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Posted by: Beverley Cahill {Email left}
Location: Perth Western Australia
Date: Tuesday 25th October 2016 at 10:48 AM
Dear Alan, I have just come across your site and read your valuable information. I am hoping you may be able to give our family information on my paternal grandfather who served in WW1 his rank was Gnr his regimental No was 5063?3 or is it 50633.....Walter Whittaker his qualifying date was 6/11/1914 his corps was 33rd BDE hard to read...RFA. Campaign 1914. We were told he served In Ireland...would this be true....did he serve anywhere else? My father has passed away...but he passed on a pocket watch to my brother with engraving to Walter with the above reg no on it from the people of Essex. He was born in Great Bardfield Essex England June 1886 if this helps.We would all love to know something about his war records. I do belong to My heritage site...but have never been able to locate any information regarding his military Records . Also would you know if he received his medals...he did survive the war and emigrated to Western met his future wife In Ireland....they eloped...married by an army chaplain...only found this out recently.
Thanking you
Bev Cahill née Whittaker. Perth Western Australia
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 25th October 2016 at 6:12 PM

Dear Bev,
No individual service record has survived for Walter Whittaker so it is not possible to state his war-time service. The Army medal rolls record he qualified for the 1914 Star by disembarking in France on 6th November 1914 with 33 Brigade Royal Field Artillery (XXXIII Brigade RFA) as part of 8th Division.
It is not possible to state whether Walter remained with 33 Brigade throughout the war. The engagements of the 8th Division can be seen on Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail, at:
Walter Whittaker qualified for the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Medals were sent automatically to the recipient.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Beverley Cahill N E Whittaker
Date: Wednesday 26th October 2016 at 5:25 AM

Thank you so much Alan for this information, no wonder I was having trouble finding information about his war records. Last night I heard from a nephew of mine who is in England on a holiday he is about 25 yrs of age and he was visiting the National Archives which took him all day to actually find out that Walter Whittaker had never picked up his medals and apparently after a certain period of time- the medals are returned and melted down. But I believe we may be able to request replicas of them. So down the track we will apply.

Thanking you so much.
Posted by: Jacky {No contact email}
Location: Uk
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 9:49 AM
Alan, I wonder if you might be able to point me in the right direction, please? I'm researching a man who was in L Company, # Special Battalion, Royal Engineers, and trying to find out where the battalion was portioned in December 1916. I can access War Diaries via ancestry, but don't see anything relating to the Special Battalions. Not sure even what Division they were in! Do you know if there is an accessible diary online that I could use, please? Thank you
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 10:00 AM

War diaries for L Company exist from March 1917. See:
Reply from: Jacky
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 10:16 AM

Thank you for such a quick reply! Excellent ;)

Posted by: Brian Wilson {Email left}
Location: Norwich
Date: Sunday 23rd October 2016 at 1:26 PM
Hello Alan,

you were able to help find details of my Grandfathers service during WW1. I have not been able to find service records for him, which is not unusual, but I was told that if he served in the home guard I may find some further information about him.I was wondering if he was entitled to the defence medal as it was not with his WW1 medals when I purchased them.I am not sure what information I would be able to obtain from the MOD.

His name was Arthur J Wilson and he had a rank of Acting Sergeant in 1918. I understand from my father that he worked for Lawrence Scott Electromotors in Norwich and they would have had their own section, It is not clear how long he served either, as towards the end of the war he joined the civil service although this may have been after 1944.

Kind Regards Brian.
Reply from: Alan Greeson
Date: Sunday 23rd October 2016 at 5:48 PM

Dear Brian,
Home Guard enrolment records are brief and may contain little information other than personal details on enlistment, promotions, previous military service, and date of leaving the service. The records are held by the Ministry of Defence. See “How to apply for Home Guard service records” at:
With kind regards,
Posted by: Christine Barbour Moore {Email left}
Location: Wigan
Date: Friday 21st October 2016 at 3:55 PM

Is there any way to find who is actually writing the accounts in War Diary WO95/4056
12th Light Railway Coy RE 1917 - 1918.


Chris B Moore
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 22nd October 2016 at 1:00 PM

Dear Christine,
The answer is yes, but I can’t read the Officer Commanding’s name!
It is the first sentence of the diary. War diaries were written or dictated by the adjutant or a junior officer and were then supposed to be signed-off each month by the Officer Commanding. In an infantry battalion of 1,000 men recording their “Actions in the Field” throughout the war, the person writing the diary might change as officers came and departed which becomes apparent in the change of handwriting. The original (top copy) of the diary was written in blue or violet copying pencil which contained graphite, kaolin and an aniline dye. This original would then be sent to Brigade or Divisional H.Q. on a monthly basis with copies of orders and maps in a folder marked “secret”, whilst a carbon-paper copy of the diary could be kept by the unit in the Field. The copying-pencil was waxy and indelible and allowed for reproduction copies to be made by pressing damp tissue paper onto the original. The use of aniline dyes allowed copies to be taken long after the writing of the original document. Most original war diaries and their appendices were lost in the bombing of the War Office repository in Arnside Street, Walworth, London on 8th September 1940 so the digitised copies available online are taken from copies, which is why they are often hard to read or have slightly blurred outlines to the words.
In WO 95/4056/1 it can be seen that each daily entry for No. 2 Railway Operating Company was initialled MW by the Commanding Officer. There is evidence of the use of blue copying pencil over what might be carbon copies as well as the violet appearance of paper-press copies. The diary for No 6 Railway Operating Company is signed off by the Officer Commanding.
No. 12 Operating Company’s diary was not signed off and was a rather hit-and-miss affair as far as regular and complete entries for “Actions in the Field” go. It makes up for lack of detail by including a schedule of casualties. The day-to-day routine nature of their work and the pressure of time imposed on a small unit against keeping a full diary, perhaps writing by candle-light, might account for the apparent gaps between dates and lack of detail especially if little of interest occurred in between. The No. 12 Operating Company diary appears to have been written by the same person throughout: note the consistent shape of the stroke of the ascender on the letter “d” where it appears at the end of a word.
The Company was small (251 men) and appears to have had three officers at the outset. I can identify: Second-Lieutenant Colin Campbell Henry Royal Engineers (1.9.17 replaced by Capt. Herbert Nerville Every Feilden, South Wales Borderers) and Second-Lieutenant Harry Bardill Buckle, Royal Engineers. The officer commanding appears to be Captain W J S Rinnes or something similar, perhaps without initials but I cannot identify him. See the diary entry for 23rd April 1917 and 11th May 1917. His name is the first word in the diary (“Capt. x sent from Longmoor to command”) but I can’t make it out.
The diary entry for 17th October 1917 reads: “I also received slight wound in face”; 25th October 1918 mentions orders for disbanding 12th Operating Company and the diarist writes: “practically all my locomotives, drivers and firemen”, and on 31st October 1918: “all my officers transferred to other units” so the writer would have been the Officer Commanding.
See also the incident dated 30th April 1918 which is not included in the surviving diary which is mentioned on Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail, at
With kind regards,
Reply from: Christine Barbour Moore
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 10:47 AM

Thank you Alan. You've confirmed one or two of the Officer's names for me.

One last request.

22/06/18 7pm. Can you the read Special Gas (.......). Can't make out the name of the Gas. Is it 'Stunt'?

As previously mentioned, I have transcribed and typed up, the 12th Light Railway Coy WO95/4056 Diary.
If you would care for my copy (17 pages), please get in touch via my email.

Going to look on the Long Trail 30/04/18. My Grandfather Stanley Corsellis Randall MM was involved in an incident on that date, will take a look just now. Did wonder why the incident was not shown in the Diary.

Going to do some research into the incident Westonhoek 15/06/18 1pm. Two trains crash and 5 men killed. Terrible. Doesn't give the names of the men and I want to know who they were. Imagine going through the terrible War and being killed in an accident.

Kind Regards

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 7:21 PM

Dear Christine,
The word is “stunt”. It was used initially by the British and Australians to refer to any performance requiring skill: such as a bout of Physical Training or a means of self-advantage such as “It’s a good stunt to fall out before they pick the fatigue party”. As with many such expressions the quality of cleverness became unessential. All that was needed was a break in the routine, an unusual element. The word was even used to refer to a battle such as “The Somme Stunt” or to smaller events such as a “bombing stunt” (Dictionary of Tommies’ Slang by John Brophy and Eric Partridge). “Stunt” perhaps implied disapproval for the release of gas which was haphazard depending on the wind. The paragraph reads: “Special gas ‘stunt’ – Seven trains each of 7 box wagons loaded with a special equipment of gas cylinders left Piselhock R E Park at 7 p.m. in Bedford House in Voormezeele sector – attack at midnight: very successful – Lieut W R Price attached 12th Company who was only man affected by gas poisoning – taken to hospital 25/6”.
‘Piselhock’ was the Peselhoek railhead, north of Poperinghe. See the railway map at:
The lines and sidings of Peselhoek were either side of Droogentak Farm.
Bedford House was the Chateau Rosendal, a country house in a small wooded park with moats. Although it never fell to the enemy the house and the trees were eventually destroyed by shell fire. It was off Rijselseweg just south of Ypres. It is now the location of a cemetery.
The only Lieut. W. P. Price I can identify was Lieutenant William Pursell Price in the King's (Shropshire Light Infantry) of “Brookleigh”, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury.
Some other notes:
S.G. Train was Standard Gauge train
East Spur and Andover Jct (Junction).
Pugwash was named after a town in Nova Scotia
Culloden (24/7/18) was a loco yard above the village of Vlamertinghe, just north of Vlamertinghe Chateau on track A B 1.
P.E. loco (24/7/18) was a petrol engine loco of the type manufactured by Dick, Kerr & Co. See:,_Kerr_%26_Co.#/media/File:C01361-40HP_petrol_locomotives_1917.jpg
Track A B ran south from Coppernollehoek , north of Vlamertinghe, passing over Canal de Poperinghe with an East Spur coming off it to follow the line of the Reobartbeek for just a few hundred metres. Google 50°52'05.1"N 2°46'01.8"E for the location of the East Spur. The light railway Line then A B swung East to Culloden (Vlamertinghe) and then Ypres town.
The Reobartbeek stream flowed on past which Pacific Yard on the outskirts of Poperinghe just south of the Poperinghe to Ypres Road.
Quintin Yard was in Poperinghe. Google 50°51'12.8"N 2°43'57.0"E
There is still a standard gauge single-line track and buffers there which can be seen on Google Streetview.
Westonhoek was a large marshalling yard for 60cm gauge. I am wondering if it the same location as Culloden Yard.
Troi Rois is a hamlet on the road from Ypres to Wyteschaete above Bedford House. The C line cross the road there at Woodcote House which was north of Bedford House.
The men who died on 16th June 1918 would not have been Royal Engineers but could have come from any regiment.
Do you think the Captain’s name could be J. W. Skinner as written on 23.4.17 ?
With kind regards,
Posted by: Sally {Email left}
Location: Australia
Date: Friday 21st October 2016 at 12:47 PM
Hi Alan, can anyone look into this medal for me. Or find out some details for me? Not sure if he us related to us Boyds but I love finding out about medals. You helped me so much with sgt George Thomas Boyd medal we had maybe you could help with this one??

2/8747 sgt j j boyd think it was Irish

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 22nd October 2016 at 2:10 PM

Dear Sally,
8747 Sgt J J Boyd was John James Boyd born at Birkenhead in Cheshire in 1885 the son of John and Bridget Boyd. His father was John Boyd born in Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland, in about 1851 who had married an Irishwoman named Bridget. The family had lived at Birkenhead as early as 1877 when their daughter Rose was born there.
John Boyd enlisted at Birkenhead on 5th October 1905 and joined the Royal Irish Regiment. From 20th November 1906 he served in India for 6 years, and was transferred to the reserve on 5th January 1913. He was re-called when war was declared and he went to France on 13th August 1914 with the 2nd Battalion where he was employed as a signaller. Within two weeks he had been wounded at St Quentin and returned to the U.K. where he was treated for a gunshot wound in the left leg. He returned to the 2nd Battalion France and was again wounded on 29th May 1915 and returned to the U.K.. On 17th May 1916 he was posted to the 6th Battalion Royal Irish Regiment but was again wounded, with a gunshot wound in the left knee. He returned to the U.K. and was posted back to France in the 6th Battalion where he was awarded the Military Medal in May 1916 while in the trenches near Berthen. He was shot in the left leg once more on 7th June 1917 and returned to the U.K..
John Boyd married Catherine Victoria Hunt at Birkenhead on 6th August 1917.
He was then transferred to the Labour Corps where he served until the end of the war with the 128th (Chinese) Labour Company.
He qualified for the Military Medal, the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. John was demobilized in 1919.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Queenie
Date: Monday 4th September 2017 at 2:08 PM

Hi Sally and Alan

I have just read this. OMG John James Boyd was my Grandad. My mum was his Daughter. I had read this information in bits while researching on Ancestry but I was not sure how much was genuine. I have seen so many mistakes on Ancestry. His Royal Irish Regiment No. was 437749. We all lived with my Grandad until he died. My Grandfather died at age about 73. In and out of hospital though all of his life after WW2. My Nan died in 1944.

Are you related??
Reply from: Queenie
Date: Monday 4th September 2017 at 2:43 PM

Hi Sally and Alan. (Sorry Bob I have just seen Alan retired). Could you please pass this onto Sally who put the question originally to Alan). I think we may be related. :-)

I have just read this. OMG John James Boyd was my Grandad. My mum was his Daughter. I had read this information in bits while researching on Ancestry but I was not sure how much was genuine. I have seen so many mistakes on Ancestry. His Royal Irish Regiment No. was 437749. We all lived with my Grandad until he died. My Grandfather died at age about 73. In and out of hospital though all of his life after WW2. My Nan died in 1944.

Are you related??
Posted by: Peter Booth {Email left}
Location: London
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016 at 3:21 PM
Hello Alan,

You kindly looked up some information on my Great Grandfather, I wonder if it would be possible to check on his brother, his name is Edward Wakeham, born c 1885 in Poplar, I was after his army service record, he fought in WW1, I believe he was in the Rifle Brigade, but other than that I don`t know anymore,
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016 at 7:45 PM

Dear Peter,
Edward was Edward William Wakeham, born September 17th 1885, the son of Edward William Wakeham, a milkman, and his wife Celia (née Mitchell). In 1890 the family lived in three rooms at 55 Arcadia Street, Poplar. Four other rooms at the house were occupied by the family of Richard Panting. On May 14th 1890 The Wakehams and the Pantings went to St Saviour’s Church, Poplar, to have four of their children baptised on the same day, among them Edward William Wakeham, born in 1885.
There were three other birth registrations for children named Edward William Wakeham in 1885.
There is no individual Army service record for Edward William Wakeham. There was one Edward William Wakeham listed in the medals rolls, although these rolls do not provide any biographical information. The rolls recorded an Edward William Wakeham served with the 3rd Battalion of The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own) as rifleman S/24067, where the S stood for general wartime service. The 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade served in France and Flanders with 24th Division. Edward, along with many other members of the Rifle Brigade, was transferred to the Tank Corps at some unspecified date, and allotted the regimental number 76199. He qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal which indicated he did not serve overseas until some date after January 1st 1916 because he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star for service before December 31st 1915. There is no other army record for him, so it is not possible to state where he served. Members of the Tank Corps at the time were mechanics or gun operators as the tanks were driven by men of the Army Service Corps.
Edward Wakeham was a hospital porter at The East London Hospital for Children and Dispensary for Women. He married Ellen Amelia Wiles, aged 26, at St Gabriel’s Church, Chrisp Street, Tower Hamlets, on 16th August 1914. His brother, J. E. G. Wakeham, was a witness. Edward and Amelia appear to have had two wartime children: Edward C. Wakeham (mother’s name Wiles) whose birth was registered April-June 1915 at Whitechapel, and Evelyn, registered Jan-March 1917 at Mile End. A Joan Wakeham was registered at Limehouse in 1921 and Elizabeth in 1924 at Limehouse, mother’s maiden name Wiles.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Peter Booth
Date: Wednesday 19th October 2016 at 9:07 AM


That is brilliant!, the information you provide is excellent, thank you, J.E.G.Wakeham is my Great Grandfather, I knew he was a Hospital porter but didn`t know where, so this information will help me with my research on him,

I believe Edward Wakeham died in 1977, aged 92!

Once again, thank you and I shall be sending a donation to the Royal British Legion
Posted by: Judith Lowe {Email left}
Location: Merseyside
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016 at 12:54 PM
Dear Alan
Once again thank you so much for the information about Edward Copley. so much information found so quickly!
I will look further into the spelling of the other man's name and get back to you.
Two further men, we are seeking information about are:
1. Private Walter Payne 6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers wounded at Ypres 24th April coming to Oakdene 7th May.
2. Private Richard allen Lancashire Fusiliers. Wounded Dardanelles 4th June 1915. Won the DCM 4th June 1915.
Any information will be gratefully received Judith Lowe
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 19th October 2016 at 5:53 PM

Dear Judith,
Richard Allen will take a bit of writing up so I'll do that tomorrow if I can. Meanwhile, here's Walter Payne:

Walter Payne was an unlucky man.
He was born at Dulwich but apparently moved North because he enlisted at Newcastle-upon-Tyne (date unknown) where he joined the 6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers which was a pre-war Territorial Army battalion based at St George’s Drill Hall, Northumberland Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He might have been a pre-war Territorial Army part-time soldier or he might have enlisted at the outbreak of war. When war was declared the 6th Battalion went to their war stations for coastal defence at Seaton Sluice on the Seaton Burn which flows into the sea midway between Whitley Bay and Blyth. Walter was with the 6th Battalion on April 20th 1915 when it left Seaton Sluice and marched to the railway station at Blyth to entrain at 10.30 a.m. for Folkestone where they arrived after a 12 hour journey. The Battalion immediately embarked on SS “Onward” and sailed for Boulogne at 11.30 p.m.. They camped outside Boulogne that night (April 20th 1915) and then travelled by goods train (45 to a waggon) to Cassel. From there they marched to Winnezeele, a commune in the Nord département in northern France. Walter and his colleagues spent the night of 22nd April 1915 in various farm buildings in that village and then marched eleven miles the next day, April 23rd 1915, to Brandhoek which is a village between Poperinghe and Ypres in Belgium, just behind the front line. That night they spent the night in unoccupied trenches for the purpose of cover and for no tactical purpose. In the evening of the next day, 6 p.m. on 24th April 1915, they marched to Potijze some eight miles away. The route took them through Ypres. Their war diary states: “During the march the brigade was halted for ¾ hour in Ypres where six or seven casualties occurred from shellfire. Remained [in Ypres] from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. when moved up to Wieltje” (War Diary WO 95/ 2829/1, page 2). Walter Payne was one of those wounded by the incoming shellfire at Ypres.
Walter recovered from his wounds and returned to the 6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, perhaps some months after being wounded.
The 6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers had remained in the Ypres sector and in July 1916 the Battalion was defending the Front line in the trenches around Bois Carre and Bois Quarante astride the Wyteschaete Beek [beck] near Vierstraat, Heuvelland, Flanders. Bois Quarante (Forty Wood) was so named because it was astride the 40-metre contour. The Germans named it Croonart Wald after the Cronaert chapel which once stood there and had been the subject of a painting by Adolf Hitler completed while he was serving there. The wood used to be kept as a museum and the owner claimed Adolf Hitler won his Iron Cross there and re-visited the place in 1940.
Walter Payne was at the defences at Bois Quarante in July 1916. On 15th July a German raiding party was fought off but a moaning voice was heard for an hour in No Man’s Land. After evening stand-to an officer went out and found a dead German soldier whom he carried back to the British lines. He was identified as Willi Gierki, 18 years of age of the 214th Regiment. On 17th July the British defences at neighbouring Bois Carre were blown in by shelling and 50 men spent the night filling 2,000 sandbags to make temporary repairs. On 18th July 1916 the 24 hour period was noted as being quiet other than a few trench mortars being fired in the morning and then again in the afternoon. There was one casualty killed that day. He was Walter Payne.
Walter was buried at the near-by Ridge Wood Cemetery. Ridge Wood was the name given to a wood standing on high ground between the Kemmel road and Dickebusch Lake. The cemetery lies in a hollow on the western side of the ridge and the position was chosen for a front line cemetery as early as May 1915.
Walter Payne qualified for the 1914-15 Star; the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
It has not been possible to provide biographical details for Walter Payne.
More Follows
Reply from: Judith Lowe
Date: Wednesday 19th October 2016 at 6:07 PM

Thanks so much for the work that you have done on Walter Payne. It is so interesting
Do not take too much of you time tomorrow writing up Richard Allen. There is no particular rush.
Best wishes
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 20th October 2016 at 6:47 PM

Richard Allen was fêted as a hero.
Richard was born in 1886 at Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, the sixth child of Edward Allen, a fustian dyer, and his wife, Mary. Fustian was a heavy menswear cloth of woven cotton usually dyed in dark colours. In 1901 the Allens lived at East View, Hebden Bridge. Richard Allen married Clara Scholfield in 1908. Their first child was Frank, born at Todmorden in 1909. In 1911, Richard was described as a 25-year-old cotton weaver, living with wife and child at 7, Pexwood Place, Todmorden.
Hours before the outbreak of war, Richard Allen, a mill worker of 4 Mills Place, Todmorden, voluntarily joined the “Todmorden Territorials”, the local company of the pre-war 6th Battalion of The Lancashire Fusiliers. He attested on 4th August 1914, the day war was declared at 11p.m. GMT (midnight in Germany). His volunteering on the day the Territorials were mobilized for war was an enthusiastic gesture by a 28-year-old man who was married with at least one child. Richard was allotted the regimental number 9145. He would probably have undergone a bit of ribbing because the people of Todmorden and Hebden Bridge have persistently shared an ongoing rivalry. At the outbreak of war, the Territorials from Todmorden and Middleton marched to the 6th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers’ H.Q. at the Drill Hall in Rochdale where for days crowds had to be held back as the men paraded and drilled. They left for Turton training camp on a fifteen mile march at 5 a.m. on Thursday 20th August 1914. The “Rochdale Observer” reported: “On the morning of the departure crowds thronged the streets once more but when the men set off a respectful hush descended. Punctually, to the moment, the start was made. No bands heralded it. No cheer rose from the waiting crowd. A fine phrase used in reference to the departure of the Expeditionary Force - ‘in the hush of England’ - came to mind, and the moment was all the more impressive for the absence of any popular demonstration. Silently save for the tramp of feet, the battalion marched away, a phantom army in the weird twilight of dawn.”
On 9th September 1914, the 6th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers embarked at Southampton and sailed to Egypt where they arrived at Alexandria on 25th September 1914. They were among the first Territorials to serve abroad. There they took part in the defence of the Suez Canal Zone with the East Lancashire Division and were involved in the fighting-off of a weak attack by the Turks in February 1915. At the beginning of May 1915, the Battalion sailed from Alexandria for Gallipoli where they landed at Cape Helles on 5th May 1915 at Lancashire Landing.
The Division was then involved in three attempts to break out of the Helles bridgehead to capture the high ground dominating the village of Krithia. These attacks occurred on 6th to 8th May, the 4th June and, after Richard had been wounded, from 6th to 13th August 1915. On 4th June 1915, Richard Allen was attached to a Field Company of the Royal Engineers south of Krithia. This would have been either the 427th (1st East Lancashire) Field Company or the 428th (2nd East Lancashire) Field Company.
Richard and his colleagues had been under a British bombardment of the enemy trenches following which Richard made his way up a stream with other men, some of whom were killed. He and his colleagues then fixed bayonets and made a rush of about 300 yards to attack the Turks in their trenches, jumping in and out of the three lines of trenches one after the other. Richard went with the Engineers to deal with wire entanglements and the Engineers placed him on sentry duty to cover their work. It was then Richard heard a rustling in the long grass and scrub and a sound as if someone was blowing his nose. He aimed his rifle and started firing at the spot “with good effect” causing a German officer in charge of a Turkish machine-gun section to leap-up brandishing a revolver. Richard “dealt with him” [shot him] and returned to his position carrying the captured enemy’s machine-gun. A cheer went up on the spot when he arrived back with the captured gun and he was warmly shaken by the hand all round.
However, Richard Allen was wounded by a gunshot wound in his left side which penetrated his abdomen. Whether this was on the same occasion or later in the day is not clear. He was sent to 19th General Hospital at Alexandria, Egypt, and then to a convalescent camp named Mustapha Camp at Alexandria on July 15th 1915, before he was sent home to England.
Richard wrote home and on 26th June 1915 the Burnley News got the story of his capturing the gun.
Some 200 out of 500 men from the 6th Lancashire Fusiliers who were engaged in the landing at Gallipoli became casualties. The 6th Battalion earned five Distinguished Conduct Medals and all of them were awarded to men from Todmorden, so the town was in celebratory mood for a short time as consolation for their families’ losses. The “London Gazette” published Richard Allen’s award of the D.C.M. on 15th September 1915. The D.C.M. had been instigated in 1854 by Queen Victoria as a decoration for gallantry in the field by ranks other than officers. The “Rochdale Observer” of 18th September 1915 reported the award and said Richard was “now in Rainhill Military Hospital suffering from wounds” (© Trinity Mirror, via British Newspaper Archive).
On Tuesday evening 30th November 1915 Todmorden Town Hall was packed when the Mayor, Alderman Jackson, presented not only the D.C.M. to the five Todmorden territorials but also presented each of the five men with a solid gold watch, suitably inscribed. The townspeople had raised a fund of £250 for the five men. The historic standard of living value of £250 in 1915 is today £18,000. It was proposed from the stage that a permanent memorial should be provided for the Todmorden Territorials as the five D.C.M.s did not represent the entire gallantry of the Todmorden boys. Captain Gledhill addressed the Town Hall presentation and said the Lancashire lads had made more progress on the Peninsula than any other regiment and had gained a reputation for being tireless. They arrived untried but performed like veterans. There was of course a tinge of sadness in the thought of the brave lads who now lay buried on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Manchester Courier, 1st December 1915, © Local World; ibid). Richard was aged 29, but photographs of the Battalion in Rochdale in August 1914 show many of them were just boys. See:
Each soldier who was awarded the D.C.M. also received an additional D.C.M. pension of 6d a day administered by the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, which was the H.Q. of Army pensions. It was cynically suggested that the Military Medal was instituted in the Great War to avoid having to pay too many D.C.M. pensions. As a soldier earned a shilling a day, sixpence represented a substantial increase.
Richard’s wounds caused him to be discharged from the Army on 13th May 1916. He qualified for the Distinguished Conduct Medal with pension, the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was granted a silver War Badge for being wounded.
But Richard Allen turned to drink.
He appeared in court charged with drunkenness on Thursday 29th May 1919. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported: “Richard Allen, a Lancashire Fusilier and winner of the D.C.M. was charged at Todmorden today with drunkenness. The chairman said that in recognition of his brave deed the magistrates would discharge him. The defendant said that when he had a few glasses of beer the liquor flew to his head. He promised to sign the pledge. Mr Sutcliffe Thomas: Don’t sign it if you can’t keep it. The Mayor: I should sign and try to keep it.” (© Johnston Press via British Newspaper Archive).
And then he blew it.
A note on the reverse of his service medals index-card stated: “Secretary of Royal Hospital Chelsea inquires whether the pension appertaining to the D.C.M. will be restored on release from prison”.
On 8th April 1924, Richard Allen, 38, metal broker, appeared at the West Riding Quarter Sessions in Wakefield charged with stealing eight bales of cotton waste valued at £59 on the evening of February 25th 1924. He was co-accused with Arthur Duerden, 38, a warp sizer, of taking the bales from Westfield Mills, Mytholmroyd, owned by Abraham Robertshaw and Son. The bales were removed from the warehouse and taken to the Woodman Inn where they were left overnight. The next day the two accused took them to Burnley and sold them for £32. Allen pleaded not guilty and said that he bought the bales from a man to whom he believed they belonged. Duerden said he was merely acting as an assistant to Allen and did not know what the job was. Duerden was found not guilty and was discharged. Allen was convicted. But the court heard that he had gained the D.C.M. in the Dardanelles during the war and had been discharged totally wounded in 1916. So, the court said they would “give him another chance on account of his good Army record”. They fined him £20 to be paid in six months’ time otherwise he would go to prison with hard labour for three months (“D.C.M. winner’s Army record helps him”; Yorkshire Post, 9th April 1924 © Johnston Press; ibid). That £20 fine would be £1,029 at today’s value.
Another chance didn’t do any good.
In November 1924 the Yorkshire Post reported Richard Allen had come out of prison a month previously. On 11th November under the cross-heading “Besmirching his Medal” the newspaper reported: “Richard Allen, a well-known Todmorden man who in the war was awarded the D.C.M. was sent to prison for two months’ hard labour for being drunk and disorderly and doing wilful damage. The evidence showed that he went home on Saturday night and finding his wife was out he went round to her sisters. On being refused admittance there he smashed all the windows. It was stated he came out of prison last month after serving a sentence of six months” (Yorkshire Post 11th November 1924; ibid).
That wasn’t the last of his exploits.
He re-appeared in court in 1926 alongside his earlier accomplice Arthur Duerden: “Two Todmorden labourers, Arthur Duerden, 6 Short Street and Richard Allen, 26 Mill Street, were sent to prison for three months’ hard labour at Todmorden on Thursday for stealing two parcels on Todmorden railway station” (Burnley Express 27th November 1926 © Johnston Press; ibid).
The following year the pair was still at it. The two men appeared before the West Riding Quarter Sessions at Wakefield on 12th October 1927: “Arthur Duerden, (42) labourer, Short Street and Richard Allen (40) labourer, Mill Street, Todmorden, indicted for having stolen two barrels of oil, and 20 lbs of rubber valued at £11 18s 11d, the property of Clay and Horsfall manufacturers, Sowerby Bridge, six months hard labour” (Leeds Mercury © Johnston Press; ibid).
The face of Richard Allen’s service medals index-card stated: “not forfeited” written in the same black ink as the query about the pension.
Richard Allen appears to have been buried at Cross Stone, Todmorden in December 1944.
With kind regards,

Footnote: As his service medals were not forfeited it is likely his D.C.M. was not permanently forfeited. Had it been forfeited he could have applied to have it reinstated under the terms established in Army Council Instruction No. 75 of 1921. There is no record of whether his pension was reinstated.
Posted by: Young Buzzard {Email left}
Location: Newton Abbot
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016 at 7:44 AM
I need help please to find the service record of Albert James Perkins No 22749 A Sapper in the Royal Engineers, who lived at Buckland Cottage, Buckland in the Moor Devon. The only information I have was taken from the 1919 "Absent Voters List" for the village of Buckland in the Moor. Can you help please?
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016 at 7:51 PM

Dear David,
There is no surviving service record for Sapper Albert J. Perkins, 22749, Royal Engineers. The only record is an unusual medal rolls entry which recorded he qualified for the British War Medal only (Roll no. RE/101A, part 2, pages 102 – 207, May 1922).
The British War Medal was instituted in 1919 and was intended to record the bringing of the war to a successful conclusion and recognition of the arduous services rendered by H.M. forces. The British War Medal was awarded on its own to men who did not serve in a theatre of war but left their native shore and served overseas for 28 days or more, such as on garrison duty in India or Hong Kong.
The medal roll with Albert’s name included men numbered, not sequentially, between 22012 and 22945 in the Royal Engineers. One of them, Bertram Frederick Lewin, 22216, served in Hong Kong from 26th September 1913 to 10th September 1918 and qualified only for the British War Medal.
However, the same medal roll for the British War Medal on its own included the name Eugene Bonnemer, 22436, Royal Engineers. He had served since 1912 and had returned from Singapore in October 1914. He died of wounds in 1915 while serving with the 55th Field Company Royal Engineers at Merville, France. He had entered France on 21st November 1914 and should have qualified for the 1914 Star or the 1914-15 Star and the Victory Medal, but there is no record of these in any of the medal rolls.
I’ve tried identifying other men on this medal roll with numbers near to Albert’s 22749, but without success. The entry on the medal roll is not helpful in suggesting Albert Perkins’ service, other than indicating, on the surface, that he served in one of the British Colonies and not in a theatre of war.
Albert was born at Devonport in the parish of St Stephen’s in 1892 as Albert James Perkins, the son of Albert Henry and Elizabeth Ann Perkins. In the 1911 census he was recorded at Buckland in the Moor as a 16-year-old apprentice estate carpenter.
With kind regards,
Posted by: Bella {Email left}
Location: Esher
Date: Monday 17th October 2016 at 7:46 PM
Hello Alan,
I trust you are well.

Trying to find details of an Annette Johnson (formerly Tattersall) who married a cousin of mine a Brian Ernest Johnson (he born) June 1938, Edmonton, Middx. on 18th March 1977, St. Pancras. He (Brian) died 20th April 2013, London.

I don't know when her birthdate is/was and was given to understand she died around 2010/12. Can you advise?

With kind regards.

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 17th October 2016 at 8:13 PM

Dear Bella,
The information you require is too recent to be published online and therefore you would need to visit the local register office(s) for the place(s) where you think Annette Johnson might have died to search in the local registers. The General Register Office could conduct a search but they would need more details that you apparently have. See:
With kind regards,
Reply from: Bella
Date: Monday 17th October 2016 at 8:56 PM

Thank you for your prompt reply.
With kind regards.

Posted by: Mike Winkett {Email left}
Location: Birmingham
Date: Sunday 16th October 2016 at 5:49 PM
Dear Alan,

I wonder whether I could call upon your assistance in helping me to interpret the military records of Percival George Pettipher, some records for which I found on Ancestry's website. Ancestry image no. 31063 shows that he was given regimental no. 105050, Corps 80th [?] Battalion. The bottom of this form states that he was appointed to the Training Reserve Battalion, but what would have been the name of the actual regiment he first served in, please.

I can see that he enlisted at Newcastle-on-Tyne, on 2nd March 1916. I am curious what the no. "2 / 13467" means on this form. I can see that he was claiming to be 39 years old, but he was in fact born in 1880, meaning he was over-stating his age by 3 years - not uncommon, I suppose!

Where I need your help most, is in unravelling what the entries on Ancestry image "31066" all mean. I believe this form is what's known as the "Statement of the Services" form? I am hoping your interpretation of this form will give me some clues as to where he may have served and possibly some of the skirmishes he became involved in during his time abroad; at least I'm assuming he did serve abroad, even though I cannot trace any records alluding to his medal entitlement.

I can see from Ancestry image "31067" that he received a pension (5 shillings and sixpence per week) following discharge on 19 March 1919 and suffered from the disability "otitis media", which appears to have been aggravated by service. Would he not have received the Silver War Badge for this? From this same form, it appears that at the time he was invalided out of service, he had been with 26[?] Battalion Durham [L.I.?= Light Infantry?]. On this form, what does "Art 1 1 [?]" mean?

Ancestry image "31068" seems also to relate to Percival's disability and quotes his rank as "a/Corporal"; I assume this meant "acting Corporal"? If this is the case, then if I'm interpreting the entries on the "Statement of the Services" form correctly, it would seem he alternated between the ranks of "private" and "a/Corporal". Would this have meant he was trusted as a suitable soldier, albeit temporarily, to replace an existing Corporal following his being wounded/killed/transferred, until a new replacement was found, after which Percival would have resumed the rank of "private"?

Ancestry image "31069" states the theatre of war in which he served, but I cannot make out what this should read; could you enlighten me on this point, please, Alan. I believe that medical category "B2" meant he could serve on garrison duty. Am I correct, and does this include garrison duty abroad?

Any information you can give me would be most appreciated and give me a better insight into this man's military career. I shall of course be sending a donation to the British Legion by way of thanking you for this information and look forward to your reply in due course.

Best regards,
Mike Winkett
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 17th October 2016 at 6:19 PM

Dear Mike,
Percival George Pettipher was compulsorily conscripted in 1916. The Military Service Acts of 1916 deemed all men of military age to be under military law and in theory every man was conscripted on Thursday, March 2nd 1916 when the first Act came into force. In practice men were divided into classes by age and were notified when that class would be enlisted. Percival was approved on March 2nd 1916 and with his class was deemed to have enlisted on 24th June 1916. He was actually called-up for uniformed service on 2nd March 1917 and was posted to the 80th Training Reserve Battalion which he joined on 3rd March 1917 with the regimental number that appeared to be [TR] 5/43675. The 80th Training Reserve (T.R.) Battalion was his first “regiment”. The Training Reserve was created in 1916 to receive and train the new conscripts which were too numerous for the individual regimental reserve battalions to cope with. The 2nd Reserve Battalion of each regiment was moved to the new Training Reserve which consisted of 116 battalions in 26 reserve brigades capable of training 208,000 recruits.
Initially, the Training Reserve recruits wore a cap badge of a General Service button on a red disc and a shoulder title with the letters TR, and were not badged to a regiment until they were posted. The 80th to 83rd T.R. Battalions formed the 19th Reserve Brigade. The 80th T.R. Battalion was based at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and had its origins in the 32nd Reserve Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. While training, the men could also be employed on local and coastal defences.
Percival’s first regiment was the North Staffordshire Regiment to which he was transferred on 12th December 1917. His five digit regimental number in the North Staffordshire regiment
ended 2404. Transfers were “compulsory” under the Military Service Acts which provided for transfers “in the interests of the Service”. On 27th June 1918, Percival was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry and was posted to the 26th Battalion D.L.I., which was a Home Service battalion stationed at Westgate-on-Sea. His DLI number was 105050.
The number 2/13467 is actually Z 13467 which indicated he had been transferred to the Z Reserve on demobilization. It is a post-war clerk’s filing reference. The Z Reserve was for trained men who could be re-called if the Armistice with Germany did not hold. It involved no military service and it ceased on March 31st 1920.
The appointment of Lance-corporal was in the gift of the local Officer Commanding and not the War Office. Lace-corporal was not a rank, but an appointment held by a soldier whose substantive (paid) rank was Private. An acting Lance-corporal was a temporary post and could be paid or unpaid. The appointment would be lost when a man was transferred to another regiment.
Image 30166 reads: Deemed to have been enlisted 24.6.16. Called up for service as a Private 2.3.17; posted to 80 T.R. Battalion 3.3.17; joined 80 T.R. Battalion 3.3.17; [while with] 80 T.R. Battalion, appointed unpaid acting Lance-corporal 2.6.1917; appointed paid acting Lance-corporal 28.7.1917.
Transferred to North Staffordshire Regiment, as a Private, 12.12.1917 [by] authority of [an instruction or memorandum referenced] CRNC 121892/A2 dated 26-11-1917. [CRNC – Central Registry of the Army’s Northern Command]
27.6.18: Compulsorily transferred Durham Light Infantry CRNC 137083/792; retains present rate of pay; Private. 26th Battalion DLI posted 27.6.18.
27.6.18: 26th Battalion DLI appointed paid acting Lance-corporal.
9.9.18: 26th Battalion DLI appointed acting Corporal.
19.3.19: Transferred to Z Reserve. Home address: 44 Windsor Terrace, South Shields, County Durham.
[Military character] V.G. [Very Good – the highest of four grades]
Country [in which served]: Home - from 2.3.17 to 19.3.19 – 2 years 18 days. [Time in the] Reserve 252 days [probably from the Armistice to transfer to Z Reserve].

His medical condition was Otitis Media (middle ear infection). He was not discharged from the Army on medical grounds or invalided out of the service but transferred to the Z Reserve so he would not have been granted a War Badge which was for being discharged on medical grounds.
His rank for pension was Private acting corporal (Private when mobilized.)
His disability was assessed as qualifying for a 20 per cent of full pension and was aggravated by wartime service. The 20 per cent was a percentage of the full disability pension of 27s 6d (£1 7s 6d) of which 20 per cent was 5s 6d. Such aggravated awards usually were short-lived and were conditional until the effects of war service were deemed to have passed. The assessment was in accordance with Article 1(1) of the relevant Royal Warrant on Pay and Pensions that dealt with the cases that were ‘attributed’ or ‘aggravated’ by war service. The warrant would have been the “Royal Warrant for the Pensions of Soldiers disabled, and of the families and dependants of soldiers deceased, in consequence of the present war” (Ministry of Pensions - His Majesty's Stationery Office 1918). The Ministry of Pensions was created in 1916 for the purpose of administering the pension system. For a while, a bonus to the disability pension was paid because of the high cost of living. The bonus was applicable between November 1st 1918 and June 30th 1919.
Percival’s “Theatre of War or Command” was Eastern Command (England). He did not serve overseas in a theatre of war. Medical category B was for men were free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service on lines of communication in France, or in garrisons at home or in the tropics. Subcategory 2 meant: able to walk five miles, and see and hear sufficiently for ordinary purposes.
It is not possible to state in which battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment Percival served between 12th December 1917 and 27th June 1918. Given that he was in the Training Reserve he probably served in the 10th or 11th Reserve Battalions North Staffordshire Regiment stationed at Rugeley Camp on Cannock Chase. The 26th Battalion DLI remained at Westgate-on-Sea.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Mike Winkett
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016 at 3:58 PM

Dear Alan,

Thank you for your prompt and most informative reply.

I am very grateful and a donation to the British Legion will soon be on its way to them. Thanks again.

Kindest regards,
Reply from: Mike Winkett
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 11:46 AM

Dear Alan,

Now that I have had chance to "digest" your most informative reply to my query regarding the military career of Percival George Pettipher, I have a few queries arising from your reply.

I am curious as to what the role of the Lance-corporal entailed. I have seen reference on some websites indicating that the position in the infantry often served as second-in-command of a section and was also a "rank" given to specialists such as clerks, drivers, signallers, machine-gunners and mortar-men.

I note from your reply that it was not a "rank" as such and could be taken away upon transfer to another regiment. Was part of the role to train others? In actual practice, did most Privates attain this role after a set period of training (i.e. they had become fully proficient) and did most men in practice retain the position upon transfer? I am curious as to what criteria determined whether the role was paid or unpaid (presumably experience in the role played a part in this decision). Did the same criteria apply apropos the role Acting Lance-corporal; i.e. - could that also be paid or unpaid?

Would a Lance-corporal have worn a chevron or badge of some kind to indicate his position?

I wondered whether you could tell me a little more about the Protection Certificate And Certificate of Identity amongst Percival's military papers (Ancestry image 31069). I see that Percival was granted 28 days' furlough "from the date stamped hereon pending...". Presumably this furlough began on [what looks like] 29 Feb 1918 according to the [?] Record Office No.1 York. My query is this....wouldn't such a period of furlough normally be entered on the Statement of the Services form, which I assume is the form in Ancestry image no. 31066? I cannot see any reference to this period of furlough, though.

Finally, could you confirm that the "No. 1 Dispersal Unit Ripon" stamp bearing the date 19 Feb 1919, means that this was a camp in Ripon to which Percival was sent to await demobilization. I assume that the date on this Dispersal Unit's stamp was just referring to the Protection Certificate form and not the actual demobilization date, which I assume was the date he went into the Z Reserve - i.e. 19 March, 1919.

Your clarification of the above points would be very much appreciated.

Thank you, Alan.

Kindest regards,
Mike Winkett
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 25th October 2016 at 1:21 PM

Dear Mike,
Thank you for making a donation to the Royal British Legion.
In general, a battalion consisted of about 1,000 men and was commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel (the Commanding Officer: or C.O.).
Four Companies (A, B, C, D) and a H.Q. Company made up the battalion. The H.Q. Company would include some cooks and clerks and perhaps horse-transport drivers. Each infantry company was commanded by a Major or Captain (known as the Officer Commanding: O.C.). Each company had a small H.Q. plus four platoons of men (Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4). A platoon was commanded by a subaltern (2nd/Lieutenant or – after two years as a 2nd/ Lieutenant – a Lieutenant, who was the “Platoon Commander” or “O.C. No. 2 Platoon” etc.). A platoon consisted of about 55 men. The second-in-command of a platoon was a Sergeant (spelled by the D.L.I. as Serjeant) who undertook the officer’s orders and stood-in for the officer in his absence. Each platoon had four sections each of about 12 men. Each section had a Corporal in charge of it and he was assisted by a Lance-corporal. A section could be broken down into two squads each of five men; one squad of five with the Corporal the other with the Lance-corporal.
A platoon on parade would have one junior officer, a Sergeant, four Corporals and four Lance-corporals, with perhaps 40 private soldiers and additionally a platoon H.Q. with a signaller and runner, and officer’s servant (often called a “batman”).
Becoming a Lance-corporal (acting or appointed) involved a difficult choice. It was the first step on the ladder of becoming a Non Commissioned Officer (Corporal, Sergeant, Staff- Sergeant) and it required you to alter the relationship you had with your mates when once you all had been private soldiers, perhaps enlisting together as recruits. You would be addressed as “Corporal” in your presence and as “Lance-corporal” in your absence and would have to give orders to private soldiers who were once your equal as private soldiers and mates. This change in status was an uncomfortable transition in the beginning and taking on responsibility did not appeal to everyone given the chance of being a Lance-corporal. The opposite was also true: private soldiers did not want to suffer under a former friend if power had gone to his head.
The Officers Commanding would notice men with potential leadership skills or natural popularity and offer them the appointment of unpaid acting Lance-corporal. If they made a success of their probationary period they would be paid a few pence extra per day as a paid Lance-corporal (acting or otherwise). A private received a shilling a day; a Corporal 1s 8d a day. The unpaid period was not unfair because if a man did not pass muster as a Lance-corporal and had the appointment withdrawn he would not feel any resentment at having lost additional pay. He was aware the unpaid period was the probationary period and he accepted it was intended to motivate his performance.
Because Commanding Officers knew the appointment to Lance-corporal was expected to lead to promotion to N.C.O. they were keen to see how the man performed in the post before committing themselves. Equally, they realised a man who was not up to it might want to stand down.
A Lance-corporal was between a rock and a hard place. A Sergeant could pass orders down to a Corporal who could blame the Sergeant for any dis-satisfaction and pass the orders down to a Lance-corporal. But a Lance-corporal had no such recourse. Indeed, if one of his men defaulted on an order, the Lance-corporal could lose his post too. This unenviable position in the pecking order was well known by the private soldiers and they had a familiar nick-name for Lance-corporals: “Lance-jack”. Other N.C.O.s did not have nick-names. Corporals were more likely to side with Sergeants (upwards) than with Lance-corporals (downwards).
The Lance-corporal in barracks or in a tented camp slept in the same hut or tent as the men in his section and he was responsible for keeping them in order. It was his duty to ensure the men carried out their individual duties or arrived in the right place at the right time. He checked to see they had washed, shaved, cleaned their kit and polished their boots. He was responsible for the state of the hut or tent; the bedding and any “spit and polish” required for inspections. He would be responsible for reporting a man missing or gone sick before muster parade.
The Lance-corporal would hopefully get on well with his section but some of the petty tasks, such as allocating latrine-cleaning fatigues, or accusing a man of not washing, could lead to dissent and conflict. If the men didn’t like cleaning latrines, they argued with the Lance-corporal; if the latrines weren’t clean, the Lance-corporal received the blame.
When this occurred a Lance-corporal had to be tactful because if a fight broke-out the private soldier would be accused of striking an N.C.O. acting in the course of his duties which would be a much more serious offence than not having had a shave, or not using the toilet brush for the purpose for which it was provided.
Not all privates attained the position of Lance-corporal. They had to be picked out and proven in the job and it was not automatic over time. There was one Lance-corporal for every ten men.
The task did require leadership qualities and tact. The appointment to Lance-corporal (who wore a single chevron, or “stripe”, on each of his sleeves) set him apart from the men and placed him among the junior N.C.O.s. Clerks or those working in H.Q. could be granted the appointment because they were dealing with private soldiers’ personnel records and pay which were confidential and making them an N.C.O. raised them above the private soldier. Other skills, such as driver or machine-gunner were rewarded with the extra pay or for being in charge of a squad.
Lance-corporals could teach basic skills such as handling and cleaning the rifle, drill, or camouflage and field-craft.
A man could go “up and down” as a Lance-corporal within his own battalion, depending on his performance, having the appointment withdrawn and perhaps re-instated to be given another chance. Or, if he did not enjoy the task he could revert at his own request. Hopefully, he would go from unpaid to paid Lance-corporal and then go on to earn his second stripe as a substantive Corporal (or “full Corporal” as the distinction was sometimes made) where he would have extra responsibility, more pay, and extra privileges in camp such as a Corporal’s Mess. The rank of full Corporal was recognised by the War Office and could not be removed by the Commanding Officer.
Periods of “acting” appointment could cover the probationary period set by the Commanding Officer or might have been for just a week while someone was on leave or went sick.
Under paragraph 282 of King's Regulations 1912 amended 1st August 1914 a Lance-corporal’s or acting Lance-corporal’s actual rank, as far as the War Office was concerned, was private soldier so when a man was transferred he returned to being a private until a vacancy arose for a fresh appointment in his new unit. In the order of precedence, however, a Lance-corporal was above private soldiers and while he had no command over more than a section or squad of a handful of men, in matters of discipline he was required at all times to exercise the full authority attached to his appointment.
A successful Lance-corporal would have learned a great deal about what would later be termed “man management”. If he was effective he would keep his soldiers’ goodwill whilst being in charge of them.
Because Percival did not serve overseas, I have not considered the rôle of junior Non Commissioned Officers in combat where they might additionally have controlled firing parties, machine guns or bombing squads; sentry duties or ration parties.
The period of demobilization leave was part of a man’s military service and did not have to be shown separately on his service record which dealt mostly with postings and appointments. As Percival served at “Home” throughout the war, furlough at Home did not need to be identified in the same way a man leaving France might need to be identified as having been granted furlough. By the time the demobilization leave was granted, Percival had left the D.L.I. and moved to an all-regiment dispersal centre in the north of England, so the Protection Certificate issued by that centre became the record of his demobilization leave. The Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity acted as an identity card proving the man was on leave and not a deserter. A Post Office Savings Book was sent to the man’s home address (“address for pay”) so he could receive his four weeks’ furlough pay. The original Certificate given to Percival (not the carbon-copy sent to his file) would have had four empty boxes for a Post Office stamp that would be endorsed on each of the four occasions that he went to withdraw his weekly pay from his local Post Office. The original certificate also came with a railway ticket to his home station. The “protection” part of the title referred to the ability to later protect his claim to unemployment benefit and proof of service, pay and allowances.
No. 1 Dispersal Camp at Ripon was the camp to which Percival was sent to prepare for demobilization. Ripon became a very large military garrison during the First World War. He would have been medically inspected whilst there, and processed through paperwork and demobilization instructions for various formalities including such things as returning his uniform Great Coat; claiming clothing allowance; seeking unemployment benefit and so on. For more on the dispersal procedure see the article on Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail at:
The date of dispersal from Ripon was stamped 19 Feb 1919 under “dispersal unit stamp and date of dispersal”. He then had four weeks’ leave at home and would have been demobilized a month later on 19th March 1919. The date on the incoming “received” date-stamp was 29th February which was the date the copy of the Certificate was received by the York No. 1 Army Record Office where the soldier’s file was stored and the copy was stamped as having been received on that date.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Mike Winkett
Date: Tuesday 25th October 2016 at 2:42 PM

Dear Alan,

Thank you so much for the very detailed extra information you have given me. This is so appreciated.

You provide a wonderful service; the detail you provide to people using this forum helps "bring to life" the military careers of the soldiers concerned.

I know there must be a large number of regular followers of this forum who have received help from you over the years and others who don't make any enquiries at all, but simply read your replies to others because of their educational value!

Your chosen charity, the Royal British Legion, is a most deserving one. I would urge all regular visitors to this forum, whichever of the above two categories you fall into, but who nevertheless appreciate the work Alan does, to be especially generous when giving to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in a few weeks' time.

Thanks again, Alan.

Kindest regards,
Mike Winkett

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