Ask the Expert – army death
Our expert Stephen Rigden, pictured, answers your questions.
From Edward James Pace:
‘I’m having problems trying to find details of the death of my grandfather and, naturally, his parents. I have submitted his details in various searches and can get no results:
William Frederick Pace, born in 1876, joined the army in 1893, left the army in 1911 and rejoined in 1914. His service no. was G/27234 and he served in the Middlesex Regiment as a Sergeant.
William married Henrietta Mann in 1904. Their children were William, Thomas, Edward, Alice, Millicent and Emily. He died in 1918 – he was killed or wounded in France/Germany and cremated in England.
One would think that there is sufficient detail to find all about him easily but I’ve had no joy. I’d really appreciate if you can assist me in my frustrations.’
‘With other ranks – NCOs and privates – it is always a good idea to consider possible variations on given names, especially the loss of a middle name. I found that your grandfather died not in France and Flanders but here in the UK – in fact, his death was registered as plain William Pace in Croydon. This is good news in the sense that it means you can use the reference given in the March quarter 1919 civil death index to order a copy of his death certificate.
He appears on the official Commonwealth War Graves Commission website simply as W Pace; he died on 13 February 1919 and is buried in Islington Cemetery. The fact that he died in England also explains why he may not appear in some of the other WW1 record sources such as Soldiers Died in the Great War, available on findmypast.co.uk
Interestingly, the individual I believe to be your grandfather appears on the 1911 census as William Edward (not William Frederick) Pace. He is with the 2nd Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment at Guadeloupe Barracks, Bordon, near Aldershot. He is aged 36 and his birthplace is recorded as St Pancras. As you may know, soldiers and their wives and children ‘on the strength’ are on separate ‘military establishment’ census returns in the 1911 census.
In your grandfather’s case, his wife Henrietta (born in Clerkenwell) is shown together with three children William, Edward and Emily respectively born in Thayetmyo (Burma), Kassauli (India) and Alderney (Channel Islands), which shows something of your grandfather’s military career in the years up to 1911.
Your grandfather, however, does not appear to have been born in St Pancras as there is no corresponding entry in our fully indexed births nor, for that matter, an obvious entry for a person of his name born in St Pancras in the 1881, 1891 or 1901 censuses.
Further research shows that he married in July 1905 and was born in Shoreditch to parents Edward Pace, a carpenter, born in Shoreditch circa 1844/45, and Emma Burchell, born circa 1853/54 in Kentish Town, who were married in June quarter 1872 in St Pancras registration district. Hopefully with this extra information, you will be able to start researching your family tree further back in time more successfully.’
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