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RFA numbering help please


sammybill

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Hello everyone, I'm wondering if any of you RFA numbering experts can identify my grandfather's regiment(s) from his numbers? I can't find his service records and , like lots of other people, I'd like to try and trace his movements in F&F. He was a driver.

The only info I have is from his medal card and further Attestation papers from 1919, when he rejoined the RFA. At some stage during the war he switched to the RASC, one a motorised transport number.

His name is Charles Podmore born 1894 and he went to France 18/8/1914. He has the British, Victory and 1914 Star. His first number is 10203. Apparently he joined the reserve or territorials (not sure which but part-time) in 1910. From his MIC, I understand he first went to France with the 1st Reinforcement PBD RFA.

A kind person on this forum said that means Permanent Base Depot or Detail. All his medals have RFA next to them.

His second number is the motorised transport one M/39933. His third number is 293606. He was sent to Germany after the war and became 1027844, but I'm particularly interested in his service in F&F which ended in 31/1/1919. Does the 1914 Star indicate that he was at Mons?

Any clues gratefully appreciated! :blush:

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Hi Sammybill

Have you got the birth certificates for his children born on 6/4/1916 and 11/9//1918 (according to the 1919 attestation records on Findmypast)? Certificates often list the regiment that the father was in at the time, although there is also the possibility that it will just say soldier.

Also did he serve after 1922 and so are his WW1 records with his later service records? If so you will need to get his service records from the MOD:

https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records

You could also go to Kew or perhaps an RFA expert has a copy of the relevant medal rolls which might have some extra detail. His BWM/Victory Medal Roll will be found in

WO 329/187

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/details?Uri=C4435405

and for his 1914 Star

WO 329/2410

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C4437628

Best

Justin

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Hello Sammybill

The 1914 Star indicates that he was in France by 22 November 1914, but not necessarily that he was involved in the Battle of Mons. His date of entry suggests that he might have been, but it depends on which division his RFA brigade was in. If, as you say, he was in the First Reinforcement, then he probably was not at Mons.

Ron

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His basic details are hosted by one of the prominent past finding websites under artillery attestations.

If I read it correctly it suggests:

Enlisted 4/5/1910 to 31/1/19 with Army Service Corps, No. 39933.

Married Ellen Stevenson 6/4/1916 Newcastle, Son Charles born 11/9/18.

Enlisted in RFA 9/9/1919 aged 25. Number 293606.

Formerly boiler fireman from Stoke on Trent. New Royal Artillery number 1027844.

Left 8/9/1921. Term of engagement completed.

Without seeing the medals, my reading of the record is that he is Army Service Corps during the war.

Mark

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Many thanks for your replies Justin, Ron and Mark. I'm in Australia, so unfortunately a trip to Kew is out of the question unless I win the lottery!

Yes my grandfather's medal card is causing me a lot of confusion, I haven't seen one like it on LLT. At the top next to Corps it has a funny cross with sort of dashes around it then RFRA written.

Shouldn't it be RFA? The RASC comes later after (underneath) 1st Reinf PBD RFA. Could he be in the RASC and still be attached to the RFA? The boxes to the right of the medal lists with the roll and page numbers all say RFA.

As he left the army in 1921, it looks like his service papers don't exist anymore. One interesting thing on the Attestation papers for 1919 is it gives his "former service number" as M/39933 and "former regimental number " as 292606. Can anyone explain the difference to me, and can I track that regiment through its number?

Thanks again for your time

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His number [10203] is appropriate for an artillery Special Reservist [RFRA] who enlisted in the RFRA in April/May1910 .. so that enlistment date would be right .. he would have been called up and sent to France to 'Base' as part of Base support as a '1st reinforcement' ..[so on that medal roll and not that of a specific RFA Brigade] if a permanent one then he would have stayed in le Havre [where most RFA 'Base details' were, i think..] .. qualifies for a 1914 star for being in France amongst the 'Old Contemptibles' but not a 'clasp' as not at the front.. subsequently transferred to [R]ASC.. The 'funny cross' cross-refers between entries... to his medals.. all his medals being issued as RFA on a RFA roll it would seem [with the additional note that he was RFRA .. this is not always noted..] , not on an ASC medal roll.

ASC numbers were not ASC unit specific [i have just been looking at some ASC drivers who seem to be changing motor companies every few months

292606/293606 would be right for a 1918-1919 artillery number.. so signed up in 1919 with that number [this continues the wartime number series..]... these were all renumbered in the 1920s.. and 1027844 would be right as a postwar artillery number he finished with in 1921.. at that time the army was in a state of flux with men moving between ever-changing artillery units..

what we dont know is when transferred to ASC, do we?

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Hi Sammybill

Looking at the replies above and with the fact that he left the Army in 1921 we are back to looking at the certificates and someone looking at the medal rolls (I will not be going to the National Archives again until sometime in August). Was one of the births from the WW1 period either your father or mother (or were they born later?). If so do you have access to their birth certificate to see whether the grandfather's regiment at the time of the birth was recorded?

If you want to order a certificate the reference the link is here http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp and this is a free index of English and Welsh births up until 1983 http://www.freebmd.org.uk/ to help find the volume reference needed to place an order.

Regards

Justin

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You could have a look at the records of 41263/ M/39935 Michael Rochford. Even a chance he could have been in the same convoy when that man had an accident. Indicates when he transferred to the ASC. Your relative didn't really serve with them long.

Kevin

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This is truly marvellous information, thank you all so much for your help.

Battiscombe, thanks for explaining the Reserves and clarifying where Grandad was when he got the 1914 Star (not at the front).

Justin, thank you too for your suggestion and links, I've ordered his sons birth certificate from GRO this morning, so hopefully soon I'll know what Grandad was doing in Sept 1918. After I get that one, I'll get his marriage certificate from 1916 and see what that says.

Kevrow, where did you find the information about Michael Rochford's accident, was it on Ancestry? I tried FMP and they only had two pages on him with only general information, nothing regarding an accident. I've tried to renew my Ancestry subscription but they seem to be having massive problems at the moment, frustratingly.

Thank you all very much, I really appreciate it and I'll let you know if I find out anything else as it might be relevant to other searchers.

Best wishes, Sammybill

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Kevrow, where did you find the information about Michael Rochford's accident, was it on Ancestry? I tried FMP and they only had two pages on him with only general information, nothing regarding an accident. I've tried to renew my Ancestry subscription but they seem to be having massive problems at the moment, frustratingly.

Although I saw his records on Ancestry I assume that FMP has exactly the same. Even Ancestry shows only 3 pages (not unusual) there are many more if one continues past that number. He transferred 29th Sept 1918. Although being posted back to the RFA (38th Bde) he did not however remain long enough to be renumbered, or have his old number re-instated. I would personally think that your relative was discharged in Jan. 1919 but later re-enlisted (Sept 1919) when he was given the 293606 number which was later updated on re-numbering to the 1027844 one.

Kevin

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Thanks very much Kevin, you're quite right about grandad's service dates. I've contacted FMP about the missing pages for Michael Rochford, so I'll see if they can find them!

Regards, Sammybill

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Everyone

After looking at the medal rolls yesterday for Charles Podmore I am slightly confused by the ASC numbering.

Having looked at Michael Rochford M/39935 would suggest that the number comes from Sept 1918, when Rochford was compulsorily transferred to the ASC from the RFA. However research principally using the Silver War Badge Records would suggest that the M/399 five block numbers were issued earlier (1914 or 1915). For example M39914 Leonard Christopher enlisted on 30.11.14 and has a 1915 Star (on the ASC roll, not the RFA roll) and M/39957 Charles Poulton enlisted on 7/8/14, must have served abroad after 1915 and has no other unit listed than the ASC.

Six figure M/399 numbers relate to post 1916 (mostly 1918).

It is therefore possible that Charles Podmore (M/39933) either joined the ASC late in 1914 or in 1915, or was a late transfer like Rochford.

Hopefully the certificates Sammybill has ordered will bring some more information.

I am also now interested in this area as it appears that there is a lot going on in terms of ASC numbering beyond just the trade related prefixes. I know that this will not be a surprise to many on this forum.

Best

Justin

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Well, I've received Charles' son's birth certificate, dated 13th September 1918, and under father's occupation it says "Gunner, Royal Field Artillery"! This is the first I've heard of him being a gunner, and not a driver! Strangely, underneath that it also lists what must have been his pre war occupation - coal hewer's loader - which I assume was a mining occupation. The informant was my grandmother, just two days after the birth, so perhaps she simplified "driver pulling guns" to gunner. No mention of the Army Service Corps. I'll have to see what the 1916 wedding certificate says.

Justin, I'm wondering if this Motorised Transport number you mention above, and that section of the ASC my grandfather was in, might have been in response to a shortage of horses or similar factor? Just a thought!

Regards, Sammybill

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Hi Sammybill

This is great, it shows that your grandfather's service was mostly with the Royal Field Artillery and he was probably transferred over at the same time as Michael Rochford (it also confirms how confusing ASC numbers can be). Gunner is his rank, it does not preclude him from being a driver. I suspect that the 1916 Wedding Certificate will also show him as a Gunner Royal Field Artillery. The bonus will be if it also includes any information as to his unit.

The next thing to do is to look at what the text of the Army Order 204/1916 & (thought the & was a 7 but doesnt make sense) Army Council Instruction 916 of 1918 under which Rochford was transferred from the RFA to the ASC. In a case where I was trying to find out how a soldier had transferred from a Lancashire training battalion to the Machine Gun Corps I found neighbouring surviving records from the same battalion, worked out that he was part of a draft and found out from the Army Council Instruction that MGC officers had been allowed in that point in 1917 to compulsorily draft men in from training battalions into the MGC. The ACI and the Army Order may tell a similar story (i.e. reason given for compulsory transfer in 1918 from the RFA to ASC) and I note that GW Forum member Graham Stewart has a full set of Army Council Instructions from WW1 (plus may have a set of Army Orders). You can send him a message through his profile and he may be able to scan or copy the relevant text for you:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showuser=7376

If Graham or another member is not able to help I will look it up next time I am at the National Archives or British Library (although this may not be for a few weeks).

Best wishes

Justin

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Hi Justin, thank you very much for that information - I didn't know that a driver could also be called a gunner. I've contacted Graham (I think, had a bit of computer trouble yesterday) ;I will be interested to see the reason for this ASC draft from RFA. It must have been soon after Charles' son was born.....

I'll let you know if any more info comes to light - thanks again for all your help

Best wishes,

Sammybill

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi again everyone - I haven't heard anything from Graham, Justin, but my Mum has reminded me that her mother moved up to Newcastle-On-Tyne with Charles and the baby, so must have been after September 1918. I think this may have been something to do with the No 1 Depot RFA that is mentioned on LLT.

I'm wondering if this is when he was briefly drafted into the ASC? My grandmother apparently remained in N-O-Tyne while he went back overseas, unusually, so she must have expected him back fairly soon. I'm not sure whether he was sent to France or Germany at that stage. Might be a clue, anyway.

Kevin, how did you know Charles went back to RFA 38th brigade, was it by the number? It sounds like it perhaps happened right at the end of the war or just after. Interesting....

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Hi Sammy

Just come back from holiday and will as I said look up the Army Council instruction next time I am at Kew, The 38th Brigade Reference is to Michael Rochford and is from his medal card. By May 1915 Rochford had been posted (according to his service records) to the 12th Division http://www.1914-1918.net/12div.htm.

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Hi Sammy

Just found this (which is new to me but not to the forum) showing that Army Order 204/1916 relates to the transfer of a Territorial Force man from one corp in the Territorials to another without their consent:

 

Still Army Council Instruction 916 of 1918 which at a guess probably relates to the Army Service Corp and the compulsary selection of drivers (will post once been to NA sometime in next few weeks if no other forum member has the relevant ACI).

Best

Justin

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Thanks very much Justin - today I finally got to look at all Michael Rochford's service papers; very interesting about the lorry accident and the fact that his co-driver was M/39937 - both close to my Grandad's M/39933 number.

I don't know if anyone else noticed, but amongst Rochford's papers was a list of names (a copy of the order?) which appears to be an alphabetical list of others being drafted into the ASC at that time;

under Rochford is

276850 Rhodes

48501 Ransome

645539 Radmore

189729 Smithson

52500 Stokoe

I managed to find Arthur F Smithson and Robert Stokoe but they don't seem to have service records. However, they were both Royal Garrison Artillery and their new ASC numbers were M/414826 and M/414812.

Hope you find this of interest.

Very best wishes

Sammybill

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Thanks very much Justin - today I finally got to look at all Michael Rochford's service papers; very interesting about the lorry accident and the fact that his co-driver was M/39937 - both close to my Grandad's M/39933 number.

I don't know if anyone else noticed, but amongst Rochford's papers was a list of names (a copy of the order?) which appears to be an alphabetical list of others being drafted into the ASC at that time;

under Rochford is

276850 Rhodes

48501 Ransome

645539 Radmore

189729 Smithson

52500 Stokoe

I managed to find Arthur F Smithson and Robert Stokoe but they don't seem to have service records. However, they were both Royal Garrison Artillery and their new ASC numbers were M/414826 and M/414812.

Hope you find this of interest.

Very best wishes

Sammybill

Hi Sammybill

If their service records still existed and it showed they were transferred under Army Order 204/1916 and Army Council Instruction 916 of 1918 it would confirm the nature of the draft into the ASC. My guess is that with the advances in the last 100 days of the war drivers and motor transport were needed to support the resumption of the war of movement rather than trench warfare.

Regards

Justin

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Strange how the co-driver, B. Rowe wasn't on the same list, alphabetically speaking!

I can see I'll have to do a lot more reading about the final days of the war. The size and number of the convoys they refer to and the fact that Rochford's lorry was fully loaded with tyres seems to confirm your assessment, Justin. Thanks very much for all the information.

Regards,

Sammybill

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Sammybill

Sadly ACI 916/1918 isn't very exciting, it isn't about the compulsory transfer of drivers to the A.S.C., but instead covers the more mundane matters of pay and conditions for those transferred between Corps. With the transfer your grandfather would have drawn the pay rate of an A.S.C. driver (rather than his old Royal Artillery driver rate), I have no idea whether an A.S.C. driver would receive more or less pay than one in the Royal Field Artillery (element of danger money in the RFA?), perhaps a Forum pal might know.

Regards

Justin

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  • 1 month later...

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