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Thread: Missing Combat Reports from Documents Online - is all hope lost?

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    Default Missing Combat Reports from Documents Online - is all hope lost?

    Hello,

    I am trying to find a combat report for a 50 squadron crew for July 1944. A combat is noted in 2 of the crew members log books and they landed at another airfield due to the damage.

    I have searched in vain for the combat report on the NA website. I note however that there are no combat reports for 50 squadron from May through to August 1944 - surely there must have been other combats in this period?!

    Is the NA collection complete or is there another way of finding combat reports. The combat is not mentioned in the ORB but this is not the first time I have found this to be the case.

    Am I just going to be unlucky or is there a chance I could find the report elsewhere?

    Cheers,
    TEC

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    Hi TEC,

    By DocumentsOnline, I'm assuming you mean AIR 50? In my own experience with a fighter squadron, most of the combat reports were contained in appendices to the ORB. For 50 Squadron, this should be AIR 27/490 which covers Jul 44 to Apr 45, so you may be in luck but I am unfamiliar with Bomber Command ORBs.

    Can someone else add anything?

    Cheers,

    Jeff

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    Geoff has a point. In my experience of 41 Squadron Combat Reports (AIR 50/18), most are available in AIR 50, but many are also available in the Appendices of the ORB. Whilst several of these are copies of those appearing in AIR 50/18, a number of them are not, so it is well worth checking this avenue as well. In some cases, however, Combat Reports have not survived at all.

    In regard to Documents Online, I recall that when the Combat Reports were first put online, there was a great deal of discussion about it on this forum because of the inaccuracies in the search engine. Many names were incorrectly spelled, therefore making it impossible to find a man's Combat Report, even if it was in fact online.

    I don't know if TNA ever did anything about correcting the errors, but have always found that a personal visit to TNA and scrolling through the microfilm is the most productive way of finding what you're looking for. This is particularly the case where a Combat Report is in one man's name, but also mentions others' actions.

    Now living in Australia (I used to live in London), I appreciate that distance makes visiting TNA very difficult, so having someone visit for you may be the best way to be sure a Combat Report is there, or indeed is not.

    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Many of Bomber Command´s Combat Reports have been lost especially from the period mid 44 to the end of the war. My experience is mostly from No. 75 Squadron and as suggested by Jeff and Steve a few reports can be found in the Appendices but still many are missing.

    There is a document called Monthly Supplementary Narrative of Operations listing claims by Bomber Command. For claims of E/A “destroyed” or “probably destroyed” it also has a short summary of the Combat Report. If you give me the date I can check for information about this claim.

    Regards
    Peter

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    In response to Steve Brew it won't be a problem for you in Brisbane but for those who live a bit closer it is no longer possible to get access to the microfilm the only access now to the old AIR50 is via Documents Online. In my experience it is still very difficult to search. I have some CRs that I printed in the old days from the microfilm so I know they were there. As a check I have tried to find them via Documents Online - without success!

    I am not very expert in searching these sort of record systems but the method that has worked best for me is to simply search on the date (no names, no squadron numbers) and then sort through the hits.

    Steve

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    Hello folks,

    Thank you for your very imformative replies. I will employ a researcher to look through the ORBs and see if there are any appendicies.

    I will try searching for the specific date again but I thought that I has already tried this.

    Peter, thank you for the offer, I will send you a PM.

    Once again, thank you for your help folks.

    TEC

    P.S. Would base/group records show combat reports?

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    Hi Steve Brooking

    Not sure I understand? The microfilms were available in the filing cabinets in the reading room up until at least 5 weeks ago, but were kept in a different location to where they were previously. Have they been withdrawn since?

    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Well Steve I am not sure I understand either are you saying you have been sneaking back into the country?

    The last time I was looking was back in July/August time the "summer" (I realise that for Britain that is a misnomer but I can't think of another word for the season between spring and autumn). I could not find the appropriate drawers in the microfilm corner and when I asked for help I was told that since the "CRs are all on Documents Online the m/film is no longer available to the public". It is clearly a surprise to me that you say they were there 5 weeks ago.

    I will check again on my next visit

    Steve

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    Hello,

    As Steve Brew has pointed, I was at Kew last month, and I'm almost sure the drawer(s) containing the AIR 50 reels were still there. I was reading AIR 27 reels, but indeed, if someone visiting Kew soon could just check if the reels are still there, that'd be fine.

    The Escape & Evasion reports (WO 208 series) are no longer accessible in original form since they have been digitised. Can someone confirm or it was only me doing something wrong or asking at the wrong time ?

    Joss

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    Dear All

    Mr Brew is not spoofing the AIR50 microfilm is still there. For the cognoscenti if you walk into the current microfilm/fiche area on the first floor and turn to the right where the remaining cabinets, including AIR27, are to be found then the AIR50 microfilm is in the very furthest cabinet next to the window in the bottom drawer number 45. The drawer is clearly broken and in my view represents a serious H&S hazard but there is not the slightest sign of any yellow and black tape!!! You'd better be quick before the whole cabinet is condemned!

    For TEC
    If you go on the NA site and search the catalogue you will find that (microfilm reel) AIR50/188 contains reports made by No 50Sqn and it may contain the report you are seeking. You could try searching on DocumentsOnline using "AIR50/188" to see what comes up.

    Steve

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