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UK hospital records 1915-1918


DBow
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Hi,

I am very new to this forum which looks like a fantastic resource for anyone looking to investigate their ancestor's history. 

I have been looking into my Grandfather's time during WW1 and I seem to have hit a brick wall concerning the times he was recovering from injuries.

Are there any records of admissions to UK hospitals during the war? I feel he must at least once have convalesced in the Altrincham, Cheshire area but so far can find no records or databases. If you know of the location of any of these type of records, could you point me in  their direction please. I would be very grateful.

He was Frederick William Bowie, (DOB 08/07/1896) 2904, 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade, wounded 07/07/15 Index on Admission 4678 Yrpres, and 21/10/16 Index on Admission T11971 16th (Service) Battalion Location unknown at the moment.

Any hep would be very much appreciated,

Thanks

Don 

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Welcome, Don

Very few such records exist. The easiest way to search is

here

"Access records held by The National Archives and more than 2,500 other archives."

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Hi @DBow and welcome to the forum.

About 5% of the military admission and discharge registers were retained as a sample by the medical services and subsequently transferred to the National Archive. Scans of the documents can be seen on FindMyPast and transcripts are available on Forces War Records.

I can see three medical admission records relating to this man while he was serving with the Rifle Brigade, but all relate to France & Flanders.

On the 7th July 1915 he arrived from Ypres by Ambulance Train at 18 General Hospital with what looks like a slight injury \ wound to his left foot - fourth metarsal. He was serving then with C Company, 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade. He had been in the Army 9 years and 10 months*, and had served 2 months in the field. He was moved to Calais on the 11th July 1915, bound for the UK via Hospital Ship. (* Given his year of birth I'm not quite sure how that works, but perhaps an error in the way the information was noted. However 2 months in the field seems right - his Medal Index Card shows he landed in France on the 1st May 1915).

According to our parent site, the Long, Long, Trail, the 18 General Hospital was at Camiers at this time. Camiers is just up the coast from Etaples.

The second entry is just an index of admissions to 18 General Hospital in 1915.

The third record has been transcribed by FindMyPast as surname "Boure". Private 2905 F. Boure \ Bowie, 16th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, was admitted to No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station on the 21st October 1916. The classification of his wound is given as "GSW VIII 1" which translates as Gun shot wound to the upper extremities, at the level of simple flesh contusions and wounds. See https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/the-evacuation-chain-for-wounded-and-sick-soldiers/classification-of-wounds-using-by-the-british-army-in-the-first-world-war/

He was moved on by No.27 Ambulance Train on the 22nd October 1916. According to the Long, Long Trail No.3 CCS was at Puchevillers at this time. https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/locations-of-british-casualty-clearing-stations/

At some point he transfers to the Labour Corps, with service number 202464. Under that number FindMyPast have a couple of pages relating to his discharge. Serving then with No.6 Labour Company, late Rifle Brigade, he was discharged on the 14th May 1919 to 1, School Road, Altrincham, Cheshire. He was already married at that stage. He had a 30% loss of ability to work as a result of a GSW to the right shoulder and another to the left foot. He is shown as born 1894.

Going back to your original question, in the early months of the war, as well as the casualty lists, some regional papers routinely carried lists of the latest admissions to hospital, not necessarily always just the local ones. I suspect however by July 1915 this had probably come to a stop. So you're best bet may be a report on the local paper specific to him. I've had a little try in the selection of newspapers on FindMyPast but couldn't even find a casualty list that mentions him. However it's the sort of search that is worthwhile being both persistant and creative with - FMP is a backdoor route into the British Newspaper Archive, and the software used their to transcibe newspaper article is, to put it mildly, quirky:)

Good luck with your search,
Peter

 

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Wow what a response ! Thank you so much Moonraker and Peter, you have certainly given me some avenues to go down now, I am very grateful. 

I have only been researching seriously in the last year or so (lockdown being the main reason) although I started about 10 years ago. The amount of information out there now is brilliant, I only wish I had known about a lot of it a few years ago when we did several Western Front and Normandy trips. We had visited Menin Gate a couple of times but in the last 12 months I've discovered a Great Uncle is commemorated there. Looks like another trip to Ypres as soon as its safe to go again.

Peter, thank you for linking locations to the CCS and 18 General Hospital, it will give me more idea of where my Grandfather was at the time. Sadly his RB records were destroyed but I do have the charred copies of his Labour Corp time which will help to complete my research.

Once again, many thanks for your replies, they are very much appreciated,

Regards,

Don 

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Don,

If you weren't aware, the War Diaries can currently be downloaded for free from the National Archive. You do need to sign in with your account, but if you don't have one, even that can be set up as part of placing your first order. Just click on "sign in" and follow the instructions - no financial details are required.

The 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade War diary for July 1915 - December 1915 can be found in the National Archive catalogue here: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14016997

See the catalogue note "Please Note: The date, July-Dec 1915 is correct although '5' crossed out and replaced with '6' for August 1915 and first page is noted as August 1916, which appears to be a mistake on the record itself"

And the 16th Battalion, Rifle Brigade War Diary for March 1916 to June 1919 can be found here https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7354217

The Long, Long Trail has the 1st Battalion in France from the 23rd August 1914, so Frederick Bowie must have done his initial training with another UK based unit and then gone out at the start of May 1915 as part of a replacement draft. War diaries seldom mention other ranks by name, although they can always surprise us - some unit Adjutants could be remarkably diligent. The diaries will usually just give you a feel for where they were and what they were up to. A check of the 1st Battalion War Diary for August 1914 to June 1915 may identify the arrival of drafts in the fortnight after Frederick arrived in France. https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14016996

The 16th Battalion landed at Le Havre on the 8th March 1916, so he may have been posted to them while they were still in the UK, having recovered from his first wounding, and then gone out as part of their deployment overseas. That's speculation at this point. https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/the-rifle-brigade-1914-1918/

Hope that helps,

Peter

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Peter,

That information is absolutely brilliant, thank you. I had downloaded some of the diaries and was planning to trawl through them shortly to see if I could work out where my Grandfather had been fighting but you've pointed me at the records which I'm sure will give a me a much clearer picture of his time in France.

I really am very grateful to you, thank you. What a fabulous resource GreatWarForum and it's members is.

Regards,

Don

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Hi Don,

As per Peter I am not quite sure how the DOB and service works out. the 2000 range of numbers were all late 1907 to mid 1908 enlistments. There are no later enlistments, they came in the 6000 number range where a lot of underage soldiers appear.

Please see attached from my database, 1st column is number, 2nd Surname, 3rd Christian names, 4th overseas, 5th battalions served in, 6th enlistment dates etc etc

Screenshot 2021-09-15 at 10.50.00.png

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1 hour ago, stiletto_33853 said:

the 2000 range of numbers were all late 1907 to mid 1908 enlistments. There are no later enlistments, they came in the 6000 number range where a lot of underage soldiers appear.

Took another look at that 1915 admission. Frederick Bowie is the second line on the page. The first line, a Lance Corporal H. Webb of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers may well have done 9 years and 6 months, (he was then aged 30). But the 9 has been written across both lines. It then looks like there was also a 9 recorded against the entry for Private Bowie, and on high resolution I can clearly see it. But drop the resolution and its quite faded - as if someone had tried to erase an error. Apologies for mis-leading everyone.

448167799_FrederickBowie1915Admissionto18GHsourcedFMPcrop.jpg.37a9861170801cef47b682b5e26389bf.jpg

Image courtesy FindMyPast.

So if Frederick had only completed ten months service in the Army that would put his enlistment as circa September 1914. Would there have been a Rifle Brigade Battalion recruiting then that would have used a prefix before the four digit 2904 number?

And to eliminate him completely as the candidate for the pre-war enlistment, FindMyPast has surviving records in the WO97 series for 2904 Robert Wilfred Carter who enlisted in the Rifle Brigade at Hounslow on a 7 & 5 split on the 30th June 1908 for service in the 5th Battalion. Posted to the Depot and then the 3rd Battalion, he was discharged at Bordon on the 17th February 1909, having made a mis-statement as to age.

Cheers,
Peter

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Hi Peter & Andy,

Again, many thanks for your comments and research they are all very much appreciated. I was fortunate enough to receive the following from another researcher which has helped me understand some of his time during the war. If it's possible to decipher some of the codes and references on the service summary sheet I would be very grateful. Also, when soldiers were transferred to the Labour Corp was their time there not as well documented, or are there diaries similar to the battalion diaries covering the labour corps?

I have a Great Uncle who also served but I have his service records in much more detail and look forward to trying to decipher those in the coming weeks.

Thanks again for all your help,

Regards,

Don

F.W.Bowie burnt record 1914 (c).jpg

F.W.Bowie 202464 Army Record 1919 (a).jpg

F.W.Bowie 202464 Army Record 1919 (b).jpg

F.W.Bowie burnt record 1914 (e).jpg

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2 hours ago, DBow said:

If it's possible to decipher some of the codes and references on the service summary sheet I would be very grateful. Also, when soldiers were transferred to the Labour Corp was their time there not as well documented, or are there diaries similar to the battalion diaries covering the labour corps?

Don,

How I’d interpret that statement of service, (the first image) is:-

Attested as a Rifleman in the Rifle Brigade on the 11th September 1914.
Reported to the Depot at Winchester on the 15th September 1914.
Posted to the 5th Battalion on the 21st September 1914.

Long, Long Trail tells us the 5th Reserve Battalion was a depot/training unit, it moved on mobilisation to Minster (Sheppey) where it remained as part of Thames & Medway Garrison.

Posted to the 1st Battalion on the 1st May 1915.

 We know from the MiC that this is the date he arrived in France, so sent out as a draft from the 5th Battalion.

Posted to the Depot in the UK on the 11th July 1915.

On being medically evacuated to the UK a soldier would be transferred onto the strength of the Depot for pay, admin and disciplinary purposes while he received his treatment. The medical admission register for the 18 General Hospital shows him being moved to Calais to be put aboard a Hospital Ship on the 11th July 1915.

Reported back to the Depot on the 23rd January 1916 after treatment, convalescence and probably 10 days furlough. There he would go through refresher training and assessment of fitness for further overseas service.
Posted to the 5th Battalion on the 6th May 1916.
Sent out again to France and reached an Infantry Base Depot on the 6th September 1916.
At the Infantry Base Depot he was posted, still a Rifleman, to the 16th Battalion on the 16th September 1916.
Medically evacuated back to the UK on the 26th October 1916 and posted to the strength of the Depot while being treated.

We know he was at 3CCS on the 21st October, and being moved on, undoubtedly to the coast, via 27 Ambulance Train on the 22nd October 1916.

Reported back to the 6th Battalion, (probably via the Depot), after treatment, convalescence and probably 10 days furlough.

LLT has the 6th (Reserve) Battalion as a depot/training unit, it moved on mobilisation to Sheerness, going on in March 1916 to Eastchurch where it remained as part of Thames & Medway Garrison. The assessment of his fitness while he was there probably came to the conclusion that he was unlikely to be fit again any time soon for front line service.

Transferred to the 5th Labour Battalion on the 8th May 1917.

6th RB. 01810 107 of 7.5.17 is an administrative document of the 6th Battalion Rifle Brigade, something which will have long ago been destroyed and it’s unlikely to be decipherable by anyone. Best guess is that it was a list of men like Frederick who had been identified for transfer to the new Labour Corps.

Transferred to the 301st Labour Company, Labour Corps, on the 12th May 1917. As a Home Service unit the 301st would not have been required to keep a unit War Diary.
Posted to ??? Employment Company, Labour Corps, (overseas)

Again what follows is an administrative document reference, long since destroyed and even the meaning of the reference lost in the mists of time. Employment Companys were split between Divisional, Area and Home Employment Companies. Home Employment ones would not have had to keep War Diaries. The Area Employment Companies were Line of Communications troops for whom my understanding was that it was optional as to whether they kept a War Diary or not. Many appear to have opted not to. Divisional Employment Companys usually have a War Diary but they are often hard to find, and the few examples I have seen have been very spartan. Even more than usual I would not expect to find individuals named in them.

Posted to 6th Company, Labour Corps, 12th June 1917.

Location not known, but possibly he didn’t actually go overseas.

Transferred to Class ‘Z” for demobilization on the 14th May 1919, signed by the officer in charged of the Nottingham Records Office that dealt with the Labour Corps. His Home Address would be 1 School Road, Altrincham, Cheshire.
His Military Character was rated Very Good.
His details were forwarded to the Chelsea Miltary Hospital, which then administered both in-patient and out-patient treatment for disabled soldiers.
He had served for 4 years and 246 days.

Hope that helps,
Peter

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