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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Finding Naval Records for Alfred Ernest Thorpe


Fattyowls

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I've been asked by my French friend Jack Thorpe to help him get the naval records for his grandfather Alfred Ernest Thorpe. I do not share Jack's confidence in my abilities as a research assistant, in fact, if you will pardon the phrase, I am all at sea. We would like to know if his records are available and if so are they on line. How to get to them is the obvious follow up question. I can get access to FMP and Ancestry and will happily register with the National Archives if that is necessary.

Jack has appeared on the forum several times as he runs a small museum in Erquinghem-Lys which concentrates on WW1. His Liverpool born grandfather served as a chief stoker we think on HMS Mollusc; Jack believes he served with number 54567. In the 1921 census he was aged 47 and was employed at the Admiralty dockyard on the Humber at Immingham (but transcribed as Adsmistty, Hamber and Iddmingham). He was living at 82 Sixhills Street, Grimsby with wife and three children (transcribed as Six Hill St). I haven't got the 1911 census to hand but I do know he was mistranscribed as Shorpe - a pattern is emerging. Happy to look for any other information which might help, just ask.

I would be very grateful if any experts would be able to give me top tips on how to find the records, I know Jack will be thrilled too.

Pete.

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Alfred E Thorpe served under a T124 agreement. He was classified as Mercantile Marine Reserve. The medal roll shows his entitlement to a British War Medal, but it appears he did not apply for it.

So, he was not serving in the Royal Navy as such, but was under their rules, if that makes sense.

Medal roll reproduced courtesy of Ancestry.

Archive reference ADM 171/132
MMR medal roll, seafarers surnames MEB -WAR  

Thorpe.JPG

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That makes a lot of sense; thanks Keith.

Pete.

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There were certain service records of the British Army that were retained for fifty years following discharge, and were then destroyed.

Someone seems to have taken a similar approach in 1969 by destroying the Mercantile Marine records for the time period 1913-1919. Thorpe's record will have been destroyed. 

The only hope is that a member of the family has his certificate. The following thread has an example of a Mercantile Marine continuous certificate of discharge within a blue wallet covering Thomas Jones and his service during 1919.

 

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You've just answered my next question without me having to ask it, I'd actually not even formulated it, genius Keith.

Pete.

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Bad news, I'm afraid, with all those records being destroyed in 1969.

If I was super-efficient, I would have trawled the forum, to find some threads where there is the explanation about the Mercantile Marine men who serve the Royal Navy under a T.124 and as a consequence get their medals from the Royal Navy, unlike their peers who are civvies and can apply to the Board of Trade for their medal entitlement. If you take the time to search, you should find a few threads.

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1 minute ago, Keith_history_buff said:

If I was super-efficient

Looks pretty good to me. Alfred died in 1922 of typhoid and Jack's dad left Grimsby in the late 40's having met his mum in Armentieres (cue for a song) in 1944. I'm pretty sure the family kept in touch with Lincolnshire, as he had a cousin over in 1955 and they visited the site of the Messines mine that went off that year. However the chances of the certificate of discharge surviving seem slim. But you never know.

Either way I appreciate your expertise Keith.

Pete.

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Coming at this from a Devil's Advocate angle, even when the records survive, making sense of them then becomes a challenge in its own right. We can see what has survived, and what has not. 

This fellow has a Board of Trade medal index card, but I think he's ten years older than your man, assuming there are no typing errors.
https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8105329
 

Reference: BT 351/1/140679
Description:
Medal Card of Thorpe, Albert Ernest
Place of Birth: London
Date of Birth: 1884
Creator:

Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, 1872-1992

 

 

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That strikes a chord Keith; I trawled the National Archives and found an Alfred Thorpe, also born in Liverpool, but with the wrong number and age. He was number 183270 and was born on 10th November 1877. I have certainly struggled to make sense of the records. If 'our' Alfred Ernest Thorpe was 47 and 1 month on 24th April 1921 then as you calculate he was born in 1874.

Pete.

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A quick google search for RFA Mollusc does not reveal much, other than a CWGC commemoration of Arthur Samuels, a MMR seaman who died 21 November 1918 and who is enterred at Scartho Road cemetary, Grimsby.

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One of the few things I managed to find when I first started helping Jack was a picture of the Mollusc and one of the ship's bell, although I can't find them now. I have a feeling that Samuels came up on the forum and now I search for Mollusc (which is RFA rather than HMS now I look) I can see various entries. By coincidence Alfred Thorpe is also buried at Scartho Road. I will gather all your findings together and email Jack; I'm sure he will be as appreciative of your expertise as I am.

Pete.

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Unfortunately the Historical RFA site run by Chris White http://www.historicalrfa.org/ appears to have closed down recently.

That is probably where you found the picture of RFA Mollusc.

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That sounds very plausible; I think Jack has the photos, if not I think I may have them on a backup somewhere. Much appreciated.

Pete.

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That's the very article Keith, great find.

Pete.

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I've emailed Jack Thorpe with all the findings and he's very grateful, as am I. Very much appreciated.

Pete.

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