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Robert Gilchrist Allan RAMC 4934


Justinth

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Hello everyone

I have been researching Robert Gilchrist Allan Private RAMC 4934 for my wife (his great-granddaughter), her father and for my son.

The problem is that one of his two MIC cards (he has two, the one with the 1914/15 star reference mis-spells his name as Allen) has his date for arrival in theatre as 5th January 1915 (1 France), but the only two RAMC units which went out around this time (not on the same date as written on the MIC card) were the 28th Division Motor Units on the 7th January 1915 and No 6 Motor Ambulance Convoy on 15/16th January 1915. I know that the MIC card with the correct spelling of Allan is also his as I checked the Victory Medal Roll and it had his full name (there are no other Robert Gilchrist Allans).

According to his SWB badge entry Robert Gilchrist Allan (the correct spelling of Allan) enlisted on 10th March 1910, which makes sense as by April 1911 Irish Census he is part of the RAMC detachment at Kinsale in Cork Ireland (which I have read was part of the pre-Great War No 16 Company RAMC Cork (Irish Command)).

http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Cork/Kinsale_Urban/Kinsale/423103/

The SWB entry also says that he was discharged from the army on 22nd June 1915, according to paragraph 392 xvi of King's Regulation (I have read that this is for sickness). This would fit in with the story passed down within the family that he was gassed causing him to leave the army and looking at the dates I have presumed sometime from the 22nd April and Second Ypres. The other mispelled card has him as discharged on 26.2.1915 (I have also checked the medal roll for this entry) and I have presumed given the SWB entry and the story of gassing that this, along with the spelling mistake is an error made by a careless clerk). In 1925 he died at the age of 36 (he was born in 1889 in Hamilton, Lanarkshire) from pleurisy in Kinsale Ireland (the pleurisy would fit in with damage to his lungs).

In 1912 he married a local Irish girl and in 1913 his residence is still in Kinsale (on both certificates he is listed as a soldier, the 1911 census showing that he was in the RAMC). I found out today via Irish birth certificates for his twin daughters that by 14th November 1914 he is listed as being resident in Woolwich (as far as his wife was aware when the certificate was registered in Kinsale Ireland on that date, plus the certificate states his regiment as RAMC), where I have found out from the Medical History Vol 1 that there was a big RAMC depot and hospital.

By 1916 on the birth certificate of another son he is listed as 'general labourer and army pensioner'. I have looked in both the pension records and the army service records available on Ancestry and failed to find him (looking under both spellings of Allan) and also just under Robert Allan (he was born Gilchrist Allan and evidently didnt like it(I have also looked under Gilchrist Allan/Allen). The London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes also have no mention of Robert.

We do not have any army papers and it is only through public records that we found out that he was in the RAMC (interestingly my wife's deceased grandfather, Robert's son was a naval nurse through the second world war until leaving the Navy in the early 1970s).

I am now stumped as to where else to look. I know that there is great expertise here and it may be that his name has popped up in some other context when researching the RAMC, perhaps on a 1915 unit roll.

I would be really grateful for any other ideas as to where I could look for further leads or any information.

Thank you

Justin

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Hello Justin,

It's possible, if not probable, that his service and pension records were destroyed by fire in World War 2.

You have covered everything I can think of. You might consider looking at the actual medal rolls at Kew, but that means a trip to London or paying a researcher (or begging a favour from a Forum member!)

Medal rolls don't tell you an awful lot but do have some information. Have a look on the Long Long Trail: http://www.1914-1918.net/grandad/medals.htm

Have you looked at the newspaper archives for Kinsale? His gassing or Silver War Badge might have been reported.

Have a look on the RAMC website, they do a lot of research on WW1 themselves:http://www.ramc-ww1.com/research.php

I don't know what else to suggest, sorry.

Best of luck,

Sandie

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Justin

The original Medal Rolls for RAMC may not show a unit served on first landing. From the medal references on the MIC you can find which Ledgers (one for the BW and V Medals) and one for the 14-15 Star) in the WO329 series the Rolls will be filed. It would then need to be scrutinised in situ at Kew.

Your medic could have been posted to a unit already in France and needing extra staff,or to a CCS or Hospital. My quick scrutiny showed that only 28 Division landed in Jan 1915 and that around the 18th. The dates of landing are usually quite accurately posted.

Sotonmate

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Thanks to Sandie and Sotonmate for their advice. You have both confirmed what I had begun to think, that as Robert Gilchrist Allan's service and pension records had not survived and I have looked at the two relevant medal rolls, the SWB roll, found out the embarkation dates in 1915 for RAMC units and looked through the relevant volumes of the Medical History; that it is unlikely that through looking at the records at Kew that there is more to be found out. I suppose that he might be mentioned in one of the War Diaries for the various RAMC units on the Western Front for the period he served (I agree with Sotonmate that his date of embarkation means that he was probably joining an existing unit so I would look in the war diaries for units that embarked between August 1914 to December 1914), but I also know that this is unlikely as he was not an officer. Sandie, I agree with you that local newspapers may also be a good place to look, as perhaps his parent reported his return wounded to their local newspaper in Scotland or possibly their may be some mention of him in a Cork or Kinsale newspaper. I will look to see if runs of either sets of newspapers are available at the British Library. This leads me onto a query about Kings Regulations which I will post as a separate topic:

In 1915 if you were discharged due to sickness under paragraph 392 xvi of King's Regulations (Robert Gilchrist Allan RAMC 4934 arrived in France on 5th January 1915 and was discharged 26th June 1915)

1) What was the standard process for this (in the case of my wife's great-grandfather) he was probably discharged due to chlorine gas damage to his lungs, so he must have been injured from the 22nd April 1915 onwards)?

2) Would the discharge normally be decided by an officer in theatre or the UK?

3) Was there a standard time period (number of weeks) betweeen the injury and discharge?

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Justin

I would say that he almost certainly returned to the UK after his exposure to gas,on the basis that treatment for this would have been best accessed at home. The Medical Staff in the UK would then make periodic assessment of his condition and would have come up with the decision that he wouldn't improve for a return to duty. This would have almost certainly have been the final decision of an Army Medical Officer.I have not seen any records for discharge due to gas specifically,but imagine that once you were diagnosed as unlikely to recover fully you would be discharged to continuing care and a pension. The discharges I have seen for wounded,again dependant upon the severity and fitness rating,would be a longer process where it would be desirable to retain the soldier's service in any one of a range of lower fitness categories,so we would see a wounded soldier taking longer to be assessed in the hope that he would eventually return to A1 fitness. If he didn't he might find himself in a Labour Corps / Defence Corps etc where he was not required to serve as a front line fighter.

Sotonmate

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Justin

I would say that he almost certainly returned to the UK after his exposure to gas,on the basis that treatment for this would have been best accessed at home. The Medical Staff in the UK would then make periodic assessment of his condition and would have come up with the decision that he wouldn't improve for a return to duty. This would have almost certainly have been the final decision of an Army Medical Officer.I have not seen any records for discharge due to gas specifically,but imagine that once you were diagnosed as unlikely to recover fully you would be discharged to continuing care and a pension. The discharges I have seen for wounded,again dependant upon the severity and fitness rating,would be a longer process where it would be desirable to retain the soldier's service in any one of a range of lower fitness categories,so we would see a wounded soldier taking longer to be assessed in the hope that he would eventually return to A1 fitness. If he didn't he might find himself in a Labour Corps / Defence Corps etc where he was not required to serve as a front line fighter.

Sotonmate

Thank you so much for this information Sotonmate, this really adds to my understanding of the process he would have been through. The tough thing for him was that he was like many soldiers disabled as the result of the Great War faced with living on a pension and at the same time raising children (in his case four young children born between 1913-1916 plus another born in 1919). Family lore said he never recovered from the injuries received and hence the pleurisy finished him off in 1925.

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