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3rd Bn Oxfordshire LI - puzzling service record

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3rd Bn Oxfordshire LI - puzzling service record

Postby Pantgwyn » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:08 am

I've just downloaded from Findmypast the military service record of my ancestor Daniel Curtain. I'm thrilled to have found it, but am baffled by contradictory information which it contains.

My ancestor was born in April 1870 in London. He was a boot or shoe maker by trade.

When he first joined the militia, early in 1892, he said that he was 18 years and 9 months old and was born in Chesham, Bucks. Both wrong (he was really 21) - although he does state that he is a 'shoe rivetter', which fits. However, eight years later, in his 'Attestation for the Militia Reserve' statement, he gives his age as 29 years and 9 months and his birthplace as London. This IS correct, and he gives the correct next of kin too (his father, Bartholomew).

I did wonder whether two military records might have been conflated, but I don't think this is the case. The service number is the same and the physical descriptions are virtually identical (the only difference is that in 1900 he was one-quarter of an inch taller!).

So what I want to know is: why might he have lied about his age back in 1892? Was there a rule about age on enlistment? I'm surprised that nobody picked up on the discrepancy when he gave his correct age in 1900 (or maybe they weren't bothered?). Was this sort of thing common? I will add that Daniel appears in newspaper reports of the 1890s and 1900s, convicted of drunkenness and/or fighting. (He mentions in court on one occasion in 1906 that he's been invalided out of the 3rd Bn Oxfordshire LI, and only his doctor's certificate stating that he suffers from heart disease saves him from a custodial sentence!) Subsequently he seems to have decamped from Aylesbury to London with another man's wife. Even in his fifties he turns up in court accused on manslaughter after a fight in a lodging-house ... so perhaps he was running away from something in 1892, and this is the reason he falsified his age and place of birth?

I'd love to know if anyone else has found anything similar in a military record.
Pantgwyn
 
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Re: 3rd Bn Oxfordshire LI - puzzling service record

Postby KayFarndon » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:47 pm

If there had not been a photograph attached to his naval record I would have probably missed my uncle.

I had tried for a long while to locate him and a friend found him on a visit to Kew. His birth date and physical description is correct, but he made changes to his name and appears to have used his brother's name instead of his own, which was a more common name: unlike uncle who had three!

I wondered whether he had run away to enlist or was too young, so thought changes would enable him to join. I can't locate his details at the moment, but he was born in 1900 and died in 1926. I have a photo of him in uniform which is how I knew the record was his.

Only by chance did my friend find him and thought it worthwhile getting a photcopy for me, even though he thought it might be the wrong man. I learned from this to never miss a chance for information, right or wrong. I have always thought that a good motto for family history was, expect the unexpected.....and rightly so.

You may never know the answer, but you will have hours of fun trying to understand it all.
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Re: 3rd Bn Oxfordshire LI - puzzling service record

Postby Pantgwyn » Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:45 pm

That's really interesting. Clearly this sort of thing wasn't unknown.

I do wonder whether Daniel had something to hide when he gave an incorrect birthplace and birthdate (e.g., a few years later, arrested in Newton Pagnell on suspicion of being wanted in London, he told the arresting officer that actually he was wanted in Wellingborough, and so he was taken there instead of back to London, his birthplace -- I wonder what he'd done in London?!).

One curious detail: the medical examination when he first joined the militia gives 'age physically equivalent to' 18 years and 7 months (he'd admitted to 18y 9m, whereas in fact he was 21y 10m!). Maybe he said he was younger than his true age because he did look very young?? Maybe he said he was born in Chesham (where he was currently working) because he thought it might complicate his application to join the Bucks militia if he'd been born in Middlesex ...???

Well, as you say, even if one never finds an answer, the hunt can be endless fun!! Thanks for your input.

Helen
Pantgwyn
 
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Re: 3rd Bn Oxfordshire LI - puzzling service record

Postby junkers » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:27 pm

Have you seen Daniel's empty medal card from the First World War (at The National Archives and ancestry) and whether he had been issued with any medals. In theory he may (or may not) have served in the First World War, the War Office did sometimes get the wrong information as I have come across a similar empty medal card for an ancestor who died in the 1880s!. Have you asked about his National Registration record for 1915, it will incur a fee but might help.
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Re: 3rd Bn Oxfordshire LI - puzzling service record

Postby Pantgwyn » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:53 am

Hi Junkers, yes, I did see Daniel's empty medal card ... and was completely baffled by it. Why would someone in 1927 inquire about what medals Daniel had got?? (Having said this, there were soldiers out there with similar names, so, as you say, maybe there was a mix-up, although the medal card does specify the correct battalion and militia.)

I had assumed that he didn't fight in WW1 because he'd have been in his mid-forties by the time that war broke out. By this time he also had a small son (whose mother was absent).

I haven't previously encountered the 1915 National Registration - how expensive is it to access?

I know a bit about what happened to Daniel after he had left the militia in 1902 (thanks to his occasional court appearances, reported in local newspapers ...). By the time of the 1911 census he and his son were living in Nottingham with his sister and her family. He died in 1936. (My father was in his teens by this time, so must have known him ... if only I'd asked him more about his family :( )

Thanks for your comments!

Helen
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