Locating WW2 RAF records

0 votes
I have a newspaper article referring to my great-grandfather's brother Edward John Dowding being an RAF navigator during the second world war, although I understand "navigator" isn't an official RAF rank.

Searching the National Archives' WW2 RAF records for "Dowding" (none of them have a first or middle name transcribed) returns 3 results for a Flying Officer, 2 for a Pilot Officer and 1 for a Flight Sergeant.

I figured out the 3 flying officers are the same person but had some trouble deciphering it with the print quality being poor along with the image being watermarked - I believe it either reads "H J Dowding" or "E J Dowding" but had trouble figuring out which it was (although if it is E, it is most likely the person I'm looking for).

The only way of identification for the pilot officers and flight sergeant was a signature that I wasn't able to decipher (other than the "Dowding" part), so it could be possible all these records are for the same person. Any assistance anyone may be able to give in figuring this out would be appreciated, thanks.
in Genealogy Help by T. Dowding G2G6 Mach 2 (28.9k points)
Hi Thomas, my dad Peter Townley Dowding was flight lieutenant in squadron 80,  North Africa. He flew Hurricanes . He was shot down, 12 december 1941, outside Alexandria. You  can look him up ,in Google as Peter " the keg" Dowding.

2 Answers

+3 votes

Do you have a date?.

The Air Force lists cover all.officers. They were issued regularly (bimonthly/ quarterly) during WW2.

The National Library of Scotland has digitised copies.https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/97343434

They are not indexed digitally (as far as I can see) and hard to search online. At the back of each volume  is an  alphabetical index. This lists each name with initials,  the personal number and the column number that contains his entry.

This link is to the index in the list for  Oct 1944 . https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/96431374

There is no EJ Dowding. 

To demonstrate how to find an individual from the index

ECW Dowding:  index states column no 3675. (found after a lot of trial and error searching for the right page) 

This man  was a Flying Officer in the Admin/Special duties branch promoted to that rank on 1 May 1943.https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/96424354

But your man may not have been one of the commisioned officers you have identified. This Lancaster navigator was a Warrant Officer https://www.forces.net/news/ww2-lancaster-log-books-and-navigator-charts-digitised

by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (344k points)
edited by Helen Ford
Thanks for that. I don't have a date, unfortunately - it could have been any time between 1940 and 1945. I did see something on the National Archives site (referring to either an H J Dowding or E J Dowding) but I can't seem to find it any more - will have to keep searching for info.

Go to the forum on the RAF Commands website, Someone there will help you with information which they probably have on their computer. Great bunch of researchers.

I haven't had time to do any RAF research for a few years but used to frequent the site.


Ann Sadler


Ann Sadler
+3 votes
I think it unlikely that he would have enlisted as an officer based on his father's profession.  The Flight Sergeant Dowding was a Spitfire pilot. Pilot Officer H J Dowding was also a Spitfire pilot. I think the other records are for the same. There are no WWII Service Records on-line and only next of kin can apply to get copies of them.  Navigators could be non-commissioned officers (eg Flight Sergeant) or commissioned officers (eg Pilot Officer, Flying Officer, Flight Lieutenant)
by Chris Gilbert G2G6 Mach 2 (29.1k points)

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