Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Imperial Royal Flying Corps. Lost Archive?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Posts
    6
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Imperial Royal Flying Corps. Lost Archive?

    At the Vancouver Island Military Museum we began researching the life of a local man who was killed while flying for 204 Sqdn in Oct 1918. (See www.vimms.ca for latest newsletter and preliminary article on this man).

    Osborne John Orr, DFC, 152219. Joined Imperial Royal Flying Corps (also commonly referred to as RFC Canada) Oct. 1917, in Toronto. This was not a Canadian government operation, so enquires to the Library and Archives Canada are referred to UK National Archives.

    At the UK National Archives we located his attestation paper and his service record. His service record begins with his arrival from Canada in April 1918.
    Historical accounts (Sullivan, Wise) indicate that Orr would have taken basic flight training in Canada, and complete records of that were kept. However, those personnel records are missing. We are particularly interested in finding out if Orr would have been part of the RFC Canada that trained in Texas that winter.

    The National Archives UK responded to our enquires, and say they do not have them. The Library and Archives Canada double checked, and do not have the archive. Enquires to the following have all come up with a negative: Canadian War Museum, Canadian Department of National Defence Directorate of History, RCAF Museum, City of Toronto Archives, Archives of Ontario.

    So, our research into Orr has become a search for the personnel files of the 20 000 Canadians who were in the Imperial Royal Flying Corps in Canada in 1917 and 1918. It begins to look as if they are lost.

    Has anyone come across them? Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    1,989
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 4 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    Angus,

    No such animal as the 'Imperial' Royal Flying Corps, as far as I am aware, not officially anyway.

    Osborne John Orr's airman's record can be found on The National Archives catalogue in the AIR79 series and his officer record under AIR76. AIR76 you can download there for a fee. AIR79 you can download through Find My Past (you might be able to access on a free trial basis?)

    Errol

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bristol, England
    Posts
    1,349
    Thanks
    10
    Thanked 12 Times in 11 Posts

    Default

    Angus

    I have access to Findmypast should you need a look-up.

    DaveW

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Posts
    164
    Thanks
    6
    Thanked 7 Times in 7 Posts

    Default

    I downloaded the AIR 76 file earlier today at The National Archives. I can email you it if you can let me know your email address.

    Chris

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Posts
    6
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Thank you for your reply.

    The Imperial Royal Flying Corps (IRFC) was a term commonly used for the RFC’s Canadian operations until the formation of the RAF. Thereafter, the term Royal Air Force Canada appears as the common term. Then, it seems that the commonly accepted term for the old IRFC became Royal Flying Corps Canada. This can be seen in Alan Sullivan. Aviation in Canada, 1917 – 1918. Rous and Mann. Toronto, 1919. This is the foundation work for anyone studying the IRFC and the RAFC. It has been digitized by the University of California and is available online, free, at https://archive.org/stream/aviationi...age/8/mode/2up

    The Canadian War Museum has a brief history of IRFC and RAFC, including a recruiting poster for the IRFC, at https://www.warmuseum.ca/learn/dispa...-1917-18/#tabs

    The official history of the RCAF by S. F. Wise, although published in 1980, has not been surpassed. Wise relies heavily on Sullivan for statistics and does a thorough job of outlining the IRFC and RAFC. Wise refers commonly to the Royal Flying Corps Canada, but states on page 78 at the beginning of chapter 4, “The RFC Canada (or the ‘Imperial Royal Flying Corps’ as its stationery and advertisements proclaimed it) …”
    This book was digitized by the Canadian government and is also available, free, at https://www.canada.ca/en/department-...irmen-ww1.html

    The term IRFC was commonly used in recruiting posters, one example of many can be found at https://canadaatwarblog.wordpress.co...rst-world-war/

    Other publications based largely on these reliable sources have used IRFC and RFCC interchangeably. For example, C.W. Hunt. Dancing in the Sky – The Royal Flying Corps in Canada. Dundurn Press. Toronto, 2009.

    We have used the UK National Archives to find the personnel records of Orr. The problem is finding records of his service in Canada with the RFC. These are missing.

    The records of other Canadians who served entirely in Canada with the IRFC/RAFC cannot be found at this time. They are certainly not with the UK Archives, as they have confirmed. Here at the Vancouver Island Military Museum, we want to find those records. Having exhausted known archives, we have posted on several forums, such as this, hoping to find the missing records.

    Again, thank you for your reply.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    70
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked 10 Times in 9 Posts

    Default

    A substantial set, 20,000 personnel records. Too large to have been simply absorbed/re-filed into a related set, you'd think - though such things can happen on a smaller scale.

    I didn't follow the Canadian links for detail, as very far from my focus - is there an indication of how many were trainees and then aircrew?
    Occurs to me that as some sizable body of men - all trainee aircrew? were trained in Texas, there may be some record in the US.

    A quick search of US National Archives www.archives.gov
    found nothing on Royal Flying Corps or Imperial Royal Flying Corps

    A quick look at LOC Catalogue
    https://catalog.loc.gov/
    on (exact) "Imperial Royal Flying Corps" found two refs only (an historically compiled collection of newspaper cuttings and one other).

    The Texas U Scholarworks collection
    https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu
    found no useful refs at a quick check but the Search function is truly diabolical to get to cough up things that you do know are there....

    The Hathi Trust
    https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/
    Deals with published works only. However while an exact search on Title found no refs, a full-text search on "Imperial Royal Flying Corps" found numerous mentions in
    Journals of the House of Commons of Canada
    and
    Sessional papers of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada
    Whether of any relevance, cannot say, but leads me to ask
    might the Canadian Library of Parliament https://lop.parl.ca/sites/PublicWebsite/default/en_CA/
    hold relevant historical documents as well as published works?

    Also may be worth looking further in these or other US collections with all variant names of the Corps?

    Wish you well with this search.
    Don Clark
    www.211squadron.org

    Postscript
    On further reflection I'm really very doubtful whether these references will be of much help at all but I'll let them stand, just in case
    Last edited by Don Clark; 6th March 2020 at 23:11.
    Toujours à propos

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Posts
    6
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Thank you for your efforts. We will follow up.

    Two of the three training wings of the IRFC went to Texas for the winter of 1917-18, because of the unknown impact a Canadian winter would have on flying training. They returned to Canada in April 1918. The agreement between the US Signal Corps and the IRFC allowed the use of facilities near Fort Worth Texas, in exchange for training a large number of American cadets and mechanics. Back in Canada, training was minimally affected by the cold weather and some basic lessons were learned about cold weather flying and maintenance.

    We have Orr's Attestation Papers, and from that we hoped to find the rest of his record of service in Canada.



    The fact that his Attestation Papers made it from Toronto to the UK National Archives was at first encouraging.



    Our belief that there is more available than the Attestation Papers is based on: Alan Sullivan. Aviation in Canada, 1917 - 1918. Rous and Mann. Toronto, 1919.



    Sullivan clearly had at hand a wealth of information about the IRFC/RAFC. He also stated on page 152, "A complete history of each cadet from the time he first made application until the time he proceeded overseas, through every stage of training and every movement, has been kept in minute detail."


    This is what we are looking for.


    The UK National Archives state that they have nothing more on Orr, other than his Attestation Papers and the service record which begins with his arrival in England.


    We have the names of many men who enlisted in the IRFC/RAFC in Canada and underwent training in Canada, but were never sent to England. Not all were cadets - some were kept in Canada as instructors. The UK National Archives has nothing about them.


    Sadly, the "complete history of each cadet" may be lost. We keep looking.


    Again, thank you for your efforts.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •