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Accuracy or otherwise of Service medal and award rolls, and other clerical entries


AndyLeatherland

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AndyLeatherland

Hi

 

Would anyone be able to advise on accuracy of clerical records please?

 

My grandfather Thomas Ward 16041 volunteered in late 1914 and was enlisted into the Northampton Regiment. He is pictured in a typical postcard view outside the office in Peterborough with his friend and cousin Frank Giddinns 16037.  Frank was enlisted into 7th Battalion and Tom into the 5th.  Is this a typo or would they be scattered at the day of recruitment?  I don't believe Pals Battalions were created this early so I guess it is plausible.  Frank has a surviving army form W3997 which shows he was discharged in 1919 from the 5th Battalion.

 

Also Toms Award Roll entry shows him as Corporal in the first and last column.  His medal card shows there was some overwriting of the rank and he appears to have been corporal and lance corporal. The box his medals came in is addressed to Corporal Ward.  In press cuttings he is listed as wounded both in 1916 and 1917 as a lance corporal.  Is this sloppy recording or likely to be a demotion and promotion?  His service records did not survive.  If he was demoted would court martial documents be retained I wonder?

 

I have used this forum some years ago and experts were very helpful, but am now revisiting all the records as part of an attempt to write up his life for the family as he was always a bit of a mystery and suffered  poor mental health in later years and was silent on so much.

 

Many thanks

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52 minutes ago, AndyLeatherland said:

My grandfather Thomas Ward 16041 volunteered in late 1914 and was enlisted into the Northampton Regiment. He is pictured in a typical postcard view outside the office in Peterborough with his friend and cousin Frank Giddinns 16037.  Frank was enlisted into 7th Battalion and Tom into the 5th.  Is this a typo or would they be scattered at the day of recruitment?  I don't believe Pals Battalions were created this early so I guess it is plausible.  Frank has a surviving army form W3997 which shows he was discharged in 1919 from the 5th Battalion.

 

Yes there were lots of clerical errors, but I'm not sure this is entirely the case here, so possibly best to break my response down step by step.

 

Frank Giddins, was 16037 in the Northamptonshire Regiment and was enlisted on the 4th September 1914 into the 5th Battalion. His discharge records include a number of pages copied from his original service record. One is his enlistment medical report which shows him posted to the 5th Battalion. Obviously these records are not complete but I'm seeing nothing to suggest he served in the 7th Battalion there. However on his Victory Medal and British War Medal Service Medal Roll that is the only Battalion he is shown with as having served with in a Theatre of War. His Medal Index Card shows him first landing in a Theatre of War on the 31st May 1915. Our parent site, the Long, Long Trail shows that the 5th Battalion landed at Le Havre on the 30th May 1915, while the 7th didn't go out until the 2nd September 1915.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/northamptonshire-regiment/

So that would seem to imply he went out with the 5th Battalion and some point ended up with the 7th. Not sure if that counts as a clerical error - the VM & BWN roll does state that all units served with overseas should be listed but compliance with this varies considerably. Because it seems to be a standardised approach by regiment \corps, I suspect it was an "executive" decision rather than an error or a particular clerks laziness.

 

Thomas Ward , 16041, does not appear to have any surviving service records, so would be helpful if you could explain how you "know" which battalion he served with first of all. I'm not doubting you, but as you can see with Frank, even where evidence has survived it can be very misleading.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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I'm seeing some records for both men.

 

WARD.

FMP have a Service Record for him, I think it may be a sick and wounded list. Not seen this record.

 

They also have an entry for MH106/1440 which is for 4th Stationary Hospital March 1916. Interesting to see his rank given as Casualty Lists for Jan 1916 give L/Cpl. Medal records do point to Corporal throughout so it's possible he had a temporary demotion but that doesn't mean a court martial took place.

Not seeing L/Cpl on his MIC.

 

GIDDINS.

Also has a service record on FMP, not sure if this is the same set as ancestry. Needs checking.

 

The ancestry set has a B103 for him. We know he was discharged eventually from 5th Bn. Although medal records are stating 7th Bn. for his initial service abroad.

The B103 has him admitted to 37 FA late 1917, 37 FA equates to 5th battalion of 12th division.

 

It could be a clerical error on the medal roll but it could also be that both men joined and trained with the 5th Bn. Left England together and arrived at a Base Depot together 31/5/15 where X number of men were needed as drafts for the 7th Bn and Giddins was picked out. Returning later to 5th Bn.

TEW

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AndyLeatherland

Thanks Pete

 

Yes its a damned sight easier to look up Frank Ashton Giddins than Thomas Ward!  Might as well be John Smith.   I paid a fella to go to Kew over 20 years ago and fish out the medal roll and index card. I can be sure of the service number as I have his medals. I attach scans.  I have some access to war records through Ancestry but you seem to have a superior access having found much more about Frank quickly.  Could you tell me how to access the Giddins material?

 

The 1916 press cutting references both regiment and 5th battalion , the 1917 only Northampton Regiment.

 

I have a better civilian photo of Frank and Tom at this time and given the similarity of service numbers I went back and examined the recruitment photo where I knew my grandfather to be and I am pretty sure Frank stands immediately to his right.  I didn't realise this until the service number check. Surely they had to be just a few places apart on the same day to have such similar numbers?

 

I have been advised previously that soldiers got swapped between units a lot and only the initial one is recorded on the medal roll. There is also a suggestion that since they needed to keep pioneer Battalions at full strength Tom was more likely to have remained in the 5th throughout.  With Toms records lost I am having to guess. I'm sure they intended to serve together. 

 

On 30/6/17 it was reported in the press that he had sustained wounds in arm and legs and that this was his third time wounded.  He was discharged to the reserves in Jan 19 earlier than Frank I'm wondering if he ever made it overseas again after 1917.  His physical wounds could not harecruitment.JPG.0fc0c81b64113eed4668ee7a28950176.JPGve been severe however as he was not obviously injured in later life.

 

Anyway thanks for your input, hoping the attached will be something more you can comment on.

 

Cheers

war record card.pdf war record roll.pdf

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AndyLeatherland

ps Many thanks TEW

 

I was drafting a reply to Pete and hadn't spotted your later reply. Is FMP another subscription site?  Would I need to go to Kew to examine hospital records?

 

What types of offence might warrant a demotion? 

 

The only oral history we have is from his sister who gave the remarkable insight that he "had a bad war" and was frequently "in and out of trenches".  He does seem to have been unlucky throughout life.  Her husband was a mechanic for the RFC, which I imagine was much safer.

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FMP = Find My Past, another online records website. Ancestry & FMP have a different range of records with lots of overlap but they also differ in their search function and which records have actually been indexed/transcribed for a search to work.

 

You can sometimes find records on one site that the other also has but has not indexed so it doesn't show via a search. Doesn't hurt to set up a FMP subscription (without paying) just to belt and braces a search.

 

Not sure what's visible via this FMP result with no account at all. FMP WARD

 

FMP are usually better at transcriptions and have transcribed various lists that ancestry skipped over.

 

Plus they have the originals of many Hospital Admission & Discharge books for wounded & sick. By luck there is an entry for Ward in one of these books but you'll need to pay to see it.

 

Without checking them there could also be other records on FMP not on Ancestry. EG. I think FMP have transcribed Ward's details from a list which forms part of another man's file.

 

It's against forum rules to ask for copies or lookups from paid sites.

 

The same sheet is probably on Ancestry but without knowing whose file it's in (via FMP) you have 0 chance of finding it. You can ask for the details of whose file it's in or for an ancestry link. I can't help with that.

 

I'm fairly sure that a demotion from Cpl. to L/Cpl. does not automatically mean an offence took place, some reverted at their own request. It could of course be an error which is why the rank given in the admission book is relevant.

TEW

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AndyLeatherland

Thanks TEW for your time with this.  I have moved forward with your facts and Pete's and now have a session with fmp to look forward to.  Nuisance that competing web sites offer different access but to retrieve precious facts I will glady double up on subscriptions for a while.

 

Cheers

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@AndyLeatherland

 

Apologies – playing catch up after the free Ancestry week-ends. My budget doesn’t run to a subscription :)

 

So looks like the information you have relates to units served with in a Theatre of War and subsequently discharged from.That isn’t automatically the same as the first or indeed any of the unit served with in the UK.

 

So firstly a word of warning about the surviving “Service Records” for Frank Giddins. His original documents were amongst those actually destroyed. In order to recreate as much of the documentation as possible, the authorities turned to other locations, principally the Minister of Pensions, where partial details might have been retained. In Franks’ case he did have a disability pension claim at the time of his discharge to the reserves, which was settled by the payment of a one off gratuity.

 

What the Ministry of Pensions had was a combination of one of the multiple copies of the same form that were originally in the service record, and then blank pro-forma onto which the key points have been handwritten at the time his claim was dealt with. To these were then added administrative pages relating to the claim. What had been extracted from the original service record was limited to documents that had a bearing on the claim – so not attestation, statement of service or the like.

 

I’ve now had a more indepth look at Frank Giddins from the copy on FindMyPast and there is some discrepancy over when he was enlisted.

 

It was either 14th September 1914, (Award Sheet – First Award, Medical History Sheet and recreated Regimental Conduct Sheet) or the 4th September 1914 (Form B.103 Casualty Form - Active Service.)

 

Place of enlistment was Peterborough, and a re-created Medical History Sheet, (so treat with caution), says he was posted to the 5th Battalion.

 

His Form B.103 Casualty Form Active Service shows it was initiated when he was with “D” Company, 5th (Service) Battalion, Northamptonshire (Pioneers) – however the unit didn’t become Pioneers until 1915, but then again the word “Pioneers” may have been added in a different hand.

 

1681699100_FrankGiddins16037NorthantsServiceRecordssourcedFMPpage009crop.jpg.626a425d04aa6c27eabd677568274d0c.jpg

(Image courtesy FindMyPast)

 

Although he had been troubled by a hernia in January 1919, by the time of his discharge to the Army “Z” Reserve on the 17th April 1919 and following two operations he was regarded as cured. The “Z” reserve was a temporary measure during the period of the peace treaty negotions. It allow the army to release men back into civilian life but with a liability to be recalled if the negotiations broke down and hostilities resumed. He must therefore have been considered still physically fit enough for active service. No mention is made in his discharge medical of any wounding.

 

On 05/04/2021 at 13:13, AndyLeatherland said:

I have been advised previously that soldiers got swapped between units a lot and only the initial one is recorded on the medal roll.

 

Once overseas men didn’t readily move between battalions unless it suited the Army. The most likely scenario was that the soldier concerned was wounded \ accidentally injured \ suffered a bout of ill-health and was medically evacuated back as far as the coast, and even to the UK. The further back in the medical evacuation chain a man went the less likely it was that he would end up back with his original battalion – and from mid-1916 onwards there was an ever increasing likelihood that they wouldn’t end up even with a Battalion of the same Regiment.

 

What seems to have been more common is a move around between the battalions while the men were still in the UK. Some of those originally assigned to a battalion would be found unlikely to become efficient soldiers, were found to suffering from medical conditions that required discharge, were reclaimed by parents having signed up under age, or deserted when it became clear that they wouldn’t see fighting in a war that was supposed to be over by Christmas. These would then have to be backfilled by men from the Reserve Service Battalion. Others would suffer temporary health issues, (contagious diseases were often rife in the camps), which delayed their training and so would be exchanged with men in the Reserve Serve Battalion – in the case of the Northamptonshire Regiment that was the 8th.

Because these moves took place in the UK they are only usually picked up via a surviving service record – and even then, only if the relevant pages didn’t go up in flames.

 

Our Parent site, the Long, Long Trail, has this to say about the origins of the 5th Battalion.

 

5th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers)

Formed at Northampton in August 1914 as part of K1 and attached as Army Troops to 12th (Eastern) Division. Moved initially to Shorncliffe and on to Hythe in November 1914.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/northamptonshire-regiment/

 

Which does cause a query in my mind, that perhaps someone with more knowledge of the Northamptonshire Regiment, like forum member @Stebie9173

might be able to help with – and he might also be interested in your photograph.

 

I’m not familiar with the Northamptons arrangements for issuing service numbers. Most of the county regiments I’m used to dealing with followed on from the number ranges in use by the Regular Army Battalions pre-war. If that applies in this case then the service numbers for Thomas Ward and Frank Giddins seems a bit on the high side.

 

Paul Nixons Army service number site shows that the prewar Northamptons had got to service number 9906 on the 3rd July 1914.

https://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/2009/07/northamptonshire-regiment-1st-2nd.html

 

So in theory looking at 6,000+ men recruited in two months.

 

I therefore took a look at men with five digit 160xx service numbers who died during 1915 – i.e before they’d had too much chance to have switched battalion from the one they were originally deployed with.

 

What I could see was

 

1st Battalion

 

16070 Lance Corporal Albert Bridgford died France & Flanders 30/05/1915

16074 Private Arthur Henry Hefford died France & Flanders 23/05/1915.

 

2nd Battalion

 

16035 Private Percy William Capon died France & Flanders 09/05/1915.

16042 Private Bertram Carnac Yates died France & Flanders 14/03/1915.

16048 Private Bert Murfitt died France & Flanders 14/03/1915.

16051 Private Thomas Bacon died France & Flanders 04/06/1915.

16075 Private George Henry Perkins died France & Flanders 14/03/1915.

16082 Private Percy Robert Rice died France & Flanders 11/03/1915.

16084 Private Henry Goddard died France & Flanders 14/03/1915.

16091 Private Arthur Berridge died France & Flanders 04/01/1915.

 

7th Battalion

 

16040 Private Sidney Symonds died France & Flanders 17/11/1915.

 

And for the number range 16030- 16049, Soldiers Died in the Great War shows that

 

16035 Private Percy William Capon – enlisted Rushden, Northants

(Has surviving service records which shows enlisted 10th September 1914, but enlistment approved 21st September 1914.)

16038 Lance Corporal Frederick Thomas Purcell, (died 17/08/1916) – enlisted Oxford

(MiC, Soldiers Died in the Great War shows as 16638).

16040 Private Sidney Symonds – enlisted Northampton

(Has surviving service which shows he enlisted 14th September 1914 and was posted to the 7th Battalion the next day. However he actually had his medical at Bedford on the 7th September 1914)

16042 Private Bertram Carnac Yates  - enlisted Peterborough

16046 Private Victor Boreham (died 20/09/1918) - enlisted Peterborough

16048 Private Bert Murfitt - enlisted Peterborough

 

Which looks like a mixed bag, suggesting the numbers were allocated when they reported to the Depot, rather than at the time of recruiting, and possibly that at that time new recruits were being sent to various units rather than drafted en masse to one battalion. The closeness of the service numbers for Thomas and Frank may therefore reflect they went to the Depot together rather than the recruiting office on the same day, so he may not be present in the picture you have posted.

 

Turning to that picture

 

The shop next door to the recruiting office has the name Charles Allen above the doorway. To the left of “Charles Allen” the sign reads “Dresses” and the window below it appears to be ladies dressmaking materials. I can’t make out the word to the right of “Charles Allen” but beneath it the window display appears to be mens hats.

 

May be a co-incidence, but the 1911 Census of England & Wales records a 45 year old Charles William Allen, a married Draper, who was head of the household at 4-5 Long Causeway, Peterborough. He has not completed the box to say he was working from home, but it is possible that the accommodation was separate to the shop. He states he is an employer. His eldest son is shown as a Drapers Assistant, while one of the other residents, a female employee, is recorded as a Milliner.

 

1-4 Long Causeway, Peterborough, is currently occupied by Santander. Google Streetviews from April 2019 shows some interesting architectural masonry over the adjoining door. Allowing for the O.H.M.S. Recruiting Office sign on your picture, could it be similar?

 

1497706627_1to4LongCausewayPeterboroughApril2019sourcedGoogleStreetviews.png.4a73a82e8305e09968285dfb938c1ad8.png

 

(Image courtesy Google Streetviews)

 

Just wish I could make out the writing on the window of the recruiting office, which I suspect relates to it’s previous use. The Census returns from 1911 for the dwellings on either side of Charles Allen on Long Causeway are for a Public house, (The Salmon and Compasses), and a private residence known as “The Bank House”.

 

A check of the Kellys 1914 Directory of Northamptonshire doesn’t show any public buildings or Newspaper Offices on Long Causeway. Charles William Allen, a Draper, is shown as trading at 4 Long Causeway, Peterborough.

http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/digital/collection/p16445coll4/id/54347

 

I wonder if it could be the building in the bottom left hand corner of the picture of Long Causeway in 1905 which is available here - https://www.peterboroughimages.co.uk/long-causeway-16/

 

Which could also be the building behind the water fountain on this picture from 1918 – does the layout of the window that is visible look comparable to your picture.

https://www.peterboroughimages.co.uk/long-causeway-1918-2/

 

Hope some of that is of interest, (and I'll let you digest all that before moving on to the question of rank!)

 

Peter

 

 

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That is the old recruiting office in Long Causeway Peter. The blue plaque refers to its use. See:

 

https://www.peterboroughcivicsociety.org.uk/plaques_blue2.php#WW1office

 

Edit: Yes those are two views of the same building in which the recruiting office was housed that you have linked to. The facade and some interiors was retained when Queensgate shopping centre was build. End edit.

 

I have also previously had a look at the enlistments around that time - in fact I think I have shared information with Andy some years ago - at least I have looked at Thomas Ward from Crowland before about 10 years ago. I forget who I "spoke" with!

 

 

There was less online information about back then so I am not sure what conclusion I arrived at. I believe the date would be the 14th rather than the 4th.

 

As for numbering there were a lot of recruits being issued numbers in those two weeks and it is open to interpretation what happened. About 4,000 numbers in the range 12001 to 16000 were issued in a three week period from 31 August to 14 September 1914. The main battalion recruiting by the 14th September 1914 were 7th Battalion. The 7th Battalion adopted a group of men that were enlisted in Peterborough on 7, 8, 9 & 10th September 1914 following recruiting rallies. Locally they were called "Whitsed's Light Infantry" after a local councillor. They were absorbed into the 7th Battalion and formed the majority of "C" Company. They were numbered in the 14600s and 14700s. England rugby international Edgar Mobbs raised another group in Northampton that were numbered mainly in the 15500s, 15600s and 15700s forming "D" Company of the 7th. After that men from around the county were added to the 15800s and 15900s numbers. Cut-off for 7th Battalion seems to have been 15997. So Thomas Ward seems to have just missed the 7th Battalion men that went off to Shoreham, presumably arriving at the Northampton Depot after they had gone. At that time the 3rd Battalion had just converted to a training battalion and gone down to Weymouth. Men numbered in the 16000 to 16050 range seem to have been sent to various battalions to fill up vacancies. From 16050 onwards they were predominantly sent to 3rd Battalion for training and reposting to 1st or 2nd Battalion.

 

 

 

Steve.

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15 hours ago, Stebie9173 said:

That is the old recruiting office in Long Causeway Peter. The blue plaque refers to its use. See:

 

https://www.peterboroughcivicsociety.org.uk/plaques_blue2.php#WW1office

 

Edit: Yes those are two views of the same building in which the recruiting office was housed that you have linked to. The facade and some interiors was retained when Queensgate shopping centre was build. End edit.

 

Thanks for checking Steve - given the various dates and places bandying around and the family legend that the two men went to enlist together, I was trying to tie down which place this might have been in. Would they have held medicals there as well as enlisting do you know, or would they have been referred elsewhere. Presumably on the dates in question they might have been waiting for War Office permission to raise another battalion and so things might have been a bit in limbo.

 

I don't envy you keeping track of that lot - loads of scope it seems for enlisting dates to be all over the place. In this particular case although the two men are only five service numbers apart, (16037 & 16041), it looks like they fell into a small batch sent to make up the numbers and so could have at least initially served in two different battalions.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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AndyLeatherland

Pete/Steve

 

Lots of detail there guys.  Thanks.

 

I attach a civilian photo of the two men for reference grandad.thumb.jpg.e8757e5c782d3319c3be72d67090d837.jpg

 

I think there is a case to say they are standing side by side in the recruitment picture. The two men who are closest to each other in the line resemble them and how far we stand apart is known to relate to how familiar we are with people?

 

Again about 20 years ago I took a trip to Peterborough to explore the streets and came across what I thought was the site.  At the time I mocked up a picture. 

Mail0001.jpg.1d4a286e8bcfeea948d9dc0f4160c49f.jpg

 

 

When I come to write the part of his story about the war I think I have to weave a line between detail and staying within what I can sensibly assume, so I might as well test it out on you two. 

 

Enlisted to the 5th having most likely gone along with his cousin.  Possibly split to two different battalions but likely serving some time in the same battalion.

 

Due to the need for pioneer regiments to be at full strength  for constant maintenance/adaption of trenches it is likely he stayed in that battalion throughout his service, certainly joined it at outset and was in it in 1916 and in the Northants regiment at least, in 1917.

 

I have a copy of Kitchener's Pioneers by Geoffrey Moore and K W Mitchinson's  book on Pioneer Battalions. I gain the impression that if anything, being indispensable was a rotten thing to be at the time and they had less time in the recuperation lines than other soldiers and also were required to be regular soldiers at key moments.

 

He had truck driving experience before the war, but probably wouldn't have used that skill in his pioneer work. (apologies Steve, I am probably parroting back what you told me when I was last on the forum and you assisted me.

 

I don't have a picture of him in uniform. I have published elsewhere in this forum a photo of his female cousin larking about wearing his newly issued uniform though before embarkation 

 

I have checked with the regimental museum and there is no stock picture of the battalion, but I keep a look out on ebay for any battalion references in case a postcard pops up.

 

Having done one months subscription to forces war records as it was cheaper than 3 months min to fmp, I have located a wounded report dated 16/1/6, and disappointingly the MH106/1440 record refers to a Dental ailment from 12th to 15th March 2016.  Since a press cutting has him "wounded for third time" in summer 17 there are 2 other records missing or not indexed.  It is what it is.

 

In 1940 he is admitted to a mental hospital with Melancholia and they mention the first incidence of this was 1925 but I don't think it is directly related to PTSD as by 1940 I would have thought they would be familiar with that condition and not termed it Melancholia?

 

Thanks again

 

 

 

 

 

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I think your photo overlay is pretty much spot on. Possibly a little further away from the building but close enough!

 

I do agree with your assessment that the man stood next to Thomas in the recruiting office picture matches the appearance of his cousin.

 

It looks like we identified one wounding when we looked at this in 2011 from his inclusion in the Times casualty lists on 29 January 1916. It looks like I thought that he may have been one of two men wounded on 9 January 1916.

 

Apart from the medal roll showing the 7th Battalion, all of Frank Giddins records show service with the 5th so it is likely that they spent at least the first part of the war (1914 and early 1915 in the UK and at least the 2nd half of 1915 on the Western Front.

 

 

He appears in the Boston Guardian in 1917. I am not sure whether these are the cuttings you have seen. The first one mentions him being a pioneer which points to him still being with 5th Battalion at that point in the war.

 

 

Boston Guardian Saturday 30 June 1917

 

Three Times Wounded. • Lance-Corpl. Thomas Ward, son of Mrs. Ward, 23, Red Lion-street, Boston, pioneer in the Northamptonshire Regt., about 28 years of age, a grocer, of Crowland, formerly of Boston, has now been wounded for the third time, on this occasion in the arm and leg. He is progressing as favourably as can be expected. He volunteered in 1914 .

 

 

Boston Guardian Saturday 13 October 1917

 

Lance-Corpl. Thomas Ward, Northamptonshire Regiment, Crowland, formerly of Boston, son of Mrs. Ward, of Red Lion-street, is this week home from France on leave for few days. He has been the at the Front a very long time, and has been three times wounded. He volunteered in 1914.

 

 

 

 

Steve.

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On 05/04/2021 at 00:13, AndyLeatherland said:

Also Toms Award Roll entry shows him as Corporal in the first and last column.  His medal card shows there was some overwriting of the rank and he appears to have been corporal and lance corporal. The box his medals came in is addressed to Corporal Ward.  In press cuttings he is listed as wounded both in 1916 and 1917 as a lance corporal.  Is this sloppy recording or likely to be a demotion and promotion?  His service records did not survive.  If he was demoted would court martial documents be retained I wonder?

 

Going back to your original question about the accuracy of records, I have to admit part of me feels sorry for the records clerks. Having worked in large organisations where upper management have suddenly set mammoth tasks, (when the need has been known for months), to unreasonable and unnecessary deadlines, I have possibly a misplaced empathy for them.

 

Asked to go through thousands of records to extract the necessary information, the temptation must have been to give each a cursory glance.

 

So as to the question of rank shown on the medals, my understanding is that the rank is the highest reached in a Theatre of War, which is not necessarily the highest reached during the period of the conflict.

 

Lance-Corporal is also an appointment, not a rank. It was unit specific, so a man didn’t port his right to the single stripe with him when he changed unit – for example a change of battalion. Obviously his new commanding officer may have noted that he had been a lance-corporal previously, and re-appointed him. But if the battalion was up to it’s establishment for lance-corporals, the individual might have to wait. And of course what one commander regarded as suitable material for a stripe no doubt varied considerably.

 

The next step up was acting unpaid corporal – and sometimes men skipped straight to that stage. Unlike the Lance-Corporal rank this included no pay increase \ enhanced pension rights, but it was a rank. It would have been included in the daily Part II orders and a copy sent to the records office. However, you have only to look at surviving service records to guess at how many such updates were not noted on the statement of service or the casualty form active service.  And conversely you have only to look at sources like the medical admissions books to see the sheer number of errors in record keeping that could have led to such memos being missed.

 

And once again an acting unpaid rank was unit specific.

 

So for a clerk going through Thomas Ward’s records there could potentially be ample room for doubt – if Thomas was an acting unpaid Corporal there might be little mention of it in his records. It might also not be clear if the promotion came while he was in Theatre.

 

You then have other scenario’s.

 

He may have given up the stripes, deciding such authority wasn’t for him.

He may have have committed an offence that would require disciplinary action, possibly at a level higher than the battalion commander could take. Sometimes to keep it in house, the man concerned would asked to be reduced to the ranks and this was seen as punishment instead.

And finally there is the court-martial route.

 

Hope that helps,

Peter

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AndyLeatherland

 

I went dizzy searching the press archives but managed to miss the Oct 17 entry so thanks for that Steve.  Search terms like Thomas or T. or corporal or cpl can make all the difference.  I mostly succeeded by reference to his mothers address.   I think ocr digitisation of the newspapers is marvelous.  I used to do census returns and GRI entries on microfilm/microfiche at record offices/libraries.  Slow but it could be done.  You could search the press that way but unless you were pretty sure of a tight time range you'd go bonkers reeling through the weekly papers before you could succeed.  

 

I think I've gone as far as I can go with this chapter unless you think there may be court martial records extant just to eliminate that possibility?

 

I have a suspicion that he was for a time "very close" to his cousin and wonder how that might play out in a military context.

 

cheers

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