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Remembered Today:

Officer's Service Records, where held?


Skipman
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Mike,

I believe that the main files were destroyed in the Arnside fire. The surviving records, which are generally correspondence files, were held elsewhere. At one time there was a good description on the National Archives website, but I can't find it these days.

Try this one for a brief overview. It's the header page for WO 339.

Phil

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Not aware of anything other than what's in WO 339 and WO 374

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" An officer's file originally had three parts but two of these were destroyed by enemy action in September 1940."

Just wondered why 30% of burnt fragments of other ranks survived at Arnside , but not a single burnt fragment of an officers record survives?

Mike

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Probably just depends on how different parts of the buildings were affected.

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Mike

Weeding was part of the problem, although there was some authorised destruction the 1920's and 1930's. I have a copy of the investigation into weeding in the mid-1930's and there are some seriously caustic comments. As soon as I have had a chance to go through it in detail I'll post the story.

TR

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I think I now understand why I have found more in officers' records where the ex-officer had lost a document and written for a copy.

R.

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Officer's files were held at the War Office whereas other ranks' files were held at district or corps record offices. I don't think that officers' files were ever transferred to Arnside Street.

Ron

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Officer's files were held at the War Office whereas other ranks' files were held at district or corps record offices. I don't think that officers' files were ever transferred to Arnside Street.

Ron

Ron, is the Discovery site wrong to say

" There are over 217,000 British army officers' service records for the First World War held by The National Archives. An officer's file originally had three parts but two of these were destroyed by enemy action in September 1940. What remains was heavily weeded prior to 1940 and in many cases this means that nothing remains for many officers. "

Terry, that sounds interesting and look forward to that.

Mike

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Ron, is the Discovery site wrong to say

" There are over 217,000 British army officers' service records for the First World War held by The National Archives. An officer's file originally had three parts but two of these were destroyed by enemy action in September 1940. What remains was heavily weeded prior to 1940 and in many cases this means that nothing remains for many officers. "

Terry, that sounds interesting and look forward to that.

Mike

So what where the 3 parts - 2 copies of his service records and 1 for other correspondence ?

Craig

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The main service file was indeed at Arnside Street, along with commission cards and records relating to officers' exams (chaplains' records also formed a separate collection), this is detailed in WO 32/21769 which is described by Chris Baker in an article at http://www.1914-1918.net/arnside.html

A new officers' record collection was started in 1922 (the P series) so it makes sense that the main files for officers no longer serving were moved elsewhere as they wouldn't be used day-to-day. Presumably the correspondence file was kept to hand as various queries kept coming in about pensions, etc or estates in the case of deceased officers.

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What survives in the files, essentially in WO339 & WO374 series ,is enormously variable, partly due to weeding. Those for officers who died can be overwhelmingly about their estates. However, much of interest may survive-details regarding prior service in the ranks; applications for commissions;reports from cadet battalions on a cadet's suitability; correspondence on disciplinary matters; medical reports on wounds and sickness, etc. Files for officers who continued in the Army are still with the MoD.

Michael

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