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Remembered Today:

Tracing my grandfather's grandfather


Seilenkhup kom

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Hi

I am new here. I need to trace my grandfather's grandfather who embarked from madras, india on HMHS Madras (maiden voyage) on 17 November 1914. I have no information which unit he was in or how and why he got enlisted/recruited from the North eastern side of India (Manipur). Most probably he must be part of the indian Expeditionary Force A. Where would be the best place to look up for his name and his deployments? He came back alive, but i am not aware when he came back. He was gifted a Gun and and land by the British administration when he came back. He's name was called Vangkai Kuki. He was also known as Pakai Kuki.IMG_20220625_153222.jpg.f8f4a752cc52aca17d3e5cf876af0fb0.jpg

Regards. 

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Two more pictures. Would it be possible the kind of unit they belong from their uniform. Sadly the pictures are too old now. 

IMG_20220625_153024.jpg.7595308e10e142bf6f75502b46db795c.jpgIMG_20220625_153034.jpg.8ddd95535c39329904cd04bb5ceb01b8.jpg

 

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5 hours ago, Seilenkhup kom said:

Two more pictures. Would it be possible the kind of unit they belong from their uniform. Sadly the pictures are too old now. 

IMG_20220625_153024.jpg.7595308e10e142bf6f75502b46db795c.jpgIMG_20220625_153034.jpg.8ddd95535c39329904cd04bb5ceb01b8.jpg

 

A much better and closer view of the uppermost photograph would help to try and identify his unit.  Hospital ships were not supposed to carry combatant troops unless they were wounded, helpless (unarmed), and patients of the medical staff on board (it was against the Geneva Convention).  As he clearly isn’t dressed as a lascar (seaman), nor armed, his most likely unit is the Army Bearer Corps.

The British-Indian Army’s medical facilities were divided in three parts at that time as follows:

1. Indian Medical Service (IMS) - comprised of European surgeons and professionally qualified medical specialists.

2. Indian Medical Department (IMD) - comprised of qualified Eurasian and Indian medical and surgical assistants including apothecaries and other medical facilitators.

3. Army Bearer Corps (ABC) - comprising native stretcher bearers and orderlies trained in basic first aid. Many of these were from Madras due to the then policy of specified martial races. They were commonly brave and physically hardy men.  For further information see:

1. https://militaryhealth.bmj.com/content/jramc/6/6/685.full.pdf

2. https://astreetnearyou.org/regiment/855/Army-Bearer-Corps

I don’t know if @MaureenE might know anything more about HMHS MADRAS and it’s medical complement.

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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The FIBIS Fibiwiki page Indian Army  https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Indian_Army sets out some sources of records, which you could try, but probably  without much hope of success.

One of the sources is the National Archives of India, which you could email. However,  firstly, I suspect that there aren't many records from the WW1 period and secondly you probably need to know the regimental number (which you don't know), as the files are probably filed by regimental number.

One of the links on the Fibiwiki page is Centre For Armed Forces Historical Research (CAFHR), The United Service Institution of India.  Perhaps someone at this Centre may be able to offer advice.

You say he was gifted land when he came back. Perhaps this may have been notified in one of the offical Gazettes, such as the Gazette of India, or the Calcutta Gazette, or the Assam Gazette. For online editions see the FIBIS Fibiwiki page https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Newspapers_and_journals_online#Gazettes_of_India_Collection_on_the_Internet_Archive_.28Archive.org.29

You mention indian Expeditionary Force A. This was France and Flanders. But at this period, Indian forces were also involved with Mesopotamia and East Africa.

The FIBIS Fibiwiki page First World War gives general background information. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/First_World_War

Maureen

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1 hour ago, MaureenE said:

The FIBIS Fibiwiki page Indian Army  https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Indian_Army sets out some sources of records, which you could try, but probably  without much hope of success.

One of the sources is the National Archives of India, which you could email. However,  firstly, I suspect that there aren't many records from the WW1 period and secondly you probably need to know the regimental number (which you don't know), as the files are probably filed by regimental number.

One of the links on the Fibiwiki page is Centre For Armed Forces Historical Research (CAFHR), The United Service Institution of India.  Perhaps someone at this Centre may be able to offer advice.

You say he was gifted land when he came back. Perhaps this may have been notified in one of the offical Gazettes, such as the Gazette of India, or the Calcutta Gazette, or the Assam Gazette. For online editions see the FIBIS Fibiwiki page https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Newspapers_and_journals_online#Gazettes_of_India_Collection_on_the_Internet_Archive_.28Archive.org.29

You mention indian Expeditionary Force A. This was France and Flanders. But at this period, Indian forces were also involved with Mesopotamia and East Africa.

The FIBIS Fibiwiki page First World War gives general background information. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/First_World_War

Maureen

One really puzzling aspect that’s confused me is that the Imperial War Museum lists a substantial number of Indian names as “British” Army Bearer Corps.  It seems erroneous, but I don’t know if it’s a part of the woke, revisionist nonsense that’s been going on at the IWM in recent years:

https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/searchlives/field/unit/Army Bearer Corps/filter

Edited by FROGSMILE
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This letter in the Indian Medical Gazette describes the first voyage of the HS Madras, as previously mentioned hospital ships were not troop ships.

The Indian Expeditionary Force A landed at Marseille on the 30th September 1914 after what the OH described as an 'uneventful journey' which belied the frantic and yet disciplined effort for the Divisions to embark on the hastily commandeered 'troopships' who sailed in convoy.

A footnote to the letter shows the first voyage of the H.S. Madras was to East Africa disembarking the first casualties evacuated at Bombay.  This would accord with the suggestion your grandfather's grandfather was with the Army Bearer Corps.

I believe he would have been awarded the British War Medal, but there is some debate as to whether or not he qualified for the 14-15 Star and Victory Medal.  To an extent it apparently depended on his duties on the ship. He categorically did not qualify for the 1914 Star, although many of his comrades who landed in France did.

See comments on this earlier thread

 

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7 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

One really puzzling aspect that’s confused me is that the Imperial War Museum lists a substantial number of Indian names as “British” Army Bearer Corps.

Not woke, but slumbering.

WO 372 medal index cards and transcriptions, sourced from the catalogue of The National Archives UK
I think you'll find Chris Baker bemoaning the fact that a very dirty dataset was loaded as-is by the IWM. With the benefit of hindsight, you won't know about that until you have undertaken some time using the dataset to do research on soldiers that it needed "cleaning". Chris had done the hard yards so he knew, but those involved at the IWM with this project had failed to look into this. Perhaps they did, voiced concern, and were told "This is a build and they will come" project that a big cheese wants done ASAP. Either you continue, or you move on, with a P45 in your back pocket." We'll never know the full story. It's a familiar enough scenario in many organisations in respect of IT projects.

There was no data cleansing done when the data was captured by the IWM. If a WW1 participant had a profile because they had a WO 372 medal index card, it was assumed they were in the British Army. This is notwithstanding the fact that a whole subsection of the record set is solely for the Indian Army. That's before you look at the gallantry cards where many Dominion troops have an entry. Likewise, if you follow the same logic, the 600 or so medal index cards for men of the RNVR are deemed to be in a regiment of the British Army. Several soldiers on attachment to the Royal Naval Division have index cards in the ADM 339 series, and so they are classified as Royal Navy under the same business rule.

The very small amount of profiles correctly flagged as either Indian or South African are there because a member of the public amended the category. The non-corrected profiles are far larger than those that were manually amended, unfortunately.

Edit:
Here are the 1,128 profiles recorded as Indian Army, whereas I understand this is a thousandth of the actual amount of Indian Army in WW1.

https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/searchlives/field/unit/indian/filter/type%3Dagent%26service%3DIndian%2BArmy

The word "indian" fetches 33,787 results
https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/searchlives/field/unit/indian/filter/type%3Dagent

Edited by Keith_history_buff
Added two links
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Ty so much for the information. I'd try to find more material from my families of my great great grand father. He definitely was not part of the 22nd manipur labour corp, 2000 individuals recruited from manipur, since the corp was formed in 1917. The fact that he left in November 1914 stumped me. 

Edited by Seilenkhup kom
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43 minutes ago, Keith_history_buff said:

Not woke, but slumbering.

WO 372 medal index cards and transcriptions, sourced from the catalogue of The National Archives UK
I think you'll find Chris Baker bemoaning the fact that a very dirty dataset was loaded as-is by the IWM. With the benefit of hindsight, you won't know about that until you have undertaken some time using the dataset to do research on soldiers that it needed "cleaning". Chris had done the hard yards so he knew, but those involved at the IWM with this project had failed to look into this. Perhaps they did, voiced concern, and were told "This is a build and they will come" project that a big cheese wants done ASAP. Either you continue, or you move on, with a P45 in your back pocket." We'll never know the full story. It's a familiar enough scenario in many organisations in respect of IT projects.

There was no data cleansing done when the data was captured by the IWM. If a WW1 participant had a profile because they had a WO 372 medal index card, it was assumed they were in the British Army. This is notwithstanding the fact that a whole subsection of the record set is solely for the Indian Army. That's before you look at the gallantry cards where many Dominion troops have an entry. Likewise, if you follow the same logic, the 600 or so medal index cards for men of the RNVR are deemed to be in a regiment of the British Army. Several soldiers on attachment to the Royal Naval Division have index cards in the ADM 339 series, and so they are classified as Royal Navy under the same business rule.

The very small amount of profiles correctly flagged as either Indian or South African are there because a member of the public amended the category. The non-corrected profiles are far larger than those that were manually amended, unfortunately.

Thank you for the explanation Keith.  Whilst I’m sympathetic to the I.T. mumbo jumbo (not meant pejoratively, someone has to do it), it so flies in the face of logic, and abandons any attempt at understanding the (important) delineations of British and Commonwealth armed forces, that I feel it leaves the whole project unfit for purpose.  And surely, that latter measure should be the litmus test against which it is judged.

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20 minutes ago, Seilenkhup kom said:

Ty so much for the information. I'd try to find more material from my families of my great great grand father. He definitely was not part of the 22nd manipur labour corp, 2000 individuals recruited from manipur. The fact that he left in November 1914 stumped me. 

Labour Corps would not generally be carried on a hospital ship, as they were not, strictly speaking, non-combatants.  If he embarked on the hospital ship, and he wasn’t a lascar, then it’s extremely likely that he was a member of the Army Bearer Corps.

You haven’t yet attempted to show a better copy of the group photograph, but from what I can see the men appear to be wearing woollen clothing, which would fit with the IEF (A) destination in Europe. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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I am still trying to get a better photo, hoping against hope I get atleast one to see his insignia. I am also trying to get a picture of the gun gifted to him if it is still here and see if there are any numbers, insignias etc. 

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1 hour ago, Seilenkhup kom said:

I am still trying to get a better photo, hoping against hope I get atleast one to see his insignia. I am also trying to get a picture of the gun gifted to him if it is still here and see if there are any numbers, insignias etc. 

Don’t hold out too much hope for insignia, its use was inconsistent and there was a difference between what was worn in the Middle East (Mesopotamia and Egypt) and what was worn in Europe.

Because headdress was mostly a simple pagri, badges tended to be no more than just the large letters in script - ABC, that I posted [with a pale blue background] above.  Buttons were simple Indian Army General Service.  The two main items of discrete insignia were shoulder titles comprising in block letters ABC with a number surmounted (the unit’s number) and the waistbelt clasp shown above.  Both, headress badge and clasp, seem to have been reserved for parades and rarely appear in photographs of men operating in the field.

For men below the rank of officer and senior non commissioned officer there wasn’t a strong tradition of wearing insignia.  Pagris with colourful cloth inserts were often used instead.

3B3199B8-49A8-426E-BC23-F1CD38A047D0.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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You might get better resolution if you remove the photograph from the frame it will only get damaged further if you keep it in the frame.  Just a suggestion, your decision.

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51 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

it so flies in the face of logic, and abandons any attempt at understanding the (important) delineations of British and Commonwealth armed forces, that I feel it leaves the whole project unfit for purpose.  And surely, that latter measure should be the litmus test against which it is judged.

I wholeheartedly concur with this statement, and have mentioned it in greater detail elsewhere on the forum. The project is like wikipedia insofar as different entries have different levels of quality. With wikipedia, each entry has a quality rating. You can come across some well-researched profiles, but in a lot of cases it is down to a family member who made the contribution, not the IWM. You have to cross-check with other sources to make sure it is indeed source-based. For anything crowdsourced or self-published it is a case of caveat lector.

With regard the flaw of doing nothing to properly classify the profiles, it reminds me of the damage done by colorization apps. You have an individual of limited IT literacy, and no experience whatsoever in graphic design or media. They use the default settings on the app to colorize a photo, and history is rewritten whereby every Tommy in WW1 was in fact wearing a shade of US Postal Service Blue, their Brodie helmet painted the same shade too.

In recent years there has been a source of information on Indian Army soldiers from the Punjab, but I have not heard of other regions having a similar resource. I was under the impression that where general records have survived, they are in the custody of a successor unit of the modern Indian Army. If you do not have the necessary connections, you are viewed with suspicion, in the same manner that planespotters have been accused by Greek authorities of espionage, and agents of enemy powers. 
 

 

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Given that Vangkai Kuki departed India  17 November 1914, which is quite early after the commencement of the war in terms of being recruited and trained and transported from the East of the country, I wonder whether he had some prior connection with the military or paramilitary.

The closest geographically I  can suggest is what became known as the Assam Rifles in 1917, prior to that called Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police.

The FIBIS Fibiwiki page Assam Rifles https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Assam_Rifles includes an online history History of the Assam Rifles. Page 196

Page 196 https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.461654/page/n223/mode/2up mentions the 1st Draft of men on 18 October 1914, when 3 Havildars and 100 sepoys were drafted to the 3rd and 8th G R [Gurkha Rifles]

Looking at 

Details of War Diaries available at the National Archives, Kew, UK for Indian Army Regiments.  Category:India including Category:All Indian units collaborativecollections.org.

it appears the 8th Gurkha Rifles would be the most likely

FIBIS Fibiwiki page https://wiki.fibis.org/w/44th_Gurkha_Rifles links to an online history, showing  the 2nd Battalion was in France 1914-1915.

I don't know whether the above is consistent with the photographs available, or travelling on what was thought to be a hospital ship, but perhaps the ship was initially a troop transport, and became a hospital ship later in the war.

In respect of the land grant, perhaps another avenue which could be explored is to contact the Land Registration Office to see if there is any information dating back to the time of the original land grant, such as Vangkai Kuki's previous regiment and regimental number.

Maureen

 
 
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7 hours ago, MaureenE said:

Given that Vangkai Kuki departed India  17 November 1914, which is quite early after the commencement of the war in terms of being recruited and trained and transported from the East of the country, I wonder whether he had some prior connection with the military or paramilitary.

The closest geographically I  can suggest is what became known as the Assam Rifles in 1917, prior to that called Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police.

The FIBIS Fibiwiki page Assam Rifles https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Assam_Rifles includes an online history History of the Assam Rifles. Page 196

Page 196 https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.461654/page/n223/mode/2up mentions the 1st Draft of men on 18 October 1914, when 3 Havildars and 100 sepoys were drafted to the 3rd and 8th G R [Gurkha Rifles]

Looking at 

Details of War Diaries available at the National Archives, Kew, UK for Indian Army Regiments.  Category:India including Category:All Indian units collaborativecollections.org.

it appears the 8th Gurkha Rifles would be the most likely

FIBIS Fibiwiki page https://wiki.fibis.org/w/44th_Gurkha_Rifles links to an online history, showing  the 2nd Battalion was in France 1914-1915.

I don't know whether the above is consistent with the photographs available, or travelling on what was thought to be a hospital ship, but perhaps the ship was initially a troop transport, and became a hospital ship later in the war.

In respect of the land grant, perhaps another avenue which could be explored is to contact the Land Registration Office to see if there is any information dating back to the time of the original land grant, such as Vangkai Kuki's previous regiment and regimental number.

Maureen

 
 

All the men are wearing pagris Maureen, not something that in ordinary circumstances any Gurkha regiment would do (although they did wear woollen cap comforters in inclement weather).  Similar dress applied to the Assam Rifles I think, although I will need to check.  It would be useful to learn more about the origins of HMHS Madras.

NB.  Despite supposedly being about to board, they are also unarmed, wearing leather waist belts not routinely used by infantry, without ammunition pouches, and fitted with shiny brass rather than black buttons.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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7 hours ago, MaureenE said:

don't know whether the above is consistent with the photographs available, or travelling on what was thought to be a hospital ship, but perhaps the ship was initially a troop transport, and became a hospital ship later in the war.

In addition to the above observations,the 2/8th Gurkha Rifles (Bareilly Brigade - Meerut Division) competed mobilisation on 21 August 1914 at Lansdowne and were embarked on Transport 41  "Erinpura" at Karachi on the 16th September 1916.  The convoy moored outside the harbour on the 20th September sailing later that day, escorted by HMS Dartmouth and Hardinge. As troopships they were legitimate targets for the German raiders known to be operating in the Indian Ocean.  The troopships had been subject to much modification prior to sailing and were routed through Suez to Marseille arriving there on the 12th October and marching to Camp La Valentine the following day. (WO95/3947/1/1/)

Similarly, the H.S. Madras was formerly the steamer 'Tanda', launched in Glasgow on 26 March 1914 and as detailed in the letter previously posted from the OIC (Medical) to the Indian Medical Gazette was originally loaded with coal from Japan when she was taken over by the Madras War Fund on the 14th October 1914 at Madras.  She was intended and used as a hospital ship for Indian Troops.  She was funded in large part by voluntary donations from the city.

She was never a troopship and again as previously posted her maiden voyage as a hospital ship was to bring home casualties from the East Africa campaign.  She had a very distinguished career throughout the Great War. 

It appears in 1917 she was on the Basra-Bombay passage https://www.thehindu.com/archive/hospital-ship-madras/article17617669.ece

Quite a lot on the web - this from "The Hospital" 24 July 195 1915 where it appears most of her voyages in this period were from East Africa

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5229996/

She was finally torpedoed and sunk in July 1944 1944

https://wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/ships/view.php?pid=3472

It is intriguing that the photograph in the possession of the OP is dated 30th November 1917, though it was probably used to raise funds as it says "donations...welcomed".  Perhaps the photo was sold to raise funds(?). The ship continued in service as a Hospital Ship until 1919 and it and the crew were no doubt a source of civic pride in the city.

Purely speculative but is it possible he was able to purchase land as a result of the Madras War Fund being wound up and the funds distributed among the men when the ship resumed civilian service between the wars, or was there a system of some sort of demobilisation bounty in the Indian Army as granted to British soldiers(??)

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/was-your-soldier-paid-a-bounty/

 

 

 

 

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A fascinating thread and many thanks to Seilenkhup kom for starting it. 

The TANDA's military career as HS MADRAS (interestingly most contemporary sources seem to use HS rather than HMHS) was exactly as HS states - she was a hospital ship through and through.  As such, all those on board were employed in a non-combatant function and my understanding is that all her voyages were East Africa/Mesopotamia related.

The HS MADRAS project was apparently a component of the wider Madras War Fund effort and represented a significant community event from August to November 1914. I would suspect that, censorship permitting, the story was well newsworthy and therefore featured in many local newspapers. If I had the relevant linguistic nowse I would try my luck there in the hope there was some broad reference to the crew/staffing/units on board. I tried and I couldn't find any English versions but did come across the attached page from a contemporary personal photo album of John Sinclair, First Lord Pentland and Governor of Madras 1912-1919 (sarmaya.in) which confirms that HS MADRAS, and thus Seilenkhup kom's Gt. Gt. Grandfather, did indeed leave Madras Harbour on November 17th.  But we already know that.  However, importantly, it goes on to further confirm the voyage was to East Africa (handwritten text top right) and is therefore 100% not related to Indian Expeditionary Force A ........ as also pointed out by kenf48.

Below and for general interest (to me at least) is a stamp relating to the 'HS MADRAS' Madras War Fund project.

Seilenkhup kom ..... is there any significance in the "Pu." that precedes "Vangkai Kuki" in your Gt. Gt. Grandfather's photo?

Madras_War_Fund_Subscribers_visit_HMHS_Madras_14_Nov_14.jpg

Madras War Fund.jpg

Edited by TullochArd
Seilenkhup kom ..... what is the significance in the "Pu." that precedes "Vangkai Kuki" in your Gt. Gt. Grandfather's photo?
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How extraordinary that she was converted from a coaler.  I can imagine the meticulous cleaning and careful refitting of coal holds that she would have had to undergo to fit her for role as a hospital ship.  Hopefully @Seilenkhup komwill return to the forum, reflect on the new information provided and respond.

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On 01/07/2022 at 14:03, TullochArd said:

I would suspect that, censorship permitting, the story was well newsworthy and therefore featured in many local newspapers. 

I can't leave this one just yet as it is related to a recent personal 'binge read' on the early stages of the Mesopotamia campaign.  As such I have just come across a newspaper article on HS MADRAS from the 'Hindu Times' from 24 March 1917 which records:

"Hospital Ship Madras

A member of the staff writes: The Hospital Ship “Madras” left Bombay on the 27th February at 11 A.M. As passengers to Basra, the following were taken on board at Bombay:- 105 Stretcher Bearers, 5 British Hospital Orderlies, one Nursing Sister and One Red Cross Depot Clerk. A quite uneventful passage was made to Basra which was reached on the 5th March about noon. Here we found everyone in a state of great jubilation over our overwhelmingly decisive victory at Shamran and the air was full of rumours, which were later to be confirmed, that our troops had entered Baghdad. A cinema show was given in the evening and we had a very gratifying attendance from the shore."

1917 yes ....... and although it does little to nudge forward research on Seilenkhup kom's relative it perhaps clarifies/opens a few points for further consideration:

1.  I was wrong about censorship.  HS MADRAS is is a hospital ship and as such there is nothing to be gained/lost from loosely reporting such events.  This has further convinced me that there is mileage in exploring the local newspapers around November 1914 for similar detail.

2.  The number of (non combatant) Stretcher Bearers recorded as transferring as "passengers" is significant and adds credence to the probability that a similar number of ABC men were present on the maiden voyage as the ship had not undergone any significant modifications since 1914 to suggest otherwise.  It could well be that Vangkai Kuki was similarly a "passenger" in transit in November 1914?

3.  I have looked at 9 x (available to me in UK) contemporary Medal Index Cards relating to HS MADRAS.  All were awarded 14/15 Star, BWM and BVM.  Top prize must go to Temporary Nurse Eva Douglas who sailed on the HS MADRAS's maiden voyage and stuck it out with her until transferred in August 1918.  (MIC below).  In her case the 14/15 Star was previously recorded as issued by the Govt of India on separate documents.

4.  I have failed to find a comparative medal group to the Indian Army Bearer Corps although other examples do exist eg 14/15 Star to 8760 BEARER GAWA THOLEY 8 COY. A.B. CORPS. The medallic recognition awarded to Temporary Nurse Eva Douglas perhaps sets a precedence?

 

Eva Douglas.png

Edited by TullochArd
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On 01/07/2022 at 14:03, TullochArd said:

(interestingly most contemporary sources seem to use HS rather than HMHS)

After a lot of wrestling with colleagues over this tricky question a few years ago, I can confirm that HS should be the correct form; the Journal of the RN Medical Service tends to use Naval HS. HMHS would imply that the ship had been commissioned into the RN, which hospital ships were not (hence their absence from, for example, Colledge and Warlow). HMHS is, however, very common, mostly because people - even the occasional RN Medical Officer -.find it natural to regard a ship, any ship, as HMS.

sJ

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11 hours ago, seaJane said:

After a lot of wrestling with colleagues over this tricky question a few years ago, I can confirm that HS should be the correct form; the Journal of the RN Medical Service tends to use Naval HS. HMHS would imply that the ship had been commissioned into the RN, which hospital ships were not (hence their absence from, for example, Colledge and Warlow). HMHS is, however, very common, mostly because people - even the occasional RN Medical Officer -.find it natural to regard a ship, any ship, as HMS.

sJ

Thank you seaJane, that’s an interesting protocol and now that you’ve explained it the logic makes sense.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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16 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

How extraordinary that she was converted from a coaler.  I can imagine the meticulous cleaning and careful refitting of coal holds that she would have had to undergo to fit her for role as a hospital ship.

Once the coal was removed from the hold it was replaced with "700 tons of Madras beach sand in such a way as to balance the ship for the best steaming results " (Lt Col Giffard's account o f the preparation and maiden voyage).

 

12 hours ago, TullochArd said:

The number of (non combatant) Stretcher Bearers recorded as transferring as "passengers" is significant and adds credence to the probability that a similar number of ABC men were present on the maiden voyage as the ship had not undergone any significant modifications since 1914 to suggest otherwise.  It could well be that Vangkai Kuki was similarly a "passenger" in transit in November 1914?

I think "passenger" in the Hindu Times article is a bit of a misdirection as the pictures show it was usually four bearers to a stretcher with approximately 400 casualties on board (and given the relatively small number of nurses )105 "stretcher" bearers seems about the right ratio. There would be a 'crew' of medical men and , probably much smaller crew and officers steering the ship. It seems more likely from the description the medical contingent were described by the journalist/editor as 'passengers'.

It's entirely possible those on board during the maiden voyage, like nurse Eva Douglas remained with the ship for a relatively long time. Whether one of those was Vangkai Kuki we don't know, but it would be interesting to find his medal roll.

I wonder if @Seilenkhup kom (who last visited us on Tuesday but seems to have gone quiet) has any knowledge?

 

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46 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

Thank you seaJane, that’s an interesting protocol and now that you’ve explained it the logic makes sense.

Yes, I had not quite appreciated the nuance...

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