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Remembered Today:

Figuring out service in IW&D, RE


chrisscales
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Dear experts

My great-grandfather is on the Fulham Absent Voter list for 1919 as Patrick Malone WR/335756 Spr.I.W+D.R.E. which I gather means he was a Sapper in the Inland Waterways & Docks unit of the Royal Engineers. On the 1918 electoral roll he is an Absent Voter at his home address but doesn't appear on the actual Absent Voter list (possibly because he was only 20, not 21).

He is not on any medal rolls with that service number, and though there is another Sapper Patrick Malone in the same unit/regiment in the medal rolls, I've found no way to connect the two. So I assume he didn't serve in any foreign theatres.

Can I also deduce the following:

- He would have been allocated 335756 in 1917, but potentially may have served under a different number prior to that (in the UK)

- Based on service numbers he might have attested at any time but would likely have been posted to the Royal Engineers around 10-12 July 1917 (cf Charles Frederick Clarke 335740, John Stanley Armstrong 335760, Wilfred Edwart Carter 335755, Bertram Thomas Hardingham 335764)
- He would have been assigned WR number WR/335756 in 1918 as part of transportation troops.
- Probably served with IW&D, RE at Port Riseborough billeted at Sandwich.

Secondly is it possible to ascertain his role at IW&D from his career? I would assume he had some kind of 'Clerk' role:

His father was a motor mechanic and aged 12 in 1911 Patrick was still at school but perhaps worked after school as an 'Engineering Office Clerk' (what his elder brother was doing in 1911). After the war Patrick worked as a Clerk in the ('Electrical') Showroom at Fulham Borough Council, in 1934 he was a 'municipal clerk' at same, and subsequently worked for the London Electricity Board after WW2.

Thanks for any advice on how I can figure out any more about his service since his records haven't survived...

Chris

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Your attestation date could be right . He should not have been sent overseas until he was 19 yrs old.

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Thanks, though I don't think he went overseas otherwise presumably he would have received a medal...

Does the 19 years old thing apply to service at home or just abroad? Interesting, I thought 16 was the age limit for army service.

Many thanks,

Chris

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I think that men were supposed to be at least 19 yrs old to be sent overseas.

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Thanks.

Checking through the service records of nearby numbers John Stanley Armstrong 335760, Wilfred Edwart Carter 335755, Bertram Thomas Hardingham 335764, and although quite hard to read all appear to have been Clerks of some kind, and all seem to have been in L Coy RE in 1917 then transferred to 'No 1 HS Operating Section/Coy, IW&D, Poplar' on 25/03/1918. Can anybody explain what that means?

Perhaps something to do with the changes to Transportation Branch that took place in 1918 resulting in WR numbers? A general search online seems to show that L Company Royal Engineers was based at Royal Engineers' Depot, Chatham, though not sure if that's correct...

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Hello Chris

I believe that L Company was a depot/training company at Chatham. HS stands for Home Service and is consistent with service at Richborough, a major port for roll on/roll off ferries to France. It is difficult to be certain about his duties but given his age it is quite possible that he carried out clerking duties connected with the despatch of supplies.

Ron

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Thanks Ron. So perhaps they went for training at Chatham initially.

I was thinking that the No 1 Home Service Operating Section might be some kind of RE IW&D hq at Poplar, and that therefore he was based in London rather than Richborough, but I've been unable to find out anything at all about RE Poplar...

Chris

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Chris

The only military establishment that I know of in Poplar was the War Department Sausage Factory!

Ron

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Chris

There was an IWT HQ Depot at Poplar which may have been the base for No1 Home Service Operating Section. Number 77 Craft Repair Unit was also there.

TR

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Couple of minor points, though they won't impact much on your research:

Absent Voters 1918 had to be aged 19 or over on 1 April. This was a wartime concession in favour of those who were serving their country - otherwise as you say, 21 was the minimum age. Maybe he didn't qualify that time, but did by 1919?

Secondly, pre war/early war the Special Reserve and Territorials could still enlist men aged 17+. Even younger recruits were allowed by Regulars on "Boy" service though many of these were discharged on the outbreak of war (later on, Boy service resumed but strictly no overseas service). Men could be called up at 18 under the Military Service Acts 1916 (and by Sept. 1916, 17-year-olds could volunteer in advance of call-up) but the official Overseas age was always 19. The German offensives in the spring of 1918 changed that, and men could be sent abroad aged 18 and a half, provided they had completed 6 months training. By later 1918 it was estimated that half the British Army on the Western Front was aged under 19.

Clive

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Thanks all for your amazing help.

There was definitely something related at Poplar, one of the men in the service records I'm looking at (John Armstrong) went to the Marine Section, IW&D RE Poplar, then on to the RE Records department.

I don't really understand the numbering system, but all these men with nearby service numbers go initially to L Coy/Chatham in 1917, then to IW&D Poplar in March 1918, then take their own paths in 1919 (including Richborough for some):

John Stanley Armstrong: http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/1219/miuk1914e_123583-01008/24420

Bertram Thomas Hardingham: http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/1219/30836_147859-01120/852413

Charles Frederick Clarke: http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/1219/miuk1914f_129130-00651/269440

Wilfred Edwart Carter: http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/1219/miuk1914f_128974-01016/349420

Thanks Clive, the note about the Absent Voter age is very helpful. He turned 19 on the 6th May 1917, so he should have been on the Absent Voter list 1918, he was on the electoral roll as Absent / NM, but didn't make it onto the Absent Voter list for some reason. But nor did his brother who was two years older, so perhaps there was some error. Unless perhaps he's listed on the main electoral roll wherever he is billeted? I wouldn't think that likely though.

And thanks for the info about call-up/overseas ages. He didn't go overseas judging by the medal rolls, so perhaps there was a medical reason, difficult to know. His brother Edward fought in the Somme and more (service nos. 960034, 319631, 1015) so perhaps their parents didn't want him to go to France as well - not sure whether that would be a good enough excuse though! As far as I know he was fit and healthy and excelled in sports captaining cricket and football teams, at one point having a trial for Dulwich Hamlet.

Many thanks

Chris

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As far as I know he was fit and healthy and excelled in sports captaining cricket and football teams, at one point having a trial for Dulwich Hamlet.

The following may or may not be relevant:

The following page from a book about the RAMC in Egypt indicates that some professional footballers had been classified medical category B, apparently for some reason other than health.

https://archive.org/stream/visionofpossible00barr#page/68/mode/1up

Page 68, A vision of the possible; what the R.A.M.C. might become; an account of some of the medical work in Egypt together with a constructive criticism of the R.A.M.C by James W Barrett, Temporary Lieut-Col RAMC 1919

Cheers

Maureen

(sorry, I can't delete this)

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That's very interesting, thanks. Sounds like quite an unusual thing though - I don't think my great-grandad was as professional as all that! That said, you never know...

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There was definitely something related at Poplar, one of the men in the service records I'm looking at (John Armstrong) went to the Marine Section, IW&D RE Poplar, then on to the RE Records department.

Chris

No 1 HS Operating Section was based at South Dock Basin, Poplar.

TR

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