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The History Pages


This section is on how to research up on all kinds of records from Unit Histories from WW1, WW2 and upto 1984. Labour Corps research, unclaimed medals and World War II Personnel Records.


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  Research by Norman Brown and Lt Col John Starling

For well over 10 years now Norman Brown and our resident historian Lt Col John Starling have responded to hundreds (if not getting into the thousands!) of research requests. The research is often done in their own time and they respond to every single email that is sent in. Examples of this research can be seen in the Forums (see WW2 area).

If you do send in an email in regard Labour Corps / Pioneer Corps research for a relative etc please bare in mind that they do not do this full time and they might not get back to you straight away with any results.

They do this research for free, all they ask is a small donation to the Royal Pioneer Corps Association. However this is not compulsory! They also do not do undertake any research for medal collectors, so please if you are a medal collector please do not email us.

The areas below will give you a good starting point into where to start.


  Labour Corps Research

The records of World War 1 soldiers are kept at the Public Record Office, Kew. Unfortunately enemy bombing in 1940 meant that many records were destroyed so that only about one-third still survive. In the case of a man who served in the Labour Corps the situation is made even worse as the bombing also destroyed their nominal rolls. This means that there are no official records of which Company a man served in. However Ivor and John's research means that very often he can identify where he served.

  Email John Starling
  Email Ivor

Even if you know the Company a man served in there is no guarantee that you will find a War Diary. None of the British based Companies kept War Diaries. Most of the overseas-based Companies either did not keep War Diaries or they have not survived. Those Diaries that do survive are kept at the Public Record Office however IvorI will be pleased to let you know whether reference is made to a specific Company.

 

  The National Archives - for Labour Corps Research, WW1 and pre 1914

The Public Records Office is now known as The National Archives. It is situated at Ruskin Avenue, Kew, London and holds service records for other rank soldiers discharged before 1921 and for officers serving until about 1922, although the records are not complete. It also holds war diaries for both world wars and sub units belonging to the Forming Corps.They also hold the Service records of soldiers from the pre-1914 era.

It can provide general guidance on holdings, including a useful information leaflet section, and point you to other sources. We cannot conduct research at the Public Records Office on your behalf - staff at Kewunable to undertake research, identify document references or check the content of the records for you. ID is required for a reader's ticket. All enquiries should be directed to:

The National Archives
Ruskin Avenue
Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 4DU

Any queries they can be reached on
Tel: +020 8876 3444
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

 

  Pioneer Unit Histories and Wartime Diarys

Pioneer Corps Unit histories from World War I, World War II and upto 1984 are available on written request.
If anyone is doing research on the service of their relatives in the Labour Corps Major John Starling may also be able to help you, provided you have a service number and a company number. We offer this research service to family, relatives and fellow historians so please no military collectors (please do not waste our time).

Lt Colonel John Starling
Royal Pioneer Corps Association
c/o 23 Pioneer Regiment Royal Logistic Corps
St David’s Barracks
Graven Hill
Bicester
Oxfordshire
OX26 6HF

Alternatively you can email your requests to myself and I can pass them onto him. Please ensure you send in a Name, Service No and a Company No to the email address below.

  Email Norman Brown


  WWI and WWII Personnel Records

If your ancestor died during the war you can find details of where he is buried or commemorated from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site.

The Army Personnel Centre is the authority for all enquiries concerning the records of ex-servicemen. Records date from 1914 and go up to 1992, after which records are held by individual units. This includes territorial, volunteer, militia and home-defence forces and some colonial forces. You should note that there is some risk that the official archives of the British Army personnel records between 1922 and 1940 are incomplete. This is because up to half of the original pre-World War II British Army soldier's personal records were destroyed or badly damaged following a World War II German fire-bombing raid on the War Office documents repository at Hayes in 1940. Those that survived are often in a poor condition having been damaged by both fire and water.

Army service records are held by Service Number, Rank, Full Name and Date of Birth. It is important that as much of this information as possible is provided, together with the Regiment or Corps if known, to assist in locating the correct record. Information from the personal record of a deceased Ex-serviceman/woman can be released only with the consent of the official Next of Kin. The Certificate of Kinship form aims to identify whose consent is required and the data you provide will be used only in connection with your enquiry. This form is retained for 2 years should you have subsequent queries.

There is no charge for enquiries from widows or widowers about their late spouse's service but for all other customers the charge is £30.00. A cheque, bank draft or postal order made payable to 'MOD Accounting Officer' should be included with the completed Certificate of Kinship and Search Document. No other form of payment can be accepted. A turnaround time of about 2 months should be expected.

To download the Certificate of Kinship form, please click here

This form needs to be filled in with as much information as possible and ideally with Full Name, Service Number, Date of Birth and most recent unit or unit from which the individual was discharged Rank at discharge. Send the form to.

The Army Personnel Centre
Historical Disclosures
Mailpoint 555
Kentigern House
65 Brown Street
Glasgow
G2 8EX


Any queries they can be reached on
Tel: 0845 600 9663


  Army Medals - unclaimed and replacements

The Army Medal Office at Droitwich Spa holds details of most campaign medals issued from the 1920s and is the authority for all questions concerning the entitlement to current campaign medals. The Medal Office will only re-issue replacement medals from World War 2 and onwards to service veterans, or if deceased, the next of kin who holds the medals. The Medal Office is unable to replace medals issued before World War 2, such as World War I medals, under any circumstances.

Medals for campaign service are supposed to be treasured possessions, reflecting service to one's country and awarded by The Sovereign on behalf of a grateful nation. While their market value is often only superficial (though some can be quite valuable, particularly awards for gallantry), the recipient is expected to treat them with care and be mindful of their security. In view of this, once medals are issued they become the sole responsibility of the original recipient, or his/her next of kin. They will not, therefore, be replaced by the MOD if they are lost.

The only exception to this rule is if the medals are stolen or accidentally destroyed beyond the control of the owner, for example in a house fire, burglary and street theft. In these cases the MOD may replace the medal if proof of the loss is provided in the form of a Police Report or a claim to an insurance company.

If these criteria are met then the Medal Office can issue replacement medals but please note that there will still be a charge for the medals. The Medal Office will also check official records to confirm that the medals requested had been awarded to you or your relative. Neither a crime reference number alone or a lost property report is sufficient evidence to support the claim for replacement medals.

A charge is made for medals that are replaced to cover the cost of manufacture and a nominal charge for administration. It should be noted that replacement medals will be stamped as such to avoid confusion with the originals should they ever be found. For those who have lost their medals in circumstances other than this, please do not apply to the MOD for replacements. In these cases it is recommended you approach a reputable licensed medal dealer. In most cases you will be surprised at how reasonably priced campaign medals are.

Some people have suggested that second hand medals from a commercial supplier are less original than replacements bought from the MOD. This is not necessarily so. It should be borne in mind that the MOD does not hold vast stocks of new, un-issued medals dating back 50 years. The Royal Mint is still manufacturing medals for Second World War campaign service and supplies the medal offices in batches. Replacement medals will probably be of very recent manufacture, rather than date back to the late 1940s, so medals purchased from a commercial medal dealer may be, in fact, no more or less "original" than those supplied by the MOD.

To request the replacement of medals lost by either theft or destroyed by fire, please write to:

Ministry of Defence Medal Office
Innsworth House
Imjin Barracks           
Gloucester
GL3 1HW


Any queries they can be reached on
Tel: 0141 2243600

  Email Medal Office

 

  Royal Logistic Corps and Enquiries

The Royal Logistic Corps hold the full run of RLC and Forming Corps journals, which are readily available to researchers. They also hold unit records from the RLC and the Forming Corps, but these are not always complete and we are not responsible for any omissions.

The contents of the archive reflect the material that has been passed to the Museum and they cannot carry out active collection to answer the specific interest of individuals. They do not hold reserve collections of classified documents or other items that are not available to the public. There is a very large archive of over 100,000 items, which, by appointment, can be viewed by researchers.

If you would like to proceed with your enquiry please provide as much background information as you can to your enquiry. You will then need to provide us with your full postal address, contact telephone number, email address and a £10 cheque payable to ‘The RLC Museum Trust Fund’. Serving members of the RLC and enquiries from the wider British Army/MOD are exempt from this charge.

• The information that they are able to provide enquirers with depends entirely on the sources available in the archive. The available sources can be limited in certain areas and detailed in others.

• The archive does not hold individual service records. However, it is possible that information about an individual may be covered in other more general documentation. For example, certain individuals may be referred to in the Journals of Forming Corps of The RLC.

• It must be appreciated that, although the archive may contain no relevant information to an enquirer, effort is still required to arrive at that conclusion. In this event, staff at the archive will always try to suggest other sources available elsewhere that may me of use to enquirers.

Research Enquiries
Royal Logistic Corps Museum
The Princess Royal Barracks
Deepcut
Camberly
Surrey
GU16 6RW


Reception Telephone: 01252 833371
Corps Shop Telephone: 01252 833484

  Royal Logistic Corps Museum Website



References Used and Recommended Reading

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Labor Omnia Vincit