How do I find mil­i­tary ci­ta­tions from the First and Sec­ond World Wars?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q& A -

QSince the in­tro­duc­tion of mil­i­tary hints on find­my­past. co.uk, I have dis­cov­ered that two of my ances­tors – both re­lated and serv­ing in the Royal Navy – were awarded the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Medal. Al­bert Ge­orge Rogers was awarded it dur­ing the First World War, in Novem­ber 1917, and Sub-Lieu­tenant Al­fred Nor­man Vic­tor Rim­ming­ton was awarded for ser­vice in the Sec­ond World War, while serv­ing on the sub­ma­rine HMS Sealion. Could you give me any idea of where I could find copies of the ci­ta­tions for these two awards?

Vic­tor Stotten

AThe Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Medal (DSM) was in­tro­duced in Oc­to­ber 1914, to be awarded to petty of­fi­cers, naval rat­ings and other ranks in the Royal Marines for acts of brav­ery in the face of the en­emy that did not qual­ify them for higher awards.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing naval awards re­quires the name and num­ber of the re­cip­i­ent, from the medal, the ser­vice record or the Lon­don Gazette ( thegazette. co.uk), and the date of the Gazette. Al­bert’s num­ber was J16923 and the Gazette date was 11 Novem­ber 1917. I’ve cho­sen him as an ex­am­ple be­cause First World War lookups are usu­ally harder – and it’s such a good story.

The place to start is the Ad­mi­ralty Reg­is­ters in the series ADM12 at The Na­tional Ar­chives in Kew (not on­line) for the year of the Gazette and ini­tial of the sur­name. For the First World War, there are two reg­is­ters for each let­ter. Both need to be checked. Here, they are ADM12/1578A and 1578B, where I found ref­er­ence to Al­bert’s DSM with an ad­di­tional ref­er­ence X13892 (the pa­per we seek) show­ing as be­ing in the series ADM137.

I checked the ADM137 Key (on Kew’s open shelves) for the ref­er­ence X13892. This gave an­other ref­er­ence, HS1355, which, else­where in the Key, gives ADM137/1355 as the Kew ref­er­ence. The file is in­dexed and ship P61 – the one that Al­bert served on, ac­cord­ing to his ser­vice record – is men­tioned.

The ac­tual file is headed ‘De­struc­tion of Ger­man Sub­ma­rine UC 49 by HMS P61 26th Septem­ber 1917’ and de­scribes how P61, a naval pa­trol ves­sel, had been as­signed to es­cort a con­voy off the Ir­ish coast in bad weather. When it reached the con­voy, it ob­served an oil tanker apparently sink­ing by the stern and was ad­vised that it had been tor­pe­doed. Cir­cling the con­voy, P61 ap­proached the tanker and, on get­ting close, an of­fi­cer on the bridge re­ported an ob­ject on the sur­face about half a mile away in the thick mist. It was the sub­ma­rine, and, as P61 ap­proached, the 12-pounder gun on the port side fired one round of com­mon shell. This hit the sub­ma­rine just be­hind the con­ning tower. With the U-boat un­able to sub­merge, P61 went to full speed ahead, and rammed it. An ex­plo­sion was heard aboard the U-boat, and it went down with all hands but one – the cap­tain was res­cued.

The rec­om­men­da­tion for Al­bert’s DSM reads, “Gun­layer of the port 12 pdr gun. Re­spon­si­ble for scor­ing a hit with the first and only round fired.” The ci­ta­tion it­self is un­likely to sur­vive, but will have been based on this rec­om­men­da­tion. In ad­di­tion to his DSM, Al­bert was awarded £15 1s 6d as his share of a £1,000 re­ward for sink­ing the sub­ma­rine.

When it comes to Al­fred’s award, the same prin­ci­ples ap­ply for the Sec­ond World War, al­though there’s only one regis­ter per year. As it was gazetted in the New Year Hon­ours List for 1941, it’s worth search­ing 1940 first. There is a use­ful guide at bit.ly/naval­guide. Phil To­maselli

VIC­TOR STOTTEN wants to find out more about his rel­a­tives’ ser­vice in the Royal Navy Al­fred Rim­ming­ton’s ci­ta­tion in the Lon­don Gazette, Jan­uary 1941 The DSM fea­tured in a set of Player’s Ci­garettes cards

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