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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree December 2017 > My ancestor was in the RAF

My ancestor was in the RAF

The history of the RAF has always seemed rather dashing, from the adventures of Biggles to the derring-do of the Dam Buster raid. With the centenary of the RAF soon upon us, it’s the perfect time to target your research on your RAF ancestors and family connections. Geoff Simpson outlines some useful sources and approaches to help you get started


In 2013 a memorial was unveiled to Sergeant Robert Henry Braund (‘Bobby’) Fraser in a wood at Shadoxhurst, Kent, where his Hurricane crashed during the Battle of Britain in 1940. On the right is the late Wing Commander Bob Foster, also a Hurricane pilot in the battle. Later in the war he flew from Australia against the Japanese. At the left of his medals is the Distinguished Flying Cross and next to it the 1939-1945 Star, with the rare Battle of Britain Clasp
Second World War ground crew illicitly photographed with a Spitfire at RAF Hornchurch by their colleague ‘Joe’ Crawshaw

During 2018 the Royal Air Force will be much in the news. On 1 April, it will be 100 years since the service was formed by the merging of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the latter part of the British Army.

On 16/17 May it will be 75 years since Operation Chastise, one of the famous moments in RAF history, when 19 Lancaster bombers of the specially formed No 617 Squadron attacked enemy dams and therefore German industry. 12 August will be the centenary of the birth of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who earned a Victoria Cross leading the ‘Dam Busters’ on that attack.

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About Family Tree

Come on, it's time to roll up your sleeves, leave the pleasant pastures of the 19th century, the birth, marriage and death records, and the census - and trace your family lines further back in into the past. This is your chance to explore new records, stretch your research and revel in the lives and times of your Georgian, Stuart and even Tudor ancestors.