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WW1 ancester

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WW1 ancester

Postby C Verrill » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:37 pm

I'm trying to tie up details on my Great Uncle and wondered whether anyone can help with a bit of clarification please:

George Piper B. 26.2.1894 in West Bromwich. D. 4.10.1924 in Brisbane, Australia (emigrated in 1920)
He was in the Royal Navy and I have his service and medal details from ancestry records. His service no: was M29290. I have established he served on several ships from 1918-1919 ending with 'shore on demobilisation'. So I presumed after the war he just left and then went to live in Brisbane as I have his details after this up to his death 1924. My query is the remarks on his seamans register says 'Trace to M of P and paid war gratuity dated about 1 month after his death. Does anyone know what this means please? His rank is showing Act. E.A.4 - again what is this?
Finally am I right in thinking that he was shore based during his service as I can find a little on some of the ships listed but am unsure? Any help would be appreciated please - thanks Christine
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Re: WW1 ancester

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:58 pm

I'd guess that M of P is Ministry of Pensions. Maybe something to do with the war gratuity?

EA - is unfortunately not in the list on so I have to try another guess, which is "Engineering Artificer". This does, however, fit with his occupation.

As for his "ships" - hmm. My standard method is to look in Wikipedia for HMS whatever. Most of those are shore bases or depot ships. I couldn't find HMS Bacchus, though, while HMS Latona for the appropriate period is certainly a floating ship. Nor could I find HMS Victory II, although given that the iconic HMS Victory was still afloat (never realised!) at this time, I think we can be pretty certain that this wasn't a ship - rather it was, I suspect, an office based in Portsmouth.

However, even where the allocated ships are shore bases or depot ships, I'd be a little wary of assuming he never went to sea during his time with those places. The reason is that those ships are allocations for personnel purposes - I found with a stoker who served during WW1 that his allocations were often depot ships for destroyer flotillas and apparently practice was that the allocation was to somewhere big enough to have a staff office. Hence although he had an allocation to a flotilla's depot ship, chances are that he was probably physically on one of the destroyers.

What the situation would be with a fitter, I don't know, I guess bigger ships would have had on-board workshops - like HMS Latona???

Anyone got any thoughts on where Engineering Artificers are normally to be found???
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Re: WW1 ancester

Postby Sylcec » Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:18 pm

Interesting timing on this query Adrian as I was having similar discussion with a friend a couple of days ago. Her grandfather was an Artificer in RN. Service record (hopefully attached) says he was a Gun Fitter. I recollect her also telling me that his post WWI employment involved him being graded as an Artificer.

Previously think I have come across this in connection with Artillery Regiments. Looking for definitions using google, other than links to a video game, the consensus seems to be a sort of military mechanic who develops creative solutions to hardware problems, something of an inventor.

I would be pleased to learn more.
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Re: WW1 ancester

Postby peter kent » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:04 am

the consensus seems to be a sort of military mechanic who develops creative solutions to hardware problems, something of an inventor.

Top marks for imagination but "artificer" simply means craftsman or artisan.

For its specific use in the Royal Navy, see this news report- ... story.html

Also see "Engine Room Artificer" in Wikipedia.

Useful search engine term: artificer "royal navy"
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Re: WW1 ancester

Postby ewanarm » Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:09 pm


Just done a quick search on Google and found reference to RFA Bacchus here ... acchus.htm

This could be one of the ships you were looking for.

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Re: WW1 ancester

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:24 pm

Thanks for that - never thought of RFAs appearing in that list - in future, I shall add searches on RFAs as well as HMSs in Wikipedia.
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Re: WW1 ancester

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:09 pm

I have so few RN relatives that it's like reinventing the wheel each time I look at one. Anyway, excuses aside, if you look at, you will find an explanation of the prefixes to service numbers. Note that M as appearing on the original poster's and Sylvia's, is indeed for "Engine Room Artificers". Incidentally, somewhere on that naval-history site are lists of numbers of people in each rank / trade for various ships sunk during WW1, the value of which is that it suggests the establishment of ships of differing types. Even destroyers (small things in WW1) carried more than one artificer, based on the examples I saw.

A fitter, by the way, is generally not just someone who is given a spanner one day and told to get on with it. My grandpa Jack was a fitter in the Artillery during WW1 and he was serving a 7y apprenticeship as a fitter in Crewe Loco Works at the time. In fact, he even came out of his time (i.e. finished his apprenticeship) while in the Army. In his later years, when the guys were repairing old steam locos for which the drawings had long since been lost, they'd need to find out where the replacement pipes ran on the repaired locos - at such time, "Send for Jack Bruce" was the phrase and Grandpa would have to come and show them where the pipes ran. So fitters may not have been inclined towards being inventors but were certainly funds of knowledge and skills.
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