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Medals with different name?


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guyholmes

I found my Gt Grandfathers medals amongst our family keepsakes.   A trio of Pip Squeak and Wilfred.   Really pleased to have found them and assumed that they had been lost all these years.

 

I knew from the Medal Card online that my Gt Grandfather was in the South Wales Borderers and had the two war medals issued.   I have found these.    What has surprised me is that he also received the 14-15 Star and he has this, with the same Service number, but a different surname - H J Bennett rather than H J Holmes.    I have found the medal card for this issue also, but my understanding is that you wouldn't get the Star without the other two medals as well, so why was this issued?

 

Simple surname error on the engraving and medal card for the 14-15 Star?

Enlisting originally under a different name - Harry was born in 1883, so this seems unlikely.

Something else?

 

Thanks for any help

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RaySearching
1 hour ago, guyholmes said:

Simple surname error on the engraving and medal card for the 14-15 Star?

Enlisting originally under a different name - Harry was born in 1883, so this seems unlikely.

Something else?

Harry /Henry initially served as Bennett his true name ascertained at a latter date

 

confirmation from the Western  Front pension ledger cards

 

alias.JPG.909cee392751f158483110b95d458b95.JPG

 

Ray

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guyholmes
Posted (edited)

That's very kind of you to respond.   Thank you Ray.   I hadn't come across these Pension Ledger Cards in Fold3 before.

 

Is there an obvious reason this ancestor (or anyone) would enlist under an alias or different name?   He would have been an adult by 1901,  so that rules out a typical reason to lie about your identity.   I do not think Harry James Holmes (alias Harry J Bennett) was a career soldier from an early age, but his initial South Wales Borderers Service Number was 7398 - Were these numbers issued sequentially?  Does this suggest an early enlisting?  Bennett doesn't occur anywhere as a family name and his occupation does not appear military during any of the standard records.

 

1883 - Birth

1891 - Living in StPancras, London - A scholar

1901 - Living in St Pancras, London - A Lime Carman

1905 - Getting married in St Pancras, a House Keeper

1911 - Living in St Pancras - A carman

1931 - Died in London - A council worker

Edited by guyholmes
Change of marriage date to 1905
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Keith_history_buff

Hello Guy,

I see he was born on 13 December 1882, and was baptised on 12 February 1883.

Army service numbers were issued sequentially. 7395 Price enlisted on 20 August 1902 and 7406 Hume enlisted on 22 August 1902. They would have served 3 years active service with the colours, and the remaining 9 years in the Army Reserve. (There is a surviving service record for 7392 John Edmunds.)

Hope this is of interest
Keith

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RaySearching

Enlisting under an alias was quite common, pre war and during the Great War, for a multitude of reasons

There are literally  hundred's of records of soldiers and sailors enlisting under an alias

If you type Alias in the forum search box top right it will fetch up many threads on the subject

plenty of reading there to enlighten your goodself   

 

Oh and welcome to the forum

 

Regards Ray

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Keith_history_buff

Married to Bertha Brigden in St Pancras in Q3 1905. Did he get hitched as soon as he completed his quarantine and was subsequently discharged? Did he get cold feet the first time around, hence enlisting under an alias?

 

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guyholmes

Harry was actually born at the end of September 1883 (appears in the Oct - Dec Quarter) and was baptised a year later in Camden on Oct 20th 1884.   

 

Those Service numbers were very interesting and really narrows down the window that he must have enlisted originally  - Thank you.  I shall look up those records

 

Any reason a 19 year old London boy in 1902, would join the South Wales Borderers rather than a local regiment?

 

 

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Keith_history_buff

You went to the recruiting office, and unless you had a burning desire to join the local regiment, you went into whatever regiment had vacancies. If you look at the thread on the 1911 census and demographics, you will see the diversity of the birth places of the soldiers of a given infantry regiment. There were more English born than Welsh born in the South Wales Borderers, and the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

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guyholmes

That's great - Many thanks all.    I'd always assumed that Harry had been drafted during the First World War.    I had written his marriage date down incorrectly - It was 1st Aug 1905, perhaps from the info above, just as his initial time in the military had come to an end.

 

So....

 

Born in 1883

Aug 1902, aged 18 (nearly 19) he enlisted in the army

Did his 3 years, then came out and immediately got married to Bertha in Aug 1905 - Quite literally the girl next door - And sister to his brothers wife!

Would have been in the reserve for 9 years, which timed him to be drafted back in, at the beginning of the war in 1914.

 

Many thanks for helping me to piece this together - A whole window on his life that I didn't know about.    Why the alias?   Perhaps we will never know.

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many reasons for an Alias. among them..

escaping from the police.

re enlisting after deserting

escaping from a marriage

family troubles, did his parents want him to go

was he staying with grandparents, or foster family. is there any Bennett's in your family tree? or a previous marriage?

 

my uncle Jack had his mothers maiden name as she had him before marrying my grandfather, he was always known as one of the brothers but with a different surname. even upuntil his death, I was at school with his grandson who along with his brother, sister and father kept the original surname.

probably other reasons, maybe even in honour of a friend, or a pal he joined up with.

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travers61

Another reason for an alias could be escaping an apprenticeship.

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Keith_history_buff

  

9 hours ago, guyholmes said:

Thanks for all this work Keith.   From your Distribution Map, it is very clear that London was quite a common centre for the SWB.

 

Do full records exist for the unit?   If I have my Gt Grandfathers Service number (well two of them) would I be able to track where he likely served?   How much of his individual Service Record is likely to exist, or at least for the unit as a whole?   I do not think his service record has survived sadly

 
Hi Guy,
Yes, the distribution map on the other thread does show that the recruits sent to the SWB were coming from urban areas, London being the predominant one.

His service record would have been transferred to the central War Office warehouse at Arnside Street, and it appears his record is among the 66% that were destroyed by incendiary bombs during the Blitz. I think it is important to know if a service record for a colleague has survived, as it could well contain similar info to "your man", which is why I mentioned that John Edmunds has a surviving service record, which should provide a pointer as to where you great grandfather was during his three years with the colours pre-war.

The 1914-15 Star medal roll does tell us that he arrived in France & Flanders on 9 February 1915 and went to the 1st Battalion SWB. At this moment in time, you can sign up for The National Archives, and download the document for free, whilst lockdown is ongoing. Unfortunately, we do not know when or why he transferred to the Labour Corps. In all likelihood, he was wounded and whilst the wound was not serious enough for him to be medically discharged, it did result in him being transferred to the Labour Corps. Being able to determine when he transferred is going to be tricky. The BWM & VM roll, recording his surname as Bennett, advises that he transferred to the Class Z reserve on 4 March 1919. 

Here is the link to the war diary of 1st Battalion South Wales Borderers
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7351919

I think service records are somewhat over-rated. When you mention them to a novice researching their tree, it is as though they think it is an almost holy document, which will tell you all and sundry about what happened in the time period from 4 August 1914 to 11 November 1918, what his secret tip was for growing delicious carrots on his allotment etc. For that, you will need to speak to a medium, if you believe in it. (I am seeing members of a genealogy group posting photos of family members, and expecting a "Derek Acorah" service in return.) The service record is useful insofar as it gives a framework that will lead you to the battalion war diary and similar associated reading.

Hope the 1st Battalion war diary makes for an interesting read.

Best of luck with your ongoing research
Keith
 

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Keith_history_buff

Image from 1914-15 Star roll, courtesy of Ancestry

 

Bennett_15_star.JPG

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Keith_history_buff

Image from BWM & VM roll, courtesy of Ancestry

Bennett_BWM_VMm.JPG

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Keith_history_buff

William Edward Watson has a similar service number of 636063, having previously served in the Royal Sussex Regiment. He has a surviving WW1 service record, which may indicate when he joined the Labour Corps. Although this record is indexed on FindMyPast, I could not find it on Ancestry.

I was able to find the service record for 636075 Herbert John Butcher. He was wounded on 25 August 1918. If I understand correctly, his final day with the Royal Berkshire Regiment was 21 October 1918, and thereafter he served with the Labour Corps. (315+218+5+134 days, enlisted 26 April 1917 and transferred to Army Reserve Class Z 5 March 1919.) It looks like your great grandfather was with the South Wales Borderers until October 1918, so the war diary in the previous most will cover most of his military service.

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