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Lost service records


johnboy
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I have tried a forum search but not really got the answer. I have found 2 medal cards for 2 relatives on Ancestry. But no service records. Is it common to have some records but not all?

I realise that probably records were held by different offices but were all records of a soldier eventually all filed together?

And one more, one of the cards shows no date for entry in theatre of war and the other one shows a date about a month after the battalion arrived in Boulogne.

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Hi there,

The collection of medal cards is more or less intact, They are simply index cards to the medal rolls. I believe that only about 30-40% of the service and pension records in total exist, even in burnt form.

Where there is no date of entry, it indicates that the man went abroad after entitlement to a 1914 or 1914/15 star and so the date wasn't recorded. That is to say, he went abroad after 31/12/1915. In the case of the last man you mention, presumably he was part of a later draft of men who supplemented the strength of the battalion (or the medal rolls may show that he actually went abroad with another battalion and was later transferred).

These are only things that I have picked up on this forum, and no doubt someone much cleverer will correct me if I haven't got it quite right..

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Thanks IPT

In the case of the last man you mention, presumably he was part of a later draft of men who supplemented the strength of the battalion (or the medal rolls may show that he actually went abroad with another battalion and was later transferred).

No mention of tranfer,He was in a service battalion which I presumed would have been up to full strength. 11th [service] Bn Royal Fusiliers.

I have a copy of the war diary and will look at the date for any new arrivals.

Is the theatre of war given as the date they landed in France or from the time they reached Div/ Brigade HQ ?

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The theatre of war date is as good as the clerks who recorded it. However it is generally reliable within a day. I have seen men given the date of disembarkation for the Western Front, or the date of landing the following day, who clearly travelled in one unit where the wd shows that they were on a single ship.

Keith

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Thanks Keith.

I have checked the WD and for the date given there is no mention of any drafts. The 11th , according to WD left in 2 lots on the same day

both on the same ship. They arrived Boulogne 27/7/15. They arrived at the trenches 14/8/15 with 2 coys in front line. My man is shown as being in theatre 17/8/15 [medal card]. He has only one service number. Without a service record it is hard to know if he was in one of the two coys that went to the trenches 3 days later.

Is there a way of finding a soldier in the 11th with a similar service number so I can see what date is given on their medal card?

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You can search using medal numbers and regiment only, both on the National Archives site (for MICs) and on Ancestry for MICS and service/pension records or silver war badge records. Patience and perseverance is often essential with Ancestry.

Keith

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Patience and perseverance is often essential with Ancestry

That's why they only give 14 day free trial!!

I will post again if I get anymore info.

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You can get free access at most local studies libraries.

Keith

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Give us a bit more information to work on, such as a name and number, and we can perhaps provide some guidance.

I will add that if he served with the Royal Fusiliers throughout then the Medal Roll (at Kew) will definitely be worth checking as that should show all battalions, with dates, that he served overseas with, the Royal Fusiliers' Rolls are good like that.

Steve

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I'll also add that I've checked my DB of 25th Royal Fusiliers and have identified three men who were later posted to the battalion having previously gone overseas with the 11th Royal Fusiliers.

#7959 Frederick James SMITH proceeded overseas on 26th July 1915 (so with the original battalion).

#11933 Frederick RAVENSCROFT proceeded overseas on 17th August 1915 (so as per your man).

#7248 Ernest BULLOUGH proceeded overseas on 26th August 1915.

It's therefore possible that at least two other drafts of men went over to the 11th Royal Fusiliers, after the initial battalion, within the space of a month.

Steve

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On 10/31/2013 at 10:02, johnboy said:

Thanks Keith.

I have checked the WD and for the date given there is no mention of any drafts. The 11th , according to WD left in 2 lots on the same day

both on the same ship. They arrived Boulogne 27/7/15. They arrived at the trenches 14/8/15 with 2 coys in front line. My man is shown as being in theatre 17/8/15 [medal card]. He has only one service number. Without a service record it is hard to know if he was in one of the two coys that went to the trenches 3 days later.

Is there a way of finding a soldier in the 11th with a similar service number so I can see what date is given on their medal card?

Johnboy.

Edit: I think Steve E's suggestion is spot on.

Lots of War diaries failed to record reinforcement drafts, so it is worth double-checking against other sources. Typically the unit histories were written using the War Diary as the primary material, so any omission in the War Diary would be replicated in the history.

If one is trying for example to rebuild the flow of reinforcements from the War Diaries, typically the periodic totals are at odds with the daily War Diary entries. Having transcribed seven divisions' worth of diaries I can say with a certain degree of confidence that this was very common. By way of example, I am working on the BEF in 1914 at present using the War Diaries and the published histories and typically first and second drafts for the line Infantry and the Guards were sent within days of the main body. One often sees One Officer and 93 ORs (or a multiple thereof) in the early diaries, which I believe was a prescribed number that quickly was forgotten as casualties outstripped even the worst of expectations. I would go as far as to say that if a War Diary did not mention reinforcement drafts early on, then they very likely just omitted to record it. It is worth checking the diaries of the units in the same brigade as the drafts usually were coordinated at a level higher than Regimental level for obvious logistical reasons.

Anything is possible with MICs as they are always susceptible to human error in recording and transcribing. The honest answer is that you might never know, but with some research you might be able to weigh up the probabilities and make an educated and informed guess whether his MIC had the wrong date. For example, if you researched the MICs of all the men in his unit and he was the only man with that date of entry, there is a good chance it is an error. However, if there were say dozens of men with the same date of entry, it would suggest a draft. The short-cut is to search SDGW or CWGC data for 11th Bn men killed in the months after July 1915 and check the MICs of the sample. It is unlikely that the whole of a reinforcement draft remained unscathed.

The other way to double-check if there was a reinforcement draft is to look at the Brigade and Divisional (Admin) War Diaries as often the drafts were recorded at this level. It is worth remembering that the (early) New Army diaries were generally speaking less meticulous than the Regular unit War Diaries. I have seen on dozens of occasions drafts recorded at one level and the same draft missed at others. As a general rule the Div war diaries are best as they had the job of processing the mass of reinforcements. Having said that I have seen a draft of over 600 men completely missed from Bde and Bn war diaries.

Good luck with your research.

MG

Edited by Guest
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I see you give your location as "Londonish". Kew has the lot if you can get there. Virtually every surviving war diary, all the medal rolls etc. if you tale your laptop, all the downloads that cost £3.36 such as sets of war diaries are free to download using the NA wi-fi and electricity. That means that you can concentrate on original records, diaries such as Martin mentions - not many if any above battalion level are digitised. And rule one, is prepare, rule two is take your camera. Every desk in the reading rooms has access to power.

Anything on Ancestry that comes from the National Archives, including all service records etc., is free at Kew. If you are unfortunate enough to be still at work, they do open on Saturdays.

Keith

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Thanks for the advice MG.

His medal card states 11th RF..no sign of a transfer.

I have found soldier with date of entry to theatre shown as the day they left for Folkestone. They arrived Boulogne the following day.

The WD mentions drafts coming in at later dates with numbers as low as 8OR.

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Thanks Keith. But if the records are lost is there any point in going to Kew.?

I have the war diary and Division history and medal card. There appears to be no service record at TNA or Ancestry. Or have they not all been digitised?

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If you have searched Ancestry thoroughly and there is no service record, then Kew won't help. For the items mentioned in other posts, brigade and divisional war diaries, and of course the medal rolls, then Kew is the only repository.

Keith

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The Bde War Diary and the Division War Diaries and the medal rolls will all be at Kew and not on Ancestry. None have been digitised and if you really want to be certain, this is I think going to be as close as you can get with the available free information. Don't bother asking TNA to make copies of the documents as this rarely works, more so given their limited resources and massive digitisation plans. All the War Diaries are back in circulation as of 24th Aug 2013. A trip to Kew might provide all the answers. MG

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His medal card states 11th RF..no sign of a transfer.

The Medal Card won't show a transfer between battalions, you need to get to Kew and look at the Medal Roll. As an example #11933 Frederick RAVENSCROFT proceeded overseas on 17th August 1915, as already stated in an earlier post (you're welcome by the way :glare: ), and his MIC only shows 11/Royal Fusiliers. The actual Medal Roll also shows he later served with the 25/Royal Fusiliers and includes dates served overseas with both battalions.

Steve

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Hi Johnboy,

You also need to bear in mind that there may be a clerical error on the MIC. I have a relative shown as first arrival in France June 1915 who I know from a separate source was wounded at Ypres in February 1915 and hospitalised in UK. The MIC presumably records his second arrival in France. As his service record was destroyed there is no way of clarifying the issue.

I have another relative - pre war regular - who arrived in France in August 1914 - 10 days after his Battalion embarked. His MIC accords with his service recoird so I take it as an accurate MIC entry.

Steve Y

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Once again I have come to realise that one should not become complacent when one appears to have come to a dead end in research about an individual. Twice now in the past week I have found information about relatives as a result of reading threads that I almost didn't bother to read because I thought I knew all about that avenue of research. Today, I have another way of checking information that I had not previously thought to check. Then there are people like Steve who take the trouble of looking up other members of a Bn. in something that he has access to which may not be available to everyone.

The Forum never ceases to amaze me.

Hazel

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Thanks for all your help. I'll keep searching.

I have a strong feeling that he did not transfer to 11th. His MIC has 11th on it, the war diary describes the battle he was killed in and he he commemorated at Thiepval. The battle was at Thiepval 26/9/16.

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I have a strong feeling that he did not transfer to 11th. His MIC has 11th on it, the war diary describes the battle he was killed in and he he commemorated at Thiepval. The battle was at Thiepval 26/9/16.

I don't believe anybody was suggesting he transferred to the 11/RF but possibly from it at a later date, all of which is irrelevant as you obviously know he was killed with the 11/RF in September 1916. My earlier suggestion of checking the Medal Roll itself is probably superfluous now as I rather suspect it will only show overseas service with the 11/RF between 17/08/1915 and 26/09/1916. It may though still give you a good handle on whether or not a largish draft went overseas on 17th August.

Steve

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I don't believe anybody was suggesting he transferred to the 11/RF but possibly from it at a later date, all of which is irrelevant as you obviously know he was killed with the 11/RF in September 1916. My earlier suggestion of checking the Medal Roll itself is probably superfluous now as I rather suspect it will only show overseas service with the 11/RF between 17/08/1915 and 26/09/1916. It may though still give you a good handle on whether or not a largish draft went overseas on 17th August.

Steve

The more searching I do the more complicated it becomes!

I have found a couple of men who died same day and who are given as 11RF yet their medal cards 8th RF no mention of transfer. Found 1 with 17/8/15 . I'll have break from it today and start again tomorrow!

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..... who are given as 11RF yet their medal cards 8th RF no mention of transfer.

Because they weren't transferred. Men moving units within a regiment/corps were posted. As Steve has mentioned a couple of times, Medal Index Cards will not give you the detail you are looking for. MICs show transfers to other regiment/corps but not with specific unit details, while the actual medal roll will show postings, with some giving dates of postings but these are in the minority.

Stuart

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I have checked the WD and for the date given there is no mention of any drafts. The 11th , according to WD left in 2 lots on the same day

both on the same ship. They arrived Boulogne 27/7/15. They arrived at the trenches 14/8/15 with 2 coys in front line. My man is shown as being in theatre 17/8/15 [medal card]. He has only one service number. Without a service record it is hard to know if he was in one of the two coys that went to the trenches 3 days later.

Is there a way of finding a soldier in the 11th with a similar service number so I can see what date is given on their medal card?

I've had a bit of a dig around in the Ancestry records and have found a record for 11876 Herbert James Thorns, 11th Royal Fusiliers which shows he embarked 17th August 1915 and joined the battalion on 22nd August 1915.

Steve

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Thanks Steve. Was there a service record?

I found 11705 J McAuliffe 17.8.15 11Th RF so it seems the date could be correct, So far I have been unable to find service records for them.

If the medal cards state 8th RF why are they shown on memorial as 11th RF? I understand that they were transferred but it must have confused NOK who thought their relative was elsewhere.

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