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WW1 Medal Index Cards to be destroyed


Neil_York

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I was at the monthly meeting of the Surrey WFA last night and this topic was raised by the Chairman. I have the impression that the WFA is now getting involved in the issue. The main problem seems to be finding somewhere with sufficient space to store the cards.

Charles M

Doesn't the IWM have enough space to take the mics ?

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I like the idea of some kind of heritage funded 'volunteer' scanning operation.

Only a small amount of funding would be needed to cover postage and materials to achieve such an end result as I am sure the IWM or N.A. for example would host the finished article.

I used to be a volunteer for Images Of England run by English Heritage doing photos of listed buildings and their funding covered costs of photo developing, film and scanning of the negs onto CD for archiving online.

A similar approach could be used to achieve this aim. Perhaps funding could be sort under the 'Their Past Your Future' project? I do not think this project should be limited to only WW2 though...

http://www.theirpast-yourfuture.org.uk/

Look here for funding via lottery - http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/

Ryan

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Without going into details at this stage the Curator of the Royal Gloucestershire Berkire and Wiltshire Regimental Museum at Salisbury is on the case. David Chilton is communication with the relevant authorities. He like everyone else is appalled by the proposal and will by 'Hook' or by 'Crook' find space to secure these records. Clearly our main interests are the Records of the Royal Berkshires/Wiltshires and DERR, but I think the cunning plan is to secure the lot and regroup. The Museum at Salisbury is very committed to research on the Soldier so all this fits, but the Museum is in the big plan of life a very small player, nevertheless something is happening. It is not set in stone yet and even now might go pear shaped, but hopefully the Curator will get a result.

I will report back as and when

MAC

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I haven't been able to say anything before now for, as some of you know, I have been closely involved with this issue since it first came to my attention some time ago. We were able to go public with it in Your Family Tree magazine this month; the response has been incredible with several thousand emails in support of saving the MICs. Garrick Webster, the editor, has been diligent in pursuing this and largely thanks to his efforts and the positive reaction of the readership, the Ministry of Defence have agreed not to destroy the records pending applications from third parties to take them.

The Daily Mail article which ran this week (see below) publicly announced the initiative I have been supporting, which is that by the Western Front Association. The WFA have already applied to the MOD via the NA, who have supported their claim, to acquire and store the MICs prior to establishing a working party to decide how the records can be made publicly available and preserved. Their application at this early stage is still under consideration, but they have had favourable responses.

It is this initiative I urge you all to support.

The media are gradually getting interested and you will no doubt read more over the coming days. When I hear more myself I will let members of this forum know.

I am sure you will all join with me in congratulating both Your Family Tree magazine and the WFA in their role this in, and the NA for reacting positively to the leading WW1 organisation's application to take on the care of these records.

As I said to one journalist today, these records are the nearest we have to a WW1 Doomsday Book; to destroy them would be criminal. Let's hope it does not come to that.

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Just bumping this up so people are aware of what is happening.

Things are progressing well and I hope to be able to say a little more shortly.

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Had it posted on Service Pals forum (86000 members) which hopefully will generate wider interest in this subject.

Roop

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Good news Paul. It certainly looks like things are moving in the right direction. I think all those who have expressed their great concerns have helped to change official minds on this matter. A pat on the back to everyone , I think.

I also think we all ought to now fully support the WFA initiative.

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Had a letter from my MP today, letter reads:-

"Thank you for your letter of 13 March. I am concerned that the MOD is proposing to scrap the Medal Index from the First World War and I have put down a Parliamentary Question asking for the records to be stored for posterity.

Signed Peter Viggers MP"

There are I believe more Members of Parliament with the same inclination, and judging by the response from other areas its looking pretty good.

Len

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Hi everyone

Last Thursday morning I emailed Nicholas Soames MP about the cards and received a reply from his research assistant ithe same afternoon to say that he wasn't aware of this pending action and was going to investigate it thoroughly.

It came to my attention as I was browsing on the Black Watch message board where I have been keeping an eye on the Save the Scottish Regiments campaign.

Best wishes

MaryFM

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Let's hope that any interest from M.P's and the Great and the Good will now lead to the response "All's well, we've decided to give them to the W.F.A" !

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Have heard some more good news on this today - yet to be confirmed, sometime this week apparently - but WFA's representations have been successful and the MICs are now to be taken by the Imperial War Museum. J

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That is not correct; as mentioned previously I would urge people to be patient and wait for an official announcement from the Western Front Association.

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I would repeat, this information is not correct.

The MICs are not going to the Imperial War Museum. They were offered them all by MOD, but refused. The IWM had already asked for all the cards to women (40,000+ of them) and they may still have these depending on the outcome of current negotiations and whether these cards have already been removed or are seperate. What we don't want is the alpha order of the cards being wrecked by attempts to remove certain cards.

The WFA's bid is to preserve and store the cards, and then find a permanant home for them and make them accessible to all.

More details as and when they are available.

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you may be interested to know that the Irish Government is taking an interest in this saga, the matter is being looked into by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. After all a lot of good Irish lads were involved in that bit of our history. Also my MP Peter VIgger's has stated that these records should be preserved for posterity and is on the case.

Len

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.., I find some of which I have hard copies of, are not actually available on line........missing! They cannot provide an answer, save a standard reply that all are available that survived.

They appear very good at ducking the issue with standard replies.

I recently purchased, via documents online, a file clearly marked 'medical card' - I imagine it was just a miss-print but they insisted, even when sent the original file, that it was marked medal index card.

I later, in a general search (mentioned elsewhere on the forum) came across an entry labelled 'army service record' which apparently was available for download. When I queried it with them they simply reiterated that they did not offer them on line. No explanation was offered!

I have no confidence, what so ever, in dealing with the Archive now.

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This is from yesterdays' MOD written questions in Hansard

Historical Records

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions he has had with (a) the national record office at Kew and (B) Army archives about the First World War records at Hayes; [222708]

(2) what steps he is taking to preserve the First World War records at Hayes. [222707]

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to preserve the medal index cards from the First World War for posterity. [222699]

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to safeguard the card records of medals issued to First World War personnel pending discussions with the Imperial War Museum, the Veterans' Association and others on a possible future home for their storage; and if he will make a statement. [223245]

Mr. Caplin: The only collection of records relating solely to the First World War still held by the Ministry of Defence is the Army medal cards. More than 80 years after the end of the conflict, there is no administrative reason for the Ministry of Defence to hold the cards.

The National Archives has microfilmed the front of these cards, which in most cases contains all the information they hold, and they are now available to researchers (in Class WO 372) in microfilmed format at Kew and through the National Archives website online.

Ministry of Defence staff routinely discuss questions relating to records which may be worthy of permanent preservation with the National Archives staff, and both recognise the historical interest in the medal cards. With the agreement of the National Archives, the Ministry of Defence has been approaching institutions in the hope of finding one to which the cards could be presented. So far this exercise has been without success, but discussions continue.

22 Mar 2005 : Column 783W

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Just read on another site that the Medal Index Cards have been taken up by the IWM, I'm a bit sceptical about this as nothing has appeared on this board. Can anyone shed any light on this information, be great if it were true but I'll believe it when the info comes from a more reliable source. :unsure:

Len

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