Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13

Thread: Understanding RAF Service Numbers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire
    Posts
    296
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Understanding RAF Service Numbers

    Hi

    Can anyone tell me if the pilots RAF service numbers from 1940 onwards have a logic to them.
    Did pilots get given their number on gaining their wings at an SFTSs?
    If so did each SFTS have a number prefix eg 11XXXXX ?

    For example... The pilots (a mixture of Army transferees, Free French, and LACs) gaining their Wing on Course 65 No.5 SFTS course at Ternhill in 1941 start at 112001 and are almost in alphabetically order.
    I assume some either failed passed a few days later or went on to Canada for further training.

    The reason I ask is that I have a number for a Elias Alexander Phillips (112015) who is not on the Course list but may have joined a few days later from another course. He became a Pilot Officer (Obs.) and was killed flying with149 Sqdn on 08/06/1942.

    Cheers Motherbird

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,536
    Thanks
    3
    Thanked 11 Times in 11 Posts

    Default

    Motherbird, Hi,
    Yr man Phillips Enlisted some time in (or after) Apr 1940 at Cardington. He was given the Enlisted (i.e. non-Commissioned) number of 1180024. This would have been allocated from a block of numbers given to each Recruit Centre on Attestation - the formal swearing-in to "serve faithfully . . . . ", etc, regardless of where he was going to serve. The same number would (probably) have been stamped on the handles of his KFS (Knife, Fork, and Spoon) - probably by the same machine that stamped mine a decade, or so, later (if the look of that machine was anything to go by!).
    Yr man would then go and do his Square Bashing (basic training - marching, saluting, weapon training, etc, etc,). He would pass out from this as an AC2. Yr man was recommended for Pilot Training, so he goes through all that and - if he passes (gets his 'Wings') - he would (probably) become a Sgt Pilot, using the same Enlisted number he was given at the start.
    However, if yr man was smart and/or a good pilot (as an LAC u/t pilot with the Enlisted Svc No). "They" decide he's good enough to be Commissioned. He sits a Commissioning Board - and passes. On Commissioning he gets a new (Officer's) Svc No - in yr man's case he became Pilot Officer Phillips (112015, RAFVR, GD Branch). All sorts of (non-flying) others may well have been Commissioned at the same time. It was rather like a sausage factory!!
    Malcolm (on rafweb) is the expert, but if he's found the secret of the rationale of the allocation of RAF Commissioned Numbers then he's keeping it a closely guarded secret!!!
    Some time (much) later you got one RAF number, and kept it (apart from the addition of the computer check letter at the end) whether you were Enlisted, or Enlisted and then Commissioned.
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Hornsea, East Yorkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,789
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 23 Times in 22 Posts

    Default

    Hi Peter

    I'm afraid when it comes to service numbers, I don't know anything about their allocation, it's an area I have not studied.

    Malcolm

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Kenya
    Posts
    710
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default

    As has already been pointed out, your chap would have got his OR's service number when he first walked through the door of his Recruit Centre. It had nothing to do with SFTS, however I would expect a number of trainees having similar service numbers, to pass through the system at about the same time. Natural selection, and luck, whittled them down as they continued on through to joining their first unit.
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire UK
    Posts
    673
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    My Australian father, who enlisted in the RAAF in May 1942, received the service number of a man who had enlisted in the 18th AFA Brigade in March 1931 & had been discharged in July 1931.

    Anne

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Posts
    1,012
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts

    Default

    Anne,
    Service numbers were only meant to be used within the service that allocated them, thus an Australian Army number would mean nothing to the RAAF. Service Numbers can only cause confusion when an individual from one service is on attachment to another service, and particularly in the case of the EATS (BCATP) during WW2 when the RAF was in charge of administration of attached members of the RAAF, RCAF, RNZAF, etc. This meant that the RAF units in which they served had to compile all the unit PORs, ORBs, etc, of all the members of the unit, and the Air Ministry would have to produce consolidated casualty lists and the like (routine embarkation lists and so forth). This is why in mid 1940 or thereabouts that the various British Dominions decided to add national prefixes to the service numbers of the members of their respective air forces so that these individuals stood out in all RAF lists of personnel occurrences and could then be extracted again by the respective national HQs in London for onwards transmission to the homeland and could be incorporated in their personal files. Interestingly the Air Ministry also maintained duplicate files for all EATS graduates serving under RAF command, although so files were also maintained in the homelands of these individuals. Probably every military force in the world has used exactly the same numbers as every other force, and so long as the records of any individual in any armed force is not mixed up with the records of another armed force, there is normally no reason for this practice to cause any confusion. That is why deliberately deleting the national prefixes from service numbers of WW2 personnel (as is done by the CWGC) is so dangerous, so it as well to understand that the "nationality" detail included in individual records generated by this organization is actually the nationality of the Service, and NOT the individual (although they are usually the same).
    David D

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    RAF Honington
    Posts
    478
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default RAF Numbers

    Strangely enough the system is computerised today and though some of the numbers run concurrent they are arent in a block... I think the RAF computer looks at both Halton & Honington and then just allocates. Not sure how the Army/Navy systems work but they are on the same computer system so maybe it looks at them too when allocating. Nowadays they dont get allocated a new number, as sometimes seemed to be the case in WW2, when they get commissioned they keep the same number. The system before that was a letter followed by a number for none commissioned and a number followed by a letter. Again I have no idea how they allocated them although my number was partly the same as my fellow trainees but there was a wide difference of numbers....
    Curiouser and curiouser....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire UK
    Posts
    673
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    David
    My RAAF father's number was 422612 without the A for Australia. I have noticed that some other RAAF men have an A & 4 at the beginning of their number & others don't have the A & just have a number beginning with 4 . My father was F/O T R Millar & his 2 files have been digitalised as well as those of the "other " man, E J S Dillworth, Army 422612

    This is the NAA display record page [below] & then you click on view digital copy.If the link doesn't work go to NAA ,Collection ,Record Search .Search now & put 422612 in the top line & click search, then display.

    http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/Items_listing.asp?S=1&F=1&O=0&T=I&C=3

    Another query .Do the first 2 numbers indicate the year of enlisting .Hence my father's 422612 - enlisting in 1942 & his cousin's number [WA Gunning RAAF ] 413836 - enlisting in 1941 ??

    Anne
    Last edited by aestorm; 17th May 2010 at 12:44.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Mallow, Ireland
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by aestorm View Post

    Another query .Do the first 2 numbers indicate the year of enlisting .Hence my father's 422612 - enlisting in 1942 & his cousin's number [WA Gunning RAAF ] 413836 - enlisting in 1941 ??

    Anne
    Hi Anne,

    I believe this is the case, same for the RNZAF.

    Best Regards

    Andy Fletcher
    Per Speculationem Impellor ad Intelligendum

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bewdley, UK
    Posts
    2,700
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default

    Caution

    This is not always the case. Remember date of enlistment is different to commission.

    Prewar AAF and RAFVR numbers could and were reactivated for some individuals on return.

    Cranwell flight cadets had service numbers issued some two years prior to commission.

    Interservice transfer and civilians in the mess had another group of numbers issued that are out of sequence.

    The only hard and fast rule is that there was no rule.

    Ross
    The Intellectual Property contained in this message has been assigned specifically to this web site.
    Copyright Ross McNeill 2015/2018 - All rights reserved.

Posting Permissions

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