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WW2 Service Numbers

WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
11:43:14 21 July 2001
Post:
Can anyone explain how the system of allocating service numbers worked in World War Two?

Were they in some kind of numerical order?

Can you tell from the number which year someone joined and where, etc?

For example: my late father, RAF W/O Kenneth Wilkinson,WOP/AG was 1078566.

Can anything be deduced simply from knowing that number?

ALSO......under "age and service group number" he is listed as number 37. That was NOT his age...so what does "37" mean in this context?

And where was N.W.26...I presume somewhere in the North West of England?


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Scott McIntosh (Guest)
Time Stamp:
12:27:55 21 July 2001
Post:
I only know how numbers were allocated in the army but this will be the same in all forces I would think.

and really it was first come first serve numbers ie.

if your number was 1 then the next to sign up would be 2 and so on.

I dont think you can tell ever what date a person joined just that you can retrieve his service record from the numbe and tell from the records what date he joined.

Others may want to post on this subject and explain a bit more



RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Chris_Pointon
Time Stamp:
15:28:51 21 July 2001
Post:
Scott - RAF Service Numbers were allocated in batches. No's 935000-1149977 were allocated from September 1939 to April 1940 to those who enlisted at Padgate or Cardington. I do not intend to list them as their are 100's of different batches which include Boy Entrants, Apprentices, Rhodesians, Maltese etc.

I am sorry that I cannot answer the rest of your questions

Chris


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
17:17:20 21 July 2001
Post:
So, presumably Padgate and Cardington had control of their allocated batches of numbers to ensure no-one else had the same number?

My father enlisted through Padgate, so, Chris, your info fits. I wonder if other men who enlisted the same day or week would have numbers virtually the same as my father's? Is this how the numbering system worked?

If numbers were handed out in batches, then presumably this does not mean my father was the 1,078,566th person to join up in the war? Perhaps at the end of the war, Padgate would have say 20,000 numbers it did not use...?

Sorry if this all sounds a bit daft and meaningless, but it would be an interesting idea if you could actually, for example, name the millionth person to be recruited - that sort of thing. Or, also identify groups of people who trained together from their corresponding numbers? Or is that too simplistic?

For instance, would the MoD - with the aid of computers - be able to identify groups of men by matching numbers to names? Such a system might help anyone organising re-unions and suchlike.

If I am writing total nonsense, will someone out there tell me! I am still on a learning curve.


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Chris_Pointon
Time Stamp:
00:15:31 22 July 2001
Post:
Keith - Yes, Padgate and Cardington had control over their own set of Service No's and if at the end of the allocation date there were numbers remaining they would be discarded. Your father was in fact the 143,566 person to enlist at the above centres from Sept 1939.

The Service No was stamped on the Attestation Form and it would not be possible for duplication. This was sent to the still 'secret' PMA Innsworth Gloucester where all the Service records for that person were were kept manually until computers arrived. The Service No is the key to their search facility to look for records which as you know only relatives can request.

Innsworth could run a very lucrative business in selling batches of names as they have the name of the person who was in the queue behind and after your father with a near identical No to match . However after Padgate they would have gone off to different places for training but you raise an interesting point about Reunions.

Unfortunately none of this will ever happen as even with more 'Freedom of Information' the MOD are never likely to agree to it. They have their reasons the main one being that they wish to keep confidentiality between them and the individual or relatives of those deceased. However charging those people %A325 to see possibly 4 documents is a disgrace and should be stopped.

I hope I have made things a bit clearer for you

Chris



RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Chris_Pointon
Time Stamp:
00:33:17 22 July 2001
Post:
Keith - For your interest their is a photo of the main gate at RAF Padgate on http://freepages.travel.rootsweb.com/%7Emapsnsuch/padgate.html

You are fortunate to see it as most RAF people do not wish to be reminded of these places

Chris


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
07:28:06 22 July 2001
Post:
Thanks, Chris - a superb set of answers.

So you were able to work out my father's position in the Cardington/Padgate batch by subtracting 935,000 from 1078566 - hence 143,566.

Can you tell me - what is the source for your batch numbers info?

Is it published?

Also, anyone out there who knows the answers to those other queries:

Where is N.W.26 (could that be Padgate?)

And what is Age and Service Group Number 37 (when it is not the age)?

Oh.....and what was a "Class A" type of release from the RAF?


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: John (Guest)
Time Stamp:
13:35:54 22 July 2001
Post:
My Father who enlisted early 1940 service number was 913xxx my own when I enlisted January 1943 was 123xxxx as people who had numbers higher than mine I have to presume from time to time they tried to complete blocks of numbers.

Incidently whilst in Palestine after the war running a ground defense course we had an elderly Flight Segt Carpenter Fitter

(note at that time anyone over 25 was considered elderly) his service number was 36 he had commenced his service in the Royal Engineer Balloon Squadrons thru' the RFC into the RAF

So I don't think any conclusion can be reached as to when a person served from his service number.


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Hugh A. Halliday (Guest)
Time Stamp:
13:40:00 22 July 2001
Post:
Chris Shores, having published a second (massive) edition of ACES HIGH, produced a slim Volume 2 (really a supplement) to said edition with further corrections, additions, etc. It includes a seven-page essay on RAF service numbers and those of a few related air forces.


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: John (Guest)
Time Stamp:
14:45:27 22 July 2001
Post:
Hugh

Where in Ottawa might one find this book "Aces High"?

many thanks,John


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
20:42:14 22 July 2001
Post:
Yes, I too would like to see this essay on service numbers.

Couldn't it be published on the internet?

**************

It seems to me that so many of us are carrying our research into family history/ world war two - yet even for the intelligent and the determined it's a bit of a nightmare. There are constant hurdles to overcome. It's a bit like the Grand National - only the lucky, the persistent and the down-right pushy get to the finish line.

So why can't someone in officialdom make all this simpler?

We constantly hear: We Shall Remember Them...Lest We Forget, etc.

So why is it so damned hard for those of us who actually care enough to want to find out what out fathers and their pals went through!

Anyone want to add to this thread of discussion....


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Hugh A. Halliday (Guest)
Time Stamp:
01:27:05 24 July 2001
Post:
Virus seems to have been vetted - back to business.

John - I do not think ACES HIGH readilly available in Ottawa; try AVIATION WORLD which is located near Pearson International.

Keith - I research were easy, somebody would have done it all for you already - and what fun would we have then ?

Hughhall.A T.attcanada.ca


RE: WW2 Service Numbers
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
09:48:52 24 July 2001
Post:
Thanks for that comment Hugh.

You are right of course. The research is fun. It is a bit like putting together a huge puzzle. And I have had a heck of a lot of help along the way from a lot of well-meaning people, so I should not moan! But I just thought that in the age of computerised information gathering, there must be an easier way of doing things....

Incidentally to get back to where we started and SERVICE NUMBERS.

I have just had an interesting e-mail from Australia (thanks Jack!)about the RAAF system of numbering.

Apparently, the first two numbers were the year of enlisting...eg 44. The third number was the month....and then the sequence of enlistments that month. Seems quite logical. So, in the case of RAAF, you can tell a lot just from knowing a number.

geeza.wilko.A T.btinternet.com