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MartyG

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MartyG

Hello, I am a newcomer here, very interested in finding out about my great grandfather as my mother has often told me about seeing his photo when she was a young girl, a photo which, alas and a lack, has seemingly disappeared. He was very smart in what she thought looked very much like a World War 1 uniform. She told me he lived in Erith in Kent, in the Lower Road and with this information and his name, Joseph Curley, I am trying to find out something about his service, where he may have been, what regiment...

 

I have taken advantage today of the free weekend offered by Ancestry and have, I think, found him. The Attestation form I found certainly has the Lower Road, Erith address, but it is not easy to read the details of the Corps or Regiment he appears to be enlisting in. I can see that is dated 1914, but not the exact date. I think he may have served in the Royal Berkshire Regiment at some time prior to the Great War; it is, again, not easy to read what has been written in answer to question 4, but as another record for him shows his being born in Berkshire, that may make sense. We think he was born in 1876 and the name of his wife, my great grandmother, certainly ties in with the title of the other record I glimpsed (I think that record, a civilian census one perhaps, is not part of the free weekend, but it showed his name, his wife, DOB which match what mum tells me).

 

Whilst the Attestation form attached is surely him, I do not simply want to assume that the medal card and medal roll(?) are definitely his too. The only link I see between the Attestation and the medal records seems to be the number 810. I wonder too if the word/letters I cannot read top right of the Attestation are “RFA”? Is that the Royal Field Artillery perhaps? But then the medal records also say “RE” too, presumably the Royal Engineers? Two different Corps?
 

Would anybody here, more expert than me at this, be able to help with helping to decipher the Attestation and the medal records? Have I found the right medal records for my great grandfather - i.e. the Attestation is, I am sure, definitely, him, the address is too coincidental, but does that 810 link all of what I have found so far?
 

If they are all his, can anybody confirm to me which medals he earned and where he may have served? I hope to be able to find out more if I can, if they hold more detailed information on this site or on Find My Past, but I am so excited right now to think I have actually found him (perhaps), I just want to know if I am right to connect these few scraps I have found so far and explain what they all mean.

 

I just hope I can now attach some examples of my finds.

 

Apologies for so many questions, this is all very new and very exciting to me (my great grandfather’s signature, for example) and many, many thanks for your help and guidance and for making me welcome here.

 

Martin

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GWF1967

Hi Martin,  

Welcome to the Forum.

  He enlisted to the 4th Home Counties Bigade , Royal Field Artillery, as Driver - No. 810;  he was renumbered in 1917 as  915412, and was subsequently transferred to the Royal Engineers Railways and Waterways as WR/198165. 

He first went overseas on 21/12/1914 to France. He would have been entitled to a trio of medals; The 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals. These would have been inscribed with his R.F.A. details, 810 for the star and 915412 for the others. 

 His enlistment papers may show his pre war trade; Railwaymen in particular were transferred to the R.E. in large numbers, to cope with expansion of the rail network.

 

Edited by GWF1967

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GWF1967
53 minutes ago, MartyG said:

Hello, I am a newcomer here, very interested in finding out about my great grandfather as my mother has often told me about seeing his photo when she was a young girl, a photo which, alas and a lack, has seemingly disappeared. He was very smart in what she thought looked very much like a World War 1 uniform. She told me he lived in Erith in Kent, in the Lower Road and with this information and his name, Joseph Curley, I am trying to find out something about his service, where he may have been, what regiment..

 

Apologies for so many questions, this is all very new and very exciting to me (my great grandfather’s signature, for example) and many, many thanks for your help and guidance and for making me welcome here.

 

Martin

 

At the top of the page is a link to the "Long Long Trail", you should find details of R.F.A. brigades and also the duties of the Royal Engineers Waterways and Railways.

 I'm sure someone will be along to offer more info. 

 

Edit. I bit, 

Enlisted 5/10/1914 (Had previously served with the 3rd Royal Berks, he purchased his discharge.) and was posted as a Driver to the Brigade Ammunition Column. 

 

Served in  France 21/12/1914 till embarking at Marseilles on 30/1/1916 and disembarking in Salonica on 7/2/1916. He was with 27th Divisional Ammunition Column, which was renamed as B section, 16th Corps Ammunition Column. 

 

 On 14/10/1916 he was awarded 7 days Field Punishment No.2 for "Not complying with an order"

Transferred to the 27th Wessex Divisional Signal Coy, Royal Engineers, on 29/8/1918.  He was finally discharged on 19/3/1919.

  

Edited by GWF1967

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mancpal

GWF1967,

surely you mean 14-15 star as his entry into F+F was after the cut off date for 14 star qualification

 

Simon

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MartyG
10 hours ago, GWF1967 said:

Hi Martin,  

Welcome to the Forum.

  He enlisted to the 4th Home Counties Bigade , Royal Field Artillery, as Driver - No. 810;  he was renumbered in 1917 as  915412, and was subsequently transferred to the Royal Engineers Railways and Waterways as WR/198165. 

He first went overseas on 21/12/1914 to France. He would have been entitled to a trio of medals; The 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals. These would have been inscribed with his R.F.A. details, 810 for the star and 915412 for the others. 

 His enlistment papers may show his pre war trade; Railwaymen in particular were transferred to the R.E. in large numbers, to cope with expansion of the rail network.

 


GWF, what can I say, thank you so much for this information and for your welcome. I am so happy to have found him and the “810” proved the link between the records as I suspected, many thanks for confirming that. Where on earth did you find all this extra information, though, it is marvellous.
 

I do not have his medals, sadly (Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, apparently). I wish I did but they, like the photo, appear to be lost to time. I could purchase original medals, I know, but if they are going to be already engraved, I know that would not be appropriate. I shall have to look at replicas I guess- if I were to have them engraved I understand then all three should bear “RFA”, but with the two different numbers., no mention of the RE. That makes sense, it would make for a very cluttered engraving otherwise. 
 

One thing, I can see that he has signed the Attestation form, but do you know if enlisting men would have completed all the information on the form themselves or would they more likely have dictated it to whichever official or recruiter they were with at the time? It looks like he has written the whole form himself, but I am not sure of the etiquette of the time in such a matter.

1 hour ago, mancpal said:

GWF1967,

surely you mean 14-15 star as his entry into F+F was after the cut off date for 14 star qualification

 

Simon


Thank you Simon, I should be looking for the 14-15 Star then if I try and source some medals.

 

Martin

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MartyG

Oh dear, Field Punishment No.2; I wonder what he did or, rather, didn’t do!

 

GWF, I will have a look at The Long, Long Trail, thank you for the advice.

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mancpal

Occasionally original medals crop up that have had the engraved details skimmed off, I came across such a set about 2 months ago. I have a few original trios but am not a collector as such, I don’t have any reproduction sets but having read a number of members posts regarding the subject it seems Worcester Medals come with a good reputation. I suppose it’s a matter of personal choice in the end

 

Simon

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MartyG
18 minutes ago, mancpal said:

Occasionally original medals crop up that have had the engraved details skimmed off, I came across such a set about 2 months ago. I have a few original trios but am not a collector as such, I don’t have any reproduction sets but having read a number of members posts regarding the subject it seems Worcester Medals come with a good reputation. I suppose it’s a matter of personal choice in the end

 

Simon


Thanks again. I have heard that of Worcester myself too, as it happens. 

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mancpal

If you did fancy the erased type rather than reproduction I could attempt to get you a number for the shop where I saw them in case they are still available, they were in Conway.

 

Simon

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MartyG

That would be helpful Simon, but please don’t go to any trouble on that score as I wouldn’t want to waste your time in case I don’t end up buying them. That wouldn’t be fair on you. 

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GWF1967
5 hours ago, mancpal said:

GWF1967,

surely you mean 14-15 star as his entry into F+F was after the cut off date for 14 star qualification

 

Simon

Thanks for the clarification Simon. 

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GWF1967
2 hours ago, mancpal said:

If you did fancy the erased type rather than reproduction I could attempt to get you a number for the shop where I saw them in case they are still available, they were in Conway.

 

Simon

The argument against buying skimmed medals is the family of the original recipient will never be able to track down the medals awarded to their relative. 

 

4 hours ago, MartyG said:


GWF, what can I say, thank you so much for this information and for your welcome. I am so happy to have found him and the “810” proved the link between the records as I suspected, many thanks for confirming that. Where on earth did you find all this extra information, though, it is marvellous.
 

I do not have his medals, sadly (Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, apparently). I wish I did but they, like the photo, appear to be lost to time. I could purchase original medals, I know, but if they are going to be already engraved, I know that would not be appropriate. I shall have to look at replicas I guess- if I were to have them engraved I understand then all three should bear “RFA”, but with the two different numbers., no mention of the RE. That makes sense, it would make for a very cluttered engraving otherwise. 
 


Thank you Simon, I should be looking for the 14-15 Star then if I try and source some medals.

 

Martin

Hi Martin, 

 the details come from his service papers, Find My Past have a much clearer copy than Ancestry. 

 You can post a request for your G.Grandfathers medals in the “Medals” thread on the GWF, the family seeking medals section of the British Medal Forum and also on the Medal Index page on Ancestry.    Alternatively you could purchase an original trio awarded to another RFA man, perhaps from the same Brigade as your GGF. 

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MartyG
6 minutes ago, GWF1967 said:

The argument against buying skimmed medals is the family of the original recipient will never be able to track down the medals awarded to their relative. 

 

Hi Martin, 

 the details come from his service papers, Find My Past have a much clearer copy than Ancestry. 

 You can post a request for your G.Grandfathers medals in the “Medals” thread on the GWF, the family seeking medals section of the British Medal Forum and also on the Medal Index page on Ancestry.    Alternatively you could purchase an original trio awarded to another RFA man, perhaps from the same Brigade as your GGF. 


Thank you again for this advice and guidance. Finding his actual medals would probably be quite a long shot but you never know, it may be worth a try. What have I to lose, after all. 
 

May I say again how glad I am to have been welcomed onto this forum, you guys certainly know your stuff and I am chuffed to bits how readily you give help and advice to those like me who know so little.
 

Martin

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MartyG

Well, GWF, looks like this must be him again looking at the Royal Berks, it ties in exactly with what you said, right down to the “Purchased” written across it which, presumably, they did when a man bought his discharge.
 

Funny, I have seen his birth year on FMP as 1876 and 1878 - the Attestation shows him as 17 years and 2 months in 1895, which explains the 1878, yet his birth is recorded in a list of births for July, August and September of 1876! It seems strange he would have made himself younger for the Attestation but that is how it appears. 
 

The Royal Berks attachment was presumably part of what I read as compulsory militia service in those days. Off subject, though, sorry, it’s not World War 1. Fascinating all the same.

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mancpal

GWF1967,

I understand the case for and against skimmed medals. I don't and never will own any. My suggestion regarding erased medals as a potential solution for the OP is that whoever earned the medals has, by way of engineering vandalism, been 'forgotten' already. If I was in the position of  choosing between repro and skimmed to remember an ancestor whose medals were lost I think that owning a repro trio will always be repro, however, owning an original trio not only reminds you of your forebears entitlement but should also make you think and remember the original recipient and their sacrifices. As I said above its a personal choice.

I drew a pastel drawing of my grandfather in his Mcr Regt uniform from a photo for my Dads birthday a few years ago, I would have loved to have had his medals to frame with the drawing but Ive never seen them in my life. I am though considering mounting an original trio in the frame beneath the portrait, they belonged to a fellow Mcr Pal who was a family friend and is surely better remembered with his medals on display with one of his comrades than sitting in a tin box at the back of a cupboard. No doubt opinions will vary.

 

Simon

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GWF1967
26 minutes ago, mancpal said:

GWF1967,

I understand the case for and against skimmed medals. I don't and never will own any. My suggestion regarding erased medals as a potential solution for the OP is that whoever earned the medals has, by way of engineering vandalism, been 'forgotten' already. If I was in the position of  choosing between repro and skimmed to remember an ancestor whose medals were lost I think that owning a repro trio will always be repro, however, owning an original trio not only reminds you of your forebears entitlement but should also make you think and remember the original recipient and their sacrifices. As I said above its a personal choice.

I drew a pastel drawing of my grandfather in his Mcr Regt uniform from a photo for my Dads birthday a few years ago, I would have loved to have had his medals to frame with the drawing but Ive never seen them in my life. I am though considering mounting an original trio in the frame beneath the portrait, they belonged to a fellow Mcr Pal who was a family friend and is surely better remembered with his medals on display with one of his comrades than sitting in a tin box at the back of a cupboard. No doubt opinions will vary.

 

Simon

I'd think it a fitting tribute to both men to mount the picture and medals together.  I must confess a bias, as I display my GGF's photograph with cap badge,  a Trio awarded to another A.S.C. Driver, and a S.W.B awarded to a third. 

 As for skimmed medals  -  I recently purchased a set of 6 medals from a friend, a BWM - VM pair (Named/No'd.),  1937-48 Imperial Service (Named),  and a trio of 1939-45 medals.  His service record survives showing he enlisted 14/10/1915 - was discharged to civilian employment with the Post Office (Class W. Res.), 13/12/1916, and was finally discharged in 1919. 

Written in bold capital  letters, "HAS NOT SERVED OVERSEAS"

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GWF1967
6 hours ago, MartyG said:

Well, GWF, looks like this must be him again looking at the Royal Berks, it ties in exactly with what you said, right down to the “Purchased” written across it which, presumably, they did when a man bought his discharge.
 

Funny, I have seen his birth year on FMP as 1876 and 1878 - the Attestation shows him as 17 years and 2 months in 1895, which explains the 1878, yet his birth is recorded in a list of births for July, August and September of 1876! It seems strange he would have made himself younger for the Attestation but that is how it appears. 
 

The Royal Berks attachment was presumably part of what I read as compulsory militia service in those days. Off subject, though, sorry, it’s not World War 1. Fascinating all the same.

 

 

 

Seeing a glimpse back through 100yrs of family history I find fascinating indeed;  Not 1 but 2 service records to boot.  I had the same luck with my G.G.F.

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MartyG
10 hours ago, mancpal said:

GWF1967,

I understand the case for and against skimmed medals. I don't and never will own any. My suggestion regarding erased medals as a potential solution for the OP is that whoever earned the medals has, by way of engineering vandalism, been 'forgotten' already. If I was in the position of  choosing between repro and skimmed to remember an ancestor whose medals were lost I think that owning a repro trio will always be repro, however, owning an original trio not only reminds you of your forebears entitlement but should also make you think and remember the original recipient and their sacrifices. As I said above its a personal choice.

I drew a pastel drawing of my grandfather in his Mcr Regt uniform from a photo for my Dads birthday a few years ago, I would have loved to have had his medals to frame with the drawing but Ive never seen them in my life. I am though considering mounting an original trio in the frame beneath the portrait, they belonged to a fellow Mcr Pal who was a family friend and is surely better remembered with his medals on display with one of his comrades than sitting in a tin box at the back of a cupboard. No doubt opinions will vary.

 

Simon


I can certainly see both sides to the issue of the skimmed medals, certainly as the damage has already been done and thus the family will, sadly, never be able to trace them. 

 

I think I would prefer to find some originals from his regiment as you suggested, GWF1967. I will visit the BMF and attempt to locate his actual medals but I fear, like his uniform photograph, that they are lost forever. You never know though, do you.

 

As you say Simon, repros will always be repros, although I will certainly consider buying a trio of repro miniatures to wear for the local Remembrance Day service. I have done exactly that with my grandfather’s medals from WW2, being rather reluctant to wear the actual medals outside in case of mishap. Daft, I know.

 

I am also planning to put his WW2 medals in a frame and have already acquired cap and collar badges and shoulder flashes for the purpose, thanks to an excellent chap over at the British Badge Forum.

 

Knowing what I now know about my great grandfather, thanks to you guys, I can now do the same for him too and can seek out either his or, more likely, suitably related medals and also the cap and collar badges etc, although, unlike for my grandfather, it would appear I need sets from more than one regiment!

 

Better run this extra project past the missus first though, I think I’m boring her silly with all this medal and ancestry talk!

 

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MartyG
10 hours ago, GWF1967 said:

Seeing a glimpse back through 100yrs of family history I find fascinating indeed;  Not 1 but 2 service records to boot.  I had the same luck with my G.G.F.


I really did not expect to see the Berkshire Attestation, that was a complete surprise. I really feel I am connecting with him, even though I never knew him, and telling my dear old mum last night everything that I had so far discovered, with your massive help filling in the gaps, was a great and somewhat emotional experience. She, like me, had a chuckle over the Field Punishment!
 

She never knew he was from Berkshire, she had just assumed he was from south-east London or Kent. She is really looking forward to seeing his Attestation forms with his handwriting. 


Martin

 

 


 

 

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phsvm

Martin - your great grandfather appears to have been born in Denchworth, Berks.   His birth was registered in Wantage in the Sept Quarter on 1876.  The 1939 Register confirms his date of birth as 12 June 1876.  The 1881 census shows the family living in Alvescot where his father Joseph was employed as a groom.  Joseph was baptised in Alvescot on 19 August 1883.  His mother's name was Sophia.  He was the youngest of 9 siblings - 2 RIP before his birth.  For some reason, although his birth and those of all his siblings are registered in Wantage the family lived some distance from there.  His mother was born and raised in East Hanney, a village just outside Wantage so that may be the reason for this.  If you look further through his Attestation Papers his birth on his Certificate of Identity clearly show his year of birth as 1876.

 

He married Lily Jerome in Reading in the June Q of 1900 and the 1901 census confirms they were living in Erith where Joseph was a general labourer.  By 1911 he was employed as an 'Engine Driver' on a private farm.  This probably means a traction engine.  He and Lily had 5 children, all surviving.  They had at least one more because a letter from him in his military papers states he's enclosed birth cetificates for the 4 younger children but not for the older two.

 

Hope that tells you a bit more about his life outside the military.

 

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MartyG
20 minutes ago, phsvm said:

Martin - your great grandfather appears to have been born in Denchworth, Berks.   His birth was registered in Wantage in the Sept Quarter on 1876.  The 1939 Register confirms his date of birth as 12 June 1876.  The 1881 census shows the family living in Alvescot where his father Joseph was employed as a groom.  Joseph was baptised in Alvescot on 19 August 1883.  His mother's name was Sophia.  He was the youngest of 9 siblings - 2 RIP before his birth.  For some reason, although his birth and those of all his siblings are registered in Wantage the family lived some distance from there.  His mother was born and raised in East Hanney, a village just outside Wantage so that may be the reason for this.  If you look further through his Attestation Papers his birth on his Certificate of Identity clearly show his year of birth as 1876.

 

He married Lily Jerome in Reading in the June Q of 1900 and the 1901 census confirms they were living in Erith where Joseph was a general labourer.  By 1911 he was employed as an 'Engine Driver' on a private farm.  This probably means a traction engine.  He and Lily had 5 children, all surviving.  They had at least one more because a letter from him in his military papers states he's enclosed birth cetificates for the 4 younger children but not for the older two.

 

Hope that tells you a bit more about his life outside the military.

 


phsvm, I am doing a lot of thanking on here and I can only say a massive thank you to you too. I am overwhelmed with this, so much more than I have found thus far and I am, admittedly, finding it hard navigating round the various sections and searches on FMP as I take advantage of this free weekend (I am ashamed to admit, lol).

 

I had found this for him from 1891, well, I assume it to be him, showing him employed as a groom too at the age of 14 in Little Coxwell, but I had not progressed any further. Part of the information that mum had given me was that she thought her grandmother’s maiden name was Jerome, but she couldn’t be sure. Well that all fits neatly into place, doesn’t it, as does his being an engine driver, even of a traction engine, with regard to the Royal Engineers.
 

I do, however, still find it odd that he gives his age on the Royal Berks Attestation as “17 years and 2 months”. Surely it should be 19 years and 4 months (based on your discovery of his birth month as June).  I then thought maybe then that this wasn’t his Attestation after all, but his Attestation into the RFA in 1914 confirms he was in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Berks and the 1895 form shows his profession as groom, the parish as Faringdon, which again tallies with the 1891 census. So why the age differs will remain a mystery...

 

This is a truly brilliant chunk of family information you have provided, I am so grateful to you for the help and for your time and effort. I have been discovering just how much time this research can consume this morning as I have been throwing various names into the system, both sides of the family, and I fear I shall be overwhelmed before the free weekend expires. I think they have achieved their aim though and truly sucked me in, it has me gripped! 
 

That you, and GWF, have taken the time to look into so much more detail on my behalf, into a man and a family you do not know, is humbling for me and you both have my eternal gratitude. I would not have found all of this, I have to admit; as I say, I am fumbling round FMP and Ancestry trying to learn the ropes and am probably missing lots of information. This may be due to trying to research too many people at the same time whilst up against the clock so to speak or because I am not too techno savvy (translation: idiot).

 

Thank you again.

 

Martin

06E247FC-C8FD-473D-A44D-4452C84DADD1.png

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
1 hour ago, phsvm said:

For some reason, although his birth and those of all his siblings are registered in Wantage the family lived some distance from there. 

Not a mystery.

My understanding is that Joseph was born in Denchworth, only 3 miles or so from Wantage.

Wantage is the registration district that includes Denchworth:

https://www.ukbmd.org.uk/reg/districts/wantage.html

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MartyG
17 minutes ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

Not a mystery.

My understanding is that Joseph was born in Denchworth, only 3 miles or so from Wantage.

Wantage is the registration district that includes Denchworth:

https://www.ukbmd.org.uk/reg/districts/wantage.html


Great Faringdon and Little Coxwell in there too I see, fascinating. Thanks very much Dai, I really appreciate all this.

 

Martin

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phsvm

The only slight fly in the ointment is that looking on the government's GRO site and searching for births there doesn't seem to be any record of Joseph's birth in Wantage or anywhere else although his birth does appear on FreeBMD, Ancestry and FMP.  I found all his siblings and confirmed their mother's maiden name but no sign of Joseph.

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MartyG
2 minutes ago, phsvm said:

The only slight fly in the ointment is that looking on the government's GRO site and searching for births there doesn't seem to be any record of Joseph's birth in Wantage or anywhere else although his birth does appear on FreeBMD, Ancestry and FMP.  I found all his siblings and confirmed their mother's maiden name but no sign of Joseph.


Curioser and curioser...I suppose things have got lost or mistakes made. He definitely married Lily Jerome so you must have found the right Joseph. All I managed re his birth was the attached, but it doesn’t give much away.

017A4809-78DD-4932-A8F5-798EB9F8D961.png

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