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Remembered Today:

Help needed finding two soldiers.


IRC Kevin

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I've been trying to sort out some of the anomalies betweenthe various sources about (possible?) casualties from the 1/4thKings Own Royal Lancasters and have reached a dead-end with two.

These are both recorded in Part 9 of 'Soldiers Died in theGreat War', but not in 'Wadham & Crossley'.

37694 Pte. Alfred Seddon Enlisted Bolton, died Home24/10/1918.

No MIC or entry under this number in CWGC, however have found an entry for an 18 yr old Flight Cadet Alfred Seddon, killed in an accident at 41st Training Sqn, St Albans for the same date. Casualty is also from Bolton. Is it reasonable to presume these are one and the same person? If so, why is he listed in the 1/4th volume, as he probably would not have been old enough to have actually joined the battalion beforetransferring to RFC/RAF?

200356 Pte. John Wren. Born and enlisted Barrow-in-Furness. KIAFrance/Flanders 14/9/1916.

No MIC or CWGC entry at all for this soldier. I can rule out all 'Wrens' who served with KORL. The number is right for 1/4th Bn.and fits within the given date of death, but have found no record of this number against KORL on MIC. (Have found this applies to 36% of the '200' series numbers). I've come across a fair number of mistakes with the spelling of name and with misreading of number, but none were both were so far out that I couldn't trace them. Could someone, with a database searchable on date, please check if there are any KORL casualties for 14/9/16?

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Assume you already have this but:

Name: John Wren Birth Place: Barrow-in-Furness Death Date: 14 Sep 1916 Death Location: France & Flanders Enlistment Location: Barrow Rank: Private Regiment: King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) Battalion: 1/4th Battalion Number: 200356 Type of Casualty: Killed in action Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

No other deaths are recorded in his battalion on that day and only 2 others elsewhere in the regiment

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Assume you already have this but:

No other deaths are recorded in his battalion on that day and only 2 others elsewhere in the regiment

Thanks for that, presume that's the 'Soldiers Died' database? Come across a lot of casualties given the wrong battalion in this, with relatively few similar mistakes from CWWG and was hoping that there may be someone with a similar name/different spelling from KORL killed on that day. Looks like this one is going to remain a mystery if there's no-one else to fit the bill. I'm intending to contact the museum again some time over the coming year and see if I can get some research access to the archives, as there may be some other source material to shed light on him and other things I'm researching. I'm probably being picky, but it niggles me to only have these 2 out of 829 unaccounted for.

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Regarding Alfred Seddon, given the same name and date of death it's reasonable to assume that it's the same person. Perhaps he was still officially a member of KORL at the time of his death. His status as a Cadet may have meant that he was not yet formally a member of the RAF (although I've come across plenty of Cadets who were). 18 was old enough to be in the army. Many boys much younger than this joined up. Also, CWGC will (theoretically) give a casualty's true age even if he gave a false age when he joined up.

Regarding this man;

200356 Pte. John Wren. Born and enlisted Barrow-in-Furness. KIAFrance/Flanders 14/9/1916.

No MIC or CWGC entry at all for this soldier. I can rule out all 'Wrens' who served with KORL. The number is right for 1/4th Bn.and fits within the given date of death, but have found no record of this number against KORL on MIC. (Have found this applies to 36% of the '200' series numbers). I've come across a fair number of mistakes with the spelling of name and with misreading of number, but none were both were so far out that I couldn't trace them. Could someone, with a database searchable on date, please check if there are any KORL casualties for 14/9/16?

Note that he was killed in 1916, yet he has a post-1917 TF number. This suggests that he was originally posted 'missing' and was still on the battalion's books when they were renumbered in 1917. Hence him having a regimental number which post-dates his death. This is not uncommon. So his MIC could well show a pre-1917 number.

I wonder if this also applies to some of the other KORL men that you mention.

Many men were posted as 'missing' and were only declared dead after a reasonable time (at least a year or even longer). They would therefore remain on their battalion's 'books' and, assuming that they were TF men, they would renumbered when the TF underwent the 1917 reorganization. Sometimes CWGC will give one number while the MIC will list another. You can find plenty of 1917 numbers on CWGC or SDGW for men who died long before those numbers came into effect. Strangely, I've come across a TF man who died of illness in the UK in January 1915 (before his battalion went overseas), yet CWGC list him with a 1917 TF number. Quite how he managed to remain on his battalion's books for so long is anyone's guess.

I hope that helps.

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There's a 23917 John J Wren from the Royal Lancaster's but no further details are shown on the card.

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There's a 23917 John J Wren from the Royal Lancaster's but no further details are shown on the card.

Unfortunately, a different casualty- service record exists for this one who never served in the 1/4th and dates don't fit with service number of the one I'm after.

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Regarding Alfred Seddon, given the same name and date of death it's reasonable to assume that it's the same person. Perhaps he was still officially a member of KORL at the time of his death. His status as a Cadet may have meant that he was not yet formally a member of the RAF (although I've come across plenty of Cadets who were). 18 was old enough to be in the army. Many boys much younger than this joined up. Also, CWGC will (theoretically) give a casualty's true age even if he gave a false age when he joined up.

Regarding this man;

Note that he was killed in 1916, yet he has a post-1917 TF number. This suggests that he was originally posted 'missing' and was still on the battalion's books when they were renumbered in 1917. Hence him having a regimental number which post-dates his death. This is not uncommon. So his MIC could well show a pre-1917 number.

I wonder if this also applies to some of the other KORL men that you mention.

Many men were posted as 'missing' and were only declared dead after a reasonable time (at least a year or even longer). They would therefore remain on their battalion's 'books' and, assuming that they were TF men, they would renumbered when the TF underwent the 1917 reorganization. Sometimes CWGC will give one number while the MIC will list another. You can find plenty of 1917 numbers on CWGC or SDGW for men who died long before those numbers came into effect. Strangely, I've come across a TF man who died of illness in the UK in January 1915 (before his battalion went overseas), yet CWGC list him with a 1917 TF number. Quite how he managed to remain on his battalion's books for so long is anyone's guess.

I hope that helps.

What I thought about Alfred Seddon- just too many coincidences for it not to be the same chap.

John Wren's number suggests a pre-War TA, or 1914- early 15 enlistment to me. The '200' series are mostly,if not all, as far as I can ascertain from service records, in that category. Numbering system is interesting, as no 1/4th casualty prior to 15/6/15 has a 6-figure number (there's2 on that day, so probably, as you said MIA, especially as both have no known graves). Then the next batch don't appear till Trones Wood/ Guillemont in July/August 16, again all 'no known grave', although there are lots. The first 6-figure casualty in a marked grave is not till 10/9/16. Yet some who died at home later on, such as L/Sgt Albert Howarth M.M on 12/2/19 still held on to their 4-figure numbers.

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John Wren was originally in the 4th KO but was discharged and re-enlisted in the KRRC. Somewhere along the line the records got a bit confused:

Name:WREN

Initials:J

Nationality:United Kingdom

Rank:Rifleman

Regiment/Service:King's Royal Rifle Corps

Unit Text:7th Bn.

Age:20

Date of Death:19/09/1916

Service No:R/14295

Additional information:Son of Sarah and the late John P. Wren, of 18, Cragg St., Barrow-in-Furness.

Casualty Type:Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference:Sp. Mem. 11.

Cemetery:HEILLY STATION CEMETERY, MERICOURT-L'ABBE

There is some confusion over his precise date of death. Perhaps that's why he is commemorated by a Special Memorial.

Seddon was a transferree to the the RAF. Apparently this sort of "mistake" is not uncommon in Soldiers Died.

Be aware that not everyone listed as 1st/4th KO in Soldiers Died was serving with the battalion when they died. Some were actually serving in the 1st/5th Battalion but, for whatever reason, their transfer was not recorded when official lists were being compiled e.g Pte. T. C. Eccles.

There is one member of the battalion who is officially commemorated twice by the CWGC.

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John Wren's number suggests a pre-War TA, or 1914- early 15 enlistment to me. The '200' series are mostly,if not all, as far as I can ascertain from service records, in that category.

No, that's not right.

The 200,000 series (not '200 series') of numbers was introduced (for TF infantry battalions) at the start of 1917. Prior to that all TF infantry would have been numbered with anything from 1 to 4 digit numbers. Late 1914 or early 1915 enlistments in most (perhaps all?) TF infantry battalions would have been 4 digit numbers. The 1, 2 or 3 digit numbers would date from the formation of the TF in 1908.

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No, that's not right.

The 200,000 series (not '200 series') of numbers was introduced (for TF infantry battalions) at the start of 1917. Prior to that all TF infantry would have been numbered with anything from 1 to 4 digit numbers. Late 1914 or early 1915 enlistments in most (perhaps all?) TF infantry battalions would have been 4 digit numbers. The 1, 2 or 3 digit numbers would date from the formation of the TF in 1908.

The 1/4th seem to have allocated their eariest 6-figure numbers in correlation to their 3-4 figure number. I've not yet found any exeptions to this theory, but this is very much a work in progress and I've only looked at several hundred so far. For example, 2307 became 200392; 2755 became 200627; 5036 (enlisted about May 16) became 201705 and 5414 (enlisted 9th September 16) became 201759. 200981 (formerly 3458) enlisted November 1915.

As Norman Barnett 2230, who enlisted in July 14 became 200366, it's reasonable to assume that John Wren 200356 enlisted shortly before him.

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The 1/4th seem to have allocated their eariest 6-figure numbers in correlation to their 3-4 figure number. I've not yet found any exeptions to this theory, but this is very much a work in progress and I've only looked at several hundred so far. For example, 2307 became 200392; 2755 became 200627; 5036 (enlisted about May 16) became 201705 and 5414 (enlisted 9th September 16) became 201759. 200981 (formerly 3458) enlisted November 1915.

As Norman Barnett 2230, who enlisted in July 14 became 200366, it's reasonable to assume that John Wren 200356 enlisted shortly before him.

Ah, I see what you mean. I thought that you weren't aware of the introduction of the 200,000 series numbers in 1917. I only raised the matter because the MIC's of men like this may not have 200,000 series numbers on them, so people often search fruitlessly for an MIC in the mistaken belief that the number recorded on CWGC or SDGW is necessarily the one that the man in question served under.

You may be right in what you say about the date of enlistment. A word of caution about estimating enlistment date according to the 200,000 series number blocks; I've looked fairly closely at 2 scottish TF infantry battalions, and the numerical order of the post-1917 numbers doesn't follow the date of enlistment very closely. My theory is that the numbers were allocated in blocks to companies rather than being allocated according to numerical precedence (i.e. a 1915 enlistment in 'A' Company would get a lower 200,000 series number than a pre-war enlistment in 'B' company).

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Thanks for the heads up on the company allocation system, Headgardener, I'll see what pans out when I've finished compling all the data. So, far I'm pleasantly surprised at how many of the service records have survived, but it's a long haul as I'm having to look up each individual out of the 2000+ names I've got so far, and in most there is no company given, although correlation with the War Diary has solved a few. Can't rely on Ancestry to do a unit trawl as too many would be missed due to goon transcribers. How anyone could think that 4 kizzy could possibly be unit of the British Army I'll never know!

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Errr... Have you read Post #8? :rolleyes:

Btw, your premise about the allocation of six figure numbers in the 1st/4th KO being sequential is correct; they were allocated purely on a first come first served basis and irrespective of Company etc. although occasional inadvertent mistakes were made.

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