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Thread: Servicemen's wills

  1. #1
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    Default Servicemen's wills

    This is just a quick question.

    Was there a policy of requiring/encouraging WWII airmen to make wills in case they were killed, and if so how did this operate?

    Thanks

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    Natalie, Hi,
    You need to get hold of an early version of RAF Form 64 (Airman's Service Book). Being Form 64 indicates it was one of the earliest Forms the RAF invented!
    My copy (printed Oct/1953) does contain - on page 1 - a strong exhortation to make a Will. Moreover, on pages 8 & 9, there are detailed instructions on how to make a Will, complete with a Specimen Will.
    Now I don't know if the same things were in earlier print runs of Form 64 - I can only hazard a guess that they might have been. As the Form 64 Booklet is only 14 x 11 cm the print is very small! If you can't find anybody with a Form 64 from the period you are interested in then I can try copying mine and emailing as an attachment. Alternatively, that size of print will test the capabilities of my OCR program to the limits!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Natalie,
    Further to my last.
    My OCR program has worked. My version of RAF Form 64 has the Specimen Will dated as "5th November 1943" - so clearly within your time-scale. Moreover, para (v) of the Instructions specifically relates to an Airman "in contact with the enemy, etc".
    Is your advertised email address current? If so I can send you the Word doc as an Attachment (I'm not clever enough to be able to post it on this Forum!)
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Natalie,
    yes it was exactly as Peter wrote - in Airman's Service Book. Also I have seen quite often a separate will done by RCAF members after finishing training during the time marked as Embarkation leave, i. e. before being posted to overseas. Quite reasonable...

    Also there were few interesting problems in case of one Czech serving in the RCAF - he mentioned he has written a will and that it is at his lawyer who as Canadian citizen he mentioned as next of kin - his parents were in occupied Czechoslovakia. The will was not found as the lawyer stated it was only intention and it was never done. The final result was that the lawer get the money from the RCAF and parents get nothing although they tried to contact him (but he died in 1951) and the RCAF refused to change anything as according to their lawyers the act according to information provided in the RCAF Service Record.

    As I mentioned in my book "RCAF bylo jejich osudem" where is a story of this airmen, it was done correctly according to the law but unfortunately not humanly.


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

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    By a combination of RTFM/RTMI and pressing a few buttons at random I have got a copy of pages 8 & 9 of my RAF Form 64. I have also (ditto) managed to produce it below. I have not proof-read it but it looks fairly good to me!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies


    8
    INSTRUCTIONS AS TO WILLS.
    (See also para, 6 on page 1)
    (i) An airman wishing to make a Will should, wherever possible, obtain a copy of the form of Will R.A.F. Form 276. If it is not enclosed in the pocket at the end of this book, it may be obtained on application to his Commanding Officer. Attention is drawn to the notes on the back of the form.
    (ii) An airman, wishing to make a Will, who is unable for any reason to obtain Form 276, should take a sheet of paper, head it " Will " and begin " This is
    the last Will and Testament of " (giving his R.A.F. number
    rank, full names, unit and home address). If he wishes to revoke all previous Wills he should say so. He should then appoint one or more persons as his executors, choosing where possible someone who knows his affairs and who is unlikely to go overseas ; other airman in the same unit and such persons as the Air Officer i/c Records or the C.O. should NOT be appointed. He should continue by stating his wishes as clearly as possible : It is important that he should not only state the full names and addresses of the persons he desires to benefit, but also the sum of money or articles of property which he desires to leave to them. He should then date the Will at the foot and sign it in the presence of two witnesses who should be present together. Underneath the airman's signature the following words should
    then be written: "Signed by the above-named (here
    write in the full names of the airman making the Will) as his last Will and in the presence of us both, both being present at the same time, who in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses." The witnesses should then sign, giving their occupation and full address. A person to whom any money, property, etc., is left by the Will or the husband or wife of such a person must not be a witness. It is important that the witnesses should sign in the presence of the airman who is making the Will. The witnesses need not read or be aware of the contents of the Will.
    (Ui) The specimen Will on the opposite page may be adapted. Wherever practicable, a person with legal experience should be consulted. An airman should avoid legal words and technical terms (e.g. " heirs " and " issue ") unless he is absolutely certain of their meaning and effect.
    (iv) Experience has shown that the pocket of this book is not the safest place in which to keep a Will. An airman who is unable or does not wish to make his own arrangements for the safe custody of his Will may hand it to his C.O. to be forwarded to the Air Officer i/c Record Office or may forward it there himself direct. Wills should not be sent by the microgram or airgraph letter service.
    (v) An airman " in actual Military Service " (which means broadly that he must be attached to a unit which is in actual contact with the enemy or under orders to proceed to such a unit) may make a Will without witnesses provided the Will is in his own handwriting and is signed by him. Such a Will is liable to cause delay in the distribution of his estate, property and effects and to cause disputes and difficulties after his death. All airmen are, therefore, advised to make a Will in the presence of witnesses as directed in paragraph (ii) above, unless for some special reason (e.g. wounds) he thinks he will be unable before bis death to find two persons willing to witness his Will.

    SPECIMEN WILL.
    This is the last Will and Testament of 807354 A.C.2. THOMAS ARTHUR BROWN of 7578 Squadron and of 2003 High Street, Guildford, Surrey.
    I revoke all former Wills made by me.
    I appoint my wife Mary Brown of 2003 High Street, Guildford, Surrey, and my friend John Smith, 3005 King Street, London, S.W.53, executors of this my Will.
    I give the sum of 5 to my sister Sarah Brown of 4735 Queen Street, York.
    I give my silver wrist watch to my friend John Jones of 6854 Charles Street, Cardiff.
    I give all the rest and residue of my estate, property, and effects unto my wife Mary Brown absolutely.
    Dated 5th November, 1943.
    T. A. BROWN.
    Signed by the above-named Thomas Arthur Brown as his last Will in the presence of us both, both being present at the same time who in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses.
    Alfred Robinson,
    2033 Fulham Road, London, S.W. Bricklayer.
    Charles White,
    R.A.F., Halton.
    Corporal No. 4738580.
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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