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Remembered Today:

Sidney Douglas Bullion(s) 3/RWk, E Coy Mddx Regt, 51st S Wales Bordere


kenripper

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Can you help me fill in any gaps in my grandfather's service record? Thank you.

Sidney [Douglas] Bullion .. born 4 Jan 1885, Railway Grove in Deptford, London .. died 26 Sep 1939 in Rotherhithe, London.

11 Nov 1902 enlisted aged 17 years 10 months with 3/Royal West Kent; service number 4583; discharged 25 Jun 1903 "permanently unfit".

7 Sep 1914 married in Bermondsey, London and described as "Pte E Company Middlesex Regiment".

26 Mar 1923 ..

The following is a transcript of his discharge certificate upon leaving the army. The document had been folded and information is missing where the folds had torn the paper.
"DISCHARGE OF SIDNEY DOUGLAS BULLION(S).
Army Form B ?067 SERIAL No ... Shrewsbury __40 NOTE ........
"The information given on this certificate is based on the holder's conduct during his service with the Colours as stated below.
"CHARACTER CERTIFICATE of No. 6351 (635?1) ... RANK Private
NAME ... BULLION Sidney Douglas.
UNIT OR CORPS FROM WHICH DISCHARGED OR TRANSFERRED TO RESERVE ... 51st Battalion, South Wales Borderers.
THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE NAMED SOLDIER was discharged with a very good "character". An honest sober hardworking man.
SIGNED ? ? Savage, Major at Shrewsbury 26.3.1923 for o.i.c. (officer in charge) infantry records.
THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE NAMED WAS DISCHARGED ON 8th April 1920, AFTER HAVING SERVED WITH THE REGIMENT ?____? 151 days.
PLACE Shrewsbury, Signature ?? Savage, Major, for officer Infantry Records.
"To safeguard the holder of this certificate from impersonation it should be noted that, in the event of any doubting as to the bona fides of the bearer, reference should be made to the dec___tion, when he left the Colours,of the soldier to whom this certificate was given, which is recorded on his Certificate of Transfer to the Reserve (A.F.Z. 2 Serial No 20729) which Certificate should be in his possession while he is serving in the Reserve, or recorded on his Discharge Certificate (A.F.B. 2079, Serial No [blank]) if he has been finally discharged from the Service."

Family lore tells us that Sidney had been gassed and struck in the head with a piece of shrapnel which caused him to be partially sighted and significantly altered his personality detrimentally. The shrapnel was never removed and remained in his head until he died in 1939.

Neither his Service Record nor his Medal Roll Index Card appear on ancestry.com.

Can you help me establish any more about his service?

Ken

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From Long Long Trail [top left of page}

51st (Graduated) Battalion
Up to 27 October 1917, this was known as 230th Graduated Battalion and had no regimental affiliation. Before that it had been 58th Battalion of the Training Reserve and up to September 1916 had been the 12th (Reserve) Battalion of the Welsh Regiment. A training unit based at Aldeburgh, it was part of 204th Brigade of 68th Division . By April 1918 it had moved to Stowlangtoft in Suffolk.

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Thanks 'johnboy'. Do you think it reasonable to assume that he was transferred to a training function after having been wounded (assuming the family lore is correct)? The lack of Medal Roll Index Card makes me wonder if he was involved in any direct conflict

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Have you tried variations on the spellings of his name for any service records or MiC's?

Using the spelling you have given I was unable to find a MiC on ancestry.

If he has no MiC then it is possible that he did not serve overseas.

As he was discharged as physically unfit aged 18 in 1903 I wonder what changed in the later years.

He was still at home in 1914. Did he have any children and when were they born?

Does he show up on any electoral rolls during the war years? Sometimes civvy life can help with dates and places.

Sometimes it is best to forget family stories as you can get too focused to make them fit and end up in dead ends.

Unfortunately the reference to Mddx Reg does not give a battalion. Have you got or family members got any medals for him?

Does his occupation give any clues to his physical well being?

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Thanks 'johnboy'. I've tried endless spelling variations, using a vast array of wildcards as well and I've always drawn a blank. The 1902/3 service record turns up on GenesReunited and I've been around that site as well with all the variants I can imagine. I am a little suspicious about the family folk lore but this tale has come from my very alert and switched on mother, his daughter, who is still alive aged 92. The family lived in the same back-to-back in Bermondsey from 1918 until 1931 at least. Before that they lived literally around the corner, a few doors from where both his and his wife's family had lived since the early 1900s.All the children of the family were born in these locations from 1915 to 1931. He was never recorded as an absent voter with a regimental number on the electoral roll, a circumstance I have seen with my paternal grandfather.

I also wondered what changed to make him fit again. He was very small at under 5 feet 1 inch and weighed less than 8½ stone. Perhaps the recruiting officers were less choosy with regard to build in 1914, but he did last 7 months when he was younger? In 1911 Sidney managed a taxi cab rank but was also described as a carman, basically he drove a horse and cart .. when he was in employment, which wasn't all the time. We have no medals or documentation except his discharge certificate. Almost the entire family history's documents were destroyed by the Luftwaffe in 1940.

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I have seen him on 1911 census listed as a Rank Attendant.

I also found him as started work 4/1/01 as a van guard at London Bridge earning 7s a week but he left after 3mnths.

He is shown as at home on 1919 Electoral Roll.

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  • 7 years later...

If I can raise another question on this topic, please. Sydney's marriage certificate is dated 7 Sep 1914. The ceremony was held at St Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, London.
At the time of his marriage his address is shown as 4 Star Place, Bermondsey, he being aged 30, a bachelor and a private in "E" Company of the Middlesex Regiment. No battalion is mentioned. Is this enough information to establish when (if) he went to France and some clue as to his life events whilst there? If so, would the war diaries be my best source of research? This poor image of his discharge, his marriage certificate and family lore is all I have at present to flesh out his story. Thank you.

 

SidneyDouglasBullions_armydischarge_1918.jpg

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On 11/07/2014 at 10:45, kenripper said:

No. 6351 (635?1)

Pension Index Card at WFA/Fold3 - will have been a claim for disability

Sidney Douglas BULLION, 63561, South Wales Borderers

Discharged 8.4.20, living at 13 Victoria place, Dockhead, London SE - Claim was Rejected

:-) M

 

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Thanks Matlock. I would suspect that the details of such claims would not have survived. If they do exist it's possible that his story is there, at least in part, in his own submission in his own words.

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5 minutes ago, kenripper said:

I would suspect that the details of such claims would not have survived.

I'm afraid you do suspect correctly regarding Ministry of Pensions pension files to go with the cards [for which we are so lucky and grateful now].

The Awards files were deliberately destroyed once their use was over.

Only a few thousand files, out of millions, were retained and they are undoubtedly all samples of examples of successful claims - held at the National Archives under PIN 26 [I did check however, nothing found for SDB]

More generally for pension details - Some partial elements do still exist in some of the surviving 'burnt' soldiers' Service Record files [I confess to being most familiar with soldiers rather than sailors and airmen] - quite typically as an Army Form Z.21 on transfer to the Army Z Reserve/demob = the start of a claim [I couldn't see anything for SDB]

There are also some files which are soldiers' partly selective 'un-burnt' WO 364 files based on service records kept for pension purposes [as they were for pension purposes they avoided the fate of those that were destroyed or singed by Luftwaffe bombing and fire in WW2]  They contain medical inspection reports, sometimes award details etc.  Such files/records are available via Ancestry as UK, British Army World War I Pension Records 1914-1920 [again I quickly checked and found nothing for SDB]

Sorry to tease you with what might have been, but which is not. :-/

:-) M

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Thanks again Matlock.

I've spent some time over many years wandering through the burnt record online and at Kew with no success. Thanks for checking those other sources, it's a shame that history seems to be doing its best to wipe him. It's all part of the disappointment that is essential if the euphoria of a bit of positive discovery is to be experienced.

It looks like I'm back to seeing if the war diaries will help me to better understand his early service in the Mddx Reg Co E and the circumstances by which he found himself as a South Wales Borderer ... once I can sort out which diary/diaries to look in!

K

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His service with RWK was with the militia !902/1903 , only a year. I would assume he joined Mddx regiment early in war.

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Thanks Johnboy. It is possible, although not necessarily probable, that he signed up before the start of the war. Perhaps he saw enlistment as an opportunity to get work and an income; after all, it was all going to be over by Christmas! Sidney was not an educated man and his civilian working life seems to have been a scattering of unskilled jobs ,and so looking at his work record is of no help; he and his family lived hand to mouth until his death in 1939. Incidentally, for anyone interested in the lives of old soldiers after WW1, my mother's memories of him are recorded here - http://www.godlovesbermondsey.co.uk/resources/I Do It For Love - Mary Ripper's Story_EMAIL_REDACTED.pdf .

Sidney married on 7 September 1914 and it was understood by the family that his occupation on the marriage certificate of "Private E Company Middlesex Regiment" was the reason for the marriage being a rushed affair in a register office, the inference being that he was off to fight in France. Of course it didn't take much to work out that his wife was three months pregnant at the time and that is a more likely reason for a rushed marriage. We do know from this, however, that he had been enlisted before this date.

His enlistment at all seems odd. As "Johnboy" has already pointed out here , Sidney was discharged unfit for service in the militia in 1903.

Looking at https://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/2009/07/middlesex-regiment-1st-2nd-3rd-4th.html it suggests that his service number with the Mddx was between 14821 and L/15278 which seems to be 397 enlisted men. Encouraged by this, I wondered if it might be useful to see what the SWBorderers were doing when his last service number of 63561 was issued, and then trying to work backwards. Tommies in the same regiment and service numbers close to 63561 are scant in number and so far have offered no help, the burnt record making life difficult. Can anyone advise whether this is a viable approach, please?

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Just my thoughts. . He enlisted at the beginning of the war knowing his future wife was pregnant. By enlisting he would have got earnings, a bed and three meals a day, and his wife would have received an allowance... more than he was getting working on a taxi rank. His rank work was probably self employed with no wage, only a 'drink'  from the cab drivers,. I am not sure when he would have been allocated to a company, on enlistment or during training. I imagine during training.

A look through  the list of regiments here

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/the-duke-of-cambridges-own-middlesex-regiment/

 

will help narrow down the battalio by looking at when they formed. before 7/9/14.

Edited by johnboy
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Is there anything legible before the 151 days?  This would likely be a number 1, 2 or 3 representing the years in the Regiment.  I suspect you’ve examined closely but if its there you could ID his transfer date to the SWB.

E Coy sounds unusual too.  Normally the rifle companies are listed A to D.   So what was E Coy?  All Battalions may not have had an E Coy.

I’d have though 63561, his SWB number can be tied down to a reliable date and certainly a month with work?

On 11/07/2014 at 10:45, kenripper said:


THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE NAMED WAS DISCHARGED ON 8th April 1920, AFTER HAVING SERVED WITH THE REGIMENT ?____? 151 days.
PLACE Shrewsbury, Signature ?? Savage, Major, for officer Infantry Records.

 

Edited by AndrewSid
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Could the SWB have just been used for his discharge?  151 days  service up to8/4/20. what was he doing up to discharge afterwar ended and most men had been discharged 

No MIC would suggest no overseas service Due to still being unfit as per his militia discharge.

Edited by johnboy
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Thanks chaps. I couldn't discern anything legible in terms of years before the "151 days". It points to an event on the 8th or 9th November and would seem to point to his enlistment in November 1913 or to his transfer to the SWB in 1917 / 1918 / 1919. I suspect the latter. "E" Company - that's odd if they only used A to D; yet another anomaly.

The lack of entry on a medal roll and his discharge in 1903 points towards him having served only in the UK. Family lore, with all the usual caveats, says he lived out his latter years with a piece of shrapnel in his head that changed his personality - but no means of confirming or validating that. He was, as you suggest, frequently between paid employment with nothing more skilled than driving a horse and cart. I know he was at home in Bermondsey in the June 1916 and in April 1920, that being when my Aunts Lizzie and Jessie were conceived.

Looking at the listing of Battalions, discounting the 'shrapnel' story, taking him as a regular soldier (rather than a Territorial) and accepting the lack of a medal roll entry as evidence of his never having left the UK it looks like he was in one of  the 5th or 6th reserve battalions. The 2/10th battalion formed in September 1914 had blokes transferred to the 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade in the 53rd (Welsh) Division in 1915 and they went off to Gallipoli. I've never heard of him being there so perhaps that's a red herring. I hope this doesn't do a disservice to the shrapnel/personality story which appears to be doubtful. I'll need to get the Silent Witness team to see if there's a piece of shrapnel in his grave site :-)!

My son is off to the National Archive in Kew next month. I'll set him to see if he can learn more about the issue date of the SWB service number.

Once again, thanks chaps for your input. It's given me real food for thought. I am very grateful and in awe of your knowledge and kindness helping an amateur.

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