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Thread: How to write a citation

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    Default How to write a citation

    Second World War files on awards include much on policy (who gets what, when and why). It is obvious that some officers were tardy in making recommendations; others were lacking literary skills to draft a really good submission. To assist those who were so challenged, Air Ministry occasionally issued what could be descrbed as a "primer" for writing citations, including suggested phrases. The following (seen in several files of No.6 Group but evidently distributed much more widely) demonstrates:

    LIST OF USEFUL PHRASES FOR COMPILING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HONOURS AND AWARDS

    1. By his fine offensive spirit.
    2. His coolness under fire.
    3. Complete disregard of personal safety.
    4. By his coolness and presence of mind.
    5. His fearless courage in combat.
    6. This officer’s (N.C.O.’s) dogged determination, skill and devotion to duty.
    7. Showed a magnificent example by.
    8. Regardless of the imminent danger.
    9. By prompt action and with complete disregard of personal safety.
    10. By skilful airmanship under most trying conditions.
    11. Displayed exceptional skill and coolness in extricating his aircraft from a most perilous situation.
    12. By his skill, courage and determination extricated his crew from a perilous situation.
    13. To which action his crew undoubtedly owe their lives.
    14. Thereby saving the lives of his crew and much valuable equipment.
    15. His superb captaincy and airmanship.
    16. Showed outstanding fortitude and skill.
    17. Commendable courage and devotion to duty.
    18. He rose to the occasion.
    19. Undeterred by intense flak.
    20. In spite of physical suffering through intense cold, or hunger, or fatigue, or heat, or lack of oxygen, or thirst, or loss of blood, to.
    21. Sustained courage and unusual initiative.
    22. Pressed home his attack with the utmost determination.
    23. In face of heavy odds, showed courage and coolness of a very high order.
    24. The successful completion of this operational flight was due to the initiative, resourcefulness and skilful of this officer (or N.C.O.).
    25. His complete disregard of opposition.
    26. His cooperation, coolness and devotion to duty contributed in a large measure to the success of this operational flight.
    27. His ability to make instant decisions in emergency, skilful pilotage and cool judgement.
    28. Exceptional tenacity of purpose.
    29. Possesses coolness and displays exceptional fearlessness in the face of danger.
    30. Displayed great presence of mind and gallantry.
    31. Without consideration of his personal safety.
    32. Sets his mind to the task in hand, fearlessly and with a fine offensive spirit, setting a magnificent example to his crew.
    33. By his courageous action and praiseworthy disregard for danger.
    34. Showed exceptional fighting qualities and resourcefulness in.
    35. Gallantry of the highest order.
    36. Fine record of achievement.
    37. Exceptional qualities of leadership and coolness...setting a fine example to his crew.
    38. His courage, skill and determination in action have been an inspiration to his crew.
    39. His outstanding ability and strong sense of duty.
    40. This officer’s skilful and calculated handling of his aircraft under these extremely difficult conditions.
    41. Showed a high degree of courage, skill and initiative.
    42. Proved himself to be an outstanding member of a gallant crew.
    43. His cheerful confidence has inspired a high standard of morale in his crew.
    44. His splendid record and quiet but dogged determination.
    45. Handling his guns with cool determination.
    46. This officer’s tenacity, endurance and fine offensive spirit (N.C.O.’s).
    47. An example of cheerful courage, unselfishness and sacrifice.
    48. An ideal leader of men who by his courage...
    49. His unconquerable spirit of determination to achieve his objective.
    50. Under a calm and quiet manner he has a fine offensive spirit in action which inspires confidence, etc.

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    Wow Hugh, there definitely are a few well known stock phrases in there, in fact many citations seem to comprise basically one of these phrases with addiiton of the name and rank of the individual, plus a brief reference to the theatre of operations. However some of those phrases are unknown to me - perhaps they just never fitted the circumstances under discussion. Still, I guess these saved a lot of even worse citations being written by "the challenged".
    David D

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    I wonder how many batmen actually ended up writing the actual citations and a signature being added later.

    Perhaps this was the unofficial list for these guys.

    Not trying to detract from the post just a pondering.
    Regards Scott McIntosh

    ACIA Researcher

    Search for Air Crash Investigation & Archaeology on Facebook for our groups page.

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    Scott,
    I very much doubt that any batman (who would only have been on the most nodding of acquaintence with more senior personnel) would ever be invited to write up such recommendations - he would certainly not have access to the list of recommended "stock phrases" for a start!. Seriously though, I think it usually fell (officially) to the unit commander to write up such recommendations (for this is all they were at this stage), although it is likely that many could have been authored by the relevant flight commander, or perhaps a "leader" on a unit with specific knowledge (or access to the right files) on the individual concerned. I think the role of the batman in the RAF during WW2 is often misundestood - they were generally airmen of the lowest ranking, usually not a member of the technical trades, who carried out small duties for payment, and could be serving many masters at once. Apparently officers up to the rank of F/L could only employ one batman for every three officers - those of S/L or above rank could have a batman of his own, but only officially on "home" stations, and only if they were available. In actual relationship to officers (even the most junior) they were more like waiting staff in a good hotel, although often more hard pressed. Some were rather older in years than most of the officers they served. There should be a moderately good thread on this subject in the Archives.
    David D

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    The travails of a DFC to F/O Robert Edward Joseph Fitzgerald, RCAF (No.408 Squadron), demonstrates procedure and disagreements. It began as a recommendation by W/C E.R. McLernon drafted 13 September 1944 when he had flown 63 sorties (335 hours 47 minutes):

    Flying Officer Fitzgerald has completed two tours of operations entailing over sixty sorties. On his first tour he flew as gunner to practically every heavily defended target in Germany and throughout this tour he proved himself an extremely cool, capable and efficient gunner.

    His second tour was completed in an exemplary manner. On many occasions his piercing search for enemy fighters and skilful evasive action saved his aircraft and crew from destruction.

    Flying Officer Fitzgerald has at all times been exceedingly keen to participate in operations and by his keenness and efficiency he has set a splendid example to all members of this squadron; therefore I recommend that he be awarded the immediate Distinguished Flying Cross.


    This submission appears to have generated some heat. It appears that at the level of No.6 Group Headquarters it was raised to a DSO. On 21 October 1944, an officer at Bomber Command Headquarters, identified as “Dawes”, wrote to G/C F.W. Hammond, No.6 Group Headquarters, as follows:

    I am returning herewith the narrative for the award of the DSO to Flying Officer Fitzgerald. The Commander-in-Chief [Harris] is quite prepared to give favourable consideration to this case but wishes the narrative rewritten a little more fully, also that the recommendation by the Squadron, Station and Base Commanders should read “DSO”.

    Perhaps you can quote a recent specific case of gallantry on the part of Fitzgerald. If so, put that first and then follow with an amplified version of the remarks on the attached. Subject to the foregoing, it is quite possible that the C-in-C will consider making an Immediate Award.

    This was followed by a letter dated 27 October 1944, W/C F. Gaffney (No.62 Base) to the Commanding Officer, No.408 Squadron (copy to Station Linton):

    1. Herewith recommendation for the award of the Immediate DFC as originated by you and raised to the award of the DSO by the AOC, No.6 Group. This recommendation was returned from Headquarters, Bomber Command, advising that the Commander-in-Chief is quite prepared to give favourable consideration to this case but wishes the narrative re-written a little more fully, also that the recommendation by the Squadron and Station Commanders should read “DSO”.

    2. It is suggested further that perhaps you can quote a recent specific case of gallantry on the part of Flying Officer Fitzgerald. If so, it should be quoted first and followed by an amplified version of the remarks on the original recommendation.

    3. It is requested, please, that this be given your attention and returned for onward transmission as soon as possible.

    On 1 November 1944, W/C McLernon wrote the following to No.62 Base:

    1, Concerning the return of a recommendation for an award of the DFC for the above mentioned officer with instruction to resubmit, recommending a DSO, I would like to bring the following to your attention.

    2. I do not consider that this officer warrants in any way an award higher than a DFC. Admittedly his first tour was slightly longer than the average. However, his commanding officer did not see fit to recommend him for any decoration at its conclusion. His second tour was an extremely easy one. Never during this tour was courage or deportment shown or such sterling qualities that they should warrant an award of the DSO.

    3. His recommendation for a DFC was based entirely upon length of service, not on any act of outstanding gallantry. The DSO is a decoration which, up to this point, has only been awarded to those who really deserve it. As his commanding officer, I found this man not overly cooperative on the ground and in the air he was never given an opportunity, during his second tour, to demonstrate outstanding courage or efficiency.

    In due course this emerged as a DFC (London Gazette, 2 January 1945) with the following citation:

    As air gunner, Flying Officer Fitzgerald has completed two tours of operational duty. He has at all times displayed the highest standard of keenness for air operations and most of his assignments have necessitated flights to attack heavily defended targets. On many occasions his vigilance and timely warnings have enabled his pilot to evade enemy fighters. Flying Officer Fitzgerald has proved himself to be an invaluable member of aircraft crew.

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    Thank you Hugh for providing this forum with such an interesting example of "the system" that oversaw the award of one decoration of an individual, and the final result. Looks like a case of higher command getting a bit carried away - perhaps they thought a few more DSO's should be awarded to non-pilot crew members of Bomber Command, as by this time, perhaps recommendations from the front line included few applications for approval for this higher award. W/C McLernon (apparently NOT the man of the moment's actual CO) seems to have trusted in procedure, and his own judgement in deciding what was right from the facts as he knew them, resulting in the final award of a DFC. I guess that the type of "specific heroic action" description called for by 6 Group HQ in fact did not occurr very often at this relatively late period of the war over Europe, and this fact would have been well known by the people closer to the action (at the BC stations) rather than those at Group HQ. Perhaps a well-intended suggestion from Group, but the lower formations were not prepared to create any false heroes when they had no confirmation of, or even suggestion that any such heroics had actually taken place - the initial recommendation for a DFC was only ever intended to be reward for completing faithfully two full tours, which WAS an achievement in itself of course. Anyway, following the paper trail, it would seem that in this instance the system functioned exactly as intended.
    David D
    Last edited by David Duxbury; 23rd September 2013 at 22:15. Reason: spelling error

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    Default Norman Ernest Streight, DFC submissions

    At some date - probably late July 1944, F/O Norman Ernest Streight was recommended for a DFC. This submission has not been found as of 28 September 2013, but the following letter dated 10 August 1944 (W/C F. Gaffney for Commanding Officer, No.62 Base, to Commanding Officer, No.425 Squadron) is interesting:

    1. The action covered in your citation for the award of the Immediate Distinguished Flying Cross for the marginally noted officer, in view of the target attacked, is not considered to constitute sufficient grounds for this recommendation. Also the small number of sorties carried out do not qualify him at present for a non-immediate award.

    2. The recommendation, however, should not be discarded but should be retained on record so that should other circumstances warrant at a later date a further recommendation can be submitted for either an immediate or non-immediate award.

    In fact, a new recommendation was raised 8 September 1944 by W/C Hugh Ledoux, Streight having now flown 27 sorties (128 hours 15 minutes), 12 June to 3 September 1944. The text was as follows:

    A most efficient veteran of 27 operational sorties which include heavily defended targets such as Wesseling, Stuttgart, Hamburg and Kiel, Flying Officer Streight was pilot of a Halifax bomber detailed to attack Ferme-du-Forrestel on the night of 20th July 1944. Approximately 15 minutes after take-off, the Flight Engineer reported a sudden drop in oil pressure in the port outer engine. A visual check revealed oil flowing over the mainplane. Feathering the propellor of the defective engine, Flying Officer Streight courageously decided to continue to the target on the three remaining engines. By maintaining maximum cruising conditions and allowing a gradual loss of height, this skilful pilot brought his aircraft over the target on time and successfully pressed home the attack. Tanks were drained for the return trip, enabling the aircraft to be more easily trimmed and progressive checks were made to ensure that the petrol supply was sufficient to bring the aircraft back to base. As a result of the pilot’s superb airmanship, the landing was effected without further difficulty.

    Flying Officer Streight’s skilful and calculated handling of his aircraft under trying conditions contributed in a large measure to the success of this operational flight. I consider that his outstanding devotion to duty and keenness fully merits the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    This time the submission went through; he was awarded the DFC, London Gazette, 27 October 1944 with the following citation (compare with recommendation text):

    This officer has completed many successful sorties and has invariably displayed a high standard of skill and determination, qualities which were well illustrated one night in July 1944 when detailed to attack a target. Soon after the takeoff, one engine became defective. The propeller was feathered and Flying Officer Streight continued to the target which he reached at the estimated time, and executed his attack. He afterwards flew the aircraft safely to base. His ability and determination to press home his attacks have been most commendable.

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