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JaffaBib
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I am trying to look into an ancestor and have only the following information to start with:

Private James Smith

Serial No: 26425

The West Yorkshire, South Staffordshire and Lincolnshire Regis and Durham Light Infantry

Honourably discharged 10 Dec 1917.

This all comes from a Certificate that has been found in the family.

I would very much appreciate some clarification and answers -

  • I'm guessing that James Smith served with all these regiments, but which one would the 'Serial' number belong to?
  • Is a Serial Number the same thing as the Soldier's Service Number, as I'm currently unable to find record of a James Smith with that number on Ancestry?
  • Where would he have been serving and with which regiment when he was discharged?
  • I'm guessing that an 'honourable' discharge means that he was wounded in action doing something special/ heroic, would this be correct?

I would be very interested in anything else that would shed light on this man, as the only family knowledge of him is that he was a bit of a buffoon!

I could get a copy image of the certificate to post if that would help, or let me know if I should be able to get any other useful details from the cert? It's currently held by another family member.

Many thanks in advance.

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Is it a Kings Certificate ? It will show his regiment and service number .

Should also be a record of a Silver War Badge being issued

Where did you get the details of the 4 regiments he served with ?

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I'm afraid that I don't know if it's a 'Kings Certificate' - I'll need to get copy image of it from my family member to see what else is on it, if anything.

The 4 regiments apparently are shown on the cert - all the info that I've posted comes directly from the cert.

Is a 'Serial Number' different from a 'Service Number' then? I did ask my relative for the Service Number, but presume they haven't got it as they gave 'Serial Number' shown on the cert.

I understand that they don't have anything else other than the cert, as they weren't even aware of a military career of this ancestor previously; the cert has just been found in a drawer/ cupboard recently.

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This is a Kings Certificate.

post-84374-0-96870300-1419364764_thumb.j

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  • 3 weeks later...

Please see attached images. As you can see, there is no more information than that which I've already posted. The only reference number I'm able to determine from this is: 26425, but I don't know what it refers to. Due to the very poor quality of the cert, there may be another number/ letter at the beginning of the reference, but I wouldn't think that would make difference to searches; however, I'm unable to find this number, neither any military record of someone with all these regiments. Please help!?

post-78882-0-36223800-1420723352_thumb.j


Second image attached.

post-78882-0-97768500-1420723482_thumb.j

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Thats a Kings certificate indeed. So there should be a medal index card or silver war badge record matching it . Searching now :unsure:

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Jaffa

On the reverse of the Kings Certificate in the top right hand corner there should be a serial number (of the certificate, not the soldier's service number), a set of initials and a date. The initials are the Officer i c Records and the date may be handwritten or the stamp of the Records Office. Can you please say what the stamp says, if there is one.

Brian

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Hi Brian,

Again I'm sorry, but I've given all the information that is available. I did read on-line previously that there should be some detail on the back of the cert, so I asked my relative to check and they replied that there wasn't anything at all. If you look at the second image posted here, there is something scribbled on the bottom-left, beneath the soldier's feet - I don't know if that is something that is just on every cert though.

I am trying to get more info on James to assist in identifying him, such as his place and date-of-birth, and his full birth name, but again I'm waiting on older relatives to get this sorted and over to me.

This is a puzzle and it's driving me mad, so I appreciate any assistance/ direction that anyone can provide. Thank-you.

Jacqui

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I think he is this man in the Silver War Badge records:

264625 James Smith, 6th Infantry Labour Company of the Lincolnshire Regiment and Northern Command Labour Corps (the 264625 being a Labour Corps number). Enlisted 19-1-1915 and discharged due to sickness, age 24, on 10-12-1917. The roll says he did serve overseas so there should be a MIC somewhere.

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?MS_AdvCB=1&db=SilverWarBadgeMedals&rank=1&new=1&so=3&MSAV=2&gss=ms_r_db&gsfn_x=XO&gsln=smith&gsln_x=XO&dbOnly=_F8006879%7C_F8006879_x&dbOnly=_F000678D%7C_F000678D_x&dbOnly=_F00061C3%7C_F00061C3_x&_F8007A65=264625&dbOnly=_F8007A65%7C_F8007A65_x&_F8007A65_x=1&uidh=5k3

Steve.

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Can't see him on Ancestry yet, but he is on the National Archives:

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D5238273

However, this may be "just" a SWB card.

Hmmm. Having second thoughts here as to the Labour Corps number : it may be the 64865 number mentioned on this card and also on the SWB roll. Any one have Ivor Lee / John Starling's No Labour No Battle to hand? (or Ivor or John!)

Steve.

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Here's a funny coincidence, found a medal card Ancestry, of a James Brown, West Yorks 17931, Labour Corps 26425. Remarks: Discharged 10/12/1917

Maybe an alias? and i just can't ignore it for some reason, hopefully someone with better knowledge can check further.

Don't think rules allow me to post Mic image.

W.J.Caughey

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Hi Steve,

Your info looks absolutely brilliant! :D I'm so hopeful that it is the correct one and it does look very promising - from other internet discussions I've read, it seems that some simple mistakes were made on files/ docs during WWI, so omission of a single digit doesn't sound implausible. Why're you having doubts? BTW I found this MIC on Ancestry.

http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/1262/30850_A001444-01978/4340056?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.co.uk%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3fdb%3dmedalrolls%26MS_AdvCB%3d1%26rank%3d1%26new%3d1%26MSAV%3d2%26gss%3dangs-d%26gsfn%3dJames%26gsfn_x%3dXO%26gsln%3dsmith%26gsln_x%3dXO%26gskw%3d64865%26gskw_x%3d1%26cpxt%3d1%26catBucket%3drstp%26uidh%3dhg7%26cp%3d11%26gl%3d%26gst%3d%26hc%3d10%26fh%3d40%26fsk%3dBED9g7kIgAAE7gBC3fg-61-&ssrc=&backlabel=ReturnSearchResults

I can't discern the info (Cause of Discharge) after Para 2, but notice the AO.265/17. If in-line with info on SWB record, then I guess it's Para 2 a(I) - this would seemingly be incorrect (again) though because that relates to officers.

Hi W.J, Interesting note about James Brown. Not sure it would tie-up as the cert is issued to James Smith and this is ancestry for the 'Smith' branch of my family; however, worth a thought perhaps as some of the James Smith info might have got mixed-up due to the Service Nos?

Jacqueline

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Jacqueline

Iv'e been looking at to many alias lately, i should have check it out more before posting, sorry.

Hope you can get it sorted.

Walter

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My uncertainty was with the number I was quoting (264625) as a Labour Corps number and I wasn't sure if it was a Lincolnshire Regiment number or a Labour Corps one.

Now I have access to No Labour, No Battle it shows that the 6th Infantry Labour Company, when converted into a Labour Corps company in mid-1917 became 45th Company of the Labour Corps and it's men were allocated numbers 26401-27000. Notice that this is the number range into which our original number 26425 falls!

It would seem likely to me that the 26425 number is therefore the correct new number in the Labour Corps when he converted from being a Lincolnshire Regiment man to a Labour Corps man, and that the 264625 number is the incorrect one.

Since men received new numbers when they switched Regiments or Corps (in the main) then he should have had one number in each of the West Yorkshire Regiment, the South Staffordshire Regiment, the Durham Light Infantry and the Labour Corps (the latter, I now believe, being 26425)

The Ancestry Card is the card for his Silver War Badge and does not have the campaign medal entitlement that he should have.

I am now looking at the James Brown card and starting to suspect that they have managed to completely mess up the name and put Brown instead of Smith. It seems to have been the norm for the Labour Corps only to put the first and last Regiments on the medal card whereas others put the ones in between on as well. I will have a look at the "Brown" card. The number and date of discharge is just too co-incidental!

The date of entry to France of 10-7-1915 also fits with his enlistment date.

If you look at his medal roll page, notice how the other men are all coming from the Lincolnshire Regiment (with one other man from the West Yorkshires). I think Walter is onto something here!

Steve.

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Jaffa

For interest the name on the King's Certificate under the soldiers is Bernard Partridge, the artist on the staff of Punch magazine who designed the certificate and the date 1916 in Roman Numerals. Two files at TNA deal with how these certificates came into being, WO 32/11334 and WO 32/11335. The King suggested Bernard Partridge design them. The files also contain instructions to Officers i.c. Records and it should be endorsed on the reverse in the top right hand corner.

Brian

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A quick look at other men with West Yorkshire Regiment number similar to James Brown comes up with 17918 Alfred Bowling who enlisted on 20-1-1915 into the West Yorkshire Regiment. This is spot on (bar a day!) the date shown for James Smith's enlistment. I am starting to think that "James Brown" is James Smith.

Assuming "they" are the same man this would appear to be his possible route through the war:

19-01-1915 Enlisted and posted to the West Yorkshire Regiment, No. 17931

20-07-1915 Embarked to France with 1st Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (entitlement to British War Medal and Victory Medal and to 1914-15 Star shown as "James Brown")

??-??-1916 Invalided home

??-??-1916 Service with South Staffordshire Regiment and Durham Light Infantry (possibly short and in UK only)

??-03-1917 Transferred to the 6th Infantry Labour Company of the Lincolnshire Regiment

??-05-1917 Transferred to 45th Company of the Labour Corps upon conversion of his Lincolnshire Regiment unit into the Labour Corps. New number of 26425 issued.

10-12-1917 Discharged due to sickness and received a Silver War Badge (same date for James Brown and James Smith)

To me the points of convergence at the start and end of both careers of James Smith and "James Brown" strike me as very significant. If this were me, I would give the possibility a serious look.

Link to 1914-15 Star Roll and BWM/VM Rolls:

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?MS_AdvCB=1&db=IWOServiceMedalAwardRolls&rank=1&new=1&so=3&MSAV=2&msT=1&gss=ms_db&gsfn_x=XO&gsln=Brown&gsln_x=XO&dbOnly=_F000836E%7C_F000836E_x&dbOnly=_F00061C3%7C_F00061C3_x&_F8007A65=26425&dbOnly=_F8007A65%7C_F8007A65_x&_F8007A65_x=1&uidh=5k3

Steve.

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Ok, delving further and sticking with James Smith:

We have two records for men with similar numbers:

Ernest Aitken of Bishop Auckland, Durham

  • Mobilised 23-2-1917
  • Posted to the 6th Labour Company of the Durham Light Infantry
  • Issued number 65213 in the Durham Light Infantry
  • Transferred to 6th Infantry Labour Company Lincolnshire Regiment 12-3-1917
  • Issued number 39915 in the Lincolnshire Regiment
  • To France 13-3-1917
  • Transferred to the Labour Corps and posted to 45th Company, Labour Corps 14-5-1917
  • Issued number 26452 in the Labour Corps
  • Discharged from the Army 21-9-1917
Archibald Beckwith
  • Mobilised 5-3-1917
  • Transferred to 6th Infantry Labour Company Lincolnshire Regiment 6-3-1917
  • Issued number 34218 in the Lincolnshire Regiment
  • To France 13-3-1917
  • Transferred to the Labour Corps and posted to 45th Company, Labour Corps 14-5-1917
  • Issued number 26490 in the Labour Corps
  • Discharged from the Army (Northern Command Labour Corps) 21-12-1917

Here we another familiar number in the 65213 issued to Ernest Aitken, similar to the 64865 number listed for James Smith - it looks like the 64865 was James Smith's DLI number?

In my opinion the dates highlighted would also apply to James Smith.

Updated speculative timeline:

19-01-1915 Enlisted and posted to the West Yorkshire Regiment, No. 17931 (date shown per James Smith SWB and consistent with James Brown issue of number)

20-07-1915 Embarked to France with 1st Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (entitlement to British War Medal and Victory Medal and to 1914-15 Star shown as "James Brown")

??-??-1916 Invalided home

??-??-1916 Service with South Staffordshire Regiment (possibly short and in UK only)

??-??-1917 Transferred to the Durham Light Infantry and numbered 64865

??-03-1917 Transferred to the 6th Infantry Labour Company of the Lincolnshire Regiment

13-03-1917 Returned to France with 6th Infantry Labour Company of the Lincolnshire Regiment

14-05-1917 Transferred to 45th Company of the Labour Corps upon conversion of his Lincolnshire Regiment unit into the Labour Corps. New number of 26425 issued.

10-12-1917 Discharged due to sickness and received a Silver War Badge (same date for James Brown and James Smith)

Steve.

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The campaign medals (Brown) were issued, albeit at slightly differing times (1914-15 Star in Nov 1919, BWM/VM in April 1920 for James Smith) whereas the Silver War Badge was either claimed or issued on discharge. There were often separate SWB cards, especially in the case of the early issues where the campaign medals had not even begun to be issued. The date of 22 December 1917 suggests that the process was put in motion on the day of James Smith's discharge on 10 December 1917 in the case of the Silver War Badge. Why "Smith" should morph into "Brown" I don't know. Since he appears to have been discharged as Smith (and the King's Certificate usually followed the Silver War Badge quite quickly) I suspect Brown is an admin error rather than an alias.

To me the points of overlap are:

  • Same number in the Labour Corps (these numbers were not re-used, so the number should be unique to one man, within the Labour Corps that is)
  • Same Regiments shown (West Yorkshire Regiment and Labour Corps; on MIC (Brown) and Certificate/MIC (Smith))
  • Same date of enlistment/joining the West Yorkshire Regiment
  • Number combination of James Brown - a man with the 26425 number should have previously been in the 6th Infantry Labour Company of the Lincolnshire Regiment
  • Same discharge date

The negatives:

  • Smith! (i.e. larger possibility of coincidence)
  • Brown! (ditto)
  • No mention of Labour Corps on the King's Certificate (ran out of space?)

This is a pretty strong case for my vote to be a Yes at the moment in regard to them being the same man.

Steve.

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Stebie I salute you . :thumbsup: Been off line a few days due to pc upgrade and thankful you have answered Jaffas query.

The Kings certificate in my possession is my Grandfathers and I have never taken it out of its frame so was not aware there would be anything written on the reverse.

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