Trying to decipher my grandfather's RA Service Records

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by SarahEmily, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. SarahEmily

    SarahEmily Junior Member

    Hi Everyone,
    I am trying to find out more information about my grandfather's military service during WW2, however I live in Australia, so am limited to what I can find online, or can mail order ;-)

    My Grandfather was Loftus Thomas James Easter, and based on his service record (which I have) spent most of the war serving in the RA 27d regt. His army number was 5989603, and I can see that he spent time in the UK, North Africa and Italy during the war, and served with the BEF and MEF.

    Now I will be upfront and say that I'm having some trouble interpreting everything on his file. What I really want to do is to flesh out his story as best I can. I would be very grateful if anyone can help me piece together his movements during the war, or even point me the right direction to find his unit's war diaries.

    I have attached a copy of his service record if anyone wants to look

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Sarah and welcome to the forum - Can you time up the line on his records that states he was with the BEF? It should have a date when he embarked to France and the unit he was with. I have all of the Royal Artillery Regt war diaries for the BEF so I'm happy to have a look and see if anything specific stands out. It looks like he was with 27 Field Regt?

  3. SarahEmily

    SarahEmily Junior Member

    Sorry for the badly named thread, and for not attaching the files - my 3 year old decided to press the keys of my laptop while I was still in the midst of typing :rolleyes:

    Anyway here are the service record files

    Attached Files:

  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Unfortunately the scans are too small for me to read. I can make out BEF on the first page but not the unit-It looks like 2nd Field?
  5. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Sarah Emily,

    My apologies, there have been several posts since I attempted to post this reply, so ignore what's irrelevant. You've done what most people first posting on here don't do and that's get your grandfather's service record. That's the big hurdle - there are people on here who regularly go to the National Archives in Kew and can photograph your grandfather's unit war diaries for a very reasonable rate, much less than the National Archives would charge for photocopying and postage. I couldn't see the attachment so perhaps you could try again, but again, there are several people on here, including veterans, who may be able to interpret your grandfather's military records. I have certainly discovered that there's nothing like the armed forces for a good abbreviation, but as to which are important and which relatively meaningless, you need someone with more experience.

    What I found very briefly, it would appear that at some point, 27th Field Regiment - I can't find a 27th medium or heavy regiment which went to the far east - they certainly became a jungle field regiment in January 1943, so I would assume somewhere on your granddad's records it will tell you he was transferred.

    Colchester 1938 - 4 Div
    France 1940 - 1 Corps Troops (Army Fd Regt)
    UK 1940-2 - N Comd (Army Fd Regt)
    India 1942-4 - 25 Indian Div
    Burma 1944 - 25 Indian Div
    ALFSEA 1945 - 15, 25 & 26 Indian Divs

    I got this from:

    British Artillery Regiments

    which will give you a bit of background as to the organisation of the Royal Artillery in WW2 and how it changed, plus some very useful resources either online or to help you doing research from Australia - if you ask someone to go to Kew for you, for instance.

    You could do worse than contacting the Royal Artillery Museum, 'Firepower' - they won't undertake individual research, but they may be able to give you more general information.
    The Royal Artillery Museum
    Royal Arsenal
    SE18 6ST
    Tel: 020 8855 7755
    Fax: 020 8855 7100
    General Enquiries:
    Research Enquiries:

    And if you haven't already, you could certainly get hold of the comedian Spike Milligan's books on his service in the Royal Artillery in WW2. They may be somewhat precarious history to academics, but I am assured by many veterans that the general picture they give is accurate - he served in the UK, North Africa and Italy like your grandfather - in 56 Heavy Regiment.

    Forgive me if I'm repeating things you already know or have done, but someone will be along shortly to offer other opinions or further help, you've landed in the right place.

    Good luck,

    Stormbird likes this.
  6. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    There is a family tree on Ancestry that contains two military pictures of Loftus Thomas James Easter born 20 Aug 1920 and passed away in Jun 2001 at Crawley, West Sussex.

    But then again, this tree may belong to you on Ancestry. If it isn't yours I could try and get a hold of the Ancestry member on your behalf.
  7. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Like Drew, I'm finding it difficult to read the scans, but it looks as if he was with 2nd Field Regiment all the way through, which would make sense as they fought in France then the UK, then Tunisia and Italy:

    Bordon 1938 - Army Regt
    France 1939-40 - 1 Inf Div
    UK 1940-3 - 1 Inf Div
    Tunisia 1943 - 1 Inf Div
    Anzio 1/44 - 1 Inf Div
    Italy 1944 - 1 Inf Div
    Mid East 1945 - 1, 2 & 3 Inf Divs
  8. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    Records are often very badly written and in pencil which does not last well.

    I have enlarged only the first page and am fairly sure it says he enlisted in February 1939. Went first to 1 Training regiment RA and then to 2 Field Regiment RA.

    He went overseas to France on 24.9.39 and was evacuated from France 2.6.40.

  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    2 Field Regiment was a Regular Army unit which was with 1 Division which was all Regular Army and first to go to France in 1939. The Division fought in France in May 1940 and was evacuated from Dunkirk very early in June. This fits with your records.

    1 Division later went to N.Africa and Italy and presumably 2 Field Regiment went with it.

    I have not read the rest of your document yet.

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    He went overseas to France on 24.9.39 and was evacuated from France 2.6.40.


    I concur. The war diary has the same details for arriving and leaving France.
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Sarah - As well as the regiments war diaries there is a book on 2 Field Regt during WW2 (apart from the important bit) called Ubique by Cheetham.

    Cheetham - Ubique - AbeBooks
  12. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Sarah Emily.

    If your father served in 1 British Infantry Division, you might want to read 'Fatal Decision' by Carlo d'Este. It covers the landing, stalemate and breakout at Anzio and 1 Infantry Division was a key component of this part of the Italian Campaign.

    You will rapidly grasp the horrors that men like your father had to endure.


  13. SteveStone

    SteveStone Junior Member

    I put page 1 through some posh software and it is still difficult to read. Not only are some parts written awkwardly, but there are corrections and over-prints. A higher resolution image file would be better.

    The dates appear to read...
    BEF (France) 24.9.39 - ?.6.40
    ??? 2.6.40 - 25.2.4?
    N. Africa 26.2.4? - 19.3.4?
    MEF 19.3.4? - 10.11.4?
    Home 31.12.4? - 25.1.4?
    ??? ?.1.4? - 2.9.45

    I hope that is of some use.

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