sheet held on the files at the FAAM. Its worth the download if it is missing from the FAAM.

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There is usually a copy of the service sheet held on the files at the FAAM. Its worth the download if it is missing from the FAAM.

Not so, I'm afraid. The FAAM "Attestation Packs" rarely contain a "service sheet", although very occasionally there is a copy of the ADM 159 paperwork.

The records at the FAAM are far more varied - see the FAAM's website under 'Research > Royal Marines Service Documents' for a full description of what may be held there:-

http://www.fleetairarm.com/researchindex.htm

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Tried to look up a man who enlisted underage and was "claimed" by his family. Would his Service Register have survived or would it have been deleted i.e. is that why I cannot find him?

Cheers.

Andy.

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I must admit that I am not impressed with the introduction to these records. Besides the 110,000 seamen [it should be men] that horatio mentions, the RMLI & RMA amalgamated in 1923 rather than 1929.

In my opinion more thought could have gone into the introduction which would then have helped explain these records better.

Bootneck

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Not so, I'm afraid. The FAAM "Attestation Packs" rarely contain a "service sheet", although very occasionally there is a copy of the ADM 159 paperwork.

I must of been lucky I even found the original service books with a photograph for those men that served after the war.

In each service portfolio there are "Conduct Sheets". In essence the same information regarding ships served in far more detail. If you have the complete set of conduct sheets and the Attestation papers you have all the information on the service sheet.

Tried to look up a man who enlisted underage and was "claimed" by his family. Would his Service Register have survived or would it have been deleted i.e. is that why I cannot find him?

Under the age of 14? I have been unable to find some men due to transcription errors on behalf of the NA. Try searching using fragments of the number or by a field which you think makes this man unique.

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Tried to look up a man who enlisted underage and was "claimed" by his family. Would his Service Register have survived or would it have been deleted i.e. is that why I cannot find him?

It could depend on how soon after enlistment he was discharged as under-age, especially if this happened before he was allotted to a Division and given a Register Number. What information do you have?

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How could a boy enlist under age in the RMLI or the RMA, they accepted 14 year olds straight out of school? Sounds interesting.

Attached is what you get from the TNA for £3.50...thought I would post since so many people are asking what kind of information they are likely to find.

post-3191-1231513220.gif

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I don't know the circumstances of his enlistment - or the date. The only information I have comes from his WW1 Pension Records. There are two copies since he was enlisted into the RHA/RFA by mistake when he should have gone into the RGA. When asked about previous military service he declared 3 months with the RMLI before being claimed as underage.

post-754-1231513290.jpeg

post-754-1231513392.jpeg

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Thanks Horatio I didnt realise consent was required. Where will I find reference to this on service papers or the service sheet? Should there be a letter from the parents in the service file?

Age 13 you say, must of been an early starter at school.

Andy, I think there will be a service sheet for the man you are researching. I do have some medals to men who swtitched from RMLI to RN or Army and I did manage to find those. Example George Frederick Trinder later Scots Guards Sergeant, served under a year with RMLI, papers are present. Sorry I dont have a under age case like yours to compare. Have you tried all the search terms like I suggested?

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Where will I find reference to this on service papers or the service sheet? Should there be a letter from the parents in the service file? Age 13 you say, must of been an early starter at school.

There will be nothing in his ADM 159 Record of Service but his FAAM papers may well contain a signed parental consent, especially if he entered from the Greenwich School, which many boys did. The terms of entry to the Greenwich School at age (say) 11 included the commitment to serve 12 years (from age 18, even if you joined at 14).

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I don't know the circumstances of his enlistment - or the date. The only information I have comes from his WW1 Pension Records.

A name might help. On what date did he enlist in the Army?

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Attached is what you get from the TNA for £3.50...thought I would post since so many people are asking what kind of information they are likely to find.

When you're miles from Kew, it's £3.50 well spent and as useful as the seamen's service records. In fact my Uncle Percy cost me £10.50 - as he enlisted in RMLI, was invalided out after 20 months (one service number, one record £3.50), re-enlisted a year later (new service number, another £3.50), and then five years later transferred to the Navy (another record, another £3.50). There was a wealth of details in these records, OK not everything, but enough to put together a reasonably detailed history of his service - and much better value than two quid for a batch of MICs

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A name might help. On what date did he enlist in the Army?

His name was Daniel Shaw - and there are no Daniel Shaw's listed...........and I have tried all the smart search approaches I can think of. He enlisted in the Army in August, 1914 but he was 27 at the time so I don't think that is of any relevance. His service in the RMLI would have been many years before this so it's not likely to be a straight transfer.

Andy.

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Siege Batteries.........I was not commenting on the 'value for money' but since you mentioned it I`m sorry that it cost you £10.50 to establish what your Uncle did during the war. In other countries that information is free.

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His name was Daniel Shaw - and there are no Daniel Shaw's listed...........and I have tried all the smart search approaches I can think of. He enlisted in the Army in August, 1914 but he was 27 at the time so I don't think that is of any relevance. His service in the RMLI would have been many years before this so it's not likely to be a straight transfer.

I can find no trace - either he was never given a register number or his claim is incorrect. With a d.o.b. around 1887 he must have enlisted 1902 - 1904, if under-age. RMLI and RMA under-age claims are very few before the start of WW1, when very large number of under-age boys came forward. With a more measured enlistment process pre-war I think few men got through without proper evidence of age or parental authority.

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Perhaps he enlisted with another name? In the cases I have researched I was lucky the previous RMLI service number was given in the army service papers.

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Searchers of this new online source, beware, I have found several Portsmouth Division RMLI servicemen labelled as "Plymouth Division." It may be just one or two books wrongly labelled, but it makes it hard work.

e.g. Search for Leonard Frederick BALLARD, PO/18244, also served as CH/21046. Listed as PLY/18244, which belonged to a chap named STEVENS.

Otherwise a jolly useful research tool.

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