Service of an old soldier

Hi. My Father-in-law passed away a week ago and will be buried on Wed 24th june. He never talked much about his short time in the Army, only to say that he worked with horses. I have no idea as to what regiment he belonged, although he did mention Catterick. His name was James Thomas Simpson 11/11/1911 and we believe he must have joined up sometime between 1927 and 1935, as we know that he served with the Merchant Navy before, during and after WW2. Is anyone able to help and suggest where I can look or ask, so that we may be able to complete the picvture of hid adult life. Many thanks Graham
Strange that there is nothing in his papers to indicate his service, but it appears that access to records is becoming easier with the help of the net.
I know how frustrating it can be trying to trace family members, so I wish you all the best in your search.

There are some knowledgeable blokes on here, I am sure that help will be forthcoming. Good luck.
Try the National Archive:


STILTS said:
Try the National Archive:


MGM just called me from Kew where he has found a number of interesting facts, but not about the Army service
tropper66 said:
STILTS said:
Try the National Archive:


MGM just called me from Kew where he has found a number of interesting facts, but not about the Army service
I am sure that records for Servicemen who might still be alive are still with the MOD in Glasgow. Only the records for the First World War have been transferred to Kew.

MGM will need a copy of the death certificate for a start. We have covered this in a previous topic - for which I will now search.



Evening mgmaniac

I don't know how much use the following links, and info, may be, but you and perhaps others, with similar enquiries, could give these a try :


"Access to personal data held by the MOD may be sought for many reasons, including:

proof of Service in HM Armed Forces
medical reasons
family history or research

What about records in the public domain?
The following personnel Service records have been transferred to the National Archive (formerly the Public Record Office) and are available for public access.

Royal Navy Officers commissioned prior to 1914
Royal Navy Ratings who enlisted prior to 1924 and First World War records for the Women's Royal Naval Service
Royal Marine Officers commissioned prior to 1926
Royal Marine Other Ranks that enlisted prior to 1926
Army Officers commissioned prior to 1920
Army Other Ranks that enlisted prior to 1920
Royal Air Force Officers that served prior to 1922
Royal Air Force Airmen that served prior to 1924
Service records which pre-date those held by the MOD have been transferred to the National Archive and are freely available for public access.
However the National Archives is not resourced to carry out searches.

Enquirers are instead welcome to visit, or hire an independent researcher -see the National Archive website for further details.

Free Veterans Helpline

Freephone 0800 169 22 77 (UK only)
BT Mobile, Orange, Virgin or 3 mobile, Customers will not be charged for the call by their provider

0800 169 34 58 Textphone facility (UK only)
+44 1253 866043 (Overseas)
Telephone lines are open:
8.15am to 5.15pm Monday to Thursday; and
8.15am to 4.30pm Friday" /End quotes

Postal address
Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, Norcross, Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire, FY5 3WP.

for email contact please put the theme of your email in the Subject line
eg: Service Records , Medals, etc

National Archives Website:
With "A guide to finding records of ancestors who served in the Army".

Military History/Merchant Navy Records

There are some good and better folks than me on these pages, hope this little contribution helps.

MGm has quite a lot of old Jims stuff, and he got about a bit

Jim's Merchant Navy Log Book


I see from Jim's Discharge Book he was 3rd Butcher on the STRATHMORE from February to July 1941. During this period she was part of a convoy WS7 from the Clyde to Suez via South Africa. Sailing from the Clyde 24 March 1941 arriving at Suez 6 May 1941.

See here for details:

STRATHMORE was a P&O passenger liner converted for trooping and in 1942 took part in the Torch landings in North Africa. I will try and upload some photos later.
Thank's lads, when I told MGM that you lot would come up with all sorts of info I don't think he believed me, so thank you again
STRATHMORE arriving at Tilbury 1961. She was 23428 grt. Built Barrow 1935,

Sold 1963 to Greek owners renamed Marianna Latsi then Henrietta Latsi. Broken up Spezia 1969.


Jim joined MOOLTAN as 3rd Butcher at Liverpool on 12 January 1942 and remained with her until April. MOOLTAN was part of convoy WS16 leaving Liverpool on 16 Febuary 1942 arriving at Durban 21 March 1942. As Jim left the ship at Glasgow in April I assume she must have returned directly from there. She was also involved in the Torch landing later that year. MOOLTAN was another P&O liner which at the start of the war had been converted to an armed merchant cruiser before being reconverted for trooping in 1941. She was built in 1923 by Harland and Wolff at Belfast for P&O, broken up at Faslane in January 1954.


I can't quite make out the next entry in Jim's discharge book but it could be the STRATHAIRD, it looks like he transferd there from the MOOLTAN, both vessels were in Glasgow at he time and formed part of convoy WS19 for South Africa STRATHAIRD arrived in Durban on 9 June before continuing on to Bombay where she arrived on 1 July 1942. I can't make out the details in Jims book but does that look like the dates might fit?


Good stuff Merchantman, I knew someone would come to his assistance.

I did a few years with Elders & Fyffes banana ships following the mob and I watch your posts with interest. Good man.
basso said:
Good stuff Merchantman, I knew someone would come to his assistance.

I did a few years with Elders & Fyffes banana ships following the mob and I watch your posts with interest. Good man.
Happy to help, after 20 years at sea I find all this very interesting
Having left the STRATHAIRD in late 1942 Jim appears to have had a break from the sea, training course perhaps as he joins his next ship in October 1943 as ships cook for which he would have needed to have a cooks certificate.

He joined the SS FALCON on 25 October 1943 signing on as cook at he merchant shipping office in Dock St in London, they went up to Leith where they seem to have changed ships articles as Jim signed off on 5 Novenber and then back on again on 6 November. Although dated the following day it he would probably not have left the ship this is just a mechanism to avoid paying him twice for the same day. He left the ship on 22 March 1944 signing off again at Dock Street. The ship was probably working in the East coast coastal trade.

SS FALCON was a coaster owned by the General Steam Navigation Company which was a subsiduary of P&O. She was built in 1927 and scrapped in 1957.

The SS Falcon had in 1940 (before Jim joined) been involved in the evacuation from France and brought back 60 refugees including 24 officers and men of the RAOC from Bordeaux.


Dock street,my old 'pool'. Jack the Ripper territory, Red Ensign, Hearts of Oak, Stornaway Castle, even the Kray Twins, will be a few blokes on here remember that.
Good luck old son.
I can't find much on the EMPIRE FORELAND. Jim joined her on 25 April 1944 at Falmouth (?) and left her on 22 October 1944 at Southampton. The ship was another coaster in which Jim was cook/steward. The voyage is discribed as H.T. which is home trade i.e. trading in UK / European waters between Brest and the Elbe although in the summer of 1944 I doubt if they will have been anywhere near either of those limits.

The right hand column of the discharge book, before the signatures is to note comments on the seamans ability and conduct. The usual entry was Very Good in both columns. If the person concerned was a bad lad the master may put D.R. in one or both colomns to mean Decline to Report. For his time on the EMPIRE FORLAND however it says "Special Operations for the Liberation of Europe"

There were 864 merchant ships involved in the D Day landing, perhaps EMPIRE FORELAND was one of them. The dates and area of operations would fit.

From wiki:

Empire Foreland
Empire Foreland was a 873 GRT coaster which was built by Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Co Ltd. Launched on 2 December 1940 and completed in March 1941. Sold in 1945 to Williamstown Shipping Co Ltd and renamed Norfolkbrook. Operated under the management of Comben Longstaff & Co Ltd. Sold in 1950 to Gem Line Ltd and renamed Agate. Operated under the management on William Robertson, Glasgow. Sold in 1961 to Di Guido Pio Tomei, Italy and renamed Silvani Tomei. Sold in 1972 to the Naval Protector, Italy and renamed Sabbiatore Primo. Converted to a barge in 1984 and name deleted from shipping registers.
Type Dry Cargo
Year 1941
GRT 873
Engines Motor (aft)
Launch date 02-12-1940
Yard number 358
Owners Ministry of Shipping, London
History Sold in 1945 and renamed NORFOLKBROOK, Woodtown Shipping Co. (Comben Longstaff), transferred to Williamstown Shipping, same managers in 1946. Sold in 1950 and renamed AGATE, Gem Line (Wm. Robertson) Glasgow. Sold in 1961 to Pio Tomei of Viareggio as SILVANA TOMEI, and in 1971 to Navalprotector, Rome as SABBIATORE PRIMO.
Fate No longer seagoing after 1984, converted to a barge.


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