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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Died in 1915 recorded with a six digit Reg Number


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One of the men in my database has a six digit number nothing surprising there only he was reported missing on the 21/Aug/1915 and subsequently his death was accepted by the war office as recorded in the battalion casualty book.


Initials: T

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Suffolk Regiment

Unit Text: 5th Bn.

Date of Death: 21/08/1915

Service No: 240304

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 46 and 47.


Medal card of Frost, Thomas

Corps Regiment No Rank

5th Suffolk Regiment 1872 Private

5th Suffolk Regiment 240304 Private

If that is when he died how did he come by a Regimental Number not issued until 1917?

I'm sure there must be an answer out there somewhere.



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The answer is in the fact that he was missing. He was, presumably, issued with the six-digit number before the War Office made an official presumption of death.

It's a long time to wait for an official presumption and, in my experience, almost all are "sorted" within 12 months.


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That may be so but in the casualty book it has 47 other men recorded as missing on the same date and they all have their original number 4 digits or less apart from the officers though just seems odd only one.


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I have a particular interest in the 1/7th Sherwood Foresters at Gommecourt on 1 July 1916 and very many of the men were renumbered the following April so John's answer is the obvious one. The renumbering took place in the Spring of 1917 so, as John says, the delay is much longer than is usual, but there is no obvious alternative. One can only assume that the fates of the other men was officially decided before Spring 1917.

Pure speculation, but in this case it could be because he was believed to be a POW. I have an example of a man at Gallipoli who went missing in August 1915 with the RWF Territorials and survivors of his unit claimed he was a POW and he was renumbered. I can't recall the date but it was well into 1917 when the War Office declared him to be dead (though goodness knows what led to that declaration). Clarifying POW status with the Turks was not as straightforward as it was with the Germans. Just a thought.

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