The First World War in Witham
12. Introduction to the Muster Roll and the Roll of Honour
For a list of other chapters about WW1, click here.
These two documents record the men associated with Witham who served in the First World War 1914-1918. The Muster Roll shows those who survived, and the Roll of Honour shows those who were killed.
I used to think that the muster roll recorded all those who fought, whether they survived or not. But now I see that it must have been just those who survived. For instance the two Sneezum brothers who were killed (George and Charlie) are not on the muster roll, whilst their two brothers who survived, are there.
The roll of honour records those who were killed.
Compiling these lists after the War was not an exact science. I think that a good number of the people on them didn’t actually live in Witham, but had some other connection. For instance, they might have lived here in the past, or their parents or other relatives lived here, or they worked here, or they were from some small nearby settlement.
Sometimes the surnames seem to be spelt wrongly, perhaps supporting the idea that they weren’t all very well-known to the scribe.
The original rolls are bound into one book with a reddish-brown suede cover. It used to belong to Harold Keeble of 1 The Bungalows, Mill Lane, who is included in the Muster Roll, as is his brother. I talked to him in February 1983 and he told me it had been found in a shop in Colchester some years ago. I borrowed it from him for a few hours, and with his permission had a photocopy made. I gave another copy to the Essex Record Office on 28 February 1983.
Mr Keeble died in January 1990. His son is Ken Keeble of 17 Pitt Avenue. Ken’s wife Daphne took the book to Witham Town Hall some time afterwards, and it was taken to Braintree District Museum as a loan (their reference BRA 541). Ken and Daphne have a photocopy themselves.
I have now scanned my photocopy into my computer (in my documents/muster roll and roll of honour first world war in both bitmap and word document format). I have recently been discussing Witham’s wartime with Ian Hook of the Essex Regiment Museum and am sending him a copy. I am sending another to the Witham branch of the British Legion who are also interested (Ron Sanders, 21 Shortridge Court, Hatfield Road, Witham. Essex. CM8 1ET)
20 March 2001
PS In 2017 I am also putting my copy onto my website, together with other information about Witham and the First World War ( https://www.janetgyford.com ).