Hi all

I'm struggling to correlate some conflicting data on 72 Sqn's OCs from July to September 1940.

There are several contradictory records available indicating the date that Flt Lt (Actg Sqn Ldr) Edward Graham took command of 72 Squadron, which appears to have - formally, at least - been on 21 September 1940.

However... Sqn Ldr Anthony R. Collins arrived on 72 Squadron as a Supernumerary on 19 July 1940 and assumed command of the unit when the Officer Commanding, Sqn Ldr (later AVM) Ronald Lees, was posted away on 24 July 1940.

While these facts are recorded in the Squadron ORB, the same documents indicate that between his arrival on 72 Squadron and his posting to 46 (F) Squadron on 5 October 1940, Collins only flew two operations on 31 August 1940 (ref ORB F541, July-October 1940, TNA AIR 27/624). There are no further mentions of Collins in the ORB at all.

The Battle of Britain Monument website states that Collins was slightly wounded in combat on 72 Sqn on 2 September 1940, but there is nothing in 72 Sqn’s F540 or F541 to substantiate this. However, the F540 does indicate that Sqn Ldr LEES was slightly wounded on 3 September 1940, but he is not listed on the F541. In fairness, the F541 is missing all entries from 3 September 1940. It lists 2 Sep 40 and then 4 Sep 40; 3 Sep 40 appears to have been overlooked.

In the absence of Sqn Ldrs Collins and Lees, the senior officer on 72 Squadron during this crucial period of the Battle of Britain was Flt Lt Edward Graham. He is recorded on the F541 as having led the Squadron on many occasions throughout the period and appears to have effectively led 72 Squadron from late July to late September 1940 as a Flight Lieutenant, and only formally from late September 1940 to March 1941 as an Actg Sqn Ldr. Despite this, he received no decoration or other formal recognition for his role in the campaign.

Does anyone know, or have any records (a Station or Wing ORB...?) that might provide an explanation of Collins' apparent absence without explanation in the Sqn ORB, throughout most of the Battle of Britain? It seems strange to me that a squadron commander would not fly operations and lead the Squadron during the campaign if he were present, especially if I consider the amount of flying 41 Sqn's OCs did (for example).

Thanks
Steve