Two forgotten sets of Great War Medal Cards.
1. The A.F. W 5100A Card ‘APPLICATION BY A DEMOBILIZED OR DISCHARGED SOLDIER FOR BRITISH WAR MEDAL RIBAND’
The A.F. W 5100A card was meant to be submitted by demobilised soldiers (other ranks) and members of Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps (Q.M.A.A.C.) from 1919 onwards who wanted to claim medal ribands in advance of the issue of the British War and Victory medals. A transcription of a surviving example of this card can be found below. 5,000,000 A.F. W 5100A cards were printed in July 1919. Transcriptions of Army Council Instructions mentioning these cards can be found here.
The information on the card includes a number of useful pieces of information for an Army Record Office involved in issuing to the claimant the British War and Victory Medal ribands and later, following the process of certification and manufacture, the actual medals:
a) The unit with which they were serving when they first arrived in a theatre of war/theatres of war in which they served (to check that they served in an eligible theatre of war).
b) The date of arrival in their first theatre of war (to check eligibility in terms of date).
c) The unit from which they were discharged when they left the Army or joined the Reserve.
Private James George Gale according to his service record first entered theatre as a member of the 6th Battalion Royal Berkshire Infantry (Private 25928, having previously been part of the 3rd Battalion), embarking at Southampton on 3 October and disembarking in theatre on 4 October 1916 (having on the 3 or 4 October been allocated to the 46th Infantry Base Depot), only formerly transferring to the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 12 October 1916 (Private 33231), part of the 5th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Division (Major A.F. Becke (2007) History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part I The Regular Army Divisions, Uckfield: Naval & Military Press Ltd, pp. 41-47). By June 1920 (the postmarked date on the A.F. W 5100A card) Gale records on the A.F. W 5100A card a different date for arrival in theatre and the unit he thought of as being his first battalion in France.
The accuracy needed for the correct issue of service medals required reference to the records held by the Army Record Offices. It was made clear in A.C.I. 688 of 1919 (see above link to Army Council Instructions) that issue of riband was not an indication that the final right to the B.W. and Victory Medals had been accepted, as it is implied that a full check against records held by the relevant Army Record Office might not have been made when the ribands were issued. However the receipt of a completed A.F. W 5100A from a claimant by an Army Record Office could have been a useful prompt to check the information written by the claimant on the card against the information held in the Army Book 358s/other enlistment books (see here for a description of the importance of AB 358s, AB 216s and AB 359s to the Army Record Offices) and service records. Such checks may also have helped reveal anomalies or errors in the Army Record Office records requiring investigation. The receipt of the cards would also have given one of the many opportunities for the contact address information held by the Record Offices to be updated.
James Gale’s War Office Medal Card can be found here (Ancestry free record set) and his entry in the Medal Roll, including service with the 6th Battalion Ox and Bucks L.I. can be found here (Ancestry, pay for view).
Please note: the following transcriptions of the Army Form W. 5100A included Gale’s service file were made from National Archives images
The following link is to the relevant images of Gale’s A.F. W 5100A on the Ancestry pay for view site:
The images of the card on the Findmypast pay for view site are much clearer (the first half of Gale’s service record on FMP can be found under his original service number, 25928 and the Royal Berkshire Regiment):
2. Medal Cards completed and used by the Army Record Offices
Information on the use/compilation of Medal Cards in the Army Record Offices (separate to those which survive from the War Office) can be found in the 1921 Interim Report of the Committee on Record Offices here .