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Remembered Today:

Henry Stanley Gates, Pte 74271, Royal Army Medical Corps


Bob2000

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Henry Stanley Gates (b. 10 Mar 1897), Pte 74271, Royal Army Medical Corps was my great uncle. He died in 1969.

Q1. Please can anyone point me to a source that might help identify a possible date of enlistment based on Henry's service number 74271?

I looked here

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

but I can't interpret it with regards to Henry's number

I don't know how old Henry was when he enlisted. (He was 19 and unmarried in 1916, when the Military Service Act was passed.)

I do know that he lived in Dorset when he joined up.

Q2. In which Battle of the Somme did Henry serve (see below for more info)?

According to my cousin, Henry was tasked with burying bodies which fell in the Battle of the Somme. I wondered which year this might have been.

Uncle Henry has a curious mix of wartime correspondence addresses listed in his mother's old diary:

Pvte H S G 74721
Hut 11 Section B
X (?) Co R A M C <---
Can it be 'X' Co?
no 1 Sling Camp
Salisbury

74271 Pte H. S. G.
RAMC
57 Field Ambulance
19 Div
B. E. F.
France

Henry
118 East Street
<---A small terraced house today.

Bridport
Dorset

Henry
74721
No 1 Provisional Coy
Reserve Batt R. A. M. C
22 Yorkshire Street
<---A small terraced house today. Not a billet?

Blackpool

There are details on 57th Field Ambulance here: RAMC Field Ambulance

This tells me that Henry's unit came under the command of the 19th (Western) Division. This Division, in broad terms, was involved in the following actions:

1916 Battles of the Somme

1917 Third Battles of Ypres

1918 Battles of the Somme

so I suppose I need to know Henry's date of enlistment to figure out where he was.

Also according to my cousin, the spectacles that Henry was wearing were cracked by a sniper's bullet. It was a few days before the end of the war. Henry was unscathed.

Any clues would be most appreciated. Thanks.

post-52799-0-10858400-1385558345_thumb.j

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Henry Stanley Gates (b. 10 Mar 1897), Pte 74271, Royal Army Medical Corps was my great uncle. He died in 1969.

Q1. Please can anyone point me to a source that might help identify a possible date of enlistment based on Henry's service number 74271?

If it helps, I found the MIC of Reuben Coleman, who had a service number one before Henry's. Were they likely to have enlised at the same time/place?

Reuben's MIC has additional information

Edit: Apologies, Henry's number is 74721. Reuben's is 74270. I got my 7s and 2s transposed.

post-52799-0-39571400-1385567044_thumb.j

Edited by Bob2000
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If it's any use - 75720 Cleary James enlisted Dublin October 1915 (999 numbers AFTER Henry's might give you some idea) Ralph.

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If it's any use - 75720 Cleary James enlisted Dublin October 1915 (999 numbers AFTER Henry's might give you some idea) Ralph.

Thank you for your reply. I had a look at the MICS for the neighbouring service numbers on the National Archives:

Alfred William Evans RAMC 74700 (enlist Bristol, died France & Flanders 14-7-16)

*Charles Edwin Sandys RAMC 74701 (enlist 1-11-15 discharge 13-3-19)

Raymond Earl Gibson RAMC 74702

*Henry Harrod RAMC 74704

Charles Abbott RAMC 74705

Arthur Croucher RAMC 74706

William Friend RAMC 74707

Victor F Newman RAMC 74708

Thomas Bailey RAMC 74711

Leslie F Spencer RAMC 74712

Percy J Perks RAMC 74713

Samuel Goulcher RAMC 74714

Harold Evans RAMC 74715 (MIC: Th. of War: France, date of entry: 18-11-15)

Dennis W Bacon RAMC 74716

Clifford W Hill RAMC 74717

Robert Batty RAMC 74718

Clarence Linham RAMC 74719

Henry S Gates RAMC 74721

William Matthews RAMC 74722

*Arthur Moyce RAMC 74723

Frederick W Mercer RAMC 74724

Frederick Adkins RAMC 74725

Lawson S Davis RAMC 74726

John Worthy RAMC 74727 (MIC: enlist 29-10-15 discharge 29-10-18)

Eric Norman Commander RAMC 74728

Cyril Payne RAMC 74729

Richard Douglas Foster RAMC 74730 (MIC: enlist 1-11-15 discharge 17-5-17)

Alfred W Smith RAMC 74731

Arthur Abraham RAMC 74732

Theodore William Davis RAMC 74733 (MIC: enlist 1-11-15 discharge 1-7-16)

William E Wilson RAMC 74735

Frederick Harper RAMC 74736

Bernard Bowron RAMC 74737

*Joseph Bailey RAMC 74739

*Frederick John Tooze RAMC 74740

Those marked * have Pension or Service Record still available. The closest number I could find to uncle Henry's was Arthur Moyce 74723 who enlisted at Hastings on 28 Oct 1915. I can't decipher Moyce's Service Record but it seems that he was attached to 2/151st Indian (?) Infantry on 25 Oct 1918. I don't think that Henry would have joined up at Hastings.

Henry Harrod 74704 who enlisted on 1 Nov 1915 at Bristol and was posted to 'X'Coy (yes!) RAMC at Bulford, Salisbury Plain on 2-11-15. He was discharged with myalgia in 1916 so there is no service history.

Joseph Bailey 74739 enlisted on 1 Nov 1915 at Coventry. I don't think he would have been with my uncle Henry, who was based in the south-west.

Charles Edwin Sandys 74701 enlisted on 1 Nov 1915 at Bristol. He was a stretcher bearer. His unit and Corps was "RAMC 14th FA" (??). he was hit by shrapnel at Passchendaele on 7 Oct 1917. Given that date, he might have seen action at The Battle of Poelcapelle as part of the 19th Division?

I'm not confident that I can make any deductions other than uncle Henry probably enlisted on 1 Nov 1915. At least that would answer my Q1.

Any RAMC experts out there?

Edited by Bob2000
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It’s a bit complicated as some situations differed at bit, but in the main:-


1] It is impossible to know when someone enlisted into the RAMC without a service record because service numbers were given out when they were mobilized.


2] When they were mobilized they were sent to a depot (this could have been the same day as he enlisted but not always). At that point he would have been given a service number.


3] They were then posted to a training Corps (X Coy was a training company)


4] They were then posted to a medical unit either at home or abroad. (your uncle was posted to serve with the 57th Field Ambulance, which was a medical unit set up to serve overseas.


5] He may have served throughout with the 57th Field Ambulance but he could also have been posted or transferred to other medical units within the RAMC.


Your best bet is to now check out the 57th Field Ambulance war diary to see if he gets a mention. Some did mention the men in the unit but some didn’t, so it is the luck of the draw. However it will tell you where the unit was stationed throughout the war, and the battles and engagements they were involved in.



Hope that helps



Barbara

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It’s a bit complicated as some situations differed at bit, but in the main:-

1] It is impossible to know when someone enlisted into the RAMC without a service record because service numbers were given out when they were mobilized.

2] When they were mobilized they were sent to a depot (this could have been the same day as he enlisted but not always). At that point he would have been given a service number.

3] They were then posted to a training Corps (X Coy was a training company)

4] They were then posted to a medical unit either at home or abroad. (your uncle was posted to serve with the 57th Field Ambulance, which was a medical unit set up to serve overseas.

5] He may have served throughout with the 57th Field Ambulance but he could also have been posted or transferred to other medical units within the RAMC.

Your best bet is to now check out the 57th Field Ambulance war diary to see if he gets a mention. Some did mention the men in the unit but some didn’t, so it is the luck of the draw. However it will tell you where the unit was stationed throughout the war, and the battles and engagements they were involved in.

Hope that helps

Barbara

Thanks for the information, Barbara, which was most helpful. Please could I ask a couple of subsidiary questions:

I had a quick look at the National Archives website but couldn't find reference to the 57th F/A diary. Is there anywhere else that might be worth trying?

Is it likely that men with similar service numbers would have served together (at least, at first) or is it just as likely that they would have been separated?

From the information I gave, does it seem likely that uncle Henry enlisted no later than 1915?

Grateful for your help. I am moving forward...

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This is when things get a bit complex because some did and some didn't. On my database I have a complete batch of service numbers to men all serving with the same unit and then suddenly it all changes and the next batch of numbers are for men all serving in completely different units. I think some areas set up temporary depots to recruit men for specific units, and they were trained within the same unit. (I hope that makes sense!)



I noticed that Henry's Medal Index Card doesn't give a date of entry, which indicates that he went abroad in 1916 or later. The 57th Field Ambulance however, arrived in France on 18th July 1915, so it looks as if Henry joined them 'In the field' as a reinforcement.



The war diary for the 57th Field Ambulance is held at the National Archive under the reference number WO 95/2072.

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This is when things get a bit complex because some did and some didn't.

I looked at the birthplaces/addresses of the service numbers around uncle Henry's. They seem predominantly south of England but there is no definite geographical pattern.

This supports your findings, BJay, that the enlisted men turned up at a depot and were given a service number then. (I don't know if this was unique to the RAMC or true for fighting regiments too.)

With regards to chronology, my sense is that if Privates 74720 and 74722 were assigned service numbers on 2nd Nov, then Pte 74721 was probably assigned a service number on the same day. I feel safe in saying that Henry "most probably" joined up in October/November 1915.

The war diary for the 57th Field Ambulance is held at the National Archive under the reference number WO 95/2072.

Thanks for that, I am now awaiting an estimate for a copy from the National Archives

Henry's mum was fastidious about her address book so my sense is that Henry would have been with the 57th FA the whole war as that is the only military address in her book. (Apart from the Blackpool address, which may have been a depot.)

His experience must have been unremittingly grim. The 57th FA was at Passchendaele in 1917. My mum remembers that Henry developed an aversion to blood and anything to do with hospitals (she only knew him when he was older).

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With regards to chronology, my sense is that if Privates 74720 and 74722 were assigned service numbers on 2nd Nov, then Pte 74721 was probably assigned a service number on the same day. I feel safe in saying that Henry "most probably" joined up in October/November 1915.

Henry's mum was fastidious about her address book so my sense is that Henry would have been with the 57th FA the whole war as that is the only military address in her book. (Apart from the Blackpool address, which may have been a depot.)

His experience must have been unremittingly grim. The 57th FA was at Passchendaele in 1917. My mum remembers that Henry developed an aversion to blood and anything to do with hospitals (she only knew him when he was older).

I agree with you that Henry “most probably” joined the RAMC in October/November 1915. There is a strong possibility that he enlisted around that time too, but I have come across many service records where men enlisted two to three days before being mobilized and joining, right up to a couple of months in-between, and also some where they enlisted in 1914 but were not mobilized until 1917 or 1918. I can remember one incident where a newspaper reported that a chap enlisted in 1914 and so his relative was trying to trace his service from 1914, however his service number was in the range of numbers allocated in 1917 and he didn’t actually serve until then - so I think it is important that people are aware of this.

If it helps with the Blackpool address - the RAMC training companies and depots all started to move to Blackpool around the end of 1916, and so Blackpool became the area for mobilizing new medical units, for training, and for organising reinforcement drafts.

Men who served in the RAMC saw the full horrors of war. They may not have been out there fighting but they had to deal with the aftermath - not just trying to heal the most horrendous wounds but also trying to deal with the way it affected some mentally - so I agree with you that it must have been unremittingly grim.

Anyway, good luck with war diary...

Regards

Barbara

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I agree with you that Henry “most probably” joined the RAMC in October/November 1915. There is a strong possibility that he enlisted around that time too, but I have come across many service records where men enlisted two to three days before being mobilized and joining, right up to a couple of months in-between, and also some where they enlisted in 1914 but were not mobilized until 1917 or 1918. I can remember one incident where a newspaper reported that a chap enlisted in 1914 and so his relative was trying to trace his service from 1914, however his service number was in the range of numbers allocated in 1917 and he didn’t actually serve until then - so I think it is important that people are aware of this.

If it helps with the Blackpool address - the RAMC training companies and depots all started to move to Blackpool around the end of 1916, and so Blackpool became the area for mobilizing new medical units, for training, and for organising reinforcement drafts.

Men who served in the RAMC saw the full horrors of war. They may not have been out there fighting but they had to deal with the aftermath - not just trying to heal the most horrendous wounds but also trying to deal with the way it affected some mentally - so I agree with you that it must have been unremittingly grim.

Anyway, good luck with war diary...

Regards

Barbara

Thanks, Barbara. And thank you for your website, which is a great read.

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  • 2 months later...

I agree with you that Henry “most probably” joined the RAMC in October/November 1915.

Just for interest, I have now found out that Henry enlisted on 27 Oct 1915. (Source: An old letter from Henry's son).

He was wounded near Bapaume on 24 March 1918. Demobilised in February 1919.

Thanks to all for their help.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just for interest, I have now found out that Henry enlisted on 27 Oct 1915. (Source: An old letter from Henry's son).

He was wounded near Bapaume on 24 March 1918. Demobilised in February 1919.

Thanks to all for their help.

Have just seen this!

Thank you for posting this information - really helpful and appreciated.

All the best

Barbara

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  • 7 months later...

Thanks, Bob2000 for the MICS for the neighboring RAMC service numbers to your Henry Gates on the National Archives. One of them on the list, Bernard Bowron Pte RAMC 74737, is most likely my 2nd cousin 2x removed Bernard Bowron born 1890 in Foleshill, Coventry. I can't find any record of his WW1 service other that his medal card that shows RAMC and Victory and British medals (No Star). He joined Alexandra Princess of Wales Own Yorkshire Regiment in Coventry in 1910 and after a couple of desertions and convictions was bought out of his enlistment by his father in 1911 for 18 Pounds. If Joseph Bailey 74739 enlisted on 1 Nov 1915 at Coventry, then Bernard probably joined within a day or so of that date.

Regards

Paul

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  • 1 month later...

Just for interest, I have now found out that Henry enlisted on 27 Oct 1915. (Source: An old letter from Henry's son).

He was wounded near Bapaume on 24 March 1918. Demobilised in February 1919.

Thanks to all for their help.

Have just seen this!

Thank you for posting this information - really helpful and appreciated.

All the best

Barbara

Just to follow up in case anyone is still monitoring this thread...

Henry's granddaughter has found his war diary. She has written to me as follows:

My grandad listed the dates of his time in France and his return.

He landed in France on 31/12/15
He was wounded on 24/3/18
He arrived back in England on 28/3/18
He was discharged from hospital on 14/6/18 and then joined the depot in Blackpool. He then went to Ireland(?) to the command depot on 6/7/18.
His travels then took him to Worthing and then Canterbury and then to Prees Heath which was the demobilisation centre.
He returned to Hereford [his home] on 20/2/19
His regiment was the RAMC - unit NO X1 Coy (this info taken from a certificate of employment during the war)
He joined on the 26/10/15 and left on the 18/2/19.
On most of the documents he is referred to as Harry.
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