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UK Army Registers of Soldiers Effects

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JoyLouise Report 6 May 2015 04:27

One of my relatives died on 11 May 1917 in Mesopotamia and is buried in Al 'Amara Cemetery, Iraq. His name is Richard Gorton Guest and his birth was 22 June 1886 at Everton, Liverpool, England.

He was in the East Lancs Regiment, having enlisted in Blackburn.

I have just come across his name under the heading 'UK Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects'.

I've never seen this before but am I right in thinking that the Army has lists of every soldiers' effects or does it mean that when they're listed those effects were never claimed?

Richard's father (my 2 x gt grandfather) died before WW1.


JoyLouise Report 6 May 2015 04:53

Apologies - I posted this thread twice in error.

Just googled this site and discovered the effects did not mean items.

Effects in this case mean what was owed and distributed according to comments online so I expect that the items people left must also have reached their next-of-kin. How difficult that must have been in wartime but the families must have treasured the effects forever.

What a poignant reminder.


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 6 May 2015 08:40

In your case the money owed was sent to Mrs Martha Eyles - £2 + £23 5s 4d + 9s 1d on 28 Jan & 15 Oct 1918
Then on 25 Nov 1919 a further £16 to John Eyles.

Both are listed as his sole heirs. Might Martha have died between the 2 payouts?

You can purchase his Will for £10 from


JoyLouise Report 6 May 2015 09:02

Yes, thank you Detective.

Martha died in Q4 1918. John was Richard' s stepfather, his father, William Guest (my 2 x gt grandfather) having died before WW1.

It's nice to learn a little more history of my great uncle.

Thank you again.


greyghost Report 6 May 2015 21:50

On Ancestry, with information about the Registers

About UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929

This database contains records detailing the money owed to soldiers of the British Army who died in service from 1901 to 1929. A small percentage of soldiers who were discharged as ‘insane’ are also listed here. Records typically include the name of the soldier, his next of kin and their relationship, the date of death and sometimes the place, plus other details. In cases where the soldier was discharged as insane, the place and date of discharge are often recorded in the place and date of death field. The inclusion of the next of kin makes these records particularly valuable to family historians, as this information can help researchers take a family back another generation or distinguish between soldiers with the same name. Early records also list a soldier’s trade before enlistment.
Payments went first to widows, or, if the soldier wasn’t married, to a parent (often a mother) or siblings.

The other post -


JoyLouise Report 6 May 2015 23:45

Thank you greyghost.

I learned that Richard died of wounds received.

I have been on the probate search site indicated earlier today (above) and I've put a copy of the will in the basket but not yet ordered it as I want to ring to find out whether it is a typed transcript or whether it will be in Richard's own handwriting or, at the very least, it will bear his signature. I wondered about it because when I placed a copy in the online basket a note popped up saying that it would be online for 30 days.

If, when I contact them, they say it's only a few lines and bears nothing of Richard's writing then I will not buy it as Detective has told me the gist of it above. However, if it bears Richard's signature I'd like a copy so I'm keeping my fingers crossed as it would be a keepsake and reminder that some people give their all.

Thanks again.


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 7 May 2015 00:25

Hopefully someone who has ordered a copy of the Will can give you details.

From what has been discussed before, a Soldier's Will was a legal document, the same as any other Will. It would have been signed by him even if some of the form was printed.
The hand-written wills of 230,000 British and Empire soldiers have been placed on a new website, allowing families and historians to view them for the first time.
(The Telegraph 29 Aug 2013)


JoyLouise Report 7 May 2015 13:28

Thanks Detective.


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 7 May 2015 16:38

The Register of Soldiers Effects is rather a misnomer. In reality its a list of money/wages owed by the Army to the next of kin.

His Will is more likely to assign his personal belongings to named friends or relatives just as we would today. "To my brother Joe I leave my copy of Pickwick Papers which he so admires. To my sister Mary, the sum of £1 to purchase a new bonnet....." etc etc. Wills can be a mine of information. Even if it only assigned his goods and chattels to his Mother, it provides an insight into his relationships.


Kucinta Report 7 May 2015 17:01

Soldier's wills were often just a page in their pocket book, so may not contain much information.

An example from Scotland's people:

This example in the link below is actually my great uncle's will. Luckily for me, the Irish archives don't charge for their soldiers wills:

AS you can see from both images, page 13 of the pocket book seems to be the 'Will' page.


JoyLouise Report 8 May 2015 13:25

How nice to see original writing ... and thank you for letting me see them.

Also, good to know that the Irish Archives don't charge - how lucky for you.


Kucinta Report 8 May 2015 13:37

Just thought it might give you an idea of what the wills might be like; not a great deal of space to write more than something fairly simple , but it looks like you would get original handwriting and a signature.


rose Report 29 May 2015 02:37

I am after information on Walter Frances Edney who was a soldier in England birth about 1854??????? maybe in France he may have been born, the Edney name sounds French to me. Regards Rosemary


MarieCeleste Report 29 May 2015 08:44

Hello Rosemary, it would be better if you started a thread of your own rather than adding on to someone else's where it may get overlooked and not gain the attention it deserves. This thread was specifically about the UK Register of Soldier's Effects which would not cover Walter.

Just go to the main page of Military Chat and click on the "Add Topic" button. Give as much information as you can about him and people will be pleased to try and help you.