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Thread: What was a 'Staff Wireless Operator'?

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    Default What was a 'Staff Wireless Operator'?

    I am interested in finding records for a Warrent Officer WOP (Air) who was, according to his service record, posted to Merryfield then Membury in 1945/6 as a 'Staff Wireless Operator'. I have information that he flew with 242, 187 and 525 Squadrons during this time but their ORBs make no mention of him. His log records his duty on these flights as WOP or Screen WOP. I can only suppose that he was on station rather than squadron strength and his flights were as supernumerary to the crew.

    Can anyone tell me how a Staff WOP differed from a WOP, if his posting could be to the station rather than squadron and if I can find records equivalent to ORBs that will record him.

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    Usually a Staff Pilot/Nav/etc is on a training unit and undertakes their normal role but not in an instructional capacity so a Staff WOP might fly on a navigation training flight piloted by a Staff Pilot with U/T Navs under the supervision of a Navigation Instructor.

    Malcolm

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    Hi
    All the Sqns mentioned seem to have been used in the transport role in the period that you mention, when the RAF and other services were winding down but still had considerable numbers all over Europe(as an example we were fighting in Greece against a Communist takeover at the time) all needing supplies. They all were based for periods at either Merryfield or Membury. The term Staff suggests a Station posting and the term Screen suggests training of others or Supervision.At this period at the end of the war there could well have been an embryo organisation or the idea to oversee what later became a system of Licensing of aircrew, when it would be a requirement to attain and demonstrate minimum standards of competence in a particular aircrew category in an essentially peacetime atmosphere, and leading to the current Airline system that we have now.From Jefford's RAF Squadrons the a/c that he could have flown in include the Dakota and York and what I think were transport versions of the Wellington,Warwick and Stirling
    Edit: Malcolm's point is a valid one and your man could have been in a Training element that covered all types and Sqns on a given station.If he was not instructing then as Malcolm implies his role would have been needed on all the types in order to make the a/c function properly whilst a particular category was trained by an instructor.Your ref.to Screen suggests that he was at times the instructor/Supervisor
    Regards
    Dick
    Last edited by Dick; 1st April 2011 at 09:12.

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    Thanks to Malcolm and Dick for replies.

    I had thought that 'Screen WOP' referred to a radar operator while 'WOP' was a radio operator!

    Can anyone tell me if there are equivalent records to squadron ORBs that will show the day to day work of 'Staff'?

    David

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    David R,
    I would say that if your man was on a training unit as a staff instructor then there is little likelihood of there being surviving records of his flights, as an ORB maintaind by non-operational units were not required to keep such details in that format. Of course at the times record were kept of every flight at any flying unit, but mainly for the purposes of allocating pupils and instructors to aircraft for normal exercises through each course, as well as maintaining records of flying hours for every aircrsft by medium of the aircraft's own documents (logbooks, etc), and weekly and/or monthly retunrs of flying hours for the unit would be maintaiuned for statisitical purposes, with returns being submitted to higher formatiosn for them to compile their own statisitcs for even higher formations. Engineer officers had to provide the necessary number of serviceable aircraft each day sufficient to enable normal trainig flights to continue, and the unit and flight commanders had to arrange for sufficient staff pilots and instructors to be available to operate the aircraft and instruct/supervise the pupils, as well as non-flying instructers in the classrooms.
    .

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    David,
    My father was a W/T Instructor at Madley and Yatesbury in 1944/45. In April 1945 he was transferred to St Athans as O.C W/T Flight.
    From his Log Book is following;
    26/4/45 0900 Anson 707 W/O Roper(pilot) Staff Instructor Base-Pembroke Dock-Base 2.20hrs Day.
    30/4/45 0900 Anson 703 F/Lt Graham (pilot) Staff Instructor Base-Reading-Worcestor-Base 2.30hrs Day.
    He also acted as W/Op as seen below;
    23/5/45 1400 Anson 705 W/O Woodroffe (Pilot) W/Op Sea Route-Base-Lundy-Worms-Base 1.10hrs Day.
    As the other forum members have stated, the position was in a Non Operational Training Unit and would appear that the position of Staff Instructor was a position of command but didn't preclude the Officer from doing his original trained position of W/Op as required.
    Hope this helps.

    Regards,
    Rob Jerram.

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    Thank you all for the further replies. My father's service record shows that he was at Merryfield and then Membury from February 1945 to September 1946. Both were Transport Command operational bases and I am not aware of any training units there at that time. His log shows that he was a staff wireless operator. His log also shows that that for the first few months he flew on operations as part of the crew sometimes with 187 and at other times with 525 Squadrons as either a WOP or a Screen WOP. 187 and 525 Squadron ORBs make no mention of him or the pilots he flew with or the serial numbers of the aircraft he flew in.

    I can only guess that there were additional aircraft (Yorks at Merryfield and Dakotas at Membury) and crews not allocated to the squadrons and that these aircraft and crews were sometimes used for operational purposes. Although there is no mention of him being an 'Instructor' I do have a photograph of him from that time which has a caption which tells that it is of him 'briefing a crew to Bari'. So, perhaps that was another function of a 'Staff Wireless Operator'.

    As he appears to be posted to the Station rather than a Squadron I still have my question of what records there may be of station activities equivalent to Squadron ORBs.

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    David R,
    It is interesting that these flights were counted as "Operations" (although not the same as "operational operations!) but remember that by this stage of the war, the retention of actual squadron organisation for transport units engaged on long overseas schedules was hardly the ideal way of running such flying. The RAF introduced a system of long range transport operations towards the end of WW2 (or possibly shortly afterwards - 1946?) called "slip crews", with, say, a York departing the UK en route to India with a full load, with the original crew handing over to a replacement "slip" crew after a certain number of stops, the latter crew continuing onwards till they in turn might hand over to a third crew to complete the outward journey. After perhaps a minor servicing the aircraft when then proceed on its return journey using several further crews in succession. Each crews were of course "rested" at the way points and would then take over another York flying along the same route, so in the fulness of time all the crews would return to the UK, although under normal circumstances the first aircraft they set out flying east would return to the UK long before they reached home themselves. Thus it was pratically the same mode of operation as used by modern airlines (a system in fact originally pioneered in the 1930s by commercial operators on long overseas routes to best of my knowledge - am I right on this?) Thus it was a matter of pooling aircraft and crews to operate such long and tiring schedules, and squadron organization does not neccessarily make much sense for this kind of operation. In spite of this mode of operation the RAF still organized its transport units in this way (and still does, as do most air forces to this day), although many if not most such squadrons are NOT engaged on scheduled route flying, and must retain a military organization to enbale rapid repsonses to unscheduled emergencies any where in the world. However you can imagine hor irrelevant squadron organization was during the Berlin Airlift when everything was pooled, yet even then crews and aircraft were (I believe) still allocated to specific squadrons.
    David D

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    'Operations' is my interpretation of what is shown in my father's log. At Merryfield he shows a 2 week journey to India and return which he describes as 'Radio + Navigation Route Check Operations Investigation'. At Membury In Jume + July 1945 he shows various tasks including transport of troops, mail, VIPs, medical staff, Nuremburg court staff etc.

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