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WW1, researching a survivors history

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I have recently found some information about a relative who served in WW1 and survived.

Not 100% on where in the family tree he was, yet to be confirmed.

However on his return home, a postcard was made with his picture on it, stating that he was the most decorated veteran of his town, i have yet to obtain this, but it is coming, along with anything else, medals etc that remain.

 

I do know that he was called George F Elsdon and served with the Rifle Brigade, and that he was a Corporal.

 

Any help with pointers as to where to look for research etc would be greatly appreciated!

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First place to try, the National Army Museum at Chelsea. The records are at Kew I believe. The Rifle Brigade Association and museum may also help. Important information: Do you know where and when he enlisted? Was he a regular soldier , always wearing the same cap badge? the problem is everytime a soldier changed unit in the Great War the regimental number changed to.

http://content.ancestry.co.uk/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=1219&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0

 

If he was that decorated likely the local paper did an article on him, try their archives.

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First thing I would do is put his name in google and see what you come up with. Secondly if you know his unit, google that too. Finding the War Diaries for his units actions, especially if he was decorated would be a good find as he should be mentioned and you can find out what actions he was decorated for. Try an ebay search for the War Diaries, I picked up some for the Oxon Bucks L.I. for about £20.

If only we had a separate section for this sort of thing..... :whistle:

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On a point of slightly related interest, I have just taken custody of a 9ft roll of wallpaper containing (in fairly small writing) a family tree on my mother's side, the work of a deceased aunt.

 

It starts with my grandfather, and ends with "Ethelred the Unready", the young king born in 968 :schocked:

 

And this was done in the days before computers, let alone the internet :schocked:

 

It was basically a lifetime's work, involving a great deal of travelling to inspect church records. Just be thankful for what information you can find out there, however frustrating it might be at times :computerterror:

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Here we go, everything i have so far on Corporal G.F. Elsdon of the Rifle Brigade.

 

I believe that my great great Uncle, George Forder Elsdon, served with the Rifle Brigade through the first world war, his details from medals and other paperwork are as follows:-

 

Rifle Brigade No. 6934 Corpl G.F. Elsdon 2nd Bn

(Info taken from certificate "Mentioned in Despatch" 7th November 1917 from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, recording his majestys high appreciation of services rendered, and signed by Winston Churchill Secretary of State for war, certificate dated 1st March 1919).

 

From medals the following info:

 

6934 PTE G Elsdon 1/RIF.BRIG (On a star marked "Aug 1914 Nov")

 

6934 CPL.G.F.ELSDON.RIF.BRIG. (1914 -1918 Medal)

 

Also i have a strange medal and certificate, i think it is Romanian? the medal has BARBATIE SI CREDINTA on the rear, the certificate has the following inscription:-

___

Ministerul de Rasboiu

Brevet

Noi ministru secretar de stat la

departmentul de rasboiu adeverim ca prin

inaltul decret No. 371 din 5 Februarie 1920.

Majestatea la regele a binevoit a conferi

Medalia Pentru,, Barbatie si credinta

Cu spade clasa II-a Capuralului G.F. Elsdon, din Armata

Britanica (6934)

 

(Signed) Ministru de Rasboiu. General (?illegable) Directorul Superior al personalului. Colonel (?Illegable)

 

No. 4394i

 

(Dated) 1920 Februarie 5

____

 

And i have a Postcard sized Photograph showing Corporal George Forder Elsdon in a very worn uniform!

 

When i get access, i will scan the paper stuff and the photo and post here.

Anybody know how to find out about mention in despatches stuff etc??????

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Oh good another mystery! Its not like Ive got anything better to do... :whistle:

Scan the docs Adam.

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Manhood and Loyalty Medal (Medalia Barbatie si Credinta)

The Manhood and Faithfulness Medal was awarded to noncommissioned Officers and enlisted men for service to the Crown of Romania as well as for lesser acts of Bravery. It was awarded in 3 classes, with and without swords; 1st class In Gold (gilt), 2nd class Silver and 3rd class In Bronze. For military service the medal was awarded with crossed swords.

 

During the First World War, when Romania was associated with the Allied powers, this award was also given to British N.C.O.'s for acts of bravery in the Eastern Theatre of War.

The words BARBATIE SI CREDINTA Literal translation is "Manhood and Faith" and in the context of this award means "Manhood- courage and Bravery Faith (as in faith in God)".

width=88 height=221http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o72/rik242_2006/Romania_Medaille_Barbatie_si_Credin.jpg[/img]

 

 

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Manhood and Loyalty Medal (Medalia Barbatie si Credinta)

The Manhood and Faithfulness Medal was awarded to noncommissioned Officers and enlisted men for service to the Crown of Romania as well as for lesser acts of Bravery. It was awarded in 3 classes, with and without swords; 1st class In Gold (gilt), 2nd class Silver and 3rd class In Bronze. For military service the medal was awarded with crossed swords.

 

During the First World War, when Romania was associated with the Allied powers, this award was also given to British N.C.O.'s for acts of bravery in the Eastern Theatre of War.

The words BARBATIE SI CREDINTA Literal translation is "Manhood and Faith" and in the context of this award means "Manhood- courage and Bravery Faith (as in faith in God)".

width=88 height=221http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o72/rik242_2006/Romania_Medaille_Barbatie_si_Credin.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

Just found a website covering this before i came back here, basically saying the same thing.

 

The medal is the same as in the picture, the one i have is the Silver 2nd Class medal as stated on the certificate, although the ribbon is different in colour, Being Dark Blue, blue,white and orange. Not to sure what the award was for, or for the area of operation, Macedonia?

I did see on another regimental site that foreign awards recognised by british government were announced in the "Gazette" this is one that falls in that category.

 

Rick W, dont suppose you would know what 2 Battalion, Rifle Brigade were doing around about 7th November 1917! i.e. in which part of the world were they huddling in a sloppy trench.

 

I have sent all of the above info to the curator of the Rifle Brigade Museum (latterly known as the Royal Green Jackets), so waiting for a reply.

 

I will get the pictures sorted out as soon as possible.

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brilliant stuff - what a find. I would think your roll of wallpaper is a national treasure in itself and should be stored somewhere very carefully.

 

I agree with Tony,you need to see unit diaries and so on and will need to visit the PRO or consult the NAM to do this. I've never done it - but meaning to do so in 2008. The medal is really interesting, what a piece of treasure. I'm glad it is in good hands.

 

Tony may agree, you ,might consider joining the Great War Forum and using the many brains on it. I'm signed up but rarely go into it because I spend my time here.

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Totally agree with Snapper, there is so much minutia in tracing and details the more places to get info the better.

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More info, searched the national archives and found the medal records section, this is useful, as they hold all of the records for all army awards issued during WW1.

These have been scanned and catalogued, copies can then be bought.

 

Cpl G.F. Elsdon had 2 medal cards! one containing the Mention In Despatches, the other card containing the record of medals awarded.

These can be hard to interpret, and it took me a while, but there are references linked to the London Gazette, which give publication and page No. for details that have been published in the newspaper, this can be promotions in the case of officers or in my case, the mention in despatches, although no details of what happened, just a name in a list of other names.

 

Also found out seperately that the "Romanian" award was listed in the London Gazette, it was an 8 page list of names, with permission given by the King to wear the decoration as awarded by the King of Romania. Everybody from Field Marshal Haig downwards is on there, i havent counted, but there cant be that many awards, so it seems a bit of a rarity.

 

This is an example of the British medals he was awarded. The 1914 (Mons) Star with Bar and Rose, War medal and Victory Medal, the only difference is that there should be an Oak leaf on the ribbon of the Victory Medal denoting the "M.I.D." (Mention In Despatches).

 

The 1914 Star is "Rare" compared to other WW1 medals, 360,000 awarded, as this was for actions between Aug - Nov 1914, which means Cpl Elsdon survived the entire war from the very beginning to the very end, which must of put him amongst the few.

 

 

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Eventually, i have pictures, this is a photograph of Corporal George Forder Elsdon of the Rifle Brigade, it took a while to work out what was going on with his dress, but it turns out that he is dressed in what is known as "Hospital Blues" his records show him returned to 2bn Rifles 3 times, this generally indicates that he was taken off of the regiments records and then listed on his return, generally after injuries requiring a man to be sent back to England for medical attention. The photo was taken in Burnley, during one of his periods away from the front.

 

The colour photo is from an re-enactors site and is a very good example of the same Hospital blues uniform, this was issued on entry into a hospital, so that patients could be easily identified, and that the public could see that a man had done his "bit" also the normal uniform from the front was probably in a real state Mud blood lice etc.

27112009379.jpg

hospitalblues.jpg

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His Mention in despatches certificate, signed by Winston Churchill, and his Certificate for his Romanian Award "Barbatie si Credinta" clas 2. Both listed officially in the London Gazette.

27112009378.jpg

27112009377.jpg

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What remains of his medals, he was awarded the 1914 (Mons) Star with clasp and rose, the War Medal, the Victory Medal with oakleaf denoting his Mention in Despatches (MiD) and the Romanian bravery award.

His Regiment was involved in the retreat from Mons and the battle of Le Cateau, right at the very start of the war, and he would of been one of the original "Old contemptibles" he survived the great war and went to live back in Wallsend Newcastle.

 

The clasp and rose are missing from the Mons star, the Victory medal and MiD Oakleaf are missing and the ribbon from the Romanian award.

27112009382.jpg

27112009383.jpg

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Cpl G.F. Elsdon was mentioned in despatches dated 7th Nov 1917.

 

So far i have come across nothing that mentions the whereabouts of the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade just prior to that date, and what actions they were involved in, if anybody can shine a light on that, it would be tremendous.

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Wow, excellent photo and items.

Don't ever change the ribbons as these seem to be the originals.

Great you also have paperwork to go along with it.

What will you do with the medals and papers? Frame it for display or keep in a dry place without light?

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The photos were taken on my Nokia phone! i was toying with the idea of displaying the certificates, but i may leave them sealed in a zip bag in a folder at the moment, the medals i intend to display, along with the photograph, i have also obtained an original WW1 era Rifles Brigade cap badge and i will mount them in a frame.

 

I am on the look out for a seller of extremely good replica medals or unissued items if there is such a thing, as i would like to get the Victory medal replaced and with the correct service details stamped around its edge, and a clasp and rose for the 14 star. I think the likelihood of finding a ribbon for Romanina medal is hugely slim.

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This is a fantastic story. Hospital Blues were indeed issued to show men were still serving and help avoid any of the white feather nonsense going on throughout the war. I've got pics of my great uncle Gordon Eccles wearing his. I will see if I can help you with the RBs info. I am surprised you can't find it on the tinterweb. The RBs had 6 Regular 8 Territorial and 6 Service Battalions by the end of the war and had four more affiliated in some form or another. I recommend you sign up to the Great War Forum.

 

MB

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Point to look out for when displaying papers.

Use acid free (archive paper) under the documents.

Don't frame it so that part of the document is covered, it will discolour differently when partly covered by a frame (shading).

Hang in a place with little daylight or artificial light. Only use(direct) light when showing it/looking at it, no constant (halogen) light.

 

Medals.

Some people polish them, I don't like that.

Offcourse its up to you.

Don't replace the worn/soiled ribbons for new ones.

The old ones give it character and are most likely the original ones.

 

 

Basically all light will affect it on longer periods of time.

Especially hanging it where direct sunlight hits it is bad.

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This is a fantastic story. Hospital Blues were indeed issued to show men were still serving and help avoid any of the white feather nonsense going on throughout the war. I've got pics of my great uncle Gordon Eccles wearing his. I will see if I can help you with the RBs info. I am surprised you can't find it on the tinterweb. The RBs had 6 Regular 8 Territorial and 6 Service Battalions by the end of the war and had four more affiliated in some form or another. I recommend you sign up to the Great War Forum.

 

MB

 

www.westernfrontassociation.com is a good forum to visit as well.

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Found out some more info, reference Brigades and divisions that the Regiment served with. At what point he was moved to 2nd Battalion and why is still a mystery.

 

1st Battalion

Part of 11th Brigade in 4th Division.

23 August 1914 : landed at Le Havre.

 

2nd Battalion

Part of 25th Brigade in 8th Division.

6 November 1914 : landed at Le Havre.

 

The Great War Forum is excellent for researching, lots of knowledgeable people who are genuinely interested in helping find history on your relative.

Edited by Adam Elsdon

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