Monday, April 25, 2011

Men In Uniform, ANZAC Day Round Up

At this time of remembering our service men and women, my mother came to me and asked me to help her to access her father's military records, which I was more than happy to do. First of all, let me introduce you to my grandfather, Edward Kenneth Boyd (above) who served in the Australian Imperial Force (the Army) in World War I. You can also see him with his mates in the picture below, he is the man in the centre of the picture.

Mum's request came in response to a television promotion for the site which was advertising free access to military records in the lead up to ANZAC Day. However, I have to warn you, the search engine in that site was pathetic and frustrating, although I had indicated that my grandfather was an Australian servicemen, the result came up with hundreds of American draft cards! I then swore a little bit and said to mum it would be better to try a google search. I typed in 'australian world war one records' and the first result was for the Australian National Archives, which gave me free access to my grandfather's military jacket (or file if you prefer).

What do you get in these records? You might wonder... well, you can see an online folder, of all the paperwork that has been scanned for the archives, and how interesting the contents are depends on some factors. I have now obtained the records for both of my grandfathers so I am in a position to compare and contrast.

First thing you will see is the registration to become a serviceman, and a letter of consent from the applicants parents if they were under a certain age at the time. We have such a letter for my maternal grandfather but not my paternal grandfather who was a young adult at the time he applied.

The paperwork will tell you any significant answers you seek in terms of your relation's occupation and address at the time of enlistment, any previous military or civilian service etc.

The medical report at time of enlistment is next, detailing the height, weight, chest measurement, eye colour, complexion, and hair colour, as well as any distinguishing marks etc.

You will have a full list of all promotions, reductions, casualties, and all movements including dates of embarkation and disembarkation, all places where they trained and served, and in my peternal grandfather's file a copy of a letter sent to my great grandmother at the time he was wounded by shrapnel.

In Edward Kenneth's file we saw two disciplinary notes, one for failing to salute a senior officer, and one for arriving late to stable parade... though it would be very interesting to know the circumstances surrounding these as there may be mitigating factors. He certainly had no severe punishment for either and was never demoted.

Here are two scanned copies of postcards sent home by my grandfather from Egypt during the war, these of course came from our personal keepsakes not the national archives.

But you can choose to download a copy of the military files to your computer or print them out, and I have done both.

Wishing you comfort on ANZAC Day and I hope you will also take the time to work towards peace in this world, through prayer, mediation, education, or activism, whatever floats your boat!


Anonymous said...

Hi Starry,
It is very interesting to have records like this, I also had relatives ( and still do) in the defense forces.

A few years ago now one of my relatives done a search and has copies of these records including my Fathers and Grandfather which I also now have a copy.

I thought the turn out for Anzac Day right around OZ was fantastic, it really was good to see.
Lest We Forget.

Starry said...

Hi Mags,
its funny, I was just thinking of you, as I haven't visited your blog for such a long time (though I've been away of course), still, nice to know you are still around.

I think its also interesting how many destinations around the world are offering dawn services to Australians abroad.