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Remembered Today:

Casualty Statistics and local demographics


gem22
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I'm not convinced that this is the best title for my enquiry nor am I at all sure that this is the right section; but here goes.

I have, for some time now, been working on researching the names on my local war memorial. Apart from a final write up I'm pretty well done. However I have decided to extend the project slightly and I have done some research into how many local men served in the armed forces, of the British Isles, during the war.

This means I now have figures on how many men served, how many were wounded but survived, how many were wounded and died, how many died of illness or were KIA, and finally, how many were taken prisoner.

This leaves me in a position to do some stats comparing local figures with national figures. It also allows me to look at a comparison of how many local people served, in comparison to the local population; and possibly, by extension, the national population; by which I mean the British Isles not just England.

But here is my problem; I do not know where to find the extra information I need. Is there anywhere online I can find the population figures for that period, or at least 1911? I'm used to looking at Ancestry for individuals but not for population stats. Do the figures exist on Ancestry or findmypast or do I need to look in County or National archives or elsewhere?

I hope this makes sense. Any help would be appreciated.

Garth

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Garth

I have it mind that I have seen an official analysis document of the 1911, breaking it down into, say, employment categories and the like. It showed that, for instance there were nearly 2 million people in domestic servce - most of them women - and several hundred thousand clerks - almost all of them men. Can't recall the actual source, I'm afraid, but, whatever it was I looked at, it was online.

John

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Not online well it is now!

Population figures for UK (000)

Year. Men. Women. Total

1914. 22358. 23690. 46058

1919. 20385. 24214. 44599*

*refers to civilian population only except in Scotland & Ireland .

Statistical Abstract 70. 1927 pp 4-5

Casualties Service Personnel

Total. Killed. Missing. Wounded. POW

Army. 2471152 673375. n/a. 163469 154308

Navy. 74289. 43244. n/a. 25323. 5722

Air Force. 16623. 6166. n/a. 7245. 3212

Total. 2562064. 722785. n/a 1676037. 163242

J.M. Winter The Great War and The British People 1986 p 73

Any help?

Beckett and SImpson A Nation in Arms have a number of tables e.g. % males 18 - 49 enlisted 1914 - 1918 England & Wales 46.2; Scotland 41.4;

Ireland 12.3 (Extract)

There's more details and breakdown which will suggest comparison e.g. Occupation

Ken

Sorry about formatting the n/a applies to missing they are total casualties not broken down to the same detail as yours probably extracted from Statistics linked above

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An example of the minefield: The official 'Wounded' number counts the number of 'wounds', not the number of men and women wounded. It needs to be adjusted downwards for those wounded two, three, four times etc.... The stats to do this are in the OH Medical Services Casualty Statistics and in SMEBE - the figure is around 80,000 from memory.. Also the wounded stats simply count those treated in hospital. The real figure (unknown) would be much higher.

Other distortions are the British troops serving in the Indian Army Expeditionary Forces - are they included in the 'British' figures or not?, ditto British Officers and ORs in Indian Army units,, ditto the RND - are they included in the British 'Army' stats or not and so on. Similarly men who transferred from the Army to the RFC etc.

The biggest distortion is the number of troops. Calculating casualties as a percent of men who served can be misleading as many never set foot overseas or never got to an active front. The number who 'served' but were discharged after enlistment but before their units went overseas is a surprisingly large number even in the pre-war years. This figure exceeded 7% of recruits from 1914-15 as men passed as 'fit' by early lax medical examiners were later found out during training*. Calculating casualty figures that included the tens of thousands of men in dusty garrisons in Gib, Malta, Aden, India etc in the denominator can be misleading. Ditto second, third and fourth line Territorials - the vast majority of whom never served on an active front. I have not done a detailed calculation but as many as a million men might have served but not heard a shot fired in anger. I might start a thread to find out.

Also casualty rates across the different Arms varied considerably. If for example a higher percentage of your local men served in the Infantry than the national average, this would distort that data, especially if the absolute numbers are small.

It would be easy to snatch at the 'official' stats without making the necessary adjustments. This is a source of lots of misunderstanding about casualty rates. It is extremely complex. MG

* 7.4% of men recruited up to end Sep 1915 were discharged as 'Not likely to become efficient soldiers' - Source: GARBA 1914-20

Edited with correct figs for numbers discharged.

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Thanks to all of you for this information. That takes care of some of my concerns.

Martin

Your comments are very welcome. I'm rather lucky in that the local source of information that I have used was an annual almanack. The editor was good enough to list the names of all the locals, or related to locals, who served during the war. He also categorised them into those serving, those overseas, those wounded, injured, killed, or died, and those taken prisoner. By careful consideration of these figures I can sort out which casualties occurred overseas and which at home. so for example I have one soldier died of epilepsy in 1918 but it was the result of a wound in the head received in August 1914 at Mons; another soldier died of 'flu while training in Sussex. That level of detail is incredibly helpful to my research.

The editor also attempted to list the men's regiments/corps. He made an occasional mistake but not too many. The biggest error was to translate 'amm column' into ambulance column. An easy mistake to make when you are not familiar with army terminology - in reality this soldier was serving in the RFA and the entry should read 'ammunition column'.

But thanks to the editor's efforts I know of those who served in the Canadian and Australian armies, I know of one man who served in an Indian Army Cavalry unit, the 21st Empress of India Lancers, and I also know of one soldier, a territorial, whose overseas service was spent entirely in India.

But this is a small town, even now the total population is barely 8000, and everyone knew, or was related to, pretty well everyone else. It's the population stats that are my biggest concern. How many people lived here in, or about 1914, and how many would have been eligible for service.

This is the main theme I'm working on; the local story. National stats are important but not so important; they are a nice addition to show a comparison between country folk and city folk. Much fuss is made about 'Pals' battalions and the effect their losses had on city populations but many people forget that in a small town/ large village, like this the loss of 7 men on 1 July 1916 had as big an effect as larger losses in bigger cities. I would really like to be able to get that point across and I need the stats to do it. But I also want to show that 1 July 1916 was not the only 'bad day' for this population. Other losses were just as significant and every loss is worthy of commemoration.

Sorry I've been going on a bit but I'm hoping that someone out there will read this, understand the point I'm trying to make, and help point me in the direction I need to go to gather the figures I need.

Garth

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Garth - For the National figures, in the very remote chance you have not already done it, the 1911 census and 1921 census will provide a useful anchor for your population stats. You might also try your local Parish Council or local County Records Office to see if they have any records between these dates. Already mentioned by Kenf48 is J M Winter's very useful book. You could lose a lifetime trying to refine the data. Winter has done a lot of the necessary analysis and adjustments for the national data. In my view he has done a fabulous job. He tabulates 33 different sources and shows just how much these sources differ in their estimates for British war dead 1914-1918. The Scottish and Irish Stats as constituent parts of the British stats are a particularly thorny and emotional issue with even greater variance depending on one's definition of who is Irish or Scots with expatriate Celts being a very large swing-factor.Then you might also consider the expatriate Englishmen too, particularly those who died fighting in the AIF. If memory serves about one in four ANZACs at Gallipoli were born in Britain. There have been separate studies on this. More complexity.

One of the challenges that you might face will be the definition of who is local. Some memorials include men born in villages but who lived elsewhere and some include men who were born elsewhere but lived in the village. Some include both. I live in a village that is allegedly a Thankful Village but there are three families who lived within the parish who lost sons - all of who were living just outside the parish in adjacent villages. The grief was felt in this village.

I'm quite intrigued by the 'not the 1st July 1916' thematic. If one measured casualties as a per cent of troops involved, there are other periods of the Great War that might be as significant. The 'Pals Battalion' factor that you mention was also felt by some TF units, particularly those that deployed in late 1914 and early 1915. Some of the Scottish TF units were annihilated in 1915 and their casualties would have had an impacts on a fairly small demographic. You might also have a look at Geoffrey Moorhouse' s "Hell's Foundations: A Social History of the Town of Bury in the Aftermath of the Gallipoli Campaign" for further context. It is a particularly interesting book as it covers the Lancashire Fusiliers and the one Regular battalion, one Service battalion and four TF battalions from the Regiment that served at Gallipoli. MG

Edit - Another factor you may wish to consider is the date of disembarkation. The Infantry who disembarked in Aug 1914 were three times more likely to become fatalities that the average soldier in the Great War

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Martin

Kenf48's mention of the Winter book is one I will follow up on. The bald figures he mentions are very useful but I might take it further. Your mention of the Scottish TFs shows why I want to get away from 1 July 1916. This local area lost a lot of men in 1 and 2 Norfolks before the end of 1915 yet people still talk about 'the Somme' as if it was the only significant fighting. I will continue to try and educate them!!

Garth

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Martin

Kenf48's mention of the Winter book is one I will follow up on. The bald figures he mentions are very useful but I might take it further. Your mention of the Scottish TFs shows why I want to get away from 1 July 1916. This local area lost a lot of men in 1 and 2 Norfolks before the end of 1915 yet people still talk about 'the Somme' as if it was the only significant fighting. I will continue to try and educate them!!

Garth

If you want a benchmark for battalion catastrophes the 4th Worcesters at Gallipoli on 6th Aug 1915 takes some beating. Worse than any battalion stats of the 1st Jul 1916. Despite this, the story is largely lost. Even books that focus on Gallipoli miss this battalion's annihilation in what was supposed to be a diversionary attack.

I hope you enjoy Winter's book. A rare piece of detailed research. MG

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Just in case another very local example can help for comparison, Gerwyn James' study* of the LlanfairPG area of Anglesey in the war shows the following (the percentage stats are mine):

1911 population covering 3 parishes was about.1,500

By January 1916 and the start of compulsion about 80 men had volunteered, roughly equivalent to 1 volunteer per week of the conflict. This figure is said to include sailors.

By the war's end another 120 had been called up, so a total of 200 men served, equivalent to about 13.3 per cent of the 1911 population.

The local war memorial (covering the 3 parishes) has 33 names. So about 16.5 per cent of all who served died, or 2.2 per cent of the 1911 population.

That's all very rough and ready, but maybe it'd do for comparison.

*Gerwyn James, Y Rhwyg. Hanes y Rhyfel Mawr yn Ardal Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll 1914-1932 (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst 2013)

Clive

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As Martin says it's a minefield, but the first step is to define and state the aims and objectives of the project and the comparisons you wish to make. That's fairly basic for a local history project.

However assuming that now you want to extract the population of the Civil Parish of Littleport Cambridgeshire from the 1911 Census on Ancestry (you haven't defined the geographic area or war memorial in this thread):-

Go to Search > Census and Electoral Rolls> go to panel on the right select 1911 England and Wales Census Collection> Scroll down past the search panel select England Census Summary Books> top right hand panel Browse this collection select Cambridgeshire from the drop down menu 'Residence County' then select Littleport form the Civil Parish menu

On page 4 of each book is the 'abstract of totals of the forgoing pages' showing the total of males, females and persons,i.e.total males and females in each enumeration district. That should give totals of the population in 1911 quite quickly, what it won't tell you is how many males were eligible for military service, or who within each household came within the terms of the Military Service Act in 1916. (then you're really in the minefield of reserved occupations, tribunals etc).

The only way I can think of to do this would be to do an analysis of each census form but that seems very laborious for one person, ok for a small village or a group project but you have around 200+ households in each enumeration district.

It can be done. For example I chose the Bacon family more or less at random from one of the summary books. The Census return showed three males of military age in the household in 1911. Then go to the front page and work through the enumeration district. In this example the first entry is the Green household who have two daughters then the Watson household who have two sons of military age etc etc. if you're going to do this you might as well make a note of the occupations too! I guess you already have the census data for those on the memorial and as you know who serve it seems a good starting point.

Ken

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Ken

That is marvellous and yes I am researching Littleport, Cambs. That makes my life so much easier, thanks.

To add to the family you looked at Harold Bacon appears first on the list of names on the war memorial; it's in alphabetical order. He died on 8 May 1915 serving with the Suffolks near Frezenberg Ridge and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

Garth

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Clive

Thanks for your contribution - it does help with the perspective. I didn't answer straight away because I wanted to look through the information that Ken gave me first.

A rough count shows the Parish had a total population of 4526, of which 2255 were males, 596 served in the armed forces and 126 died.

So on a very crude calculation 26.4% of men or 13.2% of the total population served, 5.6% of men or 2.8% of the total population died.

These are remarkably similar to Llanfair PG

it is a very crude calculation which would probably not satisfy a statistician or a military historian but as far as the majority of the local population is concerned I believe it will do.

Given time I plan to delve deeper into the census and make an effort to work out more accurate figures taking ages and occupations into consideration and then try to compare it to National figures; but that is for the future and at the moment I'm only interested in the now.

Regards

Garth

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You may find the Vision of Britain through Time website useful as they have already odne some population analysis and so on. See here http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10048102/theme/POP for Littleport CP population figures over time

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Garth,

Here is a graph of the Norfolk Regiment's casualties. It is interesting to compare and contrast the effect of Gaza III and Arras in April, 1917 versus July 1916. post-202-0-67448900-1427138232_thumb.pngRob.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been researching Bewdley WW1 Casualties for years - but I have been thrown by the wholly reasonable question of how many actually enlisted as a ratio to how many didn't come home. I have to admit I have no idea! I've never seen a figure.

Any idea how I can find out? In the 1911 census Bewdley had a population of 2261 M 2557 F

The national percentage of 15-39 year olds was 41.8 in 1911 - perhaps the town and had approximately 945 men of Military age?

In the end of 1915 the mayor gave a speech saying 1 in 3 eligible men had enlisted... 300?

There are 75 names on the war memorial and I'd guess at least 20 not listed...

Does this sound anything like? Mathematically challenged...

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I don't think there is a clear solution, the Mayor at the end of 1915 was probably talking about volunteers, in March all men of military age were 'deemed to have enlisted' so the answer would be 900, but it's clearly not.

My home town prepared a Roll of Honour of all those who served, which included the RDC and men who did not serve overseas, and it would be great if you could find something similar. In Kettering it's lodged in the library. Similarly elsewhere memorials, especially Church memorials often include those who served, sadly in one village I looked at the Methodists and Congregationalists did this but not the C of E so again the figures would be skewed! Incidentally the Methodists had fewer losses, don't ask me to explain that.

The AVL, if it survived is not much help as it's a snapshot of 1918. So it's back to 1911 and accepting all the variables. As you know one of the frequent posts here concerns the names of men on memorials who apparently have no local connection, apart from this there are many other anomalies most of them laid out by martin in the previous thread which he accurately describes as a 'minefield'.

However it should be possible to do a rough estimate, although crude (or as Clive says 'rough and ready) I thought it interesting in the earlier thread there was a similarity in the figures between the two parishes which seem only slightly smaller than the one you are studying.

Ken

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