Ernest John Watts, born 30/5/1920, RAF service no. 1272094

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by SteveDee, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    I'm looking for information on this guy who, if he'd lived another 20 years, would have had the pleasure of becoming my father-in-law.

    The big family mystery is who his father was. Although he paid for young Ernest to attend school, he did not marry Ernest's mother and his name does not appear on the birth certificate.

    Now I'm not expecting to solve this mystery here, I'm only trying to build up some detail on what he did while in the RAF.

    We have his service record. It looks like he enlisted 20/11/1940 and probably left some time in 1952, although its not clearly stated (...unless I'm being dim).

    Number 82 squadron is mentioned in connection with his time in East Africa. He was some kind of fitter or mechanic (not a pilot). He was punished for absence and drunkenness a few times, but I don't thing they knew about "the incident with the safe" so seems to have got away with that one.

    I'll post his service record once its been through the scanner.

    Many thanks.
  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Was he born in the Shoreditch area? Can you post his mother's name?
  3. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Yes Tony, he was born in Shoreditch, and his mothers name: Edna May Blanche Watts
  4. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    I've attached scans of the 3 pages of his service record that were supplied by the RAF Personnel Management Centre. It is, as their covering letter states "This record...contains very little detail of his postings and movements... ".

    There is plenty here that I don't understand, so let me start with a few basic questions.

    It states he was "RELEASED" 20/8/1946 although he stayed with the RAF. So did they always get a formal release date, even though they were staying? Or does this indicate that he just decided to stay/return some time later? Why is it not made clear when he finally left?
    There are notes which mention "release/discharge/enlistment/re-enlistment" but I'm not clear what this stuff means.

    Looking elsewhere on the net about 82 Squadron, their movements include India during WW2, but there isn't any mention of this on his record. For 1943 I think I see the word "aboukir" which could be Egypt.

    Were aircraft engineers always with their squadron or were they sometimes posted to remote locations (airfields)?

    We know he spent time in East Africa (certainly Kenya & Tanzania) and it looks like he was also in Ghana (Takoradi).

    What does "ANNUAL FILMING" mean?

    His 4 weeks in hospital in 1951 was due to an earlier fall. He had to have some kind of surgery to put things right. After just a few days in hospital, he heard the news that his wife had given birth to their first child, my brother-in-law!

    Any level of decoding that you can offer would be appreciated. Thanks once again.

    Note that 2L & 2P are the same page with differing orientation.

    WattsE_60pc_scan1.jpg WattsE_60pc_scan2-L.jpg WattsE_60pc_scan2-P.jpg WattsE_60pc_scan3.jpg
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  5. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Does anyone know what the RAF abbreviation P.A.C.E. means, as it appears in Ernest Watts service record above?

    Also, it looks like he spent some time at RAF Poling in Sussex. As this was a RADAR station, what would a mechanic do at such a place?
  6. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Parachute Assisted Cable Engineer. They would launch thick steel cables which would float down on parachutes, the aim being to catch a German aircraft.

    The attached article explains.



    Parachute&Cables1.jpg Parachute&Cables2.jpg Parachute&Cables3.jpg Parachute&Cables4.jpg Parachute&Cables5.jpg Parachute&Cables6.jpg
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  7. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    I’m sure an RAF expert will be along to help but in the meantime.......

    It appears to me that he was enlisted/called up in November 1940. He was demobilised under the post war scheme and (like all wartime conscripts) was discharged to Class A Reserve in August 1946 (passed through Dispersal Centre May 1946 and would’ve had leave until his actual finishing date).

    He enlists on normal peacetime RAF service conditions in February 1947 (consequently discharged from Class A Reserve) and appears to have been discharged to the Regular RAF Reserve in February 1952. - presumably at the end of his enlistment period.

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  8. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

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  9. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    That's great Dave, thanks for the interesting information.

    I don't suppose you know what M.East means?
  10. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Middle East?
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  11. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Thanks Steve, that makes sense.
  12. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    I was wondering about the "Africa Star Ribbon" mentioned on scan_1, so if he was posted to the Middle East on 27/9/1941, that explains how he qualified for that medal. Thanks once again. Its making a whole lot more sense.
  13. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Many thanks once again for all your input so far with Ernest.

    I've made some good progress this morning with RAF abbreviations like PDC, PTC, S of TT, & so on. But I still have 3 more questions for you very knowledgable people.

    1. Anyone know the location of No.1 British Military Hospital in 1949?

    2. What does "8082 SE" mean? I have a feeling it relates to 82 Squadron in some way.

    3. Ernest didn't join the RAF until he was 20 years old at the end of 1940. It doesn't look like he was in great shape (e.g. Medical Category Grade 3, only a 32" chest, & so on). So I'm wondering if he was rejected earlier, and told to come back at a later date. My question is: how quickly did men get called up after Sept 1939? Would there really have been a delay of over a year, or would they have been called quite quickly?
  14. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    My understanding of conscription - in the early years of WW2 - is that older men were being called up first. By 1942 18 yr olds were being called up.

    As well as age being a factor civilian occupation and medical category were also considerations. The medical would take place before the call up papers were issued and would greatly influence the arm of service allocated.

    In addition to being in a lower medical category he may have had a civilian skill that was appropriate to conscription into RAF as ground crew.

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  15. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Yes, he was described as "Engineer" so I guess that helped.

    I thought Grade 3 would mean someone would be excluded from over-seas service, but maybe they had discretion based upon role or requirements.
  16. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    I now know this was at Kabete, Kenya. Ernest had cerebral malaria.
  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hospitals WW2 - Scarlet Finders
    1 British General Hospital
    Dieppe 17/9/39 to 17/6/40 then evacuated to UK; Leeds 17/6/40 to 11/40 then to Plymouth; Plymouth 11/40 to 22/3/40 then overseas; Liverpool (Crosby Camp) 22/3/41 to 18/5/41 then embarked overseas; Kantara (Egypt) 8/7/41 to 24/1/46 then disbanded.

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  18. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that TD. Yes it did seem unlikely that Kabete BMH would be called No.1 so maybe I'm misreading the line on my scan_2.

    However, I was reading some notes by his late wife (my mother in law) which fully describes his condition after he made a short trip from Kenya to Nigeria to fix a plane, and returned with maleria.

    She even says she visited him everyday for 30 days at a cost of 1 shilling per day. So she spent over 30 bob on this young fella (a considerable some in 1949) and he was just a boyfriend at that stage! Young love, eh!

    I don't know if there is a difference between a General Hospital during WW2 and a BMH, but there is no mention of Kenya or Kabete in that list. Also, the list is primarily WW2, while this was 1949.
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I realise you are looking at later than WW2 , but reading that it was "disbanded in 1946" would be enough perhaps to note that it wouldnt be that particular Hospital in 1949

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  20. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

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