Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

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Alav
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Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Alav » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:23 am

Son has a Remembrance day project coming up... And I'm rather limited on knowledge as both my grandfather's never spoke of the wars...

I know maternal Grandfather, was RAF -> RCAF then retired out in the 80s. I know he was awarded a DFC - but never explained the story.

Paternal grandfather - absolutely shut down if you asked. Was RAF was associated to a bcatp base in southern Alberta - then served in india as a Sgt. That's about all I know.

Google doesn't reveal much - maternal lots of mentions in voxair, around postings and curling found an old wardair retirement story once (now can't find it again). Paternal, pretty much nothing - had a picture of him with a Lysander in Britain (Kent? 30 some years since we talked about it) and an old boarding school newsletter about his joining the RAF in 37.

Is it possible to get info before Remembrance day at this point to fill in the gaps, get some of the service history?

Anyone able to point me in a direction?
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Last edited by Alav on Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

NunavutPA-12
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by NunavutPA-12 » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:48 am

BCATP Museum in Brandon, MB may be a starting place for one grandfather.

Without a service number or a squadron number it might be difficult to get info on the other.

But we have several members here who are much more knowledgeable than I.
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Meatservo
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Meatservo » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:18 pm

It's so difficult to find these things out. My paternal grandfather kept quiet about the war too. Using "google" I found out some things, but by strange co-incidence. It turns out his tail gunner was an Australian, and someone in Australia wrote a book about Australian airmen based in Britain in the war. There was a story about that guy, which luckily provided not only a short description of the circumstances by which he was shot down, but also the names of his crewmates, one of whom was my grandpa. From this I was able to figure out what prisoner-of-war camp he was sent to, and his squadron number and the registration of his plane, and a copy of a letter he wrote on a Red Cross postcard to his Mum.

Unfortunately, as for the circumstances of the rest of his RAF career (family folklore has it that he escaped, which is borne out by some ,erm, "evidence" we found in his stuff) facts are not so readily available.

I have been quite tempted to sign on with a serice such as this one:

www.forces-war-records.co.uk

but have not tried it at this point. Even though your grandpa was Canadian, his records may be housed in the U.K. as well, especially if he served in a British unit. Our governments were a lot more connected back then.

Good luck. I found all this information about my Grandpa, trying to understand my family's connection to the war on a Rememberance day a few years ago. I can tell you the search can be quite rewarding and emotional. Our Grandpas may not have been able to tell us themselves, but we honour them by trying to find out what they did, and trying to understand what they lost, for us.
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by kevenv » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:31 pm

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Alav
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Alav » Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:34 pm

Both were British RAF during the war, but I cant associate DFC to the last name. (But he was engineer and navigator at various points? Maybe it's not a DFC?)

One married a Saskatchewan girl, one came post war to Canada with his war bride - somehow making the jump from RAF to RCAF in the process.

Ive stuck their names into all the databases, have never found anything.
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by NunavutPA-12 » Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:05 pm

Don`t forget that many Canadians joined the RCAF but were seconded to the RAF. My father served in RAF 578 Squadron 4 Group Bomber Command, in an all-Canadian crew.
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Moose47
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Moose47 » Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:49 pm

G'day

What is your Grandfather's name?

Cheers...Chris
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bobm
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by bobm » Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:50 pm

It is strange that many veterans do not talk about it at all. They never bring it up. I know my dad did flight training in Manitoba I think, and moved on to Harvard's. Never did talk about it. He never went overseas but instead became a Bombing Instructor. He has happy and that I learned to fly and I did get to take him for a flight in an Arrow II before he passed in '77.
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by DanJ » Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:10 pm

Strange that this thread popped up today. My son was asking me this morning about his great grandfather. Said that he could do some research through the National Archives but that he didn't have all the info on them to start. Fortunately the grandfather is still with us and might have some info on his father to help out in the search. I think it's more for my son's interest rather than a school project, but if we get anywhere, I'll post the process he goes through.
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Alav
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Alav » Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:37 pm

Moose47 wrote:G'day

What is your Grandfather's name?

Cheers...Chris
Pm'd
FB_IMG_1509336816260.jpg
FB_IMG_1509336816260.jpg (32.73 KiB) Viewed 1409 times
Maternal grandfather, Korea era? Sure looks boxcar like background and the family talks about time stationed in Seattle - so 426 sqdn?
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Posthumane » Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:06 pm

bobm wrote:It is strange that many veterans do not talk about it at all. They never bring it up. I know my dad did flight training in Manitoba I think, and moved on to Harvard's. Never did talk about it. He never went overseas but instead became a Bombing Instructor. He has happy and that I learned to fly and I did get to take him for a flight in an Arrow II before he passed in '77.
I don't think it's that strange that some vets don't talk about their service. For many people, the war was not a pleasant time, and many people that were involved would like to just forget about it and move on. I remember watching a documentary about recipients of the Victoria Cross, and one of the recipients basically said that receiving the medal was a curse and he wish he had never got it. The reason, he said, was that people always asked him how he got it, which meant that every time he met someone he had to recall what was essentially the worst day of his life where many of his friends were brutally killed. Obviously not everyone has the same story, but I can certainly understand why not everyone wants to tell the story of their service.
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Moose47
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Moose47 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:49 am

"Maternal grandfather, Korea era? Sure looks boxcar like background and the family talks about time stationed in Seattle - so 426 sqdn? "

Between 1950 and 1954, No. 426 'Thunderbird' (T) Squadron flew during the Korean Airlift as part of 'Operation Hawk'. The 'Thunderbirds operated from McChord Air Force Base (Tacoma, Washington) between the 25th of July, 1950 and the 15th of June, 1951. During the four years, the squadron flew 600 round trips across the North Pacific to Japan logging 34,000 flying hours, carrying 13,000 personnel which included a large number of wounded back to the U. S. and Canada, and seven million pounds of freight. Amazingly, there were no mishaps.

The aircraft could be a Fairchild C-119 Boxcar or Fairchild C-82 Packet.

Cheers...Chris
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Moose47
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Moose47 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:35 pm

G'day

This might be of some interest to you. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ottawa ... d=94474091

Cheers...Chris
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Flyboy757 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:40 pm

" The aircraft could be a Fairchild C-119 Boxcar or Fairchild C-82 Packet."

Chris......googled 426 Sqn and somewhere I thought I read "North Star " for that airlift. C-119 Boxcar was later in their history.

Mike
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by BE20 Driver » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:30 am

This is not a fast process but you can contact the Library and Archives Canada (in Ottawa). You can get access to most military records and medical records (with some caveats)

What you will need is 1. Permission from the grandparent if they are still living. 2. Proof of death (either a death certificate or a picture of the headstone) and proof of relation I think. In order to obtain medical records, I believe the individual must have been deceased more than 20 years. All of the details are available on the library and archives canada website.

From this, you will get their attestation papers, training records (i.e. find out where they enlisted, where they were posted for training etc). You will have access to documents which detail which squadron they were posted to for active duty. It's mostly high level information. From there, you can make a further request to LAC to obtain regimental/squadron action reports and daily logs. Should he have been injured or shot down etc, you'll be able to figure out which battle, what location from these records.

Individual records are mostly digitized now and LAC will provide them with an access request. Things like the regimental and squadron daily logs are not. Probably 50/50 at best for WWII but upon request, pertinent info will be copied and sent to you.

I was at the LAC this summer on killing time on a layover. If you are in Ottawa or want to make a trip, access to the archives is free as is the request for individual service records. I'm not sure how they will handle copying regimental logs as I'm not quite at that stage yet. I'm told that it is a 9-12 month wait for records at the moment so this is not something that will help you for next week. You can however work on this project for next year.
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by JDA » Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:38 am

http://www.thememoryproject.com/

Have a poke around this site. My grandfather didn't like to talk about his service either, but he did participate in an interview for this project before he passed.
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Alav
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Re: Researching grandfather's - RAF / RCAF - how/where

Post by Alav » Sat Nov 04, 2017 9:16 pm

Flyboy757 wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:40 pm
" The aircraft could be a Fairchild C-119 Boxcar or Fairchild C-82 Packet."

Chris......googled 426 Sqn and somewhere I thought I read "North Star " for that airlift. C-119 Boxcar was later in their history.

Mike
Timeframe was ballparked by me with how old he appeared - forgot to include Canada's military spending delays clearly :D apparently it hasn't changed much.

Moose - yup have the hard copy.
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