RootsChat.Com

General => Armed Forces => Topic started by: MacGrigor on Wednesday 25 March 20 22:15 GMT (UK)

Title: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Wednesday 25 March 20 22:15 GMT (UK)
Hello,

Iím in the process of sending off for my great-grandadís military records. I was told by a relative that he was in the army, and he died more than 25 years ago, so Iíve filled out the two relevant forms, and got my cheque for £30. Iím just waiting for the death certificate from 1988 to arrive.

Iíd love to hear from other people who sent off for records. Granted, mine will probably be hindered by the current craziness. How long did you wait before receiving information? In what form did it come? Iíve read the amount of information can vary from person to person.

Best wishes,

Adam
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: Ruskie on Wednesday 25 March 20 22:42 GMT (UK)
My order took almost a year from sending off the application and the records arriving. That was several years ago and was the length of wait I was expecting at that time.

Wait time seemed to have been substantially reduced a year or two ago and I believe people were receiving records within a couple of months. Recently there was a thread where an elderly gent applied for his own WW2 service record and that only took a week or two. Presumably he was a priority.

I think you are probably right in that current events will delay receiving records, depending on workplaces opening, and there will probably be more people applying for records as they are stuck at home.

Records are photocopies on A3 size paper.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Wednesday 25 March 20 22:48 GMT (UK)
Hello Ruskie,

Fascinating! Iíd struggle to wait a year. Youíre evidently much more patient than I am. A few months would be tolerable, but I agree with you that there will likely be delays along the chain. Thanks for all those details. Were you impressed with all the documents you received? Were they informative?
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: Ruskie on Wednesday 25 March 20 23:05 GMT (UK)
Yes, mine were quite detailed, but as is the case with these things there is some repeated information.

Others will be able to explain why, but I am guessing if records were made to be held by different authorities then they all came together at the MOD post war?

I already knew largely what the records I applied for would contain. Records do need interpretation and have many abbreviations, and sheet with abbreviations is included.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Wednesday 25 March 20 23:22 GMT (UK)
That certainly will be very helpful. I expect Iíll be back on here asking for some help ;D

Thanks for all the information!
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: GrahamSimons on Thursday 26 March 20 08:07 GMT (UK)
They prioritise cases where there's a need, perhaps to do with pension or health. Family history is quite correctly not priority.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MaxD on Thursday 26 March 20 10:09 GMT (UK)
To paraphrase Forrest Gump - service records are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

To expand a bit on Ruskie's point.  A person's record was maintained by one of a large number of regimental or corps record offices who up dated occurrences principally from information sent in from a plethora of headquarters in the field.  All this on paper, done in many cases by rudimentarily trained clerks, who themselves had just joined up, in the middle of a war in the chaos of a variety of locations.   

The record is but the first vital step in what can be a complicated process. The record will (should) identify the units he served with and when but except in the broadest sense - N Africa, NW Europe, SE Asia - not where he served.  For the detail the right war diaries, if they exist, would be needed..

The record of a man who spent his service in one unit is obviously going to be easier to deal with than a man sent from one unit to others.  The nature of the unit will often determine whether there is any real information to be gleaned from a war diary, the activities of a "secret" Royal Signals unit for example being more difficult to trace that those of a "normal" infantry battalion.  The services also varied in the way they kept records, the RAF taking a quite different approach to the army for example.

You might like to look at some of the threads on the WW2 board where folk have asked for help with records and where they have posted clips of parts of them. 

Hope you don't have to wait too long!

MaxD
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: Kiltaglassan on Thursday 26 March 20 11:51 GMT (UK)
I sent off the letter and forms for two ancestors back on 28th November past.

The application for my late uncle who was in the RAF in WW2 resulted in his service record and other details being received in the post on 27th December (less than a month).

However the service records for my late mother's first cousin who was in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, (application sent at the same time) is still awaited by post (nearly 4 months).

Note that the cheques for both applications were banked in early to mid December.

KG

Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Thursday 26 March 20 17:07 GMT (UK)
Sorry - I wasnít notified by email for these latest responses.

MaxD, you seem to be confirming what everybody else has says, that itís basically a lottery. I donít really mind, as long as thereís some information. I have seen other people asking to have parts decoded, and Iím sure I will be joining them in that ;D

Kiltaglassen, thatís very interesting. May I ask if the second service record contained more information? Could that have been why it took longer? Or purely a matter of administration?

Also, Iím somewhat worried. Iíve looked at the second form, and it automatically ticks ĎNormal demobilisation after 1939/45 Warí as the reason for the individual leaving the service. Iím not sure if this wouldíve been the reason, as I donít know the timeline exactly. My great-grandad was just short of 37 when the war started (although he was reportedly a fit man, playing amateur football locally), and I donít know exactly when he joined up. Given the fact he wouldíve been 42 on VE Day, I donít know if he wouldíve been discharged before then due to age.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MaxD on Thursday 26 March 20 17:48 GMT (UK)
I don't think that element of the form will make a difference if it isn't quite right.

One reason why the RAF and the army take differing times may well be a question of scale.  The RAF had 963000 at the end of the war, the Royal Artillery alone had over a million but the folks in Glasgow are dealing with the whole of the army numbering 3 million or so  - although they may have more people looking at service records, the numbers won't be on the same scales.

MaxD
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Thursday 26 March 20 18:30 GMT (UK)
That is a relief. It would be an awful shame otherwise.

And that makes a lot of sense. Especially when the details provided might be scarce. For example, I only know my great-grandadís full name and place of birth.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: Kiltaglassan on Thursday 26 March 20 18:51 GMT (UK)
Kiltaglassen, thatís very interesting. May I ask if the second service record contained more information? Could that have been why it took longer? Or purely a matter of administration?

MacGrigor  ;D
I haven't received the service record yet........4 months and counting!!

KG

Added: I just ticked a) Normal demob after 1939/45 war, on application form
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Thursday 26 March 20 19:04 GMT (UK)
Sorry, I misread! I thought you said itíd been received after 4 months. Hopefully it shouldnít be far away.

And was the normal demob option applicable to the record you did receive? Was he demobbed after the war?
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: Kiltaglassan on Thursday 26 March 20 19:39 GMT (UK)
And was the normal demob option applicable to the record you did receive? Was he demobbed after the war?

Yes, he was demobbed on 31st March 1946 to 'z' reserve.

KG

Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Thursday 26 March 20 19:42 GMT (UK)
Wow! Did you include many details while applying for his records?
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MaxD on Thursday 26 March 20 19:45 GMT (UK)
The time taken to photocopy a service record of say ten pages will not be much different to the time taken to copy one of 20 pages so it isn't the production of the copy record once the file is identified and processed that makes the difference.  We don't know how many staff members there are in the Army Personnel Centre Historical Disclosures section as compared to the RAF 3rd Party Disclosure Team for example or what their relative work loads and priorities are.  What I do know is that the APC for example deal also with welfare organisations who need records to support their work with living individuals, this work has a higher priority than family history as Graham Simons has mentioned.  The department also deals with parliamentary request for information, also a higher priority.

MaxD 

Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: Ruskie on Friday 27 March 20 12:15 GMT (UK)
If my memory serves me correctly, when filling out the form I think you have the option to include an extra piece of paper to further support your application? (but I may be wrong with that).

I know on my application form I wrote additional information and supplied additional documentation to give further proof. For example with your demobilization question you could write "unknown" or whatever else you think is appropriate.

Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Friday 27 March 20 12:40 GMT (UK)
That might be helpful! Iíll have to look at the forms again to see if itís mentioned.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Thursday 09 April 20 17:09 BST (UK)
Also, does return postage need to be included? I havenít seen any mention of it.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MaxD on Thursday 09 April 20 19:36 BST (UK)
No.  Be assured that if the government wanted you to pay for postage it would say so!

MaxD
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Thursday 09 April 20 19:39 BST (UK)
Thanks; I did wonder. Amazed theyíd send you it all without any additional costs, barring the administration fee of course.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: Ruskie on Friday 10 April 20 13:28 BST (UK)
There is no additional postage cost and that is the case no matter whereabouts in the world they are sending it.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Friday 10 April 20 13:38 BST (UK)
Extraordinary! I wonder if that will continue, what with the growth of family history in the past few years.
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Friday 24 April 20 14:48 BST (UK)
I may have encountered a problem.

The ancestor I sent off forms for wasnít in the Second World War, but was in the Army between the wars. I filled out the form saying his name and date of birth (all that I know), so that partís fine. The only reason for demobilisation was the pre-ticked discharge after 1939-45 war. Will there be problems with my application now, as he served after 1920 but wasnít in the Second World War?
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MaxD on Friday 24 April 20 17:13 BST (UK)
I doubt it unless there is someone with the same name, date of birth and death etc in WW2.  The files are not catalogued by date periods.  If the basic data you have provided is correct, they don't need any of the small additional pieces of info.

MaxD
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Friday 24 April 20 17:31 BST (UK)
Excellent, thatís put my mind at ease. Thanks MaxD!
Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: Kiltaglassan on Tuesday 08 September 20 16:25 BST (UK)

However the service records for my late mother's first cousin who was in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, (application sent at the same time) is still awaited by post (nearly 4 months).

KG

Just an update:

Still waiting on the service record for my late mother's first cousin who was in the Royal Regiment of Artillery - letter sent 28th November last year.

KG

Title: Re: Requesting military records times and results
Post by: MacGrigor on Tuesday 08 September 20 16:29 BST (UK)
Iím in the same boat. One of the two cheques was cashed back in June.