2391197 George Henry Robert SEFFENS, Royal Signals

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by Richard Seffens, May 14, 2020.

  1. Hello everybody,

    I'm not sure if this is the correct procedure to piggyback on others request for service info but I can't see how to start a new thread so here goes.

    I'm researching my father's war movements in WW2 and have his service records. His name was George Henry Robert Seffens (no: 2391197) and he joined the Royal Corp of Signals in NW England on the 18th June 1942 aged one month short of 19 and and after starting in the 6th PTC was transferred to 19th ITC East Lancs Authority on the 29th July 1942. He embarked for India on the 17th May 1943 and was transferred to the 1st battalion Essex Regiment on the 11th Feb 1944. I've tried uploading a page of his records to no avail as it exceeds 2MB but if there is a way then please let me know how and I'll send it separately. It gives a lot of dates and places, some decipherable ie Deolali and Mhow but for the most part they are typically handwritten, illegible and full of abbreviations and military jargon.

    I have his photo album which showed he moved all over India. I also have his medals which include the Burma Star so I know at some stage he must have served there. I'm sure a visit to the NA at Kew is on the cards but at this stage is there anybody out there who understands military jargon and can interpret his journey so that I can get a better understanding of at least the basics of his service.

    Many thanks in advance and if I need to post this elsewhere then please enlighten me and apologies for muscling in.
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Hello and welcome
    I've moved your post to create a dedicated thread. Hope that helps. Good luck with research.
    4jonboy likes this.
  3. Thankyou. Much appreciated. Can you help with my uploading question ?
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Hi, Richard,

    Afraid the 2mb limit is there to protect our infrastructure.
    There's a lot of online image resizers out there if you Google the term, almost all very straightforward.
    If you find yourself uneasy with that for some reason, I'm more than happy to resize them for you if you forward them by email to ww2talk@gmail.com

    Good luck in your search for info.
    dbf and 4jonboy like this.
  5. That would be very helpful thankyou. Would you be good enough to add it to my thread too please.
  6. Adam,

    Just sent it marked for your attention. Please let me know if not received.


    Edit by Owen
    Hope members can read this.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2020
    dbf likes this.
  7. Thankyou Adam, I appreciate your assistance.
  8. Sorry meant to thank Owen too.
  9. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Thanks for posting the rear of his Army Form 102B. It was a central Index card and was updated from detail contained in his Army Form(s) B103.l and other forms.

    The B103 usually contains expanded detail to that recorded in the B102. Is there any chance of posting the B103(s) please?

  10. Hello Steve,

    Thanks for your response. I’ll go through the various docs that make up what I was sent when I applied for his records and email them to Adam. If he would be good enough to reformat and add here you will be able to review them and I hope it assists.
  11. Hello Adam,

    I've sent you an email with 9 attachments. Please let me know if you have received all of them.

  12. Hello Everybody,

    In searching around the website I stumbled across a thread for X lists. The one page of my father’s record above has numerous references to x lists i, ii and iv(b). Anybody know what the ‘b’ designates, I can’t find any mention of it in the thread.

    Secondly, in other docs that make up his record which I’ve sent to Adam / Owen but haven’t yet appeared on my thread there is reference to PYTHON. Any idea what this means ?
  13. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Likely best for members to leave answering your queries until after the documents appear on the forum but if you use the forum search engine for X lists and Phython you will likely find the answer yourself as similar queries have been posed numerous times previously.

  14. Hello everybody,

    I've managed to upload a few more documents of my Dad's records that I hope will assist any of you to clarify some of the more esoteric entries. Apart from a TA form after the war and discharge papers this is all I have. I look forward to your responses with interest.


    Attached Files:

  15. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Here's my attempt at interpreting your father's records - hopefully others will add more:

    18/6/42 - Joined the Royal Signals, initially taken into the 2nd Depot Battalion then onto No. 6 Primary Training Centre for basic training.
    29/7/42 - Transferred to the East Lancashire Regiment's depot at No. 19 Infantry Training Centre (in Formby) for further training.
    18/1/43 - Posted to 4th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, which was a Territorial Army unit on home defence duties.
    17/5/43 - Embarked on a troopship with a draft of men (Serial RNKWW) bound for India - I would guess that this was a reinforcement draft heading to join the 2nd Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, a regular army unit which was serving in India with 29 Infantry Brigade.
    15/10/43 - Placed on the X(ii) list due to injury or (much more commonly in India, with its wealth of tropical diseases) illness.
    12/1/44 - Sufficiently recovered to join the X (iv) list, making him available to be posted to any unit requiring reinforcements.
    11/2/44 - Posted to 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment as a Private. His Statement of Services mentions 'Compulsorily Transferred' - not sure of the significance of this.
    4/4/44 - (think this should be 4/3/44) Briefly on the x (ii) list again due to illness or injury, then on to the Base Reinforcement Camp at Deolali.
    18/7/44 - Sent to the Signals Training Centre at Mhow on the X (i) list (which I think indicated that he was authorised to be posted to fill an 'extra-regimental' vacancy in a formation headquarters, a training depot etc.). Some interesting stuff about life at Mhow STC from an ex-signaller on this BBC page.
    28/8/44 - Transferred back to Royal Signals at the rank of Signalman.

    The entries following this I can't make out. It might be '263 Indian Cipher...' something (his testimonial mentions a Cipher Course and being a Cipher Operator) then I think the formations mentioned are HQ 155 Indian Infantry Brigade, then North Western Signals and then GHQ Signals, so steadily moving 'upwards' in terms of the seniority of formations he was working for from the start of 1945. His rank was increasingly rapidly too - Unpaid & Paid Acting Lance Corporal, then Unpaid & Paid Acting Corporal, then War Substantive Corporal.

    Hope that helps a bit in getting your research started.
  16. Many thanks PackRat. Your input is very helpful and gives me a few leads to follow. If others can add anything then I’d be very grateful.
  17. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    A little extra info on his early days in India, if I'm right that he was part of a reinforcement draft for 2nd East Lancs Regt
    (his B102 mentions 4 ELR before sailing, then his B103 mentions '2nd Battalion' at the time of his transfer to the 1st Battalion Essex Regiment).

    2 ELR was part of 29 Infantry Brigade. By the time his troopship docked, 29 Brigade had joined 72 Brigade to form 36 Indian Infantry Division. The Division was based at Poona and was undergoing intensive Combined Operations training in the latter half of 1943, preparing for an assault landing at Akyab in the Arakan in early 1944. In October 1943, 36 Div held a vast and highly detailed exercise (codenamed Exercise Otter) which simulated a seaborne invasion and occupation of a Japanese territory, and included a naval convoy, air cover etc. Although it may be entirely coincidental, the day your father was evacuated due to injury or illness (15th October 1943) was the day of the massive assault landing rehearsal.

    This is from the Oct 1943 war diary of HQRA 36 Division:

  18. Thanks PackRat for the additional info. It’s kind of you to take the time and trouble to do it. Just your two posts have added greatly to his story.

    I recently finished reading 2 biographies; the first of Viscount Slim by Russell Miller and the second Orde Wingate by Trevor Royle. Both obviously go into a lot of detail about the Chindit and 14th Army ops and is a good source for me to cross reference the army units you mentioned.

    Also how unlucky to have been ill at the time of the exercise. Probably would have been the most excitement he would have had that year. He had malaria on a number of occasions and I remember his legs being permanently scarred from jungle sores but like most vets rarely spoke about his experiences except the more light hearted moments like the time he was had up on an attempted murder charge which he announced around the dinner table one night much to my mother’s horror.
  19. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    You're welcome, and best of luck with your research. If you're very lucky a unit war diary entry might even reveal something about the circumstances of that attempted murder charge - some diarists recorded every little detail of life in the unit, others barely bothered to write anything. Some are little but map references and officer arrivals/departures, but one regimental diary I found goes to the trouble of recording the names of men who had contracted VD and were up on a disciplinary, which is a rough way to go down in posterity.

    I did wonder if he might just possibly have been injured on Exercise Otter due to the coincidence in dates, but you mention malaria so his time on the x (ii) list was much more likely malaria-related, as it was for so many. Otter was a huge event and the planners really went to town to make it realistic; here is the 'black list' of fictional enemy sympathisers to be rounded up, plus the ration pack issue:

    xOtter BlackList.jpg
    xOtter Rations.jpg

    36 Division was training hard right through the rest of 1943, then in January 1944 the Division moved up to Calcutta to take up reserve positions for the Second Arakan Campaign and hold another big assault landing exercise (Exercise Porpoise) just off the coast. The enemy Ha Go offensive threw a spanner in the works - 36 Div was rushed across the border into Burma to help relieve the Admin Box and the amphibious landing plans had to be scrapped.

    2 ELR went into action in the Arakan with 36 Division in early February 1944, but your father doesn't seem to have been with them at that point - he was x (ii) from October until January, then in the x (iv) reinforcement pool (rather than being posted back to his unit), then posted on to 1st Bn Essex Regiment on 11th February 1944.

    So he wouldn't have earned his Burma Star with the East Lancs. Don't know anything about the 1st Essex or what they got up to - I believe there is a Chindit connection but I don't think the dates line up. As far as I can work out, your father seems to have been with them for about a month (Feb-March 1944), then x (ii) list (possibly a malaria relapse), then off to Deolali on 12th March. There is an oral history from a chap who was with 1st Essex at the same time as your dad at the IWM.

    If someone could interpret those B102 entries for late 1944/early 1945 you might be able to work out if he went into Burma with one of those units. 155 Indian Infantry Brigade (if I've got that right) was India-based training unit, so it wouldn't be with them, though if there is a diary for Brigade HQ or the Brigade signals section covering his time there it could be interesting reading. The 263...?? and the North Western Sigs (not sure what that might be) could be other avenues.
  20. Thankyou again PackRat for your latest update. I’ve clicked on the links of your previous post and read them with great interest especially the report at Mhow. Quite a few familiar descriptions similar to my father’s I seem to recall. He never mentioned being wounded so I can only assume he succumbed to illness on each of those occasions. I know he was hospitalised in the early 50’s for some time with TB which he reckoned had its origins in his time in India & Burma.

    According to him the attempted murder charge was something and nothing. He and his mates were out drinking and tried to get in to an officers only drinking establishment guarded by 2 Gurkhas who wouldn’t let them in. A scuffle ensued, a kukri was drawn and one of the Gurkhas was hit very gently on the head with the flat of the blade to make a point (his words). They moved on but he was summoned to his CO’s office the following morning and arrested for attempted murder before being released an hour later without charge. At least that was his take on it !

    I can’t find any mention of it in his records so it doesn’t appear it was taken any further but if the war diaries mention men who contracted VD, it could indeed mention this.

    Thanks for the link to the IWM, I’ll certainly listen to it and continue my research.

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