No flight of fancy Taking to the air in WW1


I had, until yesterday, concluded from researches so far that it was unlikely that any family connection had served in the fledgling air services of World War One. But an ‘absent voters list’ entry in 1920 for William George Taylor of 40 Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth, a first cousin of grannie Scott, shows that I was wrong – described as 248748 Pte., R.A.F.

As it happens, the ‘Best websites’ review section in the current (February) issue of Who Do You Think You Are magazine is on “Royal Air Force”, read a few days ago more for background than expectation of usefulness. But looking at it again, the muster roll for when the RAF was created on 1st April 1918 looked useful, and searchable on FindMyPast. And yes, there was Air Force serviceman 248748. He joined 31st January 1918, and at April 1918 his previous rank of “Boy mechanic” (perhaps in the Royal Naval Air Service, as he came from Weymouth {3}) became just a “Boy” in RAF terms! There a couple of dozen others on the same page who share this change. Perhaps they are all under 18 at the time? {1}

Relevant service records held by The National Archives are in the process of being digitised, according to the same WDYTYA piece. Fingers crossed our man is in there when they emerge online.

Notes

1. William George Taylor was born July 1900 in Blaenclydach, to Clifford and Annie Taylor (later Trask).

2. Useful links: The National Archives’ Royal Air Force personnel guide, ‘ranks and insignia’ (rafweb).

3. Update: While I had been told that William joined the Royal Flying Corps, his service record (downloaded from FMP in April 2016) definitely says RNAS from January to July 1918. After training as a fitter (to June 1919) he appears to be in Orkney, Houton Splane (seaplane?), FARD Donibristle, 238 Sqdn and 210 Sqdn. Hospital in summer 1920, then Cranwell and a couple of illegibles to June 1922.

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