Village Web Site Forum

David Laycock
Saturday, February 23, 2008 12:28
Nancy's Photos
Hi all,
I too have the photo of the wardens here in Oz. It is a good record of many of the people we as lads new. My Dad kept his Tin hat, I remember finding it up in the garden shed in the allotments across from Crag Lane.
He kept his Medals in a cigarette tin together with the bullet and shrapnel taken from him. I have tried to find more about his war record, because he never spoke about it. I suppose you can't blame them after reading about the conditions they had to endure, but don't seem to get very far when I enter his name into the search engine?
Andrew Monkhouse
Sunday, February 24, 2008 21:23
Hi David, Iíve just had a quick look at the on-line (digitized) Medal Index Card listings at the National Archives in Kew, Surrey.

I could only find one entry for a Donald Laycock. Do you know if your Dad served with the Durham Light Infantry ? If so, his service number was almost certainly 80967 which would be a good starting point for researching his files.

The other thing we can determine without checking his actual service files is that your Dad entered the Theatre of War after the 1st January 1916. Thatís not to say that he didnít enlist sometime in 1915, but based on the fact he is not exhibiting the 1914/15 Star on the 1940 Air Raid Wardenís photo shows he didnít serve overseas until 1916 onwards.

You mention he was wounded with a bullet & piece of shrapnel. He was probably evacuated to a hospital in the south of England, treated and sent back to the front line.

Reason I say that is because service personnel who sustained a wound or contracted sickness or disability in the course of the war and as a result of which they were invalided out, were awarded the silver war badge, sometimes referred to as the silver wound badge which bears the inscription ďFOR KING AND EMPIRE + SERVICES RENDEREDĒ

The purpose of this badge was to prevent men of military age but not in uniform from being harassed by women pursuing them with white feathers. Again the Air Raid Wardenís photo doesnít show your Dad wearing this badge and you donít mention seeing it in his cigarette tin of goodies

Anyway, the service records and attestation papers of all servicemen are stored at the Public Records Office in Kew, Surrey. Unfortunately, many were destroyed by fire during the London blitz in WW2

However, many did survive and I know that the aim is to eventually have all the remaining servicemenís records for WW1 digitized for viewing on-line. The WW2 service files are not yet available for viewing by the general public.

At the moment, anybody can call in person to the National Archives and request to see a file and have it photocopied. This would be a little tricky for you seeing as you live in Oz ! However, you could if you so wish employ the services of a professional researcher to examine and photocopy your Dadís service file for you. The fee for this would probably be around 20 pounds + postage.

The typical service file could be anything from 10 Ė 50 pages thick and will contain information such as home address, eye colour, height, weight, next of kin etc. Then it will go on to list all overseas service and theatres of war with dates and locations. It will also mention other things of relevance (which relatives may or may not wish to know about !) such as court-marshals, episodes of being AWOL (which were very common), insolence towards a NCO, being wounded in action, taken POW, hospitalizations for venereal disease (again not uncommon) trench foot and other ailments.

A little bit to think about, I'll press the pause button at this point !

Sunday, February 24, 2008 21:31
Suppose you have tried the C.W.G.C. site (Commonwealth War Graves Commission), I made 2 albumns for Cowling (60 in WW1 and 10 in WW2) checking up from the CWGC site and printing out a page for each man lost, it is a marvellous site.
Monday, February 25, 2008 11:07
Hi Andrew,
First, thanks for the info you have given which is more than I could seeming get.
Yes he was in the Durham Light Infantry, I recall seeing those badges in the tin, and often wondered why Durham and not a Yorkshire one. I knew for many years (from my late teens) that he had been wounded. Dad died in 72 fom a brain seizure(while I was in NZ) which we were told was a result of a blood clot from one of his wounds/ operations to relieve pain etc. But it was only in 99 whilst over for a Textile machinery exhibition when visiting Allan, that he told me he had been wounded twice!
Joan I tried the CWGC but cos he was'nt killed nothing.
Anyway Andrew and Joan I will follow up your suggestions thankyou.
Andrew Monkhouse
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 07:03
Hi David, by the time your Dad joined the action post-1916, a lot of battalions had already been slaughtered at the Battle of Loos and elsewhere. The local Pals battalions who were recruited in 1914 had also been largely decimated. So the authorities probably placed new recruits into battalions that needed their numbers bolstering back to full strength, hence the Durham Light Infantry for your Dad rather than a local regiment.

I have looked at many WW1 service files over the years and it is not unusual to find a soldier with 2 or 3 different regimental numbers and regimental changes due to battalions being wiped out in battle, or due to being wounded (a switch from a regiment to the Army Service Corps for example)

The on-line Wikipedia encyclopedia (and other web-sites) state the following with regards to the Durham Light Infantry :

During the First World War the DLI raised 43 battalions with 22 seeing active service overseas - on the Western Front, in Italy, Egypt, Salonika and India.

The DLI fought in every major battle of the Great War - at Ypres, Loos, Arras, Messines, Cambrai, Moreuil Wood on the Somme and in the mud of Passchendaele.

Six Durhams were awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War - Thomas Kenny, Roland Bradford, Michael Heaviside, Frederick Youens, Arthur Lascelles and Thomas Young. 12,606 members of the regiment were killed or died of wounds.

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