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Alamein Allied Air Forces Memorial Database: Effectively Searching The Database

Search on this database can be very powerful and useful. With a few simple techniques you will be able to extract information that you never thought you could find.

Creative researchers are likely to find golden threads to research through an imaginative use of the power and flexibility now offered. The data has always been there of course, but seeing the connections has hitherto been problematical: sometimes the needle gets hidden in the haystack. This facility changes that.

MySQL Stopword List

Our databases are MySQL, the most widely used database in the world. It's fast and very reliable.

All MySQL searches you make pass through what is known as a stopword list, essentially a list of words MySQL does not index, it just ignores them. If you try to Search on any word in the stopword list, your search will fail. Therefore if the name you are looking for just happens to be the same as a word in the stoplist, you won't be able to Search for it. If this is the case, just send us a message via the Helpdesk and we will conduct a manual Search for you. You can see the stopword list here.

Getting Started

To get started, put a name in the Search box, for example Brown. (you don't have to capitalize names so brown will work the same way as Brown). The result is all the Browns in the database. This will include entries which have Brown anywhere within its contents, not just the Name column. From this first Search you can become familiar with the layout of the database which will enable you to conduct more complex Searches.

You can perform a Search for almost anything (3 characters or more) in any column. So now replace Brown with Rhodesia and now you see all those from Rhodesia in the database. You will normally read the Family column to find the results of this particular search. Now put Brown AND Rhodesia in the Search box. This will find all records of Browns who were associated with Rhodesia. (The AND is known as a Boolean operator, and tells our Search Engine you want to find entries that meet both specified criteria. (You don't have to capitalize AND incidentally: Brown and Rhodesia will work just as well, as will brown and Rhodesia). Other than in the case of capitalization, however, spelling IS important.

You can have up to FIVE dependencies in a single search! For example Smith AND RAAF AND Sergeant would find all Browns who served with the RAAF and had the rank of Sergeant.

If you are familiar with other Boolean operators, try those.

Brown and Rhodesia = all entries that contain BOTH Brown and Rhodesia. It will ignore any entry that only has Brown, ditto one that only has Rhodesia. The entry must have both. Clever use of these dependencies can find fascinating discoveries.

Brown or Rhodesia = all entries that contain EITHER Brown OR Rhodesia.

(Brown or Smith) and Rhodesia = entries that have Browns who came from Natal plus entries that have Smiths who came from Rhodesia. The placement of brackets is important. Thus Brown or (Smith and Rhodesia) will find all Browns entries plus all entries that contain BOTH Smith and Rhodesia. Can you see the difference? The first one finds Browns from Rhodesia plus Smiths from Rhodesia, whereas the second finds Smiths from Rhodesia PLUS Browns from anywhere.


(1) You can't search for any single letter or number. You can't search for 7 for example, or B

(2) You can't search for 2 letter or 2 number combos.

To search on squadron include Sqd in search, thus search for 26 Sqd and not just 26.

You CAN search for 3 letters or numbers, thus KIA and 300 both work.

(3) Also, certain characters cannot be used in a search and if they are, they are ignored. The hyphen is one such character

We would like to hear from researchers who find interesting connections through our Search Engine. Caring is Sharing! Perhaps you would like to contribute a story based on your research? We'll be happy to publish you.

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