Researching two Welsh brothers

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by robjwood, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. robjwood

    robjwood Member

    I'm researching my Grandfather and one of his brothers who died in the war.

    My Grandfather, Ivor Jones was in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was apparently involved in the liberation of Belsen, was briefly a lieutenant or corporal and I have other bits and pieces of information about him. I feel that like getting his service number would unlock more potential information.

    How would I do this based on family information passed down a generation?

    I have a bit more on his brother, Robert John Jones. He was serving with the 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars and died on 19 August 1944. I have his service number (14374235) and have found his grave details. I also know his squadron number from a photo my Grandmother has. That is all I know.

    How would I find out more information about his time in the war?
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Ref your Grandfather you'd need to know his battalion to progress that research further, there were quite a few RWF battalions in WW2. A copy of his service records will tell you that and more.

    Ref his brother I think he may have either died of wounds or died a bit earlier and the date is wrong. Here are some pages from his units war diary

    robjwood and CL1 like this.
  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  4. robjwood

    robjwood Member

    Thank you both for your replies. I'm a little confused about the info in the diary and I'm not sure what some of it means!

    How can you tell it was wounds or the date is wrong? Is it just that they mentioned no deaths on the 19th?
  5. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Rob - CWGC often get the date of death wrong - or rather they settle for the best guess they could make at the time. There are a number of sources they got their information from in WW2 and afterwards. Remember they were compiling records and routinely reburying people five and ten years after the cessation of hostilities. The arbiter was often the War Office Casualty Branch and again, the number of ways they got their information was very varied - unit records were only one of them. What Drew is referring to is the recording of action which may have resulted in his death or fatal injury in the unit war diary - a couple of days before the recorded date of death may mean either your soldier died of wounds or his death wasn't confirmed until the 19th.
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Rob,

    Have you created a family tree on Ancestry as I have found a Robert John Jones, but do not wish to duplicate info you may already have

    Robert John Jones
    Birth: Jan Feb Mar 1924 (Jan 1924) - Carmarthenshire
    Death: 19 Aug 1944 - Caen, Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France


    edited to add:

    UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945 about Robert Jones
    Name: Robert Jones
    Given Initials: R J
    Rank: Trooper
    Death Date: 19 Aug 1944
    Number: 14374235
    Birth Place: Carmarthenshire
    Residence: Carmarthenshire
    Branch at Enlistment: Royal Armoured Corps
    Theatre of War: Western Europe Campaign, 1944/45
    Regiment at Death: 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars RAC
    Branch at Death: Royal Armoured Corps
  7. robjwood

    robjwood Member

    This forum is pretty amazing! Time for thanks (and more questions):

    Drew: Thanks for the photos of the war diaries, I assume they were a requirement but I can't imagine finding the time or energy to summarise the day's activities, especially when there are human losses. Also, thanks for the idea of finding Ivor's battalion; from what I know about him I think he was in 158th Infantry Brigade in the 4th, 6th or 7th Battalion. My search goes on...

    CL1 & Tricky Dicky: Thanks for looking into this. I do have an ancestry account and have found those records but I guess I'm greedy and want more! I think because he's the only one of the set of brothers who died he's taken on a bit or a semi-mythical status in our family so there's a lot of interest in him.

    BrianM59: Thanks for the detailed reply. I'm guessing that the only additional source of info to find out what his life would have been like is service records. Do you know if these would have mentioned an accurate date of death?
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Rob

    If you have Ancestry access then I would suggest making a small family tree with the 2 brothers as the main focus, and obviously include their parents. What this will do is provide info to others with the same people in their tree and hence the possibility of 'cross fertilisation' of information through direct contact. There is also always the possibility as well that as new records come online then hints or tips may attach themselves to your records.

  9. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    The service records would probably not list a date of death different as the CWGC version is the generally agreed version from all sources - the definitive one being the War Office. In the case of the soldier I am writing about, he is listed as killed on the 8th June 1940. This seems unlikely as the unit wrere not involved in any action on that day. Subsequent investigation revealed that he was almost certainly kiilled on the 9th if not the 10th June. The 8th was almost certainly the last day he was seen by any reporting senior rank - when he was ordered to the village on the Seine where he was killed and where he is buried. The WO Casualty Department made efforts to find out what had actually happened to him: - the International Red Cross, writing to officers and men in his unit, both survivors and POW's, but received no further communication and finally accepted the fact of his death in October 1941. Not so easy on his wife and mother who were waiting for news. Undoubtedly this was due to the enormous pressure placed upon the Department to locate and comfirm casualties.

    In his book Commando to Colditz; about Micky Burn’s experiences of the raid on St.Nazaire, the author Peter Stanley writes about the Burns family experience of dealing with what came to be known as Cas(L). “In communicating with casualties’ families, it’s first aim was to be, “immediately intelligible to distraught and often illiterate families”, but the complexities and circumlocutions of officialese circa 1940 acted against this sensible and humane ideal. Clerks habitually wrote in the passive tense and the branch’s officers set a stern standard of proof. They resolved, ‘to quote no unverified information and to raise no false hopes’”. In short, it was grim to get even a confirmation of date of death from this lot.

    But set that against a few facts: The War Office originally planned for a complement of just 17 staff in the Casualty Department. At it's peak, this rose to over 500. The allocation of space for a clerk was 50 square feet, reducing to 40 on occasions, but it was noted that space was often required for ‘excessive records’.
    By far the largest amount of work for the staff was concerned with casualty records and the main instrument of which was done on Army Form W3016, an army record office casualty return, filled out by all unit record offices and compiled into a working casualty list in Liverpool. The peaks came in June 1944 when the branch took over 13,000 such items in one week and just after VE day when they dealt with 17,500. A lot of the people who worked there were young women, with no prior experience nor emotional equipment to deal with loss on this scale - it can't have been easy on them either. Peter Stanley concluded tnat while flying missions over Germany in a bomber or crewing a tanker in the Atlantic were dangerous tasks, working in Cas (L) can't have been a picnic either.
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  10. robjwood

    robjwood Member

    OK, I'll let them off then :).

    A very detailed answer. Apparently my grandmother has the letter that was sent to the parents about his death (which she can never find) but from similar letters I've seen, it doesn't go into much detail. Most other I've seen only go as far as killed in battle and the area of the conflict.
  11. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    You're welcome. I certainly used to think that the issue about not approving dates of death was a financial one - that the WO didn't want to pay pensions or death in service grants, but even before the advent of the NHS and social care on a national basis, there were allowances that the government paid to make sure the family wasn't out of pocket. I have an interest in the Cas(L) as it was housed in the Bluecoat school not a million miles away from me in Liverpool. If you look in the missing personnel files (organised on a regimental basis in the National Archives) there are some heartbreaking stories and the sheer effort expended by Cas(L) staff to find individuals is quite affecting.
  12. robjwood

    robjwood Member

    From a researchers point of view, at least there's some information to go on. It's proving difficult to find info on those who served and survived. It seems that without a service number it's very difficult to pinpoint your ancestors accurately.
  13. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Rob,

    You grandmother should be able to obtain your grandfather's service records, without the service number. He served, he would presumably have received an Army pension and indeed, your grandmother may now get his Army pension (or part thereof).

    Just provide the MoD with his full name, last address, address when he served, NOK details, the fact that you believe he served with the RWF, his death certificate, etc. - as much information as possible. Get your grandmother to sign the application...; link:

    There are likely a few Ivor Jones', but not all of them would have served with the RWF or live at the same address, etc.


  14. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member

    7th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers were part of 158 Infantry Brigade of 53 Welsh Division throughout 1944/45.

    They ended the war in Hamburg but the entire Division then moved to the western part of the Ruhr to take up occupation duties in the Dusseldorf/Duisburg/Essen area The name Wrexham Barracks Mulheim could be a relic of the Battalions presence.
  15. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Actually there were at least 5 RWF units in NWE:
    4, 6 and 7 Bns then 116 LAA and 71 AT Regt, that is if you ignore the chance he was a RWF reinforcement sent elsewhere... also 158 Brigade HQ.

    Too little into to go on, I've got huge amounts on the RWF units but Ivor Jones is a common name - need a fair bit more before I can progress on this.

    That said when I can progress at this I've got vast quantities of material... any photographs?

    53 Div's RWF were not involved in Belsen, but they were extensively involved with the many camps around Hamburg. That said if he was part of the Bn sent to 56 Brigade it may be a different story (but I've not found anything to indicate a Belsen link there myself...)
  16. robjwood

    robjwood Member

    All I really know is this:
    • He joined in 1944.
    • He spent much of his active time in Germany, and was in Berlin for a while.
    • He was at Belsen concentration camp at some point.
    • Think he was briefly a lieutenant before being demoted due to an 'incident' (we're not what but it may have been something to do with someone shooting the dog he'd inherited!).
    • Part of his training was in Brecon, and some in Bradford.
    • We think he first travelled to the continent, from Harwich to the Hook of Holland.
    Don't know if it would be at all relevant but his father, Griffith, served for the RWF in WW1 and was shot (and survived) at Mametz Wood. I don't have any of his military pictures but I know they exist somewhere.
  17. robjwood

    robjwood Member

    It seems the troops that were at Belsen is a bit of a grey area. I've not found anything concrete to suggest the Royal Welsh Fusiliers were definitely there. My Uncle is adamant that his Dad was at Belsen.

    Could it be possible that he changed troop/regiment during his service? I don't know if this would be likely if he arrived in Europe fairly late, in 1944. Could this explain why he was trained in both Brecon (which I can understand) and Bradford (which seems odd) or is this just case of my Uncle getting his wires crossed?

    The only other info I've found out is that the dog was called Sion!
  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Rob,
    If you have not already - and I haven't read that you have - follow Steve Mac's advice and obtain their service records, this will tell you where they served and in which regiments, including transfers etc etc, it is the most important document in researching someones military past.
  19. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Fully agree with TD, when you have more info I'll be raring to help!
  20. robjwood

    robjwood Member

    Seems clear what I need to do! Thanks for the help again.

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