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