Can you decipher this Second World War RAF service record?
QI’m trying to find out what my father-in-law, Frederick Leslie Simm, did during the Second World War in Egypt and Italy. He joined the RAF on 10 December 1941 and served overseas from May 1943 to July 1946. His service records don’t seem to reveal what he did in either country, or how and when he became a Corporal. Ann Simm, by email
ARAF service records are difficult to interpret because the RAF used initials, acronyms and numbers to identify postings and people served in a variety of stations, training units, squadrons and support units during their career. Records were also compiled in Britain so details of service abroad are sometimes incorrect. The first posting for your fatherin-law, Frederick Leslie Simm, was 3 Reception Centre (Bournemouth), then 10 ( Signals) Recruit Centre (Blackpool). There he became a WOP (Wireless Operator). He then moved to 3 Wireless School. After a hospital stay, he served in a series of RAF Stations: Swanton Morley, Honington and Snetterton Heath. RAF station histories can be found online (search by RAF station name).
Next, Frederick is at Renscombe Down, where secret Air Ministry Experimental Stations (AMES) were established. These mobile radar units operated close to the frontline to detect enemy aircraft. He was posted to the Middle East (the record’s out of order here) then to the North West Africa Air Force in May 1943. He didn’t receive it, but may have been entitled to the Africa Star medal. By July 1943, Frederick was with 8032 AMES whose records are in AIR 29/191 at TNA Kew ( but not online), serving with them through the Sicily campaign and in Italy. He’s noted as rejoining them on 17 August in Sicily, where they operated at coastal sites detecting German aircraft and guiding fighters towards them. In October, they landed at Salerno, continuing to watch for enemy aircraft, several of which were shot down as a result of their work.
In April 1944 he was posted to 242 Group (a mixed Group of bomber, fighter and seaplane squadrons), then had two spells in hospital before going back to 242 Group, returning to the UK and being discharged in September 1946. An account of 8032 AMES in Sicily and Italy is online ( bit.ly/8032ames).
FL Simm’s discharge. Postings during his time in the RAF are shown on subsequent pages
Simm’s certificate of service with a photograph of the young airman