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I found it!

Discussion in 'Military records' started by Carla, Nov 9, 2014.

  1. Carla

    Carla LostCousins Member

    For all those who have known I have been hunting for my Grandfather's WW1 records for years, I just want to shout out "I have found them" ! (I wanted to write that in capital letters :D)

    The problem has always been that I was unable to actually prove which records were actually about him. I could find the same names, but never any service record which could have given an address or next of kin. I knew where he had served, and found one or two names in the Medal Index Records which seemed to be possibilities, but still no proof that they were a match. I asked my family about a few of the possibilities, and one in particular that had caught my eye. My grandfather, Joseph Charles Martin, had volunteered under age and his mother had written to the War Office to get him returned home, (so we have been told), but then Joe rejoined when he was old enough. I wasn't sure if he would have the same service number for each time he joined, or a different one? This record had the same service number and two ranks. The problem was one rank was Dvr. Well everyone told me Joe couldn't drive and so this record was put to the side as wrong. Maybe I should have thought about what type of vehicles would have been 'driven' in WW1, and whether you needed a 'driving licence' like today? Too much modern thinking.

    Over three years have passed since that record was put to the side. This year I particularly wanted to find his records as I was entering all my family WW1 record details onto commemorative sites. The only one I couldn't add was my grandfather's. It was extraordinarily frustrating. I even asked on this forum, but even though lots of ideas and suggestions were given still the concrete proof of which record matched my grandfather eluded me :(. Work took over. Family problems kept me busy. My internet went down. In fact I gave up.

    Then on Friday Find My Past advertised another 'free weekend' and I thought " okay just have a peek". I knew that they have been adding a lot of new records this year but hadn't checked any of them. Can you imagine my sheer joy when the first military record I checked, one of the new releases, was a match for my grandfather? I still can feel that excitement now as I write this. In fact I was so shocked that I read it four times, and checked and checked before I literally screamed to my husband that I had found a match! There was the details of next of kin....yes that name matched my great grandfather. There was the details of his address on signing up....yes that matched the address the family was living at in 1914 when Joe's sister was born. Oh good grief this was it :eek:. Not only that but would you believe it, the record matched the one I had put to the side. The very one that stated Dvr. The last piece of proof was that one of the new records showed his WW1 Service Number and his WW2 Service Number. Well I had his WW2 Service Number on the birth certificate of my aunt, born in 1939. It was a match many times over.

    So yesterday I spent as much time as I could looking up more records with his WW1 Service Number and have learnt a lot. It seems my grandfather stayed in the army after WW1 ended, but his Medal Index Card states he deserted on the 22nd April 1920. As a consequence his 1914/1915 Star was scrapped, although it appears he was still given the Victory medal and the British War medal. I have no idea why, or what happened, as yet but details show he was still in the army in 1921 and 1933, and again as a TA in 1939. I have sent a request for his service records, and if I am fortunate they will be available and I can find out much more.

    Today I feel relieved. Two days before Remembrance Sunday, and a few days before Armistice Day, I found my grandfather's WW1 records. It feels rather poignant, and almost like a conclusion, although the search for more information goes on. This has also been a steep learning curve. Never assume, never give up, and think outside the box.

    Attached Files:

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  2. AdrienneQ

    AdrienneQ Moderator Staff Member

    • Agree Agree x 2
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  3. AndyMick

    AndyMick LostCousins Star

    Carla - that's fantastic. I can feel the joy in what you've written. Would FMP be interested in your story?!

    Thank you for sharing it.
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  4. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    Now that Ancestry is offering free access to military records you have inspired me, Carla, to search for more information about my father's war record. Also his two brothers, one who survived and one who didn't.
    Incidentally, I made good use of the FMP free week-end, finding the arrival in Australia of my husband's grandmother in 1895. She was just 15 and travelled alone from a village in Co. Cavan in Ireland to join an aunt in Sydney. She was later joined by two of her sisters but unfortunately I wasn't able to find their arrival. Not surprising really as their name was Smith:(.
  5. Heather

    Heather LostCousins Member

    Well done Carla, just goes to show that we should never give up, I am still trying to find my grandfather's records. It is so gratifying when you have a find such as this. :D
  6. Britjan

    Britjan LostCousins Star

    Never give up on common names Margery, one of my earliest successes was in finding a fourth cousin surname "Smith" .
  7. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    Actually I feel pretty pleased in finding as much as I have. I have found the family in the 1901 Irish census because I was able to "marry" the townland with the address given on a 1924 shipping record. The census showed that there more children born to the couple after grandma had left. But why oh why were there so many "Mary Smiths" - a Cordelia or Arabella would have made things so much easier!!!
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  8. Carla

    Carla LostCousins Member

    AndyMick I just wanted to say thank you for the idea of telling FMP. I emailed them with my story, and they have asked if they can use it on their site as a success story. I am still so excited to find this information, and still keep rechecking the records to make sure I have not make a mistake. I know I haven't made a mistake but it has taken me so long to find them that deep inside I still cant quite believe it!

    Margery just keep trying. With all the new records being released one day you will find that information I am sure.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 2
  9. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Carla, congratulation on finding your grandfather's records! You may recall that I also found my own grandfather's file when Findmypast released their WW1 collection earlier this year, even though it was missing from the same record set at Ancestry.

    I do hope that Findmypast's interest won't prevent me from using your story in my newsletter?
  10. Carla

    Carla LostCousins Member

    I would be very happy for you to use my experience in your newsletter Peter, and thank you for that. I have had a reply from Findmypast and they are are going to use my story. Their email was so personal and they seemed as excited as I am :D. I totally agree with what you have said about finding the records at Findmypast and not Ancestry. I have always used Ancestry.co.uk more rather than Findmypast, purely out of habit I suppose, but this experience has made me rethink completely. Both have released new records but I know who I will go to first from now on.
  11. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    Carla, that is the most wonderful news. You're clearly over the moon with joy. Congratulations. May your success be a lesson to us all not to give up.
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  12. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry, Carla, I didn't see your reply until after I had put the last newsletter together - but I will include your discovery in the next issue.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  13. Carla

    Carla LostCousins Member

    Just to let you all know I received a letter from the MOD yesterday. It thanked me for my request and said due to the volume of enquiries, especially during this commemorative year, it could take three to six months to reply to me with the information I have asked for. They gave me the option of cancelling my request if I wished. Cancel my request? No way. I am impatient for the information I hope they have, but I can wait for however long it takes! Roll on summer :D
  14. Carla

    Carla LostCousins Member

    Looking back at my last post on this subject dated 14th December reminds me of the slight disappointment I felt when I received the letter from the MOD saying how long the requested information could take.. Well all I can say is that they are probably covering themselves because yesterday I received that so longed for envelope. It actually took 2 months, almost exactly! I am astounded that the people sending me the information worked so fast, especially as Christmas and New Year was in between. They have no idea how happy this has made me, although the records did clarify something that may sadden my father, namely that my grandfather appears to have faced a court-martial and been sentenced to 6 months in prison for desertion and loss of clothing in 1920. The sentence was changed to 2 months but I think this may get the family all wondering why, especially as in WW2 his service record was 'exemplary'. We will probably never know the answer to that.

    The other detail clarified was that my grandfather did indeed lie about his age on joining, saying he was 19 years old when in fact he was 17 in 1915. Something I was always told but couldn't substantiate.

    Anyway it's all fascinating stuff and I highly recommend sending off for service records if you can. I received both World War records, and it has filled a lot of gaps in my research. :D
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
  15. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    Great news, Carla, and congratulations. You've been luckier than I was, at least at my first attempt. I wrote off to the MOD back in 2001 for my father's service record. I received it within a month but it was full of gaps -years and years missing as if he hadn't been anywhere. (He was in the army from 1914 to 1948.) When I asked why, I was told "military service documents are of a purely administrative nature and do not therefore contain detailed information regarding the exact locations and movements of individual servicemen or units." Well, that's understandable I suppose, but still. "Embarked Calais and arrived Dover" on 22.10.16 fails to mention that he was returning to England very badly wounded and lucky to be alive. There is no record of the wounding. In the 1920s, eight years are glossed over, first when Dad was in Ireland and then when he was in the Gold Coast. In the Second World War "Embarked for France 15.10.39" is clear enough but "Returned to the United Kingdom 28.05.40" fails to mention his method of return - as one of the force leaving Dunkirk in small boats. Since I received that skeleton service record I've been able to fill in the gaps with the help, mainly, of the the Essex Regiment Museum at Chelmsford, Essex, who I can't thank, and praise, highly enough. So if you want more details, Carla, I'd suggest you contact your grandfather's regimental museum. A couple of months ago, the curator of that museum told me I could now get a more up to date record from the MOD, which would contain copies of original dox. So I wrote off to them again before Christmas - much easier now it can be done on websites and via e-mail! In 2001 it was all by snailmail. I am being sent the updated service record, due soonish I'd think, but the extremely helpful person I dealt with said not to be too hopeful as that there may be no more than I got the first time round. Still, I'm hopeful.
  16. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    Referring to my message above, I've now received Dad's updated service record, and all I can say is that Gerry McArdle, the very helpful "Executive Office, Historical Disclosures", whom I dealt with, was being unduly modest when he said I shouldn't be too hopeful as there might not be more than I got the first time round. There is in fact far far more than I got the first time. Then I was sent a page and a half of information, full of gaps. Now I've been sent copies of original forms - about 8 pages in all. There are still a couple of gaps but they're possibly things that don't get into official records, like Dunkirk and policing the Saar. The records are now very detailed and, except for the gaps, I can follow my Dad's movements pretty exactly from the day he enlisted on 3 Sept 1914 to the day he retired on 16 April 1948. I thought you 'd like to know, Carla, that you may in fact get quite a lot of information about your grandfather and I needn't have been so offputting!
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  17. Carla

    Carla LostCousins Member

    Wonderful news Gillian. I am still struggling to pinpoint exactly where my grandfather was. Well what I mean by that is that I do know where he served, for example on the 5th August 1916 he was posted to Jubbulpore (rank 'Driver') or on the 2nd March 1917 he was posted to the RA Depot in Belgaum (rank Bombardier), but I have no idea what he was doing or whether he was involved in any battles. Although I know he was with the Royal Horse and Field Artillery I cant quite pinpoint which battalion he was with, either. Saying that I am looking at his records as I write this and can see a note 'RGA(?) 73rd Co transferred driver 14.9.16' . It seems he served with the RHA, RFA and the RGA! I have this weekend off, though, and am determined to do some serious hunting! :D Let's hope I can find out as much as you have.
  18. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    Your grandfather's service record seems to have less information than my dad's does. Mine, for example, states quite clearly which battalion he was in and where and when. It doesn't state battles as such, but as far as WWI goes, we're lucky (if that's the word) in having the letters that Dad wrote home, mainly to his mother (my avatar), from the day he enlisted (against his father's wishes, one week before his 17th birthday) to a couple of days after he was wounded and repatriated (age 19). We know where he was in France from a code he thought up and put at the top of his letters. The amazing thing is that the censor didn't crack his schoolboy code. That was done for me on the Great War Forum. In the mid-war years and WWII, there is a regular record of his movements - dates, places and battalions. WWII omits certain interesting things like Dunkirk and helping to disarm the Germans in Norway at the end of the war, but at least it says he was awarded the King Haakon VII Liberty Cross, though not why.
    Have you contacted your grandfather's regiment? The keeper of my dad's regiment's museum (Essex Regiment) was a mine of knowledge. It was he who told me about the Saar and Dunkirk, for instance.
  19. Carla

    Carla LostCousins Member

    I haven't yet but it's definitely on my radar. I have also seen some advice which suggests writing out a service time line and I will do this on the weekend. I think I am becoming obsessed with my grandfather's military record as I find it an intriguing part of his life I know very little about. Funny how you can end up tucked away in the corner of a family tree focused on one person in particular, isn't it? o_O
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  20. patzy

    patzy LostCousins Member

    Being focused on one person has happened to me, too.
    I found one of my very distant cousins was killed when HMS Barham was blown up in WW2. I then spent a lot of time finding out about him and the history of the ship. There is even a news clip showing the explosion.

    I have learned a lot of the minutiae of history since I started on genealogy. To me it is part of the fascination of family history.
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