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Research advice needed

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Research advice needed

Postby suec » Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:53 pm

Hi, I am soon to visit TNA and would like to further my research into my grandfather's military background.
I have his name, DOB, soldier number, 33751, his role and brigade, Gunner, C Battery, 152 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. I am also fortunate in having a published account of one of his exploits in Lynne McDonald's excellent book, Voices and Images of the Great War.
I have found a record of his medal card but I cannot find his service record and wonder if this was one of those destroyed in WW2?
I believe he was gassed and returned to a convalescence facility in England, probably the Rutland area, where he met my grandmother. However, I can't discover if this is the case, or when and where, advice on how to do so would be very much appreciated.
Also, as a first timer to TNA what more can I research there about my grandfather with the information that I already have, I want to get the most out of my visit and if I cannot make further headway with my grandfather it may be more productive to investigate my husband's grandfather who died as a merchant seaman in WW2 as a result of German submarine attack.
Very many thanks for any and all advice, information and especially for taking the time and trouble to help.
Suec


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Re: Research advice needed

Postby brunes08 » Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:12 pm

If you are visiting TNA for the first time you need to take documents to prove who you are. I expect you have already checked the site for this. Also it is not open every day so take note. You need to give yourself plenty of time because you will have to go through a short computer programme on using and handling documents before you will be given a Reader's Card. This card will enable you access and to print off any information you may find on their computers. You use the card to deposit some money so you can pay for your print-outs as you want them. The staff at the Help Desk are very good and will assist you. The card will also enable you to access original documents if appropriate. Hope that is a bit of help as a first visit is a bit daunting if you do not know what to expect.


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Re: Research advice needed

Postby junkers » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:34 pm

I would suggest you look at the website and the various research guides they have and TNA also have an online chat every Tuesday to Friday from around 1 pm for advice. TNA are closed on Mondays and Sundays and Tuesday and Thursday are late opening hours until 7pm with last ordering of documents at 5pm, other days it is closing time at 5 pm with last orders at 4.15, the documents take about 40 minutes to arrive at the locker. I would suggest ordering documents in advice (see 'Before you Visit' section on the website) and then you are guaranteed a seat, some documents are on computer but it is worth getting a reader's ticket and it is free!. You can bring a notebook and pencils (no erasers on the end though) and definitely no pens. There are lockers and coat hangers available to use.

If you register your e-mail address at TNA you can send copies of documents you look at that are copyable (watch out for copyright issues) free of charge. Even if your grandfather's service file was lost in the bombing of the Army Pay Office in 1940 then there may be a pension disability file on him in the PIN (Ministry of Pensions) series, if you wanted to tell us his name, date and place of birth we may be able to suggest other files. If he served after 1920 then unless he was an officer then his file may be with MOD in Glasgow.
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Re: Research advice needed

Postby suec » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:48 pm

Thank you both. It is, as you identified, advice as to what I might look for and possibly point me in the right direction, and if you have access to any data (I may have misunderstood your reply, sorry if so) which gives any information about my grandfather I should be very grateful.
He was: Francis Robert Spencer, born in Malton, Yorkshire on 15th Jan 1895. Married Beatrice Lily Neale from Manton in Rutland, which is why I think he went there to convalesce. My only remaining Aunt believes he was gassed but he never talked about it.
He died of lung cancer on 23rd April 1961 in Gloucester (he was visiting there).
I have all the relevant BMD certificates, medal card and reminiscences from the book I mentioned, and as I posted earlier, I have his regiment, brigade and he was in C battery.
Is there more I can discover and if so what and where?
That generation never discussed or complained about their experiences so it is good to honour them by finding out for ourselves where we can. I recall him as a very gentle man, a church warden. If you have the opportunity you might like his account in the Lynne McDonald book. It paints a picture of "hung ho" exploits, so different from the elderly grandfather I knew.
Many thanks
Suec


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Re: Research advice needed

Postby Sylcec » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:20 am

It sounds as if you will need to be consulting war diaries for the regiment during the time your grandfather was serving in the RA.

As well as consulting the excellent guides available on the National Archives websites, you may also be able to glean some information in advance from the Long Long Trail http://www.1914=1918.net, from where I discover that the 152ndBrigade RFA was in the 34th Division of the Army. You can get a summary here to find out what it was involved in http://www.1914-1918.net/34div.htm

The site also has a page on Military Hospitals - though doesn't list anything in Rutland. The nearest would probably be Grantham in Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, or Leicester. There were also several in Nottinghamshire.

If nothing else, the Long Long Trail may help you to more closely define your questions at TNA about what you want to look at.
Good hunting! Sylvia
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Re: Research advice needed

Postby suec » Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:09 am

Very many thanks Sylvia. I was reading parts of the Long Long Trail yesterday evening but hasn't gleaned the part about the 34th Division. I was looking for War diaries but couldn't find 152 brigade, so I will try again.
And thanks for the links.
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