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RAF records

Discussion in 'Military records' started by Leona5329, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. Leona5329

    Leona5329 LostCousins Member

    My partner's father George SHILLITO (born 1921 / died 1999) was in the RAF in WW2. He was a Radio operator/in Signals and was ground based. In fact he never ever flew in his life! Curiously the family have no medals, no records or any information other than snippets from what he told them. Wanting to find out more, we are about to apply for his records from Ministry of Defence. They require a service number but no amount of trawling through any online websites has found any details of his service. They also ask for a National Insurance number which we don't have. Can I send in an application with such scant information? What we do know (from what he said) is that he was trained/based some time in Stornoway and Inverness (where he met his wife to be (who was also a Radio operator/signals). He used to show us his recall of Morse Code. He mentioned how there was radio silence on D Day. He also says he was in Hong Kong at the end of the war - we do have some small B/W photos taken there. (He must have gone by ship - but why? For radio communication?) I understand it is possible to not want to accept any medals after the war. We also have no medals from his wife. Surely they would have been eligible for a medal/s?
    Any helpful suggestions welcomed.
  2. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I too served in the RAF (but post war of course) and recall of one's service number is (almost) automatic. Even so it is strange that you have not been able to recall any record of his service, which if found would I am sure point to any medals awarded; and the same for his wife. But in answer to your question about applying to the MOD with scant information, the answer is yes, give it a try, ensuring you provide every scrap of information, full name, dob, where born and details of parents and of course where he was stationed and his trade. You can also ask about medals because even if not entitled to aircrew ones, all those who served in WW2 would be entitled to receive the Defence Medal and the War Medal at least.

    (There is a separate MOD Medal Office who can be contacted at DBS-Medals@mod.gov.uk)

    The other alternative is to try RAFA (Royal Air Force Association). Seek out their Facebook page (search for RAF Association) or Tweet them at RAFA and seek advice that way. (You may have to join Twitter (which is free) if you haven't already).

    As to your other questions, yes servicemen could refuse medals although most accepted them and then either put them away in a drawer and later handed them on to family or simply mislaid or even sold them.

    As to why he went by ship to Hong Kong one might say, why not? The best way to transfer service people and their kit may well have been by sea via liaison with the Royal Navy. There may have been logistical reasons, or possibly the fact that the Fleet Air Arm (to which he may have been seconded) was handed back to the Navy at the end of WW2.

    Good luck anyway
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2019
  3. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I don't know about the RAF but my father, who was in the army and served mainly in North Africa, had to apply for his campaign medals after the war - from memory it was about 1955 that he received them. He thought little of them - when I came across them as a child he was very off-hand about them, presumably because he got them just for being there, whereas my young head was stuffed with stories about war heroes.
  4. Leona5329

    Leona5329 LostCousins Member

    Thanks Bob - I will collect as much info as possible. We have just stumbled upon some old photographs he must have taken on the way to, and in Hong Kong. They include Suez Canal, Port Said, Port Said bum boats, Aden, Colombo, Ceylon, Singapore, Tiger Pagoda, Canteen Hankow Road Xmas 1945, Hong Kong, Kaitak transmitter site (Hong Kong), 'C' Watch Kaitak Sigs. 1945-6, Shamshuipo Camp Hong Kong, Castle Peak Bay May 1946. Also one labelled (Hunted?) Camp, Nairn 1944. So lots of information to go on here which we can include in the application. Neither my partner nor his sister ever recall seeing medals for either of their parents, nor did we find anything when clearing out the family home after they died. A mystery to be solved!
    Thanks again,
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  5. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    I was able to get my Dad's army records without a service number. All I needed was his name and date of birth. This was in Canada however. I do not think they even needed his birth registration when he enlisted, as it would have been a different surname. They were very informative about the fact that he kept going AWOL. (when I was born, and I guess after my sister was as well) He never went overseas; made it as far as Halifax and was apparently supposed to go on the next boat but the war ended.

    My husband and I were both in the R.C.A.F. in the '60s and we still remember both of our regimental numbers.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  6. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    My Grandad's medals that he received after service in the Royal Navy, still reside in the small cardboard packet that they were sent to him in from wherever it was (address and stamp still present on the front!) They were never worn.
    *Luckily part of the papers that we have includes his service record, as well as photographs of the men he worked with in each of his postings.

    **All Australian war records are free to search, and digitisation can be requested for those which remain undigitised. This includes records for those who served after the war. They can be found on the NAA (National Archives of Australia - whoops.) webpage.
    The easiest way is with the Name Search.

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