Sunday 28 October 2018

War Office Form WO.1143

This form would later become the ubiquitous Army Form B.178 and would go through many design iterations. A prime example of its usefulness to the military historian can be seen in the image below which lists all the stations where this particular soldier was examined or received treatment.

The front of this form also gives a lot of useful and interesting personal detail about the man, detail that would not make its way onto Army Form B.178. This particular form was begun in 1866 and as can be seen from the reverse, the man re-engaged in 1878.

Images are Crown Copyright, The National Archives.

War Office Form WO.83 - Discharge

This, somewhat tatty example of WO.83 is commonly seen in soldiers' files in WO 97 at The National Archives. The information at the top of this form shows that this particular version was part of a print-run of 25,000 forms generated in July 1878, and the man in question was being discharged on the 11th August 1880.

These documents are very useful as they give a summary of the man's service; presumably the only reason why generations of Whitehall clerks charged with 'weeding' ('destroying' would be a more apt term) soldiers' papers decided to spare this particular form.

Army Form B.5112 - Medal receipt card

There must have been millions of these cards in circulation in the early 1920s. This particular run was printed in September 1921 and the document is commonly seen in soldiers' service records of the First World War. It accompanied the campaign medals sent to soldiers and was supposed to be completed, signed and returned by the recipient. This card was, which is how it surives in this soldier's file, but many of these examples, along with the medal boxes, are also commonly seen with medal groups and a nice addition when they do survive.

These images are Crown Copyright, The National Archives.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Army Form W.3291 - Classification Certificate

Army Form W.3291 first saw the light of day in August 1916 and this version dates from October 1916. It was certainly used for men who had attested under the Derby Scheme and may also have been used for men who were conscripted. 

In this particular case this Derby Scheme recruited has been classified as A. Fit for general service, having attested over a year earlier on the 9th December 1915. This man was examined and classified on the 22nd January 1917 and he was mobilised on the 23rd February 1917, ultimately serving overseas with the Cheshire Regiment until demobilised in October 1919.

The reverse of this document refers to Army Form W.3195 which I have covered on a previous post and which refers specifically to Derby Scheme attestations. It is interesting that this Army Form addresses the candidate as "Mr", a title rarely seen pre-printed on army forms and probably one of the last times, until late 1919, that this particular man would have been addressed as such.

Army Form W.3491 - Medical Board examination

This particular version of Army From W.3491 was printed in November 1916. The man in question here was a Derby Scheme recruit who had originally attested in December 1915 but it would appear that this was used for conscripts as well. 

The reference to Group and Class No refers to Derby Scheme (Group) and conscripted men (Class) and, as I mentioned, this man was a Derby Scheme recruit, a single man born in 1896 and hence in Group 2.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Army Form B.50 - Soldiers' Small Book

Army Form B.50 was the Soldiers' Small Book which contained his personal details as well as notes and observations designed to be helpful to the soldier such as points to be observed on outposts, how to prevent sore feet, and instructions for cleaning the rifle and carbine. Every soldier was issued with one - and so too were airmen, as in the image above,at that point in its evolution when the Royal Flying Corps was just another army corps.

I have a couple of these in my collection, including the one my great grandfather kept when he joined the Army Service Corps in November 1915. In my experience it is rare to find these books completely filled in; often as not they appear to be largely blank, but they are nice objects to own and can be useful as there is a section which deals with the soldier's description on attestation as well as details of his next of kin.

As these books were issued to the soldier it it is rare to find them in service records - indeed, I have never seen one - but they do turn up at trade fairs and on well-known internet auction houses and they can be useful starting points for research projects.