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Labour Company 143?


BobG17
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I've recently discovered (via FindMyPast) somescans of charred records of my Grandfather's WW1 service.

His medical record, with flat feet, saw him assessed as C.2 fitness level, which (I think?) made him suitable only for labour at home.

 

However, at some time I assume he was re-assessed as B.2 and he was posted to the Northants regiment, 5th Infantry Labour Corps and joined the BEF in France.

 

The Army Council Instruction 611 in April 1917 saw that company re-named as Labour Company 143.  He was given a new service number which lines up  with that company.

 

Can anyone give me some help working out where he may have served?

I know he was on the Western Front.  He later named his house "Courtrai", so that area must have made a big impression.

 

If I read it correctly, shortly before demob, he was moved to Labour Company 151. Should I read anything into that? eg was it a pre-demob Company?

 

Thanks for any help

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Good Afternoon BobG17. Welcome to Great War Forum.

 

     Labour Corps personnel-Other Ranks-I have found hard to trace.   I suspect your man is:

 

 

Medal card of Frankland, John. Corps: 143rd Company Labour Corps ex Northamptonshire Regiment. Regiment No:...

War Office: Service Medal and Award Rolls Index, First World War. Everitt H - Gibson A. Medal card of Frankland, John. Corps Regiment No Rank 143rd Company Labour Corps ex Northamptonshire Regiment 85379 Private.

 

Held by:

The National Archives, Kew - War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies

Date:

1914 - 1920

Reference:

WO 372/7/146364

Subjects:

Armed Forces (General Administration) | Army | Conflict | Medals | Operations, battles and campaigns

 

   The easiest/less awkward way into this might-possibly-be via the Medal Rolls.  The page -or thereabouts of his entry may show other men transferred into the Labour Corps or out of somewhere else- and then see if there are any service files of the "burnt documents" extant for them.  This may not lead to much info about WHERE the unit was. For instance, there is only one man of 143 Labour Corps listed on "Discovery" at The National Archives" - so better check him out for records:

 

       

Medal card of Boughton, Alfred N. Corps: East Kent Regiment. Regiment No: L/7889. Rank: Private....

War Office: Service Medal and Award Rolls Index, First World War. Barnes C E - Boundy C E. Medal card of Boughton, Alfred N. Corps Regiment No Rank East Kent Regiment L/7889 Private. 143rd Employment Company Labour Corps 85261 Private.

 

Held by:

The National Archives, Kew - War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies

Date:

1914 - 1920

Reference:

WO 372/2/226469

Subjects:

Armed Forces (General Administration) | Army | Conflict | Labour | Medals | Operations, battles and campaigns

 

 

     Again, 2 other members of 143 Labour turn up on the medal cards- and they are both officers:   Thus, each of them has an officer file at The National Archives which MAY contain details -probably incidentally- of what 143 Labour was up to.. Alas, these files have not been digitised and TNA is currently closed due to The Lurgi.   The officers concerned are:

 

 

2/Lieutenant Henry BANKS Labour Corps.

War Office: Officers' Services, First World War, Long Number Papers (numerical). Officers Services (including Civilian Dependants and Military Staff Appointments): Long Service Papers. 2/Lieutenant Henry BANKS Labour Corps.

 

Held by:

The National Archives, Kew - War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies

Date:

1914 - 1922

Reference:

WO 339/92880

Subjects:

Armed Forces (General Administration) | Army | Conflict | Operations, battles and campaigns

 

 

 

Captain William Francis BUNT. Labour Corps.

War Office: Officers' Services, First World War, personal files (alphabetical). Captain William Francis BUNT. Labour Corps.

 

Held by:

The National Archives, Kew - War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies

Date:

1914 - 1921

Reference:

WO 374/10778

Subjects:

Armed Forces (General Administration) | Army | Conflict | Operations, battles and campaigns

 

 

 

 

Please remember that any man found to have served in 143 Labour should also be checked against Pension records on Ancestry as a "pension record" may often be,in effect, a duplicate service file.

 

Lunt was previously a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps and then commissioned into the Labour Corps. I have noticed that with  commissions into Labour Corps or Army Service Corps late on in the war-and especially from one non-combat unit- tend to be officers selected because of peactime/wartime experience that would aid the task in hand. I have a local casualty who was a clerk for West Ham Borough Council-and middle-aged-but he worked for the Public Health Department long term-He was commissioned into the Labour Corps and thence to a Chinese Labour company on battlefield clearance.  Thus, Captain Bunt gives the slightest hint that 143 Labour was employed on clearance (inc. bodies)

 

The man I suspect is your ancestor is  (new) service number   85379.

The only other man for 143 Labour with a specific mention - Boughton-is  service number 85261.

Thus, a bit of a grind through  Army Service files on Ancestry  by working through the service numbers between 85261 and 85379  and they are likely to have other Labour Corps men transferred into 143 and issued new numbers-and,of course, a run-through of the numbers at either end of that sequence.

 

     The excellent neighbour site "Long,Long Trail has this on 143:

 

image.png.b587771594ce6c3dbc240ec2b79857bd.png

 

  That would set the parameters of service numbers to search for other men with records.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Guest
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My grandfather (Ernest Geatrell) was a simple Private. He'd been a (plant) nursery worker before joining. Statement of services attached

 

I'd found the Long Long trail info on his company, and his new service number (85390) tallies

GBM_WO363-4_007407513_00871.jpg

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The book 'No Labour, No Battle - Military Labour During the First World War' John Starling and Ivor Lee, has 3 pages (126 to 129) describing the Labour Corps contribution to the Flanders offensive 31st July to November 1917 (3rd Ypres). There is an M.C. citation for Captain H. M. Ellis (143 Company) ' for devotion to duty in charge of a detachment of men engaged in urgent hazardous railway work'.  

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The citation reference is given as NA WO 95/83 dated 26th August. Could be related to the Battle of Langemarck which began 10th August.

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You may have noticed / be interested to know his LC BWM & VM Medal Roll and MIC giving his first unit as the Northamptonshire Regiment with a Regimental Number of 35507

[and not the 35502 which is in his Service Record]

 

Also I noted in his SR that he attested 14.3.1917 and to BEF 25.3.17 = which seems pretty rapid for a General Nursey Hand [and no prior service was recorded!]

:-) M

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Hi BobG17,

 

49 minutes ago, Gardenerbill said:

There is an M.C. citation for Captain H. M. Ellis (143 Company)

 

His MC seems to have been awarded for his actions on 19.6.1917

image.png.084ba9cf5745cef4119a5b40edc607d7.png

 

image.png.9a393e93402079267cdb49093a0441b2.png

Images sourced from the National Archives

 

Regards

Chris

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5 hours ago, Gardenerbill said:

The book 'No Labour, No Battle - Military Labour During the First World War' John Starling and Ivor Lee, has 3 pages (126 to 129) describing the Labour Corps contribution to the Flanders offensive 31st July to November 1917 (3rd Ypres). There is an M.C. citation for Captain H. M. Ellis (143 Company) ' for devotion to duty in charge of a detachment of men engaged in urgent hazardous railway work'.  

Thanks - I've requested it from my local library. Hopefully I'll be allowed to pick it up

 

5 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

You may have noticed / be interested to know his LC BWM & VM Medal Roll and MIC giving his first unit as the Northamptonshire Regiment with a Regimental Number of 35507

[and not the 35502 which is in his Service Record]

 

Also I noted in his SR that he attested 14.3.1917 and to BEF 25.3.17 = which seems pretty rapid for a General Nursey Hand [and no prior service was recorded!]

:-) M

I hadn't spotted that - I can see it now.  Interesting

 

There are 22 (singed) scans on the findmypast site, and he was definitely 35502 on all that show his original number

 

He didn't attest in March 1917.  From the dates I can see, this was his timeline:

 

22/11/1915    Initial Medical Examination 
31/08/1916    Attestation form signed
02/09/1916    Medical Review ? - Grade C2, flat feet. Comment "Home Labour"
06/10/1916    Posted to "A Reserve"
14/03/1917    Mobilized (home)
16/03/1917    Posted to 5th Northants Labour Coy
25/03/1917    Posted to BEF
26/03/1917    Transport Folkestone to Boulogne
13/04/1917 Transferred to Labour Coy #143, Army Council Instruction 611 of 1917
Renumbered to 85390
04/09/1918    2 weeks Furlough
10/01/1919    Posted to 151 Labour corps
02/02/1919    Demob medical exam?
08/02/1919    Dispersal (Dover)
08/03/1919    Transferred to Class "Z"
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17 hours ago, clk said:

His MC seems to have been awarded for his actions on 19.6.1917

I was aware that the citation could be several weeks after the incident, but the book put it in the Flanders Offensive period, however this predates the start of 3rd Ypres and is shortly after Messines. 

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14 hours ago, BobG17 said:

There are 22 (singed) scans on the findmypast site, and he was definitely 35502 on all that show his original number

 

He didn't attest in March 1917.  From the dates I can see, this was his timeline:

I agree the SR certainly shows 35502

As for date of attestation - mea culpa - I admit to previously only having only had a very brief look at Ancestry

Should have looked more thoroughly I guess [not least at page 1! - However - see bottom of the attached [page 2]:

1778280801_GEATRELLE35502.jpg.80239c3a32e1e18fb2764484f093ef54.jpg

Image courtesy of Ancestry - with thanks

I certainly thought that 11 days would have been a pretty rapid catapulting into action - and now that your timeline seems more realistic!!

:-) M

 

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There was nearly a year between his medical (which noted flat feet) and his Attestation.   Was that usual?

 

I don't understand the process and standards of that time, but I wonder if he was initially rejected and told to continue working at the nursery. Presumably on food production. 

And later, maybe the rules changed such that a C(ii) fitness grade could be sent abroad?

 

 

Incidentally, I see there are two very slightly different copies of the Attestation form.  Most of the notes on them are ALMOST identical, even from later dates. but not exactly.

Was that usual?  I assume it was the standard bureaucracy of filling in forms in triplicate (rather than carbon paper)

 

 

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