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William Ernest Backhouse (1888-1951)

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William Ernest Backhouse (1888-1951)

Postby plf99 » Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:28 pm

A 2nd cousin of mine, William Ernest Backhouse, served with the Royal Engineers during WW1. His service records mention that he was mentioned in despatches by General Haig's aide and was awarded the 'Meritorious Service Medal'.

I have searched the 'London Gazette', as well as various other sources, but have been unable to locate any reference to either his medal, or his mention in despatches.

Might anybody have any idea on where I might be able to locate such information please?

Many thanks!
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Re: William Ernest Backhouse (1888-1951)

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:02 pm

Basic start point: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/british-military-gallantry-medals/

TNA have digitised the Medal Index Card for his MSM (I think) and it can be downloaded for a small sum of cash - I say "I think" because WO 372/24 is apparently "Mentions in Despatches, Meritorious Service Medals and Territorial Force Efficiency Medals" - so it could be any of those. The one that you need is this:

Reference: WO 372/24/81775
Description:
Medal card of Backhouse, William Ernest
Corps Regiment No Rank
Royal Engineers WR/27429 Serjeant
Date: 1908-1924
Held by: The National Archives, Kew


Be careful because he also has his normal BWM/VM campaign medal index card - you're better off getting that from Ancestry because it's full colour. But I don't see this one on Ancestry.

This is only an Index Card but it'll give you a start. The London Gazette search engine is notoriously idiosyncratic - and of course, it's driven by Optical Character Recognition, which always has its limits. I have to confess I don't know much about the MSM at all - I thought it was a sort of good conduct medal but apparently, during WW1 they instituted something called the "Immediate MSM", which was a sort of bravery medal. And no, I'm not sure what that means myself!

The problem is that a huge number of medal citations were destroyed in WW2 (probably in the Arnside St fire?) so you may not find any detail. The detail of how to find stuff for the MSM is in William Spencer's book Medals: The Researcher's Guide, published by TNA. So a visit to a decent library might be called for...
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Re: William Ernest Backhouse (1888-1951)

Postby peter kent » Thu Jul 14, 2016 11:53 am

I have searched the 'London Gazette', as well as various other sources, but have been unable to locate any reference to either his medal, or his mention in despatches.


I found him easily. Don't forget that his number is more important than his forenames (which wouldn't be shown for other ranks)

I just searched on Backhouse 27429.

I don't know what award it refers to because I can't be doing with turning the pages back to the start of the list. I'll leave that to you!
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Re: William Ernest Backhouse (1888-1951)

Postby clarksclerks » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:28 pm

I've had exactly the same problem with my grandfather, Ambrose Samuel Meyers. He was a career soldiers with the REs and was awarded several medals in WW1 including the Meritorious Service Medal. The medal card only notes that it was awarded in 1918 for 'Devotion' but it does not appear to have been listed in the London Gazette, unlike most of his other medals. I went to the RE Museum in Kent and from what I could gather this particular medal was awarded very rarely.
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Re: William Ernest Backhouse (1888-1951)

Postby plf99 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:47 pm

I'm not having the same luck as you Peter. Even when using the text you used to search with.

Thank you OP for helping me.
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Re: William Ernest Backhouse (1888-1951)

Postby ianbee » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:16 pm

Fifth Supplement to the London Gazette of Friday, the 30th May, 1919
(page 6865)
War Office, 3rd June 1919
His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Meritorious Service Medal to the following.....

(Royal Engineers from page 6871)
page 6874
WR/27429 Sjt. Backhouse, W. E. (Whitley Bay)

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/iss ... /page/6874
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Re: William Ernest Backhouse (1888-1951)

Postby peter kent » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:46 am

Ambrose Samuel Meyers...Meritorious Service Medal...does not appear to have been listed in the London Gazette


It is in the Gazette

Publication date:
14 June 1918
Supplement:
30750
Page:
7158

"Devotion" suggests he received the award for generally being a good egg over a reasonable period of time.
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Re: William Ernest Backhouse (1888-1951)

Postby clarksclerks » Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:27 pm

Thanks for this, Peter. It's interesting that the citation gives his location as Dublin whereas his other citations use his London address. It suggests that the medal was for service over a period, rather than a specific incident. He enlisted in the REs in Dublin in about 1902 but was in England by 1905 and I don't think he served in Ireland.
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