Father in Camerons & Parachute Regiment, N Africa, Italy, Arnhem,Palestine

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Scottish Shona, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. I'm trying to create a timeline of my father's army career so I can include it alongside a collection of his army photos in a memorabilia book which can be handed down through our family. I'd appreciate any help with suggestions of countries he might have been stationed in or conflicts his units may have been involved in, which could provide a base for further reading/research on my part.

    His name was Donald John McInnes he started his army service in the Cameron Highlanders, followed by the Parachute Regiment. His army numbers were 2933882 and 321586. His DOB was 11-09-1917.
    He definitely saw service in North Africa, Italy, Palestine and Korea.

    My sources are as follows:

    1. Some basic records information I obtained from xxxx site, these documents I have posted below.

    2. Clues I found among his personal papers include:
    • A letter from the War Office listing his service history (see attached document below)
    • Photos annotated on the back that include references to Officers Quarters RAF Netheravon 1947, Liason Officer RAF Netheravon 1948, RAF Hospital Wroughton (no date), Trans-jordan 1946, troop train Port Said to Cairo 1946, Haifa 1947, Ramat David 1947... to name a few.
    • A parish 'Role of Honour' book in which he is listed as 'Wounded in Sicily'* and 'Survivor at Arnhem'
    3. Family oral history:
    • *I recall him referring to a scar on his side from "A parachute drop that went wrong in Sicily due to wrong information and he landed badly on a railing which pierced his side". I also definitely remember him saying he served in all the countries listed above.
    • After Palestine, in 1949 he was stationed as an adjutant at Hatston in Orkney, where his role was to decommission the military base there.
    • He served in Korea from Easter 1950 to Dec 1950. Whilst there (or shortly thereafter) he was promoted from Captain to Major. I can't find any confirmation of this or information about his time in Korea but I do have a photo (posted below) He is in the middle in the white shirt with captains pips.
    • After Korea he joined The Royal Army Educational Corps for two years and taught at the Royal Victoria School for Servicemen's children in Dunblane.
    • He left the army in 1953 to pursue a full time career in education. He passed away in 1993.
    • We have a box with all his medals which are at my sister's. I will be able to access them eventaully but the Covid situation means I can't travel there at present.

    A bit of background reading suggests part of the Cameron Highlanders formed the 5th(Scottish) Parachute Battalion? Could he have been in that and did this become part of the 1st Airborne Battalion - or am I going off in the wrong direction? This is the first time I have ever tried to research anything so I am starting from a place of zero knowledge. Background reading about WW2 is helping me put things in context but I am still going round in circles !

    As I mentioned before, my intention is to create a narrative that can go in a memorabilia book to be handed down through our family. My dad came from a large, poor, crofting family in the Hebrides. He was the only sibling to win a scholarship to go on to high school in Inverness, then onto Glasgow University, then into the army. I think he achieved such a lot in his life and I don't want this to become lost which is why I want to document his life for my own
    family, my sister's family and the next generation of children.

    I would really appreciate some guidance from members here. Any suggestions, however small, to help me create a timeline of possible units & postings would be very welcome.
    Thank you,

    Edit by Moderator: All reference to another website removed.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2020
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  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Hello Shona, a nice post about your father.

    A lot to take in, but to start these are references in the London Gazette for his various appointments.
    Notices | All Notices | The Gazette...

    I can find no reference to him in the Army Casualty Lists.

    For full details of his service his official service records are only available from the MOD:
    Get a copy of military service records

    His service number, 2933882, means that he enlisted with the Cameron Highlanders. I would be careful with the record for the Royal Artillery, the name may be the same, but at first glance is it him?
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  3. Thanks so much for your reply Tony.

    I did think that the Royal Artillery listing was an oddity as it didn't seem to tie in with the Camerons or future units - but I thought I should probably include it anyway as someone in the know (eg. yourself !) might be able to comment on it.

    We do intend to apply for the full service records via the MOD. I have looked into this and although I am the one doing the overall research, my sister will need to be the one who applies for the records as she is the oldest child and therefore following the death of my mother is the person officially designated as next of kin.

    Thank you for the Gazette links, that's really appreciated.

    Until tonight I felt i was struggling in the dark with this so to have someone take an interest and reply has really cheered me up , thank you !
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  4. David Woods

    David Woods Active Member

    A copy of his service in Palestine from the GSM Palestine Medal Rolls 1945-1948. Showing he served in Palestine from Nov. 1946 to Apr. 1947. The document is dated 9th Sept. 1948 and was signed at Hatston Camp, Headquarters of The Orkney and Shetland Garrison.

    Attached Files:

  5. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    7th Battalion Camerons converted into a Paachute Battalion in August 1942, re-designated 5th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. they saw action in North Africa, Italy, South of France and Greece. The Regimental origins were maintained by the pipes and drums which continued to wear the kilt of 79th Tartan.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I've removed all the screenshots from that other website & mention of them.

    We had issues with them in the past.

    You can apply for your Dad's records yourself.
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  7. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    I've just checked all of the officer returns for 5 Para in Greece (October 1944 to January 1945) but haven't found him.

    Maybe he was at the rear depot in Italy.

    You'll find just about everything about 5 Para at The Pegasus Archive

    He certainly wasn't injured at any time as he's not popping up on FMP.

    Hope this helps

  8. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Good morning Gus, and especially to Shona too.

    I think the 5th Parachute Battalion may be an unintentional curve ball from Shona Gus.

    Given the dates of Shona's father's service in the ranks from the War Office letter in Shona's first post here I think her dear dad will have been in one of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Battalion(s) The Parachute Regiment, and likely (if dates are indeed correct) a very early volunteer at that.

    And, I'd hang my hat (given the Scottish heritage) of what was to become the 2nd Battalion, even going as far as C Company and Shona's father being one of John Frost's boys (notwithstanding the difference between The Cameronians and The Cameron Highlanders!)

    All supposition and guesswork based on that War Office letter on my part (I'm away from home re VJ day with no access to books/paperwork and typing on my old phone is a real bind).

    And Shona, I can't endorse enough what the good folks posting above have said regarding obtaining your dear father's service records. They will help you complete the picture in the year to come.

    Good luck with your searching, keep going till you are content.

    Kind regards, always,

    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
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  9. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything


    Also, the War Office Letter to your father Shona reflects the knowledge of the person who compiled it (E Wilson?) in the 50's and they may not have realised the anomalies within (e.g. listing your dad in the Army Air Corps from 25th February 1940 when (I think, from memory) it hadn't been officially formed then.

    Again, good luck, and apologies if I've thrown you any (unintentional!) curve balls in your initial enquiries.

    Kind regards, always,

    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
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  10. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

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  11. Thank you all so much for your interest, speedy replies and all the wealth of information, suggestions and links.
    I'll reply back when I've had time to digest it all.
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  12. Hello again everyone,

    David Woods Thank you for that link, particularly interesting to see the date, as that would put him in Orkney slightly earlier than I thought. It was when he was at the Orkney & Shetland Garrison HQ that he met my mother. She was a legal secretary in a Kirkwall lawyer's office and was sent to Hatston to take responsibility for typing up all sorts of papers - presumably with her background in the lawyer's office she could be trusted with the confidential nature of the job.

    @51 highland Your answer would explain the link between the Camerons and the Parachute regiment in that scenario, and the 5th(Scottish) Parachute Battallion I felt was my first 'lead' ! However if gmyles failed to find him in his 5 Para search and the fact that no-one in the family recalls him ever mentioning being stationed in Greece, perhaps that route is indeed a curved ball. I noted what you said about the Cameron's Regimental origins being maintained by the pipes & drums and, indeed, my dad was a piper! I attach a photo of him with the pipe band. Unfortunately it's undated. He is in the line at the right hand edge,3rd from front.

    Owen Apologies for posting those documents attributed to a certain site that had a copyright issue, I didn't realise. At the time of finding them online it was my first step on the searching path and I now realise that they are basic and possibly even incorrect in parts! There are of course better places to look and a wealth of better information out there and there have been really helpful suggestions so far. We will definitely apply to the official government records site this weekend. Thanks to all who linked to that.

    gmyles Thanks for looking into 5 Para officer returns even if it drew a blank. We don't recall him mentioning Greece in relation to his service, so maybe 5 Para is less likely. As for the injury, it must have been something readily fixed with a dressing if it's not recorded in any records. That's a relief in any case, to know it wasn't bad enough at the time to be recorded.. He definitely was injured, but maybe he 'gilded the lily' as to the extent of it!

    @JimHeriot It was really interesting to read your detailed reply. I am deducing from your avatar motto you were a Para yourself? The detail in your suggestion is amazing, right down to possibly pinpointing the actual company he served in and who he served under. When we eventually receive the official government records, will those confirm his actual battalion and company within the Parachute regiment and also which unit of the Camerons he was in? Meanwhile, your suggestion certainly provides further avenues for research. I found a photo of him in his uniform which I am attaching. Perhaps some detail in the uniform which is not apparent to me, or the building behind, might offer a further clue? Unfortunately there is no date, just an illegible scrawl in his writing that looks like Yardley or perhaps Yardby.
    Thank you for drawing my attention to the Pegasus Archives site - I have literally spent the whole afternoon looking at different sections. I read the biography of John Frost and the detailed descriptions of his missions in North Africa, Sicily and at Arnhem. If my father was one of his soldiers, then this provides a very detailed account of the likely action he was involved in. I also read the article about The Origins Of The British Airborne Forces, again totally absorbing. Of particular interest was the photo gallery of the first parachute soldiers undergoing training at Ringway. Whilst this would have been a couple of years before my father did it, the photos of them training, packing kit, learning to jump from the static balloons, then in the air etc really helped me visualise what he too would have gone through in training.

    To follow on from that, can anyone advise where parachute training took place after Ringway, or did it continue there as the main place for many years?

    Lastly, I am slightly confused by the varying usage of Cameronians, Camerons and Cameron Highlanders. Am I using the wrong name, or the incorrect abbreviation of the right name, or are they actually different regiments?

    Thanks again to everyone for their interest and taking the time to reply.

    Father, uniform 2.jpg Father, pipe band 3.jpg
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  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Yes, The Cameronians and Camerons / Cameron Highlanders were different regiments.
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  14. In my post above I forgot to thank you for this Tony. Yes, he returned to Orkney after the leaving the Royal Army Educational Corps and the Victoria School in Dunblane to take up a teaching post on North Ronaldsay, the remotest island in the group. I'm certain the War Office letter was in response to him seeking confirmation of service as part of that job application. He taught in two further rural schools before moving to Kirkwall Grammar School/Stromness Academy and in the 1971 New Year's Honours list he was awarded an MBE for services to Education, which explains the mention in The Gazette on Dec 31st.
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  15. Thanks for clarifying that. So can Camerons/Cameron Highlanders be used interchangeably or is only one correct? Or is it the case that the Camerons became known as the Cameron Highlanders at a later date?
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Was he (Donald John McInnes) an officer in the Para's during WW2? I should be able to find him on a officers field return in one of the Parachute Battalion War Diaries?
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  18. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello Drew, the first document that Shona posted up (from the War Office dated 10th March 1953) gives D J McInnes commisioned (into and) service with The Army Air Corps from 10/06/44.

    For me that could be any of the Parachute Battalions within 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions, (but the locations that Shona mentions point to the 1st Airborne Division parachute battalions).

    Good luck with the searching, I don't doubt Shona will appreciate any answers you come up with.

    Kind regards, always,

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  19. It's taken me a few days to return with an update.

    I have printed off the application to obtain his service records from the MOD. My sister has applied to the local registrar for a copy of his death cert and it'll be here shortly. The form only gives you the option to put in one service number, but he has two - 2933882 from the Camerons, then subsequently 3215886 from the Army Air Corps till he relinquished his commission. Not sure whether to put the 'main' one, or the chronologically first one - probably best to put both and a covering note?

    I also plan to contact the Highlanders Museum and pay the covering fee for a brief historical research, likewise the Parachute Museum. I realise that his MOD army records are probably the only definitive answer, but it may be months till that comes through so meantime we will continue to search. It's very interesting and if nothing else I know a hundredfold more about WW2 than I did a fortnight ago, so that's no bad thing. At the end of the day when the records come back we may be proved wrong but at least we will have made an effort to find out.

    My sister has been examining his medals which are:
    WW2 service medal.
    Africa Star
    Italy Star
    General service medal with Palestine Clasp
    UN Korea medal
    Queens Korea medal

    The Africa Star has a clasp saying 1st Army, which I understand means service in Tunisia or Algeria? It also says 'D.J.McInnes, The Parachute Regiment, 2nd Parachute Brigade.'

    So, if it's 2nd Parachute Brigade am I correct in thinking he can't have been one of Jack Frost's Scottish soldiers because they were 1st Parachute, 2nd Battalion?

    This would make the 7th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders which were re-designated to form the 5th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion more likely, as they were part of 2nd Parachute Brigade. I was reading the section in the Pegasus Archives about the preparations for Italy that took place in North Africa. The 5th Scottish (Parachute) Battalion were there, it mentions in the war diary extract about Montgomery addressing all battalions to give them a motivational talk. My sister recalls my father mentioned that in particular. It also mentions reveille was played by the pipes (he was a piper). However, there may have been many battalions with pipers so I need to be careful not to mould facts to fit my own picture!

    One thing that puzzles me is that he has no France & Germany star? But I guess just because a particular battalion saw service somewhere it doesn't mean that all it's soldiers went there - presumably training and other duties had to continue in England.

    Drew5233 Thanks for your post, yes he was an officer, I will reply in a minute with some likely dates.

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  20. If you are able to find anything that would be wonderful. However, we only have his service number 3215886 Army Air Corps, 2nd Parachute Brigade until we get a definitive answer via the records about which battalion or company. But maybe you don't need that?

    From The Gazette, kindly linked to by Tony56 :

    10 June 1944 - 2nd LT
    10 Dec 1944 - 2nd LT (War subs LT) Donald John McInnes from Army Air Corps to be LT 1st July 1946 with seniority to 10 Dec 1944
    10 Jun 1944 Camerons. Short service commission. LT (war substantive captain) D J McInnes to be Capt.
    19 Jan 1951 Royal Army Educational Corps. Capt. D J McInnes 3215886 from Camerons to be Capt 1 Dec 1950, retaining his present seniority.

    Listings thereafter mention his commission (Capt) to be retained in the army reserve (he left the RAEC in 1953).

    There are no entries in The Gazette about him becoming a Major whilst in Korea. However, he definitely spoke about being 'promoted in the field' whilst there, and in his box of medals as well as the cap/ lapel badges, cloth wings etc, there are two cloth Major's epaulette crowns. Might that have been a temporary or acting role?

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