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Remembered Today:

Interpretation Service Record: Egypt


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I have been trying to sort out my grandfather’s RAF WW1 Service record by ‘Googling’ and while I have made some progress through responses to similar queries in this forum, I wonder whether I may ask for your help/confirmation with some of mine.

After hospitalisation for many bouts of malaria, South African born Lytton was declared unfit for tropical service and discharged from the South African Field Artillery then serving in German East Africa, in December 1917.  He immediately applied to the RFC and was successful for we next pick up on him in July 2018 through his RAF service record which places him in Egypt.

My queries are -

1)      Would Lytton’s passage to Egypt have been via England to a CDD-Cadet Distribution Centre – and then on to Egypt and to the Base Depot (BD) of the Egypt Expeditionary Force (Aboukir?). 

2)      Or, might he have known while still in SA that he was to report in Egypt and travelled up the Indian Ocean coast, through Suez to Port Said? Given his end of service repatriation to SA through England, I wondered whether the start of his service had also been through England.

3)      I think he then moved from the EEF BD to 3 CW which I understand to be #3 Cadet Wing but location?

4)      There is then a gap and sudden jump and is posted from 3 S of A (School of Aeronautics) (near Heliopolis, Cairo?)  to Arm Sch – Armaments School?

5)      From Arm Sch to 19 TDS - #19 Training Depot Station – location El Rimal? El Amiriya?

6)      End of January 2019 he ceased instruction in Aviation and moves from #19 to #16 TDS (Abu Sueir?)

7)      In April he moves from #16 TDS to Base Depot (Aboukir?) for repatriation

8)      From Base Depot to ‘X Aircraft Depot’ – meaning? Alexandria? Aboukir?

9)      From X A D to Base Dep M E (Aboukir?) and ceased to be attached?

10)  13.7.19 While still at BDME receives temporary promotion to 2nd Lieut (found in L Gazette)

11)  BDME (Aboukir?) to Demobilisation Depot at Kantara – awaits repatriation to SA

12)  From 1.9.19 I become truly confused.  It is almost as though they did not know what to do with poor Lytton – and probably many others!  Please could someone interpret for me?

GWF has been a great ‘go to’ place with my queries and this one too gives an easily understood description of the progress of a cadet : https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/taking-flight/pathway-to-pilot/first-world-war/

I should be very grateful for any help/confirmation given, especially with unravelling his homeward movements from 1 September 1919.

Thank you all very much,




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His Air79 for 184025 Pte 2 shows that he was already in Egypt when he joined the Royal Air Force on 31 July 1918.


Edited by hmsk212
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Oh dear! Shows how little I know about service records Steve.  Thank you for your response.  I had noted the date of 22 November 1918 for 'Date Sheet Started' as being long after Lytton was in situ.  I simply do not understand how he came to be in Egypt.  After tropical service and discharge, he had been in hospital and recuperative leave in Durban up until December 1917.  I know many SA's joined the RAF in Egypt (about 3,000 I read somewhere) and am just wondering whether he joined a whole group going north from SA.

So Steve, was the CDD with date of 31 July 1917 actually in Egypt and from there his training commenced?  The website I quoted made easy reading for someone with little knowledge of an airman's training progress.

Thanks again!


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Hi HSMK212,

Your earlier response made me return to the many documents I have on my grandfather's war service.  One page had become completely detached and on its reverse I found a partially completed photocopied record stating his name, his rank (Cadet), his previous units (SAMC, SAFT, 1st SAFA) and the best bit of all under remarks:  Embarked at Durban per HMT Berwick Castle 26.6.18.  Sailed 27.6.18 for Egypt.

So there is the answer.  He must have left with other cadets and not travelled via England but along the east coast to Egypt.  The Berwick Castle was one of the Union Castle Lines passenger vessels requisitioned for troop transport so sadly, no lists anywhere.  

Thank you very much for your help.


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