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Justinth

Index to be released of pre 1901 DoB service records still held by MoD

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headgardener

Not really answering your question, but partly relevant:

I've found a couple of post-ww1 service files amongst the burnt series, one in which the man was discharged after WW1, re-enlisted in the RE (TA) about 1921 (therefore new service number and docs), and was discharged in about 1930. All the docs were in the burnt series. I can't remember the name off the top of my head, I'm afraid.

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Justinth

Thanks Headgardener, it is really relevant as it helps show that files might be misfiled not just from pre-1914 which is mentioned on the National Archives website:

'These cover regular soldiers who may have enlisted as early as 1892 for 22 years' service as well as a small number of stray service records of pre-war soldiers who did not serve from 1914-1920.'

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/britisharmysoldierafter1913.htm

But also from after 1920.

Regards

Justin

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headgardener

Thanks Headgardener, it is really relevant as it helps show that files might be misfiled not just from pre-1914 which is mentioned on the National Archives website:

'These cover regular soldiers who may have enlisted as early as 1892 for 22 years' service as well as a small number of stray service records of pre-war soldiers who did not serve from 1914-1920.'

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/britisharmysoldierafter1913.htm

But also from after 1920.

Justin,

When searching through the burnt series I've also come across a handful of files for men who were discharged before WW1 and whose papers did not appear to be linked to a separate set of WW1 docs. In one case, the man in question had died in India in about 1890. I understand that the papers that make up the burnt series were stored in regimental sets, hence some regiments being hit worse than others by the fire. It would also explain why there is no 'blanket' absence of files for names from a specific section of the alphabet. It would also explain how stray files from other eras could have been included in the WW1 series.

Hope that's of interest.

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Justinth

Thanks again Headgardener

What you have said makes sense, as per posts from a recent thread discussing this issue (plus some personal experience):

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=215710&hl=arnside#entry2133884

'No one's completely sure - I'd be pretty certain it was by regiment and battalion.

I base this in looking at some of the records where you can see the next man's records mixed in - this seems to be how they were picked up at the fire and hurriedly put back in to some semblance of order. I can't see that they would be mixed as they are if they weren't stored closely together.

Craig'

and

'Yes I think that I agree with you Craig, this probably explains why some people get a good return on the Battalions/Regiments they are researching and others are very few and far between.'

There must have been some chronological division with the arrangement of the service records in the Arnside building (buildings?) as well, as if the service records were just stored by regiment alone there would have been more widespread damage to service records in the same regiment stretching back before WW1 and after 1920. As it was major damage in terms of service records was largely confined to WW1 records (including strays as we have seen which had ended up mixed in with the WW1 service files), as noted in the list of records destroyed or damaged by the fire WO32/21769 (this is not to forget other personnel related files such as ...Confidential Reports (Officers) all branches of the service...1910 to 1938 listed amongst the records destroyed or the other types of record going up to 1940).

The spread of the damage would suggest to me that the sheer bulk and number of the WW1 service records must have meant that they would have taken up a considerable area all on their own (and were thus stored in a distinct area at Arnside) and that they had the sheer bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If later and earlier service records were in Arnside they either had the luck to be in a different part of the building or buildings?

It is also bad luck that what according to WO32/21769 seems to be the likely file index was also lost:

'All reference books dealing with the work at Arnside Street including a complete summary of documents held...' were destroyed.

Although it would not definitively answer the question, it would help to substantiate (or challenge) the above if there was a NFS fire service or similar report for which gave some idea for the level of destruction/layout for the War Office Arnside building or buildings. A brief look hasn't revealed anything so far.

Regards

Justin

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headgardener

I've always understood that the WW1 papers were held separately as none of the pre-war papers appear to have been affected by the fire (and I once asked here whether anyone had come across post-war papers which included burnt documents - no-one had).

I suspect that the sheer number of men who served in WW1 in comparison to any other time in the history of the British army would have created a full-time administrative nightmare (confirming details for pension claims and medical boards, not to mention pensions and payments for widows and dependants, etc). I suspect that there was an independent 'WW1service-papers section' based at Arnside, and I bet it wasn't a cushy posting......!

Who knows, maybe some disgruntled clerks saw the Blitz as an opportunity to lighten their load by setting fir to the place themselves......?!

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Justinth

One other area that could be explored is the role of Arnside, looking at two newspapers, both articles from the late 1930s (which came up on the British Newspaper Archive) is instructive:

'Nottingham Evening Post - Saturday 09 May 1936

Ex-Labour. —The Labour Corps records to which you refer are probably now at Walworth; write to the Under-Secretary of State, The War Office, Records Section, Arnside-street, Walworth, London. S.E.17.'

'Burnley Express - Wednesday 21 December 1938

OLD CONTEMPTIBLES TO CLOSE THEIR RANKS Councillor P. J. H. Cobb writes: — Would you be kind enough allow me through the columns your paper remind all ex-Service in possession of the Clasp to the Star, that *' The Old Contemptibles' Association," founded by the late Captain J. P. Danny in 1925, definitely closes its ranks for membership at the end of this year. As founder of the Burnley branch, I appeal ro all men with the necessary qualifications join at once. Any men who have been members and allowed their membership to lapse should immediately apply for re-admission. Following the closure our ranks, it our intention to consolidate the position of the Association, formulate our future policy, and make our main endeavour the alleviation of the lot of such of our chums who may necessitous circumstances in their advancing years. Prospective members should, apply the hon. secretary, T. W. Tunbridge, 5, Springhill-road, Burnley, for application form, and when completed, return it to him with discharge papers. A man who has the Clasp and finds is not recorded on his papers, or /and has never received the award of the Clasp and entitled to it, should apply the Under Secretary State, The War Office, Record Section, Arnside-street, Walworth, London, S.E. 17, requesting the entry be made and the Clasp awarded.'

The second article suggests the presence of the Medal Office at Arnside Street and underlines the fact that little discussion seems to have taken place about the layout of War Office Arnside and the size and full range of records held there. Knowledge of which would all help us place into context the likely storage arrangements of service records.

It also leads to the question has anyone seen anywhere on a burnt record or later service record stamps or papers that indicate them being processed at Arnside?

Regards

Justin

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Justinth

I've always understood that the WW1 papers were held separately as none of the pre-war papers appear to have been affected by the fire. I suspect that the sheer number of men who served in WW1 in comparison to any other time in the history of the British army would have created a full-time administrative nightmare (confirming details for pension claims and medical boards, not to mention pensions and payments for widows and dependants, etc). I suspect that there was an independent 'WW1service-papers section' based at Arnside, and I bet it wasn't a cushy posting......!

Who knows, maybe some disgruntled clerks saw the Blitz as an opportunity to lighten their load by setting fir to the place themselves......?!

I agree. One way to confirm this might be if a War Office staff and functions directory survives from the 1930s. This would also include Arnside.

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Coldstreamer

Am i missing the point or do you need to search all 6 files for one man ?

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Bombadier

Yes you need to search all 8 files.

Not too hard. Sort the name column into alphabetical order and then search for the name.

Took me about 10 minutes to search them all for my grandfather (who isn't there)

Nigel

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Coldstreamer

Thanks - I may have found a quicker way - will be back when i have checked it works

And I did find the 1st one I was looking for :)

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Coldstreamer

o k - here goes and I will stand to be corrected as new lap top means new things to learn

using crome I down loaded the 8 files

then using the search function on the computer to find the name

seems to work for names but not service numbers - but that could be user error!

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Bombadier

There must be many ways to search. The more we list here, the more chance of success we have.

Good luck with your search.

Nigel

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Coldstreamer

yet to find a Coldstreamer but 2 out of 2 for men who transferred out

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Stebie9173

I think that they were split because of the 65k line limit on older versions of Excel.

With a newer version 1 million+ lines, they can be appended to together quite quickly (i.e just copy and paste into a new file) and thus searched in one foul swoop.

There is exactly a 1,700 record difference between the original number of files identified under the FOI request stated in the first post and the number of records on the 8 files, explained by duplicates as noted on the FOI reply.

Steve.

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Coldstreamer

well it started well, of the the 8 I have looked for only found (the first I looked for) 2 - both in the Royal Engineers

any other results people ?

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Justinth

Well done chaps, this is useful and practical advice.

Hi Coldstreamer

Can I ask what was the service profile of those you were looking for and didnt find? Were the enquiries purely speculative or what led you to think that they might be in the set (post 1920 service numbers etc)? Useful information in terms of establishing the survival rate for this set.

Regards

Justin

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David_Underdown

Coldstreamer,

These are the records held by MoD, so I wouldn't expect any Foot Guards records in their since they (as you know) remain held at the respective Regimental HQs

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headgardener

One other area that could be explored is the role of Arnside, looking at two newspapers, both articles from the late 1930s (which came up on the British Newspaper Archive) is instructive:

'Nottingham Evening Post - Saturday 09 May 1936

Ex-Labour. —The Labour Corps records to which you refer are probably now at Walworth; write to the Under-Secretary of State, The War Office, Records Section, Arnside-street, Walworth, London. S.E.17.'

'Burnley Express - Wednesday 21 December 1938

OLD CONTEMPTIBLES TO CLOSE THEIR RANKS Councillor P. J. H. Cobb writes: — Would you be kind enough allow me through the columns your paper remind all ex-Service in possession of the Clasp to the Star, that *' The Old Contemptibles' Association," founded by the late Captain J. P. Danny in 1925, definitely closes its ranks for membership at the end of this year. As founder of the Burnley branch, I appeal ro all men with the necessary qualifications join at once. Any men who have been members and allowed their membership to lapse should immediately apply for re-admission. Following the closure our ranks, it our intention to consolidate the position of the Association, formulate our future policy, and make our main endeavour the alleviation of the lot of such of our chums who may necessitous circumstances in their advancing years. Prospective members should, apply the hon. secretary, T. W. Tunbridge, 5, Springhill-road, Burnley, for application form, and when completed, return it to him with discharge papers. A man who has the Clasp and finds is not recorded on his papers, or /and has never received the award of the Clasp and entitled to it, should apply the Under Secretary State, The War Office, Record Section, Arnside-street, Walworth, London, S.E. 17, requesting the entry be made and the Clasp awarded.'

The second article suggests the presence of the Medal Office at Arnside Street and underlines the fact that little discussion seems to have taken place about the layout of War Office Arnside and the size and full range of records held there. Knowledge of which would all help us place into context the likely storage arrangements of service records.

It also leads to the question has anyone seen anywhere on a burnt record or later service record stamps or papers that indicate them being processed at Arnside?

Justin,

2 quick points:

1. Most WW1 medals or awards were issued automatically on the basis of medal rolls that were prepared by the various regiments/corps from their own records. But there were 3 instances that required a man to apply for a specific medal or award; (a) the 1914 clasp & rose, (b ) the Territorial Force War Medal, and (c ) the British War Medal & Victory Medal in the event that the recipient was an officer. I suspect that the man in question would have to obtain supporting documentation from the records held at Arnside - the 2nd quote that you provide certainly appears to indicate that this would have been the case. So, rather than there being an AMO presence at Arnside, I wonder whether it was simply part of a bureaucratic chain in which the man sought confirmation of their entitlement from Arnside which would then be forwarded to the AMO. I have seen correspondence in one mans file regarding an application for a TFWM that would appear to suggest that this was the case. I have also seen similar correspondence regarding an application for a long-service gratuity that appears to have required the man himself to write to the WO Records Section - he had been discharged in March 1919, less than 1 month short of 18 years service, and he had to seek confirmation of his service from (presumably) Arnside.

2. I have very little experience of the pre-WW1 series of files, but on 2 of the 3 or 4 occasions that I have searched through them I've found files that show service beginning in the pre-war era which extended beyond 1915. This suggests to me that all files were originally stored together, and that the pre-war 'series' were somehow 'weeded out' prior to the fire. This corresponds with the fact that the burnt series contains pre-war service papers that do not appear to be linked to any WW1 service.

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Justinth

True, the fact that Coldstreamer was looking for Guards records had not twigged (oh well)! Hence why he could only find the transfers!

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headgardener

Coldstreamer,

These are the records held by MoD, so I wouldn't expect any Foot Guards records in their since they (as you know) remain held at the respective Regimental HQs

I've found foot guards papers in the unburnt series and I *think* - though I'm not 100% sure on this - that I've found them in the burnt series too.

I understood that 2 sets of papers were created, one held at regimental level and the other held centrally. I thought this was the reason for often finding 2 sets of attestation documents, for example.

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Justinth

Justin,

2 quick points:

1. Most WW1 medals or awards were issued automatically on the basis of medal rolls that were prepared by the various regiments/corps from their own records. But there were 3 instances that required a man to apply for a specific medal or award; (a) the 1914 clasp & rose, ( B) the Territorial Force War Medal, and © the British War Medal & Victory Medal in the event that the recipient was an officer. I suspect that the man in question would have to obtain supporting documentation from the records held at Arnside - the 2nd quote that you provide certainly appears to indicate that this would have been the case. So, rather than there being an AMO presence at Arnside, I wonder whether it was simply part of a bureaucratic chain in which the man sought confirmation of their entitlement from Arnside which would then be forwarded to the AMO. I have seen correspondence in one mans file regarding an application for a TFWM that would appear to suggest that this was the case. I have also seen similar correspondence regarding an application for a long-service gratuity that appears to have required the man himself to write to the WO Records Section - he had been discharged in March 1919, less than 1 month short of 18 years service, and he had to seek confirmation of his service from (presumably) Arnside.

2. I have very little experience of the pre-WW1 series of files, but on 2 of the 3 or 4 occasions that I have searched through them I've found files that show service beginning in the pre-war era which extended beyond 1915. This suggests to me that all files were originally stored together, and that the pre-war 'series' were somehow 'weeded out' prior to the fire. This corresponds with the fact that the burnt series contains pre-war service papers that do not appear to be linked to any WW1 service.

Hi Headgardener

All good stuff again (does anyone know the definitive locations of the medal office in this period?), point 2 could be correct, or certainly indicate some mixing rather than the misplacing of papers which is a part of any large bureaucracy/archive.

It also leads me to whether anyone knows of any Army Council Instructions etc regarding the transfer of service files from regiments to the War Office once service had ended. Plus when a soldier went into the reserve etc would his service file be forwarded to the War Office for storage or would it be retained for the period in the reserves by his last regiment?

Regards

Justin

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David_Underdown

I've found foot guards papers in the unburnt series and I *think* - though I'm not 100% sure on this - that I've found them in the burnt series too.

I understood that 2 sets of papers were created, one held at regimental level and the other held centrally. I thought this was the reason for often finding 2 sets of attestation documents, for example.

They are certainly some guards records in the unburnt records, but these are all duplicates prepared for War Office use in the run up to the Second World War. Unlikely to be many in the burnt, except again in the case of someone who transferred to another corps.

Generally service records were held by the appropriate record office, rather than at regimental level (any correspondence in the records is always from a record office, rather than the regiment as such).

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tullybrone

I've found foot guards papers in the unburnt series and I *think* - though I'm not 100% sure on this - that I've found them in the burnt series too.

I understood that 2 sets of papers were created, one held at regimental level and the other held centrally. I thought this was the reason for often finding 2 sets of attestation documents, for example.

Hi,

If by unburnt series you mean the Ministry of Pension Service files I would agree that there are Guards service files in that series. I found my gf papers there.

In my experience that series contains papers of wounded/injured men who had applied for/might be expected to apply for a pension (my gf was wounded but did not apply for/receive a pension as far as I am aware.

The Guards files in the burnt series are, in my experience, in relation to those soldiers who transferred out to another regiment.

I have no knowledge of the Guards providing a second set of papers to be held "centrally". Perhaps Coldstreamer may be able to comment.

As an aside my reading of Coldstreamers comments above are that he is searching for Coldstream Guards who transferred out of the regiment into "infantry of the line" or other regiments. In those cases their papers would be transferred from their original Guards regiment to MOD (War Office) but post 1920/21 they would retain CG army numbers in the series 264????.

Regards

Steve Y

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Justinth

Wouldn't it be clear if a second set of records were held centrally as a regular occurrence? I have not seen this, the only possible circumstance I can think of this happening in terms of service records is in a similar circumstance to that in my grandfather's records. His 1937-1945 service record is rather lacking in detail as he was posted soon after joining the Royal Artillery to Singapore. The service record remained in London and there must have been some sort of local regimental service record kept on him up until 1942 (when the Japanese intervened)?

I think we need to establish the basics, that is point of transfer from record offices (as David suggests rather than regiments), any relevant ACIs etc. Even if the Arnside fire destroyed the index and many of the records themselves, basic facts about the system would certainly tell you something about why we have the files we have post 1920 in this release plus more about the pattern of surviving papers from WW1.

Regards

Justin

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Coldstreamer

Well done chaps, this is useful and practical advice.

Hi Coldstreamer

Can I ask what was the service profile of those you were looking for and didnt find? Were the enquiries purely speculative or what led you to think that they might be in the set (post 1920 service numbers etc)? Useful information in terms of establishing the survival rate for this set.

Regards

Justin

all ex Coldstreamers

one was Middlesex in ww2

One is unit unknown

another a London regiment

their coldstream papers show they transferred - often there is only the transfer note remaining at Coldstream RHQ

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