LAC Clifford Boardman

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by hboardk, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. hboardk

    hboardk Member

    Hi all,

    I'm researching the life of my Great Uncle Clifford Boardman who died in a Japanese POW camp during the war. We have a decent amount of information on his various postings from his war record and also a letter from a fellow POW to my Great Grandmother but we are struggling to find out what he was actually doing in Java when he was captured. I am told it is likely that as a member of the 36 Squadron he had been evacuated from Singapore shortly before but I am interested to know what his duties are likely to have been as a Leading Aircraftman.

    Sadly the War Diaries of 36 Squadron no longer seem to exist for this period although I have some promising leads that I intend to check out at Kew in a few weeks time, however if anyone has any information they could provide even if it is only very general I'd very much appreciate it,


  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Mark

    Welcome to the forum, there are specialists in Far East matters who I am sure will be along to help you out, in the meantime I assume this would be your Great Uncle:,%20CLIFFORD

    Leading Aircraftman
    Service No:
    Date of Death:
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Grave Reference
    Brit. Sec. R. D. 8.
    Additional Information:
    Son of William and Margaret Boardman, of Digmoor, Lancashire.

    Also if you have not already received or applied for his service records then they can be obtained from and will list where he was and in what units during his time in service.


    edited to add:

    36 SFTS (Penhold) Association
    Gordon Woodward, 53 Hazel Drive, Ferndown, Dorset, BH22 9SP: tel 01202 896439
    36 Squadron Association
    Tony Coward, 1 Heron Shaw, Goring, Reading, RG8 0AU: tel 01491 872718
  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Mark,

    His presence on the Cofepow database should suggest he will have a Japanese index card held at the National Archives. This document may well tell you more, certainly about his time as a POW anyway.

    As TD says, there are some forum members with greater knowledge in these matters.

    Here are his details on the database:

    Record Details
    Surname: BOARDMAN First Name(s): Clifford
    Rank: L.A.C.
    Service No: 980284
    Service: AF
    Date of Capture: 08/03/1942
    Unit: Unit not known
    Held: Held Java, Honshu (Mukaishima)
    Died: Died Mukaishima Date: 22.12.42
    Buried: Buried Yokohama

    And the link:
  4. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    If you care to post the dates he was posted into No.36 Squadron and his trade then I may be able to help with some information.

    Tricky - I fail to see what help you think will be given by the association for No.36 Service Flying Training School for a man posted to No.36 Squadron they are two very different units.

  5. Enigma1003

    Enigma1003 Member

    Hi Mark,
    I cant help with the Java aspect, but I did visit the site of his camp site in Mukaishima in 2012. I was surprised to see that the locals have erected a memorial to those who died in the camp, and they are all named there. It is not only Yokahama he is therefore remembered.
    As you may already be aware, he arrived on the Dainichi Maru on 27th November 1942, from Bavaria via Singapore.
    It appears that the hellship voyage itself was responsible for about 21 of the 23 deaths that occurred soon after.

  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    LAC Boardman's service number suggests he was conscripted into the RAF at Padgate in September 1939 and was categorised as RAFVR as were conscripts who entered the RAF after war was declared.

    No 36 Squadron was a coastal patrol type squadron based at Seletar,one of a couple of bases on Singapore Island.The squadron was equipped with the Viildebeest 111 from 1935 and had been in the Far East since November 1930.By December 1941,the squadron also received the Albacore.Relocation of the squadron became frequent on the Japanese invasion of Malaya and the squadron was written off, recorded as disbanded, at Tasikmalaja on 9 March 1942.[about 120 miles SE of Batavia (now Jakarta.)]

    Its tedious route was that the squadron evacuated to Java on 1 February 1942 and relocated to a number of Java airfields,its final airfield being at Tasikmalaja where it would appear the unit was captured by the Japanese on 9 March 1942 after being there from 4 March 1942.

    I would say like many servicemen,LAC Boardman was posted to Singapore as the fortress was being strengthened ,his posting was to RAF Seletar and like many suffered from the Japanese swift strike on the Malayan Peninsula....his squadron getting down as far as Java before the unit was captured.
  7. hboardk

    hboardk Member

    Hi all,

    And thank you all for your responses.

    Harry you're quite right in that he was at Padgate, Ross his timeline is as follows:

    March 1940- Padgate Recruitment Centre then shortly after RAF Lossiemouth.
    May 1940- Middle Wallop with 4 Squadron/15 Flight Training School
    June 1940- Chipping Norton with 4 Squadron/15 Flight Training School
    July 1940- Kidlington with 7 Squadron
    April to October 1941- Weston on the Green 8 Squadron 'C' Flight, then later 'D' Flight
    November 41- RAF Camp, West Kirby, Liverpool
    Jan 1942- Arrived overseas, Telegram did not give location but we know from a letter received from a fellow prisoner that he was captured in Java in March 1942.

    For the life of me I can't find where I found the reference to 36 Squadron, I think it may be in one of his letters do I do not have to hand or possibly his service record but I am 99.9% sure this is correct. He would have been posted there in around Nov 41.
  8. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Hi Mark,

    There is something adrift with the UK list of units.

    Lossiemouth - Middle Wallop - Chipping Norton - Kidlington - Weston all correspond to the movements of No.15 Flying Training School.

    The Squadrons listed were based on different RAF stations to those shown or, in the case of No.7 Sqn, disbanded before being reformed 1st Aug in Yorkshire and No.8 Sqn was in East Africa.

    Where did the squadron numbers come from? if it was from a F543 Service record a photo or scan would help clear it up.

    West Kirby was the holding camp for his embarkation to the far east.

    As Harry has said operational units had almost ceased to exist as an admin unit from the end of Jan and most were drawing on the pool of airmen that remained in Singapore so he may not have been officially posted to No.36 Sqn, just became attached by possession.

    You did not say what his ground trade was. There is no period of ground school in your list of previous units after basic training at Padgate. This would be useful to suggest how important his evacuation from Singapore would be.

  9. hboardk

    hboardk Member

    Hi Ross,

    The Squadron numbers have come from letters that he sent home during this period, I'll have to speak to my Dad to see if he has a copy of his service record (I'm sure he does).

    Sorry, could you explain what you mean by 'ground trade' it's not a term I'm familiar with,


  10. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Hi Mark,

    RAF used rank to describe a seniority or level of skill and supervision ability.

    Aircrafthand (ACH) - Aircraftman 2nd Class (AC2) - Aircraftman 1st Class (AC1) - Leading Aircraftman (LAC) - Corporal (Cpl) etc

    As a technical service the RAF needed a large number of men skilled in particular trades all divided between 5 basic Trade Groups

    Balloon Operator - Armourer - Rigger - Fitter - Cook & Butcher - Wireless Mechanic - Teleprinter Operator etc

    They would be roughly put into a trade when they volunteered/were drafted. All started off as ACH Trade, Group V but during basic training they were confirmed for trade training and would attend a ground school to be shown the basic skills of that trade.

    Once they passed trade training the seniority would be increased to AC2 or above and they would be placed into the corresponding trade group for pay (the more seniority and more skilled the group the better the pay).

    Periodically accumulation of skills on the job would be tested by either Local Trade Test Board (LTTB) or Central Trade Test Board (CTTB) and pay groups adjusted to recognise the acquired skills. Airmen could also reclassify and remuster into different trades if they passed the aptitude test and had the relevant skills/training.

    All this is shown on the Form 543 Service record for an airman and tells you what he actually did for a day job in the RAF and can show where he was headed during his service career.

    In terms of the fall of Singapore some trades were harder to replace and were given priority for evacuation or were moved prior to the flying unit arriving to give advance maintenance/service facility.

    CL1 likes this.
  11. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Looking at the UK embarkation of Nov and arrival in theatre Jan suggests that he was embarked on Convoy WS12Z sailing from Liverpool 12th Nov 1941.

    A considerable bit of cross decking was undertaken by the convoys in South Africa and India to address the changing theatre threats but the liners forming the final leg of WS12Z arrived 28th and 29th Jan 1942.

    These may be worth looking at in greater detail when you go to Kew.

    The fighting for control of Singapore Island started just over a week later with the Japanese crossing of the Straights with the order to withdraw airforce personnel off the island a few days later. Final surrender was 15th Feb.

    This suggests that he had very little time to be useful in any capacity to No.36 Sqn on Singapore Island.

  12. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    LAC Boardman would have left Padgate as an AC2.He then would have been posted for trade training in Groups 1 to 1V as determined from his aptitude tests He might also have been allocated in the Group M trades which covered medical roles or even left as a ACH (General Duties)

    Passing out of a trade course would see an airman attaining the status of AC1.(As a ACH,he would progress to AC1 depending on satisfactory service.) Elevation to LAC would follow satisfactory service and recommendation of superiors..common across all trades.

    Rare, but there were occasions when airman would be posted to a unit direct after induction and his trade status would be assimilated to AC1 on satisfactory progression from "on the job training" at the unit

    It looks as if LAC Boardman spent sometime in a trade training role at was of short duration and cannot be a deeply technical role....his service record should reveal the reason for the posting....cannot think off hand of Lossiemouth being used in a technical training role although short courses may have been conducted there.
  13. hboardk

    hboardk Member

    Thanks again everyone for your help, I got my Dad to have a look at his service record and it states that after general duties he qualified for machine gun duties in May 1940.

    Regarding him being part of the 36 Squadron I have a feeling this is something we have surmised due to his location and time of capture, there is no reference to this in his service record.
  14. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Hi Mark,

    That suggests his trade group was Group V and trade was Ground Gunner.

    This would agree with no training at a School of Technical Training as instruction in the early war years was done on site.

    The task was aerodrome defence from air attack and repulsion of airborne landings. The army was tasked with heavy support and surrounding area but at this stage the RAF was expected to be able to put up first defence of its facilities.

    As time moved on trade specific initial training was setup in the Isle of Man and, in 1942, the Ground Gunners would form part of what was to become the RAF Regiment which still serves today.

    His association with a flying unit is for messing, pay, training, accommodation etc rather than that his duty was directly associated with the aircraft and their operations.

    Unless he reclassified he would have been used for aerodrome defence purposes in the Far East rather than squadron operations with No.36 Squadron.

    In the later part of 1941 the defence of Singapore was being set up and as part of this an expansion of air assets was being formed. A large number of new aircraft were to be shipped/flown out but these could not all be safely housed on the 4 aerodromes on Singapore Island.

    New forward aerodromes in Malaya were constructed ready to take the new flying units. It was defence of these new facilities that LAC Boardman was sent out from the UK in November.

    One of the great problems created was that the aerodromes needed to be built before the aircraft and ground defences were sent over and when the Japanese invaded all these facilities with their initial war stocks were taken virtually intact. This allowed the Japanese to quickly move air support down through Malaya without having to stretch supply lines or have delays to construct temporary aerodromes.

    The irony is that all the necessary men and material to prevent the movement down through Malaya was in transit when the invasion happened. A delay of few months in the launch of the Japanese Invasion would result in a very different story of Malaya and Singapore.

  15. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Interesting topic.I think a copy of the LAC Boardman's service record would be most helpful.

    I would hazard a guess and say his trade was Aircrafthand (General Duties) and as Ross suggests he was deployed on aircraft defence.

    However in the 1940 RAF trade structure there was no trade as Ground Gunner,ACHs were in two categories, ACH (General Duties) which covered those who were to progress to aircrew training and ACH covering those who were destined for technical training.Other ACH (General Duties) would be assigned to duties as required by the particular unit where they may be posted to....some would be involved in minor roles of handling aircraft,might be described as labouring duties, while others would be undertake tasks on the station as required by local circumstances.(Incidentally there was a Group 11 trade at this time, of Armoured Car Crew,a legacy of RAF units in the Middle East during the interwar years.)

    At the start of the war,airfield defence was the responsibility of the Army who were based on airfields but the manning of airfield defence structure would be in a state of flux determined by the war situation and the structure of defence would be changed to meet those requirements.Things were to change later when the RAF Regiment was formed and formally given the responsibility for airfield defence with the army then relinquishing responsibility.

    The evidence of army units based on airfields can be found by the number of army casualties on airfields recorded by Station ORBs during the dark days of 1940 when airfields were subject to German raids, leading to deaths of station based personnel.
  16. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Sorry Harry but Ground Gunner, Group V was a trade from 1938.

    11th Sept 1941 it was made Obsolete and Absorbed by Gunner, Group V - Authority AMO A.733/41

    The Gunner, Group V used in the formation of the Regiment.

  17. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member


    I think that the information of "Ground Gunner" as a Group V Trade is at variance with the 1940 Royal Air Force.Trade Groups and Rates of Pay ,etc.Form 434.

    From Form 434.Group V Trades are given as follows:

    Aircrafthand (General Duties)

    Aircrafthand (Under training for Technical Trades)

    Driver (Petrol)



    It would be interesting to understand how Ground Gunner was assimilated into Group V as detailed above.

    Afterall,hboardk indicates that LAC Boardman went from general duties to qualifying for machine gun duties without mentioning the Trade "Ground Gunner" which should have been recorded on his service an analogy, an airman qualifying for aero engine duties would expect to have his trade recorded on his service record as Fitter (Aero Engines) or Mechanic (Aero Engines) as the case may be.
  18. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Hi Harry,

    It would be helpful if Mark confirmed that the information given is from either a MoD Disclosures Transcript of Form 543 or from an actual copy of the Form.

    This would give more accurate dates and units eg 20th April 1940 for the move to Middle Wallop along with reason and remove our crystal ball speculations of what it actually shows.

    The actual text of trade classifications section would help avoid doubt.

    Is that list of trades from F434 the full list as it seems very short of the full list given in Kings Regulations and Air Council Instructions that I used for my answer.

    eg Telephone Operator which became Telephonist 29/1/42, Messing Duties V that became Cook and Butcher III 7/8/41 etc

    As to pay for ACH(GG) in Aug 1940 it was 2 shillings a day according to the following.

    Google search on "RAF Ground Gunners WW2" give this as the top link on BBC Peoples War (new software will not let me cut and paste link sorry)

    It also describes the use of Ground Gunner associated with Flying Training Units.

  19. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member


    Sorry for the delay in response...."le weekend" and what went with it.

    Looking at Form 434 as laid down by the Kings Regulations and Air Council Instructions.

    Trade Group 1

    Fitter grades (1 and 11)
    Fitter (aero engine)
    Fitter (armourer)
    Fitter (torpedo)
    Instrument Maker
    Machine tool setter and operator
    Metal worker
    Wireless operator mechanic.

    Trade Group 11

    Armoured car crew
    Balloon operator
    Flight mechanic
    Flight rigger
    Instrument repairer
    Wireless operator

    Group 111

    Cook and butcher
    Fabric worker
    Motor boat crew

    Group 1V

    Clerk (general duties)
    Clerk (accounting)
    Equipment assistant

    Group V

    Aircrafthand (general duties)
    Aircrafthand (under training for technical trades)
    Driver (petrol)

    Group M

    Laboratory assistant
    Medical orderly under training
    Mental nursing orderly
    Nursing orderly
    Operating room assistant
    Special treatment orderly
    Trained nurse
    Dental clerk orderly
    Dental mechanic
    Dental orderly under training

    Then looking at pay scales: For an airman in Group V,ACHs and the like, a recruit as AC2 would start on 2 shillings a day, rising to 2 shillings 9d a day after 2 years as an AC2.,ie,if a recruit did not progress to AC1.

    AC1..3 shillings a day.

    LAC ..4 shillings a day.

    Overall a recruit, across the 6 Trade Groups, as an AC2 could expect a daily rate of pay to vary between 2 shillings a day in Group M to a daily rate of 3 shillings and 9d in Group 1,the highest Trade Group.

    Note that there is no reference to radar trades,(RDF as designated by the RAF until the term RADAR was adopted.) I would think that radar trades would be assimilated into Trade Group1 in the same category as Wireless operator mechanic.

    Getting back to LAC Boardman, I would agree that a copy of his service record would be far more revealing rather than "qualified for machine gun duties"
  20. hboardk

    hboardk Member

    Thank you all for your replies and my apologies for the delay in responding. I need to get my Dad to scan me a copy of the service record so I can tel you exactly what's on there, all I have at the moment is the summaries he has sent me.

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