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Medal Index Card

Mon Nov 21, 2016 2:02 pm


I'm mainly wondering why there are two regimental numbers and is the date in the remarks column the date he was discharged?

Thank you.

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Re: Medal Index Card

Mon Nov 21, 2016 2:10 pm

Disembodied. There were changes to regimental numbers during the Great War. These were sometimes due to the soldier being a Territorial but also because of the large number joining the various regiments and 4 figure army service numbers not being considered adequate.

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Re: Medal Index Card

Mon Nov 21, 2016 2:18 pm

If you wish to learn more about the Great War and need research help why not join The Great War Forum.
It's free and an amazing resource for anything connected with the Great War.

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Re: Medal Index Card

Mon Nov 21, 2016 2:48 pm

As suggested above, a change from a 4 digit to a 6 digit number, is usually indicative of a guy in the Territorial Force. If you notice, the numbers are in different inks, and I have always believed that these suggest what appeared on the different medals. So the 1914-15 Star (to give it its full title) would be stamped with the 4 digit number, because that was what was applicable then. The other 2 would have the 6 digit number. Only someone with the actual medals can check that of course.

The move to 6 digit numbers came to ease the work involved when guys transferred from one battalion to another. Originally the typical pattern was that each TF had its own number sequence, each starting from 1. So a regiment with 4 TF battalions might have 4 TF soldiers numbered 1234. If someone moved from 1 TF battalion to another, they would be issued with a new number in their new battalion. As transfers became more frequent, so this became too much work and the TF soldiers were all given new 6 digit numbers that were unique within the regiment, avoiding the need for renumbering when moving within the regiment.

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Re: Medal Index Card

Mon Nov 21, 2016 2:59 pm

Thank you both for your help.

So it's likely he was a territorial or reservist that was called up?

I found a William Edward Smith in the 1911 census who is a private in the army but is serving in a Northamptonshire Regiment. I wasn't entirely sure it was him as that medal card links him to the Leicestershire Regiment.

Possibly he was originally in the Northamptonshire Regiment and after he left was called up again for the Leicestershire Regiment during the First World War?

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Re: Medal Index Card

Mon Nov 21, 2016 4:54 pm

The 1917 renumbering of the TF is covered on http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/renumbering-of-the-territorial-force-in-1917/renumbering-the-tf-infantry-in-1917/

240452 was given to someone very early on in the sequence for the Leicester's 5th TF Battalion. It would be highly unusual if his renumbering just happened to conicide with a move of battalions, so we can take it that 2219 was his previous number in Leicester's 5th TF Battalion.

In theory, once you know the number sequence, you can get a rough idea of when someone joined. FMP has a Thomas Birch number 2247, in the 1/5th and 2/5th Bns - these are just subdivisions (battalions in their own right) of the 5th. He enlisted August 1914 so William Smith (at 2219) probably enlisted about then. Roughly. So that's a volunteer, he wasn't conscripted.

So Medal Index Card William was a Territorial, not a reservist, which is a concept only applicable to Regulars - Territorials were a sort of reserve by definition so would never be referred to as reservists.

It's most likely that the 1911 WES is someone entirely different. Without seeing the stuff, I would take a guess that 1911 WES is a regular, as any territorial should give their daytime occupation in a census. That being so it is very unlikely that 1911 WES would end up in the Territorial Force as former regulars who wished to carry on in a part-time capacity, were encouraged to join what was referred to as the Special Reserve.

Please note that all the above is full of estimates and educated guess work intended to give you some idea of the likely things to investigate first.

Re: Medal Index Card

Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:44 pm

There is a web site called:- Army Service Numbers 1881-1918 Index, which will give you a very good idea as to exactly when an army number was issued The renumbering was effective from 1st March 1917.
In those days when a reserve or territorial unit was placed on an active footing this was referred to as being "embodied" when they where stood down they were" disembodied". That what the abbreviation on the MIC refers to. Jeff Ward
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