We often get readers coming into The National ArchivesÂ wanting to find information about their ancestors in the RAF, yet they come with only their name. Â 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 lifeÂ or can we get a bigger, broader picture?Â Being relatively new to The National Archives and wanting to develop our recordsÂ knowledgeÂ Â in order to best advise readers with their enquiries,Â these were questions we were keen to find the answers to. Â So armed with the name, Charles James Drogo Montagu, chosen from a recent visit to the Amsterdam New EasternÂ CemeteryÂ in the Netherlands,Â we began our journey.
Where to begin:
Our first point of call, as with manyÂ servicemen,Â 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,Â we quickly discovered he was a Pilot Officer in the 77 Squadron (had our man had a more common name the processÂ of identifying the correctÂ individual could have madeÂ research somewhat more difficult).Â Â He died on 25th August 1940, aged 19, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).Â The CWGC also gave us his parentsâ€™ names: George E.S and Doris Montagu of Wiltshire. Brilliant, we thought. So, where do we go next? Continue reading »