[WWI] Army & RFC connection

Andy Bannister a.bann at ntlworld.com
Tue Aug 23 15:19:25 EDT 2011

After a lengthy break I've started looking into my family history again,
particularly my maternal grandfather and my great uncle, both of whom
served throughout the duration of the first world war. I've managed to
find a lot of information on the National Archives site, however I'm
struggling to find my great uncle's service record. I know he joined up
in 1904, served for well over 20 years and was initially with the Loyal
North Lancashire Regiment - 47th & 81st Foot. At some point however he
transferred to an aerial unit. I'm not sure if he was actually in the
RFC/RAF as I can find no record of his air service and in the only
picture I have of him he seems to be wearing an army tunic, but with an
RAF style eagle on the shoulder. No pilot's or observer's wings so I'm
guessing he served in another role.
Was there army units that were involved in aerial work during the first
world war, or would all air fighting be solely the domain of the RFC (or
RNAS)? Would army personnel be 'loaned' to the RFC? Or was the RFC still
considered an army unit up until it became the RAF? I thought I knew
this stuff but the more I look into it the more confused I am and it
doesn't help that a lot of the information available in the censuses,
birth & death records and military records doesn't always agree with
each other!
I've attached a pic of the dashing fellow. As an aside, my mother told
me that she once went downstairs in her late teens and found her mother
throwing old family photos in the fire - one of which was a genuine
colour picture of my great uncle's biplane taken in the early twenties!
How I would love to have seen that....
Any help or advice appreciated.
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