Tag Archives: royal engineers

Family Heirloom: Grandad’s Button

11 May

Here is another part of my grandad’s Second World War army uniform, a jacket button from his time serving in the Royal Engineers.

The button is about an inch in diameter and appears to be made from brass. The maker’s name is on the back, FIRMIN LONDON.

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Grandad in uniform

4 May

This is how I know my grandad was in Gibraltar in 1940.

Charles Percy Gasson (December 1940, Gibraltar)

The writing in the bottom-right corner says “Best wishes for 1941. Your loving husband. Gibraltar Dec: 1940“.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Postcard Album: Gibraltar – Gates to Spain

3 May

Continuing on the theme of my grandad’s Second World War army service the postcard below is presumably a souvenir brought back from his time in Gibraltar with the Royal Engineers.

Although you can’t tell from the scan the left edge is perforated, indicating that it has come from a book of postcards or maybe a string of postcards joined end to end. This is the only one of these I have, so I don’t know what happened to the others, if indeed my grandad brought the whole set.

It is of course possible that this didn’t come back from Gibraltar with my grandad, but rather it was something that he acquired later on as a reminder of his time there.

I imagine that the postcard dates from the 1930s but that is just a guess really, my grandad was definitely out in Gibraltar in December 1940, but I am not sure for how long.

I think it is quite a nice image, not particularly picturesque but an interesting historical record of the border. I love the wheelbarrow abandoned on the corner of the pavement.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Family Heirloom: Grandad’s Cap Badge

28 Apr

I have been showing you some mementos of my grandad’s army service during the Second World War. None of the earlier ones have really been obvious military items, but here is one heirloom that is undoubtedly military.

I don’t think there is much more explanation needed, the cap badge is made from plastic, presumably bakelite, for economy purposes. It has brass fittings on the back as well as the manufacturer’s name: A STANLEY & SONS, WALSALL.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Family Heirloom: Two Lumps of Rock

13 Apr

Continuing on from my previous family heirloom post, below is a photo of another family heirloom, or rather pair of family heirlooms. They are somewhat less practical that the shoe brush last time, in fact they serve no useful purpose other than to illustrate a part of my grandad’s army life.

The story (told to me by my father) goes that these two pieces of rock were pieces of the Rock of Gibraltar brought back from Gibraltar by my grandad who had been stationed out there whilst serving with the Royal Engineers during the Second World War.

Whilst I am pretty certain that he served in Gibraltar (and could confirm that with his service record), I have no way of knowing whether these are in fact bits of the Rock, unless I can find a geologist with some way of analysing them.

However I am quite happy to accept the story that these were souvenirs of his time spent in Gibraltar and have no reason to doubt it.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Family Heirloom: Grandad’s Shoe Brush

1 Apr

Some family heirlooms are more useful than others and this is definitely one of them. Some are meant to be put on display, but this one lives in the cupboard under the kitchen sink.

This is my grandad’s army issue shoe brush, used by him during has service with the Royal Engineers and used by me this morning to polish my shoes ready for work on Monday morning.

Although it is not particularly clear I know it was his brush because it has his service number (1879445) stamped on the top.

One side has the words “WARRANTED ALL HORSE-HAIR  1939″, which is presumably the year and on the other side are the words “BEECHWOOD LTD” which is probably the manufacturer and a War Department broad arrow.

I’m sure my grandad would be pleased to know it is still being used after all these years.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Searching for the service record of Patrick Vaughan

31 Jan

The marriage certificate of Kate Allison (my 2x great-aunt) and Patrick Vaughan showed that he was a soldier, which wasn’t surprising given that the year was 1917 (or 1918) and the vast majority of young men were fighting for King and Country.

More specifically the marriage certificate said that he was a sapper, so presumably this meant that he was serving with the Royal Engineers. This would help in my search for his service record.

The first step was to check the WW1 Medal Index Cards on Ancestry.co.uk, this gives the most complete list of men who served in the First World War, and it revealed just one Patrick Vaughan who had served in the Royal Engineers. Initially this Patrick Vaughan had served with the Liverpool Regiment before transferring to the Royal Engineers.

Based on this I transferred to the WW1 Service and Pension Records on Ancestry and was delighted to see that the record for Patrick Vaughan who served with the Royal Engineers had survived and was in among the service records. Not only had it survived, but it had survived in abundance, in total there were 58 pages about Patrick.

It soon became obvious that this wasn’t the Patrick Vaughan that I had been looking for, either that or he had been lying profusely when he attested or got married. This Patrick had been 28 years old when he enlisted in 1915, by no stretch of the imagination or slip of the pen could he be 43 years old a couple of years later when he married.

Amongst the 58 pages there was no mention of a wife, his next of kin was his sister, and there was a fair bit of correspondence with his sister because he died in 1918, seemingly taking his only life whilst recovering in hospital. It was such a sad story, but not one that I could stretch to fit into my family tree, things just didn’t stack up.

My only likely candidate had been disproved, but of course there were many reason why I could find no trace of his military service. Perhaps he wasn’t a sapper after all, perhaps he wasn’t even a soldier? Perhaps he was never entitled to any medals so didn’t show up in the records? Perhaps Patrick wasn’t his full name or his age wasn’t 43 years after all?

I had no choice but to give up searching for his service record, perhaps I would have more luck with finding him in civilian records. After all I had his name, age and the name of his father, that should make it relatively easy to find out more about him.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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