Saturday, 14 March 2015

THE FIRST WORLD WAR SERVICE RECORDS OF GOOLE AND DISTRICT MEN AND WOMEN


Last weekend the Find My Past web site had a 'free access' policy allowing people to access a large number of records for no charge.

Given that this site has many records not available on Ancestry, Chris took the opportunity to take a look for any records regarding Goole men which the Group didn't already have, mainly concentrating on the 452 men named upon the Cenotaph. Detailed below is a summary of all of the records found to date.

As a result of research that started 9-and a half years ago, the Group now have 100 service records relating to some of those men named; this breaks down as 81 Army (including those men who served with Australian, New Zealand and Canadian Forces) and the Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force; and 18 who served with the Royal Navy, Royal Marine and Royal Naval Division - in addition to this number is the record of William Henry Dean, who had served briefly with the Royal Engineers but being deemed 'unlikely to make an efficient soldier' he was discharged, going back to sea, and eventually to HM Drifter 'Spotless Prince' upon which he lost his life on 26th October 1916. Two of the records relate the 'other ranks' service of two men who were later Commissioned (for some reason these pages were not included within their 'new' record when they completed Officer Training).

All of the above records, except seven of them, are also accompanied by the relevant Medal Roll pages detailing the medals awarded to each man for his service. The seven who are not named within the medal rolls didn't serve abroad during their time of service - three had already been discharged, with two of them, Charles Richard Marshall and George Dennison dying on dates that have yet to be ascertained.

Even without a service record, details are contained within the medal rolls of men who arrived in France, Egypt (some being bound for Gallipoli), or the Balkans throughout the latter part of 1914 and all of 1915. Further details are recorded for those men who had served with other units prior to the one with which they were serving when they lost their lives.

With regards to those who served with the Army (and RFC/RAF) records that give the amount of pension paid to next-of-kin are found within the 'Register of Soldier's Effects'. The weekly amount paid was based on rank, marriage and any children. All of these records also bear another amount paid in 1919 - a 'War Gratuity' payment, this being a 'one-off' payment again based on the criteria above. Most of the men for whom service records and medal rolls have been found also have these pages accompanying them - though three would appear to have either been lost or misidentified.

An opportunity to further research men named on the Cenotaph but about which no information regarding any service during the First World War had so far been located was also taken; this has led to one very intriguing story.

Within the Goole Times' 1916 Almanac is the following entry, 'Stephen Jos. Kelly, Swinefleet, seaman in the Royal Navy'. Within the 1917 'Roll of Honour' booklet is this, 'S.J. Kelly, Swinefleet, Seaman, RN.; died from pneumonia'; and within a list of fallen men from Goole, nearly all of whom being named on the Cenotaph, that was printed in the Goole Times on 28th November 1919 is this entry, 'Stephen Joseph Kelly (HMS Pembroke)'.

Among the records for Goole who men who served with the Royal Navy is a record for one Stephen Kelly, which shows that he was born in Goole on 15th January 1894. On 10th March 1914 he enlists in the Royal Navy, stating that he wants to serve for 12 years, assigned to HMS Pembroke as a Stoker Class II. On 17th April 1914 it is recorded under 'If discharged, whither and for what cause' as 'DD' - 'Discharged Death'. Stephen had been admitted to Chatham Hospital with Broncho Pneumonia. Is this record related to the 'Kelly SJ' named on the towns' Cenotaph? Stephen's name is also included on a Chancel Screen within Swinefleet Chapel that lists Swinefleet men who had fallen during the Great War - though his name is not recorded on Swinefleet Memorial.

Unfortunately at the time of writing there are 16 men who are named upon the plaques on the Cenotaph which bear the names of the fallen from Goole about whom no information has been found. All of these men are named with the Goole Times edition of 28th November 1919 under the headings Royal Navy and RND; Army; and Mercantile Marine, but even with this information details as to their individual service and deaths remain elusive.

Similar endeavours to look for records regarding those men who had some association to Goole who also lost their lives but who aren't named on the Cenotaph is continuing. Why weren't they named on the Cenotaph? This was, and still is, solely down to the preference of the family concerned. This particular list currently contains 309 men, some of whom spent their whole lives within the town prior to serving (Fred and Arthur Moody, both Mercantile Mariners; Fred enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force, killed at Gallipoli; Arthur aboard s.s. Duckbridge, lost off north Scottish coast), while for others their only connection to Goole is that they formerly worked within the town (as did Clifford Riley, ex Master, Goole Secondary School, killed 1st July 1916) or that they enlisted within the town.

What of those men who survived their time within the Forces, either being placed on the 'Reserve' and liable for a return to service should the Armistice fail, or who were discharged owing to wounds. To date 399 records, from the barest detail (name listed within the London Gazette announcing the award of the Military Medal, for example) through to full service histories have been found. As with the service records detailed above, it is hoped within time to have each of these records interpreted so that other people can read the details of the men, and women, from Goole who served with distinction and courage during the 'Great War'.

It isn't just Goole though that the Goole First World War Research Group is looking at in terms of those men who enlisted. A great deal of work has been done by one of its members, Alan Dodsworth, in researching the men of the Marshland villages (Swinefleet, Reedness, Whitgift, Adlingfleet and Eastoft). Having a smaller number of men and records to deal with, Alan's work also includes more family background information (from the Census records), as well as the Wills filled in by the men, detailing to whom their belongings, and in some cases, to whom the pensions payable on behalf of their service should be paid to - more often than not named within the 'Register of Soldier's Effects'.

One final question - what remains to be found? The easy answer would be 'don't know'. There is no general index on what records survive, it is only when a search is conducted that records regarding the men of Goole and District come to light. Chris compares it to a jigsaw - "Imagine a jigsaw to which you have no picture to work with, you don't know how big it is and you don't know how many pieces there are when it's finished."

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We welcome any comments about the work being undertaken by this Group. If you feel that you can add anything about any of the 'Street Shrines', or have information relating to the men named on Goole Cenotaph, then do please get in touch.