Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Army Service Corps and East Africa / South Africa - tracing Harry Lees DM2/221327


Recommended Posts

I am researching a Harry Lees DM2/221327 but am a novice at military research.   I have found the service record and medals record but want to move on to research his "unit?" and what it did in East and South Africa.  It seems more difficult because he was in the ASC.

He joined up 21st Jan 1916 in MT Leaner ASC.   Then the record shows D225 which I don't understand then a period Home. East Africa (816 Coy) 5.4.17 to 15.2.18 En-route South Africa Feb 1918 South Africa 21.2.18 to 31.1.19 then home then discharged.  Unfortunately much of the record is unreadable to me and I don't understand all the abbreviations.  I assume MT is Military Transport  but I am not sure about D225 and 816 Coy - Was he in 816 company, if so where do I go next to research the involvement of that company in the war?   Where can I find out details of the war in East and South Africa.   Will the ASC museum in Winchester hold more information?   Can anyone read more of the records than I can?  The pages I mean follow what appears to be a transfer document to the OC No 3 Reserve Depot Bulford "The attached is passed to you .........." is typed but the following pages are hand written but I am guessing it was when he was transferred from the reserve to an operational unit possibly the 816 coy.

As I said I'm a novice in all this but would love to find out more about this relative so any help and direction would be appreciated.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi and welcome to the forum.

As a novice have a look at the Long Long Trail (tab top of page) for hints and tips.


I'm sure someone will be along soon with some more info



Link to comment
Share on other sites

D225 is just the number of the register that kept a record of his (and others in the ASC) medals.

Haven't  looked in much detail, but attested January 1916, called up in September to Grove Park ASC MT depot in Greenwich/Woolwich. Allocated to Isleworth MT Depot .

Then to East Africa in April 1917 in 816 MT Company ASC.

There's probably a war diary at Kew.(Edit: Sadly there isn't).

Michael Young's book mentions they were amalgamated into 648 Coy in 1918.

Looks as though they were an Auxilliary Water Tank Company.

Edited by Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

MT=Mechanical Transport

For general information , including online books see the FIBIS Foibiwiki page East Africa (First World War)


Includes the online book

The Royal Army Service Corps: A History of Transport and Supply in the British Army, Volume II by Colonel R H Beadon 1931. Archive.org version, mirror from Digital Library of India. Includes the First World War period, with a chapter on East Africa.

There are two known ASC MT Driver memoirs including East Africa by Motor Lorry  by WW Campbell  available in a reprint edition, with additional content, from "The Great War in Africa Association"


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin
4 hours ago, foundblue said:

He joined up 21st Jan 1916 in MT Leaner ASC. 

Welcome to the forum.

Just for clarification he attested under the extended Derby or Group Scheme on the 21st January 1916 and was then placed on the Army Reserve 'B' to await call up (mobilisation).

As recommended above suggest you look at the Long Long Trail (LLT) for how to research a soldier, and use the search function for any terms which you are not familiar with.

He was mobilised on the 13th September 1916, as Dai has said and posted as above having passed his 'Learner's Test' on the 23rd October 1916.  He was now qualified as a driver in the mechanical transport section of the ASC (as opposed to HT or Horse Transport).  Elsewhere in the record he is shown as a 'Ford Driver'.

Still at Grove park he decided to go home for Christmas and was marked as 'absent', though he seems to have got away with it.  In January 1917 he was posted to Bulford Camp, form the ASC Mobilisation Depot at Larkhiil Salisbury and the handwritten correspondence referred to is merely concerning the articles of kit which he held on transfer.

Embarked for East Africa on the 5th April 1917, as in France Base Depots and hospitals were back from the front and during the Campaign in East Africa tended to be in South Africa. Obviously the military infrastructure still needed to move personnel and provisions around even in the Base Areas.  He was posted to the MT Detail Cmp in Durban where he was employed as a Batman.  He was on light duty but was described as 'very good ability'. 

He left South Africa on the 1st February 1919 and on arrival back in the UK he again (as did so many others) absented himself from his unit in May 1919. On the 5th July 1919 he was discharged as surplus to Military Requirement as the army was scaled down after the war.  He was suffering from malaria (probably why he was repatriated from East Africa) and defective eyesight which were both attributable to his war service and he was shown as 30% disabled and received a pension of eight shillings and threepence a week to be reviewed after 13 Weeks. 

He was awarded a Silver War Badge and the the British War Medal and Victory Medal. (See LLT)


Apart from the online resources above an accessible and illuminating account of the campaign is "Tip and Run' Edward Paice


(please support the GWF using the 'Support the Forum link  at the top of the page if you do decide to buy the book - thank you).

There are other books about the campaign on the page but I've not read those so cannot comment..

Edward Paice has also written a short paper on the campaign



Forum Pal @bushfighter is the resident expert on the campaign and you can find many of his posts on the forum with a forum search.  He also maintains a blog but I can't find a link no doubt he will be along soon.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks for the three replies I will definitely follow them up.   I'll order the book MaureenE suggests at least I'll get an insight into what it was like, even hope he was a mate of WW Campbell that would be a bonus if he gets a mention!   Thank you so much.  Just read KenF48's reply - thank you there are a couple of really interesting bits.  I will now look up "extended Derby or Group Scheme" I did think he was in an exempt occupation so anything about him signing up is interesting as is he going absent at Christmas as it fits other information handed down the family.  I will learn more about Africa - I've travelled extensively there but never knew they were involved in WWI.

Thanks guys,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin
4 hours ago, foundblue said:

I will now look up "extended Derby or Group Scheme" I did think he was in an exempt occupation so anything about him signing up is interesting

The 'default' position was to appeal to the Local Tribunal for exemption, in this case on 'occupational grounds,(Military Service Act 1916 - LLT), this exemption was usually 'conditional' and for periods of three months. So once again he seems to have had a good run, I suspect his occupation whilst it may have been exempt, and from the list of certified occupations I cannot see that any single man in the Textile trade with a couple of exceptions was automatically entitled to exemption, was one which could be done by a woman or older man.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...