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Tegan

War Diaries

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Tegan

Could anyone point me in the correct direction on how I can find information on  the war diaries for the 5th and 6th service battalion South Wales Borderers (pioneers)?  My Great Grandfather William J Thomas joined early in the war I can't seem to find any information on him other than that of which his photograph tells us. Pioneers, mounted driver.    I know that he returned towards the end of the war.  He was 42 when he volunteered in 1914, but lied about his age. 

I have the following information on a William Thomas 5/14316  late back to camp on 12.10.15 Le Touret. and on a Sgt William Thomas 6/14491 of the 6th service Battalion pioneers  who was absent due to drinking and severally reprimanded. However I don't know if either of these men are the person I am looking for.  Any advice?  I made contact with the museum in Brecon but they stated that they have over 200 William Thomas's and it would cost a small fortune for them to look through and research!!

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clk

Hi Tegan,

 

The war diaries are available for download from the National Archives (at £3.45 a go) from here and here respectively. They should also be available on Ancestry (by subscription) - search page here. Usually the easiest way to find them on Ancestry is to take the file reference from the National Archives (eg WO 95/2071/1), ignore the "WO 95/" bit, and put the rest of the reference into the Ancestry 'keyword' search field as an exact term. The diaries are easier to download from the National Archives as they come as a continuous pdf file, whereas on Ancestry you have to download a page at a time.

 

Without knowing some more details about your Great Grandfather, I think that sadly the war diaries are unlikely to give you the answers that you are looking for as they rarely mention men by name, and where they do it is just a name, so you couldn't be sure that it was your William Thomas.

 

There is some good advice on how to research a soldier here on the Long, Long Trail. What I think that I would tend to be doing is looking at any local newspaper reports, an in service marriage certificate (or birth certificate for any children), or a surviving Absent Voter List for where he lived, that would give his unit.

 

Regards

Chris

 

Edit: On one occasion, for me, it was worth contacting the local church. The vicar kept a notebook of his local flock that were serving which gave details that I didn't find elsewhere.

 

 

Edited by clk

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Kitty55

Hi Tegan

 

clk's advice is best, :Phowever having researched almost 2000 town soldiers there are a few other avenues to follow -

 

1. Find out DOB; address; census returns; etc. all the basic stuff before looking for military records - as there are so many soldiers with the same name and even the same regiment.

2. Local Newspapers often give you a report if anything happened to the soldier during war periods etc.

3. Online sites - ones I use

Free - Family Search and Forebears - these can confirm your details

Paid for - Ancestry (have war diaries); Findmypast; Genealogist (good casualty listings); Forces War Records; N&MA (have war diaries); Genes Reunited; BNA (British Newspaper Archive - also available via Findmypast membership) there are several more but unfortunately none cover everything.

4. Your local newspaper office probably have their own archives of old copies which can be very helpful in finding the right soldier especially if they have been wounded, reported in some way either good (promotions etc.) or bad. If they don't stock them themselves then they will probably be in your local record office or somewhere similar - i.e. ours are now in our local museum.

5. Check out the AVL (Absent Voters Lists - Findmypast) for his name.

6. Mormons - the Church of Light usually offer free searching on certain evenings.

7. Check out your local library for access to the above paid sites as sometimes they have them for you to search.(Sometimes a small fee but you'll need a library card)

8. If not living locally to NA then your local record office will have the facilities to search the sites online - usually for free or a small fee. Phone and check with them.

 

Personally I've found that starting with the local papers has been the easiest way of finding something out on which I've then been able to build a soldier's history - mainly through them giving me dates etc. to follow and they often list soldiers - i.e. the DFT has given me the first 100 soldiers to enlist in our local town - their names, service number and regiment.

Very helpful especially with surnames such as Jones, Smith or Brown.

 

Good luck in your research

 

Thanks and take care, Kitty

 

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Tegan

Kitty what does DFT stand for please? thank you Kitty55 and clk  for your advice.

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Kitty55

Hi Tegan

Sorry should have written it in full first time.

DFT = Dereham and Fakenham Times a weekly paper for the area I live in. Part of the Archant papers - i.e. EDP, Eastern Daily Press. The papers have had several different names of the years i.e. Norfolk Chronicle, Norfolk Journal and so on. The DFT began in 1880 and I have searched through it, photographing all copies and articles on Dereham up to 1970.

 

Small local papers like the DFT do hold more information on many things that the national papers can't and don't have room for. They also tend to have more about the people living in the area. Of course they still cover other news - like 1915 and the war and how it was progressing but I've often found letters from town/village soldiers that their loved ones have sent in and the paper then prints the war section - not the very personal stuff in them. They do give the war a more personal dimension than the nationals did and a little more about a soldiers death, promotion etc. especially if the person was a member of a local firm or fund raising group, masons, rotary club, or other organisation. I've found that in obituaries they often feature the persons soldiering career too. So if you know the death date that’s a great help.

 

However, having said that papers such as the London Gazette listings can guide you to the right date and a basis to begin looking in your local paper. Mind you don't get hooked on reading them all though – it’s easily done - there are some very strange and interesting stories in them.

 

I’m not saying that your relation will be in there just that it can help to look in them – at least worth a try surely?

 

Personally I don't think I would ever have sorted through 11 Smith's, 26 Wells, or 14 Brunton's without their help and then I followed up the research with cross referencing them in online sites.

 

Thanks and take care, Kitty

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johnboy

If you have the service records for them both and there is attestation form it should show an address for the man. This might narrow it down a bit. All the above posts should also be followed.

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TEW

I see there are other posts on forum on William James Thomas, South Wales Borderers from Llanelli.

 

His photo.  One from last year.

 

I would add as resources Cymru 1914 and Welsh Newspapers Online.  Cymru 1914 includes newspapers as well but there may be different coverage between the two sites.

 

TEW

 

 

 

 

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