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WW1 Royal Engineer - Frank Dove

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WW1 Royal Engineer - Frank Dove

Postby murraycam » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:43 pm

I am trying to research the service record of Frank Dove, born in Bristol in 1883 and married Ada Collins in 1903.
He was a Plate Layer for the Midland Railway and the couple had a total of eleven known children.
I have managed to obtain a copy of the 'Roll of individuals entitled to the War Badge' which tells me that he served from 3/5/1917 to 10/9/1918. some 16 months; also that he served abroad and was discharged - Sickness at 35 yoa.
He was in the Royal Engineers - WR 289708 - Sapper Reg. No.275367.
I also have document - 'Short Service Attestation' for Frank and am wondering why his enlistment, in May 1917. was so late in the war.
I think that he may well have served on the Western Front, can you help me fill in the details of his service?
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Re: WW1 Royal Engineer - Frank Dove

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Aug 18, 2015 3:19 pm

Well I've never seen that before - though I'm sure people who major in WW1 have.

Frank's papers are on both FMP and Ancestry, though he's indexed under 5367 on FMP as that's the number on his "new soldier" piece of paper. (The Army put a "?" by that number as the papers are singed more than a bit). Beware - on Ancestry you end up on his attestation form (as always) and you need to go back (or left if you prefer) to see the other pages.

The FMP images seen to be slightly clearer. On FMP the attestation form is signed by the certifying magistrate on 20 November 1915. The Military History Sheet records his service as:
Home 3-5-17 to 13-9-17
Illegible 14-9-17 to 19-6-18
Home 20-6-18 to 10-9-18

What this means is that he's volunteered 20 Nov 1915 but hasn't actually been put into uniform until 3 May 1917. He would have volunteered, I presumed, under the Derby Scheme ( and, where as a volunteer you got the choice of what unit to go into, plus you were then sent home to resume your civilian life until you were called up and put into uniform. Call up order depended on age and marital status. Even so, according to the latter of those 2 URLs, he would normally have been called up in spring 1916.

If he was a platelayer for the Midland Railway, it might be that his employers were able to postpone his mobilisation on the basis that that he was just as important to the war effort where he was. But I don't know. It's the sort of question that might get an interesting response on the Great War Forum

During his Army career overseas, he carried two numbers - 275367 and then WR 289708. No surprise that WR in the Royal Engineers means Waterways & Railways - I get the impression that the WR numbers might be a later reorganisation so it's quite possible he was connected with the railways side throughout - it would be logical. See for details of the RE. You should read this Long Long Trail site carefully as it will put a lot into context.

As for what company he served with in the RE, you might never find that out - it's worth asking on the Great War Forum just in case ranges were used for the two numbers. But my impression is that finding out which RE company anyone served with is, ahem, tricky. But if you tell them his details, someone might be able to read that "Illegible 14-9-17 to 19-6-18" line. I am actually wondering if it says "Etat", which is one of the French railways at that time - except that seems too specific for something that's normally a theatre of war.
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Re: WW1 Royal Engineer - Frank Dove

Postby murraycam » Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:58 pm

Hi Adrian,
Many thanks for your reply.
This was my first ever post and you've certainly provided a mass of info. for me to work through. Frank was my wife's grandfather and she is extremely keen to find out about his WW1 experience.
Many thanks for your valuable help.
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Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:15 pm

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