Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Interpreting RFC/RAF records

Recommended Posts

Hi there,

I wonder if one of the Pals could help? I've been doing some research on my great uncle, who joined the RFC, I have found some of his records -- and now I need some helpe in interpreting them!

I know he's a flyer not a solider, but we don't have an 'airman and air forces' section, so my apologies if this is in the wrong place.




29.08.17 attached Reading

09.10.17 transfers from Reading to Hendon

01.02.18 transfers from Hendon to 15 TS

07.02.18 transfers from 15 TS to 64 TS

07.02.18 attached 64 TS

26.04.18 on appointment as FO

08.11.18 transfers from Belton Park Military Hospital to 40 TDS

27.12.18 transfers from 40 TDS to RAF & ACS

14.02.19 transfers RAF & ACS (?) to Pilots Pool(s)

21.02.19 transfers RAF ACS, 24 Wing, to 24 Wing, 40 or 39 TDS

13.09.19 39 TS 2nd/hon Lt Fly ACR (R..*) app Permanent Comm

Dispersed 11/10/19

13.09.20 transfers from Unemployment List to School of Army Co-Operation (Inland Area). (P) for Flying Duties

06.12.20 transfers to 4 Squadron. (P) for Flying duties

01.03.21 Killed 24.2.21


It's tempting to see TS as Training Squadron, except that later on, admittedly after the war, Squadron is written out in full.

Also his appointment as FO - can't be Flying Officer as this is too early.

I am assuming he doing flying training at Hendon (he transferred from the ASC) but that's a guess.

He had been very ill in Frnce and was invalided home during 1915/16, had endless medical boards, so the Belton Park Military Hospital entry is interesting -- but again I don't know where that was.

Any light anyone can shed would be gratefully received!



Link to post
Share on other sites


Some partial answers for you. TS rings true for training squadron. I've come across various abbreviations in books by airmen.

There is a Belton park in Lincolnshire and I think that's the place you want. It's not a great distance from Grantham. I believe that Belton House was converted into a hospital.

As for his rank of FO, the Royal Air Force came into being on 1 April 1918, 25 days before the entry in his record. I'm sure that somewhere in my books I have one that explains the timing of the introduction of the new ranks but I will need a little time to sort through them. It isn't one of my ww1 books.


Link to post
Share on other sites


Thanks very much for that!

Belton Park is especially welcome, if only because I have just discovered that he got married to a Frances Eleanor Bell at St Mary and St Peters, Harlaxton, which is not far from Grantham, in 1918 - so maybe they met while he was in hospital?

I know it's a cliche, ailing RFC pilot and nurse falling in love -- but it's nice to wonder - even if it's hard to prove!

Tim ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some solutions:

TS = Training Squadron

TDS = Training Depot Station

RAF rank titles came into use on 27 August 1919, being roughly Navy/RNAS style for officers and Army/RFC style for other ranks.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Testerchild


The "FO" has come up in several service records I've been researching, including as early as 1916! I'm sure it does mean 'Flying Officer', but I think it was used as a job description rather than a rank. I've found FO (P) for pilots and FO (O) for observers several times, and my guess is that the RAF adopted the job title as a rank in 1918. Hope that helps.


Link to post
Share on other sites

:lol: The wealth of knowledge you all have is just fantastic. Thank you so much for helping me out I really appreciate it.

Leslie is an interesting man to research, and a rewarding one at that because so much of his file survives.

A rifleman in 9th County of of London, Queen Victoria Rifles TF, for three years before the war, he was granted a wartime commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the ASC in 1914.

I think he'd stayed in college until he was 18, and was working for the shoemakers Lilley & Skinner in London in their offices in an admin post - which was why he might have been thought suitable to be a "temporary gentleman"!

Sent to Boulogne with the BEF depot he got ill with influenza over the 14/15 winter and was sent back. While on sick, in April 1915 he applied to join the RFC, but it isn't until August 1917 he finally starts his training.

This seems a long time to me -- but those of you who've looked at more RFC records might be able to say that this delay was quite normal. I guess a lot of people wanted to fly.

On his application letter he puts down as a qualification, that he had flown as a passenger -- I guess that was still fairly rare in spring 1915.

I've found out that 64 Training Squadron moved to Harlaxton aerodrome near Grantham in 1917, which is where he joined them. I don't know if they moved to France, but I am not sure if he went back in 1918.

He obviously liked the flying as he elected to get a peacetime commission - and have been back just five months when his plane crashed. He was with 4 Squadron RAF, and in 1921 their history says they were flying Bristol Fighters at Farnborough -- so I guess that's where he was killed.

Thanks once again for all your help

Tim ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites


Thanks very much for your help with this. I like your ACS suggestion. It certainly makes sense as after the war he is assigned to School of Army Co-operation in Winchester -- which correct me if I am wrong - was in effect the successor to the ACS at Old Sarum


Thanks for the Flying Officer line. Now you mention it, it sounds obvious. Sometimes the old brain doesn't quite fire on all cylinders! :

Racing Teapots

Great avatar - where do you all get your images from in the first place to create the avatars, that's what I want to know - the link to Reading was very welcome indeed. I can now tell my brother he and his great uncle both went to Wantage Hall in Reading!

All the best


Link to post
Share on other sites


You will find a 'potted' history of Old Sarum here:



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...