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dbridge276

WW1 Medical Records in Car Park at DWP Pensions office Blackpool.

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dbridge276

I had previously posted this yesterday before receiving approval from the individual who originally posted it, i now have her permission to post as in her words "she wouldn't have known where to begin on here", my apologies to all for any inconvenience. 

 

The two paragraphs below originated in the  "The Findmypast Forum" Facebook group (a private group to which anyone interested can sign up to, even short term).

 

I have been researching a WW1 veteran. Was looking for their medical records to see if his death in 1919, in hospital, was a direct result (mentally or physically)of war.

Having been directed to the Mitchell Library, my initial excitement turned to horror.

All medical records of servicemen were collected up around the country, including all the indexes, and sent to the pensions department in Blackpool.

Mitchell contacted them to be told these records are in containers in a car park.

They had no room to store them and National Archives, when queried, said they did not have the money or resources to log/digitise/store these.

There will be over 500,000 records of our veterans rotting.

Is there anything anyone can do? Bearing in mind all the passenger lists would have been destroyed had an outside group not stepped in, I worry these records will be lost forever.

 

Myself (original post creator) and another lady were given an index book, which had the name of the person we were looking for in it.

When we then asked for the record, the archivist said there weren’t any and that this one book was all that they had.

The pension dept had collected ALL the records and indexes from hospitals across the country.

He spoke to the offices at Blackpool who confirmed they were being stored in containers in Poulton and that the records were not searchable as they had not been stored in any particular order.

Pension claims went on for years after the war and the records were never returned.
 

A fellow member has also been in touch with the Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA) team.

 

and in addition there is this info in the Public domain regarding where in the MoD to contact for these records and also a reference to "Johnny Mercer MP."

 

My reasons for posting this information on this forum is that members here may already be aware of this, and if not, the more interested people that ask about these records, the better chance of something being done by the data owners to preserve them long for historic and research purposes in the long term.

 

Mod_MedicalRecords.jpg

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keithmroberts

I htink that the least worst hope is to contact the WFA who have been responsible for saving both the British army medal Index Cards, and currently the Pension Record Cards.

The latter has been a massive project, and whether they could even consider another such huge project is not for me to say.

 

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ss002d6252
5 hours ago, dbridge276 said:

 

Myself (original post creator) and another lady were given an index book, which had the name of the person we were looking for in it.

When we then asked for the record, the archivist said there weren’t any and that this one book was all that they had.


Can you provide some further claification as to what the 'index book' was and exactly what the records at Norcross are ?

 

Craig

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dbridge276
Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, keithmroberts said:

I htink that the least worst hope is to contact the WFA who have been responsible for saving both the British army medal Index Cards, and currently the Pension Record Cards.

The latter has been a massive project, and whether they could even consider another such huge project is not for me to say.

 

 

Thanks Keith I Have had a message from a gent who is involved with WFA and have passed his request for more information on to get the right people talking.

Edited by dbridge276

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dbridge276
3 hours ago, ss002d6252 said:


Can you provide some further claification as to what the 'index book' was and exactly what the records at Norcross are ?

 

Craig

 

Craig i will ask to see what additional info can be provided.

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dbridge276
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, ss002d6252 said:


Can you provide some further claification as to what the 'index book' was and exactly what the records at Norcross are ?

 

Craig

 

5 hours ago, keithmroberts said:

I htink that the least worst hope is to contact the WFA who have been responsible for saving both the British army medal Index Cards, and currently the Pension Record Cards.

The latter has been a massive project, and whether they could even consider another such huge project is not for me to say.

 

 

I am advised that "the records are the actual medical records of the individuals from WW1".

 

I believe that the Index was something still held by a local government office that just indexed the original records that were "collated" by the DWP/Pensions office in the early-Mid 20th Century. I have nothing more than that i am afraid. 

Update re the Index book - it was an Index to the Medical records held at Dykebar Hospital in Paisley, which delth with many returning/discharged soldiers.

Edited by dbridge276

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keithmroberts

David Tattersfield is the person mentioned and is following this up. That is and cannot be taken to say that the WFA and David will be able to take this on, but he is checking it out, and having managed the saving of the pension Records has the skill and contacts to investigate what is possible, including the financial implications. I'm sure that he will share with us any news, as and when he is able to, given that these things take time, and he has to not just gather information, but consult the WFA committee and also explore the possibility of a suitable contract. Only one of Ancestry and FmP could possibly consider taking on the responsibility.

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ilkley remembers

Its just possible that they are the PIN 26 records from the Ministry of Pensions. My understanding is that a tiny percentage of the records, which relate to military pensions claims post 1918, were retained for research purposes and the rest 'disposed of' in the 1980s(?). There is an ongoing research project at Leeds University by Jessica Meyer who might be interested in what is in these records. They can be contacted via this link https://menwomenandcare.leeds.ac.uk/

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TEW
Posted (edited)

The phrase;

 

the records are the actual medical records of the individuals from WW1 is obviously going to invoke some interest here but WWI medical records of individuals could mean just about anything. Pensions, medical boards, operations, x-ray, admissions/discharges at home, abroad, during or after the war, case notes, medical sheets, index cards, photographs etc etc.

 

Or, are these a later index to records that were once held.

 

WWI medical records were possesed by the DHS or DHSS in the 1970s. They decided they weren't needed in 1975 and embarked on the 'Great Pulping' of circa 275 tons of medical records. 5% were saved which forms part? of MH106.

 

So, all the medical WWI records that were scooped up and went to Blackpool were supposedly either pulped or formed the 5% sample. Still not sure if those in containers are original records or pre-pulping transcribed indexes.

Perhaps (hopefully) they are originals that somehow missed being pulped.

 

The Great Pulping by DHSS and the retention of the 5% sample can be downloaded HERE.

 

Not sure where MH106 and Pin26 records meet. Pin26 also seems to be a 1975 retained sample from Blackpool.

 

TEW

 

 

Edited by TEW

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PRC

Since this thread was started I’ve been racking my brains trying to remember the general process in a local War Pensions Office – in the late eighties and early nineties as a civil servant I used to be loaned to them when there was a staffing issue on the administration side.Unfortunately that is getting on for 30 years ago.

 

The two offices I had any dealings with were both attached to the medical boarding centres – the doctors there would provide basic medical advice to pensioners \ run assessment boards and interpret hospital reports for the staff. Apart from one admin person the rest of the staff were basically peripatetic welfare officers.

 

We certainly had medical records or summaries for disabled pensioners but thinking back I get a feeling the only Great War era customers we were seeing or getting calls from were War Widows simply because of the passage of time. The only register I can remember was for the transfer in and out of records. The British Legion had a nursing home on the coast so we’d have a few transfers in of medical records but I simply can’t remember if any of them were Great War era – I was there usually for no more than four weeks at best twice a year. Most of the transfers out went to Norcross – these were because the service person concerned had died and long term storage was there.

 

So even if there was a historic clear-out in the mid-70’s of records for the deceased, for those war pensioners of the Great War era who were still alive presumably their records would have trickled into Norcross over the years. A soldier aged 18 in 1918 after all had been born in 1900. They couldn’t all emulate Harry Patch but some probably gave him a run for his money even if they were deaf, blind or an amputee, etc.

 

Computerisation of records at the local office level for benefits and national insurance took off in the mid-90’s, at which point a lot of locally held stuff was pulped. To the best of my knowledge Medical Boards and War Pensions Offices were towards the tail-end of that process but if it happened it was well after the Civil Service and I had gone our separate ways.

 

Sincere apologies if I’ve mis-remembered,

 

Peter

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TEW

Just to correct myself (slightly)!

 

MH106 is a 2% sample not 5%. The medical sheets now in MH106 were still closed after their 75 closure in 1921 had expired. These were added to the series in the late 90s.

 

What's perplexing me now is that PIN26 is also a 2% sample. Then there is the issue that different time frames for the destruction/weeding of records some? of which now sit in MH106 & PIN26. I say some because perhaps 100% of some record types were destroyed.

 

Moving on, MH106 & PIN26 are both described as being a 2% sample previously held by MoP or successors. Then it seems there was a 'between the wars' weeding/destruction of medical/pension related matter. So, I assume at present that the retained 2% sample was from a vast MoP archive.

The 2% now equates to MH106 & PIN26? which in turn is what was not previously weeded. Both series originate from 1975, possibly the pulping event described by Hopkins, although Pin26 contribution in 1975 was quite small, the bulk coming later 1986-97 ish.

 

Hope David updates us with news as to content.

TEW

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dbridge276

Thank you all for your replies and insights into the historical workings.

 

as Keithmroberts has said, someone is now on this.

 

we can but wait to see whether anything beneficial can materialise from this, bearing in mind, the 2nd 3rd hand nature of the phrase “its the original medical records”. Which could be True, or it could be wishful thinking on the part of the person speaking the records or even the officials telling the enquirer what these records are.
 

if only we knew of someone at Norcross that could confirm exactly what there is who was also interested in archival preservation of potentially historical documents.

 

fingers crossed for a successful outcome.

 

please keep any additionally useful information coming though.

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themonsstar

I can remember posting on this subject so had a look in the search box back in 2014

 

The was prepared after the destruction of the 1914 War Medical Records in 1975, by members of staff of the Imperial War Museum.
 
The Creation and use of the 1914 Medical War Records Section
 
Commonly known as MH106 at the National Archives
 
The Medical War Records Section was a collection of Hospital Cards, Hospital Case-Sheets and Admission and Discharge books which was made by the Medical Research Council and the British Museum during and in the years immediately following World War I.
 
The aims were twofold:-
 
1. To obtain a statistical and complete record of or the treatment given for those wounds, injuries and diseases which needed treatment at anything more than regimental level.
 
2. To provide a register of wounds, injuries and diseases so that the vast number of claims for pension which were envisaged could be dealt with in justice to both the claimant and the taxpayer.
 
From the outset these aims were incompatible. The one demanded that the documents be filed in such a way that information on kinds of Diseases or Injuries, on types of treatment or on Areas and Theatre of War to be easily accessible whereas the other demanded that the statistical negligible individual records should be readily retrievable. In the event neither could be achieved because what was not foreseen was the tremendous number of records which were to emerge by the end of the war.
 
At first the Hospital Case-Sheets (generally foolscap size papers containing details of the origin of a man’s wound etc, and showing the treatment given on various dates) were given a serial number and filed in numerical order. The numbers were in blocks allocated to each disease or injury or gunshot wound to each part of the body and these blocks were generally too small for the number of wounds Abut eventually occurred so that gunshot wound head, for example, had by the end of 1915 several different blocks allocated to it. In order to find an individual sheet it was necessary to know the serial number and where a Hospital Card was held the number was stamped on the card and the card then filed by the Regiment and Regimental number. Unfortunately cards were not held in the majority of cases and so cards showing the man’s number and regimental particulars, dates of admission to and discharge from hospital and diagnosis plus any other information were prepared from the Admission and Discharge books.
 
The serial number of the Case-Sheet was then stamped on the Card and Case-Sheet was filed in serial number order, the Card in Regimental number order and the Admission and Discharge book chronologically.
 
This system handled the records of the wounded of 1st & 2nd Ypres, Neuve Chappelle, Festubert etc, but after Loos it was clear that the system could no longer cope. The idea of filling the Hospital Case -Sheets in the order of diagnosis was therefore abandoned and another serious of documents was commenced. This time the Case-Sheets were to be filed in Regimental order and the Hospital Cards were to be filed in the same order in drawers underneath them. The Admission and Discharge books were still to be file by Medical Units to which they referred and then chronologically. As a means of finding an individual’s records from his regimental particulars there were 3 major faults in the new system:-
 
1. Not all Admissions to Hospital were recorded on Case-Sheets.
 
2. Hospital Cards for Field Ambulances and Casualty Clearing Stations were non-existent and even in General Hospitals and some of the large UK Hospitals men were being treated without Hospital Cards being made out.
 
3. Not all Military and War Hospital sent their Case-Sheets to the British Museum when they were told to do so.
 
These faults were overcome as much as they could be by the old expedient of creating cards from the millions of entries in the Admission and Discharge books but now 2 similar systems ran side-by-side. From 1st January 1916 in order to find either a Hospital Card or a Case-Sheet it was necessary to know a man’s name and his full regimental particulars at the time of treatment. Moreover neither system was complete in itself, Case-Sheets in some instances were non-existent and in other instances were still held by the Hospital, Hospital Cards sometimes show details of treatment; sometimes were typed copies of Admission and Discharge book entries and sometimes they too were non-existent.
 
Meanwhile this system was expected to cope with the ever-growing number of casualties especially after 1st July 1916 when the battles of the Somme began. The trouble was that the Hospital Cards were still seen as an index not as a source of information within themselves but since 1st January 1916 the index had been filed in the same order as the records to which it referred. The position was aggravated by the Anti-Record view taken by some Medical Officers and (in the words of the BMJ of the time)
 
“summarised in the apophthegm that the doctors work is to cure bodies not to drive quills”.
 
In June 1917 a new system of Medical Documentation was introduced into the Army. The basis of the new system was the Card AFW 3118 which was attached to the soldier when he was first treated by the Stretcher Bearer or Field Ambulance and upon which all treatment down to General Hospital level was recorded. Subsequently it was envisaged that all Temperature charts, X-rays, etc, should be placed in the stamped envelope in which the Card was enclosed and that together with the Hospital form AFW 3243a (printed in red for Expeditionary Force men admitted to UK Hospital), AFW 3243 (printed in black and used only for men not belonging to an Expeditionary Force) or AFW 3162 (used for troops in military hospitals in France) would form the dossier of the man.
 
There was a pious hope that the disappearance of the Hospital Case-Sheet was to be deprecated but whether intended or not the new system pronounced the death sentence on the Case Sheet. In future the index itself would contain the evidence of the origin, treatment and progress of the wound. The Field Medical Card (AFW 3118) was probably the greatest single advance in the documentation wounds during the whole of the war. For the first time there was a document to be completed in very close proximity to the battlefield itself. Each Field Ambulance, Casualty Clearing Station and General Hospital which received the man could make notes about his treatment, show what drugs had been administered and note which Ambulance Train or Hospital Ship had transported him during his transferred down the line.
 
In the autumn of 1917 the advantages of the new system could not have been apparent to the staff of the British Museum. One must assume from knowledge of the casualties that they were well behind with their work. Some Hospitals had not sent in their Case Sheets, many hundreds of Admission and Discharge books were missing, always there was the transcribing of book entries onto Cards and then Cards sorting into regiments and then numerically. By 1918, 24,711 Admission and Discharge books had been received and in addition to the sorting, filing and cataloguing the department was answering queries from Allied Governments, Ministries such as the Ministry of Pensions, Grave Registration and Enquiries, Pay and Records Offices, Prisoner of War Information Bureau etc. A Col Elliott was assisted in his task of compiling statistics on the typhoid epidemic amongst Belgian civilians in Belgium in 1915, whilst Col Guy Stephen of No 8 British Red Cross Hospital was helped in his task of writing the medical history of Boulogne.
 
The Armistice brought new problems. Now hospitals began to be closed in large numbers and there was nowhere for the books to go but the British Museum. The permanent indexing of the books came to a standstill - it was all the staff could do to temporarily catalogue the books as they came in and deal with the queries. Over 10,000 questions were asked of the Department between January and September 1919. The Canadian RAMC wanted to know how many Canadian soldiers were admitted to British Medical Units with gas poisoning; the War Office wanted to know how many cases of gunshot wound femur with fractures were admitted to Hospital between 1st January 1915 and 30 June 1915, various Allied Governments and previously Enemy Governments wanted information about their nationals. The total of Admission and Discharge books held had risen to 44,821 and the number of staff was 17.
 
In 1920 things got worse rather than better, queries and books flooded in, the staff was increased from 17 to 27, space became short and after this section had been moved to Endell Street it was found that the floors there had become unsafe because of the weight placed on them. Cards had to be moved hurriedly and that order which had been so laboriously imposed upon the millions was disturbed and it was calculated that it would take weeks to bring the holdings into order again. In September 1921 the Card Index was closed but a new serious of Cards was begun in 1922 and finally closed in 1926.These later Cards contained of course the Hospital notes there was no separate Case Sheets.
 
This then was the 1914 Medical War Records Section which was moved to the Ministry of Pensions archives at Hollyinwood in 1933. The Ministry of Pensions by this time was the main user and it was in this Ministry that the next 40 odd years of the life of the Medical War Records Section were to be spent. When received this section consisted of three main parts.
 
1. The Hospital Case Sheets.
 
2. The Hospital Cards.
 
3. The Admission and Discharge books.
 
The Hospital Case Sheets themselves were in 3 different runs. The earliest dated 1914 and 1915 were filled in serial number order as explained previously and in order to find one of these it was generally necessary to know the serial number which could only be found from the relevant Hospital Card. The next group of Case Sheets were filed in the same way as the Cards themselves that is by Regiment and then numerically. Officers and ORs who had no recorded number were filed alphabetically at the end of each Regiment. The last group of Case Sheets were those which the section had had no time to sort in any way at all and these were kept in the alphabetical system which the Hospital had created when first used.
 
The UK will split up into Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western, Scottish and Irish commands with London and Aldershot districts and Channel Islands within each command or district and the Hospitals were held in rough alphabetical order. The UK Hospitals were followed by various types of Hospitals abroad. There were some 5 million Case Sheets all told and they were bundled between Mill boards; their ages were dry and crumbling.
 
The Hospital Cards were in three different runs within each Regiment, first there were 1914-15 group which mainly consisted of typed copied Admission and Discharge book entries, the 1916-21 group which was a mixture of copied entries and original Cards and the 1922-26 group which were all original Cards most of them showing details of the origin treatment and progress of the wound, injury or disease. Within each group the Cards were filed numerically with the Cards for Officers and ORs without recorded numbers at the back. The Regiments range from the massive RFA through the County Regiments and the various Corps through a Cavalry and the Brigade of Foot Guards to the most obscure locally enlisted troops such as the Zion Mule Corps, the Chinese Labour Corps, Serbians and Cape Boys.
 
Quite obviously the Cards for any individual man could be in several different places not only could a man’s Card be separated chronologically by being in different date groups but since it was common to send men to different Regiments once they had been to the Base the same man’s Cards could be separated into different Regiments with no connection whatsoever. Service numbers to which in 1914 and 1915 were being issued by battalions resulted in several groups of Cards under the same number been file together through they refer to different men. A group of these Cards could be several inches thick and say three or four Cards referring to the same man could be in various places within the group. There were 29 million Cards and the brown stains on many of the Field Medical Cards serve to remind one how the section had been created in the first place for this was blood and in many instances lifeblood at that.
 
The Admission and Discharge books totalling in the end 59,000, were held together, the books for the Hospitals in the UK were held in Commands like the Case Sheets, then roughly alphabetically and then chronologically. They were followed by the General Hospitals, Stationery Hospitals etc, through to the Hospital Ships, the Paddle Steamers and the Hospital Trains. There was no consistent method of completing Admission and Discharge books in the various Medical Units. Most were chronological in the sense that the admissions recorded on the first pages were earlier in time then those recorded on the later pages, but some Medical Units grouped all types of troops together so that Officers and ORs, Naval and Military, British and Allied, Civilians and POWs were all intermingled. Other units went to the other extreme differentiating not only between those obvious groups but between Militia and Volunteers and even between men of different Divisions. Some units wrote in pencil some in ink in the neatest copperplate. Some prepared indices to each book so that a chronological search need not be made.
 
In some books the terrible fate of whole Divisions could be read in the number of entries on the days like the 1st and 2nd July 1916. The use of Gas or new types of Gas could be plotted in the books of Field Ambulances where there were no admissions other than for the Gas Poisoning for several pages. The impact of battles like Loos and Arras could be plotted in the books of General Hospital far behind the line on the French coast where life may have gone on pleasantly enough for weeks, treating a few sore throats, a few piles and only the odd gunshot wound until the deluge of wounded who had overflown the Military Hospitals of their own Army were now filling the Hospitals of their neighbours left no time for anything but the most serious of wounds.
 
When the section was first received the same method of handling requests was used. So far as the Ministry of Pensions was concerned this amounted to copying any Cards or Admission and Discharge book entries onto a sheet and then marking the Cards “O. C/S sent” (original case sheet sent) or “O. c/s n/t” (no trace of original case sheets). Case Sheets were sent to the branch who attached them to the file but the Cards were never taken away from Medical War Records Section. The idea of the complete index still held sway. It was not until the mid-1940s but it was realised that the Cards were not complete anyway (many of the Admission and Discharge books from Salonika and Mesopotamia had never been carded) and that therefore to save the tremendous amount of copying which went on the Cards could be sent to the man’s personal file with the Case Sheets.
 
The method of retrieving information however became more sophisticated over the years as the information which the claimant was able to give became not only less but more suspect. As early as 1920 the British Museum had started to complete a Location Index because it was realised that men would be more likely to remember the place that they were treated rather than the number and title of the Medical Units. This index therefore by alphabetical order of town or village showed where the various Medical Units had been stationed and the relevant dates, there were also books to show which Hospitals in the UK were made into War Hospitals, which of these were “Central Hospitals” and which of the smaller ones were affiliated to which Central Hospitals.
 
The whole of the cataloguing in those early days was to identify the Hospital at which the claimant was treated so that a search could be made of the Admission and Discharge books or, more rarely those Case Sheets which were held in Hospital order. An abortive search already made for the index Card and the fact that it had not been found showed that it either did not exist or was mis-filed. It was only after some time that men began to forget their regimental numbers, to men who joined after the present numbering system was introduced in the early 1920s it would seem perhaps inconceivable that many men would forget their numbers but under the 1914 war system when men could have had several different numbers in as many different Regiments it was not long before men’s minds became confused.
 
Claimants would state that they had been treated in one Hospital but quote particulars from another period of service. Dates themselves became vague and it was in this kind of case that it was first realised that the very complexity of the filing system could be used against itself to provide easily information which under a more uniform system could not have been found at all. If the man’s treatment had been in a Hospital whose Case Sheets had not been processed into the regimental boxes or the serial numbers it was but a moments work to find the Case Sheet which would give the full regimental details, dates etc. If on the other hand details of the wound were known the Case Sheet could be found perhaps in the serially numbered ones and so on.
 
As the years went by more and more knowledge was acquired. Lists were made of which Field Ambulances were attached to which Divisions so that if a man’s Division was known an entry could be found in the First Medical Unit that treated him and the trail could generally easily be followed from there. Lists were made showing which Field Ambulances acted as Divisional Rest Stations and Corps Rest Stations and on what dates. There were lists of Medical Units pages of whose books showed extensive lists of gas cases on given dates. A list of the battles of the major campaign showing dates, tactical incidents and the locations of the Casualty Clearing Stations to which the units were sent, was made and provided invaluable as many of the ex-soldiers died and the section found itself dealing with Widows claims where the information was not only scanty but second hand as well.
 
The most experienced staff of the section were not historians but they were able to check historical facts. Generally speaking they lacked knowledge of the causes of incidents but were able to relate incidents to dates. They were familiar say with the relationship, both in time and space, between Lancashire landings and Suvla Bay but they would not have been interested in Sir Ian Hamilton’s role in the operations or in Kitchener’s decision, they would have known of 21st March offensive and of the attack on the Lys but they would not have used phrases like “Luddendorfs last throw” or associated the offensive with Brest-Litovsk. Knowledge and facts were valued only in so far as they help to find men’s documents and the Ministry of Pensions (and its successors).
 
After the extraction of a sample (weighing 2 ½ tons) which was sent to the PRO/NA (KEW) the Medical War Records were sent for pulping between April and July 1975. The documents filled 16,524 sacks and weighed 275 tons.

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dbridge276

@themonsstar

 

thanks for your post.

 

may I have your permission to post that Info to the original Facebook group where this question arose?

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themonsstar

Yes help yourself it's information that was one of the MH106 files.

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