Looking up my Grandfathers service history over the internet

#1
Hello all,

I wanted to do some research into my Grandfathers service history. He served in WW2 in the 181st Airlanding Field Ambulance (RAMC) and landed at Arnhem in the gliders. I've got a bit of data from around the time of the landings, including the chalk flight he was on (and even which seat he was in), but that is pretty much it. I believe he was taken as a POW since a lot of the medical staff stayed behind with the wounded when the withdrawal began. Also, his section commander was shot by a member of the SS while as a POW.

Understandably, it's something he never spoke about.

The other thing I wanted to look up is what medals he had. Unfortunately my grandfather was robbed before he passed away, and we couldn't bury him with his medals.

The only problem is I am in Australia, so any research will need to be done via the internet.

Is there a place on the net I could start researching more about this or even somewhere I could contact?

Thanks,
 
#3
Don't get taken in by sites like Forces war records, you can only get his service records from the MOD. It costs £30 to get them though.

There are a couple of decent Arnhem groups on Facebook, with historians and researchers among their members. Sometimes they have been able to help with info and photos.
 
#4
Don't get taken in by sites like Forces war records, you can only get his service records from the MOD. It costs £30 to get them though.

There are a couple of decent Arnhem groups on Facebook, with historians and researchers among their members. Sometimes they have been able to help with info and photos.
Thanks for the heads up. Already got a photo of him and his section.

That Forces site sounds a lot like ancestory.com. Joined up with them to trace my dads side of the family (Including my grandfather mentioned above) and despite all their advertising saying they have hundreds of years of data between Australia and England, they could only find one record in a voting registar of my father living at the house we used to live in 35 years ago for his entire side of the family.

Worthless bastards.
 
Last edited:
#6
Thanks for the heads up. Already got a photo of him and his section.

That Forces site sounds a lot like ancestory.com. Joined up with them to trace my dads side of the family (Including my grandfather mentioned above) and despite all their advertising saying they have hundreds of years of data between Australia and England, they could only find one record in a voting registar of my father living at the house we used to live in 35 years ago for his entire side of the family.

Worthless bastards.
Don't knock Ancestry too much as they try to do the best with what they have. And the reason for that is because much of the data that would relate to your GD is not yet released into the public domain.

@Tartan_Terrier is right about MoD data search for Army records: also, if the GD has been dead greater than 25 years, you don't need to provide a Death Cert.

As he was PW at the end of Market Garden, you can do no better than have a read of this:

Where to Find Prisoner of War Records, particularly the WO344 series of documents at The National Archives. Briefly, on release and as a part of their debrief/repatriation, each prisoner was interviewed by MI9-however, given the trauma that most of these guys had endured, they were not obliged to complete the debrief form.

The link also has a subsequent link to International Committee of the Red Cross - for a researcher, they can be a treasure trove of information. The site does require careful negotiation as many names (obvs) were recorded by non-native English speakers.

Also, if the GD had a DoB before 1911, you should be able to trace him (and certainly) his parents on 1911 and 1901 Census Rolls, again available through Ancestry.

If you want a hand, PM what you have and I'll have a dig around for you.

As to any medals awarded, at a minimum he would have picked up the 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star and the War Medal. Again, his entitlement would be recorded on his Service records. Also, as he had to claim them, he may not have done so given what he had been through.

. . . and Good Luck!
 
#7
for medals without knowing when he joined up/was called up the absolute minimum for an Arnhem veteran would be 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star and 1939-45 War Medal. it is possible depending on previous service that there could be an Africa Star and/or an Italy Star and maybe a Defence Medal. If you have your Grandfathers Service Number full name and unit you can write to the Medal Office (correct address is on the MOD website) and ask what medals he was entitled to they will write back and tell you when/if they were issued and to who they were sent with the date of dispatch
 
#8
If he is an Arnhem veteran and did the drop on the bridges he would be on the records of the Parachute Regiment, and should be well documented.
Agree with BA above to medal allocation and that's just for Arnhem action.
 
#10
Thanks for the heads up. Already got a photo of him and his section.

That Forces site sounds a lot like ancestory.com. Joined up with them to trace my dads side of the family (Including my grandfather mentioned above) and despite all their advertising saying they have hundreds of years of data between Australia and England, they could only find one record in a voting registar of my father living at the house we used to live in 35 years ago for his entire side of the family.

Worthless bastards.
If you're doing general research on your family then the UK's census records would be a place to start

Census records - The National Archives

Registrations of births marriages and deaths is another avenue.

And local newspapers are fascinating. My great grandad set fire to himself while fixing a car engine by candlelight in 1911.
 
#11
Don't knock Ancestry too much as they try to do the best with what they have. And the reason for that is because much of the data that would relate to your GD is not yet released into the public domain.....
I found ancestry pretty good. I got a great uncle's US passport application on Ancestry. As well as his Draft Registration Card from 1917. And I only found out about this lad, who emigrated to the US pre-WW1, when I put some info about his parent's marriage on a Genealogy message board. One of his son's spotted it and replied with his Army record. I use the two below. There's loads of rubbish on there but you'll hit the occasional nugget.

Message Boards

RootsChat.com Free Family History Forum
 
#12
Don't knock Ancestry too much as they try to do the best with what they have. And the reason for that is because much of the data that would relate to your GD is not yet released into the public domain.

@Tartan_Terrier is right about MoD data search for Army records: also, if the GD has been dead greater than 25 years, you don't need to provide a Death Cert.

As he was PW at the end of Market Garden, you can do no better than have a read of this:

Where to Find Prisoner of War Records, particularly the WO344 series of documents at The National Archives. Briefly, on release and as a part of their debrief/repatriation, each prisoner was interviewed by MI9-however, given the trauma that most of these guys had endured, they were not obliged to complete the debrief form.

The link also has a subsequent link to International Committee of the Red Cross - for a researcher, they can be a treasure trove of information. The site does require careful negotiation as many names (obvs) were recorded by non-native English speakers.

Also, if the GD had a DoB before 1911, you should be able to trace him (and certainly) his parents on 1911 and 1901 Census Rolls, again available through Ancestry.

If you want a hand, PM what you have and I'll have a dig around for you.

As to any medals awarded, at a minimum he would have picked up the 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star and the War Medal. Again, his entitlement would be recorded on his Service records. Also, as he had to claim them, he may not have done so given what he had been through.

. . . and Good Luck!
I didn't realise all the data may not be on the public record yet.

I'll probably never understand what he went through. Here's the article about his section commander being shot while as a POW (My grandfather is in that group picture)

Unravelling a World War Two Murder Mystery
 
#13
I didn't realise all the data may not be on the public record yet.

I'll probably never understand what he went through. Here's the article about his section commander being shot while as a POW (My grandfather is in that group picture)

Unravelling a World War Two Murder Mystery
A sobering piece there, chap-can't even begin to imagine what he and the other survivors brought back with them.

. . . as to records? Ah, God bless joined up thinking: some years ago, companies such as Ancestry bought up what was at the time data in the public domain. In the military sphere, this included all extant WWI Medal Index Cards, surviving WWI Service and Enlistment documents plus other Medal Rolls (Boer War, turn of the century India, etc). And also (most of) the Medal Rolls for GSM Palestine 1945-48.

But that Roll shouldn't have been released. Somebody cocked up. Still, too late now as it's out in the open.

Point to note: though you will be applying for his records as a relative, MoD will NOT release medical or disciplinary records.

. . . or they shouldn't: I researched a chap some time ago and amongst the paperwork was a history of his downward disciplinary spiral culminating in being shot after GCM, having deserted whilst in N Africa.
 

Similar threads

Top