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Thread: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

  1. #11
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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    You've not mentioned if you've looked at the 218 Squadron Operations Record Book.
    The National Archives UK has, under pandemic restrictions, made digitised Squadron ORBs free to view on-line as PDFs.

    In case you've not had time, here's the 218 Squadron 1943 set, both monthly Summary of Events and daily Record of Events.
    Follow your nose down the AIR 27/1351 RHS table/list: https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...e/r/h/C2503991

    Along with the AIR 27/1356 Appendix set of 1942 & 1943 night target photos, various.
    https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C2503996

    View watermarked copies on line, or reg with email to download unmarked PDFs free of charge.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 5th January 2021 at 09:59. Reason: sp, AIR 27 refs added
    Toujours propos

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    Ian Lauder (5th January 2021)

  3. #12
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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    Ian,

    A Google search on "Geoffrey Donovan Knight" leads to:-

    https://75nzsquadron.wordpress.com/s...r-crew-4-4-45/

    Three of this crew are
    F/O William Henry Conrad Rhodes, RAFVR 1390369/ 170865 Air Bomber (Presumably Nav.B)
    W/O P. Fenner, RAFVR Wireless Operator
    F/O Geoffrey Donovan Knight, RAFVR 573958/ 54659 Flight Engineer

    A search of Forces War Records shows

    Phillip Bernard Fenner 1295240 RAFVR

    These men were serving on No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron in April to June 1945

    Chris

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    Ian Lauder (5th January 2021)

  5. #13
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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    Chris
    Thank you once again. Your help is amazing.
    Ian

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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    "F/O William Henry Conrad Rhodes, RAFVR 1390369/ 170865 – Air Bomber (Presumably Nav.B)" (cozzy711 above)

    Don't think so, Cozzy.

    From July 1942, a lot of discussion (Ottawa Air Training Conf eg) resulted in the dropping of the previous Observer title (with it's winged O badge, & responsible for both navigation and bomb aiming) as part of a wholesale restructure of non-pilot aircrew, especially navigation and related tasks.

    One of these was the new category, Air Bomber, with the winged B badge.

    Give me a moment and I'll sort out a copy of the table from Jeff Jefford's marvellous Observer's & Navigators 2nd Edn Grub Street (p221)

    Blimey! The table layout totally routed my OCR, usually a happy & simple little gizmo.
    Resorted to an image therefore....& hosted on my site (as I cannae get the engines here to load her, Capn!)

    Anyway helpful for now, I hope.
    Take a copy if you like, I'd like to take the image down in a week or so. Here 'tis:
    1942 aircrew categories


    Thanks Ian, good luck with the project.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 5th January 2021 at 20:16.
    Toujours propos

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    Ian Lauder (5th January 2021)

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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    So thanks to you, from the photo (I wish I could insert it here) of 7 men (one of whom did not sign the back for some reason) if I have understood the info, we have
    Pilot Lauder
    Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Gowland
    Flight Engineer Knight
    Air Bomber / Navigator? Rhodes
    Air Gunner McCool
    Wireless Operator Fenner
    That's 2 Wireless operators
    We need 3 gunners for a Stirling
    What remaining task would the 7th member have done?
    Is there any way that we can find when these men were together ?

  9. #16
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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    Ian

    F/Lt Peryer and his crew (including Rhodes, Fenner and Knight) were posted to 75 (NZ) Squadron from 1651 Conversion Unit arriving on 31st March 1945, although by that stage of the war it was technically called 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit.
    https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/D8453929

    The ORB for 1651 CU is not available on line so if you so desire a visit to The National Archives will be needed to view the file. (There is a good chance that someone on here has a copy)
    https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C7160901

    I do not know if the details of posting in and out of trainee crews are included in these but they may assist in working out where this crew came from. (Many unfortunately don't)

    The photograph you have was clearly taken before November 1943 as McCool (the first to be commissioned) signed it with his NCO service number. I would suggest it was probably taken on the Operational Training Unit your father attended prior to posting to 218 Squadron.

    As it would appear that Rhodes was the Air Bomber the seventh missing name would likely be the Navigator (The confusion over Rhodes exact trade was in some way caused by the RAF not distinguishing between Air Bomber and Navigator trades on commissioning, showing all as General Duties - Navigators).

    If you want to email me the photograph I should be able to put a link to it on this thread. You should be able to see my email address on my profile. I have had a brief look at the 218 Squadron ORBs but did not find any of the names from your list so they were likely posted elsewhere.

    Cheers
    Chris

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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    Ian has kindly sent me the photograph which should hopefully be viewable here

    https://imgur.com/a/mbAjuey

    Chris

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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    James Lauder, pilot, is front, 3rd from the right, thumb in belt.

    A careful blow-up at high res might show that the figure last on the right, hands clasped, is wearing the B badge of the air bomber.
    At least, that's what I see with modest enlargement

    Between them, rear, 2nd from the R, the tallest man looks pretty certainly to be wearing the O badge of the Observer - that is, the Navigator in 1943 terms.

    Observers had qualified for the winged O badge in both Nav and bomb aiming. After 1942, as the N men qualified in duties as the table I linked above records, those who had qualified earlier as Observers were most most reluctant to give their badge up for the N of the varied types of navigator, and wearing of their original O badge was permitted long long after the winged N badge was issued...

    These marks of qualification are sometimes, and quite incorrectly, called "brevets", as Jeff Jefford once remarked to me. They are correctly indeed badges.
    My father, who qualified as an Observer in May 1940, kept the O badge on his tunic to the end of his RAF service in 1946.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 5th January 2021 at 19:53.
    Toujours propos

  12. #19
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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    I remember seeing an airman (probably trade of General Service Hand, which was a so-called trade in the 1980s in RNZAF, probably similar to the wartime ACH/General Duties) on duty as a guard at the guardhouse at the RNZAF Museum, Wigram (New Zealand) still wearing his wartime "O" badge in about 1987, so I presume he was legit! He looked about the right age too!
    David D

  13. #20
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    Default Re: What does the R prefix to a service number mean

    Quote Originally Posted by cozzy711 View Post
    Ian has kindly sent me the photograph which should hopefully be viewable here

    https://imgur.com/a/mbAjuey

    Chris
    Can one of you knowledgeable chaps tell me why in the photo my father is wearing his pilot wings badge but not his sergeants stripes?

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