Sunday, 15 March 2015

Lists, nominal rolls, transfers and fragments in WO 363

The great advantage that Findmypast has over Ancestry when it comes to First World War service records and pension records is that Findmypast has managed to index far more records. Take it from someone who knows, a huge amount of care was taken when indexing and whenever a list of names was found tucked away in a service record, the names on that list were captured.

That little exercise added many hundreds of thousands of indexed names to WO 363 (and it is WO 363 (the burnt documents) for the most part, where these apparently random lists appear). 

And make no mistake, there are some really cracking lists that are tucked away in these service records. I found nine pages of Lancashire Fusiliers' special reservists recently; lists that show which companies the men were posted to when they were mobilised in August 1914 and also when they were drafted overseas. Complete lists like this simply don't survive in general and this one would most likely have been lost had Findmypast not taken the trouble to capture the names of those men.

I was doing some research for a client the other day and found the man he was looking for on a single sheet detailing transfers from one Prisoner of War camp to another. I've posted that image at the top of this blog post. The information that this particular man was at Muncheberg before Sagan was news to me, and also information that was not included in PoW records.

Note that at the top of the page it indicates that this sheet is a continuation. Note too, the poor rendering of PoW details: Edgar Hoskins is Edgar Hoskius; Thetford is Thelford, and Le Cateau is Le Caleou. I am more interested though, to see if there is other information about this group of PoW transfers and to do this I need to go back to the original record in which these papers were concealed.

Whilst looking at this image, click on the "view transcription" lozenge at the top of the page. This will take you back to the transcription where we can see that this particular page appears within the service record for William Jackson Harrison.

Now, using the information above, we can edit the search to look for 21429 William Jackson Harrison and scroll through the images in his record until we get to the right frame.  We already know that Hoskins is mentioned on frame 202 and so we'd hope to find related information on frame 201 or 203.

In actual fact, as I found out, there are no other documents in this case.  However, I would recommend always going back to the originating record to see if there is contextual information that could help you understand more about these list entries.

If you need help researching British army records, drop me a line.  Remember too that you'll find much useful information on this blog and also on my Army Service Numbers blog.

Images on this post are, with the exception of the Findmypast screenshots, Crown Copyright, The National Archives.

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