I’ve had a copy of my great-grandfather’s WWI medal roll card for a while and have finally decided to pick it apart and see what I can find out from it, since the chances of actually seeing his service record are unlikely (with a large portion of WWI records being destroyed in WWII). That being said, I haven’t actually tried looking for it yet. I’ve managed to work out a few things from his card, using guidance I have found online. And have included it below. But I’m also still short of a few things. Maybe if you recognise something you’ll point it out to me.
1). I’m not sure why someone would be put in for a gallantry award so many years after the fact, and I don’t understand the abbreviations used.
2). It took me a while to find out about this, but it indicates that he is on the ‘Silver War Badge List’, a badge awarded to men invalided out of the army. Which is interesting, considering he claims to have come through it, and even tried to re-enlist in 1939. Although, there is an old story that my great-grandfather was shot in the head, which seems very unlikely.
3). I think this is specifically the ‘1914 Star’. Which was handed out in 1917 for services in France and Flanders between 5/8/14 & 22/11/14. Although it could also be a 1914/1915 Star.
4). The ‘British War Medal 1914-1920’ was handed out for a variety of reasons. They basically had to either have entered a theatre of war, or served overseas between 5/8/1914 and the end of the war (11/11/1918).
5). The ‘Victory Medal 1914-1919’ was given to personnel “who served on the establishment of a unit in an operational theatre” (National Archives), I understand this to mean that their unit was formed in the theatre, but I’m unclear.
6). An ‘X’, I’m not sure if this means anything.
7). A ’29’, this could just be a card number, but I’m unsure.
8). Royal Engineers.
9). I think is another ‘X’.
10). Worcestershire Regiment.
11). This looks like ‘A/Cjt’. I don’t what this means, if anything.
12). I have been looking up the rank of ‘PW’ on a number of sites, but I still can’t figure it out. The Royal Engineers had a ‘Public Works Battalion’, but this clearly isn’t a rank.
13). I think this is just some standard serial number, but would be interested to know what it means.
I hope this encourages other people to look around at their family WWI & WWII records. Even if something just looks like a lot of numbers and symbols, it can still tell you a lot. You’ll have noticed that I didn’t point out ‘regiment numbers’ and ‘roll/page’. That’s because these are quite self-explanatory. To those of you who don’t know, the ‘roll/page’ numbers can be used to look up the medals in the archives. As far as I know these records will explain the reason for the awards. If you think you might be able to suggest something I’ve missed please feel free to comment or tweet me.