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Henry Buckingham RA 936154/8819


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Can anyone please help me with/find information about my grandfather? I have a letter from The War Office dated 24th April 1929 which references a request for a replacement of his discharge certificate. He enlisted on the 20th January 1914 and was discharged on the 31st March 1920. 

He was a Gunner in the Royal Artillery. 

I have managed to find a copy of his Medal Card but can't seem to find any other information. I am hoping to find date of birth etc.

I would be grateful for any help.

Edited by Buckingham
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  • Buckingham changed the title to Henry Buckingham RA 936154/8819

Hi @Buckingham and welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately looks like his service records may have been among the majority of other ranks service records that went up in flames in WW2 when German bombs hit the London Warehouse where they were stored.

Even if it had survived it would not have been likely to have included his date of birth - the Army simply didn't ask that question. And except in the most blatant of cases they did not ask for sight of a birth certificate to verify a mans age. Sometimes in the early months of the war an overzealous volunteer clerk might include the date of birth in addition to the age that man stated he was, but as the system became more formalised again that helpful habit was rapidly stamped out:)

His Medal Index Card shows the service numbers 245318 and 936154 in the Royal Field Artillery, so not sure where the 8819 comes from. The Card itself shows he qualified for the Victory Medal and the British War Medal, a combination that means he did not serve in a Theatre of War until some point on or after the 1st January 1916. The cards were created as a temporary document to assist the records office clerks in locating the actual entry in the Service Medal Roll as well as keeping track of any correspondence. Unfortunately the service medal roll that covers the Victory Medal and British War Medal awards for the Royal Field Artillery do not have unit details.

It will probably be helpful if you could post a picture of the discharge document you are talking about as it might help clarify a number of things. If he enlisted in January 1914 he was either:

  • A member of the Regular Army. The standard peacetime enlistment was 12 years, with a period spent in the colours, (i.e. in uniform, in barracks, subject to military discipline 24/7, full board and lodgings and full pay), and a period in the reserves, (i.e. back in civvy street, subject to military dicipline only when attending refresher training, reciving half pay and liable for recall in the event of a National Emergency such as War.). The most common splits were 7 and 5, 9 and 3, 6 and 6 & 3 and 9.  A man could also sign up for 21 years in the colours to qualify for a long service pension. Although this was all suspended from the spring of 1916 with the Military Services Act that also introduced consciption, with the signing of the Armistice it all came back into play again. If he was a Regular your grandfather would therefore have been liable for service until 1926. And if he was on the Army's books after 1920 then his papers were retained by the Ministry of Defence and would not have been stored in the warehouse that caught fire. They would also not have been made available to the public via the likes of Ancestry, Fold 3 and FindMyPast.
  • A member of the Regular Army Special Reserve. These men signed up for a term not exceeding 6 years. After a period of initial training of a few months they were released back into civvy street to await mobilisation. If your grandfather was one of those although he may have been stood down in 1919, he would still have been liable for service until January 1920.
  • A member of the Territorial Force. These were part-timers who were intended to defend the home islands. A few also took the Imperial Service obligation, for extra pay, committing them to be mobilised in the event of war in the Empire - something designed for another Boer War rather than industrial scale conflict. By November 1918 such an enlistee would be time expired. There are a number of resasons why he might have had to change his service number, but one potential one is the Territorial Force renumbering of early 1917.  The service number 936154 was part of the block issued to 282 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. See https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/renumbering-of-the-territorial-force-in-1917/renumbering-of-the-tf-artillery-in-1917/

So if we can identify wherher he was Regular, Special Reservist of TF from his discharge certificate it will open up different avenues to explore.

Cheers,
Peter

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8 hours ago, PRC said:

 The service number 936154 was part of the block issued to 282 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. See https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/renumbering-of-the-territorial-force-in-1917/renumbering-of-the-tf-artillery-in-1917/

The series was also allocated to 292 Brigade RFA

935001 – 940000: 282 Brigade, RFA
935001 – 940000: 292 Brigade, RFA

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The number 936154 falls in a small group of TF personnel at the end of the 935001 - 940000 series. Some had been transferred to the Regular Army in 1916 or 1917 and got a new number. The alternative is a transfer from a London Army Veterinary Corps unit to the RFA in July 1917 (and possibly where the 8819 comes from) and 245318 is also in a block of AVC transfers. So I would say, he was originally in the AVC TF then transferred to a Regular RFA unit (initially a Reserve Brigade) to get 245318 then, as he was on a TF attestation, his number was changed to 936154 to reflect that. He may never have served in the 3rd London Brigade RFA i.e. 282nd and 292nd Brigades etc., unlike many with such numbers. 

EDIT: A lot of the 2453xx numbers refer to men from 1st London Divisional Veterinary Hospital at the Showground, Tunbridge Wells transferred to 3C Reserve Brigade RFA at Swanage on July 10, 1917. It is possible that 8819 is actually a corruption of TT0819 as that is the form of number the others had. A few were transferred to 4B Reserve Brigade RFA at Woolwich at the same time.

Edited by David Porter
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The 3rd London Brigade RFA TF (282 Brigade) deployed to Western Front 4-5 October 1915. As Henry did not qualify for the 1915 Star, it would seem he was not in that unit when they moved to France.

It looks like he was elsewhere, which would support David's thoughts. 

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Thank you so much for the information. As suggested I am uploading  the document I have. It's very worn and tattered so I hope you can read it.

My only memory of stories of my Grandfather are that he had breathing difficulties, my grandmother inferred that he was gassed, and I know that he died in 1939.

Henry Buckingham Discharge Request Letter.pdf

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The 8819 is just a reference number attached to his application. It is not a Regimental number unlike 245318 and 936154. The document also tells us that he enlisted before the war, presumably AVC TF, and served in Class Z reserve (at home) from April 28, 1919 to when it was abolished on March 31, 1920. 

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Thank you David. Does this mean he never went overseas? Apologies for asking but this is all very new to me and there is lots of information to try to understand. 

Edited by Buckingham
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Buckingham,

I should have welcomed you to the Forum, you have come to the right place. Yes, the fact he got the British War and Victory medals are proof he served overseas. It looks however, that it was only with the RFA and after July 1917, returning home (demobilized) in April 1919. There may have been a period or two of leave within that time. 

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Thank you. Can you tell me if the records that were burnt are the only way of finding which regiment Henry served with and where he served?  Is there anywhere else I should Look? I am interested to know if his illness once home is due to his war experiences. 

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If there was an illness once home and due to his service he would have been eligible for a pension. There is no such record amongst the many on Ancestry/Fold3. Another option is to look at Absent Voters Lists 1918 or 1919, however few of these have survived. In 1929 the document says he was in Bromley, there are AVLs for Bromley but he doesn't appear. If you can give positive location details for Henry for 1914 to 1920 then the good people of this forum may be able to find something to help you (longshot though it may seem).

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Thank you but I have very little information.  I know from a marriage certificate that his address was 246 New? North Road but that was 25th September 1921.

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Henry was a POW as per the attached. Unfortunately it only lists his unit at RFA 'C'... 

07A8F363-9351-487A-867C-710A23153688_4_5005_c.jpeg

6B3BF4D2-8781-4E1F-BFB6-0CC251BCCD90_4_5005_c.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Gunner 87 said:

 

6B3BF4D2-8781-4E1F-BFB6-0CC251BCCD90_4_5005_c.jpeg

Great spot Gunner 87. 

Pre-empting the next question from Buckingham, the camp "Skalmirs hütz" is missing a "c" on Henry's entry.  It is correctly entered on all the other entries on this page as Skalmirschütz (which is now in Poland as Nowe Skalmierzyce). 

On the subject of typewriter "c" issues it strikes me as curious that Henry's is the only sub-unit entry on that page that uses a lower case "c" ....... all the others upper case.    

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Hi Tullochard. I also thought that strange as I would expect a battery denomination to be a capital but the other document also has 'c' under RFA.  No that 'c' takes us much further in identifying the his unit of course.

Edited by Gunner 87
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31 minutes ago, Gunner 87 said:

Hi Tullochard. I also thought that strange as I would expect a battery denomination to be a capital but the other document also has 'c' under RFA.  No that 'c' takes us much further in identifying the his unit of course

Scrolling over the next 15 pages of the report, the casualties I could see regularly shown as captured at Bouwincourt on the 27th May 1918 were members of the 25th Field Ambulance. There is one individual shown as "25 Royal Engineers", which is probably just an error, and a member of the 4th South Staffs.

Given the possibility that Henry probably originally served with the Army Veterinary Corps, I wonder if he'd ended up as an odd bod attached to this Field Ambulance, rather than being treated by them at the time of his capture.

25th Field Ambulance were attached to 8th Division. According to the LLT, 8th Division was involved in the Battle of the Marne, 1918, at this time.

The handwriting in the War Diary for the 25th Field Ambulance is difficult to read but looks like the main ambulance started the day being shelled and gassed, leaving them unable to evacuate wounded. Trucks supplied for the work along with personnel went missing. Reports came in that the Divisions Left hand brigade was practically surrounded, and apart from a few evacuated wounded early on, none of the medical staff forward with them were heard from again. When their current position came under rifle fire, the Field Ambulance relocated. A new Main Dressing Station was set up at Guyencourt, with the Field Ambulance moving to Bouwincourt, patients being moved by car.  A number of ambulance cars operating forward were knocked out, while another two and their personnel were not seen again.

Cheers,
Peter

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If 245318 is a TF number it would suggest that he was serving with a TF unit on 1st January 1917, when the new numbering scheme came into force. 

If he transferred to the RFA in July 1917, his records would need to be transferred from one pay office to another. It would be at that stage he would have been allocated his new number.

If he was posted to a Reserve Brigade for pay and administration (and training?), then where would the allocation come from?

Is it possible that the number comes from the fact 292 Brigade had the same block of numbers. It never deployed and was possibly broken up, but it had an allocation of numbers. 

Could the block be used for pay and admin purposes for men in Reserve Brigades?

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Ian,

245318 is not a TF number, it comes from the Regular series and was issued on July 10, 1917 within a group of men transferring from the AVC TF to RFA. In August 1917 an ACI was issued to the effect that the attestation the men had signed determined their status as either Regular or TF. As a result there was a further renumbering as these men had come from the AVC TF. In reality the newer number may only appear on Medal Rolls but at some stage their documentation was moved to the TF wing at Woolwich,

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40 minutes ago, David Porter said:

245318 is not a TF number, it comes from the Regular series and was issued on July 10, 1917 within a group of men transferring from the AVC TF to RFA

David

So 245318 is a Regular Amy RFA number allocated to the men who transferred in ?

Ian

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Ian,

Yes, it is a difficult concept. Up until ACI 1245 dated August 11, 1917 a transfer from TF to Regular RFA produced an appropriate number from the Regular series. The new ACI went back on this somewhat by stating the type of attestation was the deciding factor on which number they were allocated. In practice a wholesale renumbering was not undertaken until these men were demobilized and moved to Class Z reserve and documents to the TF wing (so it was purely administration based). Those fully discharged were not renumbered as TF.

The new TF number was based on their original enlistment or in some cases quite random and nothing to do with who they served with. An example that comes out from this AVC TF transfer shows the men renumbered as 1st East Anglian Brigade RFA (877xxx) whereas most enlisted in Kent.

877xxx.jpg.68ada781dae0a420e6cf1c394abee520.jpg 

Unfortunately here the clerk has attributed the Regular number to RFA T as it comes at the end of a long list of genuine TF numbers. Maybe this is what you saw?

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54 minutes ago, David Porter said:

In practice a wholesale renumbering was not undertaken until these men were demobilized and moved to Class Z reserve and documents to the TF wing (so it was purely administration based).

To support that, he appears on page 10 of the War Office Weekly Casualty List dated 31st December 1918 as Buckingham 245318 Gunner H.E.G. with next of kin given as living Islington North. He was under the category that covered released prisoners of the Germans who were now back in England. https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/194171810

1190570326_WeeklyCasualtyList311218crop.jpg.4eefff04eeb5bacf1ca0ff7368d02865.jpg

Image courtesy the National Library of Scotland.

The GRO birth and death records show him as Henry Ernest Buckingham, as does the 1911 Census of England & Wales - so don't know where the G came from.
Birth was registered in the Islington civil registration district, on the 1911 and 1921 Census he was recorded in Islington, and we've heard that when he married he was living in Islington. So very unlikely to be a co-incidence.

Cheers,
Peter

 

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1 hour ago, David Porter said:

In practice a wholesale renumbering was not undertaken until these men were demobilized and moved to Class Z reserve and documents to the TF wing (so it was purely administration based).

So his TF number 936154 was allocated during the pre demobilization admin process, and for some reason he was allocated a number from the 282 / 292 Brigade block 

16 minutes ago, PRC said:

he appears on page 10 of the War Office Weekly Casualty List dated 31st December 1918 as Buckingham 245318 Gunner H.E.

which would have been allocated when transferred to 3C Reserve Brigade RFA at Swanage on July 10, 1917.

At the Reserve Brigade one would have thought he would have been re-trained as a Gunner then posted on a draft to France.

He could have ended up in any RFA unit?

Likely one in the vicinity of BOUWINCOURT where he was captured?

6B3BF4D2-8781-4E1F-BFB6-0CC251BCCD90_4_5005_c.jpeg

Edited by ianjonesncl
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Thank you everyone. There is so much information here. I have learnt more in 2 days on here than I could ever have hoped for or have ever known about my grandfather.

Thank you TullochArd I had drawn a blank with the spelling of Skalmirs. I will now try again.

I am ashamed to say I know very little about the great War, its battles or the abbreviations used above so it will take me a little while to understand some of the information you have kindly shared.

Can anyone please recommend an idiots guide, further resources or reading that I should look at to help me? I am keen to understand Henry's war, where he went and what he experienced.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

 

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4 hours ago, ianjonesncl said:

He could have ended up in any RFA unit?

Likely one in the vicinity of BOUWINCOURT where he was captured?

As posted above the ICRC report has a number of 25 Field Ambulance man recorded as captured at the same place at the same date. From the War diary summary posted the missing RAMC men were either those forward with the left infantry brigade which was encircled, with the lorries that went missing on the way to move the wounded and relocate the field ambulance, or in the motor ambulances ferrying the wounded from the Main Dressing Stations associated with the field ambulance. The diary notes that the Main Dressing Stations handled over 1,000 men on this day..

If Henry was with the 8th Division then that would give you 32 Brigade RFA, 45 Brigade RFA, 8th Divisional Column and X.8 and Y.8 Medium Trench Mortars.

The 25 Field Ambulance War Diary records by noon, still waiting to move, the Ambulance was taking wounded from both the 50th Division and also the 25th Division which was in reserve.

50th (Northumbrian) Division would add 250 and 251 Brigades RFA, 50th Divisional Column, and X.50 and Y.50 Medium Trench Mortars to the mix.
25th Division would add 110 and 112 Brigade, 25th Divisional Column, and X.5 and Y.25 Medium Trench Mortars. 110 Brigade was attached to 8th Division between the 26th May and the 4th June 1918.

The Long, Long Trail has this to say about the 25th Divison at this time.

The Battle of the Aisne 1918
The Division entrained at Rexpoede on 9 May and undertook a long journey to Fismes, 20 miles SE of Soissons in the Champagne. It was the last of four British Divisions making up IX Corps to arrive in the area, under a plan to relieve fresh French Divisions for the north. The front line on the Chemin des Dames and south of the Aisne had been very quiet since spring 1917 and it was expected that the tired Divisions could recuperate there.

On 26 May, intelligence confirmed a heavy German attack could be expected. 25th Division was in reserve and ordered up into a closer support position.

1334836405_allied18csourcedLLTpageforthe25thDivision.jpg.267116731573aa48ea9cbb9a43e76da2.jpg

The Allied front line on the Aisne. The 25th Division was ordered up to the area of Guyencourt – Muscourt – Ventelay, south of the River Aisne and north east of Fismes, when the enemy struck south across the Chemin des Dames.

At 1am on 27 May 1918, a heavy German bombardment with gas and high explosive hit the entire area between the front line beyond the Chemin and Fismes itself. The infantry began to attack three hours later. The Division was instructed to hold the second line of defence, except for the poor 8th Border which was sent off to hold the Aisne bridges at Pontavert and Concevreux. By 10am, all three Brigades had come under orders of the 21st, 8th and 50th Divisions respectively, which by now were fighting for their lives north of the river. By mid-day the Germans had broken through and crossed the Aisne: the units of 25th Division were thrown piecemeal into action. They were all but destroyed. The 11th Lancashire Fusiliers, holding high ground north of the Vesle, held out to the last man. The remnants of many units were temporarily joined into composite units, fighting a withdrawal as the enemy pressed on many miles across the River Marne. Casualties between 26 May and 14 June amounted to 4338 officers and men, of whom 2511 were missing.
https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/25th-division/

So Henry could have been with any one of a number of RFA unit and captured either with his guns or while trying to retreat.
Or he could have been being treated when the Aid Post he was in or the RAMC ambulance \ lorry he was boing ferried in was over-run & captured - the report received by the International Committee of the Red Cross from the German authorities is silent on whether he was wounded or unwounded.
Or as I put forward earlier, he could actually have been attached to the Field Ambulance. Given his veterinary background that has a certain logic to it.

I'm not saying it has to apply here, but before now I've come across cases of men that units seem loathe to get rid of, but aren't up to the grind of being involved in regular combat, possibly because of wounds or experiences. One that come to mind is an individual who twice in relatively quick succession was buried alive when shells, (one German, one "friendly fire"), destroyed the dug-outs he was sleeping in. When you get the feeling that both sides have got it in for you it may be understandable why they found him a job in the stables at Brigade HQ for a couple of months.  He came back into the line but after awhile something must have happened as he was then attached as an orderly to a field ambulance. And so it carried on to the end of the war. He'd serve a while with his infantry battalion, then be attached somewhere that might be considered a safer billet.

Cheers,
Peter

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Thank you Peter. I appreciate you taking the time to explain this to me in a way that is easier for me, with my very limited knowledge, to understand. 

I think that I have a lot of reading to do! it's been wonderful to learn about Henry, a man whom I had so little information about.  I was only recently given the letter I shared above which started this enquiry. Apart from that i have only a vague memory of being told he was gassed in the war and came home with damaged lungs. I don't know if he suffered from shock after the war. He died long before I was born. It's so good to know more about him and strangely makes me a little emotional.  

The knowledge on this Forum is awe inspiring. Thank you everyone,

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