Understanding RAF service record

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by bofors, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

    HI all

    I have been asked by a relation to help him to understand his father's RAF service record. He does not want to reveal his father's name, address or service number.
    I am not really up on RAF records, so I have attempted my best and looked at a few sites for abbreviations and below is what I have come up with. I am also uploading cropped pictures of the original records for you to compare. I would appreciate any corrections and/or help with interpreting things I cannot expand. He said his father served in North Africa and Italy (as did my Dad but on a Bofors!).
    Here is what I have so far-

    page 1
    I have not copied this, but am I right -

    Current Engagement D. of P.E. (date of permanent enlistment?)– Date of Enlistment and Service Commences 16/3/40.

    Prog. Pay 15/3/41 to 3/4/41 - progressive??

    page 2

    (which is the bottom of page 1)

    See also Form 3905 – a supplementary record of service which is filed separately.

    Release Class A

    Effective date of Release 17/6/46

    Good Conduct Badges

    Authority 176/44 (Airforce order 176 of 1944) 1st, D on 15.10.44

    77/46, 1st, R, 23.4.45

    page 3

    See attachments on my next reply below

    page 4

    same with this one

    Discharged from Class ‘G’ Reserve with effect from 30th June 1959.

    For the Good Conduct badges, what do D & R mean?

    Thanks for your help, happy to email any part also.

    Also can anyone expand the abbreviations that I have not been able to work out please-
    and confirm these-

    I used - http://www.associations.rafinfo.org.uk/acronyms.htm

    RAF ranks (lowest to highest)-

    AC2- Aircraftman 2nd Class

    AC1- Aircraftman 1st Class

    LAC- Leading Aircraftman

    VG – very good

    F Mech – flight mechanic

    FM (E) – Flight Mechanic (Engines)

    GD- may mean general duties

    OTU- Operational Training Unit (RAAF)

    S of TT - School of Technical Training

    PDC - Personnel Despatch Centre

    B&GS - Bombing & Gunnery School



    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
  2. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Duration of Present Emergency

    Watch the 1940 entries they have been recorded out of sequence but the dates can be used to reorder.

    He had a couple of holding posts before entering the trade training scheme.

    He had v good character but only satisfactory for performance and this is mirrored in his low scores in trade training tests. These resulted in periodic demotion in rank and retraining - in the view of the Air Ministry he was not a dead loss - just needed a bit more refresher than other Flight Mechanic (Engines) when on the job.

    1 W.G.5 S of TT is actually No.1 Wing, No.5 School of Technical Training where No.1 Wing was a sub formation within No.5 SofTT rather than a higher formation.

    Don't worry too much about the authority entries they are just clerk short hand to allow reference to other documents that explain detail but over the years the documents have been destroyed/seperated/lost/misfiled - choose one.

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
    bofors and Tricky Dicky like this.
  3. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

    Hi Ross

    Thanks for your reply.
    I printed out the spreadsheets I had done from the records and scanned them, so hopefully easier to work out, here they are attached.

    Again if anyone can correct errors or add any information it would be appreciated.



    Attached Files:

  4. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

    HI all

    Changed 1st entry to refer to pages above and get rid of all the mess.
    Also asked a few more questions.

    Do any of the entries show he was in North Africa or Italy?

  5. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    NWAAF - North West African Air Forces

    OTU was common abbreviation in all Commonwealth and Dominion Air Force Formations - not exclusive to RAAF

    Your GH is Admitted General Hospital

    104 POE is 104 PDC

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
    alieneyes and bofors like this.
  6. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

    Hi Ross

    Thanks for your help
    I will pass this on.

    Do MOD keep any other records, or is this basically his record?
    With his medal entitlement, would a request to MOD Medals be the only way to find out?
    Army service records have them listed in them.


  7. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Yup - no medal section on RAF service records, it's a separate enquiry.

    No - his true RAF record was Form 280 Certificate of Airman Service but Form 543 is usually the only bit that survives today in archive and possibly documents generated at discharge with the airman or his NoK.

    Form 280 was a file containing numerous documents that had retain and destroy dates set by parliament. Form 543 was effectively the handy index wrapper giving the Authority for any event. This Authority reference could be used to find the corresponding detail paperwork either in the Form 280 or other documents in the Air Ministry Registry,

    To quote Kings Regs
    "Note:-A Ledger Sheet is maintained which gives the full details of the airman's service, particulars of marriages, and births of children, medical history, trade particulars, &cc; and it is proposed that this Ledger Sheet shall be permanently preserved. It is considered that this record will be sufficient to deal with all future enquiries."

    Form 543 is the ledger sheet.

    I did a detailed Form 280 a few years ago so read this if you want the chapter and verse from KR and ACI.

    Form 280, Certificate of Service, Airman

    Your man has a typical format for RAF Service history.

    Entry at Padgate (most of Midlands and north recruits came in here ) - passed to Morecambe recruit centre then to a bombing and gunnery school/operational training unit as holding (untrained tasks eg admin, guard, fire piquet etc) while waiting for a entry to trade training school.

    When intake commences at No.5 SofTT he commences trade training at Locking as Flight Mechanic. Passes out and is posted to OTU for duty.

    A bit of medical mucking about and then assigned to North Africa. RAF records rarely show draft and trooping, only PTC/PDC so take the date of NWAAF as when he was made available on paper transfer rather than date left UK.

    Home Force was set out as same function commands eg Fighter, Bomber, Coastal, Training but Field Forces were area commands where formations were mixed together on local aerodromes. He seems to have been mostly used for servicing maritime recce aircraft.

    All the pointers are there, you need to use the Operations Record Book for each unit at Kew to find detail on where and what each unit on the Form 543 was doing when he was posted.

    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
    alieneyes, bofors and Tricky Dicky like this.
  8. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    alieneyes, bofors and Tricky Dicky like this.
  9. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

    Hi Ross

    Thank you for that brilliant answer, that is what I was after.
    I have no idea with RAF.
    So is 156 MU and 159 MU his units and what does MU mean?
    I appreciate the time and answers you have given on this and I am sure the son will also be really happy to get this. He said to me he had no idea of what the record meant. He has the 543A form for his father.


  10. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

  11. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Sweeping up your other questions

    On the Good Conduct A/D/R it's Award/Deprivation/Restoration eg good boy/bad boy/better boy.

    Yes - Progressive Pay.

    bofors and Tricky Dicky like this.
  12. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

    HI Ross

    Thanks again for your help.
    I will collate all this and send it off, if he has any other questions, I will be back!

  13. 379/101 HAA

    379/101 HAA Ubique

    Sorry to bump this thread after such a long time but I`m trying to decipher a relative`s service record and have managed most of it but I`m a bit stumped on one area and wonder if someone can help.

    Looking at sheet 2 on RAF form 543, under unit postings and reason (PORs), it states the following:

    Stn. Waterbeach X (Date given)
    Stn. Waterbeach (Supy?) (Date given)
    PDC Wilmslow A (Date given)

    So I know "A" is attached to Personnel Dispatch Centre Wilmslow, prior to posting overseas, but does anyone know what the "X" abbreviation and what looks like "Supy" means?

    Perhaps "X" means attached or sick? (Yes, I`m guessing), and what looks like "Supy" (it`s very difficult to read), maybe Supply or Supplementary?

    Any help would be most appreciated.

    Thank you,

  14. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member


    I believe "supy" stands for supernumerary.


  15. 379/101 HAA

    379/101 HAA Ubique

    Wow Dave, that was quick, thank you.

    As following this entry he was sent overseas, how would that be used in context. Does that mean in essence he was superfluous and awaiting a posting?


  16. 379/101 HAA

    379/101 HAA Ubique

    Sorry to raise this subject again but RAF service records are not my normal area of interest and I`m still struggling a little.

    I`ve been "Googling" a fair bit but can`t find a definitive answer to what H.S.L. and W.S.I mean on Form 543. I`ve seen several examples of them on forms on-line but no explanation. To put them in context they read as follows:

    W.S.I 4 Years (followed by date)
    H.S.L. 5 Years (followed by date)

    I`m pretty sure H.S.L. will mean Home Service Leave but can anyone confirm. As far as W.S.I ? War Service ??? perhaps. These are both under the heading "Miscellaneous" on the first page.

    Any help would be most appreciated.

    Thank you,


Share This Page