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Shortie

Regiment help

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Shortie

This photo shows my great grangfather Richard Geddes SMITH. He was born 1884 in Tynemouth, Northumberland. He was not in the forces in the 1911 census [craneman for a ship builder] so I can only presume he joined up for WWI by which time he would be 30. In 1922 he was out of the forces and is a forman/diver in Nigeria where he spent the rest of his working life.

I see he has two stripes on his arm. The front of this photo says France 19/14. The back says France 1918 and is a french postcard. I have searched TNA hoping that his unusual second name would bring up some records and I have searched Ancestry records but can find nothing.

Does anyone know which regiment this is and/or anyone else in this photo?

Any help would be much apreciated,

Shortie.

post-80381-0-69482900-1316692652.jpg

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Blackblue

Could you blow up the front few cap badges Shortie? Could be a number of units or Corps. Its the general shape of the Royal Engineers or possibly East Lancashire Regiment.

If this was taken in 1914 then he must have been serving for some time pre war. If he was a Corporal by 1914 and had a job in 1911 then he must have been a rejoining regular or a member of the Territorial Force (Army Reserve).

It looks like there is a Lieutenant Colonel and an RSM in the photo so I am guessing this is a photo of battalion headquarters staff.

Any children born during the war as birth certificate may give a clue to his unit?

Where was he living in 1911?

Rgds

Tim D

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dundeesown

I`ll go for Royal Engineers,this may be him Spr.Richard G Smith 320148 & WR507855.

Gary.

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Blackblue

I see this has been loaded on Ancestry....

post-1563-0-00435500-1316695624.jpg

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Rob B

I go with the Royal Engineer option. The officers behind him might have worn the collar dogs with Tyne rather than Ubique.

Rob

PS Interstingly, well for me! my Grandfather was Robert Geddes Spence, whose father was a Director of a ship builder on Tyneside.

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Stebie9173

If it is any help the WR/ number of Spr. Richard G Smith 320148 & WR/507855 belongs to the Inland Waterways & Docks department of the Royal Engineers rather than the railways section, which would fit quite well.

The photo is too pixellated to make out either way but I think the Sergeants have the R.E. grenades above their stripes.

I will try and have a closer look at that number.

Steve.

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Shortie

Wow, thank you everyone, I didn't expect such a fast reply!

Richard was living in Tynemouth in 1911. He was a shipyard crane driver before the war [in Tynemouth] and after he moved on to his fathers [Joseph SMITH] profession of diver.

Richards last child Charles Edward SMITH was born in 1915 so I guess I'll have to send for that certificate.

Yes, the photo on Ancestry is him.

I have attached a crop of the front few faces but it's not very clear.

The inland waterways and docks does seem to fit, thankyou.

I can see I have some more digging to do, GRO forst I think,

thank you all again I will keep you posted,

Shortie [Gabriella McCree ~ lincolnshire]

post-80381-0-58961400-1316711572.jpg

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Shortie

A little bit more info:

In 1891 the seven year old Richard is living in Dover with his parents, his father is a harbour diver.

In 1901 Richard is living with his parents in Tynemouth and is a general labourer.

In 1903 Richard married Sarah Linklater Hunter in North Shields and is a Crane Driver.

Bon chance,

Shortie.

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Blackblue

The man far right in the middle looks like he may be wearing Royal Engineers bomb above his stripes...as worn by RE Serjeants.

Rgds

Tim D

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Shortie

Morning all,

I have sent for Richards youngest sons birth certificate so fingers crossed!

I have been through 2,042 service records on Ancestry but none of them seem correct.

I ordered the medal card for 320148/WR507855 from TNA, it was extremely poor quality and didn't show the back of the card but did have the roll/page references for the Victory and British medals.

I phoned The National Archives and spoke to a rather 'tart' lady who told me searching was expensive and they probably wouldn't find his service records, if I hadn't on Ancestry, either. She said I could not find out anything from the medal roll. Surely the roll would have extra information which confirms which R G SMITH has been awarded the medal/s?

I did however find this on Ancestry:

Medal card, SMITH R.G., 2/cpl, 40118 receiving the 15 Star.

Could this also be my Richard? Did someone suggest he was a corporal? Was that because of the two stripes on his arm [please excuse my ignorance]?

I think I have done all I can for now,

Regards, Shortie.

p.s. I also found the medal card for 320148/WR507855 on Ancestry and it is beautiful quality.

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Stebie9173

The medal roll probably wouldn't have any deatils of units served with but it WOULD probably have his full name. If it shows Geddes as his middle name then it will almost certainly be him because the name looks virtually unique.

The same applies to all other Richard G Smiths of course, however the Second Corporal has a second Medal card showing him as a Reginald.

Steve.

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Shortie

Thank you Steve, that's one more to cross off my list.

Do you know if I can only access the rolls if I go down to London to the archives?

Shortie

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Stebie9173

While I was at the NA yesterday I quickly ordered up the medal roll for Richard G Smith, Royal Engineers 320148 & WR/507855, and it unfortunately doesn't show his middle name just Richard G. Smith. However, it does show him as an acting Corporal at the end of the war - which is rather promising.

I have a photo of the medal roll page if you want it.

Steve.

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Shortie

I would love a copy of the medal roll page, thankyou. Do I send you a pm and give you my e-mail that way?

If this R G Smith was an acting Corporal does that mean he wasn't necesarily in the forces before the war as mine is on all the preceeding censuses in a 'normal' job?

Many thanks, Shortie

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Stebie9173

Before the war a Corporal would have to served for quite a few years before he got a promotion. With the Army being so big in the First World War it meant that men were promoted quickly - and generally a good aptitude for the job and decent leadership skills would mean you could get promoted in a short time. Also, at the end of the war when some of the long serving Corporals and Sergeants were being demobilised other men who had served less time would step into their shoes and do the job as Corporal for the months before their own Demob.

The Royal Engineers was a little less "cut-throat" on promotions - a lot of infantry promotions were literally "dead men's shoes"...

By the end of the war the vast majority of Corporals and Sergeants were men who had been civilians prior to the war.

Steve.

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Stebie9173

Shortie has kindly sent me a copy of the photograph which is a lovely photo of ROYAL ENGINEERS.

Here is Corporal Richard Geddes Smith:

RichardGeddesSmithRE.jpg

The cap badge is definitely the Royal Engineers, and his RE shoulder titles confirm that. So, 100% Royal Engineers.

All the other men have the same cap badge and the Sergeants have the grenade above their three sergeants stripes typical of RE.

As far as I can identify we have:

Back row, five Sergeants (including one very distinguished grey haired gentleman) and an unknown rank on the right as we look.

Middle Row, from left as we look: Corporal (2 stripes), unknown (but with some pre-war(?) medals, Captain (three pips on shoulder), Major (crown and three stripes on cuff), Second Lieutenant (one pip and one stripe on cuff), Warrant Officer (CSM, crown on cuff), Company Quartermaster Sergeant (crown and 3 stripes)

2nd row sitting on ground: Corporal, Corporal, Lance-Corporal, Company Quartermaster Sergeant, Sergeant

Front row: Lance-Corporal, Corporal (R G Smith), Corporal

For officers rank was shown on the cuff until about 1917 after which rank could be officially worn on the shoulder epaulettes, so the photo would seem to be after 1917, and fits with the 1918 date on the back of the photo.

Incidentally, the collar badges look like the normal RE grenade and "ubique" scroll to me. What was the difference on the Tyneside ones?

In theory this leaves us with two options:

Smith, Richard

Cameron Highlanders S/11763 Private

Royal Engineers 139118 Corporal 2nd

and

Smith, Richard G

Royal Engineers 320148 Sapper

Royal Engineers WR507855 Sapper

The first is the only Richard Smith card that shows a rank of Corporal, and the second we know has a docks connection and also is an acting Corporal.

HOWEVER, the second card doesn't show his acting Corporal rank (it is only on the medal roll) so it does leave the possibility that any of the 36 Richard Smith (excluding any with wrong middle initials) could have an acting rank of Corporal shown on the Medal Roll.

Edit: I've just realised that the first option is not an option - 139118 Second Corporal Richard Smith was killed in action on 4-10-1918.

Steve.

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Shortie

Many thanks for your Amazing work Steve!!!

Some bad news now,

I just received my Richard's youngest son's December 1915 birth certificate and it has him down as Ordnance Works Craneman.

Could my R G Smith have joined after 1916 and still have been an acting Corporal?

Shortie

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Stebie9173

In short, yes, he could still have been an acting Corporal.

Regardless, we know that Richard Geddes Smith was a civilian in December 1915 (though he may already have volunteered) and a Corporal in 1918, so he must have been promoted in that time!

I have been having a look at the probable enlistment and dates of deployment overseas of the men with similar Waterways & Railways (WR/) numbers. There is a definite grouping of the men by numbers, their new WR/ numbers (introduced in mid-1918)following their old numbers.

From looking at similar enlistments where service records survive (e.g. 320297 / 507884 Robert William Huskinson, and 320470 / 507893 Hubert Bevins, amongst others) we can conclude that 320148 Richard G Smith was probably enlisted at the end of July/beginning of August 1917 and went to France on 8th September 1917.

Looking at other enlistments at that time (but not those who were renumbered in the same 507xxx sequence) there seems to be alarge group of men specifically enlisted for their docks and waterways expertise, with men both being enlisted from Britain and from the USA/Canada - amongst the list of previous trades of these men are stevedores, deckhands, ships mates, carpenters, and a motor boat operator.

Again, it is not conclusive, but Richard Geddes Smith would appear to be one of the type of men who would be recruited amongst those listed above.

It may be that, working at an Ordnance factory as a crane operator in the Uk, he may have enlisted so that the army could use the same expertise in France.

Steve.

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Stebie9173

I've had a quick check through the online records and have discounted the following as likely to be your Richard SMith for various reasons (surviving records, deaths, going overseas before the end of 1915 when we know he was a civilian, being discharged before 1917):

RichardGeddesSmithREdiscountedpossibles.jpg

This leaves 13 "possibles" of which the one highlighted in green is my favourite option, especially considering that we know he was a Corporal or Acting Corporal at some point:

RichardGeddesSmithREpossibles.jpg

Incidentally the Tyne Electrical Engineers, based at Cliffords Tower, North Shields used the post-1917 numbers between 465001 and 470000, of which none of the above fall into that sequence. None of the men on the photo show any evidence of being Territorial Royal Engineers, which may rule out possibles numbers 1, 2 and 3 already!

Steve.

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Shortie

Hello Steve, this is amazing, I feel as though we're [you are] so close now.

I have discovered Richard left a will, I'm hoping he left his medals to one of his sons [although there may not be specific info] you never know, I'll let you know when it arrives,

thank you once again, Shortie.

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Shortie

I'm still waiting for Richards Will but I don't hold out much hope of there being anything useful as far as his Army career goes.

Another thought I've had is to check Absent Voters lists, I understand that rank and regiment were given [if you can find your ancestor].

Does anyone know if I can access them for Tynemouth online as a quick search on Google suggests not?

Gabriella

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Shortie

Hello all,

I'm afraid Richard died intestate so no Will.

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this topic. I may not have found Richard Geddes Smith's service records but never the less I have learnt so much and you have all been extremely helpful.

I will follow up on the absentee voters list and look into the regimental museum he is most likely to be associated with, any more tips would be appreciated but I think we may have come to the end of this one.

Thank you all once again and I look forward to my next post, watch this space!!!

Gabriella McCree, nee Smith

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