Thomas Stentiford 's War Record

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This is the first of what we hope will be a series of articles by Doreen Norton, already known to those members of the family whose research she has most generously taken up. In particular, she visits the Public Record Office at Kew from time to time - something that many of our family historians can never do for themselves. If some input from Doreen would help you to discover more about your ancestors, you can contact her by e-mailing minnienorton@aol


Doreen Norton writes:


There used to be a regular article in the "Daily Express" called "It's fun finding out!" It has certainly been fun for me recently - in fact I think this has been a very exciting month!


It started with me writing to four "Stentifords"  I found in the local Portsmouth Telephone Directory, asking for any information that they might be able to give me about their family of Stentifords. Within two days, I had a phone call from a man called Victor to tell me that his family came from Chawleigh and that his father was called Thomas Stentiford.


What made this exciting was that last year, when I went to the Public Record Office at Kew to look at Army Records for the First World War, it was Thomas's records that I had photocopied! I had chosen him because he came from the same village as my Great Grandmother, Ellen (Stentiford) Long, who I wrote about in Issue 20.


Army Records are a useful means of finding out a great deal of information about an ancestor. Thomas joined the Army Service Corp on August 12th 1915. He was aged 19 and his trade was that of a blacksmith. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall with a 37 inch chest which the records state he could expand by 2 inches! His medical record shows him to have weighed 141 lbs or  just over 10 stones  - not much of a weight for a strong young blacksmith by today's standards.

Tom Stentiford

Tom Stentiford

Photographed in Exeter at the studio of Alan Mills in Heavitree Road


His casualty form shows that he embarked from Southampton on the "SS Atlanta" on October 19th 1915. He was a private attached to 584 Coy which was a mobile repair unit at GHQ. Next day, he disembarked at Rouen in France. In the June of 1916, he reported unfit to work after an accident in the workshop.


His commanding officer described on a certificate attached to his records how the accident happened:


"About April 1916 at St.Martin, while working in the Blacksmith shop swinging a hammer. The soldier was in no way to blame. The incident was not reported  at the time since the soldier did not wish to make much of, what then, appeared to be a slight matter"


But over the following weeks, inflammation of the knee joint  became more and more debilitating and from that time on, Thomas seems to have been in constant pain, frequently reporting for medical  treatment. It was not until July 1918, however, that he was finally admitted to hospital.


On the 3rd of July 1919, the Service Records show that Thomas was granted his final Demobilization Certificate and, at last, returned home to England.


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