WW2 service records

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Wendyf
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WW2 service records

Post by Wendyf » 11 Jan 2013, 17:16

Just before Xmas I sent off for my dad's service record. I found out how to apply from this website and as my mum is still alive, I filled in the forms on her behalf (with her agreement) so there was no cost involved.
Dad was a ground gunner and then a small arms instructor in the RAF and we knew a lot about his service in the Middle East. We have many photographs of his time out there, he talked quite a lot about it in later years and left his journal about his time out there for us to find after he died. Mum and he met when he was on leave before being shipped out to the Middle East and they wrote to each other on a daily basis from 1941 to 1946 when he was demobbed.
We didn't expect to find anything we didn't already know about in Dad's service record, but when my brother & I sat down to decipher it after Xmas we got quite a surprise. After 2 weeks at the recruits centre in Blackpool he was posted to the RAF station at Tangmere in Sussex. He arrived there on the 15/7/1940 and was there till the beginning of May 1941. So he was there for the Battle of Britain, at one of the main bases for the RAF at the time, and he never spoke about it. It was almost completely destroyed by German bombers on the 16th August 1940 and he was there....

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Re: WW2 service records

Post by PanBiker » 11 Jan 2013, 17:59

Nice information Wendy, I am intending at some point to do the same for my dad. I know some of his service in Iceland as I have his diary and other documents but his later service in the RAOC when he was awarded his B.E.M. I have little detail of. He never really said anything about it so I will have to apply and see if I can get some more details of the circumstance.
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Re: WW2 service records

Post by Wendyf » 11 Jan 2013, 21:08

The information you get is very sparse Ian, just a list of the units and movement dates. There are also records of promotions, qualifications and medals received. Although a list of common abbreviations is provided with the record, some of it remains a mystery or just illegible.
The one I am having most trouble finding anything out about is 8304 AD Wing where he went in May 45. The next entry is Disemb. Cont. in June 45, returning to Padgate three months later then back to 8304 AD Wing. From the abbreviations list I can see that AD stands for Air Depot, and according to Mum he spent time out in Germany after VE Day, so I presume he disembarked to the continent with 8304 Ad Wing. For once Google has no answer!

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Re: WW2 service records

Post by Stanley » 12 Jan 2013, 05:34

Good information Wendy....
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Re: WW2 service records

Post by Wendyf » 12 Jan 2013, 13:37

Before he died Dad digitised & labelled a collection of old photos for me, and amongst them is a picture of a property captioned "commandeered for the sergeant's mess in Delmenhorst, North Germany 1945".
Does anyone know what he might have been doing there?

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Re: WW2 service records

Post by PanBiker » 12 Jan 2013, 15:22

There is a snippet of information on this Wikipedia Link the area was used as a clearing station for displaced persons from Eastern Germany which was then in the Russian zone. It was under British control.
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Re: WW2 service records

Post by Wendyf » 13 Jan 2013, 10:30

Thanks Ian.
I took the plunge last night and looked at some of Dad's letters to Mum from that period....it felt a bit intrusive, pages & pages of passion and desperation to be home! The return address he gives is 8304 AD Wing (Unit) B.L.A. Perhaps this is why I can't find any reference to the unit in RAF records, could it be a unit of the British Liberation Army?
He doesn't seem to have had much to do except to write endless letters! He talks of setting up the training, so I assume he was still involved with small arms training, and he was asked to carry out his trade as a barber on the base. He got a room to set up "shop" and three whole days a week free from duties to cut hair! I get the feeling that there was a nervousness about servicemen fraternising with the locals, he mentions something about threatened prison sentences of 3 years for just talking to German girls.
In one letter he encloses the programme for a concert party on the base that he enjoyed, where all the performers are refugees.
Some interesting snippets now and again amongst the intensely personal stuff.

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Re: WW2 service records

Post by Stanley » 14 Jan 2013, 04:50

Wendy, if you dig into the matter you'll find that on active service fraternisation with locals was discouraged. There were two main reasons, Venereal Disease and accusations of rape by the women. Not a lot of reporting about this but it happened. As late as 1954, AFN were broadcasting a message which went something like this: (apologies for the graphic language) "You like her. She likes it. Remember, a blobby knob delays demob!" I kid you not.....
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