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Thread: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

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    Default Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    Hi folks,
    Does anyone know how a record of the number of "ops" an airmen flew was kept? If the whole crew stuck together then they'd all be "screened" after 30 ops but if they had flown say, 8 ops, and then one or more of that crew got killed, the replacement crew members may have flown more or less than 8 ops, so the count would be different for those crew members. Somewhere, somebody was keeping a record. My question is: who and where?

    Cheers,
    Mary-Anne Say-Pechet

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    Default Re: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    There are probably other records where the number ops flown was kept, but in the case of 419 Squadron in RCAF 6-Group, they are listed on the battle order. This would be for the pilot, as each aircrew may have separate totals, that would likely be different.

    https://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/o...92/910?r=0&s=1

    Jim

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    Default Re: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    An interesting question. I guess the answer is that the process will have evolved throughout the war and will differ depending on the level of recording you are referring to. The only truly accurate level in my opinion would be the individuals log book which was checked and signed off regularly and would accompany the individual wherever he went.

    There may well have been local registers/records held at Squadron, Flight and Section levels, but I don't believe that the system was slick enough to share this when individuals moved, hence why the log book was so important.

    As for crew members having differing numbers of operations, this is true and from veterans I have interviewed I can say that in some cases crews continued on flying until such time as the new crew member completed their tour. In other cases the entire crew were screened including the crew member who was short of the magic 30 ops, yet in some cases the crew member who was short of ops went back to being a 'spare bod' hoping to pick up ops with other crew, wherever they could to finish their tour.

    Regards
    Daz
    Last edited by 78SqnHistory; 7th October 2020 at 12:50.

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    Default Re: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    My work on 630 Squadron records has revealed similar to Daz. I have aircrew who flew horrendous tours ie: a crew with 2 crashes, several combats with nightfighters, the Pilot and Nav wounded, 2 rear gunners killed, bale-outs on return and the entire crew was screened just over half way through the tour being awarded a DFC and a BEM. One of that crew's rear gunners had survived an earlier crash as sole-survivor and was continuing with his new crew (this one) to complete his tour. Also a crew who were split up after the pilot died in a fall on his way out to dispersal, they had to complete their tours as spare bods with various crews. There were several examples of crews completing their tours and one of them having to stay on for a few extra trips. According to survivors I've been in touch with a book was kept for each Flight Commander which was updated when the logbooks were signed off.
    cheers PeteS
    https://630squadron.wordpress.com/

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    Default Re: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    Thank you very much for your responses. I have checked the battle order and have the pilots number of ops. I think you are right - the log book's the best answer. If only! I cannot imagine what happened to his log book: the list of personal effects returned to his mother after he was killed does not mention it. There's an entry for "7 books" but I think the log book would have been mentioned specifically, as his bible was. The crew didn't carry them on ops surely?

    Mary-Anne

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    Default Re: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    After the war they were stored in a warehouse, thousands of them belonging to lads who were killed or missing, they were rubber stamped in RED "death presumed" in a long narrow stamp and beside that an oval rubber stamp also in red, date in the centre and "Central Respository" around the top and "Royal Air Force" around the bottom and a letter was sent to next of kin asking if they would like to claim the logbook. If they werent claimed they were burned. I suspect that very many heart broken and grieving families did not write back to ask as they had their minds on other things.
    cheers PeteS
    Last edited by PeteS; 9th October 2020 at 17:58.

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    Default Re: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    It's unfortunate that only a selection of Flying Log Books survive in UK collections, though for what seemed sound reasons at the time and only after serious effort to return them to family decades ago, recounted here:
    https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/researc...-logbooks.aspx

    Afterthought: the adverts were seen as far afield as Aus, I recall from prior aircrew corresp.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 9th October 2020 at 21:08.
    Toujours propos

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    Default Re: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    I suppose without computers, there's only so much a repository can keep and hard decisions had to be made. Such a shame. I'll try to find out if the log books are searchable online by surname - maybe I'll get lucky! Thanks again for your comments - much appreciated

    Mary-Anne

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    Default Re: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    The chance of any one person's RAF Flying Log Book now being held in any national or other public collection (ie other than family or private hands) is low.

    Regret no online cat list, Mary-Anne, for all those in RAF Museum collection. You'll need to ask via
    https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/contact...ts-london.aspx
    At present they are hard pressed to reply - expect a long wait.
    If held, depending on condition, copies may be made for a fee - and another wait.
    DoRIS is invaluable, fair, and hard-pressed at the best of times.

    The TNA Discovery on-line catalogue defaults to "all archives". Search on
    "Flying Log Book"
    finds 65 entries overall and hints at the extent of the difficulty of finding those few in collections.

    There are 25 RAF items at TNA itself. There are 32 listed held in over a dozen other agencies.
    Of those, 15 are shown as in the Imperial War Museum (just as well, as getting the IWM Search page itself to show them is a test of ingenuity and patience)
    There are two shown as in the Liddell Hart Centre of Military Archives at University College London (but for me, the conditions of access were not meetable).
    Interestingly, the TNA Discovery results list also shows just three of those held by the RAF Museum: the Museum certainly holds many more than that, but you have to ask.

    By-the-by, as an official RAF document, they'd not have been listed among a man's "personal effects".

    Footnote: Australia & RAAF
    Just for reference/comparison, in the Australian War Memorial collection , catalogue search on
    "Flying Log Book"
    shows 198 entries in the Private (ie, personal) Records collection, of which 18 are also available as digitised copies, plus three ms extracts, plus three Library entries
    Curiously, at National Archives of Australia, their catalogue references just one man's Flying Log Book and in the AWM at that, though not easily found in an AWM search.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 10th October 2020 at 00:06.
    Toujours propos

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    Default Re: Counting no. of operational sorties before being screened

    Ha, what a maze! Makes it very difficult to do research without the ability to be there in person, especially with some search engines being so challenging, even to the computer literate. That's what makes this Forum so helpful. I'll keep digging, using your suggestions. The detail about the log book not being "personal effects" is good to know. Thanks Don.

    Mary-Anne

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