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Thread: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

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    Default Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    I have been reviewing the occasional differences in quality between the RCAF Squadron ORBs held by the National Archives and with Library and Archives Canada and I have a few questions about them:

    1) I have never seen the original paper records but presume that these were on 11" X 17" paper. Is this correct? (my first copies of 419 Squadron documents are on 11" X 17" paper (with National Archives Watermark) and they appear to be the correct size of type.

    2) Were these forms ready made up with together with the carbon paper and correct number of copies already on the form? Or did the typist prepare the pages and necessary carbon paper.

    3) How many copies were prepared? I was thinking one for the Squadron, one for Group, and one for Bomber Command, but there is evidence in some of the correspondence that copies were also sent back overseas to Canada during the war. So 4 copies? Would "Base" also get a copy?

    4) Who got the best copy? It seems that neither the National Archives, nor Library and Archives Canada made their microfilm images from the "first copy".

    5) So if the "first copy" isn't with either of National Archives, or Library and Archives Canada, where did it go?

    6) Do Australia or New Zealand have copies for their squadrons?

    Jim

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    Default Re: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    This was the procedure laid down in the War Manual....

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/sho...ns-Record-Book

    Royal Air Force War Manual AP1301 Part II
    Published 1929, Ammended 1931, 1934 and 1940

    33.
    An Operations Record Book (see King's Regulations para 2349, Second Edition 1928), will be maintained in duplicate from the first day of mobilization, or creation of the particular formation or unit, by:-

    (i) All formation headquarters and by each branch of the staff in large headquarters.
    (ii) All unit commanders including the commanding officers of depots and parks.
    (iii) Commanders of detachments of a unit.
    (iv) Base Personnel Staff Officer
    (v) Heads of Services, including the Chief Signal Officer and Chief Maintenance Officer.

    34.
    The contents of the operations record book are secret.

    35.
    The objects of the operations record book are:-

    (i) To furnish a complete historical record of the headquarters or unit from the time of its formation.
    (ii) To furnish an accurate record of each operation carried out.
    (iii) To collect information for future reference with a view to improving the organisation, training, equipment and administration of the Royal Air Force. The book will be entered up from day to day on Form 540 by an officer detailed for the duty. Writing will be on both sides of the Form 540 and must be distinct. Names of persons and places must be given in block capitals. The spelling of names of places will be that on the latest maps. The map referred to will always be indicated.

    36.
    At the end of each calendar month, the record will be completed and both copies with all relevant appendices sent, through the usual channels, to the headquarters of the command or force. That headquarters will forward the original and appendices to the Air Ministry, as soon as possible, and retain the duplicate in safe custody. When no longer required duplicates may be sent for custody to the Base Personnel Staff Officer.

    37.
    Extraction and retention of appendices, maps, etc., from the operations record book is an offence under the Offical Secrets Acts.

    38.
    The cover of the book will consist of Form 4008 and will bear the following inscription:-
    SECRET
    OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK
    for
    ..........
    From........ To.......
    Volume

    39.
    The following are to be included, so far as they are applicable, in the operations record book:-

    (i) The circumstances of the unit at the commencement of the war period or on its formation, if formed during the war period, e.g., where formed or located, establishment, equipment, command, etc.
    (ii) All important orders, despatches, instructions, reports and messages issued and received, and decisions taken.
    (iii) The daily situation, i.e., any move of the unit, or portion of the unit, to another aerodrome or advanced landing ground, the aircraft or transport present, and, if known, their condition, also any arrivals and departures of officers and aiman pilots, aircraft and transport and any important stores. Drafts of airmen numerically weaker than an officer's party should not be seperately specified.
    (iv) All important matters relating to the allocation of duties among staff
    (v) A detailed account of all operations. The exact time at which important occurrences took place must be entered. The state of the weather should be recorded, also the state of the aerodrome, if this has any bearing upon operations.
    (vi) Any numerical change in establishment or strength. A record of casualties, giving the name and rank of officers and the number, name and rank of airmen or any troops or civilians attached; also any aircraft or transport written-off or seriously damaged.
    (vii) The particulars of any officer or airman promoted, decorated or mentioned in despatches.
    (viii) The badges and devices which a unit has been permitted to bear and the reason for which such badges and devices, or other marks of distinction, were granted, together with the date and authority for the grant.
    (ix) Any change in the aerodrome or station affecting the accomodation of officers or airmen, aircraft, stores or transport, e.g., alterations or additions to buildings, billets, hangars, etc.
    (x) Any meteorological notes of importance additional to the routine weather reports.
    (xi) Summary of information received, and of all matters of importance, military or political, which may occur from day to day.
    (xii) Any defects in organization or regulations brought to light by the operations in question with a brief note of the action taken thereon.
    (xiii) Any other matter which may be considered of historical value.

    40.
    The following documents will be attached as appendices to the original operations record book, but not to the duplicate copy. References to these appendices will, however, be made in the duplicate.

    (i) RAF Form 541 "Detail of work carried out" (for use during operations only)
    (ii) A copy of each operational order and routine order issued by the unit or headquarters.
    (iii) Copies of operational orders received from a higher formation, when no longer required for reference purposes.
    (iv) A copy of each narrative of, or report on, operations, drawn up by the unit or headquarters, including any sketches or maps relating thereto.
    (v) A record of photographs taken.

    Regards
    Ross
    The Intellectual Property contained in this message has been assigned specifically to this web site.
    Copyright Ross McNeill 2015 to 2021 - All rights reserved.

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    Default Re: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    Hi Jim, some answers to your questions:

    2) From what I have seen in our archive I would say just plain forms were provided.

    6) I know there are a copies in The National Archives of Australia.

    Furthermore I can confirm that there are also differences in 311 Sq ORB held in Central Miiltary Archive in Prague and in TNA in London.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Default Re: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    Jim, The NZ Sqns within the RAF were 485 - 490, and 75 Squadron. The NZ Archives contain some but not all of the squadron records. Regards, Terry

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    Default Re: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    Hello Jim,

    Quote Originally Posted by JDCAVE View Post
    5) So if the "first copy" isn't with either of National Archives, or Library and Archives Canada, where did it go?
    Jim
    Back in 2007, I was talking in a symposium in the museum "La Coupole" near St Omer in France, and one of the other speakers was Dr Sébastian Cox, head of AHB. For the purpose of his talk, he had brought with him an original copy of No. 19 Squadron ORB. A bound blue volume. It was the first and only time I've seen an original Squadron ORB. So I think AHB may still hold the originals.

    Do they hold all the originals ? Logically, if not, they should be in the National Archives (I mean the UK one in Kew) 's custody.

    Others may know better.

    Joss

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    Default Re: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    Hi Joss, your description "A bound blue volume." remineds me how the ORBs in TNA in Kew are stored...

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Default Re: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    Hello Pavel

    Yes, the same volumes as in Kew, in AIR 26, AIR 28 or AIR 29. It's logical to think they were using the same pattern for similar sets of documents.

    Joss

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    Default Re: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    Thanks Ross for your detailed post and everyone else for your comments. Joss: do you recall the approximate dimensions of the pages in the volume and did you look inside to see if the pages were "First copy", in other words the original? I'm more curious than anything else. It might help explain why so many of the digital copies that are available are illegible.

    Jim

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    Default Re: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    All I can add is that volumes held at the RNZAF Museum at Wigram are a mixed bunch. Some of the volumes for No. 75 Squadron seem to be the "original" (first) copy, others seem to be the last, which are so bad that it would be impossible to read them without becoming familiar with all the crews on strength at the time, and their ranks and initials. Thus it becomes JUST possible to pick out individual crews by the length of the names, and ranks, as well as order they appear in the crew, to be able to discern the individual crew from the fuzzy shapes which appear on the paper. Why these were tolerated at the time might seem to be a fair question, but the sad fact is that there was very little reason to consult them during WW2, and Air Ministry had the best set, so could not see a problem. I have an idea that three, or even four copies was the requirement at the time. I have always imagined that the person responsible for filing them at the lowest formations receiving the worst copies just glancing at them and thinking: "God help the person who tries to read this in 50 years time!" All knew if it was imperative that some details in Form 540s had to be consulted, they could always send the query to Air Ministry as it was always believed they had the best version.
    David D

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    Default Re: Protocols regarding the "CC's" from Form 540 and 541's

    Jim,

    In the absence of direct access, imagine you could scale the page size fairly accurately from the typewriter font in any reproduction. Your 11x17 reference sounds about right.

    My recollection of the couple of dozen or so I viewed at TNA was that they were original typed documents, in landscape format of course.

    Don’t think we resolved whether carbon paper was ever part of the process. Hard to imagine everything was typed more than once.

    Robert
    Last edited by robstitt; 1st December 2020 at 20:22. Reason: Added thoughts

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