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