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Remembered Today:

I just found my grandfathers service card, please help !


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Hi everybody, i just found my grandfathers service card, not easy

because there was no date of birth or home address on it !

However it is good circumstantial evidence though that makes me believe that it is his !

I have attached it.

He was born on 1893, and was 21 when he was sent out.

He was a Dundonian, but was a ship fitter on Clydeside, just before he was sent out.

He was with the Black Watch, Dundee, territorials before the war had even started.

I believe he was sent out with the 4th battalion ( territorials ), 'Dundee's own', on the 23rd Feb 2015.

( the 4th battalion arrived in Le Havre, France on the 26th Feb 2015 )

On his service card you can see he was discharged ( 1 year and 2 months later ) on 08/05/2016,

under paragraph 393, clause 21 :-

Which was ' termination of his period of engagement '.

I can't understand this, it seems strange ?


This is my question :-

Was he terminated early because they needed his skills for shipbuilding, or do you think that he only

signed up for a finite period of time when the territorials were asked if they wanted to go in 1914 ?

( i do know he was lucky to have been alive because the 4th was involved in 3 major battles during 1915,

and he probably went over the top in all 3, and his battalion was so badly depleted that in March 1916

it was amalgamated with the 5th to form the 4/5 )


I would greatly appreciate your views.






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Welcome to the forum.


You've attached a copy of his Medal Index Card not his “service” card.


He was discharged as he had been a pre War Territorial who had likely enlisted for 4 years and at that stage of the war soldiers who had completed their period of engagement were allowed to request to be discharged. This “loophole” was closed shortly after his discharge by the implementation of the Military Service Act which meant that discharge on termination of engagement was suspended until the end of hostilities and “time expired” men (Regular and Territorial) “soldiered on”.


Some discharged “time expired” men were conscripted under the Military Service Act but your grandfather was likely exempt due to his employment.


Please look to this item on GWF sister site.





Edited by tullybrone
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This is not his service card Rob but it is his Medal Index Card or MIC. Such cards do not provide personal information such as dat3 of birth or home address. 

I can look later to see if any of his service records survived which may give some clues o your research request.


edit: Steve has the answer above .......must have posted as I was typing. 



Edited by Lawryleslie
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Hi Rob,


Welcome to the forum.


Unfortunately, I didn't find any service papers for 1191 Robert Nicolson.


His medal roll records show that he served overseas with the 4th Battalion Black Watch. Looking at a couple of men from the battalion with near numbers:


1184 Hunter attested Dundee 24.4.1911. Discharged para 392 (xxi) 25.4.1916

1188 Jack attested Dundee 1.5.1911. Discharged para 392 (xxi) 12.5.1916


1194 Smith attested Dundee 8.5.1911




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Chris' data certainly ties in nicely.


Just for confirmation the period he served was 5 years - he enlisted for 4 years however there was a clause in the service agreement which meant the men could be retained for a further year in war-time conditions, hence the discharge in 1916.


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Thank you so much all 5 of you, that was brilliant.

tully, lawry, BillyH, CLK ( very clever ! ), and ss02 !


I told my uncle earlier today on the phone, he is 92, and lives near Reading.

This was his father, and he was delighted with the info !

His father was so lucky.

The territorials took him into the war early 26 Feb 1915,

and his 'end of period of engagement' in May 1916, probably saved his life !

The 4th Battalion ( Territorial ) was in 3 major battles in 1915 :-

1)     10th March 1915, Battle of Neuve Chapelle

2)     9th May 1915, Battle of Aubers Ridge

3)     25th Sept 1915, Battle of Loos

It was so depleted after the battle of Loos, that they amalgamated it with the

5th ( Territorial ), in March 2016, then my grandfather was discharged in 08/05/1916,

lucky him !

I believe that he 'went over the top' in all 3 of these battles, and the battalion suffered

severe casualties. I think he was also exposed to chlorine gas.


I think he was very lucky, but i wouldn't be telling you about this if he hadnt been !

Thanks a million for your help greatly appreciated.





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Hi Rob,


Presuming that he is your grandfather, an interesting point to note is that he must have volunteered for overseas service, as TF men weren't obliged to go abroad until later in the war - see here.


Whilst unlikely to mention Robert by name, if you haven't already got it, it may be worth obtaining a copy of the battalion war diary. It will give you a brief day by day note of events that he would probably have been involved in, and the places he went. For the period that you would seem to need it appears to be split into 3 parts here from the National Archives. It should also be on Ancestry - search page here. Brigade HQ, and Division HQ (General Staff) diaries often augment the Battalion diary with things such as orders, maps, and reports on operations. The National Archives search page is here.




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Although your grandfather was discharged 'time expired', there were certainly examples of men with shipbuilding skills being returned from the Army.


See the form I have posted in this topic here:


His shipbuilding experience in civvy street may well have been the reason why your grandfather was not subsequently recalled to the Colours under conscription after his discharge in 1916.




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The 1/4th Black Watch is a unit whose war diaries have been poorly indexed on Ancestry.


They are under National Archives reference WO 95/3948. They can be accessed on ancestry by searching on the war diaries section and putting in just 3948 into the Keyword box.


They are listed under:


"Various (Infantry Bridages, 7th Indian Meerut Div)"


They didn't even manage to spell Brigade correctly...


Link to results page


The 1/4th Battalion war diary begins on page 169 of 693. It is a masterwork of brevity (seemingly re-written at the end of 1915 rather than being written day-by-day as most were). It does have a decent write-up on the battle of Loos, however. AT Loos, the British used gas that then drifted back over their own troops as the attacked. This would probably be the most likely time for a man in the battalion to be exposed to gas before the major battles in 1916.





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