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Enlistment Query

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Hardwork
Posts: 60
Joined: 14 Jun 2020, 14:15

Enlistment Query

Post by Hardwork »

I wonder if any military buffs can advise on the following, as I have no great experience of tracking WWI family history.

Is the following possible or likely? James Frederick WRIGHT was killed on the Western Front in 1916. He was in the 32nd battalion (East Ham) of the Royal Fusiliers and was born c1890 in Hackney. In the 1911 census I have been unable to trace him and thought he may have already have been in the army at that stage. The only man that I can find that fits the bill is a James WRIGHT born in Hackney c1890 serving in India in the Middlesex Regiment.

Question: Is it possible/probable that James enlisted , say aged 17 or 18 in the Middlesex Regiment, served his time, and came out of the army but rejoined or was reserved to be called up when hostilities began in 1914 and was recruited into the Royal Fusiliers? Is it more likely that the two men are likely to be entirely different people? I've been unable to find any service record for him on FMP or Ancestry so it may have been in the "Burnt Records".

Norfolk Nan
Posts: 165
Joined: 16 Jun 2020, 11:54
Location: A Londoner lost in Norfolk

Re: Enlistment Query

Post by Norfolk Nan »

I'd say either option was possible. I doubt at the time of war records were totally correct so James Frederick might be just James - you'd definately need to see a record of some sort to check addresses or next of kin. My great grandfather was born/baptised Henry and he too was killed in 1916 and we had the wrong records for a while because he is actually recorded as Harry by the CWGC. He also served in the Middlesex Regiment c1908 but when he died in 1916 he was in the Royal West Kent Regiment.

meekhcs
Posts: 259
Joined: 02 Jun 2020, 18:19
Location: Lincolnshire, but Hampshire born and bred!

Re: Enlistment Query

Post by meekhcs »

Can you find any military records that may be him eg medal card listings?

If you are really lucky you may find someone alongside him in the medal listings whose records do survive.

It may not provide definitive proof, but very often people were recruited in groups, so their service numbers may be consecutive, or very near each other, would serve in the same places, and be transferred on to the same Regiments. The surviving records may show that the person joined up in the Middx Reg and transferred to the Fusiliers. If it does this, and you can find similar service numbers to this person for a James Frederick or Frederick Wright then it could possibly be your man.

Mick Loney
Posts: 166
Joined: 15 Jun 2020, 07:27

Re: Enlistment Query

Post by Mick Loney »

You could check his CWGC entries They often refer to family members, such as “son of …” or “husband of..”. Failing that, look to see if his attestation papers mention other family members. These service records often show details of next of kin, possibly parents or wife.

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AdrianBruce
Posts: 150
Joined: 14 Jun 2020, 18:57
Location: South Cheshire

Re: Enlistment Query

Post by AdrianBruce »

To consider the original question of whether James Frederick Wright of the Royal Fusiliers (d1916) might be James Wright of the Middlesex?

The way that infantry enlistment worked was that someone signed up for 12y, of which the first 7y (sometimes 8) was in uniform and then the rest in the Reserve back in Civvy St. So if your JW signed up to the Middlesex R aged abt 18 (i.e. abt 1908), then he'd still be in uniform up to abt 1915. Even if the dates are slightly out, he'd be in the Reserve and he'd have been called up immediately and gone back into the Middlesex.

While someone in the Middlesex might have been transferred into the RF later on, when I located the Medal Index Card of JFW in the RF, he (or his dependents) is only issued with the Victory and British War Medal - this transfer is highly unlikely as someone called back in 1914 would probably have gone abroad fairly quickly and so he'd be issued with the 1914 or 1914/15 Star - which your chap wasn't.

Nothing is certain but it's just highly unlikely.

Warning to self and others - when I looked at the Long Long Trail page on the RF - see http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/reg ... -regiment/ - I saw "Also known as the City of London Regiment, the Royal Fusiliers ..." And because "London" is easier to type than "Fusiliers", I used "London" as search criteria. "Stupid boy, Pike.." There IS a "London Regiment", and it's NOT the "Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)". So my searches were finding the wrong regiment! Worse - I'm sure I've been caught in confusion over the two Londons before. Maybe writing it out will make it sink in...
Adrian Bruce

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AdrianBruce
Posts: 150
Joined: 14 Jun 2020, 18:57
Location: South Cheshire

Re: Enlistment Query

Post by AdrianBruce »

The CWGC record for JFW, number G/22319 of the RF (more usually GS/22319 on Ancestry) refers to him as "Son of Jonathan and Catherine Wright, of Upper Clapton, London." I presume that this is your chap.

One interesting addition on FindMyPast is that they have loaded the Red Cross PoW enquiry images into their collection Prisoners Of War 1715-1945. This is very useful because the Red Cross stuff is, shall we say, challenging to use? Anyway, it appears that his mother wrote to the International Red Cross enquiring if her son was a prisoner. The answer, of course, was in the negative. This would suggest to me that if you looked in the Casualty Lists, you might find that JFW was initially recorded as missing and it was only later that evidence of his death came to light - certainly the CWGC data appears to imply that he was, like many, initially buried elsewhere and only moved to Delville Wood Cemetery after the war.

But the (maybe) really interesting bit on the Red Cross card is that it describes JFW as being in B Company, 6th Platoon - knowing that it was B Company might help to highlight relevant entries in the War Diary of the 32nd Battalion.
Adrian Bruce

Hardwork
Posts: 60
Joined: 14 Jun 2020, 14:15

Re: Enlistment Query

Post by Hardwork »

Thank you everyone who has replied. I did know who JF's parents were from general research and confirmed from the CWGC website. The dilemma was knowing whether it was the same person who was in the two regiments or not. I was trying to rule him in or out of being the father of a child born in 1912. If he was in India in 1911 that would be highly unlikely and one of the JF's brothers would be the father (based on Y DNA evidence). As it is, it is looking as if he cannot be discounted, and presumably he has been mis-transcribed or overlooked in the 1911 census.

Once again, thanks.

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