Platoon Books? - who, what & why?

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by ClankyPencil, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Was reading through a missing personnel file and came across a reference that i've not come across before; that of platoon books.

    WO361-825 2-5 Queens Missing 061.JPG

    So based on the above i have a few queries

    Did all units have them or use them? was it just infantry units? or units that had a big influx of recruits?

    Who was responsible for compiling them/ maintaining them and who kept copies of them? was it just the platoon commanders & platoon NCO's?

    What sort of typical info was complied in them? (I'm assuming physical desription & personal details similar to above page)
    Guy Hudson and 8RB like this.
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I've seen something somewhere that listed weapon serial numbers and vehicle census numbers within an - in this case - anti-tank platoon. Remember there was a lot of kit issued to units that had to be tracked and administered, so I think that was a key purpose if the book. I think the notes I saw were just written in a standard notebook, but there may have been a dedicated book or form for the job.
  3. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    They’d also need to note details of all men in a Platoon so they could do “roll calls” when coming out of action.

  4. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Not sure if there was an official platoon book, but I have seen Commercially available roll books (by Gale & Polden) and have just got hold of this message pad belonging to an 11th Lancs Fusiliers officer which details the makeup of his platoon and has a page for each man (he was wounded and of the men listed 1 was killed and around 10 more wounded) - I'm not sure of this was maybe a standard piece of training/advice at OCTU's to have a note of these details. 1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg
  5. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Excellent post.
    That's the sort of thing i half suspected might exist.

    It also probably explains why the Cas (L) branch asked soldiers (when providing statements/evidence about missing personnel), to furnish details regarding not just physical descriptions etc, but also things like home town & civilian occupation etc as standard procedure (similar to below)

    WO361-825 2-5 Queens Missing 075.JPG
  6. klambie

    klambie Senior Member

    Canadian example:

    IMG_4623.JPG IMG_4625.JPG IMG_4628.JPG IMG_4633.JPG
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
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  7. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    deleted in error
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  8. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Part of the reason they ask for those things may be to cross check its the same man - I have read some Australian WW1 red cross reports on the missing and different witnesses all say they knew him personally, trained with him etc then go on to say he was a 6 foot ginger, a 5 foot baldy, fat, thin etc etc a teacher, farmer, whatever that he was hit as he left the trench, got bayonetted in the enemy trenches, was hit by a shell in no mans land etc - several different reports about the same man each sounding absolutely plausible but each contradicting the others - I guess if you combine with his service records you could weed some of them out as being mistaken identity. Just my thoughts
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  9. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Seen exactly the same thing in some of the WW2 missing personnel files, and it makes sense to cross reference details to eliminate possible mistaken identity etc.
    I just wasn't aware until reading that missing personnel file that these platoon books existed.

    Also, over the years i read a few accounts, where it was mentioned that German patrols would come within earshot of allied lines and call out specific soldiers of that unit and ask them personal questions, like how their wife 'Mary' was doing, and what was the bombing like at.... (their home town) etc. I'd always assumed the info was gleaned from POW's from that unit, but am now wondering if the info could have been taken from one of these platoon books falling into enemy hands.
    ozzy16 and Tricky Dicky like this.
  10. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Certainly in the late 50s/early 60s, coming from RMA Sandhurst, I was aware that one should have a book containing details of the members of your platoon. Exactly what it should contain was not, from memory, specified, but certainly, apart from the obvious like name(s), rank and number, next of kin and home (or NOK) address. Such matters as weapon allocation and number could easily be added. Whether I ever had a book with the full details of all my platoon is not something I remember! Very useful for the enemy if they captured such a book.
    redtop likes this.
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    Platoon/troop commanders were, and still are, expected to know their soldiers.
    Training details:Shooting records - fitness- courses - swimmer/non swimmer
    Next of Kin details - family details: wife's name children's names

    You can't remember everything. They aren't an official document. There wasn't a set layout or government form. I still have my old Troop note books.
    Platoon sergeants would keep a similar book - possibly including clothing and boot sizes and other admin stuff.
    redtop likes this.
  12. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Another example I've just picked up, there are more names and also some kit detail that I haven't shown - this came with the other paperwork of Sgt Spencer - he was Platoon Sergeant of 18 Platoon 2/5th Leicester Regiment, he was twice wounded, I've only checked a few of the names and at least 2 more were wounded - I need to properly work through

    IMG_20190829_0001.jpg IMG_20190829_0002.jpg IMG_20190829_0003.jpg
  13. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member Patron

    I have some memories of seeing a set of Filofax pages which appeared to be for an officer or NCO to keep notes Re individual soldiers. This was when there was a bit of a Filofax craze before we all went digital, but maybe the firm had produced them historically.
  14. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

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  15. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Cheers for that, Voase was one of the ones I noticed had been wounded (27/8/44 along with Hubbard) - I guess I should go through the whole platoon
  16. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    I had a check of Sgt Spencers book against the casualty returns and it gives a sobering insight into a rifle platoons losses, of the 42 men listed

    5 Were Killed
    1 is listed as died in 1946 (he is among the wounded but I'm not sure if his death was due to his wounds)
    15 were wounded (2 twice wounded)
    1 was taken POW

    Its possible there are others who were casualties, I can't identify the officer (yet) and a couple of the others have unclear numbers (1 had a double digit but I managed to work it out) - plus its reasonable to assume the platoon would have received replacements who would also have sustained casualties, but basically of the 42, 21 were casualties so 50%
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  17. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    I've just run the numbers through the link Guy posted and have found an MM and Mention in Despatches amongst the platoon - also extra info on the man who died in 1946, he took his own life from the roof of Klagenfurt Military Hospital, after surviving the War I'd hate to think what was going on in his head and how it affected his family
    Guy Hudson likes this.

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