Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Army Form B.178 - Medical History


Anybody who has looked at more than a handful of First World War service records will be very familiar with this form and will appreciate how useful it can be.  For me, on occasions, this form has been a life-saver, in particular the section towards the bottom of the front page which gives details of when the man attested/enlisted and then details of his regiment, number and subsequent transfers. Some forms I have come across also give the dates of transfer but the majority do not.

These forms survive in both WO 363 and WO 364 although in my experience they're more commonly found in the pension files in WO 364.

 
 
Pages two and three (above and below) are used to record details of admission to hospital or to the sick list in the case of warrant officers treated in quarters.
 

The final page of this four page document can give a good summary of medical treatment. In this case we see that the seasonally named Joseph Christmas was classified B1 in June 1916 when he was diagnosed with flat feet and requiring dental treatment. By the time he was discharged in September 1918 he was classified as B2 and had been seen by at least three Travelling Medical Boards (TMB).

 
All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

 


Friday, 5 December 2014

Army Form B.250 - Short Service Attestation 6&6

 
 
This particular attestation with the Royal Artillery dates to November 1908, although the form itself had been in circulation for a good deal longer.
 
 
 
The code at the top of the form shows that a print run of 40,000 of these forms was issued in April 1907 and that it was the second version of this form. I will try and dig out the version before this although the changes are probably minor.
 
H W V stands for Hazel Watson & Viney Ltd, the printers of this and many other British Army attestation papers . I have no idea what [No.13] or 8 58 17 refer to, does anybody else?
 
 
 
 
All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.
 


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Army Form B.2512 - Short Service Attestation

 
 
Army Form B.2512 is the attestation form that was introduced in December 1915 in response to the creation of the Derby Scheme which it references in paragraph 11:
 
 
This form was to be used for wartime enlistments only with the most noticeable addition being the box, top right, in which the man's Derby Scheme group number was to be written. In this particular example the man fell into Group 33 and this number also appears on the top left of his form, presumably written there as a filing aid at the time of his attestation.
 
You can read more about the Derby Scheme on The Long, Long Trail website. All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Army Form B.121 - Squadron Troop, Battery & Company Conduct Sheet


Here's a fairly full conduct sheet completed for 4267 James Nugent of the Royal Irish Rifles. These forms are useful for today's historians because, as in this case, they can give a nice summary not only of misdemeanours during a man's army service but also his movements between battalions (and regiments), where he was located when the offences were committed, the names of witnesses and commanding officers, and also the award of Good Conduct Pay and Badges.

James Nugent's original form was destroyed and what we have here is a copy, dutifully recording various offences of drunkenness and disorderly behaviour over a 14 year period. Despite his brushes with the bottle, it should be noted that James Nugent nevertheless still managed to notch up three Good Conduct Badges.

All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Army Form B.268 - Proceedings on Discharge

 
This four-page form is commonly found in the WO 364 pension series and this particular version, illustrated above, dates to March 1915 and was issued in a print-run of 70,000. Furthermore, this was the 39th printing of this particular form.
 
The form is useful as it gives a physical description of the man as well as his intended place of residence and the reasons for discharge.
 
 
The papers above, which are Crown Copyright and reproduced with the permission of the National Archives, relate to the war service of Sydney Crowhurst of Chailey who was discharged as a result of an inflamed heart muscle, or myocarditis, a condition that would kill him before the war was over.
 
Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Army Form D.400 - Description on discharge

 
Army Form D.400 is a useful document in giving a picture of a soldier at the end of his service and is packed with information not only about the man's military career but also about his family. On this June 1915 version is space to record details of the soldier's parents, wife and children, not to mention his intended place of residence.
 
The man mentioned in this particular document, a recent research project, originally attested in 1898, extended to complete 12 years with the colours and then enlisted for four years for Section D, Army Reserve. He was three months short of the expiry of that term of service when Britain went to war and he was obliged to complete the four years plus an additional bounty year (which he served in Britain). Upon discharge he promptly re-enlisted and served with the Army Service Corps in France.
 
 All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Army Form B.2056 - Transfer to Army Reserve

 
Army Form B.2056 gives a useful summary of a man's colour service prior to his transfer to the Army Reserve. In the case of Private Groves (above), his conduct and character is described as "Indifferent. Addicted to drink".
 
 
Brief service history details are given on the following pages, also a description of the man and his intended place of residence. It's a useful document and in my experience there are not too many that survive in WO 97. This appears to have been one form which the MoD decided could be weeded and disposed of, probably because the majority of the information included here is also noted on the attestation papers.
 
Pages 3 and 4 are reproduced below. All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.
 


 


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Army Form B.103 - Casualty Form - Active service


Army Form B.103 is an extremely useful document as it gives not only attestation and enlistment details but also movements from the time the soldier stepped ashore in war zone. These documents can run to several pages and are useful additions to - or substitutes for - attestation papers.

There are two date columns on this form and it's the date on the right which is the date of the event.  So in the example above, Private Anderson was admitted to the 31st General Hospital at Port Said on the 12th December 1916.

All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

I research soldiers!
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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Army Form W.5080 - names and addresses of living relatives of a deceased soldier


This is a poignant, sad and touching document. It is also extremely useful to today's family historians as it can give a complete family picture of parents and siblings of the dead soldier in question. Most of the forms that I have seen tend to date to 1919 and there was certainly a large print run delivered that year; see the 2/19 below:


For many family historians, this document and a few others like it (for instance medal acknowledgement slips) are as close as we get to being able to pinpoint our ancestors close to a decade after the 1911 census was taken.

The main document on this post is from my great uncle' surviving service record in WO 363. Rfm John Frederick Nixon was killed in action on 3rd October 1918 and this form lists his parents, four brothers and seven sisters and all their addresses. It's gold-dust for the family historian - but I wish it hadn't been necessary to complete this for him.

All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Army Form B.115 - Court of Inquiry inventory

 
This form, as is clearly stated on the form, was used by a Court of Enquiry to list the "Arms, Ammunition, Equipments, Instruments, Regimental Necessities or Clothing" of men who had absented themselves without leave. The interest for me - and I suspect other family and military historians - is in the minutiae of detail given - not to mention the cost of some of the items.
 
All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Army Form W.3195 - Mobilisation of Derby Scheme men

Military Service Act 1916

 
Form W.3195, as can be seen in the example below, was sent to men who had attested under the Derby Scheme and who were now being mobilised. It's a very useful form for family historians as it gives the man's home address and group number. In this particular case, the man's group is noted as 28 which tells us that at the time of his attestation he was a married man who had been born in 1893. There is also a stamp on the form which tells the recruit to bring his marriage certificate and children's birth certificate/s with him when he presents himself.
 
 
This man is being fifteen days notice to attend the Central London Recruiting Centre at Scotland Yard and the small print warns him that he if fails to attend he will be considered a deserter.
 
Despite the good intentions of the Derby Scheme which encouraged a further 2.4m men to join up (amongst these, my grandfather and at least two of his brothers), the scheme was ultimately adjudged a failure with 38 per cent of eligible single men and 54 per cent of married men still declining to serve King and Country. It was inevitable therefore that conscription would follow and this was introduced by The Military Service Act of January 1916 which came into force on 2nd March 1916.
 
There is much useful information on the Derby Scheme on The Long, Long Trail website.  The image of Army Form W.3195 is Crown Copyright The National Archives and is used with permission. The Military Service Act poster is used with the permission of Wikipedia.
 
All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Army Form B.104-53 - medal corrections


This is a nice little form which in this instance demonstrates the efficiency of the War Office if nothing else. I'm not sure that the form was used exclusively to record medal naming inconsistencies and would welcome further thoughts on this.

Private W Butterfield's 1914 Star was impressed incorrectly with "A Butterfield". This version of the army form documents the correction process. The medal was originally issued on 8th January 1920 and had been corrected and returned to the man by 13th February; a little under five weeks. Pretty good going considering the volume of medals which were flying around at that time.  Note that the man's medal index card (below) also records the amendment.

 
All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials. The medal index card image appears on Ancestry.

Army Form D.459 - Section D Army Reserve, attestation


Alfred Saunders had originally joined the  Royal Field Artillery in 1899. He was discharged in June 1911 and almost immediately decided to attest for a further four years. This document dates to 1st August 1911.  

 
Pages 2 and 3 give an enormous amount of detail: physical description, dates of service at home and abroad, medal entitlement, next of kin, full statement of services and so on.

 
Attesting for four years in August 1911 meant of course that Alfred would have been called up in August 1914 and he would have been obliged to serve an extra "bounty year". This from the Army Book for the British Empire (1893):
 
“In time of war or great emergency all soldiers can be detained for 12 months beyond their engagement.  In case of imminent national danger or great emergency, the men in the reserve are called up by “proclamation” to rejoin the colours, and must, together with all those who are serving, continue in the ranks as long as the war or emergency lasts, provided always that they are not detained beyond the term of their original enlistment, that is, for 12 years, and the 12 months above referred to.”
 
So this would have extended Alfred's obligation until August 1916, by which time conscription had been introduced. This is noted on the third image, above:
 
 
 
Alfred's four-year term of service therefore extended until June 1918 when he was discharged - as  a result of shellshock - as being physically unfit for further service. By the time of his discharge he had served a total of 19 years and 16 days in the British Army: 12 years (colours service and army reserve) and seven years and 16 days In Section D, Army Reserve.
 
All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.
 
 
 


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Army Form E.611 - Imperial Yeomanry, re-engagement


I have already posted the Territorial Force version of E.611. This is the one used for Imperial Yeomanry re-engagements.

All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Army From E.595 - Imperial Yeomanry (UK) attestation


There are quite a few of these forms to be found tucked away in WO 363 and WO 364 service and pension records. The notable question appearing on this form and absent on every other from that I've seen is question 6: Do you own a Horse or can you obtain one for the Annual Training of the Regiment?  This was an essential condition for joining the yeomanry. Cavalry recruits could join a regiment without ever having ridden a horse, but yeomanry recruits were expected to be able to ride and lay their hands on a horse.

As with Form E.594 (Volunteers), the actual date of attestation appears on the reverse of this form.

All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Army Form E.594 - Volunteer Force, Form of Enrolment

 
Here's a relative rarity: Army Form E.594, used for the enrolment of Volunteers into the Volunteer Force. The majority of these forms do not survive, however it is still possible to find examples tucked away in WO 363 and WO 364, online on Ancestry.  This example, for the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Border Regiment (which, in 1908, would become the 4th Battalion (TF) Border Regiment) dates to 1903. Interestingly, both residential and business addresses are recorded.

 
The second note is worthy of remark here.  It states:
 
"Men who are slightly ruptured may, if provided with a truss, be accepted for Infantry, but in no case for Artillery corps", testament to the fact that hernias were presumably commonplace, or at least common enough to warrant further clarification on Army Form E.594.
 
Here too, the regimental number does not appear on side one of the enrolment form but almost as an afterthought at the bottom of page two.

All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Army Form E.501 - Territorial Force attestation

 
Introduced in 1908, Army Form E.501 was to be used for men who were not serving members of the Volunteer Force or Imperial Yeomanry; men who wished to serve with the newly formed Territorial Force for a period of four years. Unlike later incarnations, the pre-war E.501 form is packed with useful questions for today's military historian: Name, place of birth, residence, employment details, physical characteristics and next of kin name and address are all included.
 
 
Page 3 has sections for preliminary training and annual training and so we can see in Laxton's Boyall's case (above) that he attended training on four consecutive years between 1909 and 1912 inclusive and also where that training took place.
 
Here's a later version of this same form from 1914:
 
 
 
All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Army Form E.611 - Re-engagement for the Territorial Force


Here's John Charles Allen again, an erstwhile Volunteer who joined the Territorial Force for a period of one year on 7th April 1908.  Form E.611 is his re-engagement form; a commitment to further periods of service.  On the example above (right click, then save and then view as a decent-sized image) we can see that he re-enlisted for one year on 7th April 1909, for a further year on 7th April 1910 and for two further years on 7th April 1911. The re-enlistment was approved on 11th June 1911.

John Allen's record survives in WO 364.  All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.

Army Form E.502 - Territorial Force attestation

 
 
I like Army Form E.502.  It was to be used "only for Imperial Yeomanry or Volunteers, enlisted or enrolled before the 1st April, 1908, enlisting in the Force." That "Force" was the new Territorial Force, formed on 1st April 1908 and E.502 was for men who had formerly served with the Volunteer Force or Imperial Yeomanry.  The joy of these forms is that former Volunteer Force or Imperial Yeomanry service is recorded and so we can see in the example above that John Charles Allen who joined the 1st (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) on 7th April 1908 had formerly served with the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. And further into his papers we see more detail:
 

Here, in the top quarter of the form we see that he joined the 1st Volunteer Battalion on 20th November 1900, and below that, details of his annual training periods with the 1st London Regiment are also given. 

The detail on these forms can vary tremendously.  Sometimes the locations of training camps are given; in other pages, further evidence of service with the Volunteer Force, including a regimental number, may also be noted.  Either way, if your man attested using Form E.502 you know that he was a part time soldier before the Territorial Force was formed.

John Allen's record survives in WO 364.  All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Service and Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Ancestry and Findmypast. Both companies offer FREE 14-day trials.