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Remembered Today:

9th Labour Batallion


mcblondie
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Hello everyone,

It's been a while since i was last on but once again I am stumped and in need of any advice or pointers.

Over 18 months ago i posted my grandfathers details on here in the hopes that i could track down some info on his time in the British Army, but i'm no further ahead and for a while i kind of gave up looking as it seemed i was hitting brick wall after brick wall. So once again i am posting in the hopes someone can help me with some info.

My grandfather Jonas Polokus who was Lithuanian came to Scotland around 1910 and resided in Blantyre, Lanarkshire was in the British Army in 1918, the reason i know this is, it is stated on one of his childrens death certs. It states Jonas Polokus, Private in the 9th (Russian) labour batallion.

What i'm trying to find out is, what regiment would he have been in? the Royal Scots? the Cameronians? etc... I have tried to locate him in the War Medals, War Pensions and Military Service records, but for the life of me there doesn't seem to be anything anywhere.... I even went into Ancestry and just typed in Jonas for the first name and entered labour batallion to see what would come up. Okay hundreds of names appeared but none of them seem to be my relation. I know there is a strong possibility that he may be one of the ones who's records were badly burned but surely there would be some sort of record of what regiment he was in or even if he went overseas?

Can anyone give me any advice on where else i may find information.

With thanks,

Katie

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Katie

The 9th (Russian) Labour Battalion was formed in the Spring of 1918 following the publication of ACI 414 on 14 April 1918.

It was formed to receive recruits from Western, Northern and Scottish Command and was located initially at Fort Scoveston and later at Pembroke Dock.

From the Battalion two companies were formed that served overseas but there werealso men who remained in the UK. As you cannot find a medal card record for him it may well be that he was one of these men.

The Battalion did not keep a War Diary and we have no record of what work the men did in the UK although it is likely they were used to move goods at Pembroke Dock.

Ivor

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Hi Ivor,

Thanks for that info it's much appreciated.

I think I contacted you once before regarding the same subject, so thank you again for taking the time to explain this.

Please excuse my ignorance here, but does that just mean that my grandfathers company was just called the Labour Batallion? and not The Royal Scots or Cameronians or something else?

Is it possible for me to find out anything about him on the Absent Voters lists?

I'm just at the desperate stage now trying to find something relating to him. e.g. Where in Lithuania he came from, if i can find this out on paperwork somewhere i would be able to locate much more information about him through the Lithuanian Archives. I think it's wonderful that Ancestry now has all these records online now, but unfortunately for myself I am unable to locate anything.

Thanking you in advance

Best wishes

Katie

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Katie

Sorry should have explained better.

The 9th Labour Battalion was part of the Labour Corps.

Have you checked WO 363 and WO 364 at the National Archives, Kew to see if his personal record survives?

Ivor

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Have you checked WO 363 and WO 364 at the National Archives, Kew to see if his personal record survives?

Ivor

No, I haven't but i certainly will now. If i called them would they be able to tell me over the phone if they have any paperwork on him? Or would i have to write to them and wait for a reply? Or could i do it by email?

Thanks Ivor,

Katie

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Katie

As far as I know you need to either visit Kew or hire a resercher to check the classes for you.

These two classes are on microfilm and I do not think they will do research on them for you.

Ivor

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Hi Ivor,

Thanks for that info it's much appreciated.

I think I contacted you once before regarding the same subject, so thank you again for taking the time to explain this.

Please excuse my ignorance here, but does that just mean that my grandfathers company was just called the Labour Batallion? and not The Royal Scots or Cameronians or something else?

Best wishes

Katie

Labour Corps Formed in January 1917, the Corps grew hugely and by the end of the war numbered some 389,900 men (more than 10% of the total size of the Army). Of this total, around 175,000 were working in the United Kingdom and the rest in the theatres of war. Labour Corps units were often deployed for work within range of the enemy guns, sometimes for lengthy periods. In April 1917, a number of infantry battalions were transferred to the Corps. The Labour Corps absorbed 28 ASC Labour Companies then in existence between February and June 1917. In the crises of March and April 1918 on the Western Front, Labour Corps units were used as emergency infantry. The Corps always suffered from lack of transport, many inexperienced officers and troops of low physical grade.

When the Labour Corps was formed in mid 1917 it was decided that the men assigned to it from other regiments, often because of their reduced medical category, should change their regimental badges to that of the

General Service Corps. Many of the men disliked having to wear this badge and preferred to retain their regimental identity. Towards the end of 1918 the Labour Corps was granted their own badge - the piled pick, rifle and shovel emblem that was to become the badge of the Pioneer Corps (later Royal Pioneer Corps). Once it had been created, the Labour Corps was split into various Labour groups, each consisting of a headquarters and several Labour companies. In addition there were Area Employment Companies, Area Employment (Artisan) Companies, Divisional Employment Companies, and Agricultural Companies.

By the end of the war the Labour Corps had a strength of about 380,000 men stationed in the UK, in France and Flanders, Italy, Egypt and Salonika. In fact the size of the Corps reached its greatest of almost 400,000 in Jan 1919. This included about 240 Labour Companies in France and Flanders with about thirty to fifty Labour Companies allocated to each of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth armies, with a few kept aside as lines of communication units. There were about the same number of companies serving elsewhere overseas at area, divisional, corps and army level as well as some 400 or so companies working in the UK. In late 1918 and early 1919 there were Labour Companies numbered from 1 to over 1000, with little evidence of their origin. The Labour Corps was disbanded late in 1919.

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Frogsmile

Am I correct in thinking your entry has been taken from the IWM information sheet on the Labour Corps?

Can I point out that when this sheet was written it was based on the information available at the time.

However the research that the author of this information sheet and I have carried out has updated the information and there are a number of statements in it that would be changed if it were written today. As an example it was not disbanded in 1919 but in 1921.

Ivor

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Thank you for this wonderful information.

I emailed the National Archives and they contacted me today (very quickly) and explained to me that i could go to Kew and look at files for free onsite. They also said if i got someone to research for me it would be cheaper than what they would charge themselves to do.

I'll maybe post to see if anyone is researching in Kew and find out what the cost would be for them to do some look ups.

Once again thank you for your feedback it is much appreciated.

Katie

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Frogsmile

Am I correct in thinking your entry has been taken from the IWM information sheet on the Labour Corps?

Can I point out that when this sheet was written it was based on the information available at the time.

However the research that the author of this information sheet and I have carried out has updated the information and there are a number of statements in it that would be changed if it were written today. As an example it was not disbanded in 1919 but in 1921.

Ivor

Ivor,

Thanks for your e-mail. I got the information from 2 online sources, the Western Front Association and the Royal Pioneer Corps Website.

Thank you for pointing out the updates. I am sure both of the sources would be keen to have the new information too.

Best wishes,

Bob

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