Ex Service FAQ


A large print version of this FAQ for visually impaired readers is available HERE

Please note that this version is hand generated from the posted version and it is possible that at times they may differ slightly.

Last Updated :1 Jan 00

Alterations since last issue :- changes to some url's and addition of extra url's.

Purpose of this Document

This document is written with the help of, and approved by, the regular contributors to uk.people.ex-forces, and explains what the group is for.  It also contains specific information to help people trying to locate friends and colleagues.

The FAQ aims to answer questions which often come up within the group so newcomers to the group are encouraged to read it before posting to the group.  It provides guidance rather than rules.

Contributors to the group are encouraged to make suggestions for changes and alterations to

What is uk.people.ex-forces?

uk.people.ex-forces is a newsgroup for use by anyone with an interest in matters related to ex-members of HM Forces.  It was formed by Alec Powell in December 1998.

It is meant for the discussion of all topics related to ex-members of HM Forces and also as a method for contacting ex-members of HM Forces.  (Specific notes on finding people can be found further down this document.)

Potentially "all topics related to ex-members of HM Forces" can be read to cover almost anything.  Contributors are requested to try to keep to subjects with a specific ex-service interest.   Please bear in mind this is group for discussion of ex-service matters rather than a general chat group.  Discussions about politics, non-service news items, current out of area operations etc should take place within the respective specialist groups rather than here.

Cross Posting

Cross posting (posting to more than one group at once) can be a useful way of linking people with specialist knowledge who might otherwise not get together.  However, its a two edged sword, when misused it can bring chaos to a group very quickly.  Before cross posting please think carefully about whether the message should be spread across more than one group.  Most messages can be dealt with within a single group.

As a rule cross posting should be limited to the absolute minimum number of groups necessary to achieve the aim.

An example of an appropriate cross post might be someone looking for an ex-serviceman who they last knew lived in Birmingham, a post to both this group and the uk.local.birmingham group would be sensible.

Posting on general subjects (particularly emotive ones) between this group and multiple groups such as uk.politics would normally be inappropriate.  The cross posting of general political discussions is discouraged.  It usually generates great heat and little sense as well as flooding several groups with large numbers of often inappropriate messages.  If you want to talk politics go to the appropriate politics group.

Periodic postings

Lengthy repetitive postings are best avoided (this FAQ is the one exception :-) ).  If you have information which you want to air frequently (for example reunion calendars, unit associations) then this information is best placed on a web site with a short posting within the group pointing out where it can be found. 

You can also include details of web sites, mailing lists or just e-mail addresses within the contacts section of this faq document.  Just send the details to

Most ISP's offer free web space these days and if you need help in setting a site up ask on the group - someone will give you a hand.

Don't forget that your sig (max 4 lines long) can also be used to point people in the direction of your web site or this FAQ.


The formal charter of the group can be found at 

Who "owns" the newsgroup?
This newsgroup is not moderated and nobody "owns" it - anyone is free to post here.   It is everyone's responsibility to try to preserve a bit of order by attempting to follow basic netiquette (see Emily Postnews articles in <
news:news.announce.newusers>), and to adhere to the guidelines expressed in this posting.

The uk newsgroup structure.

Management of the formation of newsgroups within the uk hierarchy is vested in the uk usenet committee.  Details of this are at
http://www.usenet.org.uk/.  The committee is elected by all usenet users (i.e. including you lot) and elections are normally held starting Aug/Sept each year.  If you are interested in the management of the hierarchy then keep an eye on the moderated low volume newsgroup <news:uk.net.news.announce> for election notices and group formation requests.

Can I advertise on uk.people.ex-forces

Advertising is forbidden except that suppliers of specifically ex-service relevant goods and services may post a pointer to their website or invitation to request details. This may not exceed four lines and may be posted no more often than once every three months.

General advertisements for such things as alternative telephone service providers, investment schemes and double glazing are not acceptable and will attract an appropriate response and no doubt several complaints to the appropriate service provider.

If you have any doubts about whether you can post an advertisement then please don't. It would be wise to ask on the group first.  As many people find out to their cost, an insensitive or inappropriate advertisement can be very counterproductive.

Any other guidelines about posting?

All posts must be in plain text with no binaries. HTML and other types of formatted text are not permitted, however references to relevant FTP-able material and web URLs are welcome.   For a guide on how to configure your web-browser or newsreader for posting to uk.* newsgroups it is recommended that users see:-


Users of Outlook Express and news browsers for newsgroup posting are particularly encouraged to read the above document before posting.

Please remember only to quote the minimum amount of material in your followups to give context and to delete the rest.  Your reply should also be made below the quoted text, not above it.

Can I Find Past Postings to the Group?

Yes - this groups postings (in common with most other groups) are archived at Deja.com  (which used to be called Deja News and is still referred to as that by some).

Go to
<URL:http://www.deja.com/=dnc/home_ps.shtml>, enter uk.people.ex-forces as the forum, any date range you want, and a few query words, and search.  Deja.com has extensive help and is a valuable resource.

Note however that not all messages are archived - some people use the "x-no-archive=yes" command in their headers which means Deja.com will not keep their posts.

Where Do I Go to Look For My Comrades/Friends/Relative...

Before starting on how to find people a few notes on privacy and security.

Remember on Usenet you have no idea who you are talking to or where they are.  Be careful before exchanging information and in particular NEVER pass on someone else's details to a third party. 

Unfortunately it is increasingly happening that commercial enquiry agents (debt collectors, solicitors agents etc) are masquerading as friends/relatives/comrades of people whose addresses they are seeking.  Groups such as this are particularly at risk from these people who are often very persuasive.

Someone is asking about a person I know - what should I do?

You should ask the person requesting the information to provide a contact address/number which you can pass on to the person you know.  You should never pass their details directly to the enquirer.

Where can I find out about ex-servicemen?

The Internet has really revolutionised the ability to find people.  Many countries have telephone books on the net (even BT have managed it now) and in addition there are specific search sites as well as many Service/Unit/Regiment specific sites.

General Resources

Listed below are some resources which might be of use in your quest.  If you know of any more please tell the FAQ maintainer (address at the end of this FAQ) so that others may benefit from your wisdom.  Included are some sites dedicated more to aircraft/ships/vehicles  than people - this is because many visitors to such sites will have a common interest and background - you never know who can help!

Post to the Group

You can also try posting a message to this group.  Although it will only remain "live" for a short time (typically between 2 to 20 days depending on how quickly the readers service provider expires messages) it can always be found later on Deja.com. 

How can I best make my request work ?

To be useful it must be two things - firstly, read now and secondly, findable in the future.  A title saying "Looking for a friend" is really no use at all.

Some readers of the group only look at headers, then decide what messages to download.  Often they will not download general titles like "Looking for my mate" but are far more likely to notice "Sgt R H Parry RM" and download it if they think they might be able to help.

To make it easy to find your message later (and to increase the chances of people reading it now) make sure you include the name and service/unit in the title such as "Parry P, RAF Regt" or "Looking for Reyner ex RAF Reg" or "Any Ex 50 Msl Regt 1970's". 

Try to include as many of these as possible in the header:-

         Service, Regt, Sqn, Ship, unit.

         Surname, Nickname



If you do this your chances of getting immediate help increase and a later Deja.com search is much more likely to yield useful results. 


The links below may be of use.  Please bear in mind that many sites are voluntary efforts and that people these days change Internet Service Providers quite frequently so some may be out of date. Please notify any non working links and especially, any good ones you might have found but which are not included to

Descriptions of sites have generally been provided by the site owners or taken from postings they have made. 

A number of commercial organisations are now offering to help find people for a fee.  As far as I am aware none of the links below are for such organisations although some of the sites are semi-commercial (they may have added services for which some fee may be charged).  There are more than enough publicly available resources to make it unnecessary for most people to use services for which payment is required.


British & Commonwealth Air Unit Register

Probably the most comprehensive listing of its kind for those searching for squadron and other associations, added to which the provenance and date of each link is shown.  A (non profit making, advertising-free) service from 207 Squadron Royal Air Force Association.



50 Msl Regt RA

The web site for this Regiment with news on forthcoming reunions etc can be found at  the following URL



The Military Net

Now superseded by "The Ex-Forces Network" (details below). 
This entry will be removed at the next FAQ update


The Ex-Forces Network

The Ex-Forces Network includes on-line submitable and searchable databases of "Lost Friends" and a "Register of Ex-Forces Personnel" to help their old friends find them!

The Ex-Forces Network would also like to publish details of your Ex-Forces Association/Organisation and Reunions.

You can also join The Ex-Forces Network as a "Support Member" and receive a personalised e-mail address to be proud of! e.g. Jack_Tar_RN@Ex-Forces.Org.UK

The Ex-Forces Network at 



A site dedicated to the FRADU aircraft of the past at:-




Mike Crowe runs an excellent service to help ex RN people get in touch.  There is no web site but anyone seeking RN personnel would be well advised to get in touch with Mike.

Mike also maintains an up to date list of H.M.Ships Association`s Secretaries which is also notified to the Federation of Naval Associations and Navy News. This is available on request to Mike and is also published in the quarterly magazine `Lost Shipmates`. This magazine is issued to all H.M.Ships Association`s Secretaries and all Royal Naval Association Secretaries and again is available on request, just send snailmail address for copy. (Any details held, including Snailmail addresses are NOT divulged to a 3rd person without permission)

Mike is also Membership Secretary of H.M.S.Collingwood Association.

Michael `Mike` Crowe   

The `system` to find long lost Royal Navy shipmates


Anti Submarine Warfare Instructors Association

A website has been set up for the ASWI association (Anti Submarine Warfare Instructors Association) at:-



Sea Harrier

Check out the Sea Harriers of the Royal Navy at:



Service Pals contact list



Public Records Office Kew

They issue various helpful documents relating to WWI and WW2 searches.

Public Record Office, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

0181 876 3444.

National repository of original official records, including unit war histories, medal lists, maps, soldiers documents, and much more. Public can access all released records, by visit only. The single most important Great War archive in the UK.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Commonwealth WAr Graves Register provides personal and service details and places of                commemoration for the 1.7 million members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First or Second World Wars.  (A record some 60,000 civilian casualties of the Second World War is provided without details of burial location.)

 The cemeteries and memorials where these names are commemorated, in perpetuity, are located in around 150 countries Their database makes it possible to identify the exact location, by cemetery plot or memorial panel, where any given name is commemorated.



Western Front Association


This is a wonderful site for research etc.


Commonwealth Aircrew



Air Force Memorials



Canberra Aircraft




Reg Silveys home page at
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/rsilvey1/  may be of interest. It's called Contact and is an as yet small data base of RAF information re ex bods and stations. (The data base is on Regs' computer and any query should be sent via E-Mail to Reg at reg@silvey12.freeserve.co.uk)


RAF Regiment

The RAF Regiment Association have a data bank of members for any Rocks or ex-Rocks.  The Association Sec. will help if contacted, or we have a member, Noel Watkins, who has an unofficial data bank which has been very successful in reuniting old mates.

Please e-mail Sheila Irvine for further information, her husband is Chairman of Herefordshire Branch.



Royal Signals

Royal Corps of Signals old comrades.


This gives links to the Royal Signals mail list, and the club on the Yahoo server. Plus some useful contact addresses and phone numbers.



If you  want to learn more, -  go to the site at:



Navy ex-service contact board



Ministry of Defence



Worldwide Telephone Directories on the Web



UK Telephone Directory on the Web



Finding People's e-mail addresses, phone numbers, addresses

An excellent site with links to virtually all people related search engines, sites etc.



Search Engines

Don't forget to try standard Web search engines such as :-





The Ceefax service on ITV carries several pages of ex-servicemen seeking their comrades.

Channel 4 Page 682 called `Service Pals`
1 Advertisement per person per month
30 words maximum
Write to
Service Pals
PO Box 297
London SW6 1XT
fax 0171 381 8525

Include your own name and address. Generally 30 pages of adverts, (details and instructions on page 31), each page containing 3 sometimes 4 adverts.

Changes weekly.   New list every Monday

Channel 4 page 681 is `Lost Touch` for Non-Service searches.  Same address and fax number


Other Newsgroups

There are a number of military related newsgroups, mainly with a marked American bias, look in your newsreaders list of newsgroups for anything with "military" in the title.  Those in the "free.*" hierarchy tend to have very poor propagation (they are not carried by many major news providers) and may not be particularly useful if you are seeking widespread dissemination of your message.

Those in the sci.military.* grouping can be useful if you are seeking details of equipment rather than people.


This FAQ can be found at  and is maintained by Peter Parry

Please post any suggestions for changes/additions to the FAQ maintainer.  URL's of sites of interest to ex-service readers would be particularly welcomed.