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Thread: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

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    Default Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    Hi all. I'm going through the ORB for this squadron for late 1943 to early 1944 and looking at the aircraft flown by one particular pilot. I know that they were all Spitfires but the ORB quotes, for each aircraft, two letters and three numbers, interestingly with a gap between the letters and the numbers for example 'TU 708'. These do not appear to be aircraft serial numbers as most of them (including the example given) do not exist in this website's serial database. I have to say that the document is unclear, so it may be that I am misreading some of them, but there are enough entries that are clear to satisfy me that they are not serial numbers. As I have seen photographs depicting this Unit's aircraft carrying the single Unit code letter 'T', followed by a single individual code letter, I am minded to believe that the letter/number combinations are actually the aircraft's code letters, followed by the three numbers from its serial number. Even if this theory is correct, I'm still left with the problem of finding out the two letters that correspond to each set of three numbers. So, using the same example, the serial number of the aircraft coded 'T/U' must be 'xx708' - but how can I find out letters represented by xx are? Given the large quantity of Spitfires built, and that I do not know which Mark of Spitfire this Squadron used at this time (and my specialist interest is bombers, not fighters) I'm really having trouble in addressing this problem. Hence this post, in the hope that someone more knowledgeable than me can assist, even if only by pointing me in the right direction. Thanks again, in advance, Andrew

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    Default Re: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    Sorry, TYPO error!! The years are 1942-43, not 1943-44!!

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    Default Re: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    Hi Andrew,

    Not an expert on Malta-based Spitfires but a search of the RAF serial database yields 18 Spitfires that had the serial number numeric sequence ‘708‘, including 7 that were Mk Vs, which I believe was the most numerous mark operated from Malta.

    Also note that the single letter ‘T’ appears to have been a unit code.

    No doubt others can offer more.

    Robert

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    Default Re: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    Likewise. If not in the least expert re Malta, let alone 249 Sqn, some info to hand:

    Agree that the watermarked TNA Operations Record Book Record of Events (Form 541)
    eg AIR 27/1498/32 Nov 42 http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...ils/r/D8396993
    images are none too clear. However, downloading the unmarked PDF may assist.

    In compiling Forms 541 in Adj offices, all sorts of truncation/abbreviation variations of a/craft ids were common at the time...
    Agree with your tentative interpretation: Form 541 shows Sqn ID Letter, a/craft call letter, last 3 digits of a/craft serial.
    Agree Sqn ID letter at the time was the single letter T.

    One example being
    Spitfire IX BS559 T-W
    Albeit listed with a Vb/Vc heading in Halley Squadrons of the RAF & Commonwealth 1918-1988 (Air Britain 1988)
    vs Halley RAF Aircraft BA100-BZ999(AB 1985) where it's listed as a Mk IX.

    There'd be more examples in Flintham & Thomas, Combat Codes (Airlife 2003) but I no longer have it.

    Malcolm Barrass' fine Air Of Authority www.rafweb.org site has, in the members area (Members Pages/Aircraft Serials/Operational Units_201-299),
    a very full set of a/craft allocations for 249 Squadron incl a good many Spitfires Vb Vc and IX, as full serials only, no a/craft letters.
    May able to match a considerable no of entries there to Form 541 a/craft call-letter/3 digit entries, with a bit of work - a little less work to track down just those of your subject.
    You'd need to register & a small fee applies.

    Good luck with it

    Postscript
    There's a fair reading list for 249 Squadron, several on Malta:
    George Beurling Malta Spitfire (249 Sqn 1942) (Military Books 1973)
    Brian Cull 249 at War (Grub Street 1997)
    Franks Buck McNair: Canadian Spitfire ace (249 Sqn 1942) (Grub St 2001)
    L Lucas Five Up (Autobiography of Laddie Lucas) (Wingham 1991)
    Neill Gun button to fire (249 Sqn 1940) (2010)
    Nolan Hero: the Falcon of Malta (George Beurling) (Blackwood 1982)
    plus
    Shores Cull Malizia Malta The Spitfire Year 1942 (Grub Street 2008)
    Last edited by Don Clark; 13th September 2020 at 09:51. Reason: tidy up
    Toujours propos

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    Default Re: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    Hello,

    Take a look here:

    249 At War The Authorised History of the RAF's Top-Scoring Fighter Squadron of WWII
    Cull,Brian
    London:Grub Street,1997
    pp.281-3 (Appendix VI - Aircraft flown by 249 Squadron)..

    You will find a comprehensive listing of Spitire V's used by 249 Squadron on Malta, 1942-1943. eg:

    Spitfire V - EP708 (T-U).

    Check also Appendix II pp.266-70 (Combat Claims), for additional information and match-up of pilots to individual aircraft.

    During the month of June, 249 had increased its tally by 15 confirmed , three probables and 18 damaged. Aircraft allocated to the squadron, which up to now mainly carried the codes applied while aboard the delivery aircraft carriers, had the code letter 'T' painted on the fuselage for identification purposes. (p.125).

    Next day (28 August, 1943), the AOC sent a message of congratulations for the successful interception. The Squadron was now ordered to revert to its original code markings of GN and all aircraft were rapidly repainted, including the four additional Mark IXs just received: EN256 GN-B, EN392 GN-V, EN456 GN-P and MA500 GN-Z (p.169).

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 13th September 2020 at 15:54.

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    Default Re: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    Hello,
    You are probably looking for Spitfire VB trop EP708 T-U, Malta XI.42-II.43.
    The last T-U was Spitfire VC trop JK579 T-U, Malta VII.43. Later coded GN-U, IX.43. Italy XII.43.
    Zoran

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    Default Re: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    Unfortunately for historians/researchers it was absolutely the norm for RAF Aircrew to just write the a/c number in their Logbooks and ignore the prefix,this was the norm at least until the 1970's.

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    Default Re: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    Hello,

    Here is a listing (according to Brian Cull), of the pilots known to have made claims when flying "T-U" coded Spitfires:

    11/07/42 - BR565:T-U - Flt Lt W R Daddo-Langlois- Claimed Bf109
    12/07/42 - BR565:T-U - Sgt G F Beurling - Re2001
    12/07/42 - BR565:T-U - Sgt G F Beurling - 2 Re2001
    13/07/42 - BR565:T-U - S/L P B Lucas - Force-landed Hal Far
    13/08/42 - BR565:T-U - Sgt V H Wynn RCAF - Shared Ju88
    10/10/42 - EP708:T-U - Flg Off J F McElroy RCAF - Bf109
    22/10/42 - EP708:T-U - Flt Lt J F McElroy RCAF - Shared Bf109
    27/10/42 - EP708:T-U - Flt Lt J F McElroy RCAF - Bf109 damaged
    27/10/42 - EP708:T-U - Flt Lt R Seed - Bf109 damaged
    14/12/42 - EP708:T-U - Flt Lt R Seed - Shared Ju88
    16/02/43 - EP708:T-U - F/Sgt J C Hughes made an emergency landing at Luqa
    03/03/43 - EP706:T-U - Sgt W J B Stark - Shared Ju88*

    * Sgt Stark ditched EP706 after this combat. He was picked up safely by HSL107 an hour later.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 14th September 2020 at 00:51.

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    Default Re: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    BVS, I was a bit surprised by your remark that abbreviation of serials was "absolutely the norm" in RAF aircrew logbooks.

    While I'm closely familiar with but a single RAF Squadron, from 1937 to 1946, for that Squadron, in three different theatres, two different roles, four aircraft types, it was pretty much the practice for aircrew (whether pilot, gunner; or pilot, observer, wireless op/gunner; or later pilot & navigator) to record the complete aircraft serial, Annnn and later ABnnn, in their Flying Logbooks

    At least one later pilot, and at least one later navigator (& in different crews) recorded both complete serial and call-letter, though that was less usual.
    Very occasionally, after a very hard day, one or other might abbreviate the aircraft serial for that day.

    In the Operations Record Book Form 541 over those years, there was an amount of variation. Full serial was used (no call-letter) throughout the Blenheim I period. For a considerable time in 1944 (Beaufighter X) only call-letter was recorded, though later full serial was used, sometimes with call-letter sometimes not.

    I have all the Squadron Operations Record Book that remains, and some 30-odd Flying Logbooks in whole or part (2 originals complete, 10 complete photocopies, the rest partial copies, six of them transcripts).

    Not a criticism in any way but an observation of war-time Squadron practice and variation, that I hope is of interest in the general sense: I'm sure there are also numerous cases of abbreviated serials in both Ops Record Books and in Logbooks as you describe.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 13th September 2020 at 15:40.
    Toujours propos

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    Default Re: Looking for Experts on 249 Squadron (Malta 1943-44)

    Hi Don
    All goes to show there was variation in all things RAF,perhaps I should have worded it as ''not unusual for RAF Aircrew to just write the a/c number in their Logbooks ''.
    Just doing a quick look through some internet images - many pilots just put the code letter,not even recording the number.

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    Don Clark (13th September 2020)

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