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Thread: GMT and local time

  1. #1
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    Default GMT and local time

    During the Second World War the UK Government played around with the clocks, successively putting them incrementally forward so that for the height of the summer months civil time was GMT plus 2 hours, and GMT +1 for the rest of the year.

    However, RAF operations in the UK were timed as GMT. My question is, where was the line drawn?

    Was RAF Station time on civil time or GMT? Most importantly, did the Mess Bar stick to civilian time or Military time? (I think I can guess the answer, but I'd rather have it from someone who knows from bitter experience.)

    Nick L

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    Nick,

    Could you provide a reference for RAF operations being timed as GMT please? I've looked at a fair number of ORBs and the time datum is rarely given. However, I could provide examples of both GMT and civil time being used. I think you will find units overseas used local time rather than GMT.

    There's no doubt station time was local time.

    Brian

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    Can only add that RN Signals always gave a zone letter eg 12:35Z
    or 13:25A.

    My knowelege, however, starts in 1961 when I was AFCA.
    Alan Gordon,
    61st Entry, 3 Wing, A Squadron and later, Admiralty Ferry Crews.

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    Default Admiralty time datum

    I'm currently researching the forecasts for the D-day landings, and one thread has led me to the Royal Navy.

    At this time of the war very few weather reports were received from the Atlantic, and to help plug the vast holes in the data-sparse areas west and southwest of the UK the Admiralty ordered two frigates to patrol between 20W and 25W, and 40 to 60N, on weather reporting duties with effect from 25 May 1944.

    By coincidence today I've received NA files relating to the operation, and it is clear from these that the time datum problem was not restricted to the RAF alone.

    The memorandum ordering the frigates to sea required them to be on station by 0800B 25 May 1944 - 'B' being the abbreviation for double British summer-time (DBST). Subsequent signals between the ships and Admiralty always used the DBST time datum - but a rendezous with any other vessel, say an oiler for refuelling was always timed in GMT.

    As with the altimeter setting query by Skylark there is no simple answer.

    Brian

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    One more thing I've just remembered.

    I have the meteorological report completed by the RAF Met Air Observer (MAO) flying with the USAAF 8th Weather Squadron on the night of 5/6 June 1944 westward from Trevose Head. The time datum for this was BST (NOT DBST or GMT). By chance the MAO is a friend, and when I queried this he confirmed this was standard during the summer months at that time.

    Brian

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    And then the UK Army always used Local Time until NATO gripped the problem. You can imagine a combined UK Navy/RAF/Army exercise in the Med in the mid 50's. There were several other "Allied" forces involved. At least 4 different time zones were (a) in the various Op Orders, and (b) practically in use on Sea/Air/Land! I leave you to work out how "Ardent Marcus" (call-sign of an air/ground station - and a Turkish gentleman with a somewhat imprecise command of English!!!) coped with all the times he was being given from this Shack that I was in! We found this submarine on the surface. We went into attack mode - all good exciting stuff for a National Service Airman passenger. The Smoke Marker bomb hit it just forrard of the conning tower (must have sounded like Big Ben striking in the sub!). Great cheers in the Shack! Turned out, though, that the sub was "One Of Ours" and should have been submerged an hour before!!! That was a peace-time exercise. As Lyffe has pointed out, Time Zones (and altimeter pressure settings) only added to the difficulties in a real War situation.
    It all goes to prove that The Allies did not WIN WW2, the Axis LOST it - i.e. they made bigger and better mistakes than we did!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default Times

    I've always (naively?) assumed that times shown in ORB's were simply local times (whether that happened to be on GMT, BST, DBST or whatever on that date). Is that wrong?

    The fun part is then when you want to compare 'ORB' or other 'Kew records' times with German reports - nightfighter claims, crash reports, etc!

    A topic in itself, no doubt. Has anyone got the answer? I did a thread on this topic myself some time back. I think I ended up just as unsure at the end of it as when I began!

    Ian

    ps. Peter, you beat me for the numbers of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'s employed! :)

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    Hello Ian,

    This subject regularly comes back. Here's a text that several of us have copied and saved which you mind find useful :

    This article was published in Bulletin Airwar 1939-1945 Nr. 99 page 26/27.

    Time calculation 1940-1945. By Rob de Bruin/Great Bookham, England.

    I have checked two sources; first my own Whitaker Almanac and I have contacted the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. The situation is as follows:
    1) In Great Britain(from now on called England) there is since 1916 summertime. In the winter they have GMT and in the summer GMT+1.
    2) Middle European Time(MET), that was the time in the Netherlands during the German occupation, was equal to GMT+1 and during the summer Middle European Time is equal to GMT+2.
    3) The English introduced at February 25th, 1940 their summertime GMT+1. In the Netherlands we had Dutch Time. This means that from February 25th, 1940 it was 40 min. later in England than in Holland. From may 16th, 1940 the Germans introduced MET and the Dutch were one hour ahead of the English.
    4) In England it was summertime during the war from February 25th, 1940 till October 7th, 1945.
    5) To get more daylight went over to Double British Summertime(DBST). This was during:
    a. 1941 May 4th till August 10th.
    b. 1942 April 5th till August 9th
    c. 1943 April 4th till August 15th
    d. 1944 April 2nd till September 17th
    e. 1945 April 2nd till July 15th
    6) During these periods the time in England was GMT+2 and that’s the same as
    MET(Summertime)
    7) To make thing more clear some examples:
    Date Time in Holland/Germany Time in England.
    30-05-1940 12.28 11.28
    22-06-1941 06.05 06.05
    03-11-1942 14.18 14.18
    01-04-1943 23.25 22.25
    01-05-1943 20.08 20.08
    06-06-1944 05.30 05.30
    05-05-1945 08.00 09.00
    8) The change of time was done in the early Sunday morning hours at 2.00 O’clock.
    9) Here a list of dates were the German time was equal to British time.
    a. 1941 May 4th till August 10th.
    b. 1942 April 5th till August 9th and November 2nd till December 31.
    c. 1943 January 1st till March 29th and April 4th till August 15th and from
    October 4th till December 31st.
    d. 1944 January 1st till April 2nd and April 4th till September 17th and October 2nd
    till December 31st.
    e. 1945 January 1st till April 2nd.


    This is an translation of the essence of an article published in Bulletin Airwar 1939-1945 Nr.99. With many thanks to Mr. Robert de Bruin, Great Bookham, England.
    The translation has been made by Jaap Woortman.


    It is my understanding too that times in ORBs are local times.

    Joss

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    Default Times

    Hi Joss

    Yes, I've also seen that article in a few posts before, including my own earlier one on the question about UK/German comparable times. It still makes my brain hurt trying to understand it!

    It tells you what the time-basis was on any date but obviously it won't tell you what time-basis might have been being used for any records or documents being written then. eg recording a time as "7:00 pm" - was that 'local' time which might have been an hour ahead of GMT (when we were on BST) or two hours ahead (when we were on DBST), or was it in fact GMT time?

    The logical thing would be for the records (ORB's or whatever) to show the 'local' time of any events, meaning we may need to make adjustments when comparing with other records which might be recording a different 'local' time (say showing the time in GMT, or German records).

    Cheers

    Ian
    Last edited by ianh; 25th March 2010 at 18:55.

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    Just looking at some 540s I see there's a note in the top left corner of each page:

    "See instructions for the use of this form in KR and A.C.I (or 1), para 2349, and War Manual Pt II, Chapter XX and notes in RAF Pocket Book."

    Now, who has copies of any of these publications - Amrit?

    Brian

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