We often get readers coming into The National Archives wanting to find information about their ancestors in the RAF, yet they come with only their name. With service records from 1920 onwards still held at the Ministry of Defence, how much is it possible to find out and how easy is it to do with just a name? Are we limited to learning about only a small part of their life or can we get a bigger, broader picture? Being relatively new to The National Archives and wanting to develop our records knowledge in order to best advise readers with their enquiries, these were questions we were keen to find the answers to. So armed with the name, Charles James Drogo Montagu, chosen from a recent visit to the Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery in the Netherlands, we began our journey.
Where to begin:
Our first point of call, as with many servicemen, who fought and died in combat during the world wars, was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website. Helped by the fact that our man had an unusual name, we quickly discovered he was a Pilot Officer in the 77 Squadron (had our man had a more common name the process of identifying the correct individual could have made research somewhat more difficult). He died on 25th August 1940, aged 19, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). The CWGC also gave us his parents’ names: George E.S and Doris Montagu of Wiltshire. Brilliant, we thought. So, where do we go next? Continue reading »