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I have now obtained my grandfather (TJ)'s Army Records and they're a very interesting read... To put it mildly, he was neither a good soldier nor one who believed in staying with the colours throughout his 18 years of active service (of which he spent 5 years either in a state of desertion or AWOL). He also lied through his teeth when he signed up about his marital status and the name of his next of kin (conveniently air-brushing his wife, child and parents out of his background).

They're a very convoluted set of documents but luckily there's a neat summary of his service in a letter to the Police in Winchester in late February 1954 (and why did they need to know, I wonder?)

He was released from Active Service to the Unpaid Army Reserve on 15 April 1946 and released from the possibility of further recall on 10 Feb 1954 (when he would have been approaching 49).

I'm still trying to track down his death, so my key question is: when the Army marked somebody's records as "Attains age of 4[5?] No further liability for recall" did they know he was still alive at that time, or was it a purely clerical exercise? Did soldiers in the Reserve have to keep the Army informed if their contact details changed (fat change TJ would have done this, I suspect, although the records for my father, who completed his National Service in 1948 and was also discharged from the Reserves in 1954 recorded a number of changes of address in between 1948 and 1954, so there was apparently some mechanism for notifying changes ...). Did they need to attend any regular activities? Or could a reservist die without his record being updated.

  • At the risk of answering the question in a comment (which we aren't supposed to do) -- did he draw a pension? That's the most obvious place in any Army record for the soldier's status to be marked DECEASED (because the government would want to stop the pension payout). Follow the money. I note in your Q that he is in the UNPAID Army reserve, so they wouldn't have a financial incentive in noting his death in those records. – Jan Murphy Oct 21 '16 at 19:43
  • @JanMurphy There's nothing in his record about a pension... and he forfeited so much service I doubt he was entitled to anything :) I'll dig into what if anything he was entitled to. Whether he drew anything or not is a mystery -- he was shown as deceased when my mother married in late 1954, but that could have been a convenient fiction because he'd gone missing again. – user104 Oct 22 '16 at 6:36
  • @JanMurphy No pension entitlement -- he didn't have 22 years qualifying service when he was demobbed and no wounds. – user104 Oct 22 '16 at 6:50
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    My Army knowledge reduces the further I get from WW1 and visible records. But in the WW1 era, if you signed up for 12y, then you spent (say) 7y in uniform and the remaining 5y in a Reserve. During that time I believe that you were paid a retainer and had to attend occasional exercises to remain au fait with current equipment. This implies an address update mechanism. While there are differences it would seem logical that reservists would always need to be (re)trained. So logically there should have been 2way communication. Logically.... – AdrianB38 Oct 22 '16 at 11:06
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    @JanMurphy He signed up for 7/5 initially, but extended his active period (as well as losing 5 years being absent) and then WW2 came along so he ended up doing 18 active and maybe 8 in the reserves... but the qualifying point for a pension was 22 active until the early 1970s. – user104 Oct 24 '16 at 6:33

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