View Full Version : 172 Wing in Burma

4th February 2012, 13:14
My father and grandfather, both named Alf Coombs and born in Canada, served with the RAF in WW2 and WW1 respectively.

My father enlisted with the RCAF, was transrerred to the RAF and flew Thunderbolts in Burma. From his 'Identity Pass Air Forces in India' card, he was associated with 172 Wing. There is a stamp that indicates the squadron but it is illegible. He was a Flight Officer #J86502. Can anyone tell me more of what his involvement may have been. Would his service records be held in the Canadian or British Collections?

My grandfather flew a Dehavilland DH6 and from a Casualty Card that I was able to obtain from the RAF Museum he was injured on 1 December 1917 and eventually lost his left hand. There is a notation on the card describing the 'Nature and Cause of Accident':

"Pilot was at a forced landing and while swinging his propeller was struck by the blade breaking his wrist"

He was a 2nd Lieutenant and was associated with 37 T.S. - 24 W. I am guessing this may mean 37th Training Squadron - 24 Wing. The loction of the accident is recorded as home. Under the heading 'Type of Machine' is listed the following:

DH6 - 9617 - 90 HP RAF - MO 22074 - WO/916

He enlisted with the 52nd Bn CEF in Port Arthur Ontario in Decemeber 1914 and served in the trences in France until 8 February 1917 when he was granted leave to England. On 25 February 1917 he was transferred to the RFC and was enrolled at Brasenose College at Oxford in the School of Military Aeronautics. He received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant on 1 August 1917; was injured on 1 December 1917; had 3 fingers amputated from his left hand while he was a patient at the '2nd Northern General Hospital' in Leeds England. This is where he met and later married the nurse who was treating him on 8 May 1919. They returned to Canada and upon arrival he 'Relinquished Commission and Retains Rank'

Can anyone help on any of these details

Thank you


12th February 2012, 11:43
Hi Sam,

just few bits and pieces to your questions:

1. If your father's service number was J86502 he was for sure registered in the RCAF and I am pretty sure if you will contact the National Archive of Canada you will be able to get his RCAF Service Record - at least for the period with the RCAF.

2. No. 37 Training Squadron was from 15.9.1917 based in Spittlegate as a part of 24th Wing using several aircraft types including DH6

9617 should be the serial, maybe with some letter prefix like x9617, known are series Bxxxx and Cxxx of DH6 used by this unit.

Se the link above- 90 HP should mean simply the engine:
90 hp RAF 1a engine

Hope this helps you a little


Bill Walker
12th February 2012, 15:48
Just a general comment about RCAF members in India: from some research others have done the Canadian records will be very brief for the time in India, except for those that served in RCAF units (none existed in India before 1944). Apparently the RAF records for these guys were brief to start with, and most of the paperwork that did exist never made it to Canada or even the UK. The most you might find is dates of departure for India, and date of return to Europe or Canada.