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Thread: RAFVR / National Service

  1. #1
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    Default RAFVR / National Service

    It was my understanding that, as the name suggests, all RAFVR were volunteers and as such I had made an assumption in my research that the flight engineer volunteered for duty by visiting his combined recruiting centre in 1943.

    However, this morning I found a National Service Enlistment Notice from 1941 (http://www.coastalcommand206.com/page33.htm), which calls another recruit into service in the RAFVR. I have not researched National Service so I am not familiar with the rules / regulations at the time (will wander off and familiarise now)

    I note that the Enlistment Notice was served on a recruit for Ground Crew. Did my FE volunteer for "aircrew in the RAFVR " rather that "RAFVR"?

    Were there two routes into RAFVR? (ie Volunteering or National Service Call Up); if so, is there a way I can work out which route my Flight Engineer took?

    Regards

    Pete
    Last edited by PeteT; 19th June 2012 at 12:27.
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    I think the service number may reveal clues. Apart from that I have nothing else to offer.

    Norman

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    RAFVR was a legal means to assemble a force of men in addition the the strength of the RAF approved by civil government.

    Militamen, National Servicemen and volunteers were a means of providing the manpower for the RAFVR.

    The Royal Air Force was limited by goverment/treasury to a maximium number of men. Although set in peacetime it was still a limit for wartime and was the mechanism that the force would reduce to peacetime levels on cease of hostility.

    Need to go back to The Trenchard Memorandum (White Paper Cmd 467:The Permanent Organisation of the Royal Air Force) and 1919 for the genesis but expansion did not really start until the 1930s.

    Although the Royal Air Force of 1918 was cut down to a force about 10% of its wartime strength it was recognised that a reserve of trained men would be required to bridge the gap until any new conscripts enrolled at the start of a conflict reached the frontline units.

    The Trenchard Memoradum allowed for a reserve force in addition to the manpower in the the Royal Air Force and this was to be in two parts:

    Members of the RAF who, after completing short service commissions, were liable to call back to arms for a specified number of years.
    The Auxiliary Air Force (the RAF equivalent to the army TA) who would provide an embodiment of men to backfill regular RAF units.

    1922 saw the first comprehensive reserve training scheme created.

    With the drawdown of RAF manpower from 1918 the number of RAF short service men in the reserve was limited at 200 pilots and seen as reducing so in 1923 it was decided to expand the reserve to 700 officers and 12,000 men made up of two sections, Reserve of Air Force Officers (RAFO) and airmen of the Royal Air Force Reserve.

    Classes A, AA, B, BB, C, D, E and F

    This was formailsed in the Auxiliary Air Force and Air Force Reserve Act of 1924 and resulted in the creation of Auxiliary and Special Reserve squadrons in 1925.

    Under the Reseve act the Auxiliary squadrons were evisaged as acting as a standalone entity taking care of all flying and trade training by use of internal resources. They were also limited to Home use and entry terms prevented airmen being posted to Field force.

    Special Reserve squadrons were a cadre unit to be filled at time of mobilisation.

    With the expansion of the RAF during the 1930s the supply of pilots into the RAFO dried up as they were retained within the RAF and the Auxiliary Air Force could not expand to provide more trained pilots due to their internal limitations on training.

    In Feb 1936 a proposal was made to create a new citizen air force acting as a real second line airforce behind the regular units. This was to be the RAFVR based in town centres and operating from local aerodromes. One of the implications of town base rather than county was that it would appeal to the technical youth of the industrial centres rather than the country gentry that gravitated to the Auxiliary Air Force.

    Officer and airmen of the new reserve force would be recruited on a common basis as airman pilot or observer and commission would be on the demonstration of leadership qualities.

    In August 1936 the new force was approved and given the name RAFVR. By May 1939 25 aerodrome centres had opened.

    As a more flexible force, without any constraint on where the entrants could serve the RAFVR was chosen as the force to accept Militiamen, later National Service Men as well as direct volunteer entry.

    The constitution of the RAF, even in wartime, would not allow more men to be employed within the force than had been agreed at treasury budget.

    To complete the reserve forces picture was the formation of Civil Air Guard in 1938 where a totally civilian force used the resource of civil flying clubs and schools to train civil pilots to intial standard. Grants were available for this purpose.

    Regards
    Ross
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    Ross, Thanks for the very detailed feedback.

    Going back to my initial questions, the line " ...... RAFVR was chosen as the force to accept Militiamen, later National Service Men as well as direct volunteer entry" confirms that there were two routes into RAFVR in 1943.

    I am now assuming that a recruit called up under National Service route would then have to "volunteer for aircrew" (ie you could not be called up to be aircrew). Is that assumption correct?

    Norman, I know that his service number was issued at RAF Cardington (1868746), where he underwent his ACSB etc ... if he had been called up under National Service, what numbering range would have been utilised?

    Thanks again for you interest and input; much appreciated.

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Hi Pete,

    Most men had already been included on the conscription lists as either Militiamen or NSA unless in a reserved occupation.

    Although Militiamen scheme was closed a few months after the war started the civil service had populated the yearly lists well into 1943. So you can find index cards from 1943 marked Militia even if the airman had actually volunteered before his call up.

    A similar situation exists with NSA lists.

    Regardless of volunteer early or waiting until called up a recruit could express an interest in aircrew but they needed to meet the educational requirements and be recommended for training as aircrew before they were accepted for training.

    In this case they would be put onto the deferred entry scheme and sent back to civi life for a time (usually 6 months) until the training place opened up. In mid to later war years part of this deferred entry time was taken up with aircrew training prep classes to bring education up to required levels.

    The call up paper you link to is a deferred entry one (i.e. no requirement to immediately leave civi life and enter the RAF.)

    So aircrew needed to express an interest and the selection board say they were suitable. They could be conscript or early entry and their service number may be conscript even if they entered before call up papers issued.


    Regards
    Ross
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    My existing wording says:

    "Early in 1943, twenty-nine year old Cecil Butler went into his local Combined Recruiting Centre, probably at London [Euston], and volunteered for aircrew duties in the RAF.

    Staff at the centre sent him for a medical, which he passed on 24th March 1943, and later that month he received a letter, along with a railway warrant , requesting him to attend No 2 Recruit Centre at RAF Cardington.

    The letter stated that he would be assessed for two or three days to establish his suitability as aircrew, after which he would return to civil life".

    What I think we are saying is the first sentence is only one way he could have entered service. A further sentence needs to be added to say that he either entered via this route or he received his call up papers (similar to the one in the link). For example:

    "Early in 1943, twenty-nine year old Cecil Butler either:

    - went into his local Combined Recruiting Centre, probably at London [Euston], and volunteered for aircrew duties in the RAFVR.
    - received his National Service Enlistment Notice calling him up to service in the RAFVR"

    We have no documentation, so we can only make educated guesses at the route he may have taken. Is there anything that may point us towards one or the other?

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    No real information to say which course of entry he took but at 29 he was approaching the upper age for aircrew and had been eligible for volunteer entry since the day war was declared.

    Only you can say if he had personal circumstances that changed before he went to the combined recruiting centre or that his employment category had changed to remove him from any reserved occupation.

    Flight Engineers tended to be from the mechanical trades and these were subject to change over the war years as women were substituted to release the men.

    Regards
    Ross
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    We believe that he was in a reserved occupation, possibly at Woolwich Arsenal (Power Switchboard Att. Employer: Ind.ZA.051.30.Dis.19o [if anyone can interpret])

    Since we started research we have puzzled over why he volunteered at this time, as he had a new baby daughter; a few sleepness nights was one suggestion!! ... but now we have an alternative trigger of a call up.

    However, whatever the route ... he still had to volunteer for aircrew! I guess it will always remain a mystery.

    Anyway, thanks again for your help Ross; most enlightening

    (Just a thought: Are records held of call up dates (other than service record))

    Regards

    Pete
    Last edited by PeteT; 19th June 2012 at 18:50. Reason: Added "just a thought"
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

  9. #9
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    Sorry, missed your edit first time round.

    Hi occupation came under Unitary Worker ie same as Elect/Gas/Water employee.

    I have not come across a list of names against call up dates.

    The following post gives the best part source but needs quite a bit of work to get the list you are asking about.

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?27-RAF-RAF-OR-Service-Numbers

    This gives the service number blocks versus the establishment that used it and where known the date it started use.

    Use AIR 78 index to get the service number for a name, then look up the list to see where and when the block started use.

    If I can find it, I'll post a version of this list that may help.

    Regards
    Ross
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    Thanks for the update.

    We have his service number 1868746 which falls within the 1860001 to 1869700 Oct 1942 - May 43 Cardington.
    This ties in with his 9th April 1943 assessment at Cardington.

    If he had been called up via the National Service Enlistment Notice route, what body would have allocated the number (and from what range)

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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