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Remembered Today:

Tips for researching a post-armistice Soldier


jem1900

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First of all I'd like to thank the members of this Forum who've replied to my past threads & answered my questions. 

 

So after some research I've come to realize that my great-grandfather, William Burns, was most likely one soldier in the last group of British conscripts. He spent a good portion of his service in the occupation of the Rhineland in 1919, and almost certainly did not get over to the continent until after the armistice (given his age the absolute earliest he could have gone over is Oct. 1918). So I don't believe he would have been eligible for either major war medal. I also don't think he re-enlisted; he emigrated to the US in 1923, and according to ORBATs for the Army of the Rhine the vast majority of Signallers stationed there in 1919 had left by early 1920. 

 

Now i already know he was a Sapper, specifically in the Signals, and stationed in the Rhineland for a least some period of time. The main thing I'm trying to find now is the specific divisional signal company he was assigned to, and the duration of his time in Germany. He doesn't show up in the WW1 Service or Pension Records per Ancestry, and I've downloaded two war diaries for Signals in the Rhineland Army that haven't turned up anything. Many searches on Forces War Records haven't turned up anything helpful, partially because William had such a common name. Is there any other method by which I could find which Division he served in? I have a guess that he was with either the 9th or the 62nd Divisions as they were in the Rhineland in 1919 and seem to have lots of Scottish soldiers (my William was born and raised in Glasgow). But what if young Signallers had been assigned to any divisional company that needed men?

 

If there isn't, please be honest; I understand plenty of documents have been lost to history by now. I'd just like to know if there's any way to find one more piece of the puzzle. 

 

Jack

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This certainly isn't my area of expertise - others who can help more will surely come along later, but ...

I understand that, whilst many Army records were lost during the WW2 blitz making the chance of finding a 'burnt record' significantly reduced, records of servicemen serving after about 1920 have been retained by the MoD and that requests can still be made of them.

Apparently there is an index of MoD records on Ancestry - but I believe it is thought to be incomplete.

There is information on this webpage https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records/apply-for-someone-elses-records about how to go about that. There is a £30 charge for a search!

However/thus ... you will need to narrow things down ... a few things that might help your GWF / any MoD request ...

= Do you by any chance have any factual information on his service? - most obviously a service number would be of great help.

= Have you details of his next of kin - Mother, father, siblings,

= Any addresses etc.?

These would help to perhaps whittle down from any list of possible 'suspects'.

:-) M

Edited by Matlock1418
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5 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

This certainly isn't my area of expertise - others who can help more will surely come along later, but ...

I understand that, whilst many Army records were lost during the WW2 blitz making the chance of finding a 'burnt record' significantly reduced, records of servicemen serving after about 1920 have been retained by the MoD and that requests can still be made of them.

Apparently there is an index of MoD records on Ancestry - but I believe it is thought to be incomplete.

There is information on this webpage https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records/apply-for-someone-elses-records about how to go about that. There is a £30 charge for a search!

However/thus ... you will need to narrow things down ... a few things that might help your GWF / any MoD request ...

= Do you by any chance have any factual information on his service? - most obviously a service number would be of great help.

= Have you details of his next of kin - Mother, father, siblings,

= Any addresses etc.?

These would help to perhaps whittle down from any list of possible 'suspects'.

:-) M

 

The regiment number has been the big problem. I've tried to narrow down all William Burns's in Forces War Records who are listed as Royal Engineers and eliminated all those who were killed, captured, too old, etc. I got down to about 9 of them when it hit me that all these remaining numbers come from the Medal Rolls, which my William may not have been listed on. So I assume unless I find that number I wouldn't be able to request anything from the MoD, assuming they have anything. 

 

I've check all the Service Records available on Ancestry for a man of his birth date (1 April 1900) and birthplace (Glasgow) with no luck. I even know two addresses for him: one from 1911 (62 Cedar Street, Woodside Glasgow) and from 1923 (207 Gourlay Street, Springburn Glasgow). Once he arrived in the States I have all sorts of information on him, but right now the only information I really have on his service are some a set of photos during his service (you can look at two of them in past threads of mine; one of William in a Signallers uniform and one photo he took in northern France post-war). 

 

Jack 

3 hours ago, clk said:

Hi Jack,

 

May I ask, did he only have one given name, and what was his DoB?

 

Regards

Chris

 

Chris, 

 

Unfortunately he didn't have a middle name, making it a little tough at first to comb through all the William Burns's. His DOB is April 1, 1900 and I listed some more personal information from him in the post above. He was born to William & Agnes Robertson Burns, both of Glasgow if that also helps. 

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Don't give up hope

See also CLK's post #3 above - have you any more personal info on him - might make a big difference in helping the GWF pals to try and track him down to help you.

:-) M

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I can't see an exact match for Burns W, 1900-04-01 in the MOD database spreadsheets.

A couple on 1900-02-28 and one on 1900-08-01 are the closest matches.

And no April born BURNS W   in any year.

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5 minutes ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

I can't see an exact match for Burns W, 1900-04-01 in the MOD database spreadsheets.

A couple on 1900-02-28 and one on 1900-08-01 are the closest matches.

And no April born BURNS W   in any year.

Is the MOD database for all soldiers who fought from 1914-18? 

 

I know for certain his birthday was 1900-04-01, since I have a copy of his birth certificate & his naturalization documents for the US from the 1930s. 

 

Thank you for searching the database. 

 

-Jack

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The database is for soldiers who served after 1920, unfortunately as noted above it is incomplete, and the records of many men who were conscripted late in the war remained in the documents which were stored at the Arnside Warehouse.

 

Members may wish to note you have four threads on this soldier, including a photograph, as you mentioned above.

 

Ken

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17 minutes ago, kenf48 said:

The database is for soldiers who served after 1920, unfortunately as noted above it is incomplete, and the records of many men who were conscripted late in the war remained in the documents which were stored at the Arnside Warehouse.

 

Members may wish to note you have four threads on this soldier, including a photograph, as you mentioned above.

 

Ken

Thanks for clarifying Ken. 

 

And thats my theory for now, that William's service records were one of the many lost in the warehouse fire. 

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26 minutes ago, jem1900 said:

Is the MOD database for all soldiers who fought from 1914-18? 

 

It is a list of men born prior to 1901 who served after 1920 and whose records were retained by the MOD.

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You can request records from the MOD if you have the date of birth. Most documentation says the MOD data applies to soldiers whose service ended after January 1921 (officers whose service ended after April 1922)

I have seen comments that some MOD records have not survived  due to "weeding"

 

Maureen

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4 hours ago, Maureene said:

You can request records from the MOD if you have the date of birth. Most documentation says the MOD data applies to soldiers whose service ended after January 1921 (officers whose service ended after April 1922)

I have seen comments that some MOD records have not survived  due to "weeding"

 

Maureen

His name doesn't  appear in the indexes.

(Post #6)

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