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3rd Bn. 7th ROYAL WEST KENTS.


bob9803
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I'm looking for any information as to why my grandfather L/Cpl Ernest Hughes was medically discharged from the army. What I know is, that he enlisted 11-2-15 at Newtown as No. 965 Pte. in The Welsh Horse Reserve,transfered 17-8-16 to The 7th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, No. 17358?. Finally transferring as Pte. No. 24824 to the 3rd Bn 7th ROYAL WEST KENTS in France 1-12-16.Promoted L/Cpl 12-8-17,then back to England 23-2-18.Discharged 12-6-18. I found that an active service casualty report was sent to Pensions at Chelsea. Do any records still exist that would tell me if he was a battle/trench casualty,whether wounded by shrapnel or bullet, or just fell into an open trench and broke his leg!. Any help would be very much appreciated.

Regards, Bob.

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Bob

You might have to clear up the title of his unit a bit as it is confusing (as far as I know) !

The 3rd Bn 7th RWK seem to be a mix of two units. the 3rd was the Reserve battalion,and the 7th (Service) Battalion landed in France on 27 July 1915. So it might be that he was firstly in the 3rd and then in the 7th in France,as part of 55 Brigade of 18 Division. Have you found a Medal Index Card from which you should be able to trace the units he served in.

Medical records are not very complete these days,there are sample rcords at kew but you need to know where he was serving when he was wounded and even then hope to get the right casevac stream to begin to have a chance of tracing him.

Post any more that you can find,you never know.

Sotonmate

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Hi Sotonmate,

Thanks for your reply, I have his MIC and under the heading Corps it says"7/R.W.Kent's 3rd Bn" Cause of Discharge "A.O. 265/17. Para 21b/1 Sick". Also the MIC has omitted to list his Silver War Badge No. 410987 for which I have a copy of his signed receipt for it. I have a copy of his attestation on 11-02-15, MIC lists his enlistment date as 11-12-15,all records have come from National Archives yet seem to contradict each other,is this normal?. Thanks again, Regards,Bob.

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Hello Bob

MICs only show units with which a man served abroad.

Did your info from the National Archives come from a scan of the original MIC (handwritten) or did you download in in printed form from their website? The latter are susceptible to transcription errors.

It is possible that he served in the UK with 3rd Bn, then the reserve and depot battalion, and was then posted to 7th Bn in France.

Ron

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Hi Ron,

Thanks for sorting out the three units problem, the MIC is the original hand written one. There seem to be some additions though, the number 50 penciled in the very top right hand corner, above the top line written in ink is that little cross and four dots then Pte, where his initials E A are written under his surname, written in the same hand is rnest, making the E into Ernest, any significance in that?.Also Action Taken "List E/578/2". As to your last suggestion, his record states he was transferred from the 7th Reserve Cavalry Regiment 1-12-16, then BEF with the RWK until 22-2-18, 1 year 84 days which is correct.Do you think it was possible that the army back then would send an untrained infantryman (i.e. a cavalry trooper) into an infantry battalion in a war zone, I don't. This is getting more complicated by the day! Thanks again. Regards, Bob.

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Bob

A cavalryman of nearly two years standing would have been a highly trained soldier. The normal turnaround time upon transfer via the infantry regiment base depot to arrival at the front was normally three to four weeks.

Regards

Mel

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To help with interpretation:

post-6536-1236442848.jpg

I read this as the fact that he was discharged from the 3rd Battalion, but had served in the 7th Battalion prior to that.

The number 50 is the Regimental number. i.e. One half of the Royal West Kents were the 50th of Foot in the pre-County Regiment days before the reforms of the Army in 1881. So that doesn't help us much.

The discharge reason noted is Sickness, rather than Wounds.

Steve.

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Thanks Steve,

Things are starting to become clearer now, so he left the 7th Bn still fighting in France, and was transferred to the 3rd Bn who were back in England to await his medical discharge. Another piece of the puzzle falls into place!

Thanks again. Regards, Bob.

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The usual route of evacaution when sick or wounded was:

1. Man reports to Battalion Medical Officer (or is stretchered to him...)

2. Man treated at Regimental (i.e. Battalion) aid post.

3. Man moved on to Field Ambulance (probably 55th Field Ambulance - i.e. named for the Brigade that 7th RWK were in - but not guaranteed)

The above usually happend on the same day as wounding, but if a man were sick he may be at any of the above for a while to see if he recovers.

4. Man moved to a Casualty Clearing Station about 10km behind the lines (usually when wounded or fairly seriously ill)

or

5. Man moved to Divisional Rest Station if deemed to be ill but capable of recovery with a short rest.

6. Man moved to a hospital at the Base Camps on the coast.

Whilst at all of the above a man would still be classed as part of his infantry battalion for records purposes. As soon as he was evacuated to England he was removed from the Records of his Infantry battalion and posted to his Regimental Depot - though he probably never physically went there.

7. On evacuation to England, he would go to a suitable hospital - suitable for his malaise, but possibly hundreds of miles from home, or his Regimental area!

Whilst in hospital, he would have been classed as posted to Depot as far as records were concerned.

8. On release from hospital he would have been granted a few days furlough, and then would report to either:

9. Command Depot (a unit through which men received physiotherapy, etc.), or

10. To the Regiments Reserve Battalion (usually the 3rd BattalioN) in the UK, to await return to the front.

His discharge from the 3rd Battalion RWK rather than "Depot" which is most cmmon, would suggest that he made it most of the way through the procedure to return to France, but for some reason was discharged before he returned overseas.

Can I ask where the transfer dates came from?

Steve.

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Hi Steve,

Can I bother you again with another question? He was sent home from France on 22-2-18, then went before a medical board in Hounslow on 22-5-18 some three months later, still sick and found to be "No longer phyically fit for war service" must have been some serious illness, any guesses as to what it could have been?. (He lived 'till 1963).

Regards, Bob.

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Sorry Steve our e mails crossed, the transfer dates come from a form titled "Descriptive Report on Enlistment" the bottom third headed "Statement of Service" I can't see an army form number anywhere though. Thanks Bob.

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There doesn't seem to be enough clues to say, Bob

Steve.

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Bob

Gas isn't an impossibility.

Sotonmate

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Hello again Bob

Being sent home sick in Feb 1918 suggests a fairly serious illness, although it may have been infection resulting from wounds. The three-month delay before assessment by a medical board was standard practice, so again that ties in, and they obviously found him no longer physically fit for war service of any kind, not even clerical work at home. I don't know if it might have been the Spanish flu pandemic: Feb 18 seems a bit early for that, and I doubt that many people who didn't die were rendered so unfit after a few months.

It is quite usual to find MICs altered to show at least one Christian name in full, the card originally only showing initials. I go along with the assumption that he was posted direct from 7 Res Cav Regt to 7th Bn QORW Kent, and then to 3rd Bn, so that he was held on the strength of the regimental depot whilst sick.

I assume that his service record has not survived? Have you checked both WO363 and WO364 at the National Archives at Kew? If not, and his record is there and is complete, his medical sheet should tell you the answer to his illness.

Army Form numbers are printed in tiny type at the bottom of most forms: can you see "W6749" on the MIC? I think most forms relating to individual soldiers were B followed by three figures.

Ron

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Some of his record has survived. I think Bob has already seen that.

One brief note on the top of one of the forms in his service record gives us a clue:

post-6536-1236449037.jpg

This reads D.A.H. and Myalgia - basically Disordered Action of the Heart (D.A.H.) and rheumatism (myalgia).

V.G. probably means "Very Good Army Character"

These were quite common discharge reasons for men that had suffered "trench fever", often not a disease per se, but what many, many men suffered from - being physcially worn out by their duty in the trenches.

Steve.

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Ron & Steve,

Gentlemen, thank you for that very detailed information. I have twelve pages (0201-0212) from Kew plus his MIC, could there possibly be any more information there?.

Regards Bob.

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