Demob thread: How, how long, age & service group numbers of release, etc

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by Paul Dorrell, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Many thanks for all the detail you have published.

    One surprise..... One of the photos shows coats..... I honestly cannot remember being give a coat, so a mystery there !

    Best regards

  2. Hi HAARA.
    My father stationed in Graz Austria with the 270th Fld Coy RE.left Austria in May. 1946. May the 10th got Medical for release. 17th May he got a TAB inoculation. I would assume these were both in the field? The next dates are 24th - 29th May where he went through the demob process at Aldershot. From Graz would he go to Camp Alamein in Villach Austria & then to Trieste to Dover or somewhere? Sorry for the delay in replying, been out of it for a while! This is the missing link & the only thing I can find is Camp Alamein / Villach/ Trieste Italy. Any ideas?
  3. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Hi Gordon,
    I'm not sure I can assist with this, as I have no access to 270th's records. If you haven't already, it might be worth a checking the National Archives records at Kew to see if it has diaries covering this period, as it might contain general details of transfers. Hope this helps.
  4. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    I'm trying to interpret the last few entries of my grandfather's service records, and trying to understand why it took so long for him to be released from the army after getting home. He had joined the TA a few months before war broke out (24th April 1939), totalled nearly 4 years overseas (short stint with the BEF, then India/Burma later), but there's a gap of nearly a year between returning to the UK after VJ day and being released to the reserves. What was going on here, as I would have thought that the government would want to get the vast number of men out of uniform and back to work as quickly as possible, especially with younger lads coming through on National Service? My search of the forum isn't yielding much other than Tom's advice that the Y List generally means 'unemployed'.

    According to his records, this is the breakdown of his service (his A&S group was 27C):

    Country -- From -- To -- Length of Service
    Home -- 24/04/39 -- 09/04/40 -- 0yr, 352 days
    B.E.F. France -- 10/04/40 -- 01/06/40 -- 0yr, 54 days
    Home -- 02/06/40 -- 04/01/42 -- 1yr, 217 days
    India -- 05/01/42 -- 29/08/45 -- 3yr, 237 days
    Home -- 30/08/45 -- 19/07/46 -- 0yr, 324 days
    Z/D Reserve -- 20/07/1946

    Service reckonable for gratuity’ - from 03/09/39 to 09/04/46 - 6 years, 219 days

    These are the last entries on his B103 form:

    29/07/1945 Relinquishes appt of L/B & reverts to Gnr pending repat. Reclassified Class IA
    29/07/1945 SOS Unit, TOS Ind Comd on proceeding HBTD for repat UK. Ceases to be administered by O2E ALFSEA
    04/08/1945 (Stamped) EMBKD BOMBAY (PYTHON) (Written) S.O.S. INDIA COMMAND
    30/08/1945 (Unit: RA Depot) Joined. AFW3149 action taken
    10/04/1946 (Unit: RA Depot) Posted ‘Y’ List (Release) and SOS Depot RA
    19/07/1946 (Stamped) ‘Released to Class ‘Z’ (T) Royal Army Reserve (Class ‘A’ Release)

    So he lost his acting rank after being Struck Off Service of his unit, had a few days at Deolali while waiting for a ship home (repatriated under PYTHON, which I think was 3 years 8 months for men in the Far East), and got back to the UK and had a medical exam (AFW3149?) on the 30th August 1945. I’m guessing that at that point he got a period of leave, but what next?

    It’s over 7 months before he is posted to the Y List, and a further 3 until release to reserves. As I understand it, the company he was working for before the war had a job for him to go back to. We have a photo of him and his two younger brothers all in uniform that’s dated February 1946, so unless he dressed up specially for the occasion he was still very much a military man at that point.

    He kept his “Soldier’s Release Book – Class A” and although there’s not much left in it a few stamps are helpful. On one page it says “The above-named individual left this Military Dispersal Unit on the date in the stamp opposite” with the stamp being 9 Apr 1946 Guildford. Then inside the front cover are some Post Office stamps for a PO near his family home in south London: “War Gratuity and Post War Credits deposited in Post Office Savings Bank”, with the first on 4 May 46 and the last on 22 Jul 46.

    There’s also a stamp that says “… Bty (Field Wing) Depot” in the space for Regiment or Corps (the bit before Battery is illegible, anything after has been torn off) and another that seems to say “Civilian Clothing Depot Guildford – April”.

    From all this, I’d guess that 9th April was his official “Demob Day” where he got issued clothing coupons, then it was back home to London where he could draw a weekly sum from the local Post Office until July, as the PO stamps end there and his records say he was released to the Reserves.

    The big questions are, what might he have been doing in that long stretch between coming home from Burma in August 45 and being taken out of uniform in April 46? Training others, perhaps, though he only held the rank of gunner and his trade qualification was Driver, Internal Combustion. And where might he have been, a RA depot in Guildford the whole time? (his original regiment was based in Lewisham, but he later got transferred to a Scottish regiment, so I guess he wouldn't get sent up to Scotland when his family was in London) And what was that limbo period between Y List (Release) and Released to Reserves?
  5. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Difficult to offer a view without sight of the papers you refer to but the though come to mind that perhaps he joined up on Regular Army terms of service? Perhaps 7 years Colour service & 5 years Reserve service explain his retention in U.K.

    My father was a returning POW in May 1945 and after 3 months leave was extra Regimentally employed for 6 months until he commenced his pre release leave leading up to his discharge Class A Reserve May 1946. He was a pre war regular on 4 & 8 terms of service and completed his 12 years service in Jan 1949.

    There is a topic on the forum that contains the matrix used to identify service groups.

    Last edited: May 5, 2018
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  6. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    He might have been staffing the depot: helping to facilitate and process the thousands of returning soldiers and tons of equipment that was being repatriated.

    The one thing I do know is that many returning men--particularly those who has served overseas for five years or more--strongly resented the return to the tedium and hollow discipline of camps, depots and parade grounds--especially if overseen by NCOs who had not themselves seen active service.
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  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Well you may ask why it took so long to release servicemen who served in WW2 !

    I was first "called-up", at the age of 19, on October 1942.

    When, after hostilities ended, I was given the group number of 48, I then had to wait until April 1947 before I was finally released from active service.

    Somewhere on this forum there is a chart showing "Group numbers" . Give me a jiffy and I will go look for it........


    ps Can't find the chart that shows Group Numbers......... Can anyone please oblige ?
    pps Found it ! Here: Categories of release from the Army

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 5, 2018
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  8. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    4 threads merged into one Demob thread; made a Sticky; all placed under Service Records for handy reference
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  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Many thanks Di !

    easier now to find that bloody chart :)

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  11. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Thanks Steve, can't see anything in his records about signing on as a regular at any point and he never mentioned doing so, though. An attestation was included with his service records, and that's an E501 form headed "Territorial Army - Four years' Service". He attested for service in 91st Fd. Regt. RA (TA) and was then posted to 139th Fd. Regt. which was a 'second-line' TA regiment formed from the 91st a few months later and sharing the same base at Lewisham. After Dunkirk he was sent to 130th Fd. Regt. which was ( I think) another TA unit and stayed with them for the rest of the war. That roughly one year period between returning home and 'Class A' release to reserve does match your father's experience.
  12. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Many thanks Ron, I was rather hoping you'd spot this thread as a chap who had been through the process himself! The image you kindly posted shows his group (27) in the first column, as he was born in 1920 and had signed up for the TA in the spring before war broke out so found himself called up right away. He once told me that he'd only joined because they had the best football field in that part of London, and I'm not entirely sure he was joking!

    What did the army find to do for you in that long period between the end of hostilities and demob? As Charley notes above, I imagine there must have been a staggering amount of kit etc. to be processed, and there would be occupation/garrison/policing duties for many men, but I'm just wondering how much 'hurry up and wait' was involved. With all of the younger lads still coming in through on National Service, I have a picture of millions of men still in uniform after the end of the war without necessarily enough useful work to occupy them all. How did you find it?

    I'm almost certain that he had a useful job ready and waiting for him, which I thought might have seen him out of uniform a bit faster. Before the war he had been working for a shipping director at the Rotherhithe docks - pretty important for getting the economy going again after the war I would have said - and although he couldn't have been there long before being called up, the chap who ran the firm promised that there would be a job for him to come back to and even kept paying him the Christmas bonuses all the years he was away!

  13. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Once hostilities ceased those of us that had served in the 4th Queen's Own Hussars were warned that soon the Regiment would in effect be re-formed into a peace-time format, which might be strange to us, and that in our own interests we should look to establish ourselves in the jobs previously run by chaps with low group numbers.

    In my case, I became Tech Corporal for "A" Squadron, a role at which I became quite adept.

    When eventually I returned to the UK in 1947 this coincided with the worst winter for many years and I found myself living in frozen barracks and occupied with digging trains out of snowdrifts. Even officers of lower rank than major were not excused from this task !

    Last edited: May 7, 2018
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  14. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Those in the 76th HAA Regt in Italy had a big variety of things to do, not least looking after POWs in a camp, and then such things as winding up army facilities - in one case a lucky BSM had to wind up the NCO and Officers' club (including free board and lodge). Then filling in everyone in the regiment's service record - that took quite a while. There was also LIAP, Leave In Addition to Python for those with sufficient service.
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  15. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    As HAARA mentions above, we were not short of jobs to do, which included finding and capturing high ranking SS officers and setting up POW camps to hold the SS Divs that were in Austria at the cessation of hostilities.

    Go take a look here:

    BBC - WW2 People's War - The War Ends in Italy, 2nd May 1945

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  16. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    I wonder if anyone has tried to tally the various Groups people were in to windows of time when those in that group were actually demobalised?

    For instance, there was a time when my grandfather wrote this...

    7880500 Sgt.B.Symes
    Sherwood Rangers

    Dearest Phyl,

    What a blooming optimist you’ve suddenly become. The 15 Group in any case is not due to start until Sept22 and if this timber and coal job isn’t very soon taken over by someone else I can see me having longer. But you can go on with your fun + games but blame yourself if you have a disappointment. Remember, I told you when you see me in my civey suit you’ll know I’m out, then you can cheer if you wish.

    And he also refers on another occasion (this time to my uncle) to things developing a bit further...

    "I’m catching some really lovely fish in a very small stream some children pointed out to me.
    Your long letter arrived today, also one with “Damaged by Fire” written on it.
    Well here we go again and scant satisfaction you’ll get I’m afraid “In the first place my dear” no one of 15 group has left this Regiment and the date is Sept 23rd, that’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing not honest, and we must all be honest right from the start, so don’t let’s have any more of it, I don’t want to punish you in any way but I’m very much afraid you’ll be for it if it were to happen again.
    The German children have very nice manners indeed. It’s a treat to see the little girls curtsey. Ask your mummy to show you a curtsey.
    I’m enclosing a visiting card for you; it’s a real Princess, very much alive when I last saw her in a place called Great Gemerslaben. She is old now, about 70 but her daughter, a Countess is young and speaks English and looks like a princess, it’s a pity they are German as they are such nice people and of course the Russians now live in their village.
    That’s all for the time. I hope to be with you all soon now, the sooner the better say I. Cheerio Rob. Love to you and Janet + Mummy from Daddy. XX."

    And thereafter (in another letter, again to my nan)...

    "Cheerio, and all my love to you dear. By the way did you see that my release group comes out on Sept 25, you’re going to be surprised how time flies. If the warning order comes through before the leave, as leave, I may sneak that ten days with a bit of luck. And again lots of love to you, Rob and Janet. From your loving husband Ben."

    With the date of the day seeming to move, ever so slightly as time went on.

    Looking at his tracer card and war records I think he actually went onto the Y-List on 16th November 1945, and then into the category of "reserves", subject to being called back up etc. until the blue DISCHARGED stamp on 10th February 1954.

    Last edited: May 7, 2018
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  17. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    And of course there were the training courses for the return to civvie street, as, for example, the Formation College at Perugia.
  18. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Looking after PoWs, May 1945

    "Yesterday I was up at 05.00hrs. Strangely enough I had no difficulty getting up since I’ve been here. Possibly because of the early nights, and more especially because I’m sleeping in a tent again. To enlarge on the 05.00hrs stunt, I did it not out of a spasm of bravado, but because I had to see off a party of lads going out on escort work. They had to take a party of S.S. men, several thousand of them, down south. That’s what most of the day consists of here. They work 24hrs guard, patrolling the sector of wire, followed by 24hrs off. Usually during this period there’s escorting to do. Possibly a truck has to be taken to the collecting point with two or three men to take prisoners to get rubble for soakaways or ovens. By ones and twos the parties gradually drain on the bulk. This party yesterday was a large one so that now I have very few men in camp over and above the guards on duty. I expect they’ll have plenty of duty to do now the others are away. They’ll be away for a couple of days at least.

    The prisoners behave remarkably well, although I suppose that’s the only way one can expect them to behave. They have a lot to lose by bad behaviour. Really they are looked after a damn sight better than they deserve in my opinion. They have had a pipeline laid on and so they have a constant supply of water. They get the same rations as we do, though only two thirds of what we have. They get no cigarettes, although I see they have plenty apparently brought in with them. Apart from the rations and the water we give them nothing else. Possibly later there will be some additions. This is unconditional surrender alright. The only part of the camp we do actually look after is the hospital area. For the remainder of the camp they must do all for themselves. They are really ingenious. They have no tents, or at least not by that name. All they have are many and varied ground sheets. They’ve built huts, or what look like very primitive mud dwellings about three feet high covered with ground sheets as roofs. The walls are made of mud bricks. To make these they’ve stripped the ground of every blade of grass. Some of these abodes are quite spacious and look quite comfortable. The only kit they have is what they have carried in here on their backs, so you can see there’s not much. They have improvised amazingly well. All the old tins they have turned into cooking utensils, ladles, and mugs. They have made boilers out of half a forty gallon drum set on brick over a fire – we do give them oil to burn in their cookers. This just astounds them, and they can’t understand it. One of their officers told someone that when the German tanks were going to the front they were driven on pure petrol, but when they came back they drove on a wood or charcoal fire. Lorries on the plains had half petrol and half ersatz, while in mountainous areas they had pure petrol. They say now it would be easier to use wood, but they should know they’ve taken it all – it’s most frightfully scarce here in Italy. These people might not know. They mostly come from Austria and were fighting against Russia. That’s where they’ve learned to build these shacks. The organisation of the camp is done completely by the Germans, and is divided up into Blocks, each with ten companies of approximately 100 men. There is a Major in charge of each Block, and he maintains the most rigid discipline. When we arrive for the roll call they are all waiting in their files of five, standing rigidly to attention. One not feeling disposed to standing to attention had a terrific dressing down by the German Kommandant. They are scrupulously exact and precise in every detail these officers, and practically every one of them speaks good English. The men have the greatest respect and give implicit obedience. The study of the Hun in captivity is most interesting. And one is even liable to lose sight of the fact they were once our enemies and of their ghastly brutalities. Fraternisation is a crime with a high penalty if caught."
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