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Thread: Warrant Officer Aircrew in early WW2

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    Default Warrant Officer Aircrew in early WW2

    Hello All,
    I am currently ploughing my way through a lot of the AIR 81 files to update the forum PoW DBs for Jagan. It can be both tedious and interesting (if that is not an oxymoron?).
    Iím in the early part of 1940 at the moment.
    One of the things I have noticed as that a very large percentage of non-Officer aircrew taken as PoWs are listed as Warrant Officer or Temporary Warrant Officer. There are a scattering of AC2s, AC1s, LACs, and Cpls (I assume(!!) gunners, etc, on Battles before noncom aircrew were made NCO). There are not many Sgts/Flt Sgts. The Poles did the same thing. Iíve not looked at the RAAF, RNZAF, RCAF, etc.
    A lot of these W/Os / T/W/Os have s/ns which indicate they started life as Apprentices, or Boy Entrants, etc.
    My question is: Were most of the NCO aircrew, in the early part of the WW2, given the ďTate & LyleĒ badge (even if T/ while aircrew?) so that, in the event of becoming PoW, they would get better treatment?
    TIA
    Peter Davies.
    PS If anybody is interested in joining me in this purge of AIR 81 and Pow DBs then drop me a PM. This is just one of Jaganís ideas for reconciling the various DBs on the forum.
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default Re: Warrant Officer Aircrew in early WW2

    I was not aware that there were an over abundance of W/O aircrew early in the war Peter.

    Had they been promoted whilst POW's perhaps ?

    The pre war ex groundcrew Sgt pilots were officially on a 5 year stint as pilot and then the idea was that most would revert to trade after the 5 years (silly idea),I was under the impression that most of the ex Brat Pilots were still Sgt at the start of the war,of course after the commencment of hostilities - promotion could be astonishingly fast and they could go from Sgt to Flight Commander - or even Sqn Commander in the course of a few months.
    When the wartime NCO ranks settled into 'normal' progression/structure it was time promotion from Sgt - Flt Sgt - W/O and the Canadians/Australians I believe might have promoted their NCO's faster than the RAF did .
    I do not have any real official confirmation of any of the above - just an impression gained from reading many autobiographies etc.

    Edit - to add - sorry forgot to say that I have always assumed that the '5 year' limitation would have been quietly forgotten about after the 'Expansion' started circa 1936 anyway.
    Last edited by bvs; 26th July 2020 at 09:05.

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    Default Re: Warrant Officer Aircrew in early WW2

    I don’t think that 5 years was forgotten about I think I have found a couple of examples of aircrew reverting to trade after this period - but don’t ask me to find them now. You still have to remember that the RAF at this time has limits on actual Perm members. That is why they invented the RAFVR And had SSC and while they were yes expanding sqn numbers they were still limited in this Ans these NCO aircrew were on this “bottom line”. So why not rotate someone out and rotate someone else in ? You Still expand The numbers of trained aircrew without breaking the rules mandated by Govt

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    Default Re: Warrant Officer Aircrew in early WW2

    Of course it maybe just that by now their age or Heath maybe catching up with being able to fly fighters and so they are sent back to trade

    I also suspect a number of them after 12 years Or even 20 years stated to jump ship to the civil training schools if they could to earn more money

    Btw I am sure the examples I have seen were in fighter Sqns

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    Default Re: Warrant Officer Aircrew in early WW2

    A considerable number of men who were W/O as POW in 1945 had been captured as Sgt or below and promoted while in captivity.

    I am certain that bvs is correct, the RCAF and RAAF did promote to W/O rank faster than the RAF and often posthumously.

    PeteS
    https://630squadron.wordpress.com/
    Last edited by PeteS; 26th July 2020 at 16:38.

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    Default Re: Warrant Officer Aircrew in early WW2

    The trouble also with 'careers' is that there was rarely a 'standard' career path for those striving to be (say) a pilot in the 1930's.
    Just to mention 3 ex Brats....

    Hamish Mahaddie graduated from Halton 1930 and got his wings in 1935 as Sgt Pilot,commissioned as P/O in 1937.

    John Searby graduated from Halton 1931 and got his wings and promotion to Sgt Pilot in 1931,in 1939 he was a Flt Sgt but commissioned in 1940.

    Frank Carey graduated from Halton 1930 and got his wings and promotion to Sgt Pilot in 1936,he was promoted Flt Sgt 31/3/40 and then commissioned the very next day to P/O.

    So all 3 escaped the 5 year trap,Mahaddie by gaining a commission,John Searby I assume was saved by the RAF Expansion Scheme,Frank Carey timed it just right with the approaching war.
    Some of the ex Brat Pilots did find that specific Technical Qualifications could and did eventually catch up with them and come back to haunt them but not usually in the desperate days of 1939-45 although medical issues could of course ground any aircrew.

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    Default Re: Warrant Officer Aircrew in early WW2

    I doubt that promotion of NCO aircrew to rank of W/O was that much slower in the pre-war/early wartime RAF than was the case in the early wartime RCAF/RAAF/RNZAF. Certainly Sgt pilots in RNZAF early in WW2 had fairly slow promotion (although some were commissioned directly from Sgts after remaining in this rank for 18 months or more), but by 1942/43 promotion in NCO ranks was more standardised as from Sgt to F/Sgt after 6 months, then to W/O after 18 months (2 years elapsed time), and then appointment to a commission could follow at any time after that. Interestingly the "home" RNZAF (and possibly same in RAAF, perhaps also RCAF?) always interviewed NCO aircrew at a certain stage of their career "with a view to awarding appointments to commissions in the General Duties Branch", and the individual could accept or decline this offer (there were definite financial advantages to remaining an enlisted man). However in the RAF it seems that individual NCOs could apply to their CO for an appointment to a commission, then wait patiently for perhaps many months, until he was advised if has application had been successful or not. I have notes of an RNZAF F/Sgt serving with RAF Bomber Command in about 1942 (In fact I think by this time he was serving with 27 OTU as an instructor, having already completed his first tour of ops) who applied for a commission, then made frequent mentions of progress (or lack of progress) in his diary, often along the lines of suspecting his CO had thrown it in the bin, or had otherwise "lost it". However one fine day, out of the blue, he received the news that he had been accepted (this may have been 3 or 4 months after he first approached his CO). So quite different methods. I suspect that the RNZAF used a pre-war RAF system ("friendly interview by your AOC") whereas the war-time RAF had moved to handing the initiative over to the NCO, but I am just guessing here. If anybody else on this forum is familiar with the way the RAF handled the offering of commissions to NCOs (including WO's) either pre-war or in wartime, I think most members on this Board would love to hear about it. No doubt these details were well covered in various editions of KR&ACI (King's Regulations & Air Council Instructions).
    David D

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    Default Re: Warrant Officer Aircrew in early WW2

    Quote Originally Posted by David Duxbury View Post
    I suspect that the RNZAF used a pre-war RAF system ("friendly interview by your AOC") whereas the war-time RAF had moved to handing the initiative over to the NCO, but I am just guessing here. If anybody else on this forum is familiar with the way the RAF handled the offering of commissions to NCOs (including WO's) either pre-war or in wartime, I think most members on this Board would love to hear about it. No doubt these details were well covered in various editions of KR&ACI (King's Regulations & Air Council Instructions).
    David D
    From what I have read in Autobiographies - the majority of the Commissioning processes started off with recommendation by CO,many NCO pilots were not too bothered/interested about becoming an officer and sometimes had to be 'persuaded' by their CO,the Sqn Commanders of course were eyeing up those NCO's who they viewed as potentially good section/flight leaders.Sometimes during heavy loss/casualty periods in Fighter Command - a Sgt Pilot could end up as a Section/Flight Leader (in the air) if they were the most experienced operational pilot available.Most commissionings were 'rubber stamped' by an interview with the AOC although I am fairly sure there would have been anomolies where the AOC might have deputised (say) the Station Commander if time did not permit the usual procedure/interview.

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