Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

William Ripper - Royal Fusiliers & Labour Corps


kenripper

Recommended Posts

Hi

I am hoping some kind soul will help me understand my grandfather's medal roll. His service/pension records have not survived and we don't know where his medals are so I am reliant upon the medal roll to help me into the next phase of research. The medal roll can be seen here:

http://www.kenripper.co.uk/WilliamRipper_WW1_medal.jpg and shows his discharge on 27 Jan 1919.

I know it is the correct person because his regimental numbers are listed on the electoral roll after WW1.

1919 - 39 Rephidim Street, Bermondsey, London (where my father was born):
In the 1919 Electoral Roll William is shown as a private in the Royal Fusiliers (350622). His name is crossed out as he is recorded as being absent. The narrative "Rents rooms. His wife living away. No one to give particulars" is appended. The family were still there in the 1922 listing. The regimental number here seems to be a Labour Corps number and not a Royal Fusiliers number as shown on the medal roll.
Are the listings of regiments at the top of the card in chronological sequence, i.e. did he transfer from the Royal Fusiliers to the Labour Corps? Why did this happen and when? Is the Labour Corps number an indication of when he transferred? The number preceding his (350621) was issued to a Frederick Leonard Phillips who was posted for duty at Deptford in the Labour Corps (389 Coy) on 14 Sep 1914. If the units are listed on the record card in chronological order then he seems to have spent very little time in the Royal Fusiliers.
The card shows he entered France on 28 Jul 1915 and that his medals were won as a member of the Labour Corps. The National Archive suggests that looking at the medal roll itself would reveal nothing new. Can you explain the significance of "Supp" on the Victory Medal line?
I recall my grandmother telling me that he contracted scarlet fever whilst in service and I seem to also recall that this in some way affected his ability to serve either temporarily or permanently. She told me this in the mid 1950s when I was still in short trousers so my memory is a bit hazy. William, his wife and two of his grandchildren (my big brother and me) can be seen here .. http://www.kenripper.co.uk/williamripper_photo_1951.jpg
Is there anything else of significance on the medal roll that I've missed?
I'm most grateful for any help you can give.
Ken Ripper
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What you have in your link is his Medal Index Card. The Medal Roll numbers [references] are next to each medal.

There is a section in Long Long Trail, top left of this page, that explains how to read the MiC's and possibly the Medal Rolls.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin

Hi Ken

This is the guide to interpreting medal cards http://www.1914-1918.net/soldiers/interpretmic.html

You have worked out most of his story already though. He arrived in France with the RF on 28 July 1915 and at some point he was transferred t the Labour Corps. This would have been a result of him being medically downgraded as no longer fit for fighting service. Possibly the scarlet fever, or being wounded or simply trench life wore down his health. I don't have access to my book about the Labour Corps but I THINK this number was allocated sometime in 1917 after the formation of the LC in March 1917.

The AVL is wrong. As you surmised, the number given is for the LC. Perhaps whoever completed the form felt he should have been recorded as being in a "proper" unit that was fighting rather than "only" the LC. It should be noted that without the LC, the fighting men wouldn't have been able to fight so their contribution was just as important as an infantryman.

The "Supp" means Supplementary. Most of the names on LC rolls are grouped alphabetically by surname with Supplementary rolls added for various reasons. The National Archives are partially correct. The BWM/VM rolls for the Labour Corps don't show any additional information but the 14-15 Star roll shows he first went abroad with the 13th battalion of the RF as can be seen below.

If you go to your first post and edit it using the Full Editor option, change the last part to RF and Labour Corps. that might attract the attention of people who are more knowledgeable in these units.

Glen

post-32914-0-74039800-1400226526_thumb.j

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you both. Most helpful. What is an AVL? I was unaware that the LC wasn't created until later in the war.

I can have a wander around now to see what the RF were up to in the summer of 1915.

Once again. Many thanks.

Ken

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin

AVL = Absent Voters List. This was part of the electoral registers taken in 1918 and 1919 with men serving in the forces of the correct age being added but marked as Absent. similar to your situation. See here for a bit more information http://www.1914-1918.net/soldiers/avl.html

The Council Archives or London Metropolitan Archives might have some but I really don't know.

the 13th RF war diary is due to be available online next week.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 13th (Service) Battalion was formed at Hounslow on 13 September 1914 as
part of K3 and they moved to the South Downs as part of Army Troops attached
to 24th Division. In December 1914 they moved into billets in Worthing. In
March 1915 they changed formation to 111th Brigade 37th Division at
Ludgershall. On 30 July 1915 they landed at Boulogne and remained with the
same formation for the duration of the war. They ended the war located in
France south of Le Quesnoy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this the same man? Labour Corps #350622, ex. Royal Fusiliers and a discharge date of 27-Jan-1919 as per William's Medal Index Card. Only significant differences are his first name ROBERT and date of enlistment as 18-Jan-1918 which could possibly be a typo for 1915 although I think it unlikely as Royal Fusilier 556x numbers would imply a September 1914 enlistment.

Steve

post-1432-0-88831800-1400239973_thumb.jp

post-1432-0-03571300-1400239997_thumb.jp

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The service record of 350621 F L Phillips shows a transfer to the Labour Corps on 9th August 1917 with him being posted to 389 (Home Service) Labour Company of the Labour Corps on 19th September 1917. This man had been wounded in early July 1916 with 8th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, and then posted to 6th (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers on 6th August 1917 upon recovery from his wounds.

Steve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That was confusing me, SteveE. William's father was a Robert Francis Ripper and he had died in 1904 when William was 11. William had a brother Robert as well, named after their father but he was born in 1891 and died when 15 months old around Easter 1892. William wasn't born until February 1893.

I suppose he may have been known as 'Bob' out of respect for his dead father, but I've never heard that in the family lore. I just rang my mother, 92 she may be but she's as sharp as a tack. She told me that when he worked on the railway after WW1 all his mates called him 'Bob' and that he was sick during the war; she thought it might be jaundice that got him but she agreed that scarlet fever was more likely when I suggested it, saying that from time to time he'd be unwell and go very red indeed..

The service number, the discharge and the regiments all coincide with William's service - just as you say. The reference to Para 392 (xvi) on the medal index card indicates that he was medically unfit through sickness as is affirmed by the medal roll and this ties in with my grandmother's story related to me all those years ago. The S in AO29/19 indicates he was given the Silver War Badge. It almost all fits.

The name is wrong, but can be explained. The date of enlistment is wrong and seems to correlate with nothing obvious unless that was when he moved from the RF to the LC but if that was the case then his LC regimental number would have been higher. I know this will sound like a daft question but is it possible that he was transferred in August 1917 to the LC but wasn't taken on the strength until 18 Jan 1918 because he'd been sick somewhere?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ken

There are more matches than not between the cards that seem to point to the two being the same man. Having given it a bit more thought the only (anywhere near sensible) suggestion I can come up with as to why 18 Jan 1918 would be given as the enlistment date is that it was a date when he was posted to a Labour Corps unit, possibly even to 399th Labour Company, the unit he was subsequently discharged from.

The S in AO29/19 indicates he was given the Silver War Badge.

The AO29/19 indicates he was given the SWB, the S indicates it was due to Sickness rather than Wounds.

Regards

Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A huge THANK YOU to all you chaps who have helped me build something of my grandfather's WW1 record. I have unashamedly plagiarised some of your words when putting together the story, which I have shown below for either posterity but more likely for you chaps to tell me where I've misunderstood something again. Once again I mut say how grateful I am to this wonderful forum and its members.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

William married Eliza Miller in 1911 when he was 18 and she was 20. It is reasonable to speculate that they met in the area of the Elephant and Castle in London. William lived near St George's Circus and Eliza near the Bricklayer's Arms with the Elephant and Castle being just about half way between the two and the local centre for shops and entertainment.
Their first daughter, Maggie, was born three days after William and Eliza were married. Their second child, Florrie, was born in October 1913.
On the 4th August 1914 Britain entered the war against Germany. Contrary to the popular belief that the war would be over by Christmas 1914, Kitchener predicted a long and brutal war. He believed that arrival in Europe of an overwhelming force of new, well-trained and well-led divisions would prove a decisive blow against the Central Powers. Kitchener fought off opposition to his plan, and attempts to weaken or water down its potential, including piece-meal dispersal of the New Army battalions into existing regular or Territorial Force divisions (the view of the Commander-in-Chief of the BEF, Field Marshal French). Kitchener declined to use the existing Territorial Force (which, ironically, had been set up by Haldane and Douglas Haig as part of the Army reforms of the Edwardian period) as the basis for the New Army, as many of its members had volunteered for "Home Service" only, and because he was suspicious of the poor performance of French "territorials" in the war of 1870-1. In the early days of the war, the Territorial Force could not reinforce the regular army, as it lacked modern equipment, particularly artillery. In addition, it took time to form First-Line units composed only of men who had volunteered for "General Service." Those recruited into the New Army were used to form complete Battalions under existing British Army Regiments. These new battalions had titles of the form "xxth (Service) Battalion, <regiment name>". (Wikipedia)
In September 1914 William, married with two daughters, answered the call to sign up.
His service record has not survived but he is recorded on the index card to the Medal Roll as well as the medal roll itself. He is also mentioned on the Silver War Badge index card and the SWB roll, but his name is given as 'Robert' on this record. The following information on his wartime activities is based upon information on these documents and knowledge from the war diary for the Battalion.
It seems, though, that he had received some leave in July 1915 and managed to get home. This was the period when William & Eliza's son, William Frederick, was conceived. The child was named William after his father and Frederick after his maternal grandfather.
Royal Fusiliers (London Regiment) during WW1 - 13th (Service) Battalion
13 Sep 1914 - Formed at Hounslow as part of the Third New Army (K3), and joined the Army Troops attached to the 24th Division and then moved to South Downs.
Dec 1914 - Moved to Worthing, West Sussex.
Mar 1915 - transferred to the 111st Brigade of the 37th Division and moved to Ludgershall.
30 Jul 1915 - Mobilised for war and landed in Boulogne. The Division was engaged in various actions on the Western front.The first New Army divisions were used at the Battle of Loos in the autumn of 1915, and they were sorely tested in the Battle of the Somme.
During 1916 - The 13 RF, as part of 111 Brigade of 37 Division,were on the Somme for Oct / Nov 1916, particularly at the Battles of the Ancre Heights (1 Oct to 11 Nov) and the Battle of the Ancre (13-19 Nov). There are accounts which show that some of 111 Brigades Battalions were loaned out to other formations, so he might not have been in all of 37 Division's activities. The book "A Passionate Prodigality" by Guy Chapman covers his service with the 13th Royal Fusiliers in WW1.
During 1917 - The battalion were involved in the following actions:The First Battle of the Scarpe (9-14 April), The Second Battle of the Scarpe (23-24 April), The Battle of Arleux (28-29 April), The Battle of Pilkem Ridge (31 July - 2 August), The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20-25 September), The Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September - 3 October), The Battle of Broodseinde (4 October), The Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October), The First Battle of Passchendaele (12 October).
At some point he was struck down with an illness which made him medically unfit for fighting service and was consequently transferred to the Labour Corps, probably on the 9th August 1917. This may have been scarlet fever or from being wounded or simply from trench life wearing down his health. His service number was allocated sometime in 1917 after the formation of the LC in March 1917 and the preceding number was issued on the 9th August. If this is correct he was not involved in any actions after Pilkem Ridge shown in the list above.
Both the medal index card and the silver war badge index card both show him as having been discharged from the sevice on 27 Jan 1919.
I recall a concersation with my grandmother, Eliza, in the 1950s when I was still at junior school in whuich she told me that he contracted scarlet fever whilst in service and that this affected his ability to serve. Apparently there some dispute over any compensation he was due which still rankled, even though he had died some years earlier in 1951. It would seem that the issue of whether his illness was attributable to his war service was the area of contention.
The fact that his silver war badge records show him as Robert rather than William has been explained by his daughter-in-law Mary, the wife of William Frederick Ripper. She told me that when he worked on the railway after WW1 all his mates called him 'Bob' and that he was sick during the war; she thought it might be jaundice that affected him but she agreed that scarlet fever was more likely when I suggested it. She said that when she knew him from 1938 to 1951 and that from time to time he'd be very unwell and go very red indeed.
The Silver War Badge records his enlistment date as 18 Jan 1918. This may be because although he was transferred in August 1917 to the Labour Corps he was transferred again and taken on the strength of the 399th Lobour Company on 18 Jan 1918.
The medal index card caries the notation "Supp" means Supplementary. Most of the names on LC rolls are grouped alphabetically by surname with Supplementary rolls added for various reasons. The British War Medal and Victory Medal rolls for the Labour Corps don't show any additional information but the 14-15 Star roll shows he first went abroad with the 13th battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. William was entitle to these three medals, known in army parlance as "Pip, Squeak and Wilfred".
1918 Electoral Roll - 39 Rephidim Street (second floor), Bermondsey; William Ripper and Elizabeth Ripper; William qualified as an occupier and as a military voter; Elizabeth qualified by her husband's qualifications
1919 - 39 Rephidim Street, Bermondsey:
In the 1919 Electoral Roll William is shown as a private in the Royal Fusiliers (350622). His name is crossed out as he is recorded as being absent. The narrative "Rents rooms. His wife living away. No one to give particulars" is appended. This Absent Voters List is wrong. The number given is for the Labour Corps. Perhaps whoever completed the form felt he should have been recorded as being in a "proper" unit that was fighting rather than "only" the Labour Corps. It should be noted that without the Labour Corps, the fighting men wouldn't have been able to fight so their contribution was just as important as an infantryman.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...