Tag Archives: royal engineers

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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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
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Treasure Chest Thursday: Royal Engineers Christmas Menu, 1939

7 Jan

I think this is my first Treasure Chest Thursday post, and it is a shame I didn’t think about it a week or two ago when it would have been more topical.

I was looking through the photos on my hard drive the other day when I realised that many of the images I was looking at weren’t photos at all but scans of other items, most of them related to the time my grandfather, Charles Percy GASSON, spent in the Royal Engineers during the Second World War.

These items need almost as much work on them as the photos do, in fact some more so, as many contain clues as to what he was doing and where he was at a given time. Next to nothing is known about his time in the Royal Engineers, so these clues are going to be vital in piecing together his army life.

The first item is pretty self-explanatory, a Christmas Menu from 1939, but even this raises several questions. Who are all those signatures? and where were the breakfast, dinner and tea being held?

Christmas menu 1939 image 1

The actual menu itself looks surprisingly appealing, certainly not as austere as one might imagine for a wartime Christmas dinner. Whether what was served up actually matched the promise of the menu is anyone’s guess.

Christmas menu 1939 image 2

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