Updates & Research

Personnel Search
The first port of call when tracing one of the men is the National Archives website. The link below provides a search for members of the Naval battalions, enter the name and sevice number after the string in the search box. For the RMLI replace "Royal Naval Division" with RMLI.

National Archives RND search

It should be remembered that the records are based on the name given at enlistment. Whilst the majority of recruits would give their birth name this was not always the case and searches should allow for this. So, for example, Henry Thomas Watkins would likely to appear as the full name but it could have been entered as Henry T. Watkins, Henry Watkins or possibly even H. T. Watkins, although the latter is very unusual.

This search will work in the vast majority of cases but it should be noted that not all records contain Royal Naval Division (or RMLI) and then it is a matter of wading through all of the records for the given surname.

Life is so much easier with a service number to hand, but it should also be remembered that a small number of records have been lost.

Top tip Rather then just entering the surname Watkins use "Name Watkins". This will instantly remove a large proportion of records that are not RND/RMLI related...and there are rather a few!

Tracing T. H. Bashton, KX/145
This section provides details of tracing the service history of my Grandfather and may also help anybody who is looking to research one of their own relatives. My own work is ongoing and more details will appear here as this progresses.

I was fortunate to inherit not only my Grandfather's medals but also his Service Certificate (still in its original envelope) along with the photograph of him in uniform just after his marriage to my Grandmother. My Father also remembers a photograph of him in his Naval uniform and three war souveniers that he brought back. Unfortunately these seem to have disappeared over the years.

From the National Archive I obtained his Service Record (ADM 339/1/2064) which was available online. The Service Record also contains the references for his illnesses and wounds which will come in handy later.

Back to the National Archive site to download the diaries of the 188th Brigade (WO 95/3108/3) and the Howe Battalion (WO 95/3111/2). (Note - These diaries only commence once the Division arrives on the Western Front, there is no equivalent for the period prior to this.)

An email to the Fleet Air Arm Museum research department and, for a nominal fee, I obtained copies of his enlistment papers and RNVR enrolment papers and two Army B.103 forms.

A big break came next, I was planning a trip to the National Archives at Kew to view the diary of the 176 Tunnelling Company (WO 95/244/6) when the digitised version appeared online. However, these diaries proved to be a bit of a disappointment as they just detail hospitalisations and returns on a daily basis with a summary of the Company's action at the end of each month. One further disappointment as there was no summary for September, I had to rely on those for August and October. From these it can be safely said that Thomas would have been employed in the construction of the deep dugouts.

At present I am working (very slowly!) through the medical records, reference MH 106 is given in the Service Record obtained above.

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