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private j w smith


steve alibone
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Hello.... this is my first post and i would like to ask for some help please..

Some 14 months ago i purchased at auction a printed letter from King George dated 1918 which was sent to a Private J W Smith of 33 Alfred St , Northampton on his return from captivity in Germany.

Along with the letter was a newspaper cutting from the time detailing Pte Smiths dreadfull treatment in the hands of the enemy.

I would very much like to find out more about the gentleman concerned and perhaps at a later date return the said items to his current family.

I have since found on the National Roll of the great war, that and i quote

" Private J W Smith , Machine Gun Corps , joined in September 1917 and was sent to the Western Front in Feb 1918 , taken prisoner near St quentin in March of that year and held until December of that year and demobilised in March 1919 "

Unfortunately due to the fact that i do not know his christian names or date of birth it has become a fruitless task on the long long trail website.........i have also tried the 1911 census but there was a different family living at the address at that time .

I have asked my local Museum to check records of the Northamptonshire regiment but so far nothing has come to light so as you can see the trail has gone cold..........

Can anyone help me..........does anyone have any advice they can give.........

I would very much appreciate any comments thank you

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SA

Welcome to the Forum !

Do you have his service number as well ? It will help to find him in some of the places that are looked in.

You could try an Absent Voter's List for 1918 for the place he was living,there would be some details on that list,probably the unit he served in. The snag might be that he wasn't living in Northampton,as you say,but it is worth a look.

If you don't know whether he served in the Northamptonshire Regt it might be a fruitless task looking there for him because he was probably conscripted and went where he was needed. After 1915 this became the norm,before then if you volunteered or were Territorial you could choose where you went.

To look on the Soldier's service records,those 30 % or so that survived the Luftwaffe in 1940,you are going to need Christian names and service number. "S" is not yet on Ancestry but can be searched by microfilm in situ at the National Archives at Kew,in the WO363 series (The Burnt Records).

Sotonmate

PS Medal Index Card records in WO372 at Kew have no JW Smith in the MGC but plenty with the single initial J in the MGC. So a number is going to be useful !

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SA

Welcome to the Forum !

Do you have his service number as well ? It will help to find him in some of the places that are looked in.

You could try an Absent Voter's List for 1918 for the place he was living,there would be some details on that list,probably the unit he served in. The snag might be that he wasn't living in Northampton,as you say,but it is worth a look.

If you don't know whether he served in the Northamptonshire Regt it might be a fruitless task looking there for him because he was probably conscripted and went where he was needed. After 1915 this became the norm,before then if you volunteered or were Territorial you could choose where you went.

To look on the Soldier's service records,those 30 % or so that survived the Luftwaffe in 1940,you are going to need Christian names and service number. "S" is not yet on Ancestry but can be searched by microfilm in situ at the National Archives at Kew,in the WO363 series (The Burnt Records).

Sotonmate

PS Medal Index Card records in WO372 at Kew have no JW Smith in the MGC but plenty with the single initial J in the MGC. So a number is going to be useful !

hi soton thanks for your reply..............sorry to say a service number is not something i have....

Would he be attached to a regiment and then placed with the Machine Gun Corps or go straight in ,sorry ime not up to scratch with British Military ways.

we are however currently looking at a James Smith who was born in Oct 1875 service number 65688 i think , who joined the Northamptonshires in 1890 aged 14 and also saw service with the South Lancs regiment and then the Bedfordshire regiment at about the time of outbreak in 1914 .although nothing is mentioned about Machine gun corps....

Where should i go to find the Absent voters list please

thanks again

steve

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Steve

Although the National Roll is not the most accurate source, if your man had any other previous service then it would have been mentioned in the entry.

If your man was conscripted say at the beginning of September 1916, he would have had about four months training with the Infantry Reserve and then would have been transferred to the MGC for a further period of training of about two months before being sent to F&F.

His MIC will only have MGC entered upon it. If you go to the NA site here:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...amp;queryType=1

enter the initial: J surname: Smith Corps: Macine Gun Corps you will come up with 142 candidates - eliminate all that do not have MGC as the first entry and all incompatible names and initials so that you end up with a list of J Smiths, JW Smiths, John Smith etc.

You are likely to reduce the numbers to about ten from which a likely service number can be selected.

Mel

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Steve

Although the National Roll is not the most accurate source, if your man had any other previous service then it would have been mentioned in the entry.

If your man was conscripted say at the beginning of September 1916, he would have had about four months training with the Infantry Reserve and then would have been transferred to the MGC for a further period of training of about two months before being sent to F&F.

His MIC will only have MGC entered upon it. If you go to the NA site here:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...amp;queryType=1

enter the initial: J surname: Smith Corps: Macine Gun Corps you will come up with 142 candidates - eliminate all that do not have MGC as the first entry and all incompatible names and initials so that you end up with a list of J Smiths, JW Smiths, John Smith etc.

You are likely to reduce the numbers to about ten from which a likely service number can be selected.

Mel

Mel................i appreciate your help.............well we are now down to a possible 10 x John W Smiths, and 3 James W Smiths..............

Why couldnt he have a less common surname eh ...oh well the search goes on

thanks again

steve

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Steve

The main library in Northampton may have a copy,or if not try any History Centre etc they might have. Here in Southampton they don't have an Absent Voter's List,just something called a Proxy List,which had the same effect but not so much info on the servicemen involved.

Sotonmate

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Steve

The main library in Northampton may have a copy,or if not try any History Centre etc they might have. Here in Southampton they don't have an Absent Voter's List,just something called a Proxy List,which had the same effect but not so much info on the servicemen involved.

Sotonmate

sotonmate

thanks again for your help

steve

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Steve

The following is subject to the usual caveats about number sequencing.

Your man was conscripted or mobilised (if a Derby man) in September 1917. Initial infantry training would have been with the Reserve and then transfer to the MGC in November 1917 for further training before being sent to the theatre of war in February 1918.

The number sequence that fits into this pattern is between 126xxx to 128xxx.

There are only two J. Smiths/John/James/Jack Smiths that fit in and how bloody typical (!) they are both JWs :(

These are your two:

126266 John W Smith or 128335 James W Smith

I am afraid the MGC MICs are of no use because they contain the barest of details medal roll references and nothing else.

Still, at least you are down to two possibles. I should add that there are two Johns and one James in the 129xxx series but this number sequence did not start entering the theatre of war until March 1918.

Regards

Mel

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The main library in Northampton has a copy of the Northampton town section of the AVL. The Records Office at Wootton has the whole county.

Some people may have copies... Oh, look.... :D

post-6536-1236971545.jpg

Steve.

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Nice detective work though, Mel. You were right with your selection of the two possibles.

Steve.

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Steve

Is that the consolation or booby prize? :lol:

regards

Mel

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Take ya' pick!

The 1916 Northampton Roll of honour shows no one serving at that address, so he may have enlisted into the Army in late 1916 or 1917 ?

http://www.northants-familytree.net/soldie...of%20honour.htm

The only John William listed is:

John William SMITH 4 ALTHORP STREET 5TH NORTHAMPTONSHIRE PRIVATE

The fact that this John William is noted as being with a battalion out in France would suggest that this is not him.

Steve.

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Steve

I think that he was conscripted in September 1917.

If he was a born cobbler then there are two possibles from the freeBMD:

John Smith b. Northampton 3b 62 Dec 1891 or John Smith b. Northampton 3b 73 Dec 1896

Regards

Mel

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Soton mate, Steve and Mel.................., this is the breakthrough i have been looking for thank you all so much............i will keep you all informed as to if i can find his living relatives ..........

thanks again

steve

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Steve

To have a 'Smith' mystery resolved is highly unusual.

I'm going to avoid anymore in the future! :P

Regards

Mel

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All

When you get a Stebie and a Northampton in the same query you don't lose,even if it's a Smith!

Steve

http://www.1914-1918.net/14div.htm

is the home of the 14th Battalion MGC. You will see the St Quentin ref when you scroll down the page. The War Diary fore this unit is at Kew under WO95/1890 and runs from Jun 1918 to Feb 1919.

Sotonmate

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Steve

There might also be a POW report on return to this country in the WO161 series at Kew.

Sotonmate

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He would have presumably have been in one of the "Brigade" Machine Gun Companies of 14th Division (that later merged into the 14th MG Battalion) when taken POW.

Steve.

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  • 3 years later...

hello again all..........here we are 3 years later and i thought i would let you know how things are going in my research.

my man was indeed Private John William Smith 126266.

i eventually traced him to an address in northampton where he lived and eventually married the daughter of the household.

they had two childen John R And Betty.

Betty eventually married and sadly that is where the trail goes cold.

Sadly i cannot find any info on John Williamd family or his DOB............i have tried free BMD and have a couple of possibilities.

Does anyone know if there is a free dob available somewhere on his war records......any help would be appreciated thanks steve

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