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Thread: Can Anyone Explain Why RAF Ranks / Promotions Yo-yo Up and Down - WW 2 please?

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    Default Can Anyone Explain Why RAF Ranks / Promotions Yo-yo Up and Down - WW 2 please?

    15.8.40 this chap is "Acting Flying Officer" but ...
    15.8.40 Appointed to the paid acting rank of Flight Lieutenant on 15.6.40.
    30.1.41 Confirmed in the appointment of Pilot Officer.
    01.8.41 The undermentioned Pilot Officers are granted the war substantive rank of Flying Officer 15.9.40

    I know nothing about rank and promotion in the RAF, but I'm confused?

    Any help much appreciated?

    Thanks Mark

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    Hi Mark

    This gets very confusing to explain but ..

    The 'highest' level of rank is substantive but in WW2 the RAF introduced Temporary Ranks, these were to fill the numerous Temporary establishment posts created by the expansion of the RAF.

    So a Substantive Fg Off could be promoted to Temp Flt Lt

    Personnel can also be given acting ranks so a Temp Flt Lt could be promoted to Act Sqn Ldr, but at the end of the war he could revert to Fg Off because that is his substantive rank.

    Acting ranks can be paid or unpaid, so an acting (paid) Sqn Ldr gets paid the rate of a Sqn Ldr but an acting (unpaid) Sqn Ldr receives the pay of his temp or substantive rank (Fg Off or Flt Lt).

    I have found it difficult to find a definition of War Substantive but it seems to be half way between Substantive and Temporary. From Flt Lt onwards it appears to have been awarded six months (1 year in the case of Air Officers)after being appointed to a haigher acting rank. eg an acting Wg Cdr (Temp Sqn Ldr) would be promoted to War Sub Sqn Ldr after six months as an Act Wg Cdr.

    So your chap was appointed a Plt Off on probation before 15 Aug 1940 and due to losses quickly gets pomoted to Act Fg Off and is probably carrying out the duties normally expected of a Flt Lt so on 15 Aug 1940 he is promoted to Act Flt Lt backdated to 15 Jun (when he probably started undertaking the duties). His official period of probation ends on 30 Jan 1941 so he is confirmed in his substantive rank of Plt Off. Having completed the relevant period as a substantive Plt Off he is promoted to WS Fg Off on 1 Aug 1941 backdated to 15 Sep 1940. However since Aug 1940 he will have beeen wearing the rank badges of a Flt Lt and will have been referred to as such throughout this period.

    Malcolm
    ex Act Flt Lt

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    Thanks Malcolm

    The 15.8.40 references were in the No. 4 Group ORB.

    The August 1940 London Gazette does refer to the chap being a Pilot Officer on probation (as you stated) and under the Balloon Branch in June 1940.

    At other times in WW 2 he is under Administrative and Special Duties Branch.

    Regards Mark

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    Default Congratulations malcolm

    That's the best summary of the confusing RAF rank system, which existed during WWII, that I have read. It must also be remembered that most people joining the RAF in the war joined the RAFVR not the RAF.

    Come on Malcolm, trump it all and explain the principles behind: a. the rationalisation of officers' ranks and seniority post-war, which saw wg cdrs reverting to flt lt (eg) and b. the way the RAF introduced the NCO aircrew grades as a way of sorting out the massive glut of W/O aircrew. If you can do it, there's a donation of 20 from me to the charity of your choice.

    Good Luck

    Colin Cummings

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    Hear, hear Colin - and perhaps it would be a good idea to copy Malcolm's excellent explantion across to the Research forum - preferably as a sticky. It mustn't get lost.

    Brian

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    Default RAF Rank & Promotions - WW 2

    Malcolm stated ...
    "So your chap was appointed a Plt Off on probation before 15 Aug 1940 and due to losses quickly gets pomoted to Act Fg Off and is probably carrying out the duties normally expected of a Flt Lt so on 15 Aug 1940 he is promoted to Act Flt Lt backdated to 15 Jun (when he probably started undertaking the duties). His official period of probation ends on 30 Jan 1941 so he is confirmed in his substantive rank of Plt Off. Having completed the relevant period as a substantive Plt Off he is promoted to WS Fg Off on 1 Aug 1941 backdated to 15 Sep 1940. However since Aug 1940 he will have been wearing the rank badges of a Flt Lt and will have been referred to as such throughout this period."

    "Malcolm
    ex Act Flt Lt"

    Hello Malcolm, Colin and Brian

    Thank you again Malcolm, it is clearer now!
    I have been tracing certain RAF individuals in the various London Gazette editions and wondered quite what was going on, hence my term Yo-yo-ing.

    Kind Regards Mark

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    The main feature of the period of World War Two as regards the administration of the armed forces (British in this case, although generally a universal response) was that for these purposes it was designated as an "emergency" (not to be confused with the later pronouncement that the unpleasantness in Malaya between 1949 and 1960 was deemed to be an emergency, and therefore by definition NOT a war!) Thus the entire establishment of the RAF and all appointments to commisisons and promotions approved during period of the emergency were by nature considered to be of a "temporary" nature. This also, of course, applied equally to all non-commisisoned ranks.
    Generally speaking all wartime substantive ranks were designated as "war substantive", or "w.s." for short, I think this is explained in the RAF Lists, and cannot be compared with (normal peacetime) substantive ranks. As has been already mentioned, it took a lot of administrative sweat to work out all the appropriate ranks and seniorities of all remaining wartime individuals still serving in the postwar RAF, based on the approved peacetime establishment and annual running costs. It would be true to say that quite a high proportion of WW2 appointments to fill posts in schools and particularly to leadership posts on operational squadrons were held by lower-ranking officers holding acting rank specific to the appointment, and many of these might have had to drop at least one rank, perhaps two or even three.
    Whenever the RAF is operating under "peacetime" conditions of service it is probably correct to say that there were "normal" substative ranks (vast majority of individuals), as well as small proportion of acting ranks (to compensate those individuals of lower rank appointed to posts normally filled by an officer of NCO of the higher rank), and sometimes, in particular situations and for various reasons, there could be temporary ranks. Honorary (unpaid) commissions with rank were held by certain individuals who undertook certain functions and were held in higher esteem, or freely offered their services on a voluntary basis considered of some value to the Crown.
    And could somebody please enlighten me as to the fundamental difference (if there is one, apart from the name) between an RAF temporary (wartime) commision and an emergency commission, or was it simply that it replaced the "temorary" with "emergency" at some point? All replies welcome.
    David D

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    Forgot to mention this on my last post, but another reason for approving acting rank in the wartime RAF was that, quite late in that war (late 1944?) it was decided that all captains of "heavy aircraft" (which usually meant 4-engined, and also having a crew of 4 to 12 or so, and therefore having heavier responsibilities than a Spitfire pilot, for instance) should be entitled to at least the rank of F/O, so all such captains holding w.s r ank of Pilot Officer were, on posting to their first operational unit, were appointed to acting (eventually paid) rank of flying officer. However, typically, I am not aware that a equivalent appointent to higher rank was ever considered for Sergeant pilot captains of heavy aircraft. Does any Board member know if such promotion for NCO captains for this reason was ever contemplated at the time?
    David D

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