Help with finding more about the old and very bold

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Boldnotold, May 2, 2011.

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  1. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    I hope someone here on arrse can help where the 'normal' websites seem unable.

    My Uncle, George Higgins, born 1902, apparently served with distinction for 22 years in the Royal Engineers before leaving to work on sewers and drains for Portsmouth Council. At the outbreak of World War 2, it seems that he and his entire department joined the Hampshire Regiment together.

    There's a family story that he was rescued from Dunkirk, and came back to Scotland despite the family having received a telegram that he was missing.

    His years of service seem to fall outside the records held on 'findmypast' and 'ancestry'. Can anyone advise how I can find out more about them?

    Also Frank Long, my grandfather, served in the 16th Btn Royal Sussex Regiment in WW1 and then rejoined the 2nd Btn after demob and not liking his civvy job. Apparently he served on the North West Frontier, in Persia and Palestine, before finally becoming a civvy in 1946/7. Can anyone offer advice as to where I can find information about him too?


  2. I was about to visit the National Archive site to search the Medal Rolls for a long-dead relative. He served in the Gunners in WW1 but does not appear in the so-called Burnt Records (WO363). Presumably, because his record of service was destroyed by the bombs! You could try there?

    The MOD still retains a tight (very) hold of personnel records for WW2. You have to write to them with your inside leg measurements, a death certificate and a lot of folding stuff. Then they cash the cheque and wait five years before telling you that nothing can be found.

    Good Hunting!

  3. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    Thanks Lits. I haven't sent MOD any cash yet, because from their much-delayed response to my initial enquiry, I feared that would be the case. I've kept the forms though.

    I'll peek in the National Archive, but am wondering if Regimental Records might be more use?
  4. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    Yes, thanks Pterandon. They're the ones who replied when I wrote my begging letter with SAE to Glasgow. I'd need to acquire death certificates and send £30 per person, and as Lits says, they do somewhat take their time!

    Edited to add: They also seem to want to know that I'm the eldest surviving relative, which I'm not. I'm just the eldest INTERESTED relative!
  5. I think you may be out of luck and wasting £30 unless you can get the Next of Kin to apply on behalf of the family. I suspect the Veteran's Agency are uinlikely to wan to put themselves between relatives who do want to find out what are in the service recoprds and those who don't.
  6. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    Exactly. The eldest surviving relative is 78, and I get on well with him, but he is absolutely not interested in the details and I don't want to fall out with him over it. In addition he is not the holder of any paperwork, which was distributed round his siblings, at least two of whom have burnt a load of family papers ....

    I did think of using my SSAFA forms which are used in casework to circumvent this exact problem, but think that would be cheating!
  7. BNO:

    Mr George Higgins. Unless you can get the elder surviving relative to play ball - copy of death certificate for Mr Higgins and his proof of relationship - then you are pretty much stumped for a few years. WWII records are (probably) not going to be released until 2025.

    Mr Frank Long should be easier: his Medal Index Card (MiC), from WWI, should be available on Ancestry and through The National Archive.

    Further, the Medal Rolls for NW Frontier and Palestine may also be available.

    I have an Ancestry account: if you want to pm me the details of Mr Long - full, given name plus any service/Regimental numbers - I'll have a look for you.

    As an after thought, did Mr Higgins have any India/Palestine service? Again, the Medal Rolls may exist for him.
  8. @ BNO: PMs sent.
  9. Regimental numbers, and place of birth if known will help, but without them;

    George Higgins
    Regiment or Corps: Royal Engineers, Royal Engineers
    Regimental Number: 53676, 601836

    Is this your uncle?
  10. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    Read and responded, FourZeroCharlie, thank you.
  11. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    Possibly, stinker. I'll PM you his details.
  12. .........and responded, by other means and pm.
  13. If your WW2 relative has been dead 25 or more years you do not need a NOK approval and the MOD except any proof of death like a photograph of a headstone if the details on it can be read or a undertakers bill as a couple of examples.

    2 Hampshires were in France during 1940 part of the 1st Guards Bde in 1 Division. I have all the battalions war diaries from 1939 to 1943 including a file containing a few personal accounts about Dunkirk. Here's one by Pte D Warren:

    You can contact me at drew5233(at) regarding the battalion diaries.
  14. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    drew, that's brilliant, thank you.