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Thread: August 1939 Enlistments

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    Default August 1939 Enlistments

    Looking through 'my' met casualties I'm struck with how many enlisted around 6-10 August 1939, but did not start their uniformed service careers until a month later. For example I have Norman John Clifford enlisting as an AC2 on 8 August 1939, but not reporting to the London TC until 6 September.

    1. Was the enlistment in response to blanket call-up documents for people in the right age-group, or were those called up at this time reservists in the first instance?
    2. Did the enlistment actually involve reporting to a recruitment centre (or something similar) or was it a paper exercise (a letter saying 'you are now an AC2')?
    3. Would I be correct in thinking the four-week gap between enlistment and the actual start of service intended to allow the arrangement of personal affairs?
    4. Would they have received service pay during the four-week gap?

    Brian

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    Hi Brian, not an answer specific to each of your questions, but in my last book, a biography of Eric Lock entitled "A Ruddy Awful Waste", I address this as follows:

    "By this time [3 Sep 39], the RAFVR comprised 6,646 Pilots, 1,625 Observers and 1,946 Wireless Operators. Every man was mobilised and the Air Ministry used the RAFVR as the principal means for aircrew entry from this point forward. Meir Aerodrome was requisitioned and renamed RAF Meir, all civil flying was prohibited, and 28 E&RFTS was disbanded and many of its aircraft placed in temporary storage.

    Eric was sent on leave with full pay until further notice to await orders. Noting this was the case with large numbers of Reserve and Auxiliary service personnel, some sections of the British media criticised the move, asking how the country could be at war, and yet members of the Air Force were on open-ended leave on full pay. It was decried as a waste of public funds.

    The Air Ministry was forced to defend its actions, and went to pains to explain that those sufficiently trained had been posted to active units, but that the remainder would be sent to Initial Training Wings (‘ITWs’) that were in the process of being established. Although a greater number of ITWs could have been set up, the Ministry had to contend with the costs associated with commandeering buildings, assembling instructors, arranging for catering, and similar logistical issues. The Air Ministry further contended that, even if these were not issues and all reservists had commenced training immediately,

    "…a delay would still have been inevitable, though it would have occurred at a later stage of their training. The governing factor was the capacity of the regular Flying Training Schools to accept pupils for intermediate and advanced instruction. They immediately started working to capacity on a war basis, and it was thought better to give leave on full pay to the remaining V.R. men until they could be sent straight through the course of I.T.W., Elementary F.T.S., and regular F.T.S."

    The problem was further exacerbated at the outbreak of war with large numbers of new volunteers joining up and also requiring training. They, in turn, were compelled to wait until pre-war Reservists, such as Eric, moved through the available schools before they could do so themselves. Eric therefore now returned to Bayston Hill to await his call-up papers."

    Hope this helps a little
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Thank you, Steve, that's helpful and at least answers question 4 for me.

    It seems to me that you are suggesting that Eric actually reported somewhere (Meir?) and was sent home, but the service records I'm looking at imply a man was placed in the Reserve on initial enlistment, then mobilised a month later at (in my cases) London TC. There's no suggestion of them actually reporting anywhere for the enlistment.

    Brian

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    Brian

    Could your men have been part of the only cohort that were called up on 3rd June 1939 in accordance with the Military Training Act?. They would have been "registered" at the local office of the Ministry of Labour and then been requested to present themselves for (a) a medical and then for (b) enlistment. I am assuming that deferred service was in place at that time so call up may have been some time after they had enlisted

    Regards

    Pete
    Last edited by PeteT; 4th November 2017 at 10:21.
    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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    I just do not know, Pete, but thank you for the suggestion.

    The service numbers of 'my' men are in the range 753562 to 753664, their ages ranging from 21 to 40. The three oldest men all had good jobs in either banking or insurance - the oldest died of a heart attack two months after joining up. 753562-753664 falls within the large block 740000-759999 labelled RAFVR pilots. A couple were tested for aircrew duties, but otherwise all were shunted into the Met Branch. I should add that the 753562-753664 section was not used uniquely for 'met' personnel.

    Brian

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    Brian

    The 3rd June 1939 registration was only for men with DOB 4th June 1918 to 3rd June 1919, so it doesn't seem to fit your scenario.

    The only other thing that I can think of is that they registered with the RAFVR Town Centre "scheme". I know newspaper articles were published when new recruits were required for the scheme, so perhaps there was a call for trainee pilots which ties in with your dates.

    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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    The only thing that crosses my mind is that from about May 1939 the Met Office ran a series of advertisements in national newspapers seeking volunteers to join a newly created RAFVR (Meteorological Branch). The catalyst was a realisation that the Met Office would not be able to meet the demands of the expanding RAF for increasing numbers of observers and forecasters, and this was one way to meet the shortfall. Volunteers would be expected to attend training sessions at town halls/similar venues once a month.

    The 'only' problem was that in the way of the Civil Service the concept had not been thought through, and fine details of the plan were still being discussed when war was declared. It might be that 'my' men were some of these volunteers, but in that case I would have imagined their documents would have included an indication they had been mobilised from the Reserve.

    Edit: Just seen your latest, Pete: so far as I can see most of the men were older or younger, in fact one appears to have been a seaman during WW1.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 5th November 2017 at 09:50.

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    Hi Brian,

    Have you looked for their index cards in AIR78?

    Annotations on the card can show if any pre war reserve enrollment was know eg Militia, NSA, or Class F reserve.

    Stepping away from official reserve there was also Civil Air Guard for both pilots and radio operators that raised the individual in desired service want status.

    Not specifically applicable to your men but mentioned as a way that official channels were bypassed for necessity is the FAA jump on getting trained pilots before the RAF by writing to selected prewar private pilot licence holders and offering a commission in the FAA on volunteering. On the outbreak of war many pilots joined up for the FAA on this pre war promise. May be that the met office also used this promise means of ensuring suitable recruits?

    Ross
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    Brian,
    You might have to factor in the perceived thoughts of many men of WW2 Conscript age.
    One was extremely likely to get killed/injured in the Army (the PBI was not renowned for its comfort factor!). One was quite likely to get drowned in the Navy (and/or live in a hammock!). The least 'dangerous' of the Services was the RAF (the lifestyle might even be civilised!) - so volunteer for the RAF!
    Just a thought!
    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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    Just saw that you named Norman John Clifford in the first post

    AIR78 has 562016 Norman John Clifford as Class F reserve and the service number is consistent as Apprentice with prewar service.

    the only other man with that full name is 4125 so unlikely "to be the doids you seek" obi wan.

    Edit - closer inspection on the magnified card for what I took for 4125 has an incomplete number.

    Aha - found his card under initials only - not full name and it has a circle stamp but no class visible so he did have previous service oligation - no TSA/Militia/NSA registration.

    Wonder if Clifford was a pre war apprentice who was given a new RAFVR number on Class F call up - would go some way to explain how he made Cpl by the Lancastria period.

    Ross

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 5th November 2017 at 10:56.
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