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Remembered Today:

Roll call


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We often hear that 'only so-many answered to their names at roll call that night...' etc.

How were the rolls compiled, and more importantly, do any exist for consultation?

I have no particular unit in mind at present (though the 7th Ox and Bucks would make interesting reading from a family viewpoint), but it would be interesting to see lists of sections and platoons etc, the changes incurred by action and disease, and who served alongside who.

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There seem to have been several rolls, each compiled at a different level in the unit. All platoon officers had a small book in which they recorded the details of the men in their platoon, including NOK address and religion. The platoon sergeant may also have had a similar book. At Company level the Company Commander and CSM both had a similar roll, and at battalion level the Adjutant and RSM also had one. They were transient documents in the sense that the details they contained were always changing, and they were not the property of the War Office or Regimental Records - so, I suspect, were never archived as such.

I knew several officer veterans who had copies of their platoon rolls (which I know at least one passed on to his regimental museum), and I have seen a battalion roll of sorts for 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment in the archives at Chichester.

Otherwise, I suspect it will be a hunt for such documents, many of which must be in private hands.

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Ian,

Is that simply RAF squadrons or are there any RFC squadron rolls? I ask because I have several RFC men in my sights. If not, I wonder if the newly-formed Air Ministry required filing of these rolls for posterity. That said, I imagine the task was much easier for air units, being mostly static, and with only a small proportion of their men directly engaged in combat

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Guest Ian Bowbrick

Kate,

The examples I have seen all relate to Independent Air Force Squadrons hence the RAF. It came as a surprise to find these somewhat scruffy, dirty and bent notebooks in the boxes holding a squadron's records.

Ian

:rolleyes:

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Andrew Hesketh

Kate,

"I ask because I have several RFC men in my sights."

Interesting choice of words! Your maternal ancestors didn't go by the name Richtofen did they?

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There you go Andrew - putting ideas into my head! I'm now going to register with the 2nd Battalion Baker's Pals as 'Red Baroness'!

Paul and Ian, thankyou for the information. What a pity the nominal rolls weren't returned with such paperwork as the battalion diaries. It would be very interesting to compare the newly-composed units of 1914/15 with those present at the Armistice.

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Unit Nominal Rolls surely must have survived in official hands until the end of the war and beyond, OR HOW ELSE COULD MEDAL ROLLS HAVE BEEN COMPLETED? Especially 1914 star, 1914-15 star, when so many potential recipients were by issue date dead.

If this is not so, many men entitled would not receive, and some men not entitled would receive. Examples, anyone?

The clasp to 1914 star was different: men no longer serving, or their nok, had to complete a form obtainable at Post Office and ask for the clasp.

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Good call Langley they must be somewhere.. as I am after roll calls for the Royal Engineers for 1915...

John

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Langley - embarkation rolls are not the same as platoon, company and battalion rolls; they tend to contain different information.

The medal rolls were not compiled from these sort of documents either; the soldier's service records were accessed to show date of overseas service; the MICs were, to my knowledge, compiled from this source for this purpose.

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I have seen a handwritten document copiled by a civil servant in 1940 after the records were destroyed by bombing.

Whilst I cannot remember all the items on the list I do know that the Labour Corps nominal rolls was included. So these were apparently in existence up to 1940.

Incidentally, my understanding is that this list was an attempt to record what records had been lost. It appears the Civil Service either did not have an inventory of the building or that it was kept in the building and hence lost.

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Battalion Part 1 Orders should feature somewhere in this discussion, tho I'm not sure exactly where. These were issued on a daily basis and detail all men Taken On Strength, Struck Off Strength on posting out, promotions etc. and are distinct from the Part 2 Orders which tend to be stuff of an adminstrative nature.

Part 1 orders would have been used to update the battalion roll which presumably would have sat with the unit orderly room (or pay section?). If you had a complete set of Pt 1 Orders for a given unit you should (in theory) be able to construct a unit roll for any given day of the war.

I have heard that a (small) handful of Part I Orders for the Great War do survive, though I have never seen one for the period. Can anyone confirm?

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I have heard that a (small) handful of Part I Orders for the Great War do survive, though I have never seen one for the period. Can anyone confirm?

Living in Vancouver, I have been fortunate enough to examine 29th Battalion CEF's "Daily Orders" in the City Archives. By Charles' description, I assume these are the Part 1's. I was able to photocopy the page from the day my G'dad was TOS, and when he took leave in December 1917. Unfortunately, the Daily Orders for 1918 are missing.

These documents are onion skin flimsy pieces; I presume the "carbon copies" of the orginal paper. I wonder where the originals are??

I have also examined the Battalion nominal rolls and was able to determine which company Karl served with, which has helped immensely. Now I just need to get to platoon level!!

Peter (vacationing in Ontario B) )

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I have heard that a (small) handful of Part I Orders for the Great War do survive, though I have never seen one for the period. Can anyone confirm?

The only ones I know of in the PRO/NA are in the War Diary of 1st Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers; and then it is only complete up to about 1916/17.

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I have heard that a (small) handful of Part I Orders for the Great War do survive, though I have never seen one for the period.  Can anyone confirm?

I have been fortunate enough to examine 29th Battalion CEF's "Daily Orders" in the City Archives. By Charles' description, I assume these are the Part 1's.

The Daily Orders are exactly what I mean - Part 1 with the TOS/SOS stuff, Part 2 usually contained trivia such as: "All ranks are reminded that as an economy measure no more than 2 sheets of toilet paper (4 in the case of officers) are to be used on any one occasion".*

Daily Orders were distinct from operational orders. Unfortunately because of their routine nature they were not deemed interesting or important and were usually destroyed rather than ending up in the war diaries. :(

*I just made this up - but I have heard stuff nearly as daft. My grandfather as acting CO of his battalion once received a memo from higher up about regulations re moustaches whilst his battalion was in action.

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