Saturday, 4 August 2007

British Army World War 1 Pension Records online

Some more documents of interest have recently appeared on line at the Ancestry subscription site - this time British Army Pension Records from 1914 to 1920. These again are sourced from the UK National Archives.

There are 17 Daglish files included in the records now online, and at least two of these have already been useful to living relatives in finding out more about their ancestor's war service.

One I would like to highlight concerns George William Crawford Daglish. George was born in 1872, so was older than most others who joined the army after the outbreak of the war. George's record show that he first enlisted in 1891, when he was 18. He served in South Africa in between 1899 and 1902 and was awarded the South African War Medal.

Research by George's granddaughter, Maralyn, has shown that George was in fact born George Jobson, the son of Jane Jobson of Alnwick, in 1872. He was raised by his aunt Elizabeth Daglish (nee Jobson) and her husband John.

This kind of "informal adoption" by families was not uncommon. It can cause havoc with our DNA study as, of course, it will cause a break in the assumed Daglish line. However this is only from the biological point of view; in all other respects, children brought up in this way will regard themselves as Daglishes and will pass the name down to their descendents.

George married Eveline Florence Lee in London in 1898 and their first daughter was born in the same year. After that George was posted to South Africa - so the next child, a son, did not arrive until 1903. The photo shows George at Aldershot in around 1915 or 1916.

According to The National Archives:

When war broke out in August 1914, the British army numbered just over 730,000 men. Unlike the other major European states, where conscription allowed huge numbers of men to be rapidly brought under arms, Britain relied on a small, professional defence force. But the scale of the conflict between the Allies and the Central Powers demanded massive increases in Britain's military manpower resources. By the end of the war in 1918, more than seven million men and women had seen service in the British army.

Unfortunately, more than half of their service records were destroyed in September 1940, when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in Arnside Street, London. However, an estimated 2.8 million service records survived the bombing or were reconstructed from the records of the Ministry of Pensions. This means that there is a roughly 40% chance of finding the service record of a soldier who was discharged at some time between 1914 and 1920.

With thanks to Maralyn Webb who provided the photo of George William Crawford Daglish, for her research on this family and also her help with other Daglish families from Alnwick.

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