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Trouble finding military records

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Trouble finding military records

Postby Susan R » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:28 am

Hi I wondered if someone could help me. My Grandfather John William Johnson served i`ve been told in the army in the 1st world war in France but I`m not sure what regiment he was in. He was born in Edlingham, Northumberland and in the 1911 census aged 16 he was living with his parents David and Mary Jane in Bedlington Northumberland, He married my grandmother in 1922 and they lived in Widdrington. My mother thinks he may have been in the Northumberland fusiliers, He was injured as he had shrapnel wounds on his back.
From 1941 to 1945 he was a cook in the RAF 1st in Blackpool then Alness, Rothshire Scotland. I`ve searched on ancestry and cant find any records and unsure where else I could search

Susan R
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Re: Trouble finding military records

Postby brunes08 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:17 am

I was told that my grandfather was in the Northumberland Fusiliers in the 1WW. I spent a lot of frustrating time trying to find him. I eventually found him in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The point being that just because a person was living in a particular area didn't necessarily mean they were enlisted in the local regiment. So be prepared to look elsewhere.
Second thing. The RAF Museum and archive is at Hendon, Middlesex. If you have the service number you may be able to obtain some information from there. Lastly, you may be able to find RAF information from the National Archives site.
Hope that helps.
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Re: Trouble finding military records

Postby Susan R » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:32 am

Hi Brunes

Thank you very much for your advice. I myself find it frustrating as I dont even have service number. When my grandmother died my uncle cleared out the house and there was photographs, medals etc. I remember as a child seeing big framed photographs on the wall of him in uniform. My uncle has since died and my cousin has them so I will have to track him down cos the photos should give a clue to what regiment he was in.

Once again many thanks
Susan R
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Re: Trouble finding military records

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:24 am

The only guarantee is the information on the medals. WW1 medals are engraved with the name, rank, serial number (within the unit) and the unit. Without his serial number and unit, you won't be able to tell him apart from any other John Johnson (don't rely on the Army recording his middle name though they probably did if only to make life easier for themselves)

If you can't get hold of the medals, your best bet is to look for him in Absent Voters Lists as they contain similar information to the medals. However AVLs don't always survive.
If neither of those two work for you and there's no other odd things surviving then you're forced back on photos and while they may tell you the regiment getting more detail than that about his history could be difficult.

Best of luck.

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Re: Trouble finding military records

Postby Discat11 » Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:23 am

I'm wondering if his records are still at the MOD?

You say he worked for the RAF into WWII -if this was an official service position (rather than a civilian) then those records would certainly still be at the MOD only -you can apply for these via the veterans-UK government website on the downloadable forms there.

As brunes08 said: It's not worth presuming because he was from Northumberland he would be in a local regiment as usually only those who joined up pretty much immediately at the start of WWI were in local regiments, after this they tended to be placed in whichever regiment was short on men -I've certainly seen lots of men from London/Manchester in regiments from all over the country for example!

An injury in WWI might be recorded in the silver war badge records (Ancestry/the national archives), failing that the Western Front association could potentially have a pension record card if he received one -although this is a manual lookup from them.
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Re: Trouble finding military records

Postby JaneyH » Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:55 am

I just want to add a word of caution about accessing post-WW1 service records held by the MOD. After several months of correspondence, having filled in all the relevant forms, my father was finally told that my grandfather's (his father's) RAF records had been destroyed. As you can imagine this was more than a bit disappointing!

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