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Can't find RAMC Officer's file


Skipman
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Ah, thank you Robert. That will be why I can't find it. Didn't know that. Hey ho.

 

Thanks again

 

Mike

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There is also  another issue.  Officers had personal files not service files as is often quoted. Let me say that this is not  posted to cause an argument. Most officers files were concerned largely with matters concerning finance, which included deaths, injuries and pension and  disciplinary matters. They also contain requests for an official record for employment purposes post-war.  I have a document somewhere that states quite clearly that an officers official service was the Army List.  That is why many many officers do not have a record in WO339 or WO374.

 

TR

 

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15 minutes ago, Terry_Reeves said:

There is also  another issue.  Officers had personal files not service files as is often quoted. Let me say that this is not  posted to cause an argument. Most officers files were concerned largely with matters concerning finance, which included deaths, injuries and pension and  disciplinary matters. They also contain requests for an official record for employment purposes post-war.  I have a document somewhere that states quite clearly that an officers official service was the Army List.  That is why many many officers do not have a record in WO339 or WO374.

 

TR

 

 

   And the situation with RAMC officers gets even more complicated-  RAMC officers usually were promoted to Captain after one year's service-thus, start dates and service details were more important to keep them signing on for service. By coincidence, of the many,many officer files I have looked at for my local casualties, the only one not at Kew was an RAMC captain. Given that other RAMC officers files are there and that my missing man has other RAMC files with the same surname, I would be up for a small wager that your man Mackay has his papers plonked in the file of another RAMC officer with that surname. Finding stuff wrongly filed in officers files is quite common-I once had a file with papers for 3 officers of the same surname-I gave up on that one!!

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I quite agree. I spent some time looking for an officers file just like that. Both had the the same name, but one officers file was inside another. It was only on a second viewing that the administrative error was solved.

 

PS - always read the whole file and not the first few pages :-)

 

TR

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5 minutes ago, Skipman said:

Thanks both. The only other RAMC officer seems to be Captain Ian Campbell MacKay. Is there a slight chance that Norman Douglas MacKay's file could be mixed in with it?

 

Mike

 

     Mike-TNA is very,very efficient given the magnitude of the task it has but the service files for officers still show up mis-filing.  A nice fellow at TNA told me once that officer files and war diaries cause concern and correction quite a lot- the war diaries being largely digitsised had made the officer file get a bit more sorting out-one of my 2 missing files turned up by chance a few months after I had given up on it. (The man dreaded to think what was missing from higher level war diaries if they were ever digitised) 

   Can the British state mis-file paperwork?  I refer you to the repeats on Channel 4 of Yes Minister,etc and rest my case!!

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10 minutes ago, Skipman said:

Thanks again. I guess I must look then.

 

Cheers Mike

 

   Nah- Buy a lottery ticket instead!!:D

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     Mike-TNA is very,very efficient given the magnitude of the task it has but the service files for officers still show up mis-filing.  A nice fellow at TNA told me once that officer files and war diaries cause concern and correction quite a lot- the war diaries being largely digitsised had made the officer file get a bit more sorting out-one of my 2 missing files turned up by chance a few months after I had given up on it. (The man dreaded to think what was missing from higher level war diaries if they were ever digitised) 

   Can the British state mis-file paperwork?  I refer you to the repeats on Channel 4 of Yes Minister,etc and rest my case!!

I must disagree. You can see some of the difficulty here for WO339. https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14543
 

Also, look at  WO 374 https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14578

 

139, 914 files in the former and 77,833 in the latter.

 

TR

 


 

 

 

 

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Hi Terry-disagreement noted-It must be pure chance but all the mistakes for me have been in 374. No idea why.

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Hi Terry-disagreement noted-It must be pure chance but all the mistakes for me have been in 374. No idea why.

No worries. I have found some of my notes on the subject.  There were a number of reviews (or schedules) which looked at the way files were weeded. There was a major one when it was found that file for the funeral of King Edward VII had been destroyed by a weeder. The story is a long one , but it caused a ruction and a modification into the way weeding was done. .  The schedule that affected WW1 was schedule 3 which published in the mid-1930's. In this, it said that an officers record of service was the Army List as mentioned in my previous post and also that officers files could be destroyed after 10 years - "could" being the operative word. There is no mention of compulsion so to speak.

 

TR

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Hi Terry-disagreement noted-It must be pure chance but all the mistakes for me have been in 374. No idea why.

Possibly because these files were order by first letter and first vowel after that, hence why the full name of the series includes "(alphabetical)". Much easier for a hard pressed clerk to accidentally slip the file, or additions to a file inside the cover of a similarly named officer which would be adjacent to where it should have been. WO 339 is ordered by the long number instead, which were presumably just assigned (in order) as officers were commissioned so it's much less likely you'd get two officers with the same surname next to each other in sequence so an error would be easier to spot.

 

Bear in mind too that it's up to departments to prepare records for transfer to PRO or now TNA, some checking is done after the event obviously, but a major archival tenet is preserving original order of records, So TNA takes them as received. With the war diaries it was very clear that the original order had often subsequently been disturbed by readers failing to keep material in order in the reading rooms so priori to digitisation they were resorted as far as possible to the obvious original order.

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1 hour ago, Terry_Reeves said:

No worries. I have found some of my notes on the subject.  There were a number of reviews (or schedules) which looked at the way files were weeded. There was a major one when it was found that file for the funeral of King Edward VII had been destroyed by a weeder. The story is a long one , but it caused a ruction and a modification into the way weeding was done. .  The schedule that affected WW1 was schedule 3 which published in the mid-1930's. In this, it said that an officers record of service was the Army List as mentioned in my previous post and also that officers files could be destroyed after 10 years - "could" being the operative word. There is no mention of compulsion so to speak.

 

TR

 

     Thanks Terry- that is very informative.  I do think TNA does a very good job overall-don't get me wrong on that. But when the original (not pre-Arnside) files were still live, then they-presumably- were pretty accurately sorted.  I know there were periodic weedings of the files- I think the 1930s ones saw the disappearance of the fitness reports- but the stuff itself is till listed on the schedules of what was stored at Arnside Street before the fire.  What worried me a little were stickers of various sorts that showed the files had been weeded repeatedly- there seems to have been a big exercise in weeding c.1955 (I think this was in the aftermath of the opening of archives in the early 50s but also in the run-up to the now current Public Records Act of 1958.

    What does puzzle me a little is 2 things- and perhaps you may be able to illumine ny dim old mind on this

1)  Were all the officer files destroyed- one might reasonably assume that they were stored at Arnside Street to be accessible from the War Office and Whitehall-and that there OUGHT to be the odd surviving example of a COMPLETE officer file-as some,realistically, must have been out on use and missed the congflagration.

2) Normally, if there is systematic weeding or destruction of a file series, then a small representative sample is retained as an indicator of what was there originally.  Yours is the first reference to guidelines on weeding following the Edward VII debacle(It gets worse- I have a copy of  the secret 1897 report "Notes on the Demise of the Crown-which actually goes into what Queen Victoria actually cost the public purse) But somewhere there should be standrad PRO "destruction shcdules" retained to show what went from the files- and and the outside edge that there should be some specimen full files preserved. Alas, since Mr. Spencer left Kew, it has proved rather had to get info. 

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29 minutes ago, David_Underdown said:

Possibly because these files were order by first letter and first vowel after that, hence why the full name of the series includes "(alphabetical)". Much easier for a hard pressed clerk to accidentally slip the file, or additions to a file inside the cover of a similarly named officer which would be adjacent to where it should have been. WO 339 is ordered by the long number instead, which were presumably just assigned (in order) as officers were commissioned so it's much less likely you'd get two officers with the same surname next to each other in sequence so an error would be easier to spot.

 

Bear in mind too that it's up to departments to prepare records for transfer to PRO or now TNA, some checking is done after the event obviously, but a major archival tenet is preserving original order of records, So TNA takes them as received. With the war diaries it was very clear that the original order had often subsequently been disturbed by readers failing to keep material in order in the reading rooms so priori to digitisation they were resorted as far as possible to the obvious original order.

 

  Thank you David- Most informative. There was no suggestion that TNA had been a bit slack-just the supposition that the files must have been in "pukka order" when they were live and army pay clerks,etc used them every day. The distinction between the construction of 374 and 395 explains it all.  It also gives the incentive to run nearby files-by name-if there are the odd ones missing. I had noticed that wrongly filed stuff was usually of a similar name (God only what the "John Smith" files actually represent!!).  I have just posted a reply to Terry-which you may know the answer to- Are there likely to be an specimen files, apres destruction schedules??    These files have had more weeding across the years than my back garden!!

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I'm not aware of anything kept as an untouched sample for these files, but I'm not involved in paper transfers, as ever, practice has varied considerably over time. Of course, in this particular case, these records were never intended as the main file, they are simply what was still available after the main file got destroyed in the Arnside Street bombing/fire.

 

However careful people are, humans make mistakes, so some muddling of files over time is inevitable. Even my colleagues in Document Services have been known to produce the wrong file, or put them back in the wrong place (sometimes because the yellow order slips have been switched over), and of course readers have been known to put things back in entirely the wrong box.

 

TNA used to close for two weeks every year for a stocktake, these days those sorts of activities are (in normal times) one of the things that happens every Monday when there is no public opening.

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10 hours ago, David_Underdown said:

However careful people are, humans make mistakes, so some muddling of files over time is inevitable. Even my colleagues in Document Services have been known to produce the wrong file, or put them back in the wrong place (sometimes because the yellow order slips have been switched over), and of course readers have been known to put things back in entirely the wrong box.

 

         Yes-despite the odd grumble I do marvel at the overwhelming capacity of TNA to get it right......  I have trouble finding bits of this week's incoming paperwork on my desk even when I am sitting there and it is right in front of me. The skill set for keeping large amounts of stuff in some sort of easily searchable and retrievable order is a very useful one......... I always remind librarians that the late, (not so) great J.Edgar Hoover started out as a card index manager at the Library of Congress and used his "skills" for other career purposes subsequently. I am impressed........and slightly worried!  Take care:D

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