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Remembered Today:

Identifying a Regiment from a Soldier's Number


Anneca

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If I have a soldier's number and the Corps in which he served, it is possible to identify which Regiment he was in?

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Many thanks for your reply. He was my Grandfather, born 1874. He joined the Army on 20 August 1914 and was in the Middle East from June 1916 until demobbed on 20 August 1919. His number was 015387, his medal states he was in the Army Ordnance Corp, and his name was John McCartney.

Quite possibly even down to which battalion here was in. What details do you have ?

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The Army Ordance Corps was his unit/regiment.Some info on the links below.john

http://www.1914-1918.net/aoc.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Army_Ordnance_Corps

Someone may be able to pinpoint what company the number was alocated to as i think the corps was organized in companies rather than Battalions.john

Edited by munster
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Probably not at all straightforward to identify company. Looking at Soldiers Died in the Great War, the man with the nearest number - 015353, died on 3 July 1918, serving in Italy with 68th Coy. 015200 served with 2 Medium Workshop in the UK, and died on 17 May 1917.

Of course, the medal roll at Kew may hold the information (but often tends not do so when it's a corps, rather than regiment)

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Hello John (Munster) and John Hartley, and thank you both for replying. My Grandfather survived the Great War to live on to 1952. I have his MIC on which is RAOC, no company, battalion, etc. I maybe wrong but I thought at the time of the Great War the structure of the Army was -

A number of Corps, a Corp made up of a number of Divisions, an Infantry Division made up of Brigades, an Infantry Brigade made up of Battalions, an Infantry Battalion made up of 4 Companies and an Infantry Company made up of 4 Platoons. Maybe this is not the case and I am wrong about but it is why I am surprised to hear the AOC was a Unit/Regiment rather than a Corp. Please feel free to correct me on this.

Thanks as well for the links. I have seen the one on The Long Long Trail as I tried to find information from that about his Unit/Regiment but it didn't seem to give me answers, or perhaps it's me that's got confused. Thank you both again for the information and for replying.

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In this case corps is the unit just as in Royal Army Medical Corps. The LLT Page is a bit skimpy that is why i gave you the other one.You are right in what you say about the make up of divisions etc just allow that corps has a couple of meanings.john

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anneca

From the medal references on the MIC I can say that the original Medal Roll is filed at Kew in Ledger WO329/2114 page 1954. It can only be read in situ there. As John says you are unlikely to find which unit he served in from that,but it's worth a look if only to know that it doesn't have that detail !

You might be lucky enough to find an Absent Voters List for 1918 for his home town. There it might very well show the unit he served at that time,though it would not necessarily be the one he served when he first landed in a war zone. BUT,(!) AVLs are also thin on the ground.

You could also see if there is any mention of him in a news archive of the time,maybe a note shows he shipped out and gives a unit.

Good Luck !

Sotonmate

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John, thank you for this information, much appreciated. I hadn't known that the Corps had several meanings.

In this case corps is the unit just as in Royal Army Medical Corps. The LLT Page is a bit skimpy that is why i gave you the other one.You are right in what you say about the make up of divisions etc just allow that corps has a couple of meanings.john

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Sotonmate, Many thanks for this information, it is kind of you to go to so much trouble. It's a pity I can't view the original Medal Roll at National Archives in Belfast. However this might spur me on to think of a break in London some time and visit Kew. I hadn't thought about an Absent Voters List for 1918 and I'll try my library for any news archives of that time. Many thanks again.

anneca

From the medal references on the MIC I can say that the original Medal Roll is filed at Kew in Ledger WO329/2114 page 1954. It can only be read in situ there. As John says you are unlikely to find which unit he served in from that,but it's worth a look if only to know that it doesn't have that detail !

You might be lucky enough to find an Absent Voters List for 1918 for his home town. There it might very well show the unit he served at that time,though it would not necessarily be the one he served when he first landed in a war zone. BUT,(!) AVLs are also thin on the ground.

You could also see if there is any mention of him in a news archive of the time,maybe a note shows he shipped out and gives a unit.

Good Luck !

Sotonmate

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How do you know the dates of service?

Do you have some documents?

Tim D

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Hi Tim. Yes I have a note in my late Father's handwriting giving his Father's date of joining as 20 August 1914. I also have a list of the places my Grandfather was posted. It is in my Grandfather's handwriting and practically illegible now but thankfully many years ago my sister made a copy of this in typewritten form. It begins in Tidworth, England, 4 June 1916, then Devonport, England, 5 June 1916, Alexandria, Egypt 16/17June-22 June 1916. It gives the dates and places he was at in 1917/18 through to Kantara 17 March - 11 August 1919, Port Said 20 August 1919 and Malta 23 August 1919.

How do you know the dates of service?

Do you have some documents?

Tim D

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anneca

Tim has asked what I had suspected,you had more info !!

The dates you show MAY help to reveal more. Is there more after Malta,perhaps a date of leaving there and another for arrival in the UK ? I am thinking of ships which might have carried him/his unit either to Alex or to home in 1919.A long shot,particularly as junior ranked soldiers rarely get named on embarkation lists but there might be something.It will fall apart if there is a collective grouping of soldiers returning home !

There are files at Kew in the WO25 series which might help.

Sotonmate

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anneca

Here some relevant file numbers. A ship leaving Devonport in Jun 1916 will hopefully have a loading and passenger list in file WO25/3545.It will show the destination port(s) also.Just a possibility of identifying,if not a unit,then a draft which if including Officers will hopefully show their unit(s). If nothing else a narrowing down of the possibilities,just have to hope that the drafts aren't allocated to unit on arrival in Egypt !

On the return home voyage in 1919 file WO25/3588 covers overseas sailings for August 1919,not guaranteed that Alexandria will be included but a major movement out zone so should be there.If only moving your man to Malta ( your date posted as 23 Aug 1919 there) it might be possible to pick that up,or if passing through and just stopping there for further pick-ups/drop-offs the same applies.

I am looking at another file near this sequence next week so will try to make time to look at these too.

Sotonmate

Edit:By the way,your man was in Egypt on 20 Sep 1919 so your post which says he was demobbed is unlikely to be true,he would do that on return to the UK and clearing up all the loose ends !

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Sotonmate - My goodness you have some knowledge on this subject of which I am very impressed. Thank you so much for going to so much trouble to help. I am interested to know if I can access the file numbers WO25/3545 and WO25/3588 on the internet which would be great. The last four entries on my Grandfather's log are:

Aleppo - 14 January-13 March 1919, Kantara 17 March - 11 August 1919, "for demob camp, Left demob camp for Port Said 20 August 1919,Malta 23 August 1919. I don't understand how he could still have been in Egypt on 20 September 1919 but, again as I have already said, you are much more knowledgeable than I on this subject. Regarding his Army Service after returning home, all I know, again from my late Father's notes, is that he either 'joined the Reserve' or 'remained in the Army'. Here again I am confused as I wonder if he could have been demobbed but continued to remain in the Army.

Thank you again for taking the time to reply and for your most welcome help.

Anne

anneca

Here some relevant file numbers. A ship leaving Devonport in Jun 1916 will hopefully have a loading and passenger list in file WO25/3545.It will show the destination port(s) also.Just a possibility of identifying,if not a unit,then a draft which if including Officers will hopefully show their unit(s). If nothing else a narrowing down of the possibilities,just have to hope that the drafts aren't allocated to unit on arrival in Egypt !

On the return home voyage in 1919 file WO25/3588 covers overseas sailings for August 1919,not guaranteed that Alexandria will be included but a major movement out zone so should be there.If only moving your man to Malta ( your date posted as 23 Aug 1919 there) it might be possible to pick that up,or if passing through and just stopping there for further pick-ups/drop-offs the same applies.

I am looking at another file near this sequence next week so will try to make time to look at these too.

Sotonmate

Edit:By the way,your man was in Egypt on 20 Sep 1919 so your post which says he was demobbed is unlikely to be true,he would do that on return to the UK and clearing up all the loose ends !

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Now that things have been fleshed out a little what about a couple of searches on SDGW for RAOC men who served at the places and dates named as suggested by John? Were RAOC men in formed RAOC units or generally attached to other formations though?

Unfortunately my SDGW disc doesn't work in my Mac.

Rgds

Tim D

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anneca

Not yet digitised, these files are probably a long way from that,so not online.I will look next week,unless you want to do it yourself at a later date.

Your man would likely have had to join the Reserve for a period,just in case war blew up again and we had to respond quickly. To be in Egypt after 1918 was for a similar reason,they had to be sure that all hostility was over and took the time to withdraw with all the organisations shut down,equipment recovered and shipped out safely.

Your mention of Aleppo (I think that was Syria and part of the Ottoman Empire,our recent enemies at the time) means that he was still out in the sticks in 1919 as far as the MEF was concerned and a long way from Egypt.

Sotonmate

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Hi

i have just checked the pairs medal roll and it shows that your man was transferred to the reserves on 02.10.1919

are you sure about his enlistment date, as his number dates from late 1915, early 1916

there is no sure way of finding out what coy he was in, but going by the CWGC and the info they have for the AOC buriels there are 2 Mobile Work Shops and about 12 coy to choose from, sorry i cant be of more help

Ian

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Sotonmate, I was disappointed to hear these files are not yet digitised and it is so kind of you to offer to have a look, but please do not go out of your way or go to any trouble on my account.

Your explanation of Grandfather probably joining the Reserve after the war in case it blew up again makes total sense and I hadn't thought about that before. As does your explanation of why they were still there well into 1919. I wonder why his log states Malta 23 August 1919 as you seem sure he was in Egypt 20 September of that year, but I'll go with you on this one.

Aleppo appears only once on his log between 14 January and 13 March 1919 and I have several old post cards of there which he brought home. Ferry Post appears twice, firstly for two days in June 1916, then El Ferran from June to mid July and back to Ferry Post 11 July 1916-11 April 1917. He was in Rafa for nearly two months in the summer of 1917, RamAllah at Christmas 1917 and Jerusalem for a couple of weeks in 1918. There are many more dates and places listed, some at which I reckon he made a guess at spelling, but it looks like he was on the move quite a bit between 1916-19. Since you mention Aleppo was in Syria, I would guess the places I have mentioned would also have been in Syria.

Thank you again for your much appreciated input.

Anne

anneca

Not yet digitised, these files are probably a long way from that,so not online.I will look next week,unless you want to do it yourself at a later date.

Your man would likely have had to join the Reserve for a period,just in case war blew up again and we had to respond quickly. To be in Egypt after 1918 was for a similar reason,they had to be sure that all hostility was over and took the time to withdraw with all the organisations shut down,equipment recovered and shipped out safely.

Your mention of Aleppo (I think that was Syria and part of the Ottoman Empire,our recent enemies at the time) means that he was still out in the sticks in 1919 as far as the MEF was concerned and a long way from Egypt.

Sotonmate

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Many thanks for the information Ian. It was kind of you to check this and give me the date of transfer. If Grandfather was still in Egypt on 20 September, as Sotonmate has posted, and perhaps left shortly after that, I would imagine he would not have arrived back home very long before 2 October. My thinking now is that he must have joined the Reserves practically right away on his return.

No, I am not sure about his enlistment date at all. My late Father jotted down notes relating to various things over the years and he had written this date in his notes about his Father's enlistment. I have no evidence to substantiate it at all, but at the same time have no evidence to the contrary.

It is really amazing how even one tiny scrap of information can lead you down various paths of possibilities.

Thank you again for your help.

Anne

Hi

i have just checked the pairs medal roll and it shows that your man was transferred to the reserves on 02.10.1919

are you sure about his enlistment date, as his number dates from late 1915, early 1916

there is no sure way of finding out what coy he was in, but going by the CWGC and the info they have for the AOC buriels there are 2 Mobile Work Shops and about 12 coy to choose from, sorry i cant be of more help

Ian

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anneca

My mistake,20 September should read 20 August 1919 ! Little changes because of it !

Sotonmate

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Hi Tim, I had a search for the disc on SDGW and couldn't believe the cost - £285!! Good suggestion of yours though but I reckon it's too high a price to pay for information that only 'might' be there and I would be confused if the RAOC units had been attached to other formations, which I don't know. Thanks for your help anyway, much appreciated.

Anne

Now that things have been fleshed out a little what about a couple of searches on SDGW for RAOC men who served at the places and dates named as suggested by John? Were RAOC men in formed RAOC units or generally attached to other formations though?

Unfortunately my SDGW disc doesn't work in my Mac.

Rgds

Tim D

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Hi Ann,

Plenty on the forum have the disc.

Incidentally my Grandad was at El-Ferdan between April/June 1916 with the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers, 34th Brigade, 11th Division. The 9th Battalion shipped out on 4 June for Kantara and then onto Alex to depart for the Western Front on 4 July. It was a pretty big camp (I would guess at least Divisional size).

Rgds

Tim D

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anneca

Looking at all the British Divisions and their departure dates from Egypt in 1918/19. In 1919 there seems to have been just two remaining,the 10th (Irish) and the 75th. Each had an HQ element called Assistant Director Ordnance Services. I am thinking that one or the other might have a notation in their War Diary as to the disposal of AOC units in Theatre at that time.

10 Division's Diary WO95/4572 ends in May 1919,so seemingly 75 was the last one to leave. It's Diary WO95/4683 ended during July 1919,and I can't imagine it NOT accounting for all of it's assets. That month is likely to tie in with it shipping out in the following couple of weeks so would fit your man's departure date.This could show the final AOC elements involved and would narrow down,if not identify,a unit for your soldier.

A marked trend of the time was also the "Indianisation" of these Divisions as UK units were released to demob/home and the greater majority of UK artillery units had been replaced by Indian units,which would likely have had their own workshop and maintenance crews.

Sotonmate

Edit: another reason revealed during my meanderings here for why our forces remained into 1919,the locals were restless and so a presence was required.

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Hi Tim

That is amazing both of our Grandfathers being at the same place at the same time in 1916 before yours went on to the Western Front. Did your Grandfather survive and get home safely? You say the place was El-Ferdan. I have it listed as El Ferran but then my Grandfather's writing was faded and I reckon he made a stab at the spelling of places.

Anne

Hi Ann,

Plenty on the forum have the disc.

Incidentally my Grandad was at El-Ferdan between April/June 1916 with the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers, 34th Brigade, 11th Division. The 9th Battalion shipped out on 4 June for Kantara and then onto Alex to depart for the Western Front on 4 July. It was a pretty big camp (I would guess at least Divisional size).

Rgds

Tim D

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