Posted 01 April 2012 - 09:15 AM
There are a number of questions that I am trying to resolve about the role and death of my Grandfather, Herbert Price, in WW1. Any suggestions on any of the points below would be gratefully received.
1. Coal miners. Herbert was a coal miner in St Helens, Lancs. I would appreciate some clarification about the role of coal miners - I've heard that they were specifically sent to the from to dig trenches. On the other hand, the country needed fuel and they were kept back at home to do their jobs.
2. Emlistment Herbert has 2 service numbers. I have copies of a document (Army Form D 2505) that show he originally enlisted on 4th February 1915 in Warrington in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, with service number 25361. This form says on it SHORT SERVICE (For the Duration of the War). However, at the time of his death, Herbert was in the 11th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment with service number 53315. This information raises questions for me and in particular, did he originally enlist in some kind of reserve capacity and then go home and wait for the call or did he go off to war at that point? At what point did he make the change from the Welsh Army to the Cheshire Regiment and why?
3. Medical Records. According to the story handed down through the family, Herbert was hospitalised at some point in Warrington with emphysema and was unable to continue as a coal miner. It is said that the army called him up at this point and literally took him from his hospital bed and sent him to the front, leaving behind a wife and 3 young children. How likely is this story and can it be verified in any way?
4. Postcards from the front. I have in my possession a postcard (showing Caernarvon Castle) in Herbert's hand writing and addressed to my father, who was no more than 2 years old at the time. In part f the text, Herbert says that he will soon be coming home. It is incredibly tantalising. The stamp has bee removed (probably by my father for his stamp collection, which, frustratingly has been destroyed). Much of the postmark has been removed along with the stamp, but it is possible to read very clearly the letters WAR. These letters could signify that the card was sent from Warrington when he was in hospital. BUT - could they possibly mean that it was sent from the War Zone?
5. Trains The final part of the family story is that after being taken from his hospital bed, he was killed at or near the front in Flanders on a train, which was bombed in some way. Herbert is remembered on the wall at Tyne Cot. I had assumed that the train was a troop train, but it seems more likely that it was part of the light railway system that moved men and equipment to the front line. I would really like to know how and where my Grandfather died.
Any information, comments or suggestions about any of these things would be most welcome.