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Family History (Part 3)

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Back in June I wibbling on about my maternal grandfather Albert Cox's service history and how, if I jump through the right hoops and crossed the MoD's palm with silver they would send it to me. With my mother's and aunt's help I got the paperwork together and my mother wrote them a cheque and I sent it all off.

Albert Cox in RAF This week the scanned document finally arrived. It is a single double sided sheet scanned onto A3 but the original looks like it was some odd Imperial size. Anyway after a bit of faffing (as I only have an A4 scanner) I've now scanned both sides in. They're a mine of information although much of it is cryptic initials. The RAF helpfully provided a "List of Common Abbreviations" which runs to eleven pages.

So what does it tell me that I didn't already know. Starting at the top on the front it's got his wife's name as Ivy Lilian Dorne. Now I believe her name was Ivy Lillian Orme and although I confess I can't be sure of the spelling of Lillian I'm pretty damn sure about Orme so it gives pause for thought on other data.

I do now have a date for their wedding, which I didn't have before1 and dates of birth for all four children, not all of which I had (although the caveat about reliability applies).

The back is more fun as it lists his service history. Although his record begins on 01/04/41 with 3RC (recruiting centre) he is immediately sent back to Res (Reserve) until 15/05/41 which ties up with his RAF Certificate of Service and Release which has his service with the RAF VR starting on 15/05/41.

He's assigned to RAF 1st Wing and on 20/06/41 he's send to the 2SofTT (Second School of Technical Training). Ten months later on 22/04/42 he is assigned to 25 OTU (Operational Training Unit).

It then gets at bit hazy. He arrived at Wittering on 10/09/42 but then it looks like he might have been sent home for a while as there's an entry "Disemb UK" 06/11/42 and then "HE" (Home Embarkation) eleven months later on 09/11/43 and he ends up at Melton Mowbray on 06/11/43 where he stays for seven months.

On 14/06/44 he moves on to 43 OTU where he stays for nine months.

Then on 27/03/45 he's shipped out to the Middle East just before the war in Europe comes to an end in May. There's two entries there:

Albert Cox RAF postings in Africa

The second I'm sure is Khartoum in Sudan. The first, where he was for the first four months, I can't make any sense of at all and my Google foo has failed me2. Any ideas gratefully received.

In essence then the his war service seems to have come in six parts:

15/05/41 Training
22/04/42 25 OTU - Wikipedia's list of Operational Training Units says that 25 OTU:

was formed in March 1941 at RAF Finningley as part of No. 7 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Handley Page Hampden, after operating a variety of types is became a Vickers Wellington unit in April 1942. It carried out a number of operational raids during 1942. Disbanded in February 1943.

Albert is listed in his RAF Certificate of Service and Release as a "Fitter 2-Engines" and as both the Hampden and Wellington were twin engine so that makes sense and this business about carrying out operational raids ties up too as Albert claimed that, although he was a fitter, he did take part in a raid as a gunner as they were short of bodies and that makes more sense in an OTU with an ever changing procession of flight crew coming through.

06/11/42 Home leave?
06/11/43 Melton Mowbray - presumably RAF Melton Mowbray. Judging by the Wikipedia entry all sorts of planes came through as it was originally a maintenance field but in the time he was there 306 and 407 Ferry Training Units were also stationed there (so more OTU style activity).
14/06/44 43 OTU - Wikipedia's list of Operational Training Units says that 43 OTU:

was formed in October 1942 at RAF Larkhill to train army co-operation air observers for deployment on the Auster.

and again that makes sense as "special qualifications" (right hand side of the back) notes "Lycoming Gypsy Major" which is the engine in the Auster.

27/03/45 Middle East - So after some time at another place in July he ends up in Khartoum. RAF Khartoum was:

home of the Tropical Experimental Unit, an arm of the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down. All civil as well as military aircraft were evaluated under tropical conditions at Khartoum

and Albert talked about assembling an early jet fighter from parts shipped out in a crate while in Africa. That sounds like just the sort of thing they would be doing at RAF Khartoum for Boscombe Down.

So, interesting I think and I hope mother and his other surviving children are pleased.

You can see more about Albert Cox here on his Oldham and Cox family trees webtrees page.

  1. On a side note you'll see that my mother Patricia was born six months two weeks later. This isn't news in our family and, as far as I can make out, it was pretty much par for the course back then.
  2. My best hit is RAF Ein Shemer in Palestine but although the second word does look like "Shemer" I'm not convinced about the first. However RAF Ein Shemer does fit in one regard: his RAF Certificate of Service and Release notes oversea service as "Egypt, Palestine, Sudan".

Tags: family Written 12/10/13


Previous comments about this article:

On 27/10/13 at 2:32pm Paul wrote:

Mom later confirmed the Ein Shemer connection - it was written on the back of a photo she had of his.

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