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Royal Engineers, WW2

Post your queries about your military ancestors, or help fellow researchers find out about theirs.
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Norfolk Nan
Posts: 152
Joined: 16 Jun 2020, 11:54
Location: A Londoner lost in Norfolk

Royal Engineers, WW2

Post by Norfolk Nan »

Hi

I see that FMP has released some Royal Engineers tracer cards for WW2. I think my paternal grandfather was a sapper in the RE but there is no one alive who could confirm that now. There are a couple of possibles amongst the tracer cards which gives me hope and info to work with BUT how do I find out for certain? I realise WW2 records are thin on the ground and I can't apply for his service record without knowing more. The Royal Engineer museum is currently closed to enquiries while it's archives undergo renovation so is there any other way of working it all out? I have posted photos in the past but no one could determine the cap badge. Any ideas please?

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AdrianBruce
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Location: South Cheshire

Re: Royal Engineers, WW2

Post by AdrianBruce »

Norfolk Nan wrote:
26 Apr 2021, 11:26
... I realise WW2 records are thin on the ground and I can't apply for his service record without knowing more. ...
Sorry if you've talked about this before and I've forgotten - but why can't you apply for his service record without knowing more?

You need his full name, proof of death, permission from the next-of-kin (depending on when he died) and either his service number or his date of birth. In other words, you don't need to know if he was in the RE nor do you need to know his service number or unit.

Of course, if you don't have his date of birth then it does get tricky....
Adrian Bruce

Norfolk Nan
Posts: 152
Joined: 16 Jun 2020, 11:54
Location: A Londoner lost in Norfolk

Re: Royal Engineers, WW2

Post by Norfolk Nan »

Hi Adrian, I don’t have some of those details so applying for the record would be complicated. Not impossible but more complicated. I asked the question to find out if there was other ways of finding out that one detail. I’m not experienced in any military research, it’s not an area of interest to me usually but with the release of the tracer cards I wondered how much more there is out there now.

Also, as I understand it, the detail in a service record given to a non-next of kin would be less than to the n-o-k but for the same fee? I’m patiently waiting for my father’s records at the moment. I might decide to try to apply for my granddad’s records when I see what’s actually included.

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AdrianBruce
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Location: South Cheshire

Re: Royal Engineers, WW2

Post by AdrianBruce »

Norfolk Nan wrote:
27 Apr 2021, 08:43
... Also, as I understand it, the detail in a service record given to a non-next of kin would be less than to the n-o-k but for the same fee? ...
Not quite. The important things are (1) how long ago did the serviceman / woman die? and (2) does the applicant have the permission of the next-of-kin?

If it's more than 25y after the subject died (which is why you need the DC) then the full details should be released.

If it's less than 25y after the subject died, then the full details will only be released to the applicant if either they are the next-of-kin or they have permission of the next-of-kin.
Adrian Bruce

Norfolk Nan
Posts: 152
Joined: 16 Jun 2020, 11:54
Location: A Londoner lost in Norfolk

Re: Royal Engineers, WW2

Post by Norfolk Nan »

Thank you, that’s helpful.

I don’t have permission from the n-o-k (I’m not in contact with the actual surviving next of kin). My grandad died in 1968 in Australia (on a visit) and don’t have a death certificate but if I did could I apply without the permission of my relative?

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AdrianBruce
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Location: South Cheshire

Re: Royal Engineers, WW2

Post by AdrianBruce »

Firstly, if if if you have the DC, then you can apply without their permission - you just won't get the full details until 25y have elapsed since the death. Since 1968 + 25 = 1993, then not only can you now apply without permission of the NoK, but you can now get the full details.

So basically I reckon that you need the Australian DC (and I have no idea how easy it is to get one), his full name and his date of birth.

Incidentally, was there any probate taken out in the UK? Only a grant of probate would need some proof of death, so there might already be something, somewhere in the UK.

The MoD site has a section reading:
In the absence of a death certificate, the MOD:
  • will assume that a person is still alive until they would have reached 116 years of age
  • will accept a formal legal document which states that the individual has been legally declared dead (declared death in absentia or legal presumption of death)
  • will make an assessment of the release of information using the 25 year threshold mentioned above
Now, I'm not 100% clear on what on earth that last bullet point means. But I am wondering if a grant of probate would count as a formal legal document which states that the individual has been legally declared dead. Probate isn't quite that but it does mean that death has been accepted. I have a feeling that there is flexibility - I think that I once read that a photo of a gravestone counted as a substitute for a DC, so logically a grant of probate ought to, if you can't get hold of that DC. There's no certainty that flexibility years ago will still be allowed, but if you can't get a DC for some reason, then maybe contacting the MoD about whether a grant of probate would substitute, might be a way forward.

Of course, if there was no grant of probate or grant of Administration then you're back to the DC.
Adrian Bruce

Norfolk Nan
Posts: 152
Joined: 16 Jun 2020, 11:54
Location: A Londoner lost in Norfolk

Re: Royal Engineers, WW2

Post by Norfolk Nan »

Hi Adrian

Thanks for the extra detail. Grandad was born in 1902 so would be more than 116 now. There was no probate or grant of administration here either. It looks like my only option is the DC if only I knew how to get a copy. Thank you for explaining the process, it’s very helpful. :D

meekhcs
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Joined: 02 Jun 2020, 18:19
Location: Lincolnshire, but Hampshire born and bred!

Re: Royal Engineers, WW2

Post by meekhcs »

If nothing comes up here try the Australia Board on Rootschat. Someone there will guide you.

Norfolk Nan
Posts: 152
Joined: 16 Jun 2020, 11:54
Location: A Londoner lost in Norfolk

Re: Royal Engineers, WW2

Post by Norfolk Nan »

Just an update: I've made an application to the MoD because the appropriate forms state that I CAN apply without NoK permission and without a death certificate as grandad was born more than 116 years ago. The website itself said a service number was necessary but the applicable form required EITHER a service number or a date of birth - I've gone with the DoB obviously. It's in the post now so time will tell...

Thank you again for your help Adrian and Sally :D

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