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Thread: Posting of a new commanding officer

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    Default Posting of a new commanding officer

    Hi,

    Can anyone explain the process of how a "new" commanding officer was chosen to command a squadron, this is specifically Bomber Command related.

    Was there a criteria, or selection process or a big walled chart hanging in some office with available or potential officers?

    Any ideas welcome.

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    Steve, Hi,
    I would not be surprised if the consensus as to how these promotions/postings occurred was in a darkened room with several persons dressed in long black cloaks covered in astrological symbols, wearing tall pointed black hats, surrounded by wreaths of incense, and staring fixedly into a borrowed Met Office Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder globe! Haruspex minions would be in attendance! At least, that is what a fair number of the receiving Units (and, indeed, the new CO himself!) that I have been associated with thought had been the case!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Peter,

    I don't know whether to thank you or what, :-)

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    Hello Steve and Peter

    I did not want to follow Peter's amusing reply and knock it off as last reply.

    In August 1940, the 77 Squadron Flight Commander of 'B' Flight, became their Squadron Commanding Officer.

    77 Squadron Form 540, 02.7.1940 ... "S/Ldr. JARMAN reported from 10 O.T.U. to take over "B" Flight vice S/L. HASTINGS. reported missing."

    77 Squadron Form 540, 14.8.1940 ... "S/LDR JARMAN assumes command of No 77 Squardon." ...

    The ORB says 14.8.1940 "W/CDR. MACDONALD posted to No 82 SQUADRON to Command."

    There is a published account, that there was some altercation toward the 77 Sqn Commander.

    There was also some discussion at some point, amongst crews about the politics of war and their unhappiness about the accidental bombing of civilians and children.

    Regards Mark
    Last edited by Mark Hood; 30th October 2015 at 12:17.

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    But to be serious! In a peace-time situation all the good things (reports, recommendations, seniority, etc,) would have been considered by "them wot did" and a Command result resulted. But in wartime you have casualties, stress, sqn morale, group/command/Airministry politics, etc, to consider. I feel that those that made promotion/command decisions were equally stressed! You line up "X" to take command of "Y" Sqn, and then "X" gets 'the chop', and you have to look at "Z" for that command post - even though he might not have been your first choice!! Beggars can't be choosers. It's a wonder that it all worked! Used to be Staff/Personnel Management, then Human Resources (or whatever PC title is in vogue). But you try to fit 'round pegs' into 'round holes'! My point is that it is not a 'science' - it is an art-form.
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    In wartime (ie WWII) it was 'needs must' and this has been described above. In peacetime the process is more regimented but there are still serious 'gotchas'. Dealing with the last point first. A is to be appointed as a station commander but decides to exercise an option and leave the service, B is caught in bed with a lady other than his wife, C is killed or dies suddenly. The plot which has evolved has to be rethought.

    When one thinks about it - 1000 officers are commissioned in Year 1 and in Year 35, one of these is appointed as chief of air staff. Along the way, many are found wanting, others reach their level of incompetence, some resign/retire/chucked out.

    There used to be two great levellers. First, a retired air vice marshal was employed at Cranwell and his job was to review the periodic confidential reports and identify those who showed serious long term potential. When this chosen few reached squadron leader level, their career would start to be planned to test this potential and provide them with the level of experience and exposure to various types of job. They would be likely to be high flyers and their paths to the top would be laid out. It is probable that their promotion would advance them to the next rank on the first occasion they appeared before the promotion board. Inevitably, some would be found wanting.

    The second leveller was the streaming of officers into several categories. These - until about 1970 - were the General List and the Supplementary List. The General List comprised those on permanent commissions, many of whom had attended the 3 year Cranwell cadet course. From these it was expected to find the top flight of leaders for the RAF. It was possible to transfer from the Supplementary List to the General List if one was a late developer but you would be in the 'second tier' of that list. People in the Supplementary List had limited promotion prospects and would frequently be offered service only to age 38.

    The RAF now has a single list, although those commissioned late in their service are still called 'Branch Officers' and have limited employment opportunities.

    Colin Cummings

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    Colin, Hi,

    What I had been hinting at has been put, by you, into more correct, and proper, prose! I thank you!
    But, at the end of the day, you have - if I read you correctly - concurred with my premise that Promotions, etc, are not a science, but an art form! Some y'win, some y'lose! Some brilliant minds/intellects/aircraft-handling-abilities have, in the past, languished. And some egotists/self-proposers have been promoted to, as you say, beyond their levels of incompetence! I could (as could many!) quote a number from my active era in/with the RAF!
    Nowadays it's not so much of a problem - but in WW2 almost all the Senior Military Commanders had egotistical problems! Those who did not (Bill Slim, for example) failed to be given public acclaim at the end of WW2! As I keep saying - a good PhD Thesis in the making!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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