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With our experts Jayne Shrimpton, Celia Heritage and Tim Lovering


Photo 1

A soldier’s appearance can provide many clues to his service: for instance the medal ribbons and badges of rank both provide details to be verified and cross-referred with any documents you have for your soldier ancestor

My soldier step-brother

Q My sister sadly passed away last month and I have been given a photo of my eldest brother (legally step-brother) who passed away in 1994 at the age of 70. Like many others he did not speak about his time in WW2. There is a ‘family story’ that he served in Burma and was with the Chindits, was a prisoner of war (PoW) for a time, stayed in the Military Hospital in Singapore, and finished his time there as a Staff Sergeant. However, I have found no mention of him at all online. I am just about to apply to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) personnel records in Glasgow to see whether it can help.

The photo shows him with a medal ribbon above his left breast pocket. I think the photo was taken after the war when he was a member of the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) Territorial Army in Stoke-on-Trent. Sadly I do not know what unit he served with during WW2. From the photograph, is it possible to tell me what medals he was awarded?

I have received a second photo that shows my brother on the right of the picture (see photo 2 on page 84), wearing what I think to be a ‘Warrant Officer Class 2’ (WO 2) badge on his right arm and of course the row of service medals. I also note that the cap badge does not look like that of the RASC – possibly because he joined them after the war and this photo is prior to the end of the war before he was demobbed?

In my family story that he served in Burma, there was never any mention that he held WO 2 rank. The hat badge looks similar to the old Stafford Regiment and I wonder if your experts may also have a view on this? Frank Gray

Photo 1 A Starting with photo 1, the medal on our left is the 1939-1945 Star, consisting of equal dark blue, red and light blue stripes. For the Army, this medal was awarded to men with more than 180 days’ operational service during the war.

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About Family Tree

There's something undeniably special about visiting our ancestors' final resting places. Read the guide in the latest issue of Family Tree about graveyards and we will help you step back in time. Graveyards and cemeteries are a very real reminder of earlier generations and visiting them will not only spark thought-provoking memories - they may also provide you with new clues and details... And speaking of 'new clues' - don't miss our brand new series 'Taken a DNA test? Now what?'. This is the advice you need if you want to get the most from your DNA test. Discover how to make sense of the results, find more details and grow that fabulous family tree of yours! Join in with the DNA adventure today! We also have a fabulous free guide for you in this bumper issue, Heritage Days Out, packed full of ideas for family and local history trips to take this summer. Enjoy your travels through time!