Form 540 and Form 541 Operations Record Book
Royal Air Force War Manual AP1301 Part II
Published 1929, Ammended 1931, 1934 and 1940
An Operations Record Book (see King's Regulations para 2349, Second Edition 1928), will be maintained in duplicate from the first day of mobilization, or creation of the particular formation or unit, by:-
(i) All formation headquarters and by each branch of the staff in large headquarters.
(ii) All unit commanders including the commanding officers of depots and parks.
(iii) Commanders of detachments of a unit.
(iv) Base Personnel Staff Officer
(v) Heads of Services, including the Chief Signal Officer and Chief Maintenance Officer.
The contents of the operations record book are secret.
The objects of the operations record book are:-
(i) To furnish a complete historical record of the headquarters or unit from the time of its formation.
(ii) To furnish an accurate record of each operation carried out.
(iii) To collect information for future reference with a view to improving the organisation, training, equipment and administration of the Royal Air Force. The book will be entered up from day to day on Form 540 by an officer detailed for the duty. Writing will be on both sides of the Form 540 and must be distinct. Names of persons and places must be given in block capitals. The spelling of names of places will be that on the latest maps. The map referred to will always be indicated.
At the end of each calendar month, the record will be completed and both copies with all relevant appendices sent, through the usual channels, to the headquarters of the command or force. That headquarters will forward the original and appendices to the Air Ministry, as soon as possible, and retain the duplicate in safe custody. When no longer required duplicates may be sent for custody to the Base Personnel Staff Officer.
Extraction and retention of appendices, maps, etc., from the operations record book is an offence under the Offical Secrets Acts.
The cover of the book will consist of Form 4008 and will bear the following inscription:-
OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK
The following are to be included, so far as they are applicable, in the operations record book:-
(i) The circumstances of the unit at the commencement of the war period or on its formation, if formed during the war period, e.g., where formed or located, establishment, equipment, command, etc.
(ii) All important orders, despatches, instructions, reports and messages issued and received, and decisions taken.
(iii) The daily situation, i.e., any move of the unit, or portion of the unit, to another aerodrome or advanced landing ground, the aircraft or transport present, and, if known, their condition, also any arrivals and departures of officers and aiman pilots, aircraft and transport and any important stores. Drafts of airmen numerically weaker than an officer's party should not be seperately specified.
(iv) All important matters relating to the allocation of duties among staff
(v) A detailed account of all operations. The exact time at which important occurrences took place must be entered. The state of the weather should be recorded, also the state of the aerodrome, if this has any bearing upon operations.
(vi) Any numerical change in establishment or strength. A record of casualties, giving the name and rank of officers and the number, name and rank of airmen or any troops or civilians attached; also any aircraft or transport written-off or seriously damaged.
(vii) The particulars of any officer or airman promoted, decorated or mentioned in despatches.
(viii) The badges and devices which a unit has been permitted to bear and the reason for which such badges and devices, or other marks of distinction, were granted, together with the date and authority for the grant.
(ix) Any change in the aerodrome or station affecting the accomodation of officers or airmen, aircraft, stores or transport, e.g., alterations or additions to buildings, billets, hangars, etc.
(x) Any meteorological notes of importance additional to the routine weather reports.
(xi) Summary of information received, and of all matters of importance, military or political, which may occur from day to day.
(xii) Any defects in organization or regulations brought to light by the operations in question with a brief note of the action taken thereon.
(xiii) Any other matter which may be considered of historical value.
The following documents will be attached as appendices to the original operations record book, but not to the duplicate copy. References to these appendices will, however, be made in the duplicate.
(i) RAF Form 541 "Detail of work carried out" (for use during operations only)
(ii) A copy of each operational order and routine order issued by the unit or headquarters.
(iii) Copies of operational orders received from a higher formation, when no longer required for reference purposes.
(iv) A copy of each narrative of, or report on, operations, drawn up by the unit or headquarters, including any sketches or maps relating thereto.
(v) A record of photographs taken.
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