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Stuck for a long time Harry Williamson (Gordons or Black Watch possibly) who lost a leg?


Daniel Cox
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Hi All,

 

I have four great-grandfathers who served in the Great War. Two of whom served in the British Army, while the others served in the Australian Imperial Force. All of them survived the war albeit with two of them being wounded. While one of them who deserted (although he supposedly got buried alive on more than one occasion under bombardment) as a Sergeant (12th HLI) while his battalion was out of the line after the Battle of the Somme 1916. Before he was killed in a coal mine collapse, while working using the identity of one of his brothers a few short years after the war.

 

Anyway I have plenty of information on three of them, including the one who deserted within the limitations of the loss of some British service records in the Second World War.

 

Yet for the life of me I cannot find one of them and he lost a leg following amputation as a consequence of as I have been told being wounded in action. So I am hoping one of you may be able to give me any ideas on how to find him, because I can't be sure of who he is from the medal card index, nor have I found him through pension records available via ancestry.com?

 

What little I do know is his name was Harry Williamson, whose father at least came from Scotland, yet he lived in the vicinity of Little Hulton or Bolton in Lancashire.

 

I also recall two different stories as to the unit he served with, from Harry's then surviving son Thomas Williamson (my grandfather). Who served in the Second World War (British Army RASC) attached to the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division, landing at Normandy on 6 June 1944. Originally I was told he served in the Black Watch, while in later years he was sure he served with the Gordon Highlanders. Plus apparently Harry's father spoke mostly in Scottish Gaelic. Oh and my grandfather also related that he wore a kilt rather during his service and had a kilt from his service which is gone now or is still in Britain somewhere. Yet I don't know for sure any of that since I can't find him.

 

What I also don't have is a date of death (sometime in the early 1970s?), date of birth, location of birth or much other information at all. Except for my mother saying he used to be a greenskeeper after the war and had a bad temper and tended not to be pleasant company. I don't even have pictures, in part because for a long time he was estranged from my grandfather.

Edited by Daniel Cox
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Daniel,

  You need to get some firm facts before you find Harry Williamson. I would try and get a copy of your grandfather's marriage certificate. This will give Harry's name {perhaps Harold} and occupation. Your grandfather may have been living in the family {Harry's} home at the time of his marriage. Witnesses at the marriage may be relations. Or you could get a copy of your grandfather's birth certificate. This would probably be more useful. From this you can perhaps find the family house in the 1911 census, or even Harry, and this will give you his age and place of birth.

  You could try checking some family trees on ancestry, but treat them with caution until you can prove the facts.

 

Regards,

Alf McM

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Thanks for your advice @alf mcm.

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I'm with Alf on this one. Definitely need more firm facts before trying to do any more digging.

 

There is a Private 19617 H Williamson, 8th (Service Battalion), Black Watch (attached 192nd Labour Corps), who was admitted 31/10/17 for a shrapnel wound to thigh (right leg).

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Hi Daniel,

When was Thomas Williamson born and where? What was your grandmother's name and then I will start searching.

Regards Barry

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1 hour ago, HTSCF Fareham said:

I'm with Alf on this one. Definitely need more firm facts before trying to do any more digging.

 

There is a Private 19617 H Williamson, 8th (Service Battalion), Black Watch (attached 192nd Labour Corps), who was admitted 31/10/17 for a shrapnel wound to thigh (right leg).

Hi All

19617 Royal Highlanders was a HENRY Williamson, 382504 Lab.Corps as per the MIC.

Regards Barry

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As others have said Daniel, this is going nowhere until you can give us some facts that we can  use to cross check other facts. For example I can find a Harry Williamson getting married in Little Hulton

 

He is the right sort of age to have served in WW1, bu I have no idea if that is him without have facts to cross check against. For example was your relatives father called James. Was your relative born about 1892. Was your relatives wife called Annie.

 

This sort of genealogical research is like opening a combination lock - all the bits have to fit. But we don't have any bits to fit :(

 

harry2.jpg.c5882c1de16baef23ba9064ad3317b12.jpg

 

 

Edited by corisande
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Hi All

Here is our starter..

22nd  June 1940 Thomas Williamson aged 27 yrs, a motor driver of 4 Peel Lane, Little Hulton, Bolton married Hazel Armstrong, 20 yrs, a machinist  of 37 Birchenlea St., Hollinwood, Chadderton at  St.Paul, Peel, Little Hulton, Lancs.  Groom's father Harry Williamson, a Green Keeper. witnesses Fred Grundy and Irene Armstrong....now we can search..

Regards Barry

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And again there is a Fold 3 card that shows a Harry Williamson with an amputation. But I cannot tie that to your relative without being able to verify, say, that address

 

pension1.jpg.7007be36710420a9870b85623ce008e0.jpg

 

 

 

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Thanks everybody I do appreciate your generosity in helping me, I'm used to researching Second World War RAAF history so I am sometimes a bit out of my depth.  anyway there is a fair bit for me to go through and chase down so I am sorry if I don't reply sooner.

 

That said the information that @alf mcm and @corisandehas shared is very helpful. Harry's wife was Annie (I believe her surname was originally Eckersley). While my grandfather Thomas Williamson was born 5 May 1913 at Little Hulton.

 

I will look into your suggestions as well @HTSCF Farehamand @The Inspector. Plus to answer your question Inspector, my grandmother Thomas Williamson's wife was Hazel Armstrong, born 23 September 1919 at Hollinwood, Oldham, Lancashire. Her parents were Levi Briscoe the SGT who deserted 12 HLI (who also had a brother who didn't desert and a brother in law who was awarded a MM), and Margaret Armstrong (nee McCrum) of whom both of her parents were widowed.

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Barry's find is key.

 

Put it all together now and

 

1. Harry Williamson married Annie Eckersley in 1913 in Little Hulton

2. Thomas Williamson Was born 1913 with mother Eckersley

3 There are at least 12 births to a Williamson and Eckersley in Bolton between 1912 and 1933. Presumably to the same couple. It includes twins

 

Now can we tie this Thomas to that Pension Card ? It has him as Royal Scots

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3 minutes ago, The Inspector said:

Hi Daniel and all,

Public tree on Ancestry.....https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/8491697/person/-941590522/facts

Regards Barry

 

That's drawn from one of my old trees that my father has on ancestry. Some info in that tree is accurate yet plenty isn't.

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Barry

 

I have been through most of those tree and , in my opinion, most are unmitigated rubbish and do not cross check. That one has him in both Scotland and Lancs in 1901, others have him in Scotland in 1901 with one age and in Lancs in 1911 with a completely different age

 

The Aberdeen birth may be correct. Where does that come from (I know ScotlandPeople, but why has it been added to all these trees?)

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Hi Daniel,

Thanks for the reply, every little helps and saves a great deal of time. Some of the info. is of use.

Regards Barry

Edited by The Inspector
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Hi All

Corisande, here is Daniel's tree.... www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/12749020/person/160245183428/facts

  MIC shows 23057 Brit/Vic, Star 8.9.15 France,9th R. Scots. Award Rolls also annotated on left margin  9. Typed 11th. SWB List D/A/1300...can't find it yet.

Regards Barry

Edited by The Inspector
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There is a 1911 census that is probably him at 100 Buckley Lane, which is about 400 meters from the Pension Card address of the 1920s of 55 Worsley Rd,

 

harry-1911.jpg.18af9241859f6265236a38f80ad88dac.jpg

 

Whilst it does not confirm it is him , it is starting to get there

 

I am unclear on his birth. That census has his father James born in Rochdale, and he himself born in Farnworth

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Yes he was born in Farnworth. Correct parents and at 100 Buckley Lane which is in the census for 1911

 

harry-birth.jpg.5ba100c823dadfaa9eacebdccabae2a1.jpg

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Then if you look back another generation, You can follow James back through all the census without any problems. You get his marriage and baptism in 1848. Not a Scotsman among them. I believe that this is all self consistent

 

So why did Harry join the Royal Scots - that is the only connection that I can find to Scotland

 

james-marriage.jpg.bd55410134138fb095cf342e38b945ab.jpg

 

And James baptism in Spotland, Rochdale, Manchester

 

 

james-bapt.jpg.dccee9609fc893bfb30c50cc5f753636.jpg

 

 

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As always I am astonished by the depth of genealogical expertise being demonstrated here.  Kudos gentlemen.  
Daniel you could not have a better team on the case....

Edited by FROGSMILE
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1 hour ago, FROGSMILE said:

As always I am astonished by the depth of genealogical expertise being demonstrated here.

 

I on the other hand am rubbish on uniforms. Can you tell us if he would have had a kilt (see first post)

 

There are refs to different Royal Scots battalions

  • Medal Roll gives 11th
  • Star roll gives 9th
  • Pension Card gives 11th
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20 minutes ago, corisande said:

 

I on the other hand am rubbish on uniforms. Can you tell us if he would have had a kilt (see first post)

 

There are refs to different Royal Scots battalions

  • Medal Roll gives 11th
  • Star roll gives 9th
  • Pension Card gives 11th


The 9th (Highlanders) Battalion Royal Scots (TF) wore kilts, but not the 11th, which was a Service Battalion of the New Armies.   The star roll suggests that he went to France kilted with the 9th and perhaps after wounding, or sickness, ended up with a draft of reinforcements to the 11th.
 

55AC2193-4245-4677-B677-1C80A7BA4E78.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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15 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

The star roll suggests that he went to France kilted with the 9th and perhaps after wounding, or sickness, ended up with a draft of reinforcements to the 11th.

 

Thanks - I knew it was complicated :)

 

So we can conclude that it is possible that he had a kilt that the family saw

 

AS a matter of interest were soldiers allowed to keep their kilts (unlikely I would have thought) or been able to purchase them

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9 minutes ago, corisande said:

 

Thanks - I knew it was complicated :)

 

So we can conclude that it is possible that he had a kilt that the family saw

 

AS a matter of interest were soldiers allowed to keep their kilts (unlikely I would have thought) or been able to purchase them


A regular soldier was allowed to keep a set number of items of clothing and footwear upon discharge at the end of his engagement, but I’m not 100% positive that included a kilt for former highlanders.  That said it wasn’t difficult to obtain one if you really wanted it.  Friendships were built up over many years and one learned what levers to pull and with whom....

 

Territorials were notorious (even up to recent times) for simply ceasing to attend and disappearing with their uniforms.  In theory it was theft, but only very rarely was it pursued so it’s quite likely that a kilt was retained, especially if after posting or transfer.

 

I enclose a colour image of a 9th Royal Scots kilt. 

 

90D9352E-2EDA-451C-A528-FBD0F5C060E1.jpeg

54357087-5814-4105-9436-150909680DCA.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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