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Thread: P/O signs letters home as Sgt.

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    Default P/O signs letters home as Sgt.

    I have an RCAF pilot who was commissioned as Pilot Officer in England on 13 August 1944.
    However, during the autumn of 1944 he continues to sign his letters home with his other-ranks number and rank as Sergeant.
    Not until his posting to an operational squadron on 25 November 1944 does he sign his letters home using his new service number and rank as Pilot Officer.

    I asked Library & Archives Canada why the officer would continue using his other-ranks number and rank in his letters home after he was commissioned.
    They had no explanation and suggested that only the ex-serviceman who wrote the letters could answer that question.
    That was not possible as the ex-serviceman had died some years previous.

    Does anyone on the forum have any suggestions as to why the newly commissioned officer would continue to use his other-ranks number and rank of Sergeant for months after being commissioned? Was it for security reasons? Was he waiting for paperwork to catch up to him?

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    Hi,

    I will try to give you at least a partially answer on example of Czech air gunner where I had similar problem during my research Sgt v. P/O.
    He got killed on 29.9.1942 when he flown as a Sgt and he is recorded in the list of casualties as Sgt. But on 11.11.1942 he was Commissioned as P/O w.e.f. 6.9.1942...

    So I suppose in your case it was someting similar? He was Commisioned with the retroactive effect - w.e.f 13.8.1944 but it was published oficially few months later?

    HTH

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Pavel
    Thank you for explaining that possibility.
    My airman may have been commissioned in November 1944 and it was effective retroactive to 13 August 1944.
    If so, that would explain the whole question.

    I'm wondering why Library & Archives Canada did not inform me of that possibility when I asked them.

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    Have you checked the Canada Gazette for the published dates?

    Do you have his service record?

    What is the airmans name?
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Grounded,
    I would not be surprised to learn that the Library & Archives Canada is/are just not aware of the usual delay between the official date of commissioning of an airman or NCO, and the date that news was conveyed to all and sundry by means of Routine Orders or similar (within the service) or promulgated in that nation's official organ of information (the London Gazette, or Commonwealth equivalents), the latter being required before it was legally considered truly official. This phenomenon crops up on this Site on a regular basis. In fact this sort of delay is very common throughout governmental bureaucracies to this day, particularly with regard to appointments, and pay rate increases, these frequently being approved from such and such a date (that is, 'with efect from'), but physically taking place some time later, usually resulting in a large amount of back pay. It is interesting that in the wartime RAF (and probably has always been so) that an airman/airwoman can decide to apply for a commission in whatever Branch of the Service (often stimulated by a call for volunteers in that Branch because of a shortage of encumbents with the right qualifications or experience at the time), and the normal administration would have to process all such applications, which would have to have been sent in under the signature of the applicant's commanding officer as considered suitable for commissioning in His/Her Majesty's RAF. This procedure seems to have been fairly streamlined for aircrew NCOs in WW2 in that the CO's recommendation was usually sufficient to obtain the commission almost automatically - I am fairly certain that no interview by a panel of officers was required, for instance. There was usually a time delay, during which the applicant had no idea on whether he/she was even being considerd - certainly they received no indication that their application had even been received for consideration. Often the applicant wondered if the application was still sitting in their CO's in-tray on his desk, and would themselves be going over any acts or ommissions which they may have committed in their time on the unit which might give their CO casue for concern as to their suitability. Suddenly word would arrive from on high (although the CO, or his adjutant, would always get to hear of it first), and congratulations were in order, and arrangements had then to be made regarding acquiring your own tailor-made uniform (or a second-hand one, suitably modified) using the uniform outfit allowance provided (which was always insufficient to purchase all items on the list anyway), after which all the existing issued "other ranks" items had to be returned to store. Then arrangements would be made to move into proper officer accommodation, etc. The only exceptions to this upheaval in your life was selection of a certain proportion of aircrew graduates from training courses to an automatic appointment to a commission (in rank of P/O) at the end of the course, with remaining majority graduating as common garden Sergeants. Notification in these cases was at end of the course, so arrangements could quickly be made for the new uniform, etc, prior to posting to their first unit - there was no delay, as consideration was made locally, after consideration of a panel of station officers who acted on reports compiled throughout the course (and possibly a personal interview). However commissions awarded "in the field" so to speak often had to wait for many months following their application being sent ot the CO's office.
    David D

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    Dennis, the published date is 13 August 1944 for his commission, rank P/O.

    David, the probable chain of events were that the RCAF Sgt. put in for his commission on or about the time when he completed operational training in August 1944.
    He continued on to 71 Base then Lancaster Finishing School while his commission was being considered, processed, etc.
    When his commission was approved later in the autumn of 1944 it was back-dated from the application date in August.

    So, it was probably a case of the bureaucracy, process, and paperwork catching up to him.

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