Sunday, October 12, 2008


If you’ve previously read my blog, you might be aware that I spent some time over the summer learning about my grandfather’s time in WW1. Since then, I’ve been in touch with the incredibly helpful Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow and have just received copies of all the relevant documents in his service records.
Absolutely fascinating stuff.
For example, I learnt that he was admitted to hospital in 1916 with trench fever and that he was treated in a field hospital for a hand injury in 1917; I came across a wonderful document indicating that his war pay was increased from 3d a day to 4d in 1918; it would appear that he only took two periods of Leave (10 days in 1917 and 14 days at the end of 1918) throughout the whole of the war; and the documents also included two references describing him as a “very steady and clean, hard worker” and of “very good” character.
However, I’m still trying to come to terms with a stunning discovery.
He was amongst the first soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force to arrive in France on 20 August 1914. On 22 October 1914, he was tried by the Field General Court Marshall and sentenced to “2 years imprisonment HL” (hard labour?) for “leaving his post before being regularly relieved when a soldier acting as sentinel on active service”. This incident took place on 3 September 1914 (just a fortnight after arriving in France!) at Pavillion Farm in Jury. In the event, the sentence seems to have been initially reduced to 6 months and then commuted to 3 months “Field Punishment” (it would appear that he was back on duty from 4 September onwards). Obviously, I’ve no idea of the circumstances, or if other soldiers were also involved, but it underlined the brutal reality of the war for this 17 year-old soldier (and me)! The Brigade’s War Diary entry for that day simply states: “Left Chambre Fontaine at 7am and formed part of rearguard to 5th Division. Came into action south of La Baste to cover ‘retirement of our outposts’”.
On a positive note, whatever did occur did not prevent Frank from being awarded The Star Medal, with Clasp (this was instituted in 1917 for service ashore in France and Flanders between 5 August and 22 November 1914; in 1919 a clasp bearing the above dates was authorised and given to those individuals who had actually been under fire between the prescribed dates).
Perhaps, not surprisingly, I had absolutely no knowledge of this event!
Photo: Frank with my grandmother Ada in the early 1920s.
PS: I’m hoping to go back to The National Archives later this month to continue my research (ie. beyond May 1916).


Alice said...

Dad this is compelling! Thank you so much for finding all of this out and sharing. Poor man, it's amazing how much people faced up to and still persevered.

bigdaddystevieB said...

Moira reckons this photograph is from the 1930s (not 20s)... actually, it could even be from the 1940s!