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Jeremy Wilson


Page updated June 2012

Royal Air Force file AIR 1/2696
338171 Shaw, Thomas Edward - 'Secret' file

National Archives (Public Record Office), London

Note: This file contains:

  • Lawrence's service medical records and other forms. In some cases, the part of a document that carried Lawrence's signature has been torn away, by someone who handled the documents before their transfer to the Public Record Office.
  • Minutes and correspondence.
  • These two categories are listed separately below, in broadly chronological sequence. The documents are in a different order in the original file. 

    In addition to the documents specifically noted below, there are also documents and Minute sheets relating to:

    • The transfer of Tank Corps records to the RAF in 1925
    • The movements, safekeeping and preservation of records in this file
    • Acknowledgement of communications
    • Forwarding letters addressed to Lawrence (in one instance, in February 1930, from the Vice-President of the Cambridge Union Society)
    • Response to an enquiry about Lawrence's service made in July 1939.
    1923-5: Tank Corps documents
    1923 Mar 12 Army Form B.203 Application for the special enlistment of a recruit.  
    1923 [Mar 12] Attestation of SHAW Thomas Edward. Two copies. Signature torn away on both. Gives correct place of birth, but gives the date as 15 Aug 1894 (the correct date was 15 Aug 1888). Gives parents' nationalities as; Father Irish, Mother Scotch. Trade: Clerk. No previous military service. 
    1923 Mar 12-15 Description of Thomas Edward SHAW on enlistment (2 copies) The medical examination was carried out on 12 Mar 1923 at the Central London Recruiting Office, Whitehall. The certificate of the approving office is dated 15 Mar 1923, at Bovington. Description details include: Height 5ft 5 ins, Weight 130 lbs. Scars both buttocks. 
    [1923 Mar] Army form B.64a  This is a printed request for a character reference in relation to a candidate for enlistment. It has been overwritten: "Not required by order of CRO" [Central Recruiting Office] 
    1925 Mar 30 Army Form B.103 Service and Casualty Form (Part 1) Records basic details of Lawrence's Tank Corps service.
    1923-5 Army Form B.2066 Employment Sheet. Entry for: 
    1923 Nov 30: "Duty now employed in Q Masters stores. Very clean intelligent hardworking and conscientious. A very reliable man.
    1924 Aug 8: "Q.M. stores. A highly intelligent man. Very reliable and works well."
    1925 Aug 14. "Storeman. As above."
    1923 Mar 12 - 1925 Apr 27. Army Form B.178 Medical History sheet. Details as on the description at enlistment. The note "Scars both buttocks" is listed under the heading "Marks indicating congenital peculiarities or previous disease". [In other words, these did not look like recent scars] There is also a dental examination chart, made at an examination at Bovington on 28 Mar 1923. Lawrence received TAB inoculations on 27 Mar 1923 and 5 Apr 1925.
    1923-5 Army Form B 121. [Squadron, Battery and] Company Conduct Sheet [fragment]  Records one instance of bad conduct only: [On 17 Nov 1923] "Having an untidy bed-cot on Coy officer's inspection' for which Lawrence was punished on 19 Nov by 2 days confined to barracks. Also records award of 1st Good Conduct Badge (see below)
    1923-5 Army Form B. 121. Squadron, Battery and Company Conduct Sheet As above, but gives the date of his Good Conduct Badge as 12 Mar 1925.
    [1923-5] Army Form B 120, Regimental conduct sheet. No entries are recorded. Overstamped 'New conduct sheet opened on transfer to R.A.F.'
    [1923] Military History Sheet (2 copies) Records that Lawrence gained a 3rd Class in the Army School and other certificates of education on 3 May 1923.
    [1923] Statement of the services of No 7875698 T.E. Shaw (2 copies) Contd. below. Records that Lawrence joined at London on 12 Mar 1923 and was posted to Bovington on 14 Mar 1923
    1924-5 Army Form B.200. Statement of the services of No 7875698 SHAW Thomas Edward (contd. from above) On 12 Mar 1924 Lawrence was certified an efficient soldier and granted increments of pay.
    On 19 Aug 1925 Lawrence was voluntarily and permanently transferred to the RAF.
    1935: Transfer to the RAF 
    [1927 Aug 20] Draft for Casualty Form 739 (Airmen) Records Lawrence's transfer from the Army with effect from 19 Aug 1925 on the authority of an Air Ministry Letter dated 18 Aug 1925. Engagement 7 years regular, 5 years reserve effective from 12 March 1923. 
    1925 Aug 20 RAF Form [?] 2 copies. In both cases a substantial part, including Lawrence's signature, has been torn away .  [Attestation and approvals concerning transfer to the Royal Air Force] 
    [1925 Aug 20] RAF Form 62. Medical Examination of Recruits, Interrogatory Form. Filled out in Lawrence's hand. Bottom, including his signature, torn away. Lawrence records that he suffered from dysentery in 1913, and lists injuries as:
    Broken fibula 1906
    Broken ribs 1916-19
    1925 Aug 20 RAF Form 167. Results of Unit, Group or Central Trade Testing Board Examination and Trade Test Card. Lawrence recommended for reclassification as AC/2
    1925 Aug 21 RAF Form 35 Entry [medical] Examination (non-flying) record card Lawrence's weight is recorded as 128 pounds. Distinctive body marks described as: "Four superficial scars left side. Three superficial scars lower part of back"
    1925-35 RAF Form 4B (Airman) Medical History Envelope This form, together with Forms 280, 120 and 121, went with Lawrence from stations to station. It records that there was a medical examination on 16 Oct 1926, and a dental examination on 15 Apr 1929; also lists vaccinations.  
    [undated] Particulars of Absent voter A card recording the electoral registration officer to be informed of  an airman's location at the time of an election [in order to arrange a postal vote]. No constituency or polling district has been entered. Instead, the form is overwritten "Not desirous", implying that Lawrence did not wish to vote.
    RAF Form 200 Statement of the services of No 338171 SHAW Thomas Edward This carries summary information about Lawrence's Tank Corps enlistment and service extracted from Tank Corps records transferred to the RAF.  
    1925-35: general service documents 1925-35
    1926-34 RAF form 678. Periods of leave in excess of 48 hours.  Dates given (with the number of days in brackets) are:
    1926 31 Jul 26 to 27 Aug. Annual (28)
    1926 4 Nov to 1 Dec. Overseas (28)
    1929 Feb 3 to Mar 10. Overseas (38)
    1929 20 Sep to 14 Nov. Annual (28) plus Extension of service (28). Total 56 days. 
    1930 May 5-11. Annual (7)
    1930 Sep 13 to Oct 2. Annual (21)
    1931 Jul 25 to Aug 21. Annual (28)
    1932 Aug 29 to Sep 4. Annual (7)
    1932 Sep 18 to Oct 8. Annual (21)
    [no record of leave during 1933]
    1934 Jan 20 to Feb 2. Annual (14)
    1934 Mar 4 to 14. Annual (14) 
    1934 Aug 27 to Sep 9. Annual (14)
    1925-33 RAF Form 125 Miscellaneous Record Sheet When Lawrence left each RAF station where he had served, he was assessed for character, trade proficiency, recommendation for promotion or reclassification and suitability for promotion or reclassification. Lawrence's Commanding Officers invariably recommended him for promotion. The final sheet reads 'Specially recommended' [which would have been valuable had Lawrence survived up to the outbreak of World War II]  
    1925-35 RAF Form 120 Service Conduct Sheet. This summary sheet would record any punishments for bad conduct in relation to service work. The entries for each successive station read 'Certified no entry' [i.e. a 'clean sheet'.]
    1925-35 RAF Form 121 General Conduct Sheet. This summary sheet would record any punishments for bad conduct generally. The entries for each successive station read 'Certified no entry' [i.e. a 'clean sheet'.]
    1928 Nov 11 RAF (India) Form 82. Application by an airman to extend his service [Lawrence's signature torn away]  The form carries approvals by various officers. Under Remarks: "An exceptional aircraft hand who has done excellent work performing clerical duties at Miranshah." 
    1935: Leaving the RAF
    1935 Mar 11 RAF Form 310 Brief statement of trade qualifications, character, and general conduct, signed by his final CO: "A.C.1 Shaw has completed 12 years service in the Royal Air Force and has proved throughout to be an exceptional airman." 
    1935 Mar 11. RAF Form 280 Certificate of the service and discharge of SHAW, Thomas Edward, Service No. 338171.
    1935 March. RAF Form 856  Statement on discharge of an airman's qualifications and employment. The assessment reads: "He is an exceptional airman in every respect and his character and general conduct have at all times been "Very Good."
    1935 March 11. RAF Form 2067 [office copy, not signed by Lawrence] Character Certificate of No 338171 SHAW, Thomas Edward. "He proved himself to be very reliable, hardworking and conscientious, and his character was "Very Good".
    Minutes and correspondence
    1928-34 Minutes The early minutes deal with Lawrence's repatriation from India, and information about any local leave in India, required to answer a Parliamentary question.
    1925 Sep 1 [memo] Stating that Lawrence was entitled to count his Tank Corps service towards his RAF pension and good conduct badges.
    1925 Sep 3 "T" Depot Squadron, R.A.F. Depot, Casualty Form (Airmen) Includes Lawrence's transfer from the Royal Tank Corps to the RAF.
    1928 Dec 3 Air Ministry to J.W. Cordingley   If Lawrence applies to extend his service, this is to be approved. No action is to be taken to transfer him from India without Air Ministry approval. However, if he should apply to be moved to another Command, this should be approved and the Air Ministry  informed.
    1929 Jan 7 Air Ministry to J.W. Cordingley Previous letter holds good; "in addition no action whatsoever is to betaken in regard to moving A.C.2 Shaw without prior reference to the Air Ministry."
    1931 Oct 16 Request (at the behest of Group Captain Sydney Smith) to post Lawrence from Mount Batten to Manston as early as practicable.  Manuscript note states: "Cancelled by Warren phone request dated 22.10.31"
    1932 Sep 7 C.H.K. Edmonds to J.W. Cordingley Reminder that according to letter of 7 Jan 1929 Lawrence was not to be moved without Air Ministry permission and notes that Lawrence has been employed on temporary duty at the British Power Boat Co works in Hythe without such permission. A.O.C. Coastal Area has been asked to end this attachment.  
    1932 Sep 7 C.H.K. Edmonds to AVM R.H. Clark-Hall, HQ Coastal Area, Lee-on-Solent. Ordering Lawrence's return to "his proper duties" at RAF Mount Batten. Notes that instructions about not moving Lawrence without consulting the Air Ministry seem not to have been passed to Chark-Hall's HQ, and therefore repeats them for future reference. 
    1932 Sep 8 J.W. Cordingley to C.H.K. Edmonds Acknowledges instructions dated 7 September relative to Lawrence.
    1933 Apr 21 C.H.K. Edmonds to R.H.Clark-Hall  Concerns Lawrence's impending move to Felixstowe, his future service at contractors' yards wearing civilian clothes, and further instructions regarding any decision to move Lawrence.
    1933 Apr 22 HQ Coastal Area to Officer i/c Records, RAF Further to the letter above, requests formal Air Ministry instructions to post Lawrence from Mount Batten to Felixstowe. 
    1933 Apr 27 Message from Mount Batten to M.A.E.E. Felixstowe [this is message repeated in two further documents]  "Shaw reporting Felixstowe by road p.m. 28/4"
    1933 Jun 1 C.H.K. Edmonds to AOC RAF Coastal Area. Summarises Air Ministry instructions relating to Lawrence.
    1934 Dec 17 J. W. Cordingley to C.H.K. Edmonds Notes that Lawrence is due for discharge on 11 Mar 1935 on completion of 12 years' service: "Am I to take it that no action is desired regarding his retention in the Service, in the absence of an application from Shaw in the ordinary manner?" Notes that it is not intended to pass the E.D. 7 form to the Ministry of Labour. 
    1934 Dec 20 C.H.K. Edmonds to J.W. Cordingley Replies to the above: "It has been decided that unless anything to the contrary is heard from Shaw in the meantime, normal discharge action should proceed".



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