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Thread: Records of Bomber Command Aircrew debriefings?

  1. #1
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    Default Records of Bomber Command Aircrew debriefings?

    I am very interested to learn about the crew debriefings and have some questions to ask below. I have the ORB's (Operational records book summaries or Forms 540 and 541) for each of my father's operations. These match quite closely my father's log book but both records are thin on detail. There are other documents, squadron summaries and (in 419 squadron's case, history) and group reports. Dad's memoires, were recorded 40+ years after the war and I'm sure memory can dim with time. One source of information, has been very illusive: the crew debrief records. These to me would be the "Holy Grail" of records of dad's crews particular experience. So here are the questions:

    1) Who conducted the debriefings? How may individuals of this type were on the Squadron? How capable do you think they were? Did they take a lot of notes? Was there a particular form that was filled out and if so do you recall the name of the form?

    2) How long did the debriefings take? What was covered? Who on the crew did most of the talking? Did each crew member take his turn? Was there concensus or did the crew debate what occurred?

    3) Combat reports: Were these filled out by the information officer or the gunners? Were the rest of the crew present when these were filled out or just the gunners? What steps were taken to validate claims of aircraft shot down?

    4) Are crew debriefings for 6-group Squadrons available at the Canadian Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) or other National Archives in Canada?

    5) For Canadian Squadrons, are there Squadron Level and Group level records that summarize the activities, briefings etc for individual raids?

    Thanks, in advance for taking the time to answer these.

    Jim

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    Jim
    I posted a reply on the Lancaster Archives forum
    Leslie

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    Hi Jim,

    according to my knowledge:

    1) Intelligence or Operational Officer
    They were in most cases well educated.
    I have seen several form from No 311 Sq but unfortunately I am not sure about the name. It was Form x where ix was some letter and as the form has several parts there were several letters.
    One was general sheet with in about the plane and results of bombing. Another was dividied into several sheet each containing different questions like: details of the bombing run, details about engaging with fighter, searchlights and flak details, etc.
    Sometimes there is no info or only one sentence, sometimes there is a whole page of information.

    2) I suppose it depends on the IO and the crew how quick they were able to fill the form. Initially the form was filled by hand and the most important person who made most of the talking was the navigator I suppose as he has the details about the flight and bombing. Also the rear gunner reports his sighting of hits.
    But generally I suppose that there was a time for everyone to take his turn.


    3) They were filled at the same time with the whole crew. The main turn was on the gunners to describe the fight, navigator will again add the position, time....

    So this is from my own experience. If I am not right in any case I will be glad to hear the correction.

    Hope this helps a little

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

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    Thanks Pavel and Leslie: I posted on both forums as the Lancaster forum has lower traffic, however a couple of veterans have provided background on this topic. I would welcome futher feedback from others if they have any info, or have seen these forms and are aware of their existence.

    Jim

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