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Justinth

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

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Justinth

Hi all

I have just received the following response to my FOI about releasing the indexing information for service records retained by MoD prior to 1901 (ref 2014/06919):

'Thank you for your email of the 9 November 2014 asking:
“…….Earlier freedom of information requests have revealed that service file data for all service records held by MOD is computerised and indexed by service number, surname, initials and date of birth. Would the MoD consider releasing this information (probably electronically) as a finding aid for family and researchers wanting to see if WW1 service files have been retained by MoD because of continued service after WW1 (such a release would also comfortably fit within data protection principles)?”
I am treating your correspondence as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Indexed data relating to service personnel with a date of birth prior to 1901 will be published on the .gov.uk web site. I will separately e-mail you with a link once this is available.
The data is ordered by account and then date of birth. A description of the relevant accounts can also be found on .gov.uk using “MOD collation summary” as a search term.
Approximately 1700 entries have been deleted from the data as errors made when the index was created suggested an actual date of birth of after 1901.'

An earlier FOI gave the number of service records retained with birth dates prior to 1901 as '373417'. Although not the service records themselves the release of the indexing information should be of great interest to all WW1 researchers.

I look forward to the release of the information on the gov.uk web site.

The full response can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/foi-responses-released-by-mod-week-commencing-1-december-2014 under 'Service personnel indexed data for those with a birth date prior to 1901'.

Regards

Justin

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Liz Hall

Interesting. Will the records of the Volunteer Battalions and early TF records be among these?

Liz

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AnnMcD

Following the link mentioned above and below the notice "Service personnel indexed data for those with a birth date prior to 1901" are eight attachments which must be the indexed names. I've had a quick glance and in the first one found someone I'm interested in. The spreadsheet includes surname, initials, DoB and service number.

Ann

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ss002d6252

Interesting. Will the records of the Volunteer Battalions and early TF records be among these?

Liz

Only for men where the MOD has retained the records - usually only where a man served on after the war.

Craig

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HeatherC

The spreadsheets do indeed contain indexed names although the exact data given seems to vary - some have units listed as well and some don't. Best way to find anyone is to search the individual spreadsheets for them. I found my Great Uncle on Sheet 2, which is the first confirmation I've ever seen of his Service number and Unit as his service started just after the war and he does not appear anywhere else like MICs. Very very useful.

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rac1473

I have looked through the lists, if you check out list 8 and use the filter on column UDF2, they have the record for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) Born 04/08/1900. I wonder whether an FOI request would get you a copy :lol:

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AnnMcD

Looking further - it includes women. The service number is, of course, the post war number but because you know the birthdate (although I've found one person who lied about the year) you can check whether you have the right person by searching for a birth registration using www.freebmd.org. The registration is usually in the quarter in which the birth date falls although you may have to look at the following quarter. This will give you the first names and the registration district.

Ann

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Justinth

Just got home and seen that the spreadsheets have now been posted, as discussed above. I would also like to say how helpful and open the MoD have been over a number of Freedom of Information requests that have led to the release of this information.

Justin

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westkent78

Thanks for pushing this Justin. Very useful.

I do wonder if this is all of the files for pre-1901 birth soldiers as I've got a man born in 1895, a pre-war regular, who went to Army reserve in 1921 and re-engaged in 1926 as Section D for 4 more years. I was expecting his papers to be here, but they aren't. Could the fact that he was only Army Reserve post war mean his service papers were in the 'Burnt Series' after all? Or am I missing something?

Matthew

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Justinth

Thanks for pushing this Justin. Very useful.

I do wonder if this is all of the files for pre-1901 birth soldiers as I've got a man born in 1895, a pre-war regular, who went to Army reserve in 1921 and re-engaged in 1926 as Section D for 4 more years. I was expecting his papers to be here, but they aren't. Could the fact that he was only Army Reserve post war mean his service papers were in the 'Burnt Series' after all? Or am I missing something?

Matthew

Hi Matthew

I expect as with other records there will be some gaps (maybe missed when the index was computerised) and papers misfiled, lost etc. We now have the opportunity from now to do what this forum does very well, which is solve mysteries, find patterns in the data and reveal gaps. Anyone tried yet to look up a similar case in terms of timing and reserve status to Matthew's example? If it is part of a pattern it should become clear over time.

Justin

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AnnMcD

This is exciting. I think there is a record for my grandfather, Hugh Corner as in the index is Corner, H, unit RPC, born 31/10/1897 (correct date). My grandfather was a gunner in the RFA and the family story is that he was to serve in the army of occupation but his father died in February 1919 so he was sent home. Could he have been transferred to the Royal Pioneer Corps after the armistice (although his discharge paper) only states RFA? Does this mean that his records will be held by the MoD? I'd always assumed they'd been destroyed in WWII.

Ann

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Justinth

This is exciting. I think there is a record for my grandfather, Hugh Corner as in the index is Corner, H, unit RPC, born 31/10/1897 (correct date). My grandfather was a gunner in the RFA and the family story is that he was to serve in the army of occupation but his father died in February 1919 so he was sent home. Could he have been transferred to the Royal Pioneer Corps after the armistice (although his discharge paper) only states RFA? Does this mean that his records will be held by the MoD? I'd always assumed they'd been destroyed in WWII.

Ann

If the papers are your grandfather's records, it will be a service file for him.

Justin

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Cameronian Volunteer

Thanks Justin for what you have done to get these online.

Sheet 2 seems to show that some records for my father survive. Like Ann, I had also assumed that they had been lost.

The service number P99084 is new to me. Do you know when this number would have been assigned?

I had previously obtained a service record for him from the National Archives which is stamped "Service Considered for the Grant of War Medals". It ends in 1919 with the entry "AFZ3 sent to War Office". I see from LLT that Z3 was a Protection Certificate issued while the soldier was being demobilised.

Although I know he re-enlisted at the outbreak of WW2, the service number P99084 makes me wonder whether he might have additional service after 1919.

Could anyone shed any light on this?

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Justinth

Hi Cameronian

Here is a useful link to service numbers from 1920 onwards http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Service_Number. The P prefix doesn't appear in the list. and the number is also short of digits for a 1920-42 service number unless he was in the Royal Army Service Corp (see list and no mention made of use of prefixes ). From the list on the LLT http://www.1914-1918.net/prefixes.html P is shown for pre 1920 service numbers as:

P Rifle Brigade P Military Foot Police and Military Mounted Police

Although as said on the page this is not exhaustive. Does the Rifle Brigade or Military Police chime in with the records you have? Ultimately the answer will be to order a copy of the new record.

Justin

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hazelclark

Thanks Justin. Am trying to negotiate the files.

Hazel

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David_Underdown

The P numbers are usually seen on officers' records - if you look at the indexes to the officers' "Long Number" records (WO 338), these are the sort of numbers you see annotated where an officer continued serving after 1922 and the records are still held by MOD. I think that without the P these numebrs may be the same thing that you see being used in gazette entries and the like from around the beginning of the Second World War.

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Justinth

Thanks David, it hadn't registered with me when looking at post WW1 officers that a P prefix was used.

A related question that comes from this is what determined whether a new service file was issued after the individuals WW1 service? Was a new file usually just issued when there was a gap in service (hence individuals having separate service files for two distinct periods of service) and the old WW1 file kept open if the service continued past 1920 without a gap (of which I have seen examples)?

In terms of WW1 officers long papers I have seen that the original private soldier attestation papers were removed and placed in the new file if a promotion was made from the ranks, presumably this practice continued after 1920 or was it affected by a gap in service?

Justin

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David_Underdown

I odn't know to be honest, particularly when there was a gap in service. I've not looked at any later service records.

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Justinth

Hi all

Have been discussing this on WW2 Talk http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/55899-service-records-if-a-break-in-service-was-a-new-file-always-opened/ (on the thread you can see the examples given) and concluded that:

'It appears very likely from the above and other records I have seen that it is indeed the case that each new enlistment into the Army generated a new and distinct set of papers (also some experience looking at pre-WW1 service records would also seem to confirm this). Therefore it is likely only in the case of continuing service after 1920 (where service began before 1920) and continued without a gap that a WW1 or pre-WW1 service record would have continued to be used and updated (which is important in the context of the new index for pre-1901 DoB service files). Thank you all for your help and if anyone else has any more examples please post here (particularly if it shows the above to not be correct or only partially true!). Regards Justin'

The attestation for a new enlistment would of course make mention of the previous service, it then poses the questions:

1) Has anyone received post 1920 papers for a relative (where the relative re-enlisted after 1920) but found that the pre-1920 record of service has not survived?

2) Service records are currently indexed by date of birth, name, service number etc. Do we know how they were indexed and shelved at the time of the Arnside fire in 1940?

Regards

Justin

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ss002d6252
2) Service records are currently indexed by date of birth, name, service number etc. Do we know how they were indexed and shelved at the time of the Arnside fire in 1940?

That's likely to remain one of life's little mysteries.

Craig

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Justinth

That's likely to remain one of life's little mysteries.

Craig

I suspect you are right, but you never know...

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kildaremark

Just to add to this. I have two gunners who left in 1922 having served from 1914 and 1915 respectively and reenlisted in 1919 and dates confirmed from the Royal Artillery attestation books [at least that's what they are described as when in fact they were originally renumbering books started in 1920] which are on one of the genealogical websites.

Neither of these post 1921 men have surviving service records which confirms that just because someone served beyond 1920 does not mean that their service records survived. I recently sent in the fee for one of these records and the good people in the MOD returned my cheque uncashed once they consulted their index.

Mark

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Justinth

Hi Mark

I agree.

Just to say that the current situation for storing service records is as follows, according to a 2013 Freedom of Information request relating to the storage of WW2 files (it is very likely that this applies to older records as well):

'WW2 soldiers’ service records are stored randomly and indexed by Service Number, Surname and Initials and Date of Birth to enable retrieval from storage.'

Regards

Justin

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Liz Hall

Hi all

Have been discussing this on WW2 Talk http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/55899-service-records-if-a-break-in-service-was-a-new-file-always-opened/ (on the thread you can see the examples given) and concluded that:

'It appears very likely from the above and other records I have seen that it is indeed the case that each new enlistment into the Army generated a new and distinct set of papers (also some experience looking at pre-WW1 service records would also seem to confirm this). Therefore it is likely only in the case of continuing service after 1920 (where service began before 1920) and continued without a gap that a WW1 or pre-WW1 service record would have continued to be used and updated (which is important in the context of the new index for pre-1901 DoB service files). Thank you all for your help and if anyone else has any more examples please post here (particularly if it shows the above to not be correct or only partially true!). Regards Justin'

The attestation for a new enlistment would of course make mention of the previous service, it then poses the questions:

1) Has anyone received post 1920 papers for a relative (where the relative re-enlisted after 1920) but found that the pre-1920 record of service has not survived?

2) Service records are currently indexed by date of birth, name, service number etc. Do we know how they were indexed and shelved at the time of the Arnside fire in 1940?

Regards

Justin

Hi Justin

I have just received the post WW1 papers for my grandfather (296, 57756 & 240016) CSM A J MONAGHAN of the 5th Batt Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Previously in the 1990's I received only cursory info but this time I received photocopies of his enlistment into the TA in 1922 which shows:

Regtl. No. 3848465: Previous service 5.4.19 to 4.7.1922. On the 18 July he rejoins the 5th Batt. two weeks after returning from Ireland (I already knew this from the Regimental Depot)

He stayed in the TA until attaining the age of 50.

In June 1939 he enlists again into the TA 5th Batt. Loyal Regiment (National Defence Companies) No D/3472 which also shows under previous service:

2nd Volunteer Batt 1906

5th Batt.

2nd Batt 1919-1922

5th Batt 1922-1935

So although I now have confirmation of his previous service there were no WW1 or 1919-1922 papers to see.

On looking at the index you kindly shared there is only the number D/3472 shown for my grandfather. The MOD replied within three weeks of my application so the old cynic me thinks they merely found the file from 1991 and photocopied that - it took six months previously.

Hopefully others will have more success.

Liz

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Justinth

Hi Liz

Thanks for this. It gives further evidence that each enlistment generated a different set of papers and that the earlier enlistment papers for an individual may not survive (even if they are post 1920).

Another question then occurs to me, has anyone got an example of a soldier with discontinuous service between the wars i.e. service in WW1 and then re-enlistment some time after 1920 (not including the Home Guard) where the WW1 service file has been found amongst the burnt records and the post 1920 service papers have come from MoD?

Regards

Justin

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