Hot on the heels of other Great War releases, Ancestry has recently announced a new collection: ‘UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929′.
Where soldiers were killed in action during the Boer or Great Wars, these fascinating records provide information about the money paid to soldiers’ next of kin by the British Government.
The War Office created this records for more than 850,000 soldiers who died while serving, or during peace time, between 1901 and 1929.
Among these thousands of men, my Great Uncle appears. Horace Walne was a 2nd Lt with the Suffolk Regiment when he was killed near Arras in April 1917. Apparently he was a ‘fire eater’, but having survived Gallopoli he went through training and was promoted to officer. He was killed immediately by a shell three years after he first entered an active theatre of war.
Horace’s surname, initials and rank appear on the record, along with his battalion and regiment. “K in A” (killed in action) is noted with the date: 11 April 1917. Various figures are given in the ‘effects’ columns. Remember to click through to the next page to find the name of each soldier’s next of kin: in this case Horace’s father, Henry George Walne, who also acted as the administrator of his estate. Henry was given two payments totalling £55 7s 10d.
Some earlier entries also include trade at enlistment. The next of kin columns make a sad list of mothers, fathers and widows and occasionally, men who were discharged unfit and paid directly.
While these sources are interesting in themselves, the fact that they can illuminate a ‘chain’ between two people of the same or different generations means they can be tools for distinguishing between two soldiers with the same name, which can be difficult given the loss of so many service records at Arnside Road in 1940.
These records were digitised through a partnership between Ancestry and the National Army Museum. Find out more here: http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?dbid=60506
Remember: you can view these for free at any Norfolk or Suffolk library, or at Norfolk or Suffolk Record Office as they all have access to Ancestry Library Edition.