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Information on Durham Light Infantry Soldier


smawson44
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Hello all,

I am seeking information on a relative (Great- Grandfather). From this record it appears that he served with the Durham Light Infantry, was transferred to the Labour Corps, and was discharged at some point in time (Silver War Badge). If anyone could give me additional information about this record, or where to find additional information I would greatly appreciate it.

Here are the high points of his Medal index card

Name: Joesph H. Mawson

Service Number: DLI: 15352 Labour Corps: 654958

Medals: 1914-1915, British, Victory, and SWB

I am particularly interested in:

Why was he discharged?

What battalion of the DLI did he serve in?

Can his Army Service Numbers tell me anything by themselves(determine his battalion, etc)?

Is the Medal Index Card telling me anything else that I am missing?

Thanks,

Simon

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The Medal Rolls on Ancestry say that Joseph Henry Mawson, Labour Corps (654958) had previously served in 11th Battalion (Pioneers) of the DLI under service number 15352.

He served in France & Flanders.

C

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His SWB record has him (654958) as J Henry Mawson in the NCLC (Non Combatant Labour Corps) and FLI which I think is a misprint... enlisted 28.04.14 and discharged due to illness on 01.02.19

Mike

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Thank you so much for that information!!

Could you try to answer some further questions for me:

Was the NCLC any different than the Labour Corps(what was the NC for)?

Why was he transferred to the NCLC?

It is my understanding the 11th Battalion DLI was a Kitchener Battalion, why such an early enlistment (April '14)?

Finally, it has always been family tradition (I know, not always accurate) that he had been gassed and was put on pension for wounds. Would any of this information prove or disprove this tradition?

Again, Thank you so much for this information!!! I have in my possession a picture of him in uniform, and his 1914-1915 star, and am thrilled to add this further information.

Simon

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NCLC is not the non-combatant corps. It stands for Northern Command Labour Corps - effectively a Depot. See this thread for more information http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=65624

His enlistment date (from SWB roll) is actually 27.8.14 so an early volunteer.

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Thanks HeatherC - I thought I might have been too quick on that - dinner was on!

Mike

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Thanks,

Is there anywhere I could find information about the date/reason he left the 11th battalion DLI?

With this new information, would it be a correct assumption that he never formally served in the Labour Corps? He was only sent to the training Depot, but was discharged from there.

Simon

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With this new information, would it be a correct assumption that he never formally served in the Labour Corps? He was only sent to the training Depot, but was discharged from there.

Simon

No Simon I don't think you can assume this. When the Labour Corps was formed in 1917 a number of Infantry Battlaions were absorbed into it and I assume that Pioneers from some Battalions were moved across even if their Battalion was not completely absorbed. He may well have been transferred at that point. http://www.1914-1918.net/labour.htm gives some details. One way of narrowing it down might be to look for adjacent Regimental numbers to his and see if a service record survives for any of those men which gives their date of enlistment/transfer into the Labour Corps. Numbers were issued sequentially so this will give an idea of his transfer date.

If you read the link I gave above to the previous thread on Labour Corps Commands you will see they were not just used for training but also as a sort of holding unit for men being discharged. As we don't have your man's service record we can't be certain, but I have seen with others, that after they became ill or were wounded, they were transferred back to a regional Labour Corps Command in the UK to administer them until their discharge. I'd guess that's what happened here.

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Thank you,

Some further questions:

Regarding the Labour Corps does anyone have a relative of any serivce numbers surrounding Joseph's 654958 number and could you tell me an approximate date of when he was transferred?

Also a general question regarding the Labour Corps; I have read in a number of places that the men who made up the Labour Corps had previously been wounded or had been sick, and that was why they were transferred, is this accurate?

Does the SWB rolls designate between illness and wounded discharge? The family tradition is that my Joseph was gassed, is there anything on the SWB roll to support this?

Thanks,

Simon

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Also a general question regarding the Labour Corps; I have read in a number of places that the men who made up the Labour Corps had previously been wounded or had been sick, and that was why they were transferred, is this accurate?

In a lot of cases yes but any man unfit for front-line service could be sent to the labour corps - under conscription some men were sent straight in to the labour corps.

Does the SWB rolls designate between illness and wounded discharge?

Some of the rolls do and some don't - it's hit and miss.

Joseph's entry states he was sick.

Craig

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Thanks,

Does anyone have suggestions for further leads, or sources to look at to find out more about Joseph's war service?

Thanks,

Simon

PS I have attached bellow a draft of a letter I plan to send to some family members, if anyone has any comments or suggestions about the content they would be much appreciated.

Having received Joseph Mawson’s service number I have been able to find a fair bit of information about his World War 1 service. He enlisted on August 27, 1914. This probably would have been in the second major enlistment call by Lord Kitchener. His first service unit was the 11th battalion Durham Light Infantry.

The 11th Battalion was raised in Newcastle in September 1914, and trained in Woking, Pirbright, Witley, and Larkhill. At some point in time they were converted to a Pioneer battalion. Pioneer Battalions were known as “Organized and Intelligent Labour” they would have been responsible for the heavy lifting of the war. Their responsibilities would have included building trenches, repairing roads, bringing supplies to the front lines, and in times of danger repelling counterattacks. This would have been a dangerous and hard job, and for this work they were paid an extra supplement (which would have been an added benefit for a family man). It appears regiments from the north supplied greater number of pioneer battalions, and due to the predominance of miners many of these men were drafted into tunneling duties.

The 11 battalion DLI arrived in France on July 20th, 1915. For some reason Joseph Mawson’s paperwork says he arrived later on August 1, 1915. During the War the 11th bn DLI was in action at Mount Sorrell, during the later stages of the Battle of the Somme, the Third battle of Ypres, battle of Cambrai, and in the closing actions of the war. They received battle honours for: Guillemont (during the battle of the Somme) and Cambrai (where the major tank action took place). Although the 11th wasn’t a fighting battalion and seldom went ”over the top” it’s service would have been fraught with danger, and in frequent contact with the enemy. During it’s 1,210 days of active service it spend 68% engaged in pioneer duties, 4% as Fighting Infantry, 20% in Billets and Training, and 8% moving. During the war the 11th bn lost 295 men killed, and 966 wounded. With a original strength of around 900 men this was more than 100 percent casualties.

At some point during the war Joseph Mawson joined the Labour Corps. The Labour Corps was formed in January, 1917 to build roads, repair bridges, and railroads. The men who joined the LC were mostly men who for some reason could not serve at the front. Either they had been wounded and recovered, or had chronic illness. I am not sure when Joseph joined the LC, but considering his high service number (654958) it appears to be later in the war. On February 1, 1919 he was discharged from the Labrour Corps at the Northern Command Labour Corps at Ripon. He was issued the Silver War Badge, which means he was discharged due to illness or wounds that had incapacitated him. The Silver War Badge was given to men so they could prove their service to people seeking to give out the white feather to men out of uniform.

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The 11 battalion DLI arrived in France on July 20th, 1915. For some reason Joseph Mawson’s paperwork says he arrived later on August 1, 1915

He would have arrived as a reinforcement draft rather than being part of the original battalion who went out in July 1915.

Craig

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello,

On which roll on ancestry, does it note that he had served with the 11th bn DLI? If he arrived with a draft, would the roll have also noted that he was also with the 16 or 17 bn which provided drafts around the time he arrived in France?

Thanks,

Simon

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On which roll on ancestry, does it note that he had served with the 11th bn DLI?

1914-15 Star roll - http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/5119/41804_625537_9979-00123/3614243?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.co.uk%2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3findiv%3d1%26db%3dIWOServiceMedalAwardRolls%26rank%3d1%26new%3d1%26MSAV%3d1%26msT%3d1%26gss%3dangs-d%26gsln%3dmawson%26_F8007A65%3d654958%26dbOnly%3d_F8007A65%257c_F8007A65_x%252c_F00061C3%257c_F00061C3_x%252c_F000836E%257c_F000836E_x%26uidh%3d784%26pcat%3d39%26fh%3d1%26h%3d3614243%26recoff%3d7%2b79%2b80%26ml_rpos%3d2&ssrc=&backlabel=ReturnRecord (left hand column is the unit the award was qualified for with)

If he arrived with a draft, would the roll have also noted that he was also with the 16 or 17 bn which provided drafts around the time he arrived in France?

Not always.

Craig

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I could add that according to the book "No Labour, No Battle" by Starling and Lee that the LC Number 654958 would have been allotted approximately in October 1918 and falls within the number range allotted to PoW Companies.

So this gives you an approximate time span over which he served in the LC, given that you know his discharge date from his SWB record.

Russ

Edit: And according to the LLT the 11/DLI converted to a Pioneer Bn on 6th Jan 1915 i.e. before they went to France

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My understanding is that it was a company comprising prisoners of war (PoWs) and the British officers and men who guarded the company.

I believe the make-up of these companies changed during the war but, as an example, the book I mentioned above states that at the start of 1917 there were 18600 prisoners in 47 PoW Companies in France working on the roads, in quarries, in forests and building huts.

I would highly recommend the book.

Regards

Russ

EDIT: By the way, the other book I would highly recommend in your case is:

Pioneer Battalions in the Great War by K W Mitchinson

These 2 books will tell you all you need to know about the whys, whats and doings of these units (i.e. Pioneer Bns and the LC).

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That's facsinating. I've read the pioneer book, and am anxiously awaiting the book about the Labour corps. Thanks for the responses!

Thanks,

Simon.

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I looked at the surrounding service records for his Labour corps number and found, unsurpringly, that he most likely served in the 352 bn PoW Labour corps. As he was sandwiched between two soldiers who served in this unit. Both of the surrounding soldiers also had October transfer dates.

Simon.

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On the Victory/ British War Medal Roll, there is a column marked 'theaters of war in which. served'. On the page Joseph is on there are a variety of markings, all with a check next to them. Joseph has a 'X' next to his. Other soldiers on the page have 'O' and others have some underlined letters, possibly 'ons' Is there anyone that could explain to me what these markings stand for?

Thanks,

Simon

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Simon

Firstly, I don't think these markings refer to the column theatres of war served in - it's just a coincidence that this column is the first empty one next to the completed entries.

Secondly, I don't think the different types of markings have any significance in themselves - rather they are some sort of verification check by someone in the record office that the entries are correct and/or the medals have been dispatched.

Perhaps someone else will be along to correct me if I'm wrong.

Regards

Russ

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Thanks for you reply. I suspect you are correct, but I'm going to separate this as its own topic and see if anyone has a different opinion.

Simon

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  • 2 months later...

Hello all,

I received a pension index card from the WFA, and on the pension card is what appears to be a service number that I have not seen anywhere. The number is 20733, it is next to his other two service numbers. Anyone have any idea what this number is?

Thanks,

Simon

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Are you sure it is a service number? I know these cards can have all sorts of numbers written on them.

If it is a service number then perhaps he served (at home) with a different unit before the 11/DLI (so wouldn't appear on his medal roll). Remember that you have an enlistment date (from his SWB) of 27/08/1914 yet the 11/DLI wasn't formed until Sept 1914. So perhaps he enlisted in some unit before being transferred to the 11/DLI. But a number of 20733 would be quite high for quite a few Rgts in late Aug 1914.

Russ

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