Help understanding RE tracer card

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by Carlj90, Feb 16, 2022.

  1. Carlj90

    Carlj90 Member


    I was hoping for some help in understanding my Grandfathers Royal Engineers tracer card attached.

    I believe he was a commando from 1940-1943 as his service book shows commando training in Scotland and that he transferred from Special Service to Royal Engineers in 1943.

    I have tried to understand the abbreviations on the tracer card but am really struggling. Any help to understand it would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind Regards


    Attached Files:


    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    The dates are not clear, but at first sight I thought it said that he was attached to the Madras S&M from 05/05/41. Or is it that supposed to be 05/05/43! If he only arrived in India in 1943, then 12/44 is quite an early date for repatriation to the UK.

    You really need to request his full service records here;

    Get a copy of military service records
    Carlj90 and Tony56 like this.
  3. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Also bear in mind that his service number shows that he enlisted with the Royal Fusiliers as did my father (6468560) who enlisted 3.4.40.

    Edit: the next page of his tracer shows an enlistment date of 5.3.40.
  4. sjw8

    sjw8 Well-Known Member


    The entries are not sequential which suggests that copies of the posting orders (listed in the second main column "Description") were subject to delay in being received by the RE Records Office in the UK and entered on his Tracer Card.

    Putting these in chronological order -
    01/02/43 - posted to Bangalore Det (Detachment) H (HQ) Co (Company) - following transfer from Special Service Detachment to the R.E.
    05/05/44 - to QVOM Madras S&M GP I.E. (Queen Victoria's Own Madras Sappers & Miners Group, Indian Engineers) / HQ Coy Bangalore - posting appears to have been cancelled.
    02/06/44 - to 446 (Madras) Ind A. T. (Indian Army Troops) Coy I.E.
    02/11/44 - back to Bangalore Det H Coy
    25/11/44 - at Ind (Indian) Transit Camp Deolali for UK - i.e. pending/awaiting posting back to UK.
    08/12/44 - embarked Bombay for UK
    07/01/45 - to E Coy, 4 (Receiving) Depot Bn (Battalion - awaiting posting to new unit.
    09/01/45 - disembarked UK
    08/02/45 - posted to 507 Fld (Field) Coy - part of 47th Infantry (Reserve) Division, allocated to home defence.
    10/02/45 - posted to 7 Training Battalion
    25/09/45 - posted to 10 DB (Depot Battalion) - presumably awaiting demobilisation.

    The Tracer Card only provide a overview of his service with the R.E. and as stated above, only his Service records will give the whole picture.

    JITTER PARTY makes the point that from the Tracer Card, repatriation to the UK looks to be earlier than usual but if he was serving in the Far East (e.g. Burma) prior to transfer to RE, then it is possible that he had accumulated sufficient overseas service to qualify for early repatriation; also his posting to a "reserve" division on return to UK.

    Edited - Tony56 shows attestation date of 05/03/40 - note the entry dated 11/11/44 re his Age & Service Group 26), this indicates he was born in 1916 per this chart - Demob thread: How, how long, age & service group numbers of release, etc - which would make him eligible for early release.

    Steve W

    Edit - corrected re QVOM S&M GP I.E. (Queen Victoria's Own Madras Sappers & Miners)
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2022
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

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    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    As I stated above, he was attached to the Madras S&M - Queen Victoria's Own Madras Sappers and Miners, rather than 'Queen's Own...'
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  7. sjw8

    sjw8 Well-Known Member

    You're right - my mistake typo - used to seeing "Queen's Own". Have corrected my post accordingly.
  8. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

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  9. Carlj90

    Carlj90 Member

    Thank you very much, just in the process of getting death certificate so I can get full service records
  10. Carlj90

    Carlj90 Member

    Thank you Steve this is such a great help. You have given me a lot to get my teeth stuck into and understand.

    His service book states that he served in the following places which would make me think he may qualify for early repatriation:

    England 5/3/40 – 31/1/41
    Egypt 1/2/41 – September 41
    Burma September 41-May 42
    China May 42 – August 42
    India September 42 – November 44

    currently in the process of applying for full service records which should make this all clearer.
  11. Carlj90

    Carlj90 Member

  12. Carlj90

    Carlj90 Member

    Great find. This matches a photo we have on my grandad. If you look at the one I have uploaded and the one on the BBC website they are taken in the exact same place!!!

    Attached Files:


    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    I didn't realize that he had previously been in Burma, and I guess that does explain his repat date.
    With those dates and the 'Special Services' connection, he may well have been with the famous Bush Warfare School at Maymyo and/or with one of the Special Service detachments during the 1942 retreat from Burma.
    Looking forward to seeing the full service record.
    Carlj90 likes this.
  14. Carlj90

    Carlj90 Member

    Sorry, I should have included more information. His service book does state he was at the Bush Warfare school and I have been told that he had to retreat over a long distance. He also spent time in China. I even have some of the Chinese documents he was issued with and a photo of the plane ticket he was issued with when leaving China for India. Also a picture of him in China.

    to be honest I’m at the very start of finding out what happened to him during the Second World War so have little to no knowledge of the bush warfare school, retreat etc, but am doing my best to learn as much as possible.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2022

    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    While waiting for the service records to arrive you could do worse than read 'No Surrender in Burma: Operations Behind Japanese Lines, Captivity and Torture' by FC Goode, who was a member of 2 Special Service Detachment. He was captured, but many of them walked out to China.
  16. Carlj90

    Carlj90 Member

    Brilliant will definitely give that a read. Want to try and get lots of research done before it arrives.

    I was told by my dad my grandfather walked out to China, also have some pictures of him in China looking very thin and malnourished.

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