View Full Version : WWII aircrew research advice request

22nd Sep 2008, 13:21
My great-uncle was bomber crew in WWII. I'm sure I heard mention that he was a Nav, but I don't know this to be fact. He was lost on ops during the war, but other than that I know nothing else. I would like to know more, but there are no family members left to ask.

How do I go about finding out where he was stationed, on what squadron, what a/c, and details like that? I imagine that records must exist somewhere, but where?

How much information will I need before a result could be obtained?

Many thanks in advance.

I was unsure whether to post in AH&N or here, but as he was mil aircrew I thought here would be most appropriate.

Any advice would be gratefully received.



22nd Sep 2008, 13:26
I know the National Archieves hold info on all the records of the RAF, good place to start. Might have an alpebetical search.

Once that is found the Hendon archieve might help, then the Sqn history.

22nd Sep 2008, 13:39
Bomber Command lost 55,000 aircrew during the war, and then bomber aircrew fought and died with Coastal Command, Air Forces Middle East, the Far East Air Force, etc.

You need your great uncle's full name (Uncle Frank may have been Sidney Francis Jones) and ideally his service number. Those would probably be engraved on his medals, and would be in any documentation that your Great Aunt might have had.

With his name and number, his service record is easy, and from that his stations and squadrons. With those you can look at the operational record books at Kew.

Without that, and without knowing where he was stationed, or what type of aircraft he flew, it's hard to know where to start.

22nd Sep 2008, 13:41
I found information on my father (RAF/WW2) at the Public Records Office in Kew.

But I did have the Squadron number and obviously, his full name. At some stage in your search, Kew will be handy as they have all the squadron records.

Best of luck!

22nd Sep 2008, 14:20
As he was lost on Ops, perhaps the Commonwealth War Graves Commission :: CWGC :: (http://www.cwgc.org/) would have his details......

22nd Sep 2008, 15:19
Thanks to all thus far for your suggestions.

The CWGC site was very useful - thanks cynicalint. I thought I knew his name - but he had a 'hidden' first name (thanks Jackonicko!), but as his surname was not very common a surname-only search pulled out few enough results to pick him out. I have therefore found this real full name, service number, squadron, date of death, final place of rest (Belgium unfortunately - in a not-round-the-corner sense), and so on. Already much more than I could have hoped for.

Now I have got something to go on.

Many thanks again.



22nd Sep 2008, 15:29
Nacluv - I regularly go to Belgium, and have a number of friends there. Let me now the lat/long by PM and I'll get a recce done for you.

22nd Sep 2008, 15:39
Have you tried LOST BOMBERS (http://www.lostbombers.co.uk/) for further info?

Tyres O'Flaherty
22nd Sep 2008, 16:04
Are those records suitable for tracing aircrew who made it through ?

Both of my Grandfathers were aircrew & survived, & I'd love to find out more about their service if possible ( I know snippets, both BC, one a regular from '33 )

22nd Sep 2008, 16:23
Wow. The power of the internet - and PPRuNe.

I have learned more about my great uncle in 2 hours than I have in 42 years.

Forget - many thanks. I had enough info from the CWGC site to have a look through the Lost Bombers site as you suggested.

I now know what Op he was on, where from, what happened to him and the rest of the crew (night fighter - including the name of the perp!), the airframe he was in. He was one of three KIA; the other three lived to tell the tale. I note from a sentimental p.o.v. that the three fallen comrades are buried alongside each other in the cemetary.

To say I am overwhelmed is a mastery of understatement.

Thank you all. The beers are definitely on me next round.

Very best regards,


Topsy Turvey
22nd Sep 2008, 19:47
Tyres / Nacluv

If you are the NOK and can supply your relatives name, you will be able to obtain a copy of his service record from the RAF Disclosures Office at RAF Cranwell, Lincs. The bad news is they will charge a fee, last I heard about £30.

If you are not the NOK (or the individual is still alive) you will need the NOK / Serviceman's written authority to obtain a copy of the Service record.


The Air Historic Branch (RAF Northolt) will be able to give you further details on the mission in which your Uncle was lost.


Tyres O'Flaherty
23rd Sep 2008, 00:15
Thanks Very much for clarifying TT.

As one of my Grandfathers ( & grandmother's ) effectively brought me up, this not knowing of an important part of their past (one that brought them together ) continues to bother !

Semper Amictus
24th Sep 2008, 02:33
Have wondered for years about an uncle killed in the FAA, without knowing too much about him other than that my first name and middle initial were called after him.
My parents divorced when I was 5, so never had more than 2 or 3 meetings with my father afterwards, who was a Nav/Obs on Beaufighters and Mossies with 235 Squadron out of Portreath and Banff.
Thanks to your website link suggestion, and another from there, I now know that my uncle (his brother) was killed in a Fulmar of 809 Squadron off HMS Victorious way up north in July '41.

Thanks again !

27th Oct 2008, 09:38
A business contact of mine went to the cemetery and took this:


4th Sep 2009, 21:39
The time has finally come. 2 weeks to go before I, at long last, get to visit the cemetery and the area in general for myself. A family trip to Belgium for a long weekend.

A_A - I can't actually imagine how I will feel when that view is right there in front of me. Thank you indeed for all your, and your colleague's, efforts.

I have a couple of contacts from other fora who have been able to shed some additional light on the events of 22/3 June 1943.

Also, time I think to put a face to the name - my great uncle, James Theo Hindley:


It will be good to finally 'meet' you...

4th Sep 2009, 22:12

I think you have these details already but...

Wellington Mk X HF457 Took off from East Moor at 2338 on an Op to Mulheim. Shot down by a night fighter (Oblt Hans Autenreith II./NJG1) and crashed at Houthalem (Limburg) 12 km NNE of Hasselt, Belgium. Those who died were buried on 25 June at St-Truiden, since when their bodies have been removed to Heverlee War Cemetery. Sgt Hindley's father, the Revd James Hindley, had a living in Derbyshire at Buxton.


WO2 WA Sneath RCAF Killed
Fg Off RG Clarke RCAF PoW
Fg Off AB Drummond-Hay RCAF PoW
Sgt JT Hindley Killed
Sgt JO Hills RCAF Killed

RAF Bomber Command Losses 1943 WR Chorley

557 aircraft - 242 Lancasters, 155 Halifaxs, 93 Stirlings, 55 Wellingtons, 12 Mosquitoes. 35 aircraft - 12 Halifaxs 11 Stirlings, 8 Lancasters, 4 Wellingtons - lost. 6.3% of the force.

The pathfinders had to mark this target through a thin layer of stratus cloud but Mulheim's records contain references to the accuracy of the markers over this medium sized town and to the ferocity of the ensuing bombing. the now familiar are of fire and temporary breakdown of the fire and rescue services followed. In later stages of the raid, the Pathfinder markers and the bombing moved slightly into the northern part of the town: this had the effect of cutting all road and telephone comms with the neighbouring town of Oberhaussen with which Mulheim was linked for air raid purposes. Not even cyclists or motor cyclists were able to get out of Mulheim, only messengers on foot could get through. The centre and north of Mulheim and the eastern part of Oberhaussen were severely damaged, 578 people were killed and 1,174 were injured in the 2 towns. 1,135 houses were destroyed and 12,637 damaged. Other buildings hit were 41 public buildings, 27 schools, 17 churches and 6 hospitals. The only reference to industry is a general note "a large proportion of industries were severely affected". The post war British Bombing Survey Unit estimated that this single raid destroyed 64% of the town of Mulheim.

Bomber Command War Diaries, Middlebrook and Everitt

5th Sep 2009, 09:07
Thanks November4.

I knew about the details of his loss, but I didn't know about the effect(iveness) of the raid itself. It seems as if he was a part of a very successful raid, in Allied terms at least. He was lost on the return leg as I understand it, so at least he got to do his bit.

I have to say that the account of the raid from Mulheim's perspective is rather sobering reading too. There are no winners in war.

5th Sep 2009, 15:48
This is for anyone who is attempting to research a relative from WW2 or earlier. I would advise you at some stage to use the services of a professional researcher. The internet will take you so far, but it is simply not true that individual records are available online. Certainly the National Archive is open to all, but to be honest it is a daunting prospect for the novice. There are many researchers who will undertake to do this work for surprisingly modest fees - certainly if you live anywhere out of the South East travel and accommodation costs would be in excess of any likely research charge. I have had many WW2 aircrew researched for me over the years and have obtained copies of F540 (squadron operational records with details of full crew, bomb loads carried and a wealth of fascinating details). There are some frustrating culs de sac, but in general it is amazing what can be found.

If anyone cares to contact me by PM I will pass on the details of researchers who I would recommend. By the way, I don't do this work myself, so I am not touting for business!

5th Sep 2009, 16:46
You can get certain service records from the Second War released to you if you can get a next of kin form signed and pay the appropriate fee.

You will need the written consent from the nearest living next of kin and then they will send you what they hold.

This is a good place to start: :: CWGC :: (http://www.cwgc.org/faqs_answer.asp?faqid=22)

5th Sep 2009, 17:13
What an amazing find.

I'm going to be doing my own family tree research in the next couple of months, although my grandfathers and great uncles were all soldiers it's fantastic to hear about your success.

5th Sep 2009, 22:11
You can get certain service records from the Second War released to you if you can get a next of kin form signed and pay the appropriate fee.

Just a word of warning - the fee, which used to be £20 but has gone up I believe, is non-returnable in the event no records are found, and this does happen. I have always thought somewhat unfair. Still what can we expect from the MOD! I still seriously advocate a professional researcher - could save you time and money in the long run.

6th Sep 2009, 18:57
May I ask - if a groundcrew service record is obtainable from the RAF Disclosures Office at RAF Cranwell (post 11 suggests aircrew) or can anyone point me in the right direction, please?
Best regards, Aerials

7th Sep 2009, 11:13

Thanks for replying to my PM . I tried to thank you by PM but your box is full and will not accept anymore until you empty some old ones!

8th Sep 2009, 20:19

Any service personnel records for deceased or WWII (not sure about subsequent ones) can be accessed if you can satisfy the disclosures policy and pay the fee, if they have any information on record.

Good luck.

9th Sep 2009, 14:30
Thank you for replying. I just needed confirmation that Airman records were available at Cranwell or elsewhere. Between my post and yours I had an opportunity to look on the Intranet at work and just for once, managed to find what I was looking for! Kinship form downloaded and being completed now.
Best regards, Aerials

14th Oct 2009, 15:48

Re Sgt Hindley

There is a memorial to above mentioned person in Houthalen cemetry Belgium erected in 2006 listing a total of four aircraft that crashed nearby with all the crew names and aircraft types mentioned

1st Sep 2012, 17:34
I have information about your Great Uncle Theo. He was a great friend of my father (who died recently aged 90) when Theo“s father held a living in
St. Hilda“s church in Heaton park, Manchester. He often visited the family and has made many references to his friendship with Theo including character sketches in drafts of letters sent to a friend. we have a draft of a letter to Louise Hindley when he heard that Theo had gone missing and the reply he received from her) and autobiographical notes he made in his later years. He kept Christmas cards from Theo and one is from the time of his belonging to the RAF as it has airplanes on it and the insigna per ardua ad astra.
Our family have always known about Theo, he was a legend although we never knew him of course.
If you are at all interested in the information we can offer you, please let me know.
Meanwhile with Best regards

25th Sep 2012, 20:00
Thought you might be interested!



30th Sep 2012, 15:50

the front of the card didn't upload!

29th Jul 2015, 18:45
Dear Havill,

I'm really sorry it has taken me this long to find your posts. If you are still around on Pprune, please post on here as I'd love to continue that conversation with you!

Best, Nacluv

Jetset 88
15th Aug 2015, 17:00
Don't forget that there are many squadron associations that hold a variety of records and photos. For example the 10 Sqn Assoc holds a complete set of all the WW2 Forms 540/541 (Ops Record Books) for 10 Sqn. You have to join the Assoc to access them. see HOME - 10 Squadron Association - Royal Air Force (http://www.10sqnass.co.uk)