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Guest Simon Bull

Medal Roll Reliability

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Guest Simon Bull

I am researching a soldier whose Victory and War Medal Roll entry says that he was only in the 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regt. The CWGC web site and Soldiers Died in the Great War both say that when he died he was in 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regt.

To add confusion, a newspaper report of his death says that he was in a labour battalion at the time of his death and, as far as I know, neither the 2nd nor the 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regt were ever labour battalions.

There is clear and very definite evidence that he was in fact in the 7th Battalion in 1915. There is no evidence (other than the CWGC and Soldiers Died entries) that he was ever in the 2nd Battalion

My question is, can I rely upon what it says in the Medal Roll (i.e. that there is no mention of any unit other than the 7th Battalion) to infer that it is likely that the CWGC and Soldiers Died are incorrect?

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Patrick ODwyer

I think you do have to be careful with medal rolls. My own grandfather served in one unit in 1915 and another in 1917-1919. All his medals are to the first unit although he was actually a reservist of the second unit. If I didn't know otherwise I wouldn't know from the roll he ever served overseas in the second unit (if you follow me!).

So it may be your man was transferred to 2nd Batt and just attached to the Labour unit. The CWGC make errors too!

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Terry Denham

You cannot take any of these conflicting reports as certain as far as I can see.

Whilst the Medal Roll (I assume you mean the medal roll and not the MIC) should be correct (but so should the other sources!) both CWGC and SDGW also got their info from the military in the first place. It seems odd that they would have the same error as their info came from different sources at different times within the army.

You need further evidence from other sources.

Maybe he was on the strength of one battalion but attached to another. Having said that a '7' and a '2' can be confused especially when hand written.

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Patrick ODwyer

[it seems odd that they would have the same error as their info came from different sources at different times within the army.]

As a matter of interest Terry what were the different sources for each organisation? I always had a sense that the MICs were closely connected with SDGW but is that true?

Also as we are in this box and you know about these things. Is it possible to get a list of marked regimental graves to unknown soldiers and their locations from the CWGC ? ie 'Unknown soldier of the 20th Hussars' for eg

Patrick

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FredJCarss

MIC cards like all other sources are only as accurate as those putting the information on them.

Just last week I obtained a MIC marked KILLED IN ACTION, he was a POW and was repatriated via Holland. Plus a number of other sources proved he was not killed. Other info on the card may apply to his brother who was KIA so I have to view all the content with suspicion.

Fred

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Terry Denham

Patrick

No, you can't get such info from CWGC. (I have tried!)

The details on Unknowns are not computerised - still manually recorded per cemetery. As such they cannot be reproduced in the manner you seek - sadly. In fact even the text for each cemetery on the on-line database is sometimes incorrect in terms of the details it gives of numbers of Unknowns.

There has been a recent thread on the subject of SDGW sources. I seem to remember that each regiment produced the data for its section of the publication.

CWGC's info came from the War Office, Admiralty, Air Ministry, Board of Trade, India Office etc and similar departments in the dominions and colonies. Then, of course, it was augmented by the n-o-k.

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Patrick ODwyer

Thanks Terry,

I feared that would be the case. It is a shame as there is always the possibility that some regimental specialist might be able to identify the person from the position of the grave and others in the cemetery etc. Small chance but who can tell - a small chance perhaps.

Thanks for te information on sources and thanks for the illustration Fred.

Patrick

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steve fuller
I am researching a soldier whose Victory and War Medal Roll entry says that he was only in the 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regt. The CWGC web site and Soldiers Died in the Great War both say that when he died he was in 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regt.

To add confusion, a newspaper report of his death says that he was in a labour battalion at the time of his death and, as far as I know, neither the 2nd nor the 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regt were ever labour battalions.

There is clear and very definite evidence that he was in fact in the 7th Battalion in 1915. There is no evidence (other than the CWGC and Soldiers Died entries) that he was ever in the 2nd Battalion

Hi Simon

My Gt Gramps MIC, Rolls, Dioces wounded list and newspaper cuttings say he was only ever in the 'Beds Reserves', but he was actually in the 1/5th in Gallipoli / Sinai, and was finally KIA in 7th in France. Point being, Id personally 'believe' the cwgc/sdgw and newspapers until proven otherwise, based on the 'case' above (and others I know of).

Re Labour Btns; not personally learned about them in detail, but didnt wounded men who couldnt return to active battalions go into such units? If so, he could have been 7th early on, returned to 2nd after a wound, labour btn after convalescing from another wound where he died? Other than the Labour Btn part, that happened to my man, (and others of course).

Any clues on Northants Roll of Honour, Simon?

Does his MIC state 'dates of entry into theatres' and the like? Could work a bit of the story out from that perhaps, and see whats left to work out afterwards? :huh:

Cheers

Steve

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Guest Hangleton

The accuracy of the transcribers may be a bit suspect too... one of my ancestors is listed as being in the Northumberland Fusiliers, but was actually in the Northamptonshire Regt. I know it's him because I have his SWB paperwork and discharge certificate, giving his number.

I reported it via the PRO "feedback" system.

Ok they're only £3.50 each to download, but it could be a lot of cash if you're taking a chance on a common name and you only know the regiment.

<_<

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Terry Denham

Patrick

Following on from our conversation above....

By coincidence, this morning I received a new print out from CWGC displaying the details of all 'Unknowns' worldwide. The work of computerising the statistics has been accomplished finally - just as we were discussing it!

However, they still cannot break down the figures into known units - just 'army', 'navy' etc. The stats do show nationality though - Oz, NZ etc (UK not broken into Scottish, Welsh etc)

If anyone wants any info from these internal stats, give me a shout.

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Guest Ian Bowbrick

There appear to be more errors on CWGC and SDGW than on the medal rolls when you compare what is written in the service record/war diary and taking them as being the definitive documents.

Given the numbers of servicmen and women there were, I am surprised that not more erros were, particularly in light of the technology to hand at the time.

Ian

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Guest Simon Bull

Pals -- thanks for all the replies. Very helpful of you.

To reply to the points raised:

(1) Terry ESI to mean the medall roll and not the medal index card. I hadn't thought of the point that seven and two are easily confused when handwritten -- I shall reflect upon that further.

(2) Such information as I been able to obtain from the records of the Northamptonshire Regiment is not of much assistance. As I say I can confirm that he was in the 7th Battalion in 1915 but they are no help thereafter.

I am afraid, sadly, that his service records do not seem to survive. However, he had a "complicated" name and I think I am going to do a second search just to check that I did not miss him. He is recorded on the village War Memorial as Henry Smith. He was known as Harry Smith. His full name is George Henry Pearson Smith. Thus one can see that there any number of names under which he might have been filed! I have done one search under which I thought I followed up all of the possibilities, but as I say, I shall have another go.

If this does not bear fruit I suspect that the mystery will turn out to be insoluble.

Thanks again for your help gents.

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