Friday 4 December 2015

Army Form A.22 - marriage and baptisms

This form is not commonly seen in surviving service records but it can provide much useful information; almost a surrogate parish register entry. In the example above we see the date of the marriage, the names of the married couple, the church where they were married, the witnesses, and the name of the officiating minister, in this case a Catholic priest.
The man concerned, had been discharged to the Army Reserve only a few weeks earlier, but as he was still on the Army Reserve, this form found its way into his record.
This image is from series WO 97 and is Crown Copyright, The National Archives.

Monday 14 September 2015

Army Form B.110 - Attestation: Post Office Corps & Royal Engineers

You don't see this form every day, although judging by the date at the top, it had probably been in circulation for a while. This particular attestation paper dates to 1897 and a print-run of 1000 of which this particular form was the eighth version.

The man concerned was 4607 William Henry Butt, a 27-year-old telegraphist by trade who would go on to extend his service to 12 years and finally get discharged in 1912. Two years later he would be back in uniform, still with the Royal Engineers, and earning the 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals and Medaille Militaire to add to his Boer War pair. I bought some of these medals at auction last week.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Army Form B.463B - General Mobilization (Special Reserve)

Here's an interesting document dating to August 1914. How many times have we read about the procedures for mobilization; the notices displayed in towns and villages as well as those issued to the men themselves along with travel warrants?
Well here's just such a notice and a warrant, in this case issued to a man of the Special Reserve. The document informs the man that he is to present at Edinburgh on 5th August 1914 and to bring with him his "Small Book", Life Certificate and Identity Certificate. It continues,
"Take this notice to the nearest Money Order Office and the Postmaster will, on your signing the attached receipt, pay you the sum of three shillings as an advance of pay to be adjusted when you join."
If the man needed to travel by train to his place of assembly, the left hand portion of the form has this covered as it is a travel warrant granting the man free travel to or from the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The Railway Company would, in time, claim the fare back from the War Office.
This form was to be issued to men of the Special Reserve and there was presumably an almost identical form which was used for men of the Army Reserve; possibly - and I'm guessing here - Army Form B.463A.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Army Form E.504 - Militia Attestation

There are plenty of these forms in WO 363 (First World War service records), WO 364 (pension records)  and, of course, WO 96 (militia attestations). The militia, replaced by the Special Reserve in 1908, was an ideal testing ground for many men who wanted to see if they were suited for army life, but without the full-time commitment.
The forms are very similar to the forms used by the regular army, and give that essential detail so beloved by family and military historians: place of birth, place of residence, age, occupation... in short, all the essential detail that can act as a springboard for further research.
The papers in WO 96 are certainly the best preserved and I think in general that this series can often be overlooked. To my mind, it's always worthy of further investigation and on more than one occasion I have discovered papers here for a man whose First World War papers went up in smoke in 1940.
In common with other army forms - and attestation forms in particular, Army Form E.504 went through various iterations and amendments. The version I have reproduced here dates to April 1891 and was the 13th variant of this particular document.
Images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives.

Saturday 23 May 2015

Army Form B.268 - Proceedings on Discharge


There have been occasions, when no other useful documents in man's service record survive, that I have used the information contained in paragraph 10 (below) to precisely calculate the exact date that the man joined the army. This approach however, is fraught with difficulties that include on the one hand, the adding in of leap years, and on the other, the presumption that the man joined the same regiment that he is being discharged from. Nevertheless, these army forms are extremely useful, giving a picture of the man at the end of his military career.

In the example above we can see that the man was discharged from the Queen Victoria Hospital at Netley. The soldier, Lance-Corporal Arthur Henry Abbey was only 21 years and three months old at the time of his discharge and yet had already served three years and 70 days with the colours and so must have joined very shortly after his eighteenth birthday. The discharge is confirmed at Netley, although the process was started when Lance-Corporal Abbey was stationed in India at Ambala (paragraphs seven and eight).

Abbey appears to have had a promising career cut short. He had been awarded one good conduct badge (with an attendant increase in his service pay) and he had been appointed lance-corporal. We do not know the actual medical reason that occasioned his discharge and although his attestation papers also survive, they give no additional helpful information about his discharge other than to state that he was invalided to the UK on the 16th April 1909.

Almost as interesting as the three pages of this form that contain information about the man, is the final page at the back which reveals the documents to be contained within Army Form B.268; no fewer than up to 18 separate documents which, if nothing else, demonstrate the shocking levels of weeding which have occurred at the MoD over the years.

All images reproduced on this page are from series WO 97 at The National Archives and are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. 

Saturday 2 May 2015

Army Form C.309 - 2nd Class Certificate of Education 1888

I rescued some documents in the week.  Having bought this man's 1901 Royal Rifle Reserve discharge certificate on eBay, I subsequently noticed that the vendor had sold his earlier KRRC discharge certificate recently as well. I asked her if there was anything else for this man and it turned out there was, quite a bit. I have no particular interest in the regiment, and no connection with the man, but he has an interesting history and, besides which, I hated the idea of all of these documents being split up.

Amongst the papers I bought was this rather tatty 2nd Class Certificate of Education which is an Indian issue from the Superintendent of British Army Schools in the Bengal Presidency.

Some of the text is missing for the Arithmetic section but I am guessing that the word on the second line is Computation and the word underneath that, Practice. Despite its tatty appearance, I rather like this, and I suspect it was pulled out on more than one occasion by Thomas Peel as proof of his levels of proficiency in the three Rs.

Monday 23 March 2015

Army Form B.217 - Foot Guards attestation

By my own calculations, Army Form B.217 must originally date to between June 1883 and February 1884. The image above is the second iteration of this form and dates to February 1884 when a print-run of 5,000 was ordered. 
The original intention was that this attestation form should be for Foot Guards, but over the years this was changed to serve the purpose of short service attestation for all those men enlisting for 3 years with the colours and 9 years with the reserve.
The image above shows the 34th version of Army Form B.217 which was printed in a run of 100,000 in May 1905. Note that in this case, the terms of service have been reversed so that Henry Bruty was signing up for nine years with the colours and three years on the reserve; far more practical than 3&9 for all concerned.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Army Form B.248 - Short Service 9&3 -1906

Army Form B.248 was a short service attestation form originally introduced in January 1906 in a print-run of 100,000. The terms of service were nine years with the colours and three on the reserve. This form is not commonly seen and when it does surface, often has the terms of service altered. Confusingly, an alternative Army Form B.248 for one year's service in the Special Reserve would subsequently be printed in August 1914.

Sunday 1 March 2015

Army Form B.120 - Regimental Conduct Sheet

Almost identical to Army Form B.121 which I covered in an earlier post, these forms are commonly seen in WO 363 and WO 364 and can be useful in the absence of other documentation in providing evidence of the man's date of attestation.
The image is Crown Copyright The National Archives.

Sunday 22 February 2015

Effects Form 118A

How much misery, despair and distress is recorded on these sad forms I wonder. It is what is says on the tin: details of personal effects to be returned to the next of kin. From a family historian's perspective, and in the absence of other surviving material, this document is useful because it lists the name and address of the next of kin. In some cases, details of personal effects may also be given, either noted on this form or recorded separately.  Note that this Effects Form 118A does not record sums of money owing, just personal effects.
The image below shows the items returned to my great-grandmother after her second eldest son, John Frederick Nixon, had been killed in action in October 1918:

The two discs are his identity discs which I have and which, when removed from his body on the battlefield, effectively denied him a marked grave. Instead, he's remembered on the Vis-en-Artois memorial. RIP, Jack.

Images used on this post are Crown Copyright The National Archives.

Sunday 8 February 2015

W.3428 - Accidental or self-inflicted injuries

I've not seen too many of these forms for reporting accidental or self-inflicted injuries, and this print run dates to July 1918 and a modest print-run of just 6,000. This particular man suffered a fractured forearm when he was thrown from a mule. Apart from the mule, there were no witnesses.
The image is crown copyright The National Archives.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Army Form B.179a - Medical Report on a soldier...

Wounded British soldiers
This is a useful four-page document which not only gives crucial information about a soldier's age, regiment and enlistment date, but also gives us an insight into how Medical Boards arrived at their decisions on whether or not to make an award.
Army Form B.179a - medical report on a soldier
Page 1 (above) gives details of the soldier and a statement of the case dictated by the man but recorded by the Medical Officer in charge of the case.
Army Form B.179a Medical Report on a soldier - Page 2
The answers to these questions continued onto page 2.
Army Form B.179a Medical Report on a soldier - Page 3
Page 3 is where the Medical Board records its opinion.
Army Form B.179a Medical Report on a soldier - Page 4
This assessment carries over to page four. Arguably the most important part of this form is question 24 which assesses the level of disability.
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 10 January 2015

Army Form B.221 - Descriptive return, extension of service

Army Form B.221 is one of those forms which someone in authority at the MoD, presumably, deemed should be weeded from men's files. I suppose one can understand the logic as information about extension of service is noted in the soldier's statement of services. Nevertheless, it is nice to see these forms where they do survive.
 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 1 January 2015

Army Form B.195 - Certificate of Trade Proficiency

The example illustrated on this post dates to March 1907 and in this soldier's case was completed in June 1909.

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.