February 2015

My name is Charlotte Gordon-Smith and I am a Documentation Assistant for the Archives.

Part of my role within the team is sorting and re-boxing specific collections, including our extensive Business Records Collection. This contains meeting minutes, deeds, financial records and many more types of document for a number of British companies including items which date back to before the First World War, to sales reports of the early 1990’s.

One part of the Rover Collection is a number of documents concerning the life and career of a man named Arthur William Mattocks who was Rover Company’s Assistant Secretary. His role was mainly to do with finance – his collection contains cheque book stubs from 1913 to 1920, letters, publications from the War Savings Committee and several leather bound account books for the ‘Rover Cycle Company Ltd,’ (starting in 1904). However, he was also in charge of employment, and responsible for contacting previous employees returning home from the First World War.

While Arthur Mattocks’ role in the war is unknown, his small collection of documents contains a number of extremely interesting elements from both the business and personal sides of his life. This includes a copy of his employment contract with Rover Company Ltd, as well as his wedding ring, a butcher’s ration book and a membership card for Coventry and District Poultry Keepers Society Ltd. This collection as a whole is a fascinating insight into the role of a single man within a company, as well as the role Rover had in reintegrating de-mobbed soldiers back into their company and civil society.

As ‘Document of the Month’ I have chosen a letter sent in 1919 by the Rover Company Ltd to the Ministry of Labour Employment Exchange in Coventry, which was responsible for the demobilisation of the forces based in the local area who had been sent to fight in the First World War. The letter confirms the employment of Acting Quartermaster Sergeant H. Turrell before the outbreak of war and the company’s willingness to re-employ him. The document itself is not the final piece sent to Coventry but a carbon copy, hence its crinkled and delicate nature.

Why This Document?

I chose this document because, for so many men, re-employment was the key to getting back to civilian life after years of fighting. An uncertain future faced many of the returning soldiers who had gone abroad to serve. Without offers from previous employers, men could face long-term unemployment – their old jobs being lost to others, or the business gone entirely.

Acting Quartermaster Sergeant H. Turrell, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, 8th Service Battalion, 26th Division (Western Front in 1915 and then stationed in Salonika (modern day Thessaloniki, Greece) from 1915 to 1919) worked for Rover Company Ltd before the First World War in a clerical position. His letter, along with several others representing former employees, was sent to Coventry to confirm previous employment. What happened to him next is unknown but hopefully the desired outcome of employment was achieved.

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