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Advice needed on researching an individuals military history

Article about: Hi, I would like some advice/help please. I work with someone who reckons he was British SAS in Vietnam in the 60's(one of a hundred apparently) He says he was in the army before going into

  1. #1

    Default Advice needed on researching an individuals military history

    Hi,
    I would like some advice/help please.

    I work with someone who reckons he was British SAS in Vietnam in the 60's(one of a hundred apparently)

    He says he was in the army before going into the SAS but i can't find any record of him on military websites.

    I could see why his SAS record wouldn't be recorded but does this mean his army record would also be kept secret????????????????.....something doesn't add up to us all

    Any help or thoughts would be appreciated
    Regards
    Tim

    ps he also reckons he won a quite an important medal in the conflict!!!!!

  2. #2

    Default

    That's a murky subject but it is not impossible that he served with the British Advisory Mission to South Vietnam although they were very few and were engaged in training and liaison duties not combat roles.

    The official position is that the UK did not comit combat troops.

    There were cases of soldiers resigning from British / Canadian and New Zealand forces to go to Vietnam having enlisted in the US Army and then were re-enlisted in their own national forces on their return in a discrete semi-official kind of acquiescence. Of that you are very unlikely to find much specific information.

    However, consider if this bloke was SAS and his story was true do you think he would be talking about it?

    His service record pre-SAS would never be expunged. Depending on his subsequent history he might "disappear off the radar" but most likely the record would stop after SAS selection though if you look closely you might find reference to his seccondment to the regiment. His prior service record is there forever. Unfortunately you can't research a living soldiers record and much of it would be closed to all but his next of kin after his death.

    If he was decorated and you know what the decoration was then in most cases the medal gazettes can be accessed in open source which would simply confirm the award and probably the theatre.
    However, in the case of covert ops to which this bloke seems to be alluding then the whole lot is likely to be closed.

    As I say, it is not totally impossible that the tale is partially true and that he is saying perhaps more than he should but it is also possible that he knows how hard it would be to research and is at best "guilding the lilly".

    If he is as keen to talk as he sounds that would give me doubt but get him to specify his regiment or corps and try to tease a specific unit out of him and then start with the relevant regimental museum or as you say websites. He has obviously caused concern so perhaps it does need to be bottomed out one way or the other. If he is true then maybe respect is due. If he is a walt then the opposite ought to be known.

    Obviously I don't know him and it would be unfair to cast judgement so I am just trying to answer your question as impartially as I can but we all know somebody who "talks a good war".

    I hope this is of some help.

    Regards

    Mark
    Last edited by Watchdog; 09-26-2019 at 06:28 PM. Reason: typo
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  3. #3

    Default

    I’m intrigued....say you get proof that he wasn’t........what happens?

    ...and if you find out he was.....what happens?

    ..not sure what this has to do with Militaria......sounds more about point scoring...unless he’s parading around with medals on or claiming a benefit he’s not entitled to......just saying....

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote by Composite View Post
    Im intrigued....say you get proof that he wasnt........what happens?

    ...and if you find out he was.....what happens?

    ..not sure what this has to do with Militaria......sounds more about point scoring...unless hes parading around with medals on or claiming a benefit hes not entitled to......just saying....
    I think you are right Ade but if there is a need to ask the question from the point of view of having no knowledge then I guess this is a sensible place to ask.

    As an old "khaki brain" I took the view that if he is authentic he is unreliable for talking about it indiscretely and if he isn't he is bringing the service into disrepute and should be exposed.

    Either way in the position of the OP (who sounds possibly concerned) I would want to know. But yes it isn't militaria related I agree and would not go any further with it beyond my first polite and generic response

    Regards

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks chaps....very helpful replies.

    I agree its not militaria related but i was unsure where to start and as I already know some people on here I know the depth of knowledge there is. I was expecting someone to say...' oh you need to speak to X' Then hopefully one thing would lead to another.

    Just for interests sake here is pretty much how our working day goes

    Every conversation during the working day pretty much comes back to military talk....bit like Uncle Albert!
    Because of the business we are in we meet alot of new people and its always the first topic of conversation, and the bad things that happened fighting in Vietnam and how he helped defend a village against a US air attack and all the R&R in hong kong etc etc
    Some of the bad things he did in villages which hes not proud of!!!
    Hes just had a private film made about his exploits
    (its beginning to sound like snippets from all the Vietnam war films!!!!)

    THE PROBLEM IS.......Everyone has started doubting the story. It wasn't until i was speaking to one his friends I learnt they think its all rubbish and even his wife thinks he bought the medal on a well known auction site.

    I'm certainly not trying to disrespect the guy but the realisation is dawning on me that it might all be B.......X

    I've never doubted it until now and as i collect militaria I thought I would try and investigate a little further because I'm interested

    So thank you for your advice, if you have any further pointers I would love to explore them.

    Tim
    PS the reason i believed him was because an old school friends father was a British military advisor in Vietnam and so when i heard this guys story I believed it out of hand

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote by Composite View Post
    I’m intrigued....say you get proof that he wasn’t........what happens?

    ...and if you find out he was.....what happens?

    ..not sure what this has to do with Militaria......sounds more about point scoring...unless he’s parading around with medals on or claiming a benefit he’s not entitled to......just saying....
    Ade... there are plenty of 'Walts' out there, you would be surprised how many 'veterans' wear medals that they have no entitlement to... and of course there are all the 'bling' medals that many former soldiers choose to purchase and wear so that they do not look naked at the cenotaph. For myself, I just wear what I earned when I'm selling the poppies, or on Remembrance Sunday.

    Cheers,
    Steve
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote by Cricketmad View Post
    Thanks chaps....very helpful replies.

    I agree its not militaria related but i was unsure where to start and as I already know some people on here I know the depth of knowledge there is. I was expecting someone to say...' oh you need to speak to X' Then hopefully one thing would lead to another.

    Just for interests sake here is pretty much how our working day goes

    Every conversation during the working day pretty much comes back to military talk....bit like Uncle Albert!
    Because of the business we are in we meet alot of new people and its always the first topic of conversation, and the bad things that happened fighting in Vietnam and how he helped defend a village against a US air attack and all the R&R in hong kong etc etc
    Some of the bad things he did in villages which hes not proud of!!!
    Hes just had a private film made about his exploits
    (its beginning to sound like snippets from all the Vietnam war films!!!!)

    THE PROBLEM IS.......Everyone has started doubting the story. It wasn't until i was speaking to one his friends I learnt they think its all rubbish and even his wife thinks he bought the medal on a well known auction site.

    I'm certainly not trying to disrespect the guy but the realisation is dawning on me that it might all be B.......X

    I've never doubted it until now and as i collect militaria I thought I would try and investigate a little further because I'm interested

    So thank you for your advice, if you have any further pointers I would love to explore them.

    Tim
    PS the reason i believed him was because an old school friends father was a British military advisor in Vietnam and so when i heard this guys story I believed it out of hand
    Thanks for the adde explanation.
    I was prepared to give the benefit of the doubt but now I really am thinking "Walt"

    Regards

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

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