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Remembered Today:

Herbert Lancaster - Sig.Boy. - MFA/RNR Gallipoli Service & SSS Ves


CozzieNige
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Hi All,

This is my very first post, so please forgive any potential ignorance here. I would be very grateful for any help and guidance you can provide me, regarding some queries I have regarding my grandfather's WWI Medal Card (only paperwork found so far for him) - Herbert Lancaster (DOB: 6th Feb 1899, Toxteth, Liverpool). A pic of the medal card is attached. All we know is that he was a Sea Scout initially (see pic) and joined up with the RNR / Royal Naval Reserve (not RNVR) as a Signal Boy (see pic) and we know served/wounded/torpedoed at Gallipoli possibly towards the end of the campaign and maybe somehow connected with the HMS Prince of Wales. My queries are:

1. Where "Role" is mentioned at the top of the as "M.M.R.", is this related to the Mercantile Marines?

2. Under column 3 "No." it has "10 S.S.S." detailed, which I am assuming relates to his unit/ship/vessel. From what I have ascertained so far, most vessells were given a unique official board of trade number, but have not been able to find anything on this particular number. On the same card there is a J Landells also noted with the same number and an Alfred Lane with "5 S.S.S." noted (vessel also not found to date)

3. With the medals detailed for receipt "ST/V/ B". Would one of these have in theory been a Mercantile Marine Medal, as the 3 we have for seem to be standard WWI issue, though one has "Signal Boy" around it?

4. I understand that The Fleet Air Arm archive down in Somerset is the place to go to obtain RNR and Mercantile Marine service information, but are there any other sources I can use/are available? After wounding at Gallipoli, Herbert was transferred to the RFC - Royal Flying Corps as a driver.

5. Following on from 4. above, as Herbert was ended the war in the RFC, would his records be held by the Fleet Air Arm or RAF?

6. Lastly slightly off topic, but where can I best find service records for Herbert's WWII RAF service with 18 Sqn - Blemheims (transport driver, wounded 1941 prior to Dunkirk)? Currently I cannot even find a medal card for him.

If you need any more information, please let me know.Thanks very much!

Nigel

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Nigel,

Welcome to the Forum.

MMR is Mercantile Marine Reserves.

1Oth SSS would be 10th Shore Signal Station.

The medal roll you have attached is for the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal, & the Victory Medal, not the Mercantile Marine War Medal.

David.

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David,

Many thanks for that information! I had no idea that unit existed, but making sense now. I've run a quick Google check but nothing found for 10 S.S.S. yet. Would this unit have been RNR owned or belonged to the RND etc, or detached to a specific ship, was this a unit number that would have followed Herbert throughout his RNR service do you think - sorry a bit confused? Trying to understand the context of this unit and who it belonged to and what other duties apart from signalling it may have been responsible for. Can you suggest any sources of information on this unit and their role leading up to and at Gallipoli? The only info' he gave me as a kid, was that he was on a (troop?) barge near the Prince of Wales performing signalling duties (bugle definately and maybe semaphore), when it was torpedoed, which I ynderstand could have come from sea or air (torpedo shaped bomblets).

Nigel.

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A search of the National Archives does not show entitlement to the Mercantile Marine Medal. This is not unusual for M.M.R. men who had not made the qualifying voyage before or after their M.M.R. service.

Findmypast might have a record card available for him.

Michael Johnson

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There is no record of a Herbert LANCASTER having served in the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR), as officer or rating. He was, therefore, Mercantile Marine Reserve (MMR) only before his transfer to the army, as recorded on the MIC.

Your statement that he "ended the war in the RFC" implies that he did not transfer to the RAF and was, therefore, discharged before 1 April 1918. He could not have "ended the war" in the RFC on 11 November 1918 as the RFC no longer existed. RFC records are with other army papers and any RAF record will be held at Kew.

WW2 service records have not been released into the public domain and you will have to claim them from the Ministry of Defence. Follow this link:-

http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/service_records.html

Squadron Supply Ships were auxiliary vessels attached to squadrons of warships.

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Superb photographs.

He was certainly proud of that wristwatch, maybe a gift from his loved ones he wanted seen

Hi, thanks for mentioning that. I think though it was more a case of wearing the wristwatch due to practicality reasons or maybe "orders". As a rule following the war and for the rest/most of his life, he generally only used a fob watch - one of the few remaining heirlooms I have from his time. Looking at the photo, for me

(having been researching the family past and general situation at the time), I'm more impressed with the fact though that he could even afford a nice wristwatch given he had not long left an industrial (poor) boys school in Toxteth, Liverpool c1913. So to have been able to afford one shows an improved financial situation given his impoverished upbringing. He learned to play various brass instruments, band lead and this must have carried forward into his Sea Scout and later RNR - Signal Boy pursuits. :thumbsup:

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Nigel,

Welcome to the Forum.

MMR is Mercantile Marine Reserves.

1Oth SSS would be 10th Shore Signal Station.

The medal roll you have attached is for the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal, & the Victory Medal, not the Mercantile Marine War Medal.

David.

David,

Thanks again for your reply. I cannot find any details online for the 10th Shore Signal Station (or even 10 Squadron Supply Ship - see later reply) - can you help please? Of the suggestions put forward thus far, your's is looking the most likely i think given Herbert was recorded as a Signal Boy on his MMR medal card. I have since established from another of his medals that he started the war off as a Sea Scout. I know from research that the Admiralty approved the establishment of Sea Scouts as Seamen and Costal Watchers, in the knowledge they knew war was brewing. So I am assuming that Herbert was in the Sea Scout from about 1913 (minimum joined age was 14) until around the early part of the war. We have him in the RNR (photographed on cap tally) and later associated with the MMR, though still workig out how that would happen - I'm assuming he was performing say merchant naval activities, signed up with the RNR (pending call up for an "emergency") and then whilst on a vessel/unit got requisitioned by the Admiralty and ended up at Gallipoli as a Signal Boy.

What I am also trying to work out (currently confused), is how much MMR such one had to do in order to be entitled to a MMR medal? Surely being sent abroard as a MMR and wounded/repatriated on that active service would have been reason enough? I'm concerned that perhaps he should have been entitled to a MMR medal which he did not receive?

Lastly, maybe you can help me understand the context of the MMR card I attached. Is this a list of all men who served in the MMR, which was then used to determine/allocate whatever medals they were entitled to. OR, was this meant to be more simply a list of all men in the MMR entitled to a MMR medal? Again this refers back to the fact that he was in the MMR, did active service abroard, but strangely may/may not have been entitled to a MMR medal. Thanks.

Nigel.

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There is no record of a Herbert LANCASTER having served in the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR), as officer or rating. He was, therefore, Mercantile Marine Reserve (MMR) only before his transfer to the army, as recorded on the MIC.

Your statement that he "ended the war in the RFC" implies that he did not transfer to the RAF and was, therefore, discharged before 1 April 1918. He could not have "ended the war" in the RFC on 11 November 1918 as the RFC no longer existed. RFC records are with other army papers and any RAF record will be held at Kew.

WW2 service records have not been released into the public domain and you will have to claim them from the Ministry of Defence. Follow this link:-

http://www.veterans-...ce_records.html

Squadron Supply Ships were auxiliary vessels attached to squadrons of warships.

Hi, thanks for your reply. Please could you confirm what RNR records you checked? The thing is I posted pics definately showing hin in the RNR (see cap tally), so he must have belonged to them at some point. That is unless he and his mates "borrowed" RNR outfits for "staging" of the photos. The thing that confuses me is that he appears to have entered the war performing Sea Scout duties (as enscribed on one of his medals), then joined up with the RNR, somehow found his way into the MMR (as per medal card) and then after being wounded at Gallipoli ends up in the RFC as a driver. So far it's proved almost impossible to find anything for him so far apart from the card posted here at Kew. So it's looking like costly archive searches at Fleet Air Arm and RAF/MoD will be the only accurate way of establishing his service?

Re: his RFC/RAF service - you got me on the dates there - "finished the war" was a generalisation, thinking that the RAF was formed around 1920, when I can see it formed earlier in 1918. I understand he was in the service which ever one it was until about 1919. This weekend we think we have found him on the 1918 RAF Muster Roll. It includes 5 H.Lancasters with only 1 being an MT Driver (as opposed to fitters, labourer, storeman), which we know he was during/after the war and shows that man promoted in Nov'17.

Many thanks also for the records link which I will be looking to progress shortly.

Nigel

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The "medal card" you have posted is not a card but a page extract from the ledgers which contain Admiralty Medal Rolls. These rolls list the men who were entitled to one or more of the four WW1 campaign medals: 1914 Star, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. The MMR page shows that he was issued with the latter three medals by reason of his service in the Mercantile Marine Reserve (MMR), as a merchant seaman under Admiralty control. It is nothing to do with the Mercantile Marine Medal and there is no such thing as a "Mercantile Marine Reserve Medal".

RNR ratings' records can be searched here:- http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/royal-naval-reserve-service-records.htm

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm still trying to get to grips with the whole Mercantile Marine, MFA, RNR, RNVR overlap.

It's a brilliant subject but very complex for the novice researcher!

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  • 2 years later...

I have been trying to locate service details for my grandfather - Herbert Lancaster, b.6/2/1899 Toxteth, Liverpool, who served in various services throughout WW1, without much success and have mainly been hitting dead ends at most ponts of my searching. Unfortunately I have found understandig the relationships of the various naval/merchant organisations a bit of a nightmare trying to work out so far.

Based on the information I have located online, his old photos and his recollections of that time, here's what I know about his time in the forces;

1. At the outbreak of war, he was in the throws of leaving an industrial school in Toxteth and had presumably been previously enrolled Sea Scouts, possibly Toxteth branch. One of his 3 medals (silver 1914-18) has his name/Sea Scouts engraved around the edge. I know from my investigations, that the president of the organisation Baden-Powell wrote to the War Office in 1919 requesting that their valuable service (e.g. anti-submarine port/coastal watching/signalling dutes etc), be officially recognized with medals etc, which was subsequently granted and would explain the above engraving.

2. His 1914-15 Star details his name, rank - Sig.Boy. and M.F.A. engraved on it. I understand that MFA is Mercantile Fleet Auxiliary, however I know little of that "organisation" and how it's members are recorded during the WW1 period?

3. We have 2 photos taken during the war at a studio in Peterhead, in which he and his colleagues are clearly seen wearing standard naval ratings uniforms with "Royal Naval Reserve" cap tallies. Also, he had the signaller rank badge (sewn-on crossed flags) on his right upper arm shown.

4. Based on his verbal/written memories of WW1, he served at sea at Gallipoli from more or less start to finish and was wounded there when the vessel/station he was working on/adjacent to was torpedoed. He mentioned "The Prince of Wales" battleship, so could his vessel have been supporting that ship maybe? This event we understand resulted in him later being invalided out of active service, but not 100%. He recalled meeting one of his older brothers (Thomas Charles Lancaster - one of 3 brothers in the AIF) at Gallipoli at some point after he also was shot/wounded by the Turks. Given the numbers of men/units/vessels etc out there, I have always found it fascinating that these brothers could have found each other, so have summised that either they were both wounded around the same time and met up in hospital, or my GF's signalling duties somehow allowed him access to casualty lists and found a way of meeting up that way?

5. In 1917, he joined the RFC as an Motor Driver and his RFC/RAF Service Record (#79191) paperwork just found, details his employer as the Cunard SS Co, Bootle. We don't know if he joined Cunard after returning home, or was employed by them before going to Gallipoli.

6. So far to date, the only paperwork I have found for his naval time, is his MMR Medal Index Roll ADM 171/131, which has him detailed "Lancaster, Herbert, Sig.Boy. 10 S.S.S." (vessel). I have trawled through the medal roll and found approx' 15 other names for that vessel, but can find no details as to exactly which vessel/station the numbers refers to, which would then allow me to check it's whereabouts/duties during WW1 and maybe it's Gallipolo service. Various unit names have been suggested on forums, e.g. 10th Squadron Supply Ship (most likely I think)? and 10th Shore Signal Station? Even service as a decoy Q-Ship has been mentioned. A ship name of Netherby Hall of Ellerman Lines has been promoted as the ship name, but the only service I can find for it being in the Far East/Pacific and returned to private use circa.1916, but nothing about Gallipoli service.

Is there a definivitive list of ship names corresponding to the SSS ship numbers available to view?

7. Herbert does not come up on any RN or RNR searches, but obviously must have been in/associated with the RNR, to be wearing a RNR cap tally, but cannot find any record to confirm his service. Can anyone explain this conumdrum? Also so far, I have bot been able to locate any merchant seaman's records for him, which I believed every seaman had to have and were retained by the ship's captain? With that it would confirm the vessels that he served on. I read online that seamans records for the 1905-1918 period were all destroyed for some reason during the 1950/60's - is that correct. If not, where would I need to search/approach for more ino' please? Could his naval service docs have followed/been joined up with his later RFC/RAF service records, or whould thay have remained seperate?

Any help that anyone can provide, will be greatfully appreciated!

Many thanks,

Nigel

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A few comments which might help:

RNR ratings records are kept at Kew under BT377. There is no record indicated for the name Herbert Lancaster.

If your man returned to the MN AFTER the war there will likely be a record card. Kew has a microfiche record and Southampton City Archives has original cards,often with a photo on the back. You are right when you say that cards up to 1918 are no longer available,here at least. Some were taken over by the University of Newfoundland and I see that every now and then someone is successful in their asking of that establishment.Others were destroyed.

Out of interest some Scouts were used on board Hospital Ships during WW1,the Britannic carried around a dozen,who acted as messengers,lift boys etc.

My neighbour's father was one such,and went to the Eastern Med with the ship.Some were on board when it was mined and sank,but none were lost.

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Thanks for your reply. Yes, what you have relayed is pretty much what I have found so far myself. Struggling to understand though why he does not show up under RNR lists, when is pictured wearing an RNR tally? Unfortunately from a records sense he did not return to the MN after the war and simply carried on utilising his new found driving skills as a chaueffer initially - so the WW1 gave him back something for his troubles at least. Two of his older brothers and father worked for the White Star lines, which I think were later taken over by Cunard(?), so there maybe some play left in your hospital ship theory and would certainly possibly explain how he could have met up with his wounded brother. I did approach the Southampton maritime museum for feedback on Cunard records, but unfortunately they ignored my enquiry, but may try the guys in Newfoundland to see what they might have still saved. Thanks again.

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If Cunard employed him in Bootle something may possibly have filtered into the Maritime Archives and Library at the Merseyside Maritime Museum - http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/archive/

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Thanks SeaJane, I will follow up again with the varrious maritime museums again and see where I get to. Still need to properly identify what vessel 10.S.S.S. was though, so I can more easily track down the logs etc for it... SS Netherby Hall has been suggested, however the known movements of that ship based on what I've found so far, don't tally up with the Gallipoli period of my GF's service...

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Unfortunately not, hence the fresh request for assistance. Was hoping that there would be newer/more information that people had gained access to inbetween times.

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While I can appreciate your desire to solve this case, it would have been courteous to forum members to have re-opened your previous thread on the same topic to ask for "newer/more information", rather than to lead them to believe that this was a brand-new topic that had not been addressed before. Duplication of topics leads to duplication of effort when we try to help you, as has happened in this case.

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While I appreciate that you are a very active contributor to this forum with a wealth of WW1 knowledge, it would have been courteous to this particular (inexperienced) forum member, if instead of talking down and chastising me like a naughty schoolboy (that last happened over 35 years ago!), in the public domain for the whole World to read, you had (as experienced Old Sweat") instead simply sent me a discreet message explaining the situation.

Perhaps one reason why I felt the need (also not knowing I’d broken your rules for using this site), to post a new enquiry, was that following your previous unfortunate/untoward comments left during my previous post, it created a negative vibe and subsequently deterred others’ contributing any further. Had I known that you'd respond to my next post in the same unnecessary manner, I would have saved myself have bother. As I can’t cancel my account and now feel I can’t add any more posts without you spoiling what should be a pleasurable and rewarding experience, I can no longer see any point in using this site again. Thanks for that….

To everyone else who took the time/trouble to try and help me, who provided useful, accurate and positive feedback above and previously, many thanks indeed and apologies for the trouble/duplication of effort I have been instructed that I caused to you. Cheerio and I hope you have an enjoyable Christmas and prosperous 2015!

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