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Thread: Photos in WW2 RAF service files

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    Default Photos in WW2 RAF service files

    Greetings to all

    Just joined. Some of you know me. I am a researcher in Canada and was wondering if I could get some information on RAF service files. I understand that the UK privacy laws are more stringent than here in Canada but was wondering how often do the RAF service file contain photographs of the airman? In RCAF files, mostly Bomber Command, the average is about 75% of the time. The earlier in the war then that's where the photos are most often missing.
    If any members have questions about RCAF Bomber Command service files don't hesitate to ask.
    All the best

    Danny

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    My experience of RAF personnel records is my grandfather's records and there isn't a photo with the items we were sent.
    Alan Clark

    Peak District Air Accident Research

    http://www.peakdistrictaircrashes.co.uk/

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    Danny,
    All the ones i've seen have no photo's.
    Alan.

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    Default RAF Service Records

    I found my Grandfather's Service Record, most disappointing. Two sides of a large pink card and little more than what we have on the "Certificate of Discharge" sent about three months after he was killed.

    Another member of the Squadron, has his full Service File with medicals etc., photocopied, about 50 sheets.

    I telephoned the RAF address (some years ago) from where the photocopies of the pink Service Record card were issued from and requested the full file. The reply was, that is all they have there at Gloucester.

    I then managed to get hold of the MoD's Advisory Committee on Record Keeping (in the TNA) and Service Personnel Records are indeed retained by the MoD, with many Departments having already microfiched the file records. Apparently, they are going to be a problem to release due to the shear number of them and the immense volume of work required in dealing with the transfer to The National Archives and it was hoped that by the time that a decision will need to be taken on transferring them, that some method of storing them (photographically/electronically) will be available.

    They are retained for an on-going business case, in other words, we are not going to see them yet in the archives.

    This is also confirmed in the 2004 Parliamentary Hansard, which states that the Personnel and Personal files of every Sailor, Soldier and Airman are still held by the MoD in their Military Records Office.

    Whether they hold photographs remains to be seen, but I never got a photograph? That was what I really wanted too.

    My Grandfather's brother a Solicitor requested the photograph shortly after he was killed in August 1940 and the reponse from the Adjutant states that we cannot supply the photograph of your brother, as it would be likely he would be carrying the photograph with him as part of his proof of identity. I expect it was to satisfy the Geneva Convention and pow? Despite him being commemorated on a grave (requested by our family) and entered in the Church Register, as far as we know from Undertakers records he was never found.

    When I approached the Information Commissioner with the evidence, I felt I was fobbed off regarding the personnel file by the ICO, as it was not part of my original FOI complaint to see the accident file.

    When crew are killed or injured, the MoD do hold a "personal" file and I was limited to seeing, only what was selected by the Minister of Defence.

    But I can now prove from discoveries in TNA files that other correspondence (not shown me) was sent to the Under Secretary of State at the time, by the C-in-C Fighter Command requesting that the change in safety policy made several months earlier which he had stopped from being installed at the Naval airfield, should now be implemented to prevent future crashes of the same type. Also other information sent by the Royal Navy to Air Ministry Organisation confirmed that the runway was also blocked at the time and should have been reported beforehand to the Flying Control Directorate and that it was found not to be on the Directorate's list at the time.

    They hold personnel files for everybody in the Forces from official references to this, which I have found, unless you were dismissed quite quickly, very early on in training for a specific reason and there is an RAF Regulation in King's Regs, which makes it quite clear to whom they mean.

    They should have a file for my Grandfather, but usually they are denied on the basis that they cannot be found and would exceed the FOI limit to find.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Hood; 12th May 2012 at 18:53. Reason: extra about photograph

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    Default Access to Information in Canada

    I am disappointed for you guys living in the UK. Thankfully our rules are quite different here. A KIA file is opened to all to view, photograph or obtain paper copies. Those air crews who survived the War, we need to prove death over 20 years. If we can, then we get access to the entire file. If we can't, then we still have access to the non-personal information. As a plus, photographs of the airman taken during the war are considered archival and are accessable regardless of the 20 year rule.

    Danny

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    Danny
    WW2 RAAF service records are available to view digitally from the NAA -National Archives of Australia, easier if one knows the man's service number .One could ask for records to be digitalised for free but now I think there is a charge .The paper records can be sent by post .I just received an RAAF man's record from the NAA, airmail to UK for about £18 . Rarely are photos included, but if so, they are a strip of small service photos

    Anne

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    Quote Originally Posted by dannybou View Post
    I am disappointed for you guys living in the UK. Thankfully our rules are quite different here. A KIA file is opened to all to view, photograph or obtain paper copies. Those air crews who survived the War, we need to prove death over 20 years. If we can, then we get access to the entire file. If we can't, then we still have access to the non-personal information. As a plus, photographs of the airman taken during the war are considered archival and are accessable regardless of the 20 year rule.

    Danny
    Hello Danny and Anne

    We are quite aware of the openess of other countries, unfortunately, there were no Australians or Canadians amongst my Grandfather's crew. I have spent £1,000s and carried out 13 years of research to discover what actually happened and led up to the collision and crash and the aftermath , in a number of Archives and tracing people there on the night.

    I did get a reply from the South African Military, as the Second Pilot was South African, but they stated that they could only refer me back to the UK MoD.

    It is quite disgraceful how relatives are treated in the UK, but the MoD decided that no further Accident Reports, pre circa 1997 would be released to families and the ruling would not be retrospective. They also CLAIMED that it is thought that items were then destroyed in the 1990s, but that they simply don't know or not, whether the file was retained for permanent preservation. I found out that the 20,000 WW 2 files, held more than one accident case in the same file and they stated it was simply not possible to search these 20,000 files to find one accident case.

    A sample search of the 20,000 WW2 RAF Accidents held in a Lancashire Store stated that the Accident cases found in the sampling search, were injury only cases and not fatal cases.

    It was stated that the £600 search limit had been exhausted and ...

    The Judge then dismissed my Appeal to the Information Rights Tribunal.

    Even the Judges decision online under the Freedom of Information Act, has parts redacted!!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Hood; 13th May 2012 at 11:38. Reason: add a piece about the Tribunal

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    Default Examples of photographs

    Sorry to hear about your long battle with MoD Mark. I am glad it is quite easier here.

    I've got quite a few photos of Bomber Command RCAF crews that I have taken from service files over the years, so if any of you would like an example of what is available, just send me a PM.

    Just as an FYI, LAC is suffering cutbacks and the direct result is that more and more records will be placed online. Hopefully 6 Group O.R.B.s will be placed online one day.

    Danny
    Remembering Gunner Robert Béland (1919-2012), 5th L.A.A., R.C.A., Canadian Army, WWII

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    Mark
    I received my RAAF father's list of service from RAF Innsworth years ago as he was in a SAAF squadron, part of 205 group RAF in Italy The list was limited to his training schools & sqdns -1 page but it was helpful .Firstly I had to get my elderly mother's permission in writing as she was N of K.

    I have his full service records from Nat.Archives of Australia ,about 23 pages in the A9300 file and 79 pages in the A705 file .

    It's very frustrating for you .A visit the National Archives at Kew may help ? Or yr grandfather's squadron assoc. if it exists ? But that would only be information which you already have I expect
    The South African Dept of Defence was very limited years ago.I couldn't get anything from them at the time, though, when I rang them a few years ago a man who answered was very helpful but, like most of these official places, I think they are short staffed .

    Anne

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    Hello Anne and Danny

    I feel I have got all the information that is in the public domain at the moment from various Archives, including our own National Archives. The Squadron Association only have, the ORB pages which I already had a photocopy of and nobody else could remember the crash, although several Association members could remember the Captain, who was an Officer.

    A few years ago, I thought I had got everything from Air Ministry files in the National Archives, but continued to research and follow up aviation subjects, which might be related. However, after tracking down the younger daughter of the family who lived opposite the crash site, the eldest daughter who was there on the night stated something about the last seconds of the flight, that led me to believe the runway was blocked.

    I went back to the National Archives and in a file, I made the discovery that the Naval aerodrome was indeed blocked at night, but had not been reported to the Air Ministry. It seems the crash also prompted an Air Ministry Confidential Order 14 days later, regarding the reporting of blocked aerodromes and obstructions and the notifying of SOS calls immediately to the Movement Liaison Section at Fighter Command.

    Mark

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