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Remembered Today:

Sgt Robert Henry Ellison (1558 / 240117), 1/5th S. Lancs Regt


Buffnut453
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Not sure how I missed this before but one of my Great Uncles (by marriage) was a Sergeant in the 1/5th S. Lancs.  He was captured on 30 Nov 1917 and spent the rest of the war as a POW at Munster and Altdamm.  I've been digging through the online documents I've discovered about him and could use some help interpreting some of the information.

His POW records provide the following:

o   Number:  240117

o   Rank:  Sergeant

o   Unit:  1/5th South Lancashire Regiment

o   Company:  D

o   Date Captured:  30 November 1917

o   Location Captured:  Epehy, France

o   Date of Birth:  4 December 1894

o   Place of Birth:  Liverpool

o   Home Address:  60 Oxford Street, St.Helens, Lancashire, England

 

He appears on the Medal Rolls for the 1914-1915 Star, BWM and VM.  The former roll plus his MIC give his embarkation date as 13 Feb 1915, and a prior regimental number of 1558.  Both documents also include "D/E 21/2/19" which is a new one on me.

So far so good...but then we come to the ranks and things get a little confusing.  His entry on the BWM and VM Medal Roll lists his rank as Cpl and has the additional details shown below, including a rank of TSgt (Temporary Sergeant, perhaps, since his rank is given as Cpl on the roll?):

He also appears in a Court of Inquiry record dated 7 Oct 1917 into an accidental discharge that resulted in the death of a Rifleman in his Company.  In that record, he's listed as a Lance Sergeant.  His POW records all list him as Sergeant.     

Given all that background, here are my questions:

1.  Given his embarkation date, it seems probable that he enlisted right at the outbreak of the Great War.  Is there any way to determine when he might have enlisted given his original regimental number of 1558?

2.  The "D/E 21/2/19" is a little confusing.  Is that his discharge date?  If so, what does "D/E" stand for?  

3.  Based on a bit of Googling, it seems that Lance Sergeant was a substantive Corporal fulfilling the duties of a Sergeant.  However, what's the "T/Sgt" on his BWM/VM Medal Roll?  Temporary Sergeant, perhaps?  

4.  I presume the "att R.E.'s" means "attached to the Royal Engineers" but why would that detail appear on the BWM/VM Medal Roll?  

 

Apologies if these are numpty questions but they're confusing to me.  I'm also trying to work out his POW records.  I think I've gleaned all his personal details but it's unclear whether the records were created when he arrived at the camps, or if they were just general musters...but I'll leave that one for now until, hopefully, the GWF experts can help me out with my initial questions.

As always, I'm hugely grateful for any and all help on this stuff.  The knowledge of the Forum members really is outstanding!

Kind regards,
Mark

R H Ellison Medal Roll - BWM and VM (Cropped).jpg

Edited by Buffnut453
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In case anyone's interested, I started a thread a few days ago about my Great Aunt Elizabeth Haselden. 

 

Elizabeth ("Aunty Bett") married Robert Henry Ellis in 1921.  Here's a pic of the family probably taken in 1923.  At left is my Aunty Bett with her baby daughter, Anne on her lap.  I think the young man standing in the rear is John Ellison (b 1906), Robert's younger brother.  Next along is Robert, himself, while the young lady on the right is Annie Haselden, Elizabeth's younger sister.

Family Group Photo 2.jpeg

Edited by Buffnut453
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8 hours ago, Buffnut453 said:

1.  Given his embarkation date, it seems probable that he enlisted right at the outbreak of the Great War.  Is there any way to determine when he might have enlisted given his original regimental number of 1558?

He was very much a pre-war Territorial in the (then simply called) 5th Battalion (TF) South Lancashire Regiment:

1494/240095 John Murphy joined on 14/11/1911

1558/240117 Robert Henry Ellison joined on ??

1561/240120 Alfred Taylor joined on 30/01/1912

1574/240128 Thomas Smith joined on 06/02/1912

8 hours ago, Buffnut453 said:

2. The "D/E 21/2/19" is a little confusing.  Is that his discharge date?  If so, what does "D/E" stand for?

Not sure - I do believe this is his discharge date - most TF were discharged using the term "Disembodied on Demobilisation" so not sure why the abbreviation D/E is being used. He and many of his pals have this abbreviation on their 1914/1915 Star Medal Roll.

8 hours ago, Buffnut453 said:

3.  Based on a bit of Googling, it seems that Lance Sergeant was a substantive Corporal fulfilling the duties of a Sergeant.  However, what's the "T/Sgt" on his BWM/VM Medal Roll?  Temporary Sergeant, perhaps?  

I think this has come up a few times before - Transport Sergeant has also been offered as a possibility.

8 hours ago, Buffnut453 said:

4.  I presume the "att R.E.'s" means "attached to the Royal Engineers" but why would that detail appear on the BWM/VM Medal Roll? 

I read it as you do. My understanding is that detail would be entirely superfluous as his Medals would not include that detail - as evidenced by his MIC, which does not include that detail and which was used to inform the medal manufacturers.

Regards

Russ

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Further to your Question 2: 

Here is a typical page of the 1914/1915 Star Medal Roll showing these D/E dates in the Remarks column.

1561 Alfred Taylor (later 240120 & who joined on 30/01/1912 - re also your Q1) has a "D/E" as 07/01/1919.

Here the relevant page of his Service Paper stating he was "Disembodied on Demobilisation" on 07/01/1919.

 

SLR Medal Roll.jpg

SLR Demob.jpg

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And further to your Q3 with respect to T/Sgt, I have now convinced myself the the 'T' does indeed stand for Temporary (at least in your case).

I had a flick through the same SLR Medal Roll that your man appears on - I found the frequency of the occurrences of T/Sgt was far too high for it to be Transport Sergeant. Even accounting for the different Battalions on the Medal Roll there are simply too many. I also came across a few T/Cpl and even a T/Col Sgt (203961 Harris)

Each time I came across an example of T/Sgt, I checked whether the man had a service record to see if it helped with an explanation.

I finally found one - 235191 T/Sgt Walter Lewis 1/4th SLR - see Medal Roll below.

Some relevant pages of his Service Record are also shown below - it shows that he was an A/Sgt (Acting Sergeant) but on 30/06/1919 he was "promoted T/Sgt" under ACI 386"

A Forum search tells us that ACI 386 (1919) was an Army Council Instruction for the Promotion of Temporary Rank.

I think there are examples of T/Sgt meaning Transport Sergeant but I'm now convinced this is not the case for your man or for the SLR Medal Roll in general.

Regards

Russ

 

Lewis 235191 - Medal Roll.jpg

Lewis 235191 - T Rank ACI 386.jpg

Lewis 235191 - Temp Sgt.jpg

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Russ,

Wow...thanks for all that digging and research.  Fascinating to find that Bob joined up prior to the war.  

I'm beginning to think that D/E might be a means to differentiate Dis-Embodied from De-Mobilized (my capitalization).  I'm completely making that up but the simple fact that the "D/E" date tallies with the discharge date clearly means it's related to that event, and I can't come up with anything better.

I think you've nailed the T/Sgt piece.  Temporary Sergeant is the only thing that makes sense.

I'm still puzzled by the "att R.E." statement.  As noted, Bob was a POW from 30 Nov 1917 onwards.  St.Helens also had a couple of Territorial R.E. units and I'm wondering if he was attached to them after he returned to the UK, and the note on the Medal Roll was simply an administrative reminder that he wasn't with his regular unit?  I'm speculating but I can't come up with anything better than that.  

Bob certainly had an interesting war, not least being involved in the somewhat infamous annihilation of the 1/5th Bn on 30 Nov 1917.  There's also a surviving Court of Inquiry record dating from 7 Oct 1917 because a soldier in his Company accidentally killed another soldier while cleaning his rifle in the trenches.  Bob gave testimony at the hearing.  

Bob died very young in 1945.  However, I knew his daughter, Anne, very well.  She would go on to be Lord Pilkington's personal secretary for decades.  Sadly, she was Bob's and Bett's only child, and Anne subsequently married but had no children.  So it's left to me, as the family historian, to create some form of remembrance for them.

I really appreciate all the help with this.  You've helped resolve virtually all the mysteries in this little batch of records.  

Kind regards,
Mark

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One other note on Bob.  It seems pretty clear he enlisted in the Territorials in Dec 1911/Jan 1912.  At that time he'd be just 16 years old.  Not sure how common that would be.  I just thought it was interesting.  

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I re-read the Court of Inquiry record dated 7 Oct 1917.  The location is identified as Kildare Post.  I'm guessing that was near Epehy but the National Library of Scotland trench maps don't show anything.

Anyone know where Kildare Post was located?  

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Well...I've started answering my own posts.  That's perilously close to talking to myself.

Anyhoo...managed to get a map reference for Kildare Post and, via T-Mapper, I now know where it was located, to the northeast of Epehy just next to the modern A26 route.

I did a bit more research on Bob Ellison and his family.  Two of his brothers also served: Alfred James Ellison and Joseph Ellison.  Alfred also enlisted in the 1/5th South Lancs with a regimental number of 1999, which probably was also a pre-war enlistment, and went to France the day before his brother (unsurprising if they were both in the same Battalion).  He later served in the MGC (Regt No. 23867) so I'm guessing he was a member of a machine gun platoon in the South Lancs which was then amalgamated into the MGC in October 1915?  His 1915 Star medal roll says "Disemb. 14-1-19" which, perhaps, points to the "D/E" in Bob's record also meaning Disembodied. 

Joseph was also in the South Lancs (Regt Nos. 4966 and 242300).  Parts of his service record survived.  Apparently, he served in Iraq with the 6th South Lancs and took took a GSW to the right leg in October 1917.  Interestingly, his record says he served in France 13 Aug to 27 Dec 1916 before spending 8 months at Home.  He only went out to the Middle East after that stint of home service.  I'm thinking he was with another Battalion in France and perhaps was wounded and evacuated back to the UK, but I'll need to do more research on that.  

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