Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Thread: Corporal Albert French,Burma

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Posts
    6
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 2 Posts

    Default Corporal Albert French,Burma

    Hi all,
    I am looking for information on Corporal Albert French, RAFVR, 1549573,died 08/03/1943 and on the Singapore memorial, the sole RAF casualty listed that day.
    Vague family history (not mine) relates that he was lost over Burma, presumably as aircrew, squadron not known.
    I have searched through many relevant squadrons in AIR27,and through this site.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Regards
    Eric

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Suffolk, England
    Posts
    54
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    Eric,

    I suspect there is not an 'easy to find answer' on this one. Cpl French is unlikely to be aircrew; by 1943 all aircrew were at least sergeant in rank.

    If I was you I would apply for a copy of his record of service, via the www.gov.uk website. The MOD have a section on applying for service records of deceased service personnel. It will cost you Ł30 and takes about a month, maybe a bit more. That should give you his unit when he died, and the rest of his service record for that matter. You can then check the records for the relevant squadron or unit.

    Good luck!

    Geoff

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    340
    Thanks
    28
    Thanked 54 Times in 50 Posts

    Default

    At his Air of Authority site, Malcolm Barrass has created a pretty comprehensive set of RAF Casualties rolls in the members area.

    Perhaps, Malcolm, you won't mind me quoting an extract from the 8 March 1943 entries, which at least give Cpl French's Unit:

    "He was serving with No 4 WOU at the time of his death, the cause of which has not yet been ascertained."
    Source: www.rafweb.org (Members area/Casualties Index 1940 - 1949/Casualties - 6 - 9 March 1943)

    Limited information to hand about 4 WOU:
    In Sturtivant RAF Flying Training and Support Units Since 1912 WOU is given as Wireless Operating Unit, with no entry for 4 WOU I could see.

    However, TNA Discovery Catalogue has an Operations Record Book entry for

    AIR 29/158/4 4 Wireless Observer Unit. Based in India Date: 1942 Apr-1943 Sept
    https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C7159630

    The death (and circumstances) of Cpl French should be recorded there.

    Although ORB detail can be very variable, it would be unusual for a death to be omitted - unless he was detached elsewhere for some time (only his RAF Record of Service, as noted by Geoff's post, would record that).

    As an AIR 29 file, it's not digitised. If you cannot get to Kew there are researchers who will take digital images for you.
    For example Lee Richards service at @RCRE https://www.arcre.com/ . In my experience, prompt, modestly priced (compared with TNA) and a good chap.

    There are other such services. It might be wise to look at the ORB for the whole of March - discuss with the researcher, but odds are that 4 WOU's ORB is unlikely to be very voluminous.

    Good luck

    Don Clark
    www.211squadron.org
    Last edited by Don Clark; 18th February 2020 at 12:06.
    Toujours ŕ propos

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Posts
    6
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    Thanks Geoff, Don, for your informative replies,I have subscribed to the rafweb site, now have something to work with and will post results here when and if I find them.

    Regards
    Eric

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Suffolk, England
    Posts
    54
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    Eric,

    Looks like there might be an interesting story if you can get to it. On the face of it it's difficult to see why someone serving, apparently in India with 4 WOU, would be listed on the Singapore Memorial. Saying that, I have found a case of a Wellington crew who were killed in India and buried where they crashed, but their graves were subsequently lost and they are listed on the Singapore Memorial.

    Another tantalising possibility is that he was involved as an RAF radio operator in the 1st Chindit operation, which took place February - April 1943.

    I'll be keen to hear what you find.

    Geoff

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Posts
    6
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    Geoff,
    The Chindit operation would fit the time frame ,and could account for his being on the Singapore memorial. I am looking at that possibility here:
    [FONT=Verdana,Arial,Tahoma,Calibri,Geneva,sans-serif]https://www.chinditslongcloth1943.com/roll-of-honour.html

    The first Arakan campaign also took place around then, ending May 1943.

    Thanks to Dons post I have looked up WOU in India and have found reference to one in the book " The Burma Air Campaign" by Michael Pearson, page 72 relates the experiences of
    a Flight Sergeant Wireless Operator posted to Ramu late 1942.
    In this he describes how his job was to "keeping contact...with about fourteen Wireless Observer Units...sent out to a map location in front of our troops...
    We frequently lost contact with WOU ...never to be heard of again....probably overrun by the Japs. "

    A chilling account.

    Also this from the Burma Star Association site :

    [FONT=Verdana,Arial,Tahoma,Calibri,Geneva,sans-serif]https://www.burmastar.org.uk/stories/wireless-observer-units/[/FONT]

    I am waiting now to hear from the National Archives.

    Eric
    [/FONT]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Posts
    6
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 2 Posts

    Default Re: Corporal Albert French,Burma

    Hi all,

    I have obtained copies of 4WOU operations record from 1/2/43 to 22/3/43.
    Corporal French died on the 8/3/43.
    4WOU HQ at this time was at Maungdaw, Burma with several outposts, from the records …Point of track Taung Bazar – Kyauktaw.

    Neither his name. nor any of the missing, appear in the summary of events, but the dates do match up to what I am looking for.
    The below entries from the records paint a picture of events as they unfold, I have tried to keep these to a minimum.

    28/2/43 P/O Scotter reports insecurity post 211 (Kyauktaw) as large force of Japanese north and across Kaladan river…. military strength at Apaukwa sufficient to deal with situation.

    3/3/43 Conference…Emergency situation where enemy threatens unit outpost Nos 212 to 215 on the Kaladan River and outpost 210,211 at Kangauk and Kyauktaw.

    Impracticality of dropping supplies of HT batteries to isolated Kaladan River
    Outposts.

    5/3 9.40 Proposed withdrawal units AOP 212-215 in view of

    1. threat of enemy attack
    2. impracticality of approach during monsoon period



    1. Post 211 signals closing down enemy 400 yards away. Passed to Indian

    14th Division.

    6/3 OC 23 HWU signals agreement withdrawal AOP 212-215 inclusive.

    8/3 P/O Scotter to 14Div HQ seek information posts 210 and 211.
    Both subject to enemy attack..

    9/3/ …possibility of withdrawal 210 and 211 under military guidance…informed already on way
    Back.
    10/3 Situation of personnel posts 210 and 211 more hopeful: parties seen from the air and supplies
    dropped.

    11/3 Corporal Folwell recently returned Kyauktaw reported to 14th Div… re his experiences.

    A/C Doherty from post 211 arrived in stockinged feet no shirt scratched head to foot. Had marched from Apaukwa almost all the way on foot, reported all equipment destroyed before evac…Apaukwa 8/3
    9 personnel of post 210 arrived in similar condition to Doherty.

    12/3 …HQ moved Maungdaw to Dohazri.

    18/3 Air Liason Officer. .. reports little hope return of 4 missing personnel of this unit from post
    211 ( Kyauktaw).
    Casualty signals originated.

    Research into the record continues.

    Regards
    Eric

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Delaware, USA
    Posts
    1,408
    Thanks
    613
    Thanked 143 Times in 106 Posts

    Default Re: Corporal Albert French,Burma

    Thanks for your research on this, I will use that to update the 'cause of death' for him in our own DB. http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...php?qnum=73443

    I note that he has a BEM to his credit - perhaps finding the paper trail for the BEM may shed more light.
    1943-07-23 BEM(M) LAC Albert FRENCH (1197934)
    (
    Ignore - thanks for pointing out the service number mismatch. i have to figure out why this award is coming up in this page)

    18/3 Air Liason Officer. .. reports little hope return of 4 missing personnel of this unit from post 211 ( Kyauktaw).

    I have five missing airmen commemorated on the Singapore memorial with no circumstances - it is possible all of them are related to this?

    Aircraftman 1st Class David ROSS (1305204) RAF 1943-03-06 Singapore Singapore MemorialRef : Column 428.
    Corporal Albert FRENCH (1549573) RAF 1943-03-08 Singapore Singapore MemorialRef : Column 426. (4 WOU - as per Malcolm's RAFWEB)
    Aircraftman 1st Class Raymond Donald Birt CLARK (1400968) RAF 1943-03-09 Singapore Singapore MemorialRef : Column 428. (4 WOU - as per Malcolm's RAFWEB)
    Aircraftman 1st Class Ernest DALTON (1549574) RAF 1943-03-09 Singapore Singapore MemorialRef : Column 428. (4 WOU - as per Malcolm's RAFWEB)
    Aircraftman 2nd Class William Arthur REYNOLDS (1234773) RAF 1943-03-09 Singapore Singapore MemorialRef : Column 430. (5 WOU - as per Malcolm's RAFWEB - Typo?)

    Edit: Thats four more accounted for!
    Last edited by Jagan; 21st December 2020 at 22:14.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Posts
    6
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 2 Posts

    Default Re: Corporal Albert French,Burma

    Aircraftman 2nd Class William Arthur REYNOLDS (1234773) RAF 1943-03-09 Singapore Singapore MemorialRef : Column 430. (5 WOU - as per Malcolm's RAFWEB - Typo?)

    [COLOR=#333333]No4 WOU record indicates No5 WOU also at Kyauktaw.

    [/COLOR]LAC Albert FRENCH (1197934)
    Corporal Albert FRENCH (1549573)


    I have five missing airmen commemorated on the Singapore memorial with no circumstances - it is possible all of them are related to this?

    Thanks for this information, good to think he did not die alone.

    [COLOR=#333333]It seems likely all are related to this, but why three different dates of death, unless there is more information regarding individual fates of these men yet to be found.

    Regards
    Eric

    [/COLOR]


  10. The Following User Says Thank You to Eric2480 For This Useful Post:

    Jagan (21st December 2020)

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    7,171
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 165 Times in 155 Posts

    Default Re: Corporal Albert French,Burma

    Jagan,

    Re Post #8: Aircraftman 1st Class David ROSS (1305204) RAF 1943-03-06 Singapore Singapore Memorial Ref: Column 428.

    I have 1305204 AC1 D. P. ROSS, on a SEAC MISSING - AREA UNKNOWN Listing of 14/03/1946, as follows:

    Number: 1305204
    Rank: AC1
    Name: D. P. ROSS
    Unit: 306 AMES
    Last Reported Position: Unknown
    Remarks: Nil,

    So most likely, no connection with 4 W.O.U. losses.

    I have the following casualties for 4 W.O.U., on a Nominal Roll of Missing Royal Air Force personnel - Ground Battle Casualties, BURMA (several errors, in a poorly typed up listing):

    NUMBER/RANK/NAME/UNIT/LAST REPORTED POSITION/REMARKS.

    1400968/AC1/CLARK, R.D./4 W.O.U./Apaukwa [sic]* Area/Cut off by enemy infiltration 9/3/43.
    1549574/AC1/DALTON, A./4 W.O.U./Apaukwa Area/Cut off by enemy infiltration 9/3/43.
    1549573/Cpl/FRENCH, A./4 W.O.U./Apaukwa Area/Cut off by enemy infiltration 8/3/43.
    1234773/AC2/REYNOLDS,W.H./4 W.O.U/Apaukwa Area/Cut off by enemy infiltration 9/3/43.

    Obviously "Kyaukme".

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 22nd December 2020 at 04:44.

  12. The Following User Says Thank You to COL BRUGGY For This Useful Post:

    Jagan (22nd December 2020)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •