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Remembered Today:

False age & name? Thomas J Bretherton 55731 Welsh Regiment?


Guest Mark Bretherton
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Guest Mark Bretherton

How easy would have been to enlist giving a false name and false age?

I have one errant great uncle who may have done so.

My uncle remembers an uncle of his who was known as Thomas, however none were christened so. There is one uncle who this may relate to, Albert Bretherton (DOB March 1901) who was said to have served in the Welsh Guards.

There are three Albert Brethertons on the medal roll: one died in 1915, one is a 'Serjeant' and none served in the Welsh Guards. Given Albert was only 17 in 1918 I'm guessing he did not make Serjeant, so that leaves one potential Albert from them, but the wrong regiment.

A wider search just on the surname gives me a Thomas J Bretherton 55731 Welsh Regiment - the combination of Thomas and Welsh Regt, strikes me as more than a coincidence. This may or may not be my man. Not much to go on, I know - any clues on where to go next?

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I am afraid it was distressingly easy to provide incorrect information, as there was seldom any easy way to check. It was also not usually in anyone's best interest to ask questions.

I do not know of any comprehensive studies. From my own studies of men enlisted in the Edmonton area, I can offer the following:

I have looked at close to 1200 men whose ages at death are given on the Commonwealth War Graves website (I believe these ages were provided by the families). I have compared these ages to those computed from the dates of birth given on the mens' Attestation papers. Less than half matched exactly, and about a quarter were out by more than one year.

There are lots of reasons why this might be so. However, it does give pause to those tempted to give too much respect to enlistment data.

Or so it seems to me.

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Guest geoff501
How easy would have been to enlist giving a false name and false age?

I have one errant great uncle who may have done so.

My uncle remembers an uncle of his who was known as Thomas, however none were christened so. There is one uncle who this may relate to, Albert Bretherton (DOB March 1901) who was said to have served in the Welsh Guards.

There are three Albert Brethertons on the medal roll: one died in 1915, one is a 'Serjeant' and none served in the Welsh Guards. Given Albert was only 17 in 1918 I'm guessing he did not make Serjeant, so that leaves one potential Albert from them, but the wrong regiment.

A wider search just on the surname gives me a Thomas J Bretherton 55731 Welsh Regiment - the combination of Thomas and Welsh Regt, strikes me as more than a coincidence. This may or may not be my man. Not much to go on, I know - any clues on where to go next?

Mark,

Presume you have Albert who just may be included in the 1901 census (taken on March 31 was it?). Sometimes a middle name or initial is on the form and often used in later life as a first name. Seen it a few times on memorials. Have you checked for a Thomas J. ?

Also have you checked on my surname list:

BRETHERTON 23

BRATHERTON 4

BROTHERTON 58

Another frequent occurrence is variations in names, which is one reason why I generated the surname list, as a research tool !

However I believe the CWGC search engine will accept BR*TON in the name field and should find all these and more.

Geoff

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