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Thread: Trying - and failing! - to decipher WW2 London Gazette entries

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    Default Trying - and failing! - to decipher WW2 London Gazette entries

    Hi all,
    I'm trying to find out some more information about a chap called John Sutcliffe, who was a Navigator during WW2 and definitely held the rank of Squadron Leader (posted at the no. 21 Embarkation Unit in Hull) in 1946. I have also been told that he received the DFC (possibly with bar/s) for his service during the war.

    I only have this little information to go on but I have found three entries with Service Numbers in the London Gazette, and I am wondering whether this could be the right John Sutcliffe. Any help with this would be so much appreciated!

    The entries are as follows:

    1588372 (154498) John Peter Sutcliffe, Appt to Commission, General Duties Branch. Flg sgt. -RAFVR, 26th Nov 1943.

    J.P. Sutcliffe (154498) RAFVR. General Duties Branch to Flg. Off. 26th May 1944.

    J.P. Sutcliffe (154498) Flg. Off to Flg. Lt. (War Subs), 26th Nov, 1945.

    I understand that the first service number given correlates to registration/recruitment at Weston-Super-Mare in 1941, but my questions are:

    1) What is the second service number given? Is this an officer number? Is this man a commissioned officer?
    2) Could this man have been awarded a DFC, or would it more likely have been a DFM?
    3) Could this man have been appointed as a Squadron Leader by 1946? His promotions seem to have been heading that way but would being Flg. Lt. (War Subs) in 1945 have allowed him to fill that role the following year?
    4) Could this mystery man be my John Sutcliffe?!?

    Sorry for all the questions but this has got me really stumped. I would be so grateful if anyone out there could enlighten me on any of this.

    Thanks!
    Callymally

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    Hi Callymally,

    1) What is the second service number given? Is this an officer number? Is this man a commissioned officer?
    Yes it is his Officer service number. Yes, when his rank is P/O and higher he was commissioned.

    2) Could this man have been awarded a DFC, or would it more likely have been a DFM?
    If yes it should be also recorded in the LG - if not I do not think he got any of those.

    3) Could this man have been appointed as a Squadron Leader by 1946? His promotions seem to have been heading that way but would being Flg. Lt. (War Subs) in 1945 have allowed him to fill that role the following year?
    Well his S/Ldr ranks can be connected with his actual posting at the moment and than he should returned do F/Lt when left this post.

    4) Could this mystery man be my John Sutcliffe?!?
    I am not able to answer your question as I do not know what you have found in LG and what you have as an input data. The best way is to compare service numer if you have it as it was unique.

    HTH

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    here goes my lunch break :-)

    1) The RAF issued a new serial number to an airmen when he was commishioned, so yes this is a new Officers number, 154498.

    2) Sutcliffe 154498 could indeed have been awared a DFC, prior to that as Sutcliffe 1588372 he would have been entitled to the DFM that might be an over simplification now. if Sutcliffe were a Warrent Officer rank he could also have had a DFC with S/N 1588372.
    3) He might have been an (Acting) Sqn Ldr, a temporary rank that would not appear in the London Gazette. But as the ranks sometimes increase by the year, he could well have been a S/Ldr - I'll let the experts comment more on this.
    4) Could this mystery man be your John Sutcliffe?!? - On archive.org they have up to 1945 RAF officer lists, so this will tell us how many Sutcliffe officers there were at some later point in 1945.


    Where are you getting the mention of a posting as a Sqn Ldr in 1946? is it from his service record or from a unit diary?

    I've been having trouble getting the LG website to work for me this week
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    No man by the name of J.P. SUTCLIFFE won a DFC (or indeed a DFM) during WW2.

    Jim

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    Hi everyone,
    Thank you so much for these replies. The mists are starting to clear at last!

    Great to know the second number is an officer number. I suspected as much but needed to confirm as my knowledge on this subject is so shaky.

    On the point of the DFC, I have not been able to find any reference in the Gazette of a DFC nor a DFM ever being issued to this individual. When I plugged in the Service Number I only got back the information as seen here. I was only told that the John I'm looking for had been awarded a DFC with a bar, but if that was the case I would've expected to find something about it somewhere. I did read though (I think it was on the London Gazette website itself), that not every individual who was "Gazetted" was actually mentioned in the Gazette. I also read that the DFC was the most awarded medal of the war. Is it possible that all 20,000 recipients were mentioned in the LG? If not, I wonder if for these reasons, John's medal (if he indeed had one) just isn't noted.

    Many thanks for confirming that this chap could've been a Squadron Leader. After several years of searching he is so far the only John Sutcliffe I've been able to find who meets this potential at the right time, although of course there could be others. I'm just trying to narrow down my search. This is very helpful information.

    Dennis - I know that John was a Sqn Ldr in 1946 simply because he was my grandfather. Sadly I never knew him and have no other record of him other than the few pieces of information my grandma relinquished to me, which is very, very little - his name and that's almost all. I would just desperately like to know something more about him so that I can piece together something of his life. I knew my grandma worked with him in Hull in 1946 (she herself was a WAAF officer) and that he was her commanding officer, which is why I traced the records for that unit. I had hoped it would have given a service number, but it didn't, which is why I turned to the LG.

    In an ideal world I would apply to the RAF for his Service Record, but with no Death Certificate and no way of even proving that we're related, this is a vain hope :(.

    Anyway, thank you so much for the tip on archive.org. Perhaps it will yield something, who knows?
    And thanks also for sacrificing your lunch break - A noble gesture indeed :).
    Callymally

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    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for confirming this. Do you know if there were any J. Sutcliffes at all who won a DFC/DFM? It would be good to be able to eliminate this fact from my collected information if needs be.

    Many thanks

    Cally
    Last edited by Callymally; 10th January 2013 at 16:29.

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    Is his name not correctly entered on your mum or dads birth cert?

    What occupation is listed on that document.

    The only Sutcliffe with a DFC I can see in the July 1945 Air force lists was

    http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/34852/pages/2966

    Air Ministry,
    ijth May, 1940.
    ROYAL AIR FORCE.
    The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the undermentioned awards:— Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Squadron Leader Walter Philip SUTCLIFFE (26247).

    But he was S/Ldr way back in 1940, by 1946 he was a Wing Commander or greater
    Last edited by dennis_burke; 10th January 2013 at 14:40.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Hi Dennis,

    Sadly no, as on the certificate "Father's name" is blank. John and my grandma parted company at Hull. All I have is a letter dated 1947 from him to my grandma after my mum was born saying, amongst other things, that he didn't like the name she had chosen for their baby. That, and another letter from 1981 from my grandma to my mum giving a few more details such as what he looked like and where he came from, and information such as his rank (Sqn Ldr), which I have since confirmed with some documentation from Kew. The subject has always been very taboo in the family.

    This must all sound very strange, but I'm sure the story is not unique as there must have been many hundreds of war-babies at that time. For whatever reason John and my grandmother chose to part ways I respect their decision. I would just like to learn something more about him if possible and piece together something of the man he was. It seems like a near impossible task though.

    Kind regards,
    Cally
    Last edited by Callymally; 10th January 2013 at 16:28.

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    Yes, W.P. Sutcliffe pops up a lot on my searches. Definitely not the right chap though. I think perhaps, like Jim suggests, maybe a DFC was never awarded.
    Cally
    Last edited by Callymally; 10th January 2013 at 16:28.

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    Dennis, Do you know where I should look on archives.org for the RAF officer lists? I went to the site but didn't get very far...
    Cally
    Last edited by Callymally; 10th January 2013 at 16:27.

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