Smith Family Soldiers

I Help! I am 76 and expect to 'Meet The Ancestors' sometime soon! What I need help on specifically, is understanding my father's military record.

Albert John Smith enlisted in 1915 and was serving in the Royal Field Artillery in France in an ammunition column when he was still age 16. He served until 1926 and in 1919 was in North Russia. What was the Royal Artillery doing up there? My grandfather, Albert Thomas Smith, served in the 31st Company Army Service Corps in 1916, the same time as his son. The MOD informed me that his records were destroyed in the Blitz. Alan John Smith Binfield, Berkshire

I Your father was one of many young soldiers who served in World War I. Thousands joined under age, and many were abroad in less than a year of joining up. The youngest known to have been killed was aged just 14. In an Ammunition Column, your father would have been attached to a Royal Field Artillery Brigade, probably part of a higher formation such as an Infantry Division. His job would have been to deliver shells to the gun sites using horse transport; wagons or limbers.

The service in Russia in 1919 is not

(www.nationalarchives.gov.uk,

020 8876 3444). Calendars of Prisoners, which include ages and occupations, are in classes HO, PCOM, ADM, T, KB and WO.

You will find the relevant prison registers including names, birthplaces, ages, details of crime and punishment, physical description and even photographs in the County Record Office. The Suffolk Record Office is on Gatacre Road, Ipswich IPI 2LQ. Many unusual. The British government supported the 'White Russians', who fought against the Bolsheviks, into the 1920s, and thousands of British troops were sent to fight in North Russia from late 1918 onwards. This was a cold and forgotten front in WWI, but one which resulted in two Battle Honours being awarded, Archangel and Murmansk, and two Victoria Crosses to British soldiers who fought there. If your father served until 1926, his records will still be with the Ministry of Defence and should have survived WWII. Contact: Army Personnel Centre, Historic Disclosures, Mailpoint 400, Kentigern House, 65 Brown Street, Glasgow, G2 8EX.

Your grandfather served in the 31st Company Army Service Corps, which was part of the 2nd Divisional Train. This was nothing to do with steam trains, and like his son their role was re-supply using horse transport; in this case food, supplies and ammunition to other units in the 2nd Division. In 1916 they were at Loos and then moved to the Somme in July, remaining there for the rest of the battle. For more information on 2nd Division see The Long, Long Trail at www.1914-1918.net/ 2div.htm. If you contacted the MOD prior to the transfer of records to TNA, then I would search WO363 and WO364 (burnt and un-burnt records) again, just in case he slipped their attention. PR

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