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Thread: Acting x Temporary rank

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    Default Acting x Temporary rank

    Hi all,

    I think this theme was already discussed here before but I would like to ask for the easiest, the most most simple and understandable explanation of the difference between the Acting and Temporary ranks.

    Example:

    1. An airmen got the commission and his rank is P/O
    2. He got a post with the squadron and is promoted to A/F/O
    3. He got a post with the station and is promoted to A/F/L
    4. When he left his last position his rank is reduced to A/F/O.
    5. He was retrained and after the pilot training he is promoted to T/F/L
    6. He left the operational squadron and he is posted as the staff officer in the rank of T/S/L

    So what was the rule of A and T ranks please?

    Many thanks in advance as I want to make this clear once for all.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    As I understand it the rules during WWII were that a RAF man could be substantive/Acting one rank above/Temporary one rank above that all at the same time. eg

    Sub Flt Lt
    Acting Sqn Ldr
    Temp Wing cdr

    Phil.

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    Pretty well all RAF (and other Commonwealth air force) officer ranks during the "period of emergency" that we now call World War Two were known as "War Substantive" (W.S.) ranks, which had much accelerated automatic promotion between P/O and F/O, and between F/O and F/L compared to the peace time substantive rank promotion. Promotions to higher ranks (to Squadron Leader and above) were more subject to closer scrutiny and recommendations from Commanding Officers, and were often (if the subject had survived his tour of operations and/or instructing tour) followed by a short staff college course if thought suitable. This is why wartime commissions (that is commissions granted either at the end of training, or after a period of actual service in WW2) were known as "Emergency commissions", although the actual ranks were known as "Temporary ranks" (often signified by the initial "T" followed by the oblique stroke, then the abbreviated form of the rank in personnel documents). Acting ranks were, as already stated, usually one rank higher than the substantive rank, although they could be two or even three above that rank in exceptional circumstances. Acting rank was usually granted to officers (and this also applied in the case of NCOs under somewhat similar circumstances, although this was less common) who applied for and were appointed to fill various posts or positions which carried additional duties and responsibilities, such as Flight or Squadron Commanders, Navigation or Gunnery Leaders, etc, etc. Often I think the offices who appointed these individuals actually already had an eye on these more junior officers and had noted that they appeared to have "leadership potential", so tapped them on the shoulder and invited them to apply for the post in question. Acceptance of such an offer could then result in rapid promotion for that individual and increased responsibilities, even though his "substantive rank" might be merely that of Pilot officer. Another reason for appointment to a higher acting rank was later in WW2 when it was decided that the mere fact that a junior officer had successfully completed a course (at OTU and HCU) as captain of a heavy aircraft entitled him to the small additional privilege of being appointed to the acting rank of Pilot Officer (Acting Flying Officer). I think this took place in late 1944 or thereabouts. However, so far as I know, if a Sergeant pilot completed this same course as a captain of heavy aircraft, he did NOT receive any similar consideration (although I may be wrong on this point). Normally acting rank was also paid at that (higher) rank, as a rightful reward for the additional duties and responsibilities undertaken.
    The other thing about acting rank was that it could be rescinded just as easily, as it was not "substantive", although this was normally because the individual concerned ceased his "additional duties" (as Flight commander for instance) and reverted to "normal" duties for the rank and branch, without the added responsibilities previously carried out. Thus such individuals "reverted to substantive rank" (and pay!). However if the individual managed to apply for another post carrying equivalent rank (and remember he now had practical experience under his belt, and presumably a written summary of his actual performance in the way he had discharged his responsibilities in that post) he he had a very good chance of being accepted and thus retaining his acting rank in the new position (if accepted).
    Hope this gives some idea of the difference between "Temporary" and "Acting" ranks, as well as "War substantive".
    David Duxbury

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    Hi David,

    I have read your post several times but to be honest I am still not so familiar with all the rank types.

    I would like to return once to my example:

    1. An airmen got the commission and his rank is P/O - it means what kind of rank? Just normal or "War Substantive" or "Temporary"
    2. He got a post with the squadron and is promoted to A/F/O - it means he got some kind of posting as he was posted there as Navigation instructor?
    3. He got a post with the station - Navigation Officer - and is promoted to A/F/L
    4. When he left his last position his rank is reduced to A/F/O. Why not reduced to T/F/O?
    5. He was retrained and after the pilot training he is promoted to T/F/L - I suppose he got T/F/L as he has no concrete posting. If he will be send to a squadron as Flight Commander he will get A/F/L?

    Thanks

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Pavel,
    Have taken your example, as follows (presuming that this was for service during period of WW2, when all promotions, appointments, and ranks were of "temporary" or "emergency" type, during this "Period of emergency").

    1. An airmen got the commission and his rank is P/O - it means what kind of rank? Just normal or "War Substantive" or "Temporary".
    My comment:-This commission, if in period of WW2 would automatically be an "Emergency" commission, and in early WW2 would have also been noted as (on probation), which meant in theory at least, that should he decide that he did not like his new carer in the RAF, then he could resign his commission with no questions asked. However I believe that this would be agreed to by the "powers that be" only very rarely during an emergency situation, and then only under very exceptional circumstances. The (on probation) designation suffix was later removed from the rank title, this only appearing in any event only for the lowest rank when awarded the commission in the first place. "Normal" promotion path for General Duties commissions during WW2 was P/O, F/O (after 12 months initially, later reduced to 6 months), then to F/L after 12 months (later extended to 18 months when F/O term was reduced as above). Thereafter promotion to S/L was normally only after a recommendation and a promotion examination. However this also was, I believe. later dispensed with or at least reduced. All these wartime ranks (known as Temporary or Emergency commissions) were known as "War substantive" (usually reduced in Orders to w.s.)

    2. He got a post with the squadron and is promoted to A/F/O - it means he got some kind of posting as he was posted there as Navigation instructor?
    My comment. To get a post (or appointment, or position) in a squadron or a station or Wing HQ he would have to apply for it in writing (or be recommended to apply by his Commanding Officer) and the applicants would then be interviewed (if there was time for such formalities) and one, presumably the most suitable, would be chosen to fill the post. As the post in this instance was obviously intended to be of F/O rank the successful applicant would automatically be promoted to that rank in an acting capacity only, that is, this is NOT a substantive promotion, in fact it is not even a true promotion as such, but an appointment which happens to require that rank as a matter of course. If the applicant already was of the required rank his outward rank did not change, only those who were below the specified rank. The Post (appointment, position) would have a job description and a list of duties and responsibilities, and would normally be paid at the rate for holders of the rank (acting or otherwise) of the appointed incumbent. Thus the appointment would be notified in Orders as such, initially at the (for your man) rank of Pilot Officer (Acting Flying Officer). Often not stated was also that initially the appointment would be "Unpaid" (that is, he would continue to be paid only at his war substantive rank) until his appointment was confirmed by higher authority, at which point he would be noted as "Paid" (meaning paid at the higher, acting rank, back dated to the date of appointment). Hope you follow all this, although it is (or was!) how civil servants have traditionally improved their career prospects, and would be pretty familiar to anybody who has worked for the government in most western countries (and probably quite a few eastern ones as well).

    3. He got a post with the station - Navigation Officer - and is promoted to A/F/L.
    My comment' Pretty much the same situation as (2) above, just at a higher acting rank. Unless he received his (automatic) w.s. promotion in the meantime, he would now be P/O (Acting F/L), until such time as his promotion came through the usual channels. He would be paid at the acting rank rate of F/L.

    4. When he left his last position his rank is reduced to A/F/O. Why not reduced to T/F/O?
    Strictly speaking this was known as "relinquishing" your acting rank, and reverting to your w.s. rank, whatever that might be. He would now be simply a "normal" officer holding a certain w.s. rank, with no responsibilities additional to those normally expected of such an officer of that rank. Higher rank in acting capacity was seen as a reward for taking on additional responsibilities (including Command) and/or other duties, such as Navigation Officer, Gunnery Leader, or Photographic Officer, or even Adjutant if your Medical grading precluded you from operational flying for an extended period. Despite the name, a Gunnery Leader did not exercise command in an operational sense, but he did in an administrative way, and his orders had to be obeyed promptly in the normal way.

    5. He was retrained and after the pilot training he is promoted to T/F/L - I suppose he got T/F/L as he has no concrete posting. If he will be send to a squadron as Flight Commander he will get A/F/L?
    My comment. To have been appointed to a higher acting rank he must have applied for a post/appointment/position which carried a higher rank than his w.s. rank, as acting rank was normally tied to such a position. However later in WW2 (probably from mid/late 1944 onwards) all captains of heavy aircraft (presume mainly in Bomber, Coastal, Transport) Commands who held the w.s. rank of P/O were automatically appointed to the acting rank of F/O on posting to a squadron for normal duties on completion of their crew-training course "as captains of heavy aircraft". Obviously it was felt that the responsibilities of being captain of such as aircraft required due and proper recognition and commensurate financial reward, such as it was. Curiously non-commissioned captains received no such recognition after completing an identical course. Incidentally if your man was appointed to A/F/L he must have had additional responsibilities to justify this; was he pilot or some other member of aircrew? However F/L (acting or w.s.) is too low a rank for a Flight Commander, unless he was in a small squadron such as a Fighter squadron, which only comprised some 25/30 men, perhaps also AOP squadrons. Of course some postings were because the person involved had applied for a Flight Commander post, not necessarily with their own squadron, so if appointed he would be posted to a new squadron. This was quite common, and was often for the same reason that newly commissioned technical personnel were posted on commissioning to a new unit where they could ease themselves into the new surroundings and be a member of the Officers Mess rather than the Sergeants Club. It was frequently found that if newly commissioned former NCOs remained at their original unit, their old working compatriots (still NCOs) could not help but treat them as an old friend, and this tended to make life difficult for the newly commissioned man trying to be an officer, and remaining somewhat aloof.

    Hope this all makes sense Pavel.

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    Pavel,
    On rechecking my last message, I see that I did not properly read your No.5 statement. Sorry about that! The reason he was by now a "T/F/L" was simply that, as he had retained his temporary (emergency) commission during his retraining as a Pilot, he had by now attained the w.s. (or Temporary) rank of F/L, presumably dated to the second anniversary of his original appointment to a commission. If you check in the wartime RAF Lists you should be able to confirm this; for instance if his original commissioning date as a P/O is dated 31/7/41, his F/L date should be 31/7/43. Hope this is the case!
    David D

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    David and Pavel

    From my research using the Air Force Lists, I would suggest the following is nearer the facts

    Substantive - the actual real rank held by and officer or airman, it is this rank that would determine his position in the gradation lists and establish any pension entitlements on retirement.

    Acting - an officer or airman coud be promoted to a rank or more above his substantive ot temporary rank in order to fill an established post on a unit for which he could be classed as Acting (paid) or Acting (unpaid). For instance in the VR(T) all officers were until recently, Flying Officers and the ranks Flt Lt, Sqn Ldr and Wg Cdr were all acting. I was a Fg Off, Act Flt Lt (paid) whilst I was a squadron commander, but on stepping down from the post I was permitted to retain the acting rank of Flt Lt but (unpaid). As acting (paid) I received the rate of pay of a Flt Lt, but as acting (unpaid) I received the rate of pay of a Fg Off.

    Temporary - This was introduced at the beginning of WW2 when the RAF created temporary establishments to allow rapid expansion. Officers promoted to Temporary rank were filling such a post on a unit. Whilst an officer holding acting rank could revert to a lower rank on posting an officer holding Temporary rank could not.

    War Substantive - whilst officers appointed to 'Emergency' commissions, there were not any 'temporary' commissions, were classed as war substantive, this also appears to have been awarded to officers after six months to a year in and acting rank.

    So a pre-war officer holding a temporary rank of Sqn Ldr, could be promoted to acting Wg Cdr and after six months as such he would usually be promoted to war substantive Sqn Ldr but still as an acting Wg Cdr. This process was extened to a year for A/Cdre and above.

    In the retired lists officers holding substantive and temporary rank would be listed in the relevenat rank section so substantive or temporary Wg Cdr would be shown as retiring as a Wg Cdr. A war substantive Sqn Ldr/acting Wg Cdr would be listed as 'Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Wing Commander'

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    Dear all
    Although this thread has been dormant for several years, it might be better to add my query here rather than start a new thread.
    I am doing research into the WW2 career of my Canadian grandfather.
    He was appointed in late 1941 to the RCAF Reserve with the rank of Pilot Officer (Temporary Flying Officer). The following month he was called up and, after completing his training course at the School of Administration, he was posted to help run the Recruitment Wing at one of the Manning Depots.
    After a year in the post he was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant and, on the same day, to Temporary Flight Lieutenant, and he held this rank until demobbed in 1944.
    My queries are:- What was the logic of the promotion being done in two steps on the same day? Why did he have to go through A/F/L to get to T/F/L? And what difference would it have made to his pay, ie. would he have been paid better as a T/F/L than as an A/F/L?
    I look forward to hearing your coments.
    Mike Whitehead
    Bristol, England

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    Dear all
    Sorry, I have just reread the service record paperwork, and I got it wrong last time - I apologise for my mistake. The situation was actually as follows:-
    After a year in post he was promoted to A/F/L.
    After eight months as A/F/L his rank was converted to T/F/L, effective from the date of his acting rank.
    So my queries are:- Was T/F/L a 'better' rank than A/F/L; would his pay have been improved; and would he have got eight months' back-pay?
    Regards
    Mike Whitehead

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    Hi Mike

    The basic answer is No. Providing he was filling a Flt Lt's post on the unit establishment, he would have received the same rate of pay.

    The difference simply determines his position in the official gradation lists of the RAF, which would ultimately have consequences on him when he retired or left the service.

    Malcolm

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