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Discharge Book Numbers

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Old 16th October 2018, 14:23
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Discharge Book Numbers

As there are a few threads about Merchant Navy Discharge A. book numbers or more formally the ‘Continuous Certificate of Discharge’, I thought you may be interested to know who were given the first ‘R’ numbers and who had the distinction of being allocated R1. Remember that before the allocation of prefix ‘R’ Dis. A book numbers they were just numerical and certainly by the mid-1920’s had reached 7 figures. About this time it was decided to reset the numbers back to 1 but this time they would add prefix ‘R’. Discharge numbers were allocated in blocks to Mercantile Marine Offices (MMO) and the take up of books would relate to the size of the MMO.

Asst Stwd, Frank Heller b. 1894, London.
Frank was the first Dis.A ‘R’ number (R1). He joined the Merchant Navy in 1925. His first ship was BERRIMA. The last ship I can trace him on is EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA in 1938.

Also on BERRIMA was Fireman Arthur McDonald Hastie b. 1889, London. He joined the Merchant Navy in 1925 and the last ship I can trace him on is EMPRESS OF BRITAIN in 1934.

Again on BERRIMA was Asst Stwd Edward Davis b. 1900, London. He also joined the Merchant Navy in 1925 and the last ship I can trace him on is ARAWA in 1934.

They were all out of the same MMO at Victoria Docks, London and signed on for voyages aboard BERRIMA.

Frank Heller (R1)
Arthur McDonald Hastie (R2)
Edward Davis (R3)

Regards
Hugh
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Last edited by Hugh; 16th October 2018 at 17:21.
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Old 18th October 2018, 03:18
tugger Australia tugger is offline
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Hi Hugh.
I can well see that they would have to have a change, as the front slot in the books would eventually have been to small, my Dad's number from 1917 is 934682 and with the increasing number of merchant ships being built and having to be manned they would have to do something, I wonder if the R stood for Registration?
Tugger
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Old 18th October 2018, 08:52
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R then UK and now DB.
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Old 18th October 2018, 18:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tugger View Post
I wonder if the R stood for Registration?
Tugger

Hi Tugger,
I have heard that before but there is nothing retained in record to confirm that. I doubt we will ever really know.


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Hugh
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Old 20th October 2018, 01:33
tugger Australia tugger is offline
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Hi Hugh.
I suppose it could be many things, one could be Record No, It's odd how some simple thing gets lost in time
Tugger
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Old 22nd October 2018, 09:12
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R = Registered Seaman.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 18:06
ChathamChavs England ChathamChavs is offline
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Mine is R900850 issued Dock Street , London 29th November 1971 . This still had the Ability and General Conduct entries . The last entry for this book was leaving the ACT 4 in St John on 7th March 1973 , with the Conduct and Ability sections crossed through . I was issued a new Discharge Book - with the same number- 26th March 1973 at Dock Street . No Conduct and Ability section . Also , the last entry in the book was number 60 , the book was full and I swallowed the the anchor at the same time time . Co-incidence ? What happened to the British Seamans Book - the red one? Mine is about somewhere.....
Roger
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Old 24th October 2018, 01:27
tugger Australia tugger is offline
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Hi Roger.
As your number in 71 was R900850 and my Dad's in 1917 was plain 934682 you can imagine what yours could have been.
Tugger
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Old 24th October 2018, 20:21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tugger View Post
As your number in 71 was R900850 and my Dad's in 1917 was plain 934682 you can imagine what yours could have been.
A basic mistake that some researchers make when looking for records of seamen via Dis. A numbers is that they search for the incorrect Dis. A.

Before I understood how the system worked, I approached a professional researcher to look for my father's record. He searched in the wrong place looking for numbers only and did not search the 'R's. So the moral of the story is make sure you trust your researcher as there could be two seamen with the same discharge number but one will have a prefix depending on what year he joined the service.
Thankfully I did not give up when my professional researcher told me that my dad's record did not exist because his number belonged to a chief engineer many years previous. What a waste of £50 back then.
My one and only time using a so called 'professional'.

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Hugh
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Old 20th September 2020, 07:25
Casso United States Casso is offline
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Hi,
I've been looking up my Grandfather Philip Arthur Adams, cook, discharge book number A549181. The earliest I can place him is on Monassir 6/6/1920 and I'm wondering if anyone can tell me when his number was issued because when he married in 1908 his Rank/Profession was listed as Ships Cook. He also has the Mercantile Marine Medal issued 15/1/20 so it looks like he was at sea during the 14/18 war.


Thanks for your help.


Casso.
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Old 20th September 2020, 12:28
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Hi Casso,
The earliest I can find him is aboard 113648, NOVO, January to September of 1915.
He has 4 cards in the Fourth Register of Seamen. His CR10 has his id photo.

It will be difficult to pin down when and where his Dis. A was issued. Probably the only way to find out what ships he served aboard would be to back track his service using known Crew Agreements. You would need to start with NOVO and find out what his previous ship was. We know that in January 1915 his previous ship was 136164, TEANO so you would need to seek out that Crew Agreement for 1914 which is held at the Maritime History Archive at Newfoundland to find his previous ship and so on.

https://1915crewlists.rmg.co.uk/document/192337

https://1915crewlists.rmg.co.uk/document/192333

https://1915crewlists.rmg.co.uk/document/192329

The Dis. A or more formally the Continuous Certificate of Discharge was first introduced in 1900. Prior to that an individual Certificate of Discharge was given to the seaman as he left the ship.
With some more research I can place your grandfather's book as being issued sometime between 1900 and 1910.

Any questions please feel free to ask.

Regards
Hugh
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We had to pay for our freedom
Then the Merchant Ship Sailors
Paid it in full”

Last edited by Hugh; 20th September 2020 at 14:39.
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Old 20th September 2020, 18:22
Casso United States Casso is offline
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Hi Hugh,


Thanks for your help, I tried looking up Teano but the Maritime History Archive lists it as E2 No Official Log present.



I have copies of his C10, C.R.1 and 2 copies of C.R.2's so I have been able to follow him from 6/6/1920 to 16/8/1938 when I think he may have gone ashore.



The family story is he ran away to sea when he was 14 and living in South Africa. It looks like he added 4 years to his age because his MN documents have him born in 1884. Although he was born in Southampton he spent all his adult life sailing out of Hull mainly Ellerman Wilson Line so I'm thinking he may have gone from galleyboy to Cook on Trawlers in his early years. I'm no Sherlock Holmes so I could be totally wrong it would not be the first time.


If you come up with any ideas please let me know and thanks again.


Regards


Casso.

Last edited by Casso; 20th September 2020 at 18:29.
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Old 21st September 2020, 10:42
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Hi Casso,
Trawlers would be perfecty feasable in the early years.
Unfortunately there is no easy way to trace him backwards from 1914 other than through Crew Agreements.

Quote:
Thanks for your help, I tried looking up Teano but the Maritime History Archive lists it as E2 No Official Log present.
Don't worry about that - it simply means they only have the Crew Agreement which is part of the Official Logbook but they do not have the rest of the document. If you need details of the 1914 Log then you would need to consult The National Archives, Kew, piece BT 165/984 - Ship's Name Teano Official Number 136164 Dates of Voyages 30 November 1913 - 8 February 1914, 21 February 1914 - 16 April 1914, 5 May 1914 - 2 July 1914, 15 July 1914 - 29 September 1914 and 3 October 1914 - 27 December 1914.

But if it is just the Crew Agreement which is all you need if you are looking for previous ship then MHA Canada will have it. I am not sure if Kew also hold the Crew Agreement in their extracts of the Official Logbook for that year, maybe worth an email.
Regards
Hugh
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