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Thread: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Lyffe, I think that's a very valuable suggestion.

    A number of queries recently, while made with sincere intent, would have been much easier to look into and without re-doing stuff already checked, had the OP given some brief summary of background, sources, and those checked without result.

    Much like answers that go simply "I have [insert brief text, no source]..."


    Anyway, Ian, best wishes with unravelling this one, when faced with scant beginnings
    Last edited by Don Clark; 5th January 2021 at 22:54.
    Toujours propos

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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Simon,

    Thanks. I hadn't spotted this marriage, which seems an interesting possibility. I've ordered the certificate and it will be interesting to see what the groom's details are including profession, age and residence. Given that there are no Andrew Halcros listed as being born in Scotland at all, and the only one in England and Wales prior to the marriage date is 1829 putting him around 131 when he was married, clearly there is something odd going on. I can only assume that he was in fact born outside the UK. I note the bride was born in South Ronaldsay in 1933 which ties-in with a marriage there in 1950. It would seem that she was 17 or 18 when she married, to a man presumably much older than her (assuming this is the correct chap).

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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Don/Lyffe,

    Thanks very much for your posts and your helpful comments, which are much appreciated. I know how frustrating it can be trying to answer a query when the person seeking the information has not provided the background, although in this case it is unlikely to be of much if any help, although I appreciate it can nonetheless be useful to know the source . There is an unpublished account of radar in Orkney of which I have a copy which is based partly on I think a conversation or correspondence the author had with a Leonard Chapman. He was supposedly a Corporal in charge of Netherbutton Chain Home radar station in May 1939. I now have Chapman's service record, as well as a copy of what I believe is his CV produced just before his retirement from the RAF in 1965 as a Squadron Leader to assist with securing civilian employment. I had some suspicions about Chapman's account prior to receiving his service record and now that I have this document I can confirm that he has exaggerated his role throughout his RAF service. He claimed to have been in charge of setting up five radar stations between 1938 and 1940. He was involved in this, but not in charge (these stations were under the command of a Flight Sergeant initially, not a Corporal) and was involved in their operation and maintenance, not the construction and installation.

    Part of the unpublished account mentions that he was later joined by Andrew Halcro as a radar operator. He was supposedly from Shetland and had been a wireless operator in the merchant navy. That's all that is said about him. I suspect it is correct that he worked at Netherbutton, but the other details may well be incorrect, which is why I hadn't mentioned them. The fact that no-one with this name is showing up in the RAF records make me wonder if perhaps there is more to it and he remained a civilian, which is not beyond the realms of possibility. I have ordered a copy of what I hope is his marriage certificate which, with a lot of luck, might provide some answers. I had hoped finding more out about him would help with my research into Leonard Chapman, but it looks like Andrew Halcro is even harder to pin down!

    As regards F/Sgt Nicholl, this name comes from a letter written by him in a file about Netherbutton at Kew. It is dated November 1939, so he was definitely there at that date, but I'm hoping to confirm my theory that he was in fact there from June 1939 and was the first NCO i/c Netherbutton as would be the norm, rather than Corporal Chapman, confirming that he had again exaggerated his role. Unfortunately, F/Sgt Nicholl doesn't give his first names, making tracing the specific individual difficult although it is at least an unusual spelling of the surname and not Nichol or Nicholls.

    I hope this helps and perhaps focusing on F/Sgt Nicholl would now be more worthwhile, at least until I receive Andrew Halcro's marriage certificate and see if this appears to be the correct man. Certainly, if it's possible to identify F/Sgt Nicholl and obtain his service record, this would be tremendously helpful to my research.

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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Ian,
    Many thanks, your account is very interesting just as is. Very clear, and plenty of uncertainty there, unfortunately.

    The difficulties of access to collections in the UK & Scotland right now, and from Peebles, may mean "note pending access" is all you can do, unless digital sets exist...

    Besides, you've been researching radar esp war-time radar & men for so long, what follows may hardly be new to you but just in case, read on.


    Halcro:
    Seems to me, given the fuzzy source is as likely as not fuzzy in spelling, that both Halcro and Halcrow need checking to exclude one or the other.

    Firstly, if there is a Shetland connection, you'd think he might appear in eg The Shetland Times in some pre-war issue.
    Copies held in National Library Scotland according to the Catalogue, but seemingly not digitised in eResources.
    Ordinarily, you'd think to try a pre-war telephone directory for example - couldn't spot that at NLS, but that may just be unfamiliarity - it'd be quite small, eh, c1938/39!
    On the other hand, it may just be the sort of thing held by Shetland Museum and Archives
    The Archives page lists some other possibly interesting collections incl Church registers (birth record?). Closed for the duration, sadly.

    However, BT Phone Directory search gives a fair hint.
    Today, in the Shetland Isles, there are 25 Halcrow entries.
    And Halcro? Not a one, Ian.

    It might almost be worth giving some of the Halcrows a ring*
    "Does anyone know of an Andrew who was in the Merchant Service and in Radar in the war" -
    though the Islanders may not be so keen on that as word gets about.
    A letter along those lines to The Shetland Times may fare better.

    Next, the Merchant Navy Wireless Operator connection.
    There are pre-war rolls & registers of UK Merchant Service men: might be possible to find the right man & spelling that way.
    Some held at TNA, others at Find My Past if you've access there, as the TNA Merchant Seamen Serving Since 1918 Guide explains.

    Finally, Nicholl:
    Plainly the right sp but not so as to be optimistic, I feel.
    Though you may already have looked, in AIR 78/118 there are 19 sheets of Nicholl, from image 120 to 138 incl.

    Good luck with both - that's a very unpromising source as your starting place, as you've made very plain.
    Stay well in Peebles.

    *A PS on cold calls
    Some years ago I was trying to trace a particular ex-211 Sqn man in New Zealand.
    His name was distinctive and there were if I remember right just five listed in both Islands.
    Now Kiwis have their own way of looking at things.
    I'm not making fun of them when I say, no less than three of them declared, with utter certainty, that they indeed were the only (insert name here) in the whole country!

    I forget now how I made contact with the right family, not by phone, but when I did, the story that resulted was well worth it.
    Cheers for now.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 6th January 2021 at 07:43.
    Toujours propos

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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Given the mention of service in the Merchant Navy

    A search of the Central Index Register (aka Fourth Register of Seamen), 1918-1941 on Find my Past shows there was

    Andrew John Halcrow b1897 Shetland

    Ancestry has him as born 19/07/1897 born Noness, Shetland and also serving in the Royal Navy Reserve with a service number of L1228
    His RNR record is here

    https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/D8535934

    The fourth register also has an Andrew Fraser Halcrow b 1911 in Portsmouth

    I hope this helps more than hinders

    Chris

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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Ian,

    Given what seems to be an Orcadian connection in respect of Halcrow I suggest you place a letter in the local newspaper, the Orcadian, asking if any of the current Halcrows are related to your man. The paper has an online edition (https://www.orcadian.co.uk/) or, alternatively, use the contact form at https://www.orcadian.co.uk/contact-us/. About 15 years ago I was researching the daily Hatson/Twatt met sortie flown by the Swordfish of 771 Squadron, and placed a letter in the paper asking if anyone could help. Much to my great surprise I received about five replies from men who had actually flown on some of the sorties - admittedly mostly under the title as "flight experience' but including one pilot.

    Brian

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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Just on the off-chance I tried Googling RAF radar halcrow, and this popped up in case you hadn't seen it Ian (and for the benefit of the others reading the thread if you had seen it before):

    http://ahistoryofrafsaxavord.blogspo...-sites-in.html

    'The late Andrew Halcrow from Walls in Shetland was recruited by MI5 at the beginning of WWII to join a small unit initially called the Radio Security Service.'

    Wonder if he's related to the round the world yachtsman Andrew Halcrow who's also from Shetland...?

    Regards

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Ian Brown (7th January 2021)

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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Further to Simon's post try Googling 'Andrew Halcrow Walls Shetland'. There are a couple of hits for a latter day Andrew Halcrow which might provide a link with a bit of work. Unfortunately the Scottish version of the 1939 Register (the National Identity Register) is unavailable online but you can obtain a version - see https://www.rootschat.com/forum/inde...topic=793650.0 for advice.

    Alternatively the Shetland Archives might be able to help.

    Edit. Obviously my #16 is now superfluous, but you could try Shetland newspapers instead - the Shetland Times (https://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/) or Shetland News (https://www.shetnews.co.uk/category/news/)

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 6th January 2021 at 13:40.

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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Thanks everyone for your posts. This has been incredibly helpful. Simon has, however, been the one to solve the puzzle, and thanks for this. Although I've referred to that website quite a lot, I hadn't spotted the mention of Andrew Halcrow and one of the associated images notes that he also worked at Netherbutton, so this is definitely our man. From the LG and his award of the Imperial Service Medal I've been able to get his full name of Andrew Fraser Halcrow. Scotland's People produced a marriage in 1945 (definitely the right guy as his occupation is listed as Radio Operator) but this gives his mother's maiden name as Williamson. No birth entry could be found, but that's because as Don previously noted, he was born in Portsmouth in 1911. A Shetland family, but not born there! Thanks everyone for your help and apologies for the false leads but, as usual, with your help we've gotten there in the end.

    Do we know if Andrew Fraser Halcrow served in the RAF and hence has a service number? It seems possible he may have remained a civilian working for the Air Ministry, but it would be wonderful if he does have a service number and a service record can thus be obtained.

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    Default Re: Seeking information on F/Sgt Nicholl and Andrew Halcro

    Andrew Fraser Halcrow is not shown in AIR 78/68/1 (Halcrows are p209 onwards)
    See https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ls/r/C15624169

    You may not know that AIR 78 is very easily accessed, here, both from the Home page
    and by this simple listing with live links to the TNA pages & preview images:
    http://www.rafcommands.com/air78/

    From recent work, incl that of Resmoroh, it's known (as noted at TNA) that the AIR 78 Index of airmen etc is itself imperfect:
    occasional cases of missing or out of order slips/sheets and occasional spelling errors. Like every other record made by mortal man - "E&OE".

    Me go now.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 7th January 2021 at 10:48.
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