Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

christine.eden

A Question about the Royal Flying Corps.

Recommended Posts

christine.eden

Hi.

I wonder if anyone could point me in the right direction for some research please?

A small photograph album has come into my possession this week ( I won it on a well-known auction site...... :rolleyes: ) and amongst other things it has 17 individual photographs of men in uniform who were all in the Royal Flying Corps. The pictures have been expertly cut from what could possibly be a CDV, or at the very least - an official photo as opposed to a personal snap. It would appear that at least one was taken in France. If I can work out how to do it I will try and upload a sample page later.

The thing that makes it special is that each man has signed and dated just below each picture. I would assume that the date written is the date the photo was signed. One was signed 18/9/16, the rest were all signed on different dates in 1917. I am able to make out some surnames, some with first-name initials, and one or two mention rank. This has enabled me to find a few medal cards for these men.

There are a few group shots with two, three or four men - in these cases the names are not very easy to read.

There are also two larger group shots , each with about 30 men. These are not named at all but the following has been added underneath one of them :

A.R.S., 2 A.D., R.F.C., In the field, October 1916.

Using my acceptable ability with ordinary family research ( I'm not experienced with in-depth military research ) I would love to be able to locate a decendant of one of these men and return the individual signed photo to the right family.

So, my question is this.....( I got there eventually....)...where do I go ONLINE to try and work out what possible squadron or unit ( or whatever the correct term is ) for this group of men ? I have looked at several sites, some that even list men in individual squadrons - which would be great because I could match them with the names I have in the album - but there appear to be quite a few and I have no idea which one it is. Any tips would be gratefully received. Thank you.

Christine.

ps. Any idea what A.R.S stands for ? Aerial something Squadron ? I have believe 2.A.D is No.2 Air Depot, but I could be wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
John_Hartley

Assuming they are officers, the best bet for an online resource is to hope they were still serving in 1918. In which case, here's the link to the National Archives for individual service records:

clickety click

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KevinBattle

Posting a list of the Names may assist locating more information, but connecting relatives to long deceased ancestors may be more problematic...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dolphin
Any idea what A.R.S stands for ? Aerial something Squadron ? I have believe 2.A.D is No.2 Air Depot, but I could be wrong.

Christine

Aircraft Repair Section, No 2 Aircraft Depot, at Candas in France.

Regards

Gareth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

Thanks to John, Kevin and Gareth.

John - Two have signed as "sergeant", one has signed as S.M., which I'm guessing is Sergeant Major but the rest have no indications. Maybe when ( if ) I find the remaining Medal Cards there will be a few others.

Kevin - I'm not worried about that side of things. I have a good ability with general research so I know "where to go" so to speak, but I am completely useless with Military stuff.

Gareth - Thank you. That gives me a few more terms to search out.

As I said in my original post I really only want to try and find out which squadron the men served in ( within the RFC - some transferred in from other regiments according to the MC's I have seen so far ). This information will broaden my searching ability. However, that said, any other information that is forthcoming will be very gratefully received.

Thanks again,

Christine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
alf mcm

Hello Christine,

Welcome to the Forum. You could try the Commonwealth Wargraves site to see if any of these men died during the war. Their Squadron number is usually shown, so if you get 2 or 3 men in the same squadron then this may help your research. The men could of course have moved about, but it is possible that they served together.

Regards,

Alf McM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
per ardua per mare per terram

It might be that this is a group photo for the Aircraft Repair Section No 2 Aircraft Depot at Candas in France or the Aircraft Depot itself, which were units in their own right, rather than a squadron photo.

Until 31st March 1918 the Royal Flying Corps was an army unit, so their records might be amongst those online. After 1st April 1918 it became part of the Royal Air Force, their other ranks records are not online, they are at Kew stored in AIR 79 using service number order and without the service number you can't find a record. There is an incomplete alphabetical index to the service numbers on microfilm in AIR 78.

You will not find all their Medal Index Cards, these are War Office documents and only show a tiny fraction of the men who were in the RFC or RAF. The RAF have yet to release their MICs to the public.

I know that you specified online, but if you ever get to the UK National Archives, Kew these records may help.

AIR 1/930/204/5/922 Daily aeroplane returns: 2 Aircraft Depot. 1915 Nov. - 1916 May

AIR 1/928/204/5/918 Daily aeroplane returns: 2 Aircraft Depot. 1916 Oct. - Dec.

AIR 1/931/204/5/924 Daily aeroplane returns: 2 Aircraft Depot. 1917 Jan. - Feb.

AIR 1/1012/204/5/1324 Daily aircraft returns: Repair Section 2 Aircraft Depot. 1917 Mar. - Apr.

AIR 1/1017/204/5/1367 Daily aircraft returns: Repair Section 2 Aircraft Depot. 1917 June - July

AIR 1/1017/204/5/1368 Daily aircraft returns: Repair Section 2 Aircraft Depot. 1917 Aug.

AIR 1/1015/204/5/1345 Daily aircraft returns: Repair Section 2 Aircraft Depot. 1917 Sept. - Oct.

AIR 1/1048/204/5/1520 Daily routine orders: 2 Aircraft Depot. 1918 Jan. - May

AIR 1/1054/204/5/1541 1 and 2 Aircraft Depot: School record books. 1917 Mar. - July

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

Thanks to both Alf and poster no.7 - "per ardua" etc. :)

All points and record listings have been duly copied. Cheers !

Christine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

As mentioned in my first post for this topic I have now scanned four of the images from the album. I'm not sure how this is going to work out so am doing it one at a time. ( which may actually be the only way to do it anyway...... )

This first one is quite straightforward - I can read the writing :

J.Stringer. Sergt. In the field. 24.7.17

post-12760-1269624461.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

In picture 2, I can only make out the date : 14.6.18

post-12760-1269624679.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

Surname and date only for this one until I have looked for all the MIC's : F / I ? James, 26.7.17.

post-12760-1269624969.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

This is one of the group photo's.

post-12760-1269625668.jpg

Obviously more detail is lost as the original photo is only 3" x 5" ( in old money..... :) ).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
alf mcm

Hello Christine,

Picture 2 could be 2nd Airman W.H. Etchells, 4778 R.F.C. His medal record card is on Ancestry. He seems to have been awarded the 1914-15 Star, but not the Victory or War Medals, which is unusual.

Regards,

Alf McM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

Thanks Alf.

I belong to Ancestry so I'll take a look at that.

Just out of curiosity because it isn't relevant to my research, if you have the time to reply why is it unusual that he wasn't issued with a Victory or War Medal ? ( I did say I wasn't up on Military stuff..... ). It's not essential, I'm just interested.

Kindest regards,

Christine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
per ardua per mare per terram

It was impossible for someone to qualify for the 1914-15 Star, and not the Victory or British War Medals. Etchells was sent the Star by the War Office and the the Victory and British War Medals by the Air Ministry. The same happened with the medals of the Duke of York (later George VI) and the other members of the former RFC and Royal Naval Air Service serving in a qualifying zone after 1/4/18.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
per ardua per mare per terram
J.Stringer. Sergt. In the field. 24.7.17

There are Medal Index Cards online for JR Stringer 4564 Royal Flying Corps, entered France 2nd May 1915.

James W Stringer 10068 Royal Flying Corps; he is on the CWGC site date of death 20/07/1916.

John Stringer 3467 Machine Gun Corps and 331532 Royal Air Force.

Without more informaton it will not be possible to tie your man with either the former, the latter or a different Stringer entirely. John Stringer's RAF record has yet to be released to the public.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
per ardua per mare per terram
In picture 2, I can only make out the date : 14.6.18

If this is of former 2nd Airman W.H. Etchells, 4778 R.F.C., by the time of the photo he was a corporal in the RAF. William Etchells' RAF service record is in AIR 79/62 so it could be confirmed he held that rank on that date and where he was serving then too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
per ardua per mare per terram
Surname and date only for this one until I have looked for all the MIC's : F / I ? James, 26.7.17.

Possibly this is Sergeant Major Frank James 152 RFC/ RAF, but looking at his Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificate (864) on Ancestry I have some niggling doubts. If it is Sergeant Major Frank James there is a good write up in I McInnes & JV Webb A Contemptible Little Flying Corps. He: joined the RFC 27 June 1912 (from Coldstream Guards, number 7595); entered theatre 9th September 1914 (1914 Star, Clasp & Roses MIC online); Mentioned in Despatches London Gazette 30th November 1915, temporary Sergeant Major (Disciplinary) 1st January 1916; French Medaille Militaire (may fit the ribbon shown) London Gazette 24th February 1916; RAF Meritorious Service medal 1st January 1919; RAF Long Service Good Conduct Medal from 6 January 1926; MBE, Defence and War Medal for WW2 service.

According to the UKNA catalogue there is a record for him in AIR 79/3.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
per ardua per mare per terram
This is one of the group photo's.

I'd say it is a group photo for the Aircraft Repair Section of Number 2 Aircraft Depot ground staff.

Maybe the RAF Museum would find copies of all these to be of interest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

Thank you. This area of research is obviously a speciality of yours.

I will try to contact the RAF Museum later and see if they are interested.

Do you think it would be acceptable to post any more of the photo's on here ? There are 14 more altogether although not all of them are as large as the one's already uploaded - maybe I could just upload the signature ? Or, would you like a copy sent to you directly ? I assume that I can send attachments through a PM ? Would that be acceptable to you ? ( I'm not necessarily asking you to do the searching - you just seem interested and know what it's all about, and where to look. )

Christine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
per ardua per mare per terram

Christine they are all on topic and may be of interest to several people, but the moderators may have the screaming habdabs about the amout of bandwidth they would take up. I've already learnt something from the thread: that the UKNA have begun cataloguing the records in AIR 79- at last no need to rely on AIR 78!

You can send me a PM, but the pictures will probably be better sent in an email.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

So pleased to read that the UKNA have begun cataloguing the records in AIR 79- at last no need to rely on AIR 78...........................................if only I knew what that actually meant !!!! :D:D

( I do have a vague idea. It just made me laugh at this end. )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
per ardua per mare per terram
... After 1st April 1918 it became part of the Royal Air Force, their other ranks records are not online, they are at Kew stored in AIR 79 using service number order and without the service number you can't find a record. There is an incomplete alphabetical index to the service numbers on microfilm in AIR 78...

AIR 79 is the series that the records are kept in at Kew. Previously the only index has been held at Kew in AIR 78, which hasn't been comprehensive for WWI records and has vexed me on several occasions! Now, as long as the data entry is correct it is possible to locate those named in the first 100 files (only over 2500 to go) using the online search function.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
alf mcm

Christine,

I would suggest that you post a list of the signatures which you have, with the dates, and the rank of the man shown, if you know it. Some of these men may already have been researched by others on the Forum, or may even be their relations.

Regards,

Alf McM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
christine.eden

OK.

I've been reading through a load of "War in the air" posts today to see if I could find a name that was in the album, but there are 116 pages of threads and it's taken me quite a while to get up to only page 24. So here are the names spelt as accurately as I can, with any dates etc, written as in the book.

1. J Stringer, Sergt. In the field. July 24th 1917 ( image already uploaded above = post 9 )

2. Signature attached with sleeve showing stripes.

post-12760-1269792764.jpg

3. C.Rapley S.M., B.E. 7, 20.8.17

I'm sure I have found the right Medal Cards for this man but as yet have not worked out what all the notes mean. This is a good one for me as the name Rapley is not that common, and I have his first name ( Cyril ) which makes tracing the family a whole lot easier. If anyone can come up with an approximate - or exact - d.o.b from the notes that would be great.

4. R.Davies, Sgt , 27.7.17 In the field.This name is not a good name to research - even with a first name. However, if anyone can come up with any info that would be great. His arm shows the same stripes and "cross shaped badge" as in Man no.2

5. ? James., RFC , 26.7.17 ( image already uploaded above = post 11)

6. Signature attached. This is a very small photo and signature.

post-12760-1269793682.jpg

7. Signature attached. This looks like F.A Gwinnett ?

post-12760-1269794066.jpg

8. G. Donaldson. , R.F.C., 26.7.17

9.Signature attached. Stripes clearly visible on photo.

post-12760-1269794500.jpg

10. ? Etchells., 16.6.18., ( image already uploaded above = post 10 )

11. A. Creighton ? , 16.Sept.1917., France

Signature attached. Stripes are visible on the photo.

post-12760-1269857290.jpg

12. A.Webb., R.F.C., 27.7.17.

13. E. F. Newman / Newson ? 18.9.16.

Signature attached.

post-12760-1269857636.jpg

14. Signature attached. This looks like ? H. Flowers ?

post-12760-1269858004.jpg

15. Signature attached.

post-12760-1269858642.jpg

16. J.Atkins. ? , A.R.S., 2 .A.D., July '17.

Signature attached.

post-12760-1269858569.jpg

There is another photo but it has two men and only one signature. It is another "Davies" and it's not clear which man is him so I'm afraid I'm going to leave him be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...