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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

WW1 Medal Index Cards to be destroyed


Neil_York

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I have had confirmation this afternoon from the National Archives that it is the intention of the MOD to destroy these records.

The argument is that now they have been scanned they are no longer required. I have requested that they confirm what provision has been made for data on the back of the cards which will be lost if this happens.

will let you know what comes up.

mike S

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I have had confirmation this afternoon from the National Archives that it is the intention of the MOD to destroy these records.

The argument is that now they have been scanned they are no longer required.

Mike

So have the reverse of all these cards already been scanned?

Robbie

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According to William Spencer's "Army Service records of the First World War" about 10% of these cards have correspondence details on the reverse.

Can anyone confirm whether this is the case - if we are to save them we should be sure of our facts.

Mike

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Robbie

No - they were never filmed when the microfiche version was created.

Mike

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I, too, have emailed. I know my MP personally - and not as a whinging constituent concerned about damp-proofing or benefits - but this may just put him off!

Ricardo

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I have received another reply from the National Archives which suggests that only one in a hundred or so have details on the back. This contradicts the 10% figure listed above.

Apparently when they were filmed it was decided not to do the reverse as this would have doubled the cost.

Mike

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There is a big difference between 1% & 10%. Having actually seen with my own eyes a section of original MICs, I would have said it was a lot more than 10% with information on the reverse. But perhaps this section was just a fluke?

It is irrelevant anyway. The important thing is to prevent the destruction of valuable records, which all are agreed should be saved. I have not found anyone who does want these cards saved, & I think unless they are a civil servant of some description or a pyromaniac, I will not find someone who would like our records to burn.

Is this the one topic in which all will agree? Seldom seen on this forum. What can the combined efforts of Forum members achieve with unified effort?

I think the first thing to argue would be that ANY fate worse than total destruction is acceptable. If they go into private hands, then so be it. Money is made every day by people copying the fiche at the NA & online at £3 a shot. I couldn't care less.

The official line that they would rather destroy them, than hand them to private concerns, must be changed in this particular case.

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As already stated a Lottery appeal would be best, even if it is only to provide storage or the means to transcribe the reverse side.

Under current lottery rules, it is unlikely they would grant the money.

But if a bid was submitted, it would have to be from a credible organisation, so it still begs the question of who wants to take it on.

How about the WFA? It's a registered charity. Failing that, another military institution or interest group etc. Friends of the IWM? Friends of the NAM? If, as Angie says, such a project would fall outside the current guidelines of the Heritage Lottery Fund, then private funds could be used/raised. I would have thought there are enough interested parties on this forum to make a substantial contribution to a capital appeal if the MOD would agree to passing them to reputable hands rather than into an incinerator.

Paul

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National Army Museum did take on Records for Monies owed to soldiers died from 1901-1960, which although the majority of these records are not available to view (lack of room) would have been similarly destroyed.

Alan

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I have received another reply from the National Archives which suggests that only one in a hundred or so have details on the back. This contradicts the 10% figure listed above.

Apparently when they were filmed it was decided not to do the reverse as this would have doubled the cost.

Am I being too cynical, but this sounds like damage limitation to downplay the seriousness of what the MOD wants to do. Even 1% that is over 50,000 records! Also it sounds like that they may want to prevent being deluged with requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

The question for the NA is why didn’t they go back to the originals and copy them (both sides if relevant) when they digitalised, rather than working from poor copies. They allocated new money and are generating income from these cards, they should be held to account for not providing the best service.

If the cards are to be saved, they will need to be kept in achieve conditions so we need to find an archive willing to hold them.

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The Royal Marine papers are held at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton having been saved from destruction. Could they not be approached to house these too ? Three reasons why they may be interested.

1) the trustees were suitably sympathetic to save those to the RM and therefore understand the potential loss.

2) they are a registered charity and so there would be no claims of profiteering

3) any one visiting to looks at the cards are likely to make a family day of it at the Museum.

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There is a big difference between 1% & 10%. Having actually seen with my own eyes a section of original MICs, I would have said it was a lot more than 10% with information on the reverse. But perhaps this section was just a fluke?

Even if it's as high as 20%, that cuts down the storage space to just six cabinets. Obviously it would be time-consuming to filter out the other 80% (or whatever), but it seems a very "managable" option compared to just dumping the lot.

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If we had a whip round and offered say £5,000 for these cards, would the MOD be bound to accept such an offer under "value for money" criteria. After all, they would have the cash and save the disposal costs. Individual cards could then be sold at leisure to interested parties with the proceeds going to charity. Famous individuals cards, VC winners etc could surely be auctioned for charity at quite decent prices.

Again, no doubt this is much too sensible and the threat that it would in some way undermine the revenue from access to the scanned cards remains.

Sheer vandalism to destroy them.

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Again, no doubt this is much too sensible

No offence but I don't think it's sensible (or likely) at all. The value of the cards is in retaining them as a public archive rather than purchasing them only then to cherry pick and sell off. (Unless you meant scanning the information first before flogging on ebay or similar).

It's all hypothetical anyway but apart from writing to MPs and protesting to Hayes, what are we going to do?

Paul

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Retaining the whole collection complete is sadly uneconomic and substantially superfluous given the scanning exercise. It would surely be beneficial to sort and retain the cards with extra information - hopefully eventually finding a home for this much reduced amount of records ( a handfull of filing cabinets ?)- and then dispose of the rest sensitively with the funds raised going to charity.

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The collection should not be destroyed or broken up. Future generations would never forgive us

If we had a group of volunteers to take charge of a filing cabinet each we could become trustees of the collection until a permanent home is found for it.

I would volunteer to co-ordinate the collection and deal with enquiries.

Mick

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I'd be quite happy to hold a cabinet until a proper home is found, and even help put them on disc, and if you have a whip round count me in.

Len

NB Just checked storage reckon I could hold 3/4

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I think that the majority would agree that it should be taken forward, but we probably need somebody with MOD connections working in concert with a reputable organisation to put a solid case forward and ultimately make the additional information publicly accessible - ideally via the internet.

Paul

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Has there been any deadline set in relation to the destruction of these records?

Has any member contacted the IWM or NAM, maybe there is room for them at the IWM Duxford etc, if only as a temporary solution? My personal opinion is that the entire collection should be saved and the extra information on the reverse of some MICs be made available. Easier said than done though I appreciate but I'm sure there are some dedicated forum members out there and some hopefully with space to store all the filing cabinets if the MOD agree to release the records. I wonder if the MOD has any other WW1 records scheduled for destruction?

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Where the collection is held is not important at the moment. The priority is to safeguard its future.

I'd like to put a plan together and I think we should start by making contact with the current owners to determine whether it would be possible to move the collection somewhere. As a group I think we could apply a lot of pressure on various authorities to resolve this issue.

Does anyone fancy getting together to discuss things

Mick Mills

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If an organization was set up and in regular contact maintained with these authorities, perhaps documentation that may otherwise be destroyed in the future could be preserved. We need a Patron with connections, perhaps a high ranking member of the services it wont matter what branch they were in as long as they were of the same mind, and once the organization was set up, then perhaps application for a lottery grant could be made. I've been involved with the lottery on one scheme locally and its reasonnably straight foreward.

Mick where are you based, if I'm anywhere near you I'd be happy to help.

Len

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i think we should take action know

anyone who want to arange it i have a 4 ton lorry and 4 or 5 lock up at £10 a week give me the word and im there.

if not have a 4 tonner and my twin lewises ready for action

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