What did my sol­dier an­ces­tor do in In­dia?

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QSev­eral of my wife’s an­ces­tors fought in the First World War and many of them died. In most cases, we have been able to dis­cover more about their ser­vice. How­ever, for Al­bert Thomas (also known as Ber­tie), we can find very lit­tle. My mother-in-law said he was in the Ri­fle Bri­gade, died in the war and had a wife, Ada.

We have found him in the 1901 cen­sus at home with his par­ents Ge­orge and Bethulica in Shored­itch. From this we think he was born about 1891. There is a mar­riage record for Ber­tie Thomas and Ada Ker­ri­son in 1911 in Maryle­bone, Lon­don, and there is also a child, Harold, born in 1915 in Lewisham.

We have a pho­to­graph of Al­bert in uni­form, which ap­pears to have been taken in In­dia. Could you tell more about it? Stephen and Carol Cousins, by email

AThis pho­to­graph shows a Bri­tish lance cor­po­ral in In­dia just be­fore the First World War. It was clearly taken in In­dia as is shown by the pho­tog­ra­pher’s mark in the bot­tom-right cor­ner. Bareilly was an im­por­tant Bri­tish gar­ri­son at that time. The sol­dier has no medals on his left breast, but this doesn’t rule out ser­vice in the ear­li­est years of the 20th cen­tury. A very large num­ber of men served in the Boer War (1899-1902), so a medal would be likely. This tends to place the photo af­ter 1908. The cap badge is hard to iden­tify, as I can’t get a clear close-up im­age. It could be the Ri­fle Bri­gade – their 2nd and 4th bat­tal­ions were there in 1914. Other pos­si­ble reg­i­ments that he may have served in are the Mid­dle­sex, Dorset­shire, South Lancs and the Nor­folk Reg­i­ment all of whom had bat­tal­ions in In­dia in 1914. Phil To­maselli

Chevron The chevron on his right arm in­di­cates he’s a lance cor­po­ral. All of his tu­nic badges are de­tach­able so his jacket can be washed reg­u­larly. Tu­nic The tu­nic is white, but has a cu­ri­ous rounded cut- out at the waist and the trousers are ( pre­sum­ably) blue – an un­usual com­bi­na­tion. He may have worked in the mess, though I’d have ex­pected In­dian ser­vants there. Crossed ri­fles On his left arm, he’s wear­ing crossed ri­fles, in­di­cat­ing he’s a marks­man and be­low that he’s got a two-year good con­duct chevron. Cap badge There’s a lau­rel wreath sur­round­ing some­thing uniden­ti­fi­able in the cen­tre. The Ri­fle Bri­gade is a pos­si­bil­ity, though it doesn’t look like a Mal­tese Cross. Hel­met The hel­met is a Wolseley sun hel­met, which came into stan­dard use in 1902, so the date of the photo is later.

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