Author Topic: Hoping to learn about my Great Grandfather's WW1 service  (Read 1922 times)

Hoping to learn about my Great Grandfather's WW1 service
« on: January 10, 2017, 08:50:03 PM »
Hello,

I am researching my Great Grandfather's WW1 service and have until now only been able to learn very very little. I am hoping that members of this forum may be able to guide me in terms of where I can find relevant records or other useful resources.

My Great Grandfather is Alfred James Osborn, born 4 February 1894 in Islington, London. He was a dentist by trade. He married in September 1916, in Islington, and his marriage certificate gives Dental Operator as his occupation. By the time his son, my Grandfather, is born in October 1918, Alfred is listed as Dental Mechanic, 21st Manchester Regiment, Pte 245828 on the birth certificate.

The only on line record I have been able to find so far is Alfred appearing on the British War Medal and Victory Medal Rolls.

I have so many questions - why the Manchester Regiment, rather than a local regiment?, what role did dentists and medics play and did they serve on the front line?, what campaigns was his unit involved in etc. etc

I would be very grateful for any insight or direction

Thank you in advance

Offline charlie

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Re: Hoping to learn about my Great Grandfather's WW1 service
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2017, 09:46:34 AM »
Hello and welcome to the forum.

The 21st Battalion served on the western front and for short period in Italy during 1918 before returning to the western front.

When your Great Grandfather joined the Army is hard to say but one thing is pretty certain, he was still in the UK in January/February 1918. I am pretty sure he was not employed as a Dental Mechanic in the army, dental care was provided by the Royal Army Medical Corps. His civilian trade has been entered on the birth certificate which is not unusual. After the battles of 1916 soldiers were sent to the Regiments needing reinforcements rather than to their local Regiment. It was pretty much  "luck of the draw" in which Regiment a soldier ended up.

Have you looked on Ancestry to see if his service record has survived? Ancestry should be available at your local library if don't have an account. The War Diary for the Battalion is also available via Ancestry or it can be download from the NA for a fee.

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_q=21+Manchester&discoveryCustomSearch=true&_cr1=WO+95&_col=200&_hb=tna

The diary is unlikely to mention him by name but it will give you an idea of his service. The War Diary for the Battalion's time in Italy has not yet been digitized and is only available to read at the NA.
Good luck with your research.

Charlie





Offline Robert Bonner

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Re: Hoping to learn about my Great Grandfather's WW1 service
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2017, 11:18:03 AM »
Hello Alfreds GGD.
In addition to the excellent advice from Charlie I suggest that you go to the Regiment's Museum website. Under 'books for sale' I note that they still have copies of the out of print 21st Bn history, price £8.
Robert

Offline Wendi

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Re: Hoping to learn about my Great Grandfather's WW1 service
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2017, 05:17:20 PM »
Hi Alfreds GGD and Welcome to our Forum

I also agree with Charlie, by 1916 or so it was very much "luck of the draw" as to which regiment you ended up in.  And it would not be unusual to enter both his peace time occupation and wartime service on a certificate. 

Also with regard to his profession, have you considered that he was not actually A Dentist, but, what they refer to today as A Dental Technician - a very skilled profession (or dental technologists as they are often referred to) make the dentures, crowns, bridges and dental braces that improve patients' appearance, speech and ability to chew. this seems to fit better with me in regard to the Dental Operator and Dental Mechanic descriptions he uses.

Oh and one last thing, his Medal Index Card lists his name as Alfred J Osborne - it's worth noting this spelling for future research.

Just my thoughts
Wendi  :)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2017, 05:21:31 PM by Wendi »
"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it!  No matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and with your own common sense" ~ Buddha

Re: Hoping to learn about my Great Grandfather's WW1 service
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2017, 09:02:45 PM »
Thank you so much Charlie, Robert and Wendi for taking the time to answer my questions and for the recommended further research pointers.

Charlie, I subscribe to Ancestry but unfortunately can't find any of his service records - just the Medals Index Card. Does his army number give any indication as to when he may have joined the Regiment? i was wondering if they are sequential and also if they give any other information with regard to specific company or platoon he served in. That would make reading the battalion war diaries you guided me too even more interesting.

Wendi, Yes, I think you are right regarding Alfred being a Dental Technician early on his career, but interestingly, he did pursue dentistry when he reentered civilian life and eventually practiced as a Dentist in Northampton.

Thank you again and best wishes, Sam

Offline harribobs

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Re: Hoping to learn about my Great Grandfather's WW1 service
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2017, 09:52:11 PM »

One thing that jumped out when I read your post was his service number 245828, this is in the range of numbers issued to the 5th (Territorial) battalion



Chris
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Offline charlie

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Re: Hoping to learn about my Great Grandfather's WW1 service
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2017, 10:23:57 AM »
Sam,
Numbers were generally issued in blocks of consecutive numbers but there are exceptions to everything. Reference to the medal rolls on Ancestry should confirm which Battalion of the Regiment he served with. Six figure numbers were issued to the TF battalions after 01.03.1917.

A possible way to narrow down his date of enlistment and possibly find out a bit more about his service is to check if any service records for soldiers with numbers similar to his have survived.

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_fn=&_ln=&_no=24582*&_crp=Manchester&_ttl=&discoveryCustomSearch=true&_cr1=WO+372&_dt=M&_col=200&_hb=tna

You will need to copy and paste the link, for some reason I can't get it to show correctly.

If none have survived between 245820 and 245289 try widening the search by 5 numbers at either end.

Charlie
« Last Edit: January 15, 2017, 11:29:00 AM by charlie »