Almost three weeks ago I stopped procrastinating and started the process of applying for the military service records of Horace and Albert, my cousins killed in WWII.
I’ve written about them on a few occasions, when I’ve new information about them, or most recently, on the anniversaries of their deaths.
Each application costs 30 pounds sterling, and I had to order bank drafts in sterling from my bank. That itself was an ongoing experience, taking more than a week for the bank to work out some kind of internal glitch that prevented the cheques from being validated. However the problem turned into a blessing when the bank refunded their fees because of the inconvenience.
I posted the forms and cheques, and this morning I received emails to confirm the applications had been received by the appropriate people and they were being processed.
Sadly a lot of information won’t be accessible to me, because I’m not the next of kin, and I don’t have the approval of the next of kin. I don’t know who the legal “next of kin” would be. As far as I’m aware, neither of the two married or had children, so the role of “next of kin” would probably have gone through one of their surviving siblings then from generation to generation over the years since the war.
Both time and distance makes identification of that person impossible.
I can only hope that the information I DO get will be worth the wait and the expense. I’d like to be able to write some kind of “detailed” tribute of the two brothers in time for next year’s 75th anniversary of their deaths.
A year or two ago I applied for the Australian service records of Gloria’s dad who served in the RAAF in Borneo towards the end of WWII.
That was much easier. Even though I wasn’t a blood relation, I was able to submit the request myself. I was able to pay by credit card on line – no need for difficult bank transactions, or to mail a physical application form.
It took a few months to come through, but Gloria received a sizable collection of documents, all copied in a way to resemble the originals. I later found that my application also released the file to be accessible on line through the National Archives website.
Australian military records are far easier to access than the British equivalent. I’ve copied several WWI records from the National Archives site for people of interest.
We tried to get the same kind of information related to Gloria’s grandfather who served in the British Army during WWI (Royal West Kent) but apparently a large percentage of British WWI records were destroyed during the blitz. His records seem to have been among those lost.
Depending on the quality of the records I get of Horace and Albert’s service, I’ll consider getting records for my own Grandfather who was a Sergeant in the Royal artillery, stationed at various places on the south coast of England during WWII.