Wednesday, December 5, 2012

At last - a regiment for Thomas Henry Ward

Over the past couple of years I've searched through the military records on Ancestry umpteen times, looking for some clue as to which regiment Thomas Henry Ward belonged to during his army service in World War 1. I found dozens of Thomas H Wards, and hundreds more plain Thomas Wards, but none of the records I looked at had enough information to identify them as the correct Thomas. Even knowing that he served in Mesopotamia and India didn't help.

Obverse of the
Victory medal
But this week I came across a card in the Medal Rolls Index for a Thomas Henry Ward who served in the Army Ordnance Corps (AOC). And there on the back of the card was an address (which is fairly unusual on such cards) - 17 Clifton St, Milnrow. So, now I know his regiment! What I don't know is how I missed seeing the  address on the card before. Perhaps I overlooked it, although it's quite clear. The card doesn't come up using Milnrow as a keyword or place of residence.

The Medal Rolls Index contains millions of cards. Almost every soldier who served overseas in World War 1 was awarded some sort of medal, often more than one. Each soldier had an Index card on which the army listed what medals they were entitled to, along with details such as their regiment(s) and regimental numbers, where they served and so on. Most cards contain very few details.

Reverse of the
Victory medal
The Index card for Thomas Henry Ward shows that he was a private in the Army Ordnance Corps (which became the RAOC from 1918), regimental number 029248 (1). He was awarded a Victory medal (not to be confused with the Victoria Cross!) and the British War medal. The Great War website gives details about these medals.

There is also an entry for the GSM - General Service Medal - with a clasp for service in NW Persia. Then for some reason the reference to the GSM has been crossed out and the word "ineligible" added, but leaving the words about the clasp for NW Persia intact. The GSM was usually awarded for service beyond 1918, with clasps for various campaigns such as the one in North West Persia in 1920. The clasp was never awarded without a medal. I'm still trying to decipher from the various handwritten notes and numbers whether Granddad received the GSM and clasp or not.

On the back of the card is a reference to Hilsea, near Portsmouth, which was an RAOC depot  from 1918 and their barracks from 1921. This is followed by more letters and numbers which I've yet to decipher, and then "3.11.23 GSM clasp". I think the reference to 1923 is the date on which the medal was awarded or delivered. Below that is the Milnrow address. So overall it looks possible that Granddad was not demobbed in 1918 but continued on in the army until at least 1920.

(1)Unfortunately I don't think the copyright rules allow me to put up a picture of the card itself, but I can send a link if anyone wants it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment