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What do the terms mean on service records?


QI have a service record and photograph of my great grandfathe­r John James (Jack) King, who served with the Suffolk Regiment during the First World War. The service records for the 1/4th Suffolks survived, as they remained at the record office in Bury St Edmunds. Trying to understand some of the terms used is quite a challenge, so please could you explain what “frv.s. act (sessions2) 1916” means?

Mark Hillman

AThe document you’ve copied isn’t Jack’s service record, but a very good summation of his war service. His long number, 200014, shows he was a Territoria­l Force (TF) part-time soldier and his medal rolls and Medal Index Card (on ancestry.co.uk) confirm service in 1/4th Suffolks, a TF battalion. They show he went to France on 8 November 1914, so had been fully trained, and his original regimental number (212) suggests he’d been in the TF for some time – possibly even joining when it was formed in 1908.

The line you’re specifical­ly querying says “M S Act (Sessions 2) 1916”, referring to additional clauses added to the 1916 Military Service Act. These automatica­lly extended the service of a soldier, who’d enlisted for a fixed term, to the end of the war.

The Regimental Museum website confirms its archive is deposited at Suffolk Record Office in Bury St Edmunds, whose catalogue includes for the 1/4th Battalion “G2 Digests of services and other contempora­ry narratives”, which I suspect is what you have. Possibly it was inherited from the records of the Suffolk Territoria­l Associatio­n (which ran the TF) long ago.

It could also have come from the Ministry of Defence which, about 15 years ago, dispersed many records to regimental museums. I believe these didn’t contain service records, but did include indexes, digests and registers containing details of individual­s (such as defaulters and deserters). Other researcher­s might find it worth checking these museums to see what they hold. The Army Museums Ogilby Trust at armymuseum­s.org.uk has contact and website details.

Phil Tomaselli

 ??  ?? John James King of the Suffolk Regiment: front row, far right
John James King of the Suffolk Regiment: front row, far right

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