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Did James Fly?

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Did James Fly?

Postby woodchal » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:19 pm

We have found my wife’s grandfather James Walter Harrison b 22 Jan 1894 (Levenshulme, Lancashire) in the Royal Navy registers of Seamen's Services, which shows that on 31st March 1918 he left the Royal Navy with the reason being given as RAF.

We assume that he transferred to the RAF, but have not found his RAF records.

In the Navy he was described as driver, but we have a picture with him sporting wings on his sleeve. How can we find out if he progressed to being a pilot?
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Re: Did James Fly?

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:04 pm

Always try to get the basic knowledge from the TNA Guides - in this case from http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/royal-naval-air-service-ratings/

The important bits are here (with my emphasis):
RAF service records (1918-1939)

Search on findmypast (£) the RAF service records (AIR 79), for RNAS ratings who transferred to the RAF when it was formed in April 1918.

RNAS service numbers were prefixed with the letter ‘F’. When they transferred into the RAF, the ‘F’ prefix was removed, the number 2 added and, if the service number contained less than six digits, noughts were added to bring its total number of digits to six. For example, F 1002 became 201002 or F 54559 became 254559.
RAF service numbers between 313001 and 316000 indicate that the airmen served with the Royal Navy before the RNAS was formed in July 1914 and that they transferred from the Royal Navy to the RNAS.


Unless I'm totally adrift, JWH had a service number in the RNAS of F15831. That means his new RAF Service Number was 215831. Go to FMP "British Royal Air Force, Airmen's Service Records 1912-1939" (he could have been an airman or an officer - as he's in the Register of Seamen's Services, it's a good bet that he wasn't a officer.) If you search in FMP in that collection just with a service number of 215831, up comes his records. Well, one of them - I got the image of the front page and everything ground to a halt. Doesn't look like he was a pilot as it describes him as an Air Mechanic.

There is an alternative way to find him that I've only seen recently. If you go via TNA Discovery for JWH's Register of Seamen's Services, you can download it for £3.50. Scroll down and you will find "Other possible matches" - this is below the "fold", i.e. off the glass, so I keep forgetting about it. But TNA have tried to connect some stuff (to use the technical term) to other stuff that might also apply. In this instance, they have him bang on as they point you to
Harrison, James Walter
Service number(s): 215831, F15831,
AIR 79/1942/215831
Airman's service record

However, all they do is point you to FMP. But it still helps to find him.
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Re: Did James Fly?

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:06 pm

NB - I think the eagle on his sleeve is simply the badge of the RNAS in general - see https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30101390
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Re: Did James Fly?

Postby AntonyM » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:27 pm

AdrianB38 wrote:NB - I think the eagle on his sleeve is simply the badge of the RNAS in general - see https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30101390


Correct - it is the RNAS emblem, not a pilots wings. I have a similar picture of my own grandfather who was in the RNAS as an aero mechanic.
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Re: Did James Fly?

Postby junkers » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:11 pm

There is an alternative way to find him that I've only seen recently. If you go via TNA Discovery for JWH's Register of Seamen's Services, you can download it for £3.50. Scroll down and you will find "Other possible matches" - this is below the "fold", i.e. off the glass, so I keep forgetting about it. But TNA have tried to connect some stuff (to use the technical term) to other stuff that might also apply. In this instance, they have him bang on as they point you to
Harrison, James Walter
Service number(s): 215831, F15831,
AIR 79/1942/215831
Airman's service record

However, all they do is point you to FMP. But it still helps to find him.[/quote]
What TNA should have said is that it is also available at TNA free (if you can visit) and as far as the supposed links (this one seems ok) but a number are so way out (dates and ranks) they are highly misleading and TNA seem to assume that researchers cant search themselves.
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