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Thread: Fighter squadron diarist - procedures

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    Default Fighter squadron diarist - procedures

    Good afternoon,

    When comparing pilots's logbooks to the ORB, we are can find sometimes discordance between the two sources, the serial being not always similar, while it should be.

    That makes me wondering how the diarist was working? From which document he was working with to fill in Form 541? I don't prentend either that the pilot is totally reliable but I try to understand at which moment mistakes can be made.


    Thanks

    Phil

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    Phil,

    It is generally accepted that the thoroughness and detail contained in the ORB - the RAF Form 540 - owes much to the enthusiasm of the officer detailed to maintain it. On a unit with - say - 3 squadrons, there should be a Form 540 for the individual sqns and the station. The Form 540 was supposed to be compiled at month end but some diarists kept on going records and notes and others 'took a punt' at the end of the month. The Form 540 would often refer to events in a general sense and there might be little or no detail of individual aircraft involved in operations or lost for example. Posting In/Out, promotions, awards and casualties would usually be recorded in the Form 540, as would visits by the great and good.

    The Forms 541 should have been compiled by each sqn on a daily basis and should record the sorties flown. Aircraft were referred to in many different ways; full serial, short serial, code letter. Many aircrew would make up their logbooks at month end by checking the Form 541, whilst others would be more careful and write their sorties in as they took place. Errors were commonplace and frequently went uncorrected.

    It was and probably still is, a bit of a dog's breakfast - you have my sympathy trying to unravel it!

    Colin Cummings

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    Phil I hold the complete 125 Airfield/Wing ORB from June 1943 to July 1945 and it is a very well written document - the various scribes did a fine job for future historians in my opinion, with some gaps as the Wing moved in The Great Swan for example when several days would be written up later.

    However, some items mentioned in the various squadrons operating on the airfield/wing ORB's are not always written up in the main document. Now as to whether the scribe precised the information himself from the squadron ORB's or it was passed to him by the squadron scribes I have no idea!!

    The Airfield/Wing ORB is in Form 540 document only - but of course the actual squadrons used the normal Form 540/541 format. Some give us serials and no individual aircraft letters, some the letters but no serials, and, rarely, both.

    You have to remember that this job was probably not the main task of the various scribes, and was written up at the time for official record, but not with the thought that somebody would come along 70 years later asking questions.

    cheers

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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