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Henry James Mead – please can you help with his "burnt" record


janicecasita
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Hello everyone,

Yet again, I am returning to ask for your expert help. This time it is regarding my paternal great-uncle (I have another one to research). Unfortunately, I know nothing about this branch of the family as my grandmother died in 1944 when my father was fighting in Italy. I do not remember him talking about his mother’s side of the family, but I do know that my father became a process engraver because one of his uncles suggested it. Both Henry James and his younger brother William Wallace were process engravers, so these records are most likely to be for the right Henry James Mead. My father’s mother was Beatrice Annie Mead (their younger sister) and she married Sydney Herbert Read so did not change her name very much!

Sidney Herbert and his brother both worked for the GWR and, although research has shown me that men from the GWR did go and fight, both of my maternal aunts have told me that they were engaged on “war work.” I am not too sure about this, as they were only clerks, but I can find no MIC’s for them so assume that they did not serve.

No MIC can be found for Henry James and I am assuming this is because he did not serve abroad. However, according to his “burnt” records he served with the Labour Corps and the Training Reserve Battalion.

I wonder if he did not serve abroad because he was a conscientious objector (The Long, Long Trail) or perhaps he was not fully medically fit. I have transcribed the "burnt" records that I have found on Ancestry into a Word document (attached) as accurately as I can, but they are pretty burnt and quite difficult to read. I am assuming that the documents requesting details about medals/chevrons and wound stripes were sent out about every service person, as they were not applicable in his case.

The Long, Long Trail has also told me that:

105th Training Reserve Battalion had numbers beginning TR/10 and were based in Edinburgh, and that he would be number 40 under the Derby Scheme. This fits with the Active Service-Casualty Form.

I would be very grateful for any further information that you can give me. It really is not urgent, and although I cannot put him on Lives of the First World War, I will be able to put his full details on Ancestry.

Best wishes,

Janice

Henry James Mead The Great War 1.docx

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Janice

It seems that I am able to add to your Word doc,but won't !

I have gleaned little more than you have:

66507 is the first service number and relates specifically to service with 29 Reserve Battalion of the Edinburgh Royal Fusiliers,before or after it was 105 Training Battalion,from 3 Jul 1917. 5 Sep 1917 transferred to 295 Reserve Labour Company at Blairgowrie,and 13 Nov 1917 to 456 Agricultural Company also at Blairgowrie. He was graded B1 fitness so seems to have not served overseas at all. There would usually be a ref to Medals issued if he had,even if you couldn't find a MIC,some people don't find one,even for those who did serve overseas. Finally he was discharged to Class Z Army Reserve on 12 Mar 1919.

As you have stated,the forms were a pack used in every service record and would only be used if relevant.

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Hi Sotonmate,

Once again, many thanks for all your help. I am extremely happy for anyone from the GWF to correct or add to anything that I have written. I know that it will always be correct, as opposed to my ramblings/musings on research that I have undertaken. I have altered the document to include the details that you have given me.

When I googled B1 this afternoon the GWF appeared, naturally, and I read that people in B category were “free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service on Lines of Communication, or in garrisons in the tropics” and were “able to march 5 miles, shoot with glasses and hear well.” Would this have been serious enough to stop someone from serving overseas?

Best wishes,

Janice

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Class B would have allowed him to serve abroad - although not likely in front-line. CO status is the most likely reason he would have gone pretty-well straight to labour - or perhaps he just wasn't up to full military standards. Was he a Quaker?

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Hi Piorun,

Many thanks for your post. I suspect that he was a CO. According to his papers he was C of E and, although we do not know much about the Mead side of the family, I am sure that Quakers in the family would have been mentioned.

His papers state that he attested on 11/12/1915, with his service reckoning from 30 June 1917. They state that he was in Group 40, which will be right as he was married and born in early 1881 (I am learning so much from The Long Long Trail and the GWF). I was surprised that he was not called up until late June 1917. Would being called up so late be consistent with being a CO? I am rather surprised that he was allowed to carry on working and not be imprisoned prior to this date. This shows my lack of knowledge of the period and the media coverage over much of the 20th century.

I would be very grateful for any ideas.

Best wishes,

Janice

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I suspect that he was a CO. According to his papers he was C of E and, although we do not know much about the Mead side of the family, I am sure that Quakers in the family would have been mentioned.

He was not a CO within the definition of the term because he was not conscripted.

As you have assumed he enlisted under the Derby Scheme and was therefore a 'volunteer', or at the very least was 'sold' on the benefits of enlisting under the scheme. Men enlisting under the Scheme were promised an element of choice as to posting before the introduction of conscription which most people realised was coming. Initially married men who enlisted under the scheme were told by Asquith they would not be called up before all the single men were called, in the event this pledge could not be honoured. It was however possible to obtain a deferment to call-up and not that unusual.

The concept of conscientious objection was framed within the Military Service Act which introduced conscription for married men in May 1916. It was unlikely to have been a stance taken by a Derby Scheme volunteer.

The authority for his transfer is shown on his 'Casualty Form - Active Service' which is a Scottish Command Letter, I've no idea what it said (someone might know) but was probably a trawl through the Training Reserve for 'Category' men to join the Labour Corps, his age may have been a factor in his transfer coupled with the fact he was not considered fit for 'general service'.

Ken

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Hi Ken,

Many thanks for your reply last Friday. Yes, I have assumed he enlisted under the Derby Scheme as his Casualty Form – Active Service states on one line that:

Occupation: process engraver Group: 40 M followed by the signature of the officer

I am assuming that Group 40 M means that he signed up under the Derby Scheme (he was born in 1881 and married) – hope this is a correct interpretation of the form.

On his medical history form there is a line stating – Slight defects but not sufficient to cause rejection and dated 22.8.17: saying something like “Post (Past?) Upper & lower Diot? n y”. It is pretty difficult to read, after all it is nearly 100 years old and in handwriting so I doubt if anyone would be able to interpret it. However, this may be the reason that he was not sent abroad.

In conclusion, I think that you are right. He was obviously not quite fit enough to serve abroad and this taken together with his age meant that he served his time in Scotland.

Best wishes,

Janice

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I think it says "part upper and lower dentures" - he had false teeth.

He attested on the 11th December 1915 and was sent to the Reserve the next day. He wasn't mobilised until 30th June 1917 and posted on 2nd July 1917.

I can't see anything which suggest that he was a CO - it looks like a man who wanted to do his bit, but he was married, not particularly young and not A1 fit. The Army took his attestation and didn't call on his services for 18 months, they then used him in a non-combat role, doing essential work and allowing a physically fitter man to be sent to the front. The Army needed huge numbers of men to do what this man did, clerks, labourers, platelayers for the railway system, etc. Without the "tail" the "head" could not survive for long.

Dave Swarbrick

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Hi Dave,

How did you manage to read that writing? I am really impressed. Thank you so much your input. I am beginning to understand things a little better now.

Best wishes,

Janice

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  • 2 months later...

He attested on the 11th December 1915 and was sent to the Reserve the next day. He wasn't mobilised until 30th June 1917 and posted on 2nd July 1917.

I can't see anything which suggest that he was a CO.

I agree. Apart from the fact that he voluntarily attested under the Derby Scheme well before conscription was enacted, his allocation to the Labour Corps is itself a contraindication. Contrary to a minor myth, no COs were ever allocated to the Labour Corps. The specially created Non-Combatant Corps served an equivalent purpose.

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