My father-in-law’s Se­cond World War ser­vice record is sketchy. How can I find out more?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q&A -

The mil­i­tary record of my father-in-law is sketchy. He was Leonard Arthur Hunter, born in York in 1910. In 1940, he was a des­patch rider. We know he had a ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent, per­haps in France, and had to wear a built- up boot for the rest of his life. Leonard is se­cond from the left in the pho­to­graph shown below. The col­lar badges in the photo could say RE. Is that Royal En­gi­neers? We’d like to find out his rank, ser­vice num­ber and Se­cond World War army record. Wil­liam Moore, by email

AThe photo shows a group of mo­tor­cy­cle des­patch rid­ers, prob­a­bly all Royal En­gi­neers (RE) taken early in the Se­cond World War. Des­patch rid­ers for im­por­tant head­quar­ters were from the Royal Sig­nals but smaller units had their own, drawn from their ranks. Tele­phone wires were eas­ily cut or bro­ken and ra­dios too big to move eas­ily, so des­patch rid­ers were vi­tal – es­pe­cially in the chaos of the re­treat to Dunkirk.

Your wife should be able to ob­tain her father’s ser­vice record from the MoD. De­tails of how to do this are at gov.uk/re­quests­for-per­sonal-data-and-ser­vice-records.

The RE served in small units, whose War Di­aries are in WO 167 se­ries at the Na­tional Ar­chives (not on­line) and may even men­tion his ac­ci­dent. Phil To­maselli

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