Monday 30 June 2014

FindMyPast releases interesting RAF collections has launched a collection of British Royal Air Force records. It comprises two record sets, the Royal Air Force (110,000 airmen recorded) and the Royal Flying Corps (nearly 343,000 records online for the first time). The majority of RFC records date from 1912 to 1939.

I wasn't expecting to find many from Ireland, but it seems the airforce was rather more cosmopolitan than I imagine. More than 30 countries are represented in the RFC set alone, and there are many Irishmen. It's definitely worth checking out because the details recorded are quite comprehensive, and you may not find the same in-depth info elsewhere.

To give you a flavour, here are a couple of examples I came across:

John Doyle, a 20-year-old Roman Catholic waiter born in Dublin's 'Marlborough Street parish', signed up in 1918. His physical description suggests he'd been involved in some pretty awful accident earlier in his life as he had 'extensive scars on his chest, abdomen, left buttock and groin'. His brother, J Doyle, of 20 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin, was given Next of Kin status. John doesn't seem to have particularly enjoyed life in the forces. He was detained and had his pay docked for failing to turn turn up for duties on several occasions in March 1919, and was locked up for two weeks after going AWOL, not complying with an order and failing to salute an officer while on sentry duty just one month later. His short military career ended at the end of that year when he was transferred to the Reserve.

William Driscoll was a 19-year-old labourer from St Francis parish, Cork, when he signed up in 1917. His married sister who lived in Cork City was recorded as Next of Kin. He was just 5' 2". He suffered two bouts of Scabies during his time in the RAF and also received treatment for Dermatitis. He was in France for a full year, from August 1918 to August 1919 and was awarded an RAF medal in 1926. He was discharged from the service in January 1920 having re-enlisted in the Royal Munster Fusiliers.