Accuracy of disembarkation dates

According to his medal index card and 1914 - 15 Star medal roll, Herbert disembarked in France on 20th December 1914. Is this date accurate? Or more importantly, can this date be used to determine which battery he disembarked with?

British troops entrain at Le Havre.
(Photograph courtesy of the
Imperial War Museum, London - Q60501)

An indication of the accuracy of this date can be determine by examining data from other servicemen. If their disembarkation dates match their unit's it is reasonable to conclude the same for Herbert.

A method needs to be found of determining the names and regimental numbers of soldiers serving with particular units. This could be achieved by just randomly looking through soldiers' service records. However, it would be better to use RFA personnel from the 27th Division since any conclusions drawn are more likely to be accurate for Herbert.

During May 1915 the war diaries of the 19th and 20th brigades name some of the brigades' casualties. The information given varies and it is often difficult to accurately discern the name of the soldier. However, for the unfortunate individuals who were killed it is normally possible to find them in the "Soldiers Died in the Great War" CD by searching for part of their name or on a range of dates for their death. It is then possible to check the medal index cards for these soldiers to see when they disembarked. The table below lists some of the casualties of May 1915 along with their unit and disembarkation date. Also included are Alfred Allen and Harry Bertrum who were gassed at Ypres and John Gower whose diary is held by the IWM. All three served with the 1st Brigade.

Disembarkation dates.

It can be seen that the date an individual disembarked is usually different from the date his battery disembarked. Also all three brigades had soldiers disembarking on the 20th December, the date Herbert disembarked.

A disembarkation date of around 20th December 1914 clearly indicates that an individual served with the 27th Division, but beyond this it seems dangerous to conclude that a soldier necessarily served with one of the batteries that disembarked on the same date.