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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

civilian on medal list?


francesca

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I have been searching for my grandfather, John Charles Sommerville, in the medal roll without success. He was in the RFC but when I enter this on the search, it draws a blank. I gave up and just entered his name and found a J Somerville listed as a civilian (awarded various medals). I know Granddad was a clerk of some sort on account of various disabilities, so perhaps he was drafted in as a civilian. He definitely was in France so qualified for medals.

The number on the medal roll is WO 372/18

Can anyone throw any light on this? Could this J. Sommerville be the answer I have spent many a long hour looking for?

Hope to hear from someone!!

francesca

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As he was in the RFC he quite possibly may be on the RAF Medal Rolls & Index Cards {If he continued after the formation of the RAF} which are not {as yet} available,However RAF Personnel "Muster Rolls" & Various Service Records are held @ the NA & You may be able to discover his details via that route~however without a Service Number it may be a daunting process,there is a very good book " Researching RAF Records" or similar which should be available from or through your local library! Good Luck.

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Welcome to the forum Francesca.

Don’t give up on the idea of him being in the RFC (which became the RAF), the medal index cards were an army index, not for all 3 services click here for more details on how to trace an other rank in the RAF using AIR 78 at Kew. Do you have any of the medals for him and is the bit about him being in the RFC family lore or have you some details?

As for civilian earning medals normally for the military, they had done for at least 60 years before WWI, including the Victoria Cross!

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[Thanks for the replies.

My Grandfather was definitely in the RFC! He told me so himself (that shows my age!)

Unfortunately both my parents passed away last year and I have lost track of the medals which I remember seeing as a child, as well as photos.

It all seems to be a bit confusing about the RFC records - one minute the corps is in the army and next included post-war in the RAF.

It has been suggested that I look on the "Absent voters list", but as he would only have just been eligible to vote after the war had finished this would not be of any help.

All of this is academic as far as I'm concerned though because I live on the Isle of Wight and it is not possible to pop into any of the record offices without a lot of travelling and hassle!

I just really wanted to find out what some-one who was extremely short-sighted, with a withered arm and only four fingers on one hand was doing on the Front in France. He did have lovely hand writing though!

Now I think about it, his handicaps could well have saved his life.

Thanks again for taking an interest

Francesca

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Don't give up the idea of him being a civilian either. My wife's grandfather was a civilian in the administration side of the RAF in WW2. He was in requisitions and travelled the country in this respect. He had poor eyesight but had worked for the RAF pre war and this just followed on into and through the war. Interestingly his name, and other civilians, are in the wartime RAF Lists as Higher Clerical Officers, Audit Staff. Your grandfather does not appear in my 1914 RAF List but neither do any civilians so far as I can see.

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Thanks for that Jim.

As he was born in 1898 and bought up in children's homes, I had the feeling that he went straight into the forces from the home, but perhaps he was a civilian after all.

Hopefully I may find the medals one day!

Francesca

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