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Thread: Reason/Auth Columns on RAF Service Records

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    Default Reason/Auth Columns on RAF Service Records

    On a regular basis questions are raised on the meaning of the letter/number combinations given in the Reason and Auth columns of a service record.

    I'm sorry to say that there is no standard list that can be applied to give an easy decode.

    Rather than a code that defines the reason for the associated To/From posting, the entries in the Reason column give a file reference for a document that was originally stored with the service record.

    Over the years the documents that formed the complete file have become separated with only the index sheet/wrapper surviving.

    Reason column entries are a mix of abbreviation for common reasons that needed no audit trail, the general location in an associated file, associated signal reference or a longhand description.

    Abbreviation for common Reasons
    These are usually for postings that originate from the Air Ministry and follow a standard sequence.

    H - Where this appears in the initial training stages of a record it denotes posting to the Home force of the RAF. Very early records split the RAF into two forces, Home and Field, entry or posting to the RAF overseas would be denoted by an F code.

    From the expansion period of the RAF most recruitment and entry was UK based so the use of F was dropped and normally only the first instance of H recorded.

    HE - After a period overseas in the Field force a posting return to the Home force would be denoted as Home Establishment (HE). This was the date the paper transfer became effective and not necessarily the date the person left abroad/arrived in the UK.

    At the end of the war where large numbers of service personnel were transferred back to the UK for demob the entry HE was omitted as it was self evident from the Unit locations.

    HH - The size of the RAF was controlled by the Treasury and defined by the amount of money allocated by the government. The Air Ministry mechanism was to set limits and minimum levels for personnel and equipment for each unit or higher formation based on its role, this is known as Establishment

    An immediate reserve of manpower was included in the Unit Establishment but the manpower reserve of the higher formation Command Establishment needed to be recorded.

    The code HH was used to show this posting for Headquarters Holding. The associated unit would be responsible for the messing, training, welfare and pay for the assigned personnel but they would not count towards the unit establishment and could not be posted out by the commanding officer of the unit.

    A - This code was used to denote Attached. It's use was similar to HH in that the unit the person was attached to would become responsible for messing, training, welfare and pay without taking on strength of establishment. Attachment was used where a person was to be retained on the establishment of the original unit and was usually for a period of short term training or for a temporary task.

    The code A can also appear in the To/From Posting column as (A) associated with the unit descriptor.

    General Location in Associated File

    In order to reduce the number of individual signals that would be needed to record the postings and circumstance changes of all RAF personnel a system was set up where these actions would be recorded in the regular Station Personnel Occurence Report (POR) that was normally included in the Station Standing Orders.

    A copy of the POR would be sent to RAF Records and Records Section would amend the relevant record taking the POR entry as an action command.

    The PORs had a set sequence of paragraphs and a formal way that information was recorded but the paragraph sequence differed between those recording Officer and those Other Ranks.

    When a POR was received at RAF Records a copy of the full POR would be included in the relevant service file and the index sheet marked with two pieces of information. The POR paragraph letter A, B, C etc would be put in the Reason Column and the date of the POR entered in Auth column.

    As the war years progressed, clerks omitted to add the Auth annotation as the file attachments were in date order and easily found from the Date recorded in the To/From entry.

    As a result of the subsequent removal of file attachments we now no longer can see which Station POR was used for the Authority nor the text in the paragraph. From the paragraph letter all that we can say is what the general entry was for.

    Officer POR Paragraphs:
    Acting Rank
    A - Postings
    B - Attachments
    C - Temporary Duty
    D - Embarkations and Disembarkations
    E - Leave
    F - Hospital
    G - Appointments and Promotions
    H - Resignations, Retirements, Transfers etc
    J - Casualties
    K - Marriages
    L - Wife (Death of)
    M - Allowances Authorised
    N - Change of Name
    O - Forfeiture of Seniority
    P - Next of Kin and Additional Persons to be notified of casualties

    Airmen and Airwomen POR Paragraphs:
    A - Movements
    B - Promotions, Reclassifications, Remusterings
    C - Absence
    D - Decorations
    E - Punishments
    F - Hospitals
    H - Service forfeited and restored
    J - Casualties
    K - Good Conduct Badges
    L - Non-substantive Pay
    M - Progressive Pay
    N - Marriages and Divorces
    O - Births
    P - Change of address of Next of Kin and/or person to be notified of casualty
    Q - Allowances Authorised
    R - Change of Name
    S - Results of Courses of Instruction and Examination
    T - Discharges, Releases and Recall to Service
    U - Illegal Absence
    W - Close arrest
    Y - Hospital: Married Families
    Z - Medical Classifications

    Associated Signal Reference
    PORs were how local changes were notified to RAF Records but signals were used for immediate changes and for those from Air Ministry, Commands and Records.

    You can normally recognise these by their format of "Letter(s) . Number(s)" to denote originator eg G.3 for RAF Records, Gloucester, No.3 Section.

    The originator designation system started formally with the following:

    F - Accountant

    O - Organisation
    P - Personnel (Officers)
    PM - Provost Marshal
    M - Personnel (Airmen and Airwoman)
    MW - Welfare

    A - General
    AR - Air/Sea Rescue
    AC - Controller, Operations or War Room
    AD - Defence
    AF - Flying Control
    AI - Intelligence
    AK - K Area Officer, or C. and D. Officer (C.T.D.)
    AO - Operations
    AP - Plans
    AT - Training

    U - Allied Air Service
    R - Armament
    K - Camp Commandant
    L - Chaplain
    D - Duty Pilot
    E - Educational
    T - Engineer

    Q - General
    QD - Demands
    QF _ Fuel
    QH - Hydrogen
    QZ - Master Provision Office
    QX - Aeronautical Inspection Directorate

    FA - Financial Advisor
    V - Legal
    MT - Mechanical Transport
    H - Medical
    X - Meteorological
    OM - Movements
    N - Navigation
    G - Photographic

    S - General
    SY - Cyphers
    SR - Radar
    SX - Air Formation Signals
    SD - Directorate of Communications Development

    W - Works

    Where there were several sections it was normal to add the section number eg F230 or F.230 for Finance, No.230 Section.

    So the normal full signal reference for a signal originating from No.2 Section at RAF Records Gloucester relating to an airman is M/G.2 but since the original is in the file it was abbreviated in the Reason Column to G.2 entry.

    If you apply the list above to that abbreviated reference you get the misleading idea that it was originated from Photographic, No.2 Section.

    Additional Comments

    The system for recording Reason evolved over the war years and expanded to include references from RN and Army administration for those units that had a reporting function to those forces eg use of Army X list instead of RAF POR.

    What I have tried to show from the above is that no single list of Reason codes can be applied

    eg A could mean Attached, Posting of an Officer, Movement of an Airman/Airwoman or as signal from Air.

    Without the original enclosed file attachment you can only make an educated guess.

    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 6th June 2015 at 12:06.
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