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  1. #1

    Default Help with understanding RAF records please

    My grandfather was in the RAF during WW2. I have found his record on the forces war record website, but I could do with some help in understanding what the following means:

    They enlisted at Padgate. They joined between September 1939 and February 1940.
    More Information: Militia
    Service: Royal Air Force
    Primary Unit: Royal Air Force
    Archive Reference: AIR 78 74 2

    What was the Militia arm of the RAF? I had thought he was an engineer, servicing planes, but maybe that is incorrect?

    And what do the numbers in the Archive Reference mean?

    Is there any way of finding out more detail?

    Any help much appreciated, thank you.

  2. #2
    Famous for offering help & advice peter nicholl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004


    Hi Skylar and Welcome to the Forum.Archive Reference is the reference for the pertinant documents at The National Archives at Kew. If you visit their site and in the search box enter AIR 78 74 2 it wil take you a page where you can download for free the documents. They do not have a lot of information: surname , fore name(s), service number and where appropriate women's maiden names. Some are dated.
    As for MILITIA, it means they were conscripted under The Military Training Act 1939.
    Peter Nicholl
    Researching:Nicholl,Boater, Haselgrove & Vaughan

  3. #3


    Peter thank you very much indeed. That is very helpful and very much appreciated. I suppose if I want to know any more (my grandfather is no longer with us) I will have to apply officially.

  4. #4


    First of all, welcome to the British Genealogy Forum.

    The MOD has not released the complete service records from WW2 for publication yet, but relatives can get a copy if they provide a death certificate and 30 pounds. See HERE.

    It can be a little slow, especially when there's a big anniversary.

    Not everyone flew, or worked on the planes - my own father was in signals and ground-based. You can sometimes get an indication of his actual trade from his number. Do you know what it was?

    Am I right in assuming that he survived the War?

  5. #5


    Lesley, hello, thank you for this.

    My grandfather's service number was 1092030.

    Yes he did survive the war. According to his daughter, my mother, he wasn't able to come home at all during the war (hard to imagine...) as he spent a lot of the time in Africa.

  6. #6


    There's a lot of background info in the thread from an unrelated Forum HERE. Message #6 includes a lot of general info about the RAFVR, which is what people under "Militia" became.

    My Dad was mostly in Africa (specifically Rhodesia (as was), and then Kenya). I don't think he ever got home until the end of the War.

  7. #7


    Thank you Lesley, I'll have a look at that thread.

    One other question... I'm trying to find the first world war records of my great grandfather, but there are several people with the same name, all from Leeds, where he lived. I have guessed he may have joined the West Yorkshire Regiment because he lived in Leeds, but I have no information at all to go on. The only thing I have is his date of birth and address in Leeds, which do not seem to form part of the search. Any ideas as to how I can find the right person??!

  8. #8


    You could post info here. Name, number, wife, anything that would make him stand out. Same question as before - did he survive? Remember that over 60% of WW1 records were destroyed by fire during WW2 - you have to be lucky.


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