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The Use Of An Alias On Enlistment?

28-05-2017 3:15 PM
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Hi everyone I'm new today and wish someone can answer my question! Why would the army condone the use of a new soldier using an alias name ? Why would there be a need for anyone to use an alias?? It is very clear on this person enlistment paperwork that he signs one name and then writes "alias" and then another name . Please can anyone enlighten me?

28-05-2017 9:07 PM
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Welcome to the British-Genealogy forums.
If you came to us from Forces War Records reading this will tell you a little about us.
My grandfather joined up in WW1 on three different occasions using 3 aliases but he was out to beat the system and deny his wife and children support and hide the fact he was dishounarably discharged from the army in 1908.
Your soldier doesn't appear to be trying to cheat or hide a criminal past if it was he who declared he is also known by another name. Are you sure the alias and name are in the same handwriting? They may have been added at a later date by someone in authority after it was discovered he used an alias? Have you searched under the alias for army records?

Christina

29-05-2017 8:08 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by Cookcookier
Hi everyone I'm new today and wish someone can answer my question! Why would the army condone the use of a new soldier using an alias name ? Why would there be a need for anyone to use an alias?? It is very clear on this person enlistment paperwork that he signs one name and then writes "alias" and then another name . Please can anyone enlighten me?
Hi Cookcookier
Are we talking WW1 here?
In which case ... the army didn't particularly care what a soldier was called - they just wanted the man-power!

It is not illegal to call yourself by a different name (unless it is for criminal purposes). Nowadays, it would cause you problems unless you did it via official channels, but back in the 1900's there was no State Pension, Benefits System, etc - so you wouldn't need to be "traceable".

Reasons for using an alias vary: simply not liking your name; wanting a fresh start; not wanting your parents to know you'd signed up; having "deserted" under your previous name; having married a 2nd wife; etc.

It would be unusual for the soldier himself to have completed the enlistment form - the handwriting is probably that of the military clerk who just wrote what the recruit/volunteer/draftee told him.

It is usual (on these forms) for the "Alias" to be the birth name. So a man called "John Smith alias Bill Brown" was born BROWN but is now known as SMITH. His Service Record would be as Smith. His medals would be engraved as Smith.
And his children would probably be called Smith.

Oh the joys of genealogy!

Jane

30-05-2017 9:15 AM
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Hi Jane that makes sense but sooo annoying, as we have a generation of 60/70 year olds with a false surname! Although still can't find a definitive reason he used it. Many thanks rosalie

30-05-2017 10:49 AM
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Also during WWI anyone with anything near a vaguely 'germanic' sounding name were prone to changing them for obvious reasons!

There was one record I was looking into last week for a Danish RAF pilot murdered during the great escape from Stalag Luft III that served under a different name to protect his family who were still living under the Nazi occupation.

It does make it difficult however!

30-05-2017 11:17 AM
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Thanks timbo for your input and yes even I wouldn't blame them in those circumstances!

30-05-2017 11:50 PM
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Don't forget people used varying names in civilian times, like a stepfather's surname as well as mother's previous name. pwholt

31-07-2017 9:22 PM
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Hello & many thanks for these possibilities, not locating my greatt gramps, but family tale has it that my ancestor had motor driving skills from family haulier business, but signed up underage & was a motorcycle dispatch rider, so will widen name search.

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