Monday, 1 February 2010

Peter Fitzhenry of the Royal Army Medical Corps

I've come into possession of a 1914-1918 British War Medal for a Private Peter Fitzhenry 73815, who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Unfortunately, he is one of the many soldiers whose records were burned during the bombing of London during World War 2, so there is no service record to link him to. The Royal Army Medical Corps enlisted men from all through Great Britain and Ireland, so there is no local regimental link suggesting where he lived.

The good thing is that he seems to have made it through the War alive, as he doesn't appear on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

All I know about this man so far is that he was born before 1901 (in order to be over 18 years of age at the end of the war), and he enlisted somewhere in Great Britain and Ireland.

His medal card shows that he wasn't promoted above the rank of private, that he wasn't mentioned in dispatches, and came out of the War with the "standard" two medals - the Victory Medal and the British War Medal (and not the 1914-14 star, so he enlisted in or after 1916). All in all, you would think, a pretty quiet war.

However, the inscription at the bottom of the medal list "SWB list RAMC/1875" shows that Peter's war was anything but quiet.
SWB stands for Silver War Badge, and was often known as the Silver Wounds Badge. There is a very comprehensive description of the history of the badge here at the excellent "The Long, Long Trail" WW1 family history research site.
In brief, the badge was mainly awarded to soldiers who had been invalided out of the forces after having seen service abroad (there's a list of the other less common reasons). Each badge was numbered to the soldier it was issued to. It was designed to be worn on civilian clothes to indicate to the public that the person had been discharged from the Army, rather than he was someone who was avoiding enlisting.

The SWB lists are held at the National Archives and contain some service details of each soldier who was issued with the badge including the reason for discharge. So the next time I'm there, hopefully I can find out more about Peter.
If anyone is at the archives and fancies doing a look-up for me, the document number is WO329/3237, looking for Peter Fitzhenry SWB RAMC/1875.
And if Peter was your forebear please write to us at the Blog and tell us more about this war hero.

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