Search results for Pension Records.

The Western Front Association preserves a major Great War archive of 6.5 million records

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Introduction The Western Front Association (WFA) is delighted to announce that it has secured the safe storage and preservation of a major archive of over six million Great War soldiers' pension record cards. Some two years ago, the WFA learned that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was no longer able to retain and manage its archive of Great War sol…


The Scanning of Pension Records is underway

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Members of The Western Front Association will no doubt be pleased to learn that scanning of the Pension Records has commenced. The scanning, which will of course lead to the digitisation of the records, has come about after detailed negotiations with Ancestry who have undertaken to scan and digitally make available the approximately 8 million reco…


Arthur Boyle Private and Pensioner

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  Painting by Diane Lavery 1998 from a photograph of Arthur Boyle taken in 1917   Arthur Boyle, born in 1894, from Castlemaine in Co. Kerry, volunteered to serve in the South Irish Horse on 25 January 1917. He was one of over 200,000 Irish men who volunteered to serve in the British army in the First World War. The great majority came from what i…


Pension Record Cards and Ledgers: some examples of dependents' cards

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Just part of one load of the records being transferred to the WFA's storage facility. Three HGVs were eventually required to complete the transfer. One of the numerous types of record that comprises The Western Front Association Pension Record Card and Ledger Archive is a 'run' of about one million cards representing soldiers, sailors and airmen…


Great War Pension Record Cards and Ledgers: deeper understanding

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The history of the Great War is not just about generals and statesmen. In examining the Great War, we can often overlook the real people and the real lives that lie behind the "other ranks" who served in their millions. Many died during a long and arduous campaign, and we remember their sacrifices in a number of commemorative ways, not least on 1…


Further sets of Pension Records saved by The Western Front Association being made available on Ancestry

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The Western Front Association are pleased to share the exciting news that Ancestry will be making available online further Pension Records in the lead up to the 11 November 2018.  Ancestry are working hard on the scanning and digitisation of the Pension Record Cards and Ledgers that The Western Front Association saved from destruction. Some of t…


A Further Release of First World War Pension Records by Ancestry

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Western Front Association members will already know that the Naval Records were released a few weeks ago, but today (10 November 2018), Ancestry have made 1.5 million records available on their Fold 3 platform (please see FAQs below regarding WFA members' access to these). Until The Western Front Association stepped in to save these ledgers and ot…


Understanding the Ledger Indexing

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This article aims to set out some of the technical aspects of the indexing of - and subcategories that make up - the 'ledgers' in The Western Front Association's collection of Pension Record Cards. These ledgers have been scanned and digitised by our partner, Ancestry.co.uk and are available on their fold3 website. These are now available for WFA…


PENSION RECORDS LATEST: Further Release of 1.5 million Pension records

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Explore the wealth of information to be found in the further release of another 1.5 million digitised Pension Records This release amounts to approximately 35 percent of the total archive. It relates to the 'Ledgers' that recorded details of disability for those men who survived and next of kin details for those who were killed. Further detai…


Dear David ... Pension Record Cards Feedback

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Here's some feedback about the Pension Records lookups we have conducted for a wide range of individuals: Andrew Gilpin I had sent a quick 'thank you' earlier, but I feel I must write again.  When I learnt that the Records had become available I went straight to the WFA website and did what I too often do, which is 'click' on everything in sight.…


Pension Records: Famous, Infamous, Extraordinary and Ordinary

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The Western Front Association's Pension Record Card and Ledger archive which has been published online by Ancestry is a magnificent set of never-seen before material which massively helps those looking for 'Great Uncle Bill' to not track down their relative but also put a little bit of extra information on the serviceman's story. It has been said …


'One Hell of a Row': A War widow's pension

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Grandfather was killed 7 weeks before the end of the First World War.  His immediate family, that is his wife and three sons, never knew how nor where.  Neither did they know he was commemorated on Panel 5 of the Memorial Wall at Tyne Cot Cemetery.  This we had from two of his sons, our Father and his brother, our Uncle Tom.  Towards the end of the…


The Loss of the Britannic : 21 November 1916

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Some years ago there was much publicity around the 100th anniversary of the loss of the RMS Titanic, which sank in April 1912 after striking an iceberg. What is less well know is that the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic was also lost during the course of the First World War on 21 November 1916. Britannic was almost identical to the Titanic, m…


The discovery and identification of the Beaucamps Ligny Fifteen : October 1914

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In the autumn of 2009, during excavation work for a building project, human remains were discovered between the villages of Radinghem and Beaucamps Ligny in northern France. The discovery was made near a road junction about four miles southeast of Bois-Grenier and seven miles northeast of La Bassée. This area had fallen into German hands shortly af…


The Battle of Dogger Bank : January 1915

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The naval arms race between Britain and Germany had, in the early years of the 20th Century, been a major contribution to the increasing tensions in Europe. On the outbreak of the First World War it was uncertain how the Imperial German Navy would be used. Would the Germans challenge the British in the hope of eliminating the Royal Navy's superiori…


Fold3 Pension Records

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As members of The Western Front Association will know, in 2012 the WFA stepped in to save from destruction over six million pension records of men who served in the Great War. These records - the WFA's 'Pension Record Cards and Ledgers' (PRCs) - are now available to view via our partners Ancestry.co.uk - the records being on their 'Fold 3' site. W…


The Chatsworth Rifles raid at Richebourg

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An ideal way to obtain an understanding of the First World War is through reading the memoirs of those who served in the conflict. Examples of these are numerous, Goodbye to All That (Robert Graves, 1929) and Old Soldiers Never Die (Frank Richards, 1933) are well known, but not so There’s a Devil in the Drum (John Lucy, 1938). All of these were fir…


The first footballer killed in 1914: Larrett Roebuck of Huddersfield Town

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Huddersfield Town full-back Larrett Roebuck was the first professional footballer from the English Leagues to be killed in the First World War. This is his story... Larrett Roebuck was born at Jump, near Barnsley, in South Yorkshire, on 27 January 1889. By 1901 the Roebuck family had moved to Rotherham and were living in Barker's Yard, off the m…


14 December 1917: Pte James Ormerod Tattersall

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His father was a coal miner. James was a weaver.  After enlisting into the West Riding Territorials in Barnoldswick, James was sent to France in September 1916 and served on the Somme and in Belgium before being wounded in July 1917, whilst serving as part of a Lewis Gun team.  Sent back to the UK in October 1917 for recuperation, he married …


Announcing the launch of FREE member access to the digitised Pension Records

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We are delighted to announce that WFA members can freely access the Pension Records via the WFA web site.  Had The Western Front Association not stepped in to save the six million or more records they would have been destroyed by the Ministry of Defence. Currently a little over a third of the entire archive has been digitised. More will be …


A Brief Guide showing how to use The WFA's Library Edition of Fold 3

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Below are three videos created to help Western Front Association members log into the Pension Records via The Western Front Association's web site and also demonstrate some functions - and results - from the WFA's 'Library Edition' of Fold 3, which provides digital images of the Pension Records the WFA saved from destruction.  To access these reco…


20 January 1917 : Pte Arthur Munro Harrison

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His parents John William Harrison and Elizabeth lived at Ivy Cottage, Stoney Bank, Earby, nr Colne. Arthur became a weaver at Spring Mill, Earby and lived on Stoneybank Road prior to enlistment. With his Short Service Attestation and Medical Records extant we learn that Arthur enlisted in the 6th Bn Duke of Wellington Regiment on 1 March 1916. H…


Official correspondence following a death in the Great War – Private Cornelius Hayes, Cheshire Regiment

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The improved availability of online records has made tracing of the life and service of a Great War soldier relatively easy compared to the situation only a few years ago. The records available from free and commercial websites include Medal Roll Index Cards, for every soldier who served overseas.  The Campaign Medal and Silver War Badge Rolls …


A Farewell to the Army Service Corps: The story of 'another' Ernest on the Piave

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Many of those with a passing interest in the First World War may be familiar with the semi-autobiographical account 'A Farewell to Arms' written by Ernest Hemingway which was first published in 1929. This tells the story of the activities of a soldier of the American Red Cross (in effect a thinly disguised Hemingway) on the Italian front in 1917-18…


Leonard Maidment: missing, found, now remembered

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As Serjeant Leonard Maidment nervously waited in the pre-dawn gloom of the morning of 20 July 1918 preparing for his first combat on the Western Front, his thoughts would have turned to his family, safe at home in Andover. His father, Edward and mother, Bessie would be oblivious to the fact that Leonard’s battalion, the 2/4th Hampshire Regiment, wa…


Pension Record Cards - claims for soldiers who were killed

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The next major release of images of the Pension Record cards saved by the WFA has now been made available to WFA members. This article is intended to orientate members around these cards which represent claims for pensions for those men who were killed in the First World War. As WFA members are probably aware, these records are available for WFA m…


Release date fixed for next set of Pension Records

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Although there has been a slight slippage in the timescale, we are pleased to announce the date for the publication of the much-anticipated next set of the WFA's Pension Records. Our partners at Ancestry have informed us that the cards relating to pensions claimed for soldiers who were killed in the war will be rolled live during the week commenc…


Index of counties within regions for Pension Records

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This is to is to assist members undertaking Pension Record searches using the 'browse' facility on The Western Front Association's Library edition of Fold3 It shows the Regions and the counties within these regions.      Region 1 "Scotland" (all counties)   Region 2 "Northern" Cumberland Northumberland Durham   Region 3 "North West" We…


Finding Horace: A two minute search of the WFA's Pension Records provides the answer

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The Pension Cards and Ledgers that were saved by The Western Front Association are a valuable resource which will massively assist those undertaking research into aspects of those soldiers who served in the British Army in the First World War. In September 2019 a further set of 1 million records, Soldiers Who were Killed, were published by the WFA…


An overview of the Pension System immediately after the War

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The following article by Craig Suddick takes an overview of the pension system immediately after the First World War. With the release of The Western Front Pension Records to Ancestry, the record set has generated a large amount of research potential, the preliminary works for this research being undertaken by David Tattersfield on The Western Fro…


Pension Records for 'non-UK' soldiers

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It was initially believed that the WFA's Pension Cards and Ledgers were only for claims for pensions for men who came from the British Isles. As the new set of cards for pension claims for men who were killed is investigated, it has become clear that the original 'UK only' description needs to be expanded. A number of what can loosely be described…


Some numbers (and images) around the WFA's Pension Records

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The Western Front Association recently saved from destruction around 8 million pension records of First World War Soldiers. These unique records massively help genealogists, military historians and those researching their family history to find hitherto unknown details about those who were killed and survived the Great War.  Here's a few of the nu…


The Red Baron - his 'other rank' victims

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There are many ways that The Western Front Association's pension records can be used for research purposes. In this article, I wish to take a brief look at the 'other ranks' that became victims of Manfred von Richtofen - the Red Baron. Probably more books have been written about von Richtofen than any other individual who served in the First World…


Revealed: The soldier with two families. How The Western Front Association's Pension Records helped unravel a family mystery

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This story of discovery begins with researching the life of my Great Grandfather Alfred Nelson William Beckley BAKER. This research was undertaken as part of the wider exploration of my family’s history. The story comes full circle at the end with the information found on The Western Front Association's Pension Index Cards and Ledgers that have rec…


Some instances of the award of the Albert Medal in the First World War

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During the Great War the Albert Medal was awarded to fewer than one hundred servicemen. Less than one third of these awards were made posthumously, so finding examples of men awarded this medal in CWGC cemeteries is difficult. Below are two citations for acts of supreme bravery during the First World War. It will be noticed that the circumstances …


Pension Record Cards and Ledgers: how they fitted in to the bigger picture

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As many member of The Western Front Association will know, especially the those who have accessed the pension records, the WFA's Pension Cards and Ledgers that have so far been published are a massively valuable aid to finding out more information about individual servicemen who served in the British Army, Navy and Air Force in the Great War. At t…


Pension Claims: Same Man, Different Claim

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The following article, by Craig Suddick, looks at a fairly uncommon scenario: the pension claim for a deceased serviceman coming from two different sources, in two different regions. The issue, identified by the Ministry of Pensions potentially arose due to pension claims being administered regionally. Because of this regional administration, it so…


Pension Record Cards and Ledgers: how they fitted in to the bigger picture (part 2)

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In an earlier article we looked at some cases of Pension records and compared the WFA's pension cards to files that are retained in The National Archives in the 'PIN26' class.  This is the second of three articles that will look to examine these records, and enable researchers to compare the files to the WFA's records.  Joe Bridgewood The first …


Further Hints and Tips to assist with finding Pension Records

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The following may assist WFA members in the search for pension records 1) If using a regimental number as one of the search criteria, and there are no 'hits' try inserting commas: For instance instead of 110953 try 110,953. This may then come up. This is due to the Ministry of Pensions quite often inserting commas into the regimental numbers, whic…


Trench Lines February 2020

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February Trench Lines has just been sent out. This is our eNewsletter. We share one or two top stories, a choice article from the Stand To! archive or from Bulletin and a book review or two. You may have missed any of these items over the last few weeks (we share them to Facebook and Twitter). Some 40 or more items are added to the website every …


Operation Michael, The Thirty Worst and an Advanced Dressing Station

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March 1918 was arguably the most critical month of the First World war for the British and Commonwealth forces in France. On 21 March, the Germans launched a massive attack with the aim of knocking the British out of the war. Above: Left to right - Chief of the General Staff, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg; Kaiser Wilhelm II; 'First Quarterma…


26 March 1915: Pte Hugh Ching (Alias Hugh William Power)

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He was the only son of Richard Ching (a grocer’s assistant) of 180, Eswyn Road, Tooting and his wife Annie.  He was educated at Stockwell School In 1891, age 4, Hugh was at home with his family, older sisters Mabel (8) and Florence (6) and Aunt Elizabeth Ching (31) on Aytown Road, Brixton  In 1901, age 14, Hugh was living at home in Brixton,…


Ep. 94 – The Great War Pension Record Cards – David Tattersfield

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David Tattersfield, The Western Front Association Trustee, talks about the First World War Pension Record Cards that the WFA acquired from the Ministry of Defence in 2012 and how these records are to be made publicly accessible online. 


Stewart McVey: The soldier with TWO aliases

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One of the many names listed on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing is that of Corporal Stewart McVey. Aged just 18 he was killed on 9 May 1915 at the Battle of Aubers Ridge, whilst serving with the 1st Battalion Black Watch. Unusually, but by no means uniquely he had a pseudonym, the CWGC noting he 'served as' (Stewart) Elder.  But this is not as s…


Oddities in the Pension Records

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Within the Pension Records that The Western Front Association have saved are hundreds of thousands of cards for pension claims for soldiers who lost their lives during the Great War. Some cards, however, are notable for a variety of reasons. First of all , the card below, this clearly states the soldier was 'kia' in the Boer War. But his card is a…


The Man with Two Aliases - the explanation

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I read with great interest the recent 'Trench Lines', especially the articles on hard-to-decipher writing, and the man who served as Stewart Elder, but had the aliases of McVey and Palmer.  Unusual indeed.  So, being a keen family historian, I decided to try and unravel the mystery. It is necessary in the first place to go to the parents of Stewar…


Further examples of unusual Pension Claims

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As the various projects WFA members are working on move forward, it seems a good time to update members on just a couple more examples of unusual pension claims that would not have been identified had 'Project Alias' and 'Project Hometown' not been set up. Previous reference has been made to cases where multiple brothers have been killed in the Gr…


Officers Pension Record Cards digitised and now available

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Two more sets of Pension Record Cards ('PRCs') have been digitised and made available by the WFA's partner Ancestry. These records comprise a relatively small percentage of the entirety of the archive that the WFA saved. The newly released records relate to officers pension awards (both officers who survived and claims made by widows of officers wh…


The Battle of Jutland : May 1916

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Of the countless acts of gallantry took place during the First World War, only a small proportion were recognised with the Victoria Cross.  Many of those who were awarded the VC were not out of their teens, for example Thomas Ricketts of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment earned his in 1918 when aged 17. The youngest winner of the VC in the Great War…


Queen Victoria’s Last VC

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26 June 2020 marks 120 years since Private Charles Ward delivered a message through a storm of bullets, an action that would later see him receive the Victoria Cross (VC). Charles was the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry’s only VC winner of the Boer War, and the last VC winner to receive the honour from Queen Victoria herself. Charles was welcom…


The Five Baldock-Apps brothers from Hurst Green

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Some people will know of the sacrifice of the Souls family from Great Rissington in the Cotswolds. The family's tragedy was recounted by Ian Hislop in the TV series 'Not Forgotten' on First World War memorials in 2005 and told again in a book that supported the series of the same name by Neil Oliver. Annie and William Souls of Hurst Green, Eas…


How to use The Western Front Association's Pension Records to locate naval fatalities

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In October 2018 the first of the WFA's Pension Records were published by our partners Ancestry. Since then there have been numerous releases of records, with more to come in coming months. Perhaps now is a good time to remind WFA members of the utility of the records by looking at the first set to be released, which was a small set of Naval Ledgers…


The Raid on Yarmouth : 3 November 1914

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The raid took place on 3 November 1914, and was an attack by the Imperial German Navy on the British North Sea port and town of Great Yarmouth by the German battlecruiser squadron under the command of Admiral Franz von Hipper. The intention was to lay mines off the coast of Yarmouth and Lowestoft and to shell Yarmouth. Little damage was done to th…


The Yorkshire Landings at Suvla : 25 April 1915

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It is often thought that the first time the volunteers raised by Lord Kitchener went into action was at the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Whilst this was the first time in the Great War that Kitchener’s men had been used in large numbers, their first action took place nearly a year earlier. The ‘Lancashire Landing’ at Gallipoli is very well kn…


Amongst the First To Fall - Early Casualties of the Royal Flying Corps in August 1914

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Death was not a stranger to the Royal Flying Corps even before the British Empire commenced hostilities against Germany on 4 August 1914.  Between the founding of the Corps on 13 May 1912 and the outbreak of War twenty-seven months later the Military Wing suffered the loss of twenty airmen in aeroplane accidents. Nevertheless, the RFC carried on wi…


Pension Cards made available for 'Widows and Dependents of Other Ranks Died'

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Members of The Western Front Association will be delighted to learn that another massive release of Pension Record Cards has been made available by our partners Ancestry.co.uk via their ‘Fold3’ platform. As ever, these cards are freely available to WFA members who log into the WFA website. What has been released? The cards comprise well over a mi…


Death on the shoreline: The foundering of HMHS Rohilla off Whitby : 30 October 1914

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For the vast majority of members of the British public, the outbreak of the First World War was not something that meant much in the early weeks, Other than crowds of men responding to Kitchener’s call for volunteers, the war was probably something that was only read about in the newspapers. It was obviously different in France and Belgium where mu…


Billy Brewer, the Wiltshire footballer : 13 November 1914

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William Arthur Brewer was born in Chippenham, Wiltshire and was the son of George and Sarah Brewer of 81, Wood Lane, Chippenham. William had worked as a woollen cloth weaver and served in the Territorial Army for three years. On 1 September 1914, a week after the outbreak of the First World War, he re-enlisted in the Wiltshire Regiment in Devizes a…


Kanturk - the Great War Pension Records of a small town

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Thanks to the efforts of the Western Front Association, the pension records of over six million surviving soldiers were saved from destruction. These are now gradually being made available for examination. During the war many men were discharged when it was determined that they were no longer physically fit to serve. Such men were paid a pension. A…


Just because it’s official doesn’t mean it’s right

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'It’s an ill wind …  ' The pandemic has certainly limited options, but at the same time it has focused minds. In my case and that of my collaborator Mick Rowson it concentrated our minds on some of the ‘problem cases’ we had failed to resolve on our roll of honour of Burslem men who were killed in the Great War. Burslem, the Mother Town of the Sta…


Other Ranks Survived: The Final Release of Pension Records

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The final set of Pension Record Cards has just been published by our partners 'Ancestry.co.uk' on their Fold3 platform. As with all the other cards and ledgers these are freely available for WFA members via the 'library edition' on the WFA's website.  The following article is intended to give an overview of this final set of 'Other Ranks Survived'…


The Military Service (Civil Liabilities) Department

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Perhaps one of the most unusual items to be found within the Ministry of Pension card index are the surviving slips for a 'Proposed Grant by the Military Service (Civil Liabilities) Department’. It appears that these slips originally formed part of a separate index and were later amalgamated into the main Ministry of Pension index. In early March …


Cases of 'insanity' revealed in the Pension Records

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The Pension Records which have been saved by The Western Front Association reveal an incredible array of information. In this piece we will briefly look at the mental health issues that are revealed on these cards. Many Pension cards reveal shocking cases of physical injury, but there are a substantial numbers of cards that let us glimpse into non…


Chelsea and the disabled soldier

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At the outbreak of war in 1914 each of the two great military departments, the War Office and the Admiralty, dealt with their own pensions. It was soon clear, however, that this system would be difficult to manage. This was especially so in the case of the War Office who used the Chelsea Hospital to calculate and pay any disability or widows pensio…


The Censuring of Lieutenant Colonel John MacCarthy-O’Leary

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In February 1918, 55th (West Lancashire) Division took over trenches in the Givenchy sector. The division’s units had sustained severe losses during the German counter-attack at Cambrai at the end of November and had since been rebuilding and training in the rear. During that counter-stroke, 1/5th South Lancashire, of 166 Brigade, had been almost w…


Using the RFC to unlock the workings of widow’s pensions

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It was only in early 1915, 6 months in to the war, that the War Office began paying pensions to the widows of those soldiers who had been killed. This wasn’t down to any lack of a pension system, it was down to an inherent 6-month delay between death and a pension being paid to allow time for the man to turn up alive, and any necessary paperwork to…


Ministry of Pensions Regional Offices

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After the First World War, the Ministry of Pensions (for a short time) created a number of regional offices in order to deal with the administration of pensions paid to disabled soldiers. The location of these offices had been a bit of a mystery. Until now.  It is of interest to know where the administration of these pensions took place. Some of t…


A Royal Navy rating discharged as epileptic and destined for the Asylum

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George Henry Howlett was born in Shoreditch the son of George William Howlett, a metal worker from Norfolk, and Alice Harriet Davis from Gloucestershire. George’s first period in the Royal Navy was from 1906, his civilian occupation on enlistment being a gas fitter. His initial posting was to the training ship HMS Impregnable, a 121 gun ship of 1…


Christmas Day 1914 – Goodwill to all men?

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Much has been written about the Christmas Day ‘Truce’ on 25 December 1914 – while the popular image of Christmas Day 1914 might be that ‘peace reigned’, this was not universal across the western front. Above: the Christmas Truce 1914 Indeed, the CWGC records the deaths of 78 men on the western front on 25 December 1914 – whilst just over 30 of…


From Munich Trench to Ziggy Stardust

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One of the frequently ‘bypassed’ places on the Somme Battlefield is the Redan Ridge. Scorching in summer, exposed in winter and only a few hundred yards from the much-visited Serre Road Cemeteries, this is ‘off the beaten track’ to all but the dedicated battlefield visitors. On Redan Ridge are two small cemeteries – Waggon Road and Munich Trench. …


The Even Shorter, Sadder Military Career of Thomas Beech

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Thomas Beech’s military service in the Great War lasted officially for thirty-five days. He attested on 5 January 1915 and killed himself on 1 February while home on leave.(1) He never served abroad. Thomas was born on 25 January 1885 at 16 High Street, Burslem, the so-called Mother Town of the Staffordshire Potteries.(2) His mother, Emily (née Fo…


How Reference numbers were used in WW1 Pension claims at Chelsea and in the Pension Issue Office

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In this article the author looks at those pension reference systems used by the Ministry of Pensions, with specific reference to Chelsea and the Pension Issue Office, across the period of 1914 to the 1920s. Within the monolith that was the Ministry of Pensions, the two largest departments were Chelsea, which dealt with all pensions for disabled so…