RAF Transport Command Service Record, help needed

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by Mark Hetherington, Nov 20, 2021.

  1. Hi all, am having difficulty deciphering parts of my Grandfathers RAF Transport Command Service Record and was hoping to pick the brains of the experts on here.
    He was a wireless operator and served in the Middle East and North Africa and spent part of the war in Turkey setting up signals networks. As well as ground operations in England passing messages from Washington USA to Archangel Russia.

    The 2nd page (attached below) has a few lines I'm struggling to decipher or make sense of.

    From the top down is as follows

    3.RC Guessing 3 Recruiting Centre RAF Padgate Warrington
    RES ?? Reserve for 5 months?
    RDU Receipt and Dispatch unit Blackpool
    10(S)/RC 10 Signals Recruit Centre Blackpool
    3.S.S. Signals School Compton Bassett
    Can't make out this line from the 15.1.42
    M East Middle East
    22 P.T.C. Personnel Transport Centre Almaza Egypt
    Telecom Centre Heliopolis
    5.RAF ? Hospital. He did catch Malaria at some stage during the war.
    605 AMES Air Ministry Experimental Station (Radar) but cant find out where??? Is it
    connected to 605 Sq back in England?
    H.Q. B.R.C. ?? British Red Cross??
    3.Sig. Sch ?? 3 Signals School back in Compton Bassett?
    Can't make out the writing from 21/4/45 Looks like Glamoceles but makes no sense to me.
    21 PTC HE Personnel Transport Centre Kafareet Suez. Home Embarkation
    Waddington Lincolnshire
    H.Q Group ? ? HQ of the group based at RAF Waddington ? No1 Group?
    101 PDC Personnel Dispatch Centre Kirkham (Lancs)

    I really would appreciate any help anyone could provide to help make sense of this.

    Granda Raf2e.png Mark.
  2. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Gianaclis in Egypt, I think. Sorry, squinting at a phone on a ferry, so cant hrlp much!

    Mark Hetherington likes this.
  3. Thankyou so much Pat, that's a great help.

    A quick google and I see reference to RAF Gianaclis for installing and maintaining radar on planes. Good stuff.
  4. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    No 5 RAF hospital was at Abbassia Egypt. 605 AMES was a radar unit at Damietta Egypt. Why do you say Transport Command ?
  5. The simple answer is because that's what he told my dad! Haven't seen it written down anywhere.

    Below is a little piece my Dad recorded from Granda in the 80's and submitted to the RAFstorylines website. Which is what I am trying to tie in with his service record.

    Flight Sergeant "Paddy" William Edwin Hetherington, known to his family as Edwin, joined the RAF in 1941 as a 20-year-old. He left his home on the slopes of Murley Mountain, Fivemiletown, Northern Ireland, to start his training in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool and in Yatesbury, England as a radio operator and air gunner.

    "The training for radio operator was fairly intensive. It was a six month course. It used to be a 15 month course in peace-time but was reduced to six months in war-time. They used to give you an exam every week. It was a matter of elimination. If you passed that was OK but if you failed the exam then you were kicked out."

    Edwin revealed that he would forgo the pleasures of Blackpool at night to concentrate on his Morse practice. "They took on twice as many people as they really needed. So there was a tremendous big wastage. It was a crash course and you had to take in everything quickly. I can still read the Morse code. You never forget it. Once you get it into your head you never forget it. The Morse code was only one part of it. You also had to do maintenance - wireless maintenance, added Edwin.

    "I did an air gunners course but it wasn't very difficult. We had to fly in a Tiger Moth. In that type of aircraft, they were a rather ancient type, fitted with machine guns. The targets were towed by another aircraft and you fired at that sort of thing. We used Browning machine guns and practised at that," continued Edwin.

    When Edwin finished his training in Blackpool and Yatesbury he was posted to Transport Command and served in the Middle East and North Africa. "I was seconded to BOAC, the civilian air transport company, but then I went back to the RAF and completed four years overseas. I then returned to England and stayed with Radio Location for a while until I was de-mobbed in 1946.

    "I flew in Wellingtons, Lockheed Hudsons but mostly Dakotas. I also flew in a captured Junkers 52. That's a three engine plane. We flew on the route to South Africa in that plane. We used to fly that route regularly. We used to fly down through the Sudan down to Nairobi and back again," explained Edwin.

    Edwin said he didn't see a lot of action but they had experienced some flak over Egypt but it wasn't very close. "Not a lot really," he continued. "We did come into contact a bit with it. Not really direct because I was in Transport Command. We more or less transported army personnel from one particular place to another. We usually transported supplies. We didn't have parachutes. We were never issued with parachutes!"

    Edwin revealed the he wasn't too far away from the El Alamein battle. "I could see the flashes of the guns on the horizon. I could see what was taking place. We were stationed in a place called Heleopolis behind the lines which was about 60 miles behind the lines at that stage in Egypt," he pointed out.

    Edwin was on board an aircraft which had to crash-land in Iraq when he was stationed at Habbaniya. "It was a belly landing," added Edwin. "One of the wheels wouldn't come down so we had to bring the other wheel up and do a belly landing. It was slightly bumpy. It was on a hard sand surface. There was no one injured but the bottom was torn out of the aircraft. It wasn't serviceable for sometime. It went to a maintenance unit and got repaired. There was a scraping sound when she came down and she bent the props back. I wasn't really scared. It didn't worry me all that much," answered Edwin to his son's questions

    Edwin took part in a secret operation which prepared the way for an invasion of Russia from Turkey into the southern flank of the German army which had pushed the Red Army eastward across the Steppes.
    Flt Sgt Hetherington and his RAF colleagues wore civilian clothing and arrived in Turkey under the guise of teaching the Turkish Airforce "radio location". "We went redundant at one time so we were sent into Turkey on radio location to prepare a signals network with the idea of invading Russia from Turkey," explained Edwin when interviewed by his son David in 1987. "The plan was an alternative to invading through Italy. We were the spearhead." added Edwin.

    He went on to say that they were there almost 12 months. "We were in Istanbul and then went out to a small place called Flora Cocuk where we set up smaller radio networks there." he continued. "But the Russians drove the Germans back west so the plan of invasion was scrapped," he added with a laugh.

    Another interesting aspect to Edwin's time in the RAF was while he was doing "ground operations" in England. "We had to transmit important messages between Washington in America and Archangel in Russia. We were in regular contact with them," he concluded without revealing the nature of the messages
  6. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    Would you post the other pages ?
  7. Of the Service Record?
  8. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    Please. So we can see promotions trade qualifications etc
  9. Hope this works.

    Attached Files:

  10. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    Thanks for sharing. Afraid it shows his highest rank was LAC. Which was Leading Aircraftman. His trade was wireless op ground duties as he was deemed unsuitable for aircrew duties. Most of his service was in Egypt, nearly 4 years away from UK. Difficult times for everyone.
    Mark Hetherington likes this.
  11. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

    605 AMES was nothing to do with 605 squadron . There was a RAF presence in Turkey , Donald Jamieson 539316 of the RAF radar school was killed when he fell under a train at Florya
    Mark Hetherington likes this.
  12. Thanks for all the info. Does the HQ BRC and 3.Sig Sch make any sense in an Egyptian setting?

    Also given that a lot of the entries in the Unit column are locations how do I go about trying to find out more about what he was up to and where. Would something like AMES have an Operation Record Book?
  13. Would 3.Sig.Sch in the record relate in any way to the RAF radar school you mention?
  14. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    HQ BRC relates to Headquarters British Radar Control and is the Turkey part of the oral history.

    Operations record book | The National Archives

    No.3 Signals School was at India but had been disbanded by the time of his posting and would not have made sense with his Middle East movements
    3 Signals School, Gujrat (India); formed August 1943, disbanded May 1944. With appendices | The National Archives

    I think that No.3 Signals Depot at Helwan was more possible for a return from BRC Turkey before posting to RAF Station Gianaclis
    3 Signals Depot. Based at Helwan (Egypt). With appendices | The National Archives

    GIANACLIS | The National Archives

    Mark Hetherington likes this.
  15. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    This thread is really providing some excellent info into your grandad's service.
    Mark Hetherington likes this.
  16. It really is! Thankyou so much Ross.

    Pretty much filled in all the pieces of the puzzle! Apart from his last listing before the Middle East.

    Do you thing it would be possible to delve deeper into possible unit records or given his lowly status would that likely be a futile task?
  17. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    The sequence before posting to Middle East is shown as HHH for No.3 Signals School and HH for the unreadable location (possibly Stn or Att and may relate to the oral history bit on BOAC attachment).

    HHH is Home Establishment, Headquarters Holding - HH is Headquarters Holding so for both these units he was not posted to fill unit establishment but was part of the Headquarters manpower reserve.

    This meant that the unit could use him but not post him or take him with it if posted overseas. The unit was charged with providing messing, training, pay and day to day employment but he could be posted out at HQ whim.

    The Home part is where he was now a qualified tradesman and posted to the Home Establishment of the RAF as part of the manpower pool. The RAF only consisted of Home Establishment (H or HE) and Field Establishment where Home was UK and Field was everywhere else on the globe.

    Posting to Middle East was a paper transfer from Home Establishment to Field and needed a closing posting back to Home Establishment (HE) on 11 Jan 1946.

    Unit records typically only routinely mention posting to fill unit establishment posts but in the appendices you can sometimes find Movement Orders for the unit where all personnel will be listed along with their stage of movement eg Air Party, Main Party, Rear Party.

    Another unit ORB appendices place where traces can be found are the Casualty Reports - these were used by the RAF to report all changes in status to RAF Records Section eg living out allowance, promotions, non effective status due to sickness etc.

    However if you look at the ORB as a diary of the surrounding conditions, unit tasking and performance, record of social activities etc you will not get a more targeted description of what your relative experienced anywhere else.

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2021
    Mark Hetherington likes this.
  18. Brilliant. Thanks for the intel Ross.
  19. Apologies another query relating to all this. After enlisting he is RES for 5 months before moving to RDU Blackpool. Does that mean he's on a reserve list for training and sent home until requested?
  20. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Attested and given a lapel badge - to say hands off to the other services and busy body civis who would question why not in the services!

    The period was awaiting space to open up on the correct training route and first unit of his trade training.


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