Tim B

Deciphering Medal Roll Index Cards

22 posts in this topic

I have a few index cards that I am trying to understand better and wanted to know if there was a website, forum thread, or reference that might explain what all the annotations and little symbols might mean?

I also see different versions of the Card and wanted to know more in general on what the card actually shows and what it doesn't or might not show in regards to the individual's service.

Tim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim:  It would be helpful if you could ask some questions concerning the parts of the medal index card that you don't understand but a few comments can be made:

1. There are three major types of cards:

a. Card for issuance of single 1914 Stars.  All details initially placed on the card are in black ink. Later information concerning the BWM and VM are in blue.

b. Card for the issuance of 1914-1915 Star as a single award. All original details are in red ink. Later information for the BWM and VM are usually in blue ink.

c.  Card for the issuance of the BWM and VM or for the issuance of the BWM and VM and a 1914 or 1914-15 Star issued together after late 1920. In all blue ink.

The 1914 Star card (1a above) show the name, rank and unit at the time the decoration was earned and also for the time of the award of the Star and often show any post-nominals. They also show the date of issuance of the Star and the BWM and VM, the date bar ("Clasps and Roses" or "C & R") and MiD emblems ("Emblems").  At the bottom is the date of disembarkation.  For officers the reverse shows the date of application for the Star, the date the officer returned the EF9 form (lists of services) and the address of the officer.

The 1914-15 Star card (1b above) has the name of the recipient, and ranks (if more than one rank is listed the rank on each of the medals is indicated by symbols such as an "X"  or an "X" with dots between the arms next to the rank and the medal with that rank. The medal roll for reference and the date of issuance are shown as is the disembarkation (qualifying date) for the 1914-15 Star and theatre. The reverse of many of the medal index cards for officers often show the date of application for the star, any recommending authority, the date the EF9 was submitted and an address for the officer. Emblems are indicated as in the 1a card.

The card for the issuance of the BWM and VM with, or without a Star, after late 1920 for officers has the name rank (if both a Star and the BWM,VM were issued together, the rank for each medal is indicated as in 1914-15 Star card (1b). Most cards show the medal roll reference for the awards and officers' cards sometimes have a date of disembarkation and theatre listed. Emblems are indicated as in the 1a card as are date bars for the 1914 Star date bar.

All three cards often indicate those died on service, often with a date, and officers promoted from the ranks.

I have necessarily generalized as there are numerous other variations in the medal index cards and what is listed on both the obverse and reverse of the cards can vary from card to card.  Note that the Ancestry index of medal index cards also includes Silver War Badge cards, mention in despatch cards and Military Medal cards.

Regards, Gunner 1

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Gunner,

Thanks for taking some time to write that as it brings some light to what I have been looking at.

Here's a card for Tom Carrick, a driver in the Royal Field Artillery.

1.JPG

2.JPG

Name block is easy enough.  The Corps column shows RFA and his Rank  "DVR" is, I assume driver, though I didn't really understand that driver was considered a "rank" per se.  I note a blue colored cross to the left of the RFA and wasn't sure what that indicated, and assumed the --- 11 --- mark below meant he was still assigned to the RFA, only a different Regiment, is that correct?

Speaking of Regt. No.; as shown in this example, is "1839" the actual regiment Carrick was assigned to, or is this number a specific identifier for Carrick?  This is the number engraved on each of his medals:

3.JPG

Looking at the lower portion of the card now,

4.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the Victory Medal row, I see the blue (TF)+ and RFA/129 B.

Does that mean he was transferred later to a Territorial Force (RFA.129B) regiment or branch?

The BWM has that ---11--- again and am I to assume that corresponds to Regiment 755409 shown above?  Is this the outfit he was assigned to when the BWM was conferred on him?

I see he qualified for the 1914/15 Star and I'm trying to figure out what the red "T." is just prior to the RFA and is that a /6 or 16 and whatever the A?B is.  The page numbers refer to what reference or list but assume it shows his name under the medal authorization.

He served in the French theatre and entered on April 20, 1915.

If I wanted to see more information on the specific unit or what actions they were in, do I have to go to the National Archives or is that information found elsewhere?

 

That's a start.

Tim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim

Just to start you off, the number '1839' is Carrick's 'regimental number', what is often referred to as  a 'serial number' as in 'name, rank and serial number'.

Yes, 'Driver' was a rank, equivalent to  a Private or, in the Artillery,  a 'Gunner' but presumably denoting a different set of skills.  Keep in mind that what was being driven would have been teams of horses initially, not motor lorries, a skill perhaps rarer and harder to acquire than carrying shells to a field piece.

The -11- mark indicates, as you say, 'same as above', so he was still in the RFA but I'm not sure about the second number.  Again, it appears to be a serial number and from what Gunner says the blue ink indicates a later entry.  I'm not really up on the British system - Canajun, eh? - but it may be that he was assigned a new serial on transfer to the Territorials, post-War, or - much less likely, I'd guess, on transfer to a new unit within the RFA.

The Artillery organized itself by Batteries and in Canadian WWI Army, each battery was allotted a specific block of numbers, so it's possible that your man was transferred out of his original unit and that his new unit - battery, divisional train or whoever, issued him a new serial, but I'm sure Gunner can comment on that much more authoritatively than I can.

I hope this is some small help.

Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 7   Posted (edited)

Gentlemen, thank you!

Peter,

Yes, I kind of thought along those lines on the regt. serial number as a serial number identifying the man but was perplexed when he showed a different number later on.  I'll wait to hear from Gunner regarding this but, suspect it may be a unique identifier for the individual while assigned to a particular unit, similar to a unit roll identifier.

I will have several questions relating to the "Territorials" as this discussion moves along, as I have more than one that had service under that type assignment.

 

Egorka,

Thank you for that list as it will provide a good reference to fall back on.  I have saved the National Archive page but have not had the chance to really go through it all just yet.

So, using this reference I see my second guy (John Kirkham) was a "sapper" assigned to the Royal Engineers.

1.jpg

Still would like to know how to read this line:  RE (Royal Engineers) / 101 B 119; is that 101st Regt, Battery 119?

I see this "DO" under a lot of British War Medal (BWM) entries and assume it was a directive or Department Order that was the awarding authority, is that correct?

 

2.JPG

His identifying number 211649 on the card matches what is on his Victory Medal.  I guess I need to find his BWM to put the set back together.  Probably near impossible at this point.

SPR. J. Kirkham. R.E..jpg

Edited by Tim B

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, that brings me to another basic question here on these.  I would have assumed these guys would have seen some service in theatre but, in this case, apparently he never entered the war zone as I see no entry at the bottom of the card nor eligibility for either Star medal.

I think this is where I need to find a reference or order of battle that shows where specific units actually served.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim,

The "DO" is "Do" an abbreviation for Ditto or "the same as above".  It is quite normal for there not to be anything in the theatre and date of entry blocks where the person was not entitled to to either the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star.  The Stars had specific date qualifications and those blocks were used to record the date/place where a man became entitled.  The men without anything recorded in the theatre/date blocks would have served in one of the various theatres of war.  To work out which one you would need to identify the man's unit and then research what that unit did in the war.  For a man serving in a large corps such as the artillery, engineers, medical, Army Service Corps etc that can be difficult.

The figures in the roll and page columns are not unit designations they are the references used to identify an individual volume of the various regimental/corps medal rolls.  Each of these medal rolls are held in the National Archives in London and they have their own archives numbering system. For example roll RE101B119 is in the archives as document reference WO 329/410. Kirkham's name will appear on page 25543 of WO 329/410.

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 10   Posted (edited)

Hi Paul,

Thanks for that!

That does make sense, considering "do" is short for ditto.

Understand, the 14/15 Star had inclusive dates for award criteria: 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915, so assume Kirkham did not arrive in theatre prior to that end date.  He may have been called up to duty after the Military Service Act enacted in January 1916, I don't know.   Unfortunately, this type card does not show any enlistment information, so without going to the National Archives, I imagine I will not be able to find out more specific details on the individual or his unit assigned. 

How did you find out the last part regarding the document reference number and what page he appears on?  I see this type of information regarding an officer record I have, but did not find this for the enlisted guys I am looking up.

TIm

 

 

I found this site today and am looking through it as well.  Thought I would add a link for others that might not have seen it yet:

http://www.researchingww1.co.uk/

 

Edited by Tim B

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I forgot about "The Long, Long Trail" and found what I am looking for here: http://www.1914-1918.net/soldiers/interpretmic.html

It covers most of the questions I have and I now realize the other card I have questions on is in fact a Silver War Badge (SWB)Card and not one of the Medal Index Cards.

This site has a wealth of information and I remember seeing it a few years back but forgot about it.

Here's the other guy I was trying to find more on and using the information above, I see Pte. Charles Harris was assigned to both the 1st Leicestershire Regiment as well as the Yorks & Lancaster Regiment/5th Btn. which was a Territorial Force.

 

PTE Charles Harris -1st. Leicestershire Regiment MIC.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 12   Posted (edited)

I'm not sure if Harris served in the Leicestershire Rgt. first and then the Yorks & Lancs but figured the Territorial Force service was probably later on.  His Victory Medal carries the service number 26662 which matches the Leicestershire number on the top of the card.

Any idea what the symbol circled in red designates?  I assumed the 1st referred to the Leicestershire Regiment but maybe that's not correct.

a.JPG

PTE. C. Harris. LEIC. R..jpg

Again, no Star awarded, nor did he qualify for the Territorial War Medal, so he must not have entered any theatre of war prior to 1916 if I am thinking correctly.

Here's a quick write up on the 5th Battalion that I've found but I can't say "when" my guy was actually in that unit.

Yorks & Lancaster Rgt. 5th Btn info.JPG

I see he was discharged (March 14, 1919) prior to the end of his normal contractual service, per King's Regulation para 392, xvi, which identifies the man as "no longer physically fit for war service".  Not sure if it was a casualty or illness at this point and would probably have to go to the Natl Archives again for more information.

b.JPG

Edited by Tim B

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was an interesting discovery for me as I did not realize this was a SWB Card.  I see his VIC & BWM entries stamped in red and didn't pay attention to the two columns on the card.  The "Action taken" List actually refers to the award of the Silver War Badge, which I missed initially.

Would I have to go to the archives to find the badge number for the badge he was issued?  What are my realistic chances of finding it and/or his BWM?

Any significance of the blue stamp in the lower right corner (circled)?

Thanks!

c.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Tim B said:

How did you find out the last part regarding the document reference number and what page he appears on?  I see this type of information regarding an officer record I have, but did not find this for the enlisted guys I am looking up.

Type in RE101B119 in the search box on the website link I provide later and then use the page number from the medal card to distinguish which piece you want if the roll is split over several pieces.  The link is  http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 15   Posted (edited)

Gunner explained the 'X' in his first post thusly: " The 1914-15 Star card (1b above) has the name of the recipient, and ranks (if more than one rank is listed the rank on each of the medals is indicated by symbols such as an "X"  or an "X" with dots between the arms next to the rank and the medal with that rank. "

As Paul explains, the 'B..." is an archival reference to a medal roll and meant for use by their staff though, with luck, it might allow you to track down the actual roll.

Finally, almost as many British soldiers did NOT qualify for the 1914- and 1914-15 Stars as did.  Many of Kitchener's Army would not have gotten to France soon enough and none of the men recruited in 1916, '17 or '18 to replace the losses on the Somme did.  Nor any soldier who served in the East, Africa and so on.  In fact, there were 380, 000 1914 Stars and 2.4 million '14-'15 Stars awarded but a total of 5.6 million men and women enlisted and, in theory, eligible for WWI medals.

Edited by peter monahan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paul,

Thanks again, I did not try that before and will pursue searching those numbers using that link.  Not sure how much Ancestry will actually let me download though.

Peter,

You're right, Gunner did call that out and I read it, just didn't put it together in this case.  A lot of information to digest for someone not overly familiar with these cards or trying to find out more on British awards in general.  I had asked a few years back on these guys and never found the cards for Harris or Kirkham due to the amount of common names.  I eventually found them by searching pages of like names and looking for the numbers on the medals.

In the case of Harris, I did not find a Medal Index Card, only the Silver War Badge Card.  Should he have a MIC as well?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a general question; exactly how did the Territorial Force work?  I see a couple of these guys transferred to a TF unit later on and wondered, was it similar to an occupying force post-war or just a regular assignment outside the home country?  Was this pretty standard or did most remain with their original unit until they went home?

I have one more record here, to an officer that was assigned to the Territorial Force.  Based on what I see and reading the criteria for the Territorial Force Medal, I assume he was already serving in the TF prior to August 1914 and continued serving in that role to the end of the war.

I know he was assigned to the Royal Berkshire Regiment/9th Service Battalion prior to the 9th being re-designated as a Reserve Battalion.

1.jpg

His medals are all marked with his Lieutenant rank (as the card shows with the dotted cross) and he later made Captain.

2.jpg

First question, looking at the card;

Though the card shows the Campaign for the 1914/15 Star, he was rated ineligible for it.  Towards the bottom of the card though, it shows Theatre of War as France (Hav?r) and the date December:1915.  So, I am confused, if he was in a theatre of war prior to the end of 1915, why was he not eligible for the 14/15 Star?

I understand, he received the TFM instead but if he was in a theatre of war, why would he not get the higher award?  Would it be because he was already serving overseas that he automatically disqualified for it or was it because he was in a service/reserve battalion?

 

3.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 18   Posted (edited)

Looking at the card, I see he too qualified for the Silver War Badge and will try to find out more regarding that.  Unfortunately, it was not part of his group when I acquired it.

Could the Theatre of War information be the basis of the SWB and not related to the Star issue mentioned above?

4.JPG

Last question regarding the circled areas on the reverse; any idea what they are referencing?

Slowly understanding these a bit more.

5.JPG

Thanks again,

Tim

Edited by Tim B

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim:  The service numbers of your Driver Tom Carrick are his pre-1917 and post-1917 Territorial numbers.  Prior to late 1916/early 1917 each Territorial Royal Field Artillery brigade used four-digit numbers for the other ranks of the brigade, but in late 1916/early 1917 there was a six-digit service numbers assigned to RFA TF personnel.  Each RFA TF brigade was issued a unique set of 5000 numbers that were used for the personnel of that brigade. Carrick was issued the four-digit number ("1839") when he enlisted, but in early 1917 was given a new six-digit number ("755409") which falls in the 755001-760000 range assigned to the 2nd Northumbrian Brigade, RFA TF.  During the Great War each RFA TF brigade had three lines, the first and second lines formed brigades that in most cases went overseas, while the third line remained in the UK and trained personnel many of whom later became replacements for the overseas brigades.  The 2nd Northumbrian Brigade, RFA TF formed two overseas brigades:

1. 1/2nd Northumbrian Brigade that in early 1917 was re-designated 251st Brigade, RFA TF in the 50th Division and went to France and Flanders on 20 April 1915.

2.  2/2nd Northumbrian Brigade that in early 1917 was re-designated 316th Brigade, RFA TF in the 63rd Division and went overseas on 3 July 1916.

As Carrick's six-digit number is 755409 and his medal index card indicates that he went overseas on 20 April 1915 it indicates that Carrick served on the Western Front with 251st Brigade, RFA TF.  The war diary of that brigade for the period Apr 1915 to Dec 1916 is available at TNA under WO 95/2818 and for the period Jan 1917 to June 1919 under WO 95/2819.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Gunner,

Thank you, that is getting to more of what I am looking to find out on these guys.

So, where do find that information block of numbers (ex. 75501-760000) to connect it to the 2nd Northumbrian Brigade, RFA TF?  

I was trying to find information through this link, but is there a better way? http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/

I see how to use Carrick's date of entry into theatre and compare it against the Brigades deployment to figure out which brigade he was in.  From there, I need to search the war diaries for more unit information.

Thanks a lot for your assistance! :beer:

Tim

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Michael!

I have been trying to catch up on everything coming in and I need to get up to speed on how to read these numbers and bounce them against the lists.  All new to me.

Tim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now