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Help Needed on research of WW1 RAMC soldier

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I am trying to find out about my Great Grandfather, I'm afraid all I can tell you is:-

Service Number in RAMC: 16107 

Name: William Richmond Thomas

Born: 1881 or 1882 in Monmouthshire?

Unit: RAMC- Family legend says he went to Mons, and he was attached to the Royal Engineers with a service number of W/R 276576 or W/R 126001? .........What would the W/R mean?

Died: 1956  

I have 1 1x1 inch photo and his medal box, but unfortunately no medals! Please see photos 


I have no idea where to start so maybe someone here could help/point me in the right direction?

Thanks in advance for your help!


William Richmond Thomas, Sally Swann Great Grandfather.jpg

William Richmond Thomas WW1 Medal Box.jpg

William Richmond Thomas, Christamas WW1 Tin.jpg

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Your great grandfather's service record doesn't appear to have survived the fire bombs in WWII.

Attached is his medal index card which shows he received the British War and Victory medals. Only receiving a medal pair indicates he didn't go overseas until Jan. 1916 at the very earliest. Therefore if he was at Mons it would have been in Nov. 1918.

W/R is Waterways and Railways. https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-corps-of-royal-engineers-in-the-first-world-war/ 

I think as his medal box shows RAMC he first entered theatre in that Corps and transferred to the RE at a later date. I don't subscribe to Ancestry so can't check pension records. 


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I am interested by this post, as I belong to a living history group which portrays the Canadian Army Medical Corps, Great War period.  I would have thought that a transfer from the RAMC to the RE would be unusual but presumably something in his civilian job /skills set suggested to the authorities that he would be more useful on railways or canals than as a stretcher bearer or medical aide.

Tony, I'm also very interested to see that he was given a new serial number.  Was that common?  In the Canadian Expeditionary Force men were re-assigned on reaching England, or even in Canada, but the originally issued serial stayed with the soldier throughout his service in the vast majority of cases, which can be confusing.   Each of the 240+ battalions was given a block of numbers to issue, to avoid duplication, but as many units were broken up form reinforcements on reaching the UK, so the block prefix only really tells one which battalion he enlisted in.


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I don’t really know the ins and outs but in basic terms and only up to 1920 each regiment issued their own number, if a soldier changed to a different regiment he received a number that belonged to his new regiment.

See here https://www.rlcarchive.org/Help/Enlistment 

Post 1920 block numbers https://www.northeastmedals.co.uk/mm/army_service_numbers.htm

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Thanks, Tony.  That helps. 

The Canadian Expeditionary Force is/was a military oddity: The Minister of Militia, who hated the snotty-nosed British officers sent over every year to train 'our boys', was himself the embodiment of all the worst traits the Victorian officer corps: vindictive, grasping and stupid.  When War was declared he basically ignored our tiny standing army and started over from scratch, raising the CEF.  One of the few sensible things that was done was to assign, very early, number blocks, so every one of the 660,000 recruits had a unique identifier. There are a few of the older units which had to be 'counselled' to accept the new method and so there are a very few duplicate numbers, mostly men already serving, but by and lafrge the system worked well and is a real boon to researchers. :)


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