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Thread: Accuracy of Fighter Command Losses series by N. Franks

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    Default Accuracy of Fighter Command Losses series by N. Franks

    Hi everyone,

    I'm starting this thread to sample people's opinions on the FCL series by N. Franks.

    I was trying to find the shot down information on Sgt George Atkinson who according to other sources, was shot down on August 13,1940 in Hurricane P3310 while flying with 151 Sq. There is no entry in FCL Volume I for this incident. This is not the first time I have been unable to find an entry for a particular incident. I even bought the revised FCL Volume I to see if this improved over the previous edition and I'lll admit I'm slightly disappointed.

    What do other people think?

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    Despite its omissions and inaccuracies that are inevitable in a series of references like FC Losses, these three volumes remain a good starting point for any research on European fighter losses.

    For interests sake I note from AB’s P serial number book that Hurricane P3310 was brought down on August 14, 1940, this also being the date detailed in “The Battle of Britain, Then and Now” and in John Foreman’s “Fighter Command War Diaries” the only Hurricane loss for 151 sqdn was on the 14th. However in Francis Mason’s oft-derided “Battle over Britain” this loss is attributed to the 13th.
    I think this shows that for any body of works covering large amounts of data, inaccuracies will creep in and that rather than rely on published works, some first hand research may be in order, then there is only one person to blame for any errors.

    For sure Norman Franks has his detractors, including some of the well-known names on this forum, but you cannot take away his enthusiasm for the subject, both for the First and Second World Wars.

    Regards,

    Ian

    PS. I would also admit disappointment over the re-issue of Vol 1 as all it appeared to do was add in the amendments already published in Vols 2 and 3 !
    Last edited by ian94avenge; 24th December 2010 at 20:38. Reason: as PS

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    All of this BoB stuff is way outside my area of specialist interest.

    As Ian says where would we start from if we did not have FCL? I believe the Air Britain serials books are partly informed by records of losses held at the AHB that are different from the Air Ministry records maintained on Form 78 which are available at RAFM. However as a general point, in my research, I have numerous examples of entries of incidents on Form 78 that are dated one day after the record of the incident in the squadron ORB.

    You need to check to the squadron ORB

    Steve

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    Here are some of the results of a quick survey undertaken to compare entries in FCL and its Bomber and Coastal companion volumes to those in 'For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915' (FYT).

    In BCL Vols 1-8 & CCL Vol 1 inclusion of write offs featuring a New Zealand aircrew member coverage is 99% complete.

    With FCL Vols 1-3 (squadron operational and training losses only) the situation is remarkably different:

    Entries common to FYT & FCL (rounded figures) - 170

    Entries in FYT but not found in FCL - 140

    Representing a staggering omission factor of 45%

    At a very rough estimate New Zealanders made up about 3% of aircrew serving in or attached to the RAF during WWII. Extrapolation of the above figures suggests that omissions from FCL run into several thousand, perhaps over4000 even.

    Further, many of the RNZAF personnel who died are not identified as such or wrongly remarked upon; presumably the same applies to members of the other Allied Air Forces. The author seems to have been blissfully unaware of the significance of the CWGC registers to this type of research. It's astonishing that one would even contemplate setting out on such a work without first reviewing this fundamental source. For someone who has published extensively on the subject it is equally astonishing to discover that the author appears not even to understand what actually constituted Fighter Command, ADGB or 2nd Tactical Air Force, or the fact that a 1:3 training/operational loss ratio is not so insignificant as to warrant its being entirely ignored.

    The FCL series should perhaps best be described as 'Selected Fighter Losses', reflecting the difference beween an enthusiast's approach and that of an historian.

    Errol

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    Default G. Atkinson Loss

    Ooops, did not see the entry for August 14th. Ok, I can live with that.

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    Default Atkinson Loss

    In A book such FCL a number of omissions and mistakes will creep in but at least it can be used as a starting point.
    I have noted that another of my interests: Ralph Vincent Hogg, missing from a patrol in December 12, 1940, is also missing. Recently, I pointed this out on another forum and was informed by a poster, who had in turn been informed by N. Franks himself, that this was due to the pilot being killed on a non operational flight, which was not so.
    On George Atkinson, there are a few mistakes as to the date he was shot down: I have made that mistake myself. As already pointed out the correct date is in Battle of Britain Then And Now: It is also in the squadron's ORB, which is online here, hopefully
    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/kelsey.family/World%20War%20II.htm

    Robert.

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    The 151 sqdn history mentioned by Robert also contains its inaccuracies, mostly typos, although in the 1941 section Guy "Scottie" Edmiston is refered to as Edmison. But at least it is another reference for all to use.

    Ian

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    Default In defence of the humble amateur historian

    Hi Errol

    I feel that I have to take issue with your statement:

    "The FCL series should perhaps best be described as 'Selected Fighter Losses', reflecting the difference beween an enthusiast's approach and that of an historian."

    Aren't we all enthusiasts and historians at the same time? Perhaps you have a degree in WW2 aviation history, but I certainly do not; nor has Norman as far as I am aware. I am not defending any omissions/errors that appear in his works, but what is the difference between an enthusiast's approach and that of a historian? And how can one become the other?

    And a Happy New Year to you!

    Cheers
    Brian

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    Brian,

    From just one FCL page:

    Hesslyn should read Hesselyn (a well-kown fighter ace)

    485 (RCAF) Sqn should read 485 (RNZAF) Sqn (twice!)

    B S Wipiti said to have 'Evaded ... Baled out over French coast - evaded and returned to UK 11 months later' but was in fact killed (an easily checked fact)

    C J Shedden should read C J Sheddan (Sheddan's autobio was 'with' Franks!)

    Wipiti, Mortimer, Frehner, Sheddan not identified as RNZAF

    Better had I said a careless enthusiasts approach, perhaps. While an historian can also be an enthusiast it does not automatically follow that an enthusiast is also an historian (degree or not, amateur or not).

    I should add that the above remarks relate to an examination of the RNZAF-related entires only.

    Errol
    Last edited by Errol Martyn; 4th January 2011 at 04:07.

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    Default Norman Franks' books

    I hear and accept what you say, Errol, but we wouldn't be very far down the line without the enthusiast, careless or not. The work of the late Frank Mason invariably gets a lot of flak but he was one of the pioneers on the Battle of Britain, and he inspired many of us to attempt to do better, me included.

    Keep up the good work

    Cheers
    Brian

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