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Thread: General Duties

  1. #1
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    Default General Duties

    My inquisitive nature has got the better of me and I was wondering if anyone could confirm whether "Aircrafthand/ General Duties" would be permitted to perform duties in a listed RAF trade.

    For example, I assume that "Aircrafthand / General Duties" could drive the bomb trains but not load the bombs, although as an under training Armourer they would be able to.

    Can I therefore assume that if there is a listed trade (Fitter, Metal Worker, Electrician, Clerk, Armourer etc) someone on "general duties" would not be performing it, unless they were under training ..... or is this too simplistic?

    Regards

    Pete
    Last edited by PeteT; 28th June 2014 at 14:33. Reason: Spelling
    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]

  2. #2
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    Default

    Pete,
    To best of my knowledge, an ACH/GD was considered a member of a non-technical trade - in fact it was not, strictly speaking, a trade at all (having no training syllubus, and therefore no trade tests), and could be made up of men without any technical training (or even interest in things technical). The "trade" however fulfilled a vital function in that it was regarded as a source of reasonably fit and active bods who could perform all sorts of useful tasks, some under supervision of NCOs, in all sections on a station, in a HQ, or detached units or sub-units. Most large units or formations would have considerable numbers of ACH/GDs on strength, as they often had known skills and could be put to any use where human muscle, or dexterity was required suddenly (as in manhandling aircraft on a boggy airfield, or in and out of hangars if powered vehicles were unavailable), for sorting out or moving large quantities of stores in depots, or as assistants to Sections for mundane work such as sweeping, cleaning (including dismantling and cleaning down equipment in workshops situations, including aircraft and aero engines), in sorting and delivering mail on stations, in HQ Orderly rooms, in MT sections, etc. At any given date in WW2 the RAF would have thousands of such men, including some rather elderly ones, and they would maintain that without their efforts, the whole orgainsation would slowly grind to a halt! Sometimes ACH/GDs thought they were unappreciated, while others could get the courage to eventually volunteer for the technical trades or even aircrew on occasions.
    I hope I have done this "trade" a service here, and not shown them in a bad light, but there were many thoussands of them, including many medically graded as unfit for overseas service who could release others who were fit. This brief survey is mainly describing the WW2 situation, but in the postwar RNZAF there came about a similar trade in the 1960s called GSH (for General Service Hand), which had a somewhat similar function, although these were all older men with a good knowledge of the military and its funny ways, and who were tasked on somewhat similar duties, although they had no normal career progression and were expected to be retained in the service until they were retired. Many of these were former service men who liked the certainty of military life, and the benefits, and could usually be kept busy on productive duties. I personally knew a few of these types.
    David D
    Last edited by David Duxbury; 29th June 2014 at 23:08.

  3. #3
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    David

    Thanks for your detailed answer; you certainly haven't done the ACH/GD a disservice.

    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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    Default

    Post war, the RAF formalised the need for a group of personnel who, whilst not possessing the ability, skills, etc to be mustered into one of the many skilled trades, were capable of undertaken the very many tasks which required service manpower but with a more modest skill set. Thus was born Trade Group 10 - RAF General Duties.

    Personnel within this trade group actually provided a remarkable degree of flexibility in their employment. They manned guardrooms, helped with things like marking sports field, looked after the bedding store and provided working parties for all manner of things, as illustrated above.

    Trade Group 10 offered career opportunities to Warrant Officer rank and it was from within this group that most station warrant officers were found. The group was open to men and women IIRC.

    Eventually, under one of the many reorganisations, the trade group was declared obsolete and personnel absorbed into other trades. Now, for example, a station warrant officer might come from almost any trade whilst the plethora of duties formerly done by Trade Group 10 have been farmed out to all sorts of people, civilianised or simply no longer required to be done.

    Colin Cummings

    PS Got to go, the rugby posts need repainting !!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. #5
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    Thanks Colin

    I now know why that Branch did not appear in the 1942 "ABC of the RAF" (which was puzzling me)

    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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