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Help needed to decipher WW1 military records.

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Help needed to decipher WW1 military records.

Postby phsvm » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:16 pm

Harry John Dore was born in 1878 in Berkshire. His military papers survive which show he attested in December 1915 and was mobilised in June 1916. According to his papers he had already served 12 years with the Royal Berkshires. His first service number was 26278. His papers refer to him as Henry James and Henry John but he was definitely Harry John.

I'm not experienced enough to feel confident in interpreting all the information and would be really grateful if someone could help me.

What I have gleaned -

He was posted to France in June 1916 (and promoted to Lance Corporal) with the 2/4th Royal Berks and in June 1917 transferred to the Royal Engineers 318th Road Construction Company. On 21 November 1917 he was promoted to Corporal and in May 1918 became a Road Foreman. He had 14 day's leave in December 1918 and finally returned to the UK in February 1919.

I'm not sure what all the other entries in his papers mean and I think there is something about him being injured. I assume the Road Construction Company were doing exactly what the title says - building the access roads behind the lines?

Any help gratefully received.
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Re: Help needed to decipher WW1 military records.

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:20 pm

His papers refer to him as Henry James and Henry John but he was definitely Harry John

Yes, I have relatives with the same problem - Grandpa was registered as "Jack" but was continually having his entries 'corrected' to "John"!

So - Harry John.... These are my additional comments:

Note that he attested 11 Dec 1915 but was not actually called up until June 1916. This means that he volunteered under the Derby Scheme - people knew conscription was coming and by volunteering now, they could choose which regiment to join. After volunteering and attesting, they were put into the Army Reserve and allowed to go back home until actually called up / mobilised.

Original no. 26278 will be a Royal Berks number.

15/6/1916 - mobilised - i.e. called up. Posted to the 3rd Royal Berks on 17/6/16

4/7/16 Appointed Lance Corporal. At the time, lance corporal was an appointment specific to a unit, not a permanent rank - hence he is appointed, not promoted.

11/10/16 Posted to 46th Infantry Base Depot.

18?/10/16 at Rouen from 46 Infantry Base Depot

21/10/16 Posted to 2/4th Royal Berks and allocated no. 20296 (this is a Territorial Force series number as he's now in a different sort of unit so needs one of their numbers).

I think that 202992 is his later Royal Berks number under the 1917 TF Renumbering.

27/4/17 - transferred to 1st South Midland Field Company, Royal Engineers Territorial Force, and posted to 31st Road Construction Co.
Sounds as if the Field Company took them first and then sent them to other units such as Road Construction Companies.
Needs another new number - 495916 - which is a number applicable to 1 South Midland Field Co.
Note he is transferred over as a Private, not Lance Corporal. The RE doesn't have Privates, it had Pioneers (semi-skilled) and Sappers (skilled). I think that he becomes a Pioneer.

Note that although it says "Date of Casualty" this doesn't mean he was wounded - "Casualty" originally had a much wider meaning of being taken off one duty and put on another.

21/11/17 - Appointed Acting Corporal (Paid), then promoted corporal from the same date - this was possibly backdated because otherwise the dates and references make no sense.

5/5/18 Remustered as a Road Foreman - note this is a role, not a rank.

At some point he is renumbered WR/30828 - the WR/ numbers were used by Water and Rail companies - and roads as well it seem! I'd not heard of Road Construction Companies before - I'd guess that yes, they were building roads but quite possibly anywhere in France or Belgium where the roads needed improving for the war effort, not just immediately behind the lines.
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Re: Help needed to decipher WW1 military records.

Postby Jefff » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:45 am

Googling "Road construction companies British Army WW1" soon gave me a page within the "livesofthefirstworldwar" site which is abt the 305th Road Construction Company, RE. Clicking on the various soldiers gives some background info, I see that some have WR numbers. If nowt else it confirms such units existed, which makes complete sense.
This site won't permit me to give a link, as a new user, sorry..
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