The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

Saul World War 1 Records

By Ian Sewell

This article was originally published in the August 2005 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

I am continuing the transcription of military records from the National Archives (previously the Public Records Office) and I have now completed all Saul records from the WO363 and WO364 archives or the ‘Burnt Records’. As usual the lack of information on some of the records has been most irritating either because of the fire damage or the faintness of the records.


In total there were 140 records for the Saul name and its variants with details varying from just the name to full military and family background. It came to my notice whilst transcribing that there was a large number of records from people who served in the Royal Engineers (21), along with the Artillery (19) and Army Service Corps (15). This is nearly 40% of the records and does not include those that transferred at a later stage of their service into these regiments. It is doubtful that the Saul’s had a pre-disposition for these regiments so it is likely that these records were stored in a different place than the ones from the line regiments and so survived the burning.


Either way given the concentration of Saul’s in Lancashire it comes as no surprise that the Lancashire regiments were well represented, these included the Lancashire Fusiliers (3), Yorks & Lancs (3), East Lancs (2) and West Lancs (2). Apart from that there was the usual scattering of regimental names including one from the Guards a Peter Saul of Dublin who was a Policeman who served with the Irish Guards. The Scots were also represented with Patrick Saul serving with the Black Watch but he was discharged with defective vision and David Saul who served the whole war with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. The only cavalry representative was Thomas Wilfred Saul of the 15th Hussars. Louis Saul served in the 28th Battalion of the London regiment which was also knows as the Artists’ Rifles, though Louis was a Timekeeper by profession.


Unlike the Sewell records there were no discharges recorded for being under-age and nine of the soldiers are recorded as having died either in service or later as a result. This included Sidney Saul who died in Norfolk County Asylum of acute mania shortly after joining the ASC and Percy Saull who died of Sand Fly fever shortly after arriving in Basra in modern day Iraq.


Rheumatic fever and varicose veins again were the most common reason for discharge though the most unusual discharge reason must be Stanley Saul who was discharged as he lost his index finger in civilian life and so could not fire a rifle! Also discharged were Robert Thomas and George William Saul who both were commissioned as officers.


One of the more interesting records was that of Samuel Saul, who joined the Lincolnshire Regiment in 1894. Serving in his time in Malta, Egypt and India he took part in the Nile campaign attempting to relieve Kitchener at Khartoum and fought at the battle of Atbara where the British decisively beat the Madhi’s forces. However most of his records were taken up with boards of inquiry into the accidents he received off the battle field. He sprained an ankle in Malta, lost a finger nail in Egypt and sprained a knee in Tangelgerry, India all whilst playing football either for his company or his regiment. Unfortunately the score of the matches are not recorded.


William Wright Saul who was mentioned in despatches and Tom Saul of the Norfolk’s was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM), a medal that was awarded the non-commissioned men and was second only to the Victoria Cross. Unlike many of the other awards in the records there is also a record of why he was awarded the medal:


“Sergeant Tom Saul was awarded DSM in conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During an attack he was buried by a shell explosion and with heavy losses all around him. But after a rest he continued controlling his men with great coolness and bravery under severe and prolonged bombardment.”


He then continued to serve in the Norfolk’s rising to Colour Sergeant Major and then transferring the Royal Flying Corps. He was discharge from the army in March 1919 after nearly 19 years service.

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