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Remembered Today:

Royal Marines - Unit details unknown


AussieSunshine

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Hi,

I have a deadline for a university essay to be completed in the next few weeks. I have three pages of my RMA ancestor's service record but no (obvious) unit details. The writing is really tiny and scrawly. I've also managed to find the medal roll document that matches his name, rank, RMA number, and barracks, but doesn't state the exact year that the medal was awarded. It doesn't state any unit details and the Service Location could be anywhere in Europe and more than likely several places. This is part of the transcript from the Ancestry website. 

 

Medal or Award:

British War Medal

Service Year:

1914-1920

Service Location:

Europe

Campaign or Service:

World War I

 

I also wrote to the RM Museum at Eastney in 2007 and received a general reply that is quite helpful but didn't provide any specific details that I could link to my ancestor. It did mention -

 

'If it transpires the subject of your research was part of the Royal Naval Division (the Royal Marines contributed two Battalions and numerous NCO's to this unit for service in Belgium, Gallipoli and France 1914-18) records may also exist at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton'

 

So that narrows down the search location, somewhat. I've not yet contacted the Fleet Air Arm Museum due to being busy with other commitments and ongoing health issues. My ancestor was in the Artillery Division of the Royal Marines. He enlisted in 1891 and was mobilised in 1914. He served in the rank of Private when he first enlisted, then became a Gunner in the same year. His rank was Marine in 1923. It seems he was awarded more than one medal and there's also a mention of Gratuity for _ _ _ _ medal. (An acronym which I do not know the meaning of is written where I typed the dashes). I also found a medal card but I'm not sure that it is my ancestor as his name is reasonably common. Would a serviceman of the Royal Marines have initially been trained as a Gunner at the Royal Garrison Artillery base? Or are these two different chaps?

 

I am particularly interested in his involvement in the Great War for my biographical essay. In that essay, I will briefly mention his service prior to and after WWl. I would greatly appreciate any assistance to ascertain my ancestor's unit details and where he served in Europe.

 

I have just looked at the RM Museum website and am in the process of going through their pdf links. Also, there is a 1927 copy of this book in the reference section of our capital city library. I will our local branch library if they can have it sent up for me to view at the library as it is a reference book they don't allow it to be borrowed. I'm not a military enthusiast so I do not wish to purchase the more recent publication by the same title.

Britain's sea soldiers : a record of the Royal Marines during the war 1914-1919 / compiled by Sir H.E. Blumberg.

 

However, I'm delighted that I've learnt a lot about my ancestor in the past 24 hours and look forward to learning more about his service with immense pride. I learnt about the rank of Marine (from this wonderful forum on another post) which began in 1923. I enjoyed a visit to the RM Museum at Eastney in 2009 and a photo of my ancestor in uniform was donated to the museum soon after. I will check their pdf about uniforms too. I've guessed at the date of the photo circa 1908 from the age of his children who are also in the photo. The uniform may have been different by 1914. Sorry for the lengthy message. I've endeavoured to include what I have already gleaned so as to avoid duplicate research.

 

Kind regards,

AussieSunshine 

 

 

1914RM2Query.jpg

FHRGA copy.jpeg

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Hello AussieSunshine

 

The four letters after "Gratuity" are LS&GC. That indicates the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, cynically said by some to be for "20 years of undetected crime" but in fact reflecting a very good military career.

 

The RMA provided detachments to man certain heavy howitzers (12-inch and 15-inch) as part of the British Expeditionary Force. It is not impossible that training for these roles was carried out by the Royal Garrison Artillery. Alternatively, he may have been transferred into the RGA after 1917 (the date he qualified for his sixth Good Conduct Badge) and rejoined the RMA in 1919.

 

Good luck with your essay.

 

Ron

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It would be really helpful to confirm a name and RMA register number. At a guess, are we discussing Frederick William HOWELL, RMA/4222?

RMA (Royal Navy) and RGA (army) are two distinct formations. RMA gunners were not trained by the RGA. As a member of the Royal Fleet Reserve, before mobilisation in 1914, he would not also have served in the RGA.

The British War Medal was awarded for his WW1 service and would have been claimed and issued to him after the war. Under Admiralty rules the qualification for the BWM was 28 days of mobilised service, which in this case, given his age and status as a recalled pensioner, was almost certainly all ashore in UK.

Edited by horatio2
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14 hours ago, Ron Clifton said:

Hi Ron,

 

Thanks so much for your reply. That's very interesting. I'll research the howitzers too, great to learn more! As far as I know they still lived in Hampshire until after 1923.

Cheers,

AussieSunshine

 

14 hours ago, Ron Clifton said:

 

Hello AussieSunshine

 

The four letters after "Gratuity" are LS&GC. That indicates the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, cynically said by some to be for "20 years of undetected crime" but in fact reflecting a very good military career.

 

The RMA provided detachments to man certain heavy howitzers (12-inch and 15-inch) as part of the British Expeditionary Force. It is not impossible that training for these roles was carried out by the Royal Garrison Artillery. Alternatively, he may have been transferred into the RGA after 1917 (the date he qualified for his sixth Good Conduct Badge) and rejoined the RMA in 1919.

 

Good luck with your essay.

 

Ron

 

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14 hours ago, horatio2 said:

Well done, Sherlock! Yes, I can confirm your finding. Thank you for the clarification.

Where does it state that he was a 'recalled pensioner'? I find it hard to believe that he was deemed to old to go to war in 1914 at the age of 41. IMHO that is still young enough to contribute to the war in Europe.

Cheers,

AussieSunshine

 

It would be really helpful to confirm a name and RMA register number. At a guess, are we discussing Frederick William HOWELL, RMA/4222?

RMA (Royal Navy) and RGA (army) are two distinct formations. RMA gunners were not trained by the RGA. As a member of the Royal Fleet Reserve, before mobilisation in 1914, he would not also have served in the RGA.

The British War Medal was awarded for his WW1 service and would have been claimed and issued to him after the war. Under Admiralty rules the qualification for the BWM was 28 days of mobilised service, which in this case, given his age and status as a recalled pensioner, was almost certainly all ashore in UK.

 

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Having enlisted in 1891, HOWELL would (normally) have been discharged to pension after 21 years service in 1912 and, although hard to read, I believe the word "Pensioned" can be seen in the first line of the extract you have posted. As the second line starts with the word "mobilised", this means that he was mobilised as a pensioner from the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR). Mobilised pensioners were frequently used to relieve younger men in shore billets and this appears to be the case here. If he had served at sea or in France he would have been entitled to the Victory Medal but this medal was not issued, so he must have stayed ashore and remained in UK. His service is somewhat unusual in that in May 1919 he was discharged from the RFR and was re-enlisted into the RMA for ten months.

Having obtained his records from Kew, you will have noted that at some period during his service (probably after March 1920) he was drafted to the RMLI Depot at Deal, Kent, and was given a new Register Number: Depot/579. As you state that he was still serving in 1923, he probably served at the Depot as an experienced RMA man, involved in the training of recruits.

If you have not already found them, you may wish to obtain his other records in ADM 157 at Kew. They cannot be downloaded (they have to be ordered) but details can be found on this link - http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C15310671 

The Fleet Air Arm Museum have no records for HOWELL.

 

Edited by horatio2
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Cheers. I already have the Depot 579 page(s). I will contact Kew and ask if they can do the order more quickly than their 24 day turn around, otherwise it will be too late for my deadline. Thanks for checking the FAAM. 

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