Gathering data for the Thomas story

Thursday, 21st April 2016

My wife and I are off to London one day next week, she will be spending money and I will be visiting the Guards Museum on Birdcage walk. This is part of the ongoing search for background information for the Thomas story.

This is one of three places I want to visit, the other two are the Imperial War Museum and the National Archive at Kew. I am hoping that someone at the Guards Museum will be able to provide a bit of background on the places where Thomas stayed during his time in the Grenadier Guards. For instance, I know he was posted to 'White City' at the start of his service, but that is all the information I have about his first year in the army. I can't just write off an entire year with one sentence "He was sent to White City for a year - Full stop". I want to know what happened there, would he get leave? What sort of training did they give him? Did he have to do guard duty at the palace? I know they won't be able to answer questions about Thomas himself, but I'm sure they will be able to provide background information and perhaps a few photos, pretty please.

I keep coming up against jargon in my research, it seems I am just expected to know that Btn means Battalion, that Camp M is ... actually I don't know what or where Camp M is, only that the 2nd Bn GG spent some time there. Oh sorry did I not explain? Bn is also short for Battalion and nobody seems able to spell 'Grenadier Guards' in full so they shorten it to GG. Obvious really, I don't think. I am stuck with documents that were written at a time when it was just assumed that the reader was familiar with army jargon and Mr Squiggle signed all official documents.

I am pleased to be able to report that I have found a source of digitised contemporary maps which show positions of trenches etc. with their names. There is no obvious order to the names of the trenches, they just sort of happened. If some bloke called Percy took to one particular spot for his evening cocoa, it would become known as Percy's Corner. Eventually people would forget why it was so named, it would just be 'Percy's Corner'. It is impossible to place references to features named in this way without the original maps with the original names.