I have mentioned before that I went on a research trip to India recently. The main reason
was to try to locate and see my father's army record in Delhi. This is Thomas Ernest
Abbott who joined the Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC) as a War Substantive 2nd
Lieut. in October of 1942. His records are not available in any of the usual places in
England. Over a year ago the India Office Library handed me a sheet with an address
which was the Adjutant General's Office at the Army Headquarters, West Block lll,
R.K.Puram, New Delhi 110066. The woman at the desk laughed and told me there was no
chance of getting information by mail and that if I went to india I would have to go armed
with large bribes, even then to not expect any assistance.
I went to India. In the year prior to going I wrote to this office a couple of times,
and in fact sent an email the night before visiting in November. My husband and I were met
by some puzzled looks, and a couple of Army Officers came to make our acquaintance. They
were extremely polite, took our information, and finally one of them told us, "Sir,
Madam, you are in the wrong place. This has been the Veterinary headquarters and has been
for for several years". He proceeded to direct us to the real AG's office which
is close to the Central Secretariat on the South Block of the Ministry of Defense, several
miles away. We had to wait until after lunch break, (a very well enforced time of office
closures), and were directed from one gate to another before being told that what we
really needed is Gate 11. Despite us being foreigners walking around in the main military
office area, no one stopped us in our wanderings. Gate 11 had a nice air conditioned
office, paintings !
and relief work on the ceilings and a water fountain tricking down one wall. Lovely on a
hot day. Once again that day I explained my request of talking with someone from the
AG's office, a phone call was made and within 15 minutes a Colonel came down to meet
us. Having not made a prior appointment I was not able to see the Adjutant General
himself. The Colonel sat with us for over an hour getting my information. He took this
case on as an interesting puzzle and researched as much as he could about the RIASC. We
were in contact over the time I was in India.
(The old address for the office was still in view on the internet as of November 2013. My
letters were never forwarded, my email written the night before my visit never received.
The Colonel acknowledged that they had been slow in changing the address on the internet.
Consequently, the India Office Library could not have given out an updated address). I
will not state or make any promises that you will get results even now, but the real
address of the Adjutant General's office is at the Indian Headquarters of the
Ministry of Defense (Army), Room No. 280, South Block , New Delhi 110011. Email address
I did not get a chance to see my father's army record, as I do not have a service
record number and have not been able to find one. The files in Delhi, many thousands and
thousands of them, are filed by the service record numbers. I was told that if I had the
information, a group of men would be put on to search the files and I would have had
access to them in a few days. My husband and I was very impressed with each one of the
Brigadiers, Colonels, Majors and all other army personnel we met. The Delhi Colonel
contacted the Brigadier in charge of the RIASC center in Bangalore and told him my husband
and I would be visiting and to assist us in any way possible. By the time we reached
Bangalore it was several weeks later. We learned that the RIASC Centre in Bangalore only
deals with the records of Person's Below Rank ( PBR's ) who were amongst the first
chosen to work as drivers, cooks, peons, animal caretakers etc. Their files are in
Bangalore. People of rank were t!
he next to be added. I was told that all British officers were trained in England and
came to India by ship. We sat for two hours in the Major's office, getting
information on the RIASC while he had people searching through books of old records for
the name Abbott , and bringing them in to me to be checked. They were extremely
thorough, and I can only praise them as being far more helpful than I expected. Not once
was there a question of a bribe.
I thought I had learned the history of the RIASC from a book available in the India Office
Library in London. I have learned far more on this trip, though there are still
questions I have to address on other emails to india@rootsweb. Hopefully some of this
information will be of some use.