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Remembered Today:

Alexander Stalker


D Binnie
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My maternal grandfather Alexander Stalker born 1871 image.jpg.a31c36ba4dade28d46575d1729d99aff.jpgKilchenzie Argyll Scotland

died Aberdeen Scotland 1951 when I was 6 years old

 Alexander Stalker RAMC 1474 served in ww1 medal 1914-15

Alexander was a piper and an old photo has been scanned and coloured but we are not sure if we have the right tartan or what clan.

i should like to know which company he served in and if he had been part of a pipe band in France.

thank you

Dorothy Binnie

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37 minutes ago, D Binnie said:

Alexander Stalker RAMC 1474 served in ww1 medal 1914-15

Hi @D Binnie and welcome to the forum.

Alexander was actually serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps when he landed in France on the 16th March 1915, so unlikely to be part of any pipe band.

Unfortunately his appears to be amongst the vast majority of other ranks service records that went up in flames in WW2, when German bombs hit the London warehouse where they were being stored. I think he may have been serving with a Territorial Force Field Ambulance, (a unit rather than a vehicle), but more digging would be need to confirm that.

At some point his own health deterioated, and he was transferred to the Labour Corps. That didn't come into existance until the spring of 1917, so it won't be before then. His new service number was 464711. Even then his health probably suffered - in March 1919 he was honourably discharged completely from the army.  Following the armistice in November 1918, the army had been downsizing anyway, but most men were released into a half-way stage - the Class Z Reserve. In the event that peace talks broke down and hostilities resumed they could be recalled to their units. But in Alexanders case they realised that wasn't a possibility. Note while there are a number of other reasons why a man could be honourably discharged, the overwhelming majority were due to ill-health - sickness or wounds.

As he was released before the Peace Treaty was signed, he was entitled to the Silver War Badge in addition to his service medals - the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. There is a surviving document called the Silver War Badge Roll. The information on these can vary enormously, but is likely to include the unit discharged from, and when he enlisted. It may also confirm reason for discharge and age on discharge - a useful check that you have the right man.

Images of the roll can be seen on Ancestry, there is a low quality transcription on FindMyPast and Forces War Records incorporates the information in a "service summary" type narrative.  I don't subscribe to any of them so can't check it out for you.

If he was discharged on health grounds he may also have qualified for a Disability Pension. There are some surviving Ministry of Pensions record cards relating to these - a basic transcript can be seen on Ancestry, while the documents themselves can be seen on Fold 3.

Might be worth amending the title of your thread to include the word Piper to attract the attention of those on the forum who take a keen interest. And our go to uniform guru @FROGSMILE may have some thoughts on whether that is civilian or military garb.

Cheers,
Peter

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11 minutes ago, PRC said:

Hi @D Binnie and welcome to the forum.

Alexander was actually serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps when he landed in France on the 16th March 1915, so unlikely to be part of any pipe band.

Unfortunately his appears to be amongst the vast majority of other ranks service records that went up in flames in WW2, when German bombs hit the London warehouse where they were being stored. I think he may have been serving with a Territorial Force Field Ambulance, (a unit rather than a vehicle), but more digging would be need to confirm that.

At some point his own health deterioated, and he was transferred to the Labour Corps. That didn't come into existance until the spring of 1917, so it won't be before then. His new service number was 464711. Even then his health probably suffered - in March 1919 he was honourably discharged completely from the army.  Following the armistice in November 1918, the army had been downsizing anyway, but most men were released into a half-way stage - the Class Z Reserve. In the event that peace talks broke down and hostilities resumed they could be recalled to their units. But in Alexanders case they realised that wasn't a possibility. Note while there are a number of other reasons why a man could be honourably discharged, the overwhelming majority were due to ill-health - sickness or wounds.

As he was released before the Peace Treaty was signed, he was entitled to the Silver War Badge in addition to his service medals - the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. There is a surviving document called the Silver War Badge Roll. The information on these can vary enormously, but is likely to include the unit discharged from, and when he enlisted. It may also confirm reason for discharge and age on discharge - a useful check that you have the right man.

Images of the roll can be seen on Ancestry, there is a low quality transcription on FindMyPast and Forces War Records incorporates the information in a "service summary" type narrative.  I don't subscribe to any of them so can't check it out for you.

If he was discharged on health grounds he may also have qualified for a Disability Pension. There are some surviving Ministry of Pensions record cards relating to these - a basic transcript can be seen on Ancestry, while the documents themselves can be seen on Fold 3.

Might be worth amending the title of your thread to include the word Piper to attract the attention of those on the forum who take a keen interest. And our go to uniform guru @FROGSMILE may have some thoughts on whether that is civilian or military garb.

Cheers,
Peter

Broadly speaking the cocked and diced Atholl bonnet and a concoction of Scottish piper dress suggests a civilian piper to me when viewed at such a distance. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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11 hours ago, PRC said:

Hi @D Binnie and welcome to the forum.

Alexander was actually serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps when he landed in France on the 16th March 1915, so unlikely to be part of any pipe band.

Unfortunately his appears to be amongst the vast majority of other ranks service records that went up in flames in WW2, when German bombs hit the London warehouse where they were being stored. I think he may have been serving with a Territorial Force Field Ambulance, (a unit rather than a vehicle), but more digging would be need to confirm that.

At some point his own health deterioated, and he was transferred to the Labour Corps. That didn't come into existance until the spring of 1917, so it won't be before then. His new service number was 464711. Even then his health probably suffered - in March 1919 he was honourably discharged completely from the army.  Following the armistice in November 1918, the army had been downsizing anyway, but most men were released into a half-way stage - the Class Z Reserve. In the event that peace talks broke down and hostilities resumed they could be recalled to their units. But in Alexanders case they realised that wasn't a possibility. Note while there are a number of other reasons why a man could be honourably discharged, the overwhelming majority were due to ill-health - sickness or wounds.

As he was released before the Peace Treaty was signed, he was entitled to the Silver War Badge in addition to his service medals - the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. There is a surviving document called the Silver War Badge Roll. The information on these can vary enormously, but is likely to include the unit discharged from, and when he enlisted. It may also confirm reason for discharge and age on discharge - a useful check that you have the right man.

Images of the roll can be seen on Ancestry, there is a low quality transcription on FindMyPast and Forces War Records incorporates the information in a "service summary" type narrative.  I don't subscribe to any of them so can't check it out for you.

If he was discharged on health grounds he may also have qualified for a Disability Pension. There are some surviving Ministry of Pensions record cards relating to these - a basic transcript can be seen on Ancestry, while the documents themselves can be seen on Fold 3.

Might be worth amending the title of your thread to include the word Piper to attract the attention of those on the forum who take a keen interest. And our go to uniform guru @FROGSMILE may have some thoughts on whether that is civilian or military garb.

Cheers,
Peter

Hi Peter

Thank you  for the information I will follow this up - I had subscribed to ancestry a. Couple of years ago but was researching my paternal grandfather at that time

Bertram clement Keatinge born 1887 India died 1915 ww1 France - failed attack from rhe trenches - he was with the 18th battalion Middlesex reg - and had been in

Curragh Ireland on army training- a mystery man - as previous to that he had been in court in London impersonating one of his cousins in order to get a commission in the army!

Ancestry had him down as being born in India but it was his grandfather who was born there - they don’t always get their facts right so I won’t be joining again -

So it was very interesting to find out that both my grandfathers had been in France ww1 at the same time - one killed another survived - never knew all this as Alexander had been older than most men - but then most  of the men who survived didn’t talk about the horrors of war.

I know it’s all out there just knowing  where to look. I am the only surviving grandchild so have try to get all the family history for future generations - to keep their memory alive

 Cheers Dorothy - I don’t understand all the symbols at top of page!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, PRC said:

His new service number was 464711.

Looking at the book 'No Labour, No Battle' the number 464711 was issued between October 1917 and January 1918

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The Star roll gives

stalker.jpg.2bc78e8df1f0dfabaa8ecebfe3e24758.jpg

I take that to mean he landed in France with 301 Field Ambulance - but I stand to be corrected on that as it is not my field

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FmP have a transcription of his SWB card which shows enlistment pre-war 10 Jan 1914

First name(s)  Alexander
Cause of discharge  Sickness Para 392 xvia
Last name  Stalker
Badge number  473062
Rank  Private
Badge date of issue  08-Jun-1920
Service number  464711
Record set  Silver War Badge Roll 1914-1920
Regiment/unit  Labour Corps.
Category  Military, armed forces & conflict
Enlistment date  10-Jan-1914
Subcategory  First World War
Discharge date  11-Mar-1919
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20 hours ago, PRC said:

If he was discharged on health grounds he may also have qualified for a Disability Pension. There are some surviving Ministry of Pensions record cards relating to these - a basic transcript can be seen on Ancestry, while the documents themselves can be seen on Fold 3.

Alexander STALKER, 464711, Labour Corps [and RAMC]

Pension ledger and cards at WFA/Fold3

Discharged 11/3/19 as has been previously reported

Claimed a disability pension Arthritis - Due to service

Got 8/3 pw from 12/3/19 to 9/9/19 [20% disability rate] - may perhaps have continued a bit longer but not explicitly showing

Born 1871

Address 289 Union Grove, Aberdeen

Interestingly he applied for/received a £94 Miltary Service (Civil Liabilities) Grant in 1921 [the max. was £104] - Towards poultry farming.

Knowing that Aberdeen address - not what I might have expected there!

image.png.26d6111882afcd93c7e2c06124f9646f.png

Image thanks to WFA/Fold3

M

Edited by Matlock1418
typo £104 max
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4 hours ago, corisande said:

FmP have a transcription of his SWB card which shows enlistment pre-war 10 Jan 1914

Tends to make me think even more that he was a pre-war Territorial Force (TF). If he was born 1871 than he would have been 43 or thereabouts, so no way the Army would have been accepting him as a new recruit or a special reservist.

5 hours ago, Allan1892 said:

Looking at the book 'No Labour, No Battle' the number 464711 was issued between October 1917 and January 1918

A quick look at nearby service numbers identified the following individuals who would have been transferred to the Labour Corps at much the same time as Alexander Stalker. Some of them have surviving service records, which can be checked for any recurring patterns and so narrow down the period and circumstances when Alexander Stalker might have been transferred.

I don't subscribe to FindMyPast, Ancestry of Fold 3, so can't check out the details.

464705 Bert Smith 665th Agricultural Company, Labour Corps ex 266480 1/6th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment and 47338 3rd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. Service records on FindMyPast, Ancestry & Fold 3.

464707 Ernest Raymond Long, Labour Corps, died in the UK at Bury St Edmunds Military Hospital on the 22nd November 1918. No Service Records.

464712 John Gallacher Labour Corps. Aka O’Hare, no Service Records.

464714 Percy Buckley ex 1924 West Riding Regiment (TF). Service records on FindMyPast. On Ancestry as Pension Records. Will be somewhere on Fold 3.

464716 Edward Brown ex 268636 West Riding Regiment (TF). No Service Records.

464717 William Brooksband Wilkinson, 652nd Agricultural Company, Labour Corps. Service records on FindMyPast. Couldn’t find on Ancestry.

464718 George Pocock 484th Agricultural Company ex 40348 West Riding Regiment. Service records on FindMyPast, Ancestry & Fold 3.

464719 Cecil Bradley ex 3645 West Riding Regiment. No Service Records.

Cheers,
Peter

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5 hours ago, corisande said:

I take that to mean he landed in France with 301 Field Ambulance - but I stand to be corrected on that as it is not my field

Definitely not an expert - but 301st FA was in 71st Division and never served overseas, as far as I can work out. Strange!

Being a pre-war Territorial does seem to make a lot of sense, though. The original establishment of the Highland RAMC units seems to have been: 1st & 2nd Highland FA in Aberdeen, 3rd Highland FA in Dundee, Highland Mounted Brigade FA in Inverness; there was also a single general hospital based in Aberdeen. We know he had both Aberdeen and Inverness(shire) connections.

With our man having a service number of 1474 and an enlistment date of January 1914 - there is a surviving record for 1441 W Ritchie who enlisted in 3rd Highland FA on 25 March 1914, and 1444 G Macdougall who enlisted in the Highland Mounted FA on 13 April 1914. So this would seem to narrowly rule out either of those units, and leave the 1st or 2nd Highland FA and the general hospital as possible candidates for enlistment.

None of the Highland Division field ambulances went to France as early as March 1915 (1st Highland FA embarked in March - but with 29th Division, for Gallipoli). However I'm wondering if maybe he was attached to one of the infantry battalions that went out early? I'm a little hazy on exactly how this worked - the war establishment of the regular battalions included five RAMC privates, and I assume the Territorial battalions sent to the front would do likewise, but I don't know where those men would officially have come from. It seems reasonable to guess that they were perhaps from the division's RAMC units?

(But that last paragraph is definitely a bit speculative...)

Andrew.

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Thank you Andrew for your reply - I’m totally confused now

had a few replies so will have to go back over them again to see if it makes any sense to me,

Dorothy

 

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Hi Dorothy,

To summarise, so far:

  1. his records indicate he enlisted before the outbreak of the war, in January 1914;
  2. his age makes it unlikely he was enlisting as a regular soldier, and his service number strongly suggests that he was a volunteer in the Territorial Forces, but we cannot confirm which Territorial unit;
  3. he probably went out to France in early 1915, but there are some oddities in the medal records that make it hard to figure out exactly what bit of the RAMC he was with at that point;
  4. his service from 1915 to 1917 is probably not going to be easy to trace;
  5. at some point in late 1917/early 1918 he was transferred from his existing unit to the Labour Corps, probably due to his health;
  6. he was discharged from the Army completely in March 1919 due to ill health, aged about 48, received a disability pension for arthritis, and eventually got a grant for poultry farming
  7. he received medals for overseas service (the War and Victory medals) plus the 1914-15 Star (indicating he first saw active service in 1915) and the Silver War Badge (given for being discharged for medical reasons)

 

I tried to see if I could confirm where he lived, to see if that might shed any light. We're in luck - he shows up at 289 Union Grove on the Aberdeen electoral registers from 1909-10 through to 1914-15 - occupation chimney sweeper - and reappears at that address in 1919 (now "gardener"). There is also an Alexander Stalker, chimney-sweeper, at #305 in 1906-07 through 1908-09, which seems very likely to be him. He is on the 1901 census back in Argyll so presumably he moved east around about then.

Living in Aberdeen in 1914 makes it very likely that he signed up for one of the Aberdeen-based Territorial units (men did not tend to sign up to units a long way from home). The RAMC recruited two Field Ambulances in Aberdeen (1st & 2nd Highland), plus staff for a general hospital, so it seems a good bet he initially signed up with one of those.

However, the confusing bit is that the Highland Division's medical units went out to France in April/May 1915 (plus one that went to Gallipoli). His records that @corisande found indicate that he personally turned up in France in March, a month earlier. So at some point in 1915 he presumably got detached from his unit, and posted somewhere else, but we have no idea where that might be, unless another clue turns up. From then things get very hazy - we don't know what unit he was with so we can't easily find out what they were doing; we don't know if he might have rejoined his original unit or been posted elsewhere.

 

In terms of what he might have been doing when in France, there's a good book on the RAMC by Jessica Mayer - An Equal Burden: The Men of the Royal Army Medical Corps in the First World War - it's an academic text so a bit heavy-going in places but, happily, free online! It will give some sense of what sort of things he might have done.

 

The next thing we can pin down is that at some point in late 1917, he was transferred to the Labour Corps - as its name suggests, this was intended for non-combat duties, and was mostly made up of older or injured men. Looking at the men that @PRC mentions, 464705 Bert Smith was transferred to the Labour Corps from the Suffolk Regiment depot on 9 November 1917, and 464718 George Pocock was transferred to the Labour Corps from a reserve battalion of the West Riding Regiment on 9 November 1917. Numbers were often assigned in a block, so I think it seems reasonable to assume that 464711 also transferred around that date.

The records for Pocock and Smith show they were given a medical assessment in July 1917 and transferred in November, so I suspect what happened is not that they failed a medical and were immediately transferred, but rather that at some point in October/November various units were told to release however many men of specific medical categories to the Labour Corps, they looked in the files, and picked them out.

It's likely the same thing happened with your grandfather - at some point, maybe in summer 1917, he was assessed as being no longer fit for active service, probably while serving with a UK-based unit, and then a few months later when the Labour Corps was looking for men, he got transferred over. We can't tell exactly which unit of the Labour Corps he went to, but all the ones PRC noted as identifiable units are Agricultural Companies - so perhaps it seems a reasonable guess that he went to one of those as well. The Agricultural Companies were Labour Corps units intended for farm work, mostly at home - so he would essentially have been a farmworker, but in uniform, for the remainder of his time in the Army.

 

Hope this all makes sense!

Andrew.

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