Father and Uncle in Indian Army-how to research?

Discussion in 'British Indian Army' started by skminus, May 23, 2014.

  1. skminus

    skminus Member

    I am brand new to this site, so if there is a sticky with the info I need please accept my apologies for not seeing it.

    My father and uncle joined up together on the same day in Calcutta, June 18, 1941. They were originally Armenians living in Rangoon, but came to Calcutta after their terms at military school in Southern India came to an end.
    I have their discharge certificates and would like to find out more. They both were in Egypt and the Middle East. I am going to England in July if there is a place there to research this, or is anything available online?

    Father: Norman Ralph Minus
    Corps: 2TTC/RIE
    No.: 26568
    Rank: Hav(Sgt)
    Service: 18th June 1941-2st May 1946

    Uncle: Arthur Mackertich Minus
    Unit: Indian Engineers
    No. E/26570
    Rank: Sgt.
    Service: 18th June 1941 - 13th Feb. 1946

    I also have a railway travel certificate of their father's for WWI I would like to research. He also served in the Middle East.
  2. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    On a slightly different note. Have you ever come across the nominal rolls for the 'trek' out of Burma in 1941-42, there are several families with the surname Minus detailed on these lists, I wondered if these might be relatives too.

    I'm at work right now, but later I will post the pdf files up on here for you to look at.
  4. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Both applied for Naturalisation



    HO 334/397/41455


    HO 334/263/24

    into the Discovery Catalogue search box.

  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

  6. skminus

    skminus Member

    Thank you Dave B, Bamboo43 and RAFCommands for the links you posted here. I just looked at the naturalization summary and it explains so much about both men's attitudes towards their military service. Dad never wanted to talk about it. I didn't know he became naturalized after I was born. Arthur said he could not apply for a British passport because he wasn't entitled. Don't know if that was true or not, but it was a mystery to me.

    I have come across the Trek out of Burma Rolls and it helped fill in some information about my great-aunts. I wrote a post about them on my blog, www.chasingchinthes.com.

    I will write to the office in India and see if I can get copies of their records.
  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi skminus,

    Nicely presented website. good luck going forward with your research.

    Best wishes

  8. skminus

    skminus Member

    Steve, I just had a look at your website which is amazing! I am gradually reading all the books about Burma my uncle Arthur left me, and just finished Return to Burma by Bernard Fergusson. I am ashamed to say history books never got my attention before I started researching the family. This year I set myself a challenge on Librarything to read 100 books, mostly about Burma.

    Your research is very thorough. Lucky you to live near London. I just became a member of the British Library last year, had my first couple of visits on holiday in November and hope to do more searching when I come to the UK in July.

    My modest blog will never be anything more than a way to collate the stories and research about my ancestors in Burma, before all the bits of paper and piles of photos on my desk finally suffocate me.

    Strange coincidences - I have never visited this WW2 site before the other day, or come across your website before, yet Chasing Chinthes and Chindit Chasing are very similar titles for a website; we have both used pictures of pagodas as the header; and we share a birthday, April 3rd, although I am older by 11 years!

    Thank you for all your kind help,
  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Sharman,

    We must be kindred spirits. :) I am very fortunate to live where I do, the National Archives held most of the keys to unlocking my grandfather's and the other men of Chindit 1's story, that and the generous contributions from people on sites like WW2Talk.

    Strangely enough I have only been to the BL once, it does contain plenty of information for my research and they have been very helpful in the past, sending me papers through the post.

    What I have found is that since my website has been on line, about three years now, I tend to receive more new information from families who come across it whilst searching for general information about the Chindits. The most wonderful thing is when they type their soldiers name in to Google and it takes them straight to his story on the site. That has happened a couple of times at least.

    Although it is not strictly relevant to your research, and I'm guessing you will have comes across it before, have you ever contacted the people on the Anglo-Burmese Library:


    They might well have more information about the retreat in 1941-42 especially detail on where people worked in places like Rangoon.

    Best wishes

  10. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    FIBIS (Families in British India Society] also has an interest in Burma, as it was administered as part of India until 1937. Much of the contents of both the Fibiwiki and the main FIBIS website (which Includes the Database) also apply to Burma.
    The FIBIS Fibiwiki has a page Burma http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Burma
    There is the page Armenian http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Armenian and also pages such as Directories online etc.(use the search function or browse the categories from the Fibiwiki Main Page http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Main_Page
    FIBIS website http://www.fibis.org )

  11. skminus

    skminus Member

    Hi Maureen and Steve,

    Over the three years since I started this search for family roots, I have found Fibis and the Anglo-Burmese library very helpful. I started off doing a family tree at lds.org, then found the other two sites. I am still a novice researcher at the BL, just looking at the Thacker's Indian Directories in the main room so far. This summer I want to delve into documents, see if my great-great grandmother's will is registered there, and other things.
    The thing I am saddest about is my grandfather remained in Burma during the war, and I cannot find anything about him. He was a prisoner of the Japanese, but not for the entire time according to my uncle, who trekked back to Rangoon himself from Calcutta, nearly dying on the way. Grandfather was buried in the Armenian Cemetery in 1948 in Rangoon which was in the same area as the Jewish, Moslem and Christian ones. When I went back in 2013, it had been completely cleared away. I found someone who knew where the grave markers had been stored, last seen 15 years before. We went, and there was nothing. Every one had been smashed and used for road building. The other cemeteries had not been touched, and I don't know why, because there had still been as much of an Armenian presence as a Jewish one in the city. The Armenian Church is still going, with the local congregation consisting of two Minuses, father and daughter. Mine and the father's grandparents were cousins. This is another story I need to write up for the blog.


  12. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    Do you mean the site of the old English Cantonment Cemetery up near the Royal Lakes and behind Rangoon Zoo? This is where my grandfather and all those who perished in Rangoon Jail were originally buried during the Japanese occupation.
  13. skminus

    skminus Member

    I think it is south of the Royal Lakes. Here is a map from 1880 where it is clearly marked.

    View attachment 122456
  14. skminus

    skminus Member

    What happened? image.jpg
  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

  16. skminus

    skminus Member

    Well, I did not know where the Cantonment cemetery was, but one of my great-grandfathers was buried there in 1900. I visited the elephant enclosure, too. The next time I go back I will have many more places to see.
    Did you know there was a church in the Cantonment, Christ Church? It isn't there anymore, but some of the BIrth, Marriage and Death records mention it. I found my father's original baptism certificate that listed it and spent a fruitless two hours trying to find the church in Rangoon.
    It's a bit rich that the Burmese government wanted us to remove the dead from their pagoda because it is a desecration, which I can understand, but then happily destroyed their final resting places anyway. Thank goodness for the CWGC. We spent a moving hour or two at Taukkyan.
  17. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    skminus, you mentioned searching for wills at the British Library. There is a collection of records on Findmypast (pay website) called “British India Office Wills & Probate” which contains digitised records from the India Office Records at the British Library.

    This link from the British Library shows all the records which have been digitised

  18. skminus

    skminus Member

    Hi Maureen,

    I joined findmypast this year and have searched, but haven't found anything from my family, although there are some Minus wills. Some of the entries come up with blank pages. Still, I should check and see if they have digitised more documents. Thank you for the links. This board is one of the most helpful I have come across!
  19. Claire lou

    Claire lou Member

    hi im also looking into family , my great grandad's brother was from what we know served in the indian army .
    Robert William Bell , he made sargeant . he didn't have any children , and died 6 weeks after my great grandad in 1968 . and that's all i know . i carnt find any record of him , if anyone has any idea's i'd be very thankful .
    ty claire

Share This Page