All above: © Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia) 2011.
From King’s Regulations and Air Council Instructions for the Royal Air Force 1943
Section II – The Certificate of Service
Preparation for Recruits:-
The Officer i/c Records will, as soon as the attestation of a recruit has been approved, prepare a certificate of service (Form 280) for him from the attestation paper. He will enter on the certificate the airman’s full name, official number, date and place of birth, age on entry, occupation in civil life, trade in the RAF, religious denomination, details of his engagement in H.M. forces, if married the particulars of the marriage, and the airman’s personal description. The form will then be forwarded to the unit to which the airman is posted with his other service documents.
Documents to be enclosed in Form 280:-
The following documents relating to an airman will be kept enclosed in his certificate of service as and when their preperation for him becomes necessary.
(a) Record of trade test (flimsy of Form 167).
(c) Absent voter’s card (Form 514).
(d) Miscellaneous record sheet (Form 125).
(e) The original service certificate, or an authenticated copy thereof, of an airman who transferred from the RN, RM or Royal Naval Air Service to the RAF.
(f) A Form 200 prepared by the Officer i/c Records from his military documents, for an airman who transferred from the Army, including Royal Flying Corps, to the RAF.
(g) The Form 280 of a discharged airman who re-enlists.
(j) A certificate awarded under the provisions of para 251. (Long Service and Good Conduct Medal – Certificate to Ex-Naval Ratings – Ross)
(k) Service and general conduct sheets (Forms 120 and 121)
(l) Publications (Personal Issues) Card (Form 506)
Pins will not be used in attaching documents to the certificate of service.
More about Form 280
This document formed the wrapper for an airmans Record of Service as well as being a contents/index to all enclosed documents.
In researching the service of an airman it is the prime source document that can be obtained.
Innsworth used to occasionally provide a photocopy of the Form 280 to a serviceman on request but in recent times disclosure is mainly Form 543A which contains an edited subset of the detail entered on the corresponding Form 280.
Form 280 was kept very remote, group headquarter copied a sub set and created another Form 1580 for use as field form but units did very little to administer records using the
Form 747 Casualty Form as a means of transmitting POR for all men, fit as well as casualty. The bones of info in Form 747 were extracted at group and the info altered onto Form 1580 there.
I hope that procedure will become clearer as I add the subsequent Forms or their description for use.
As to Form 543A I’ve got a request out for chapter and verse but at the moment the best way to consider it is as an admin check sheet for Personnel Officers rather than a complete service record.
To clarify if a Form 280 survives.
All documents created by the RAF and accruing in both RAF units and the RAF Record Office had a defined period after which they could be destroyed.
In 1943/44 the List of document types had been laid down in the Public Record Office Act, 1877 and updated in 1927.
From King’s Regulations and Air Council Instructions
For Documents in the RAF Record Office:
22 Service Documents of Airmen:-
(a) Certificates of service – Fifteen years after the airman becomes non-effective.
(b) Miscellaneous Record Sheets – Fifteen years after the airman becomes non-effective.
(c) Trade Index Cards – Fifteen years after the airman becomes non-effective.
(d) Medical History Envelopes and documents..
..Fifteen years after the airman becomes non-effective.
23 Conduct Sheets:-
Fifteen years after the airman becomes non-effective.
24 Technical Qualification forms:-
(a) Results of courses of instruction and examinations – Five years after the airman becomes non-effective.
(b) Certificates of passing out – Five years after the airman becomes non-effective.
(c) Choice of Trade – Five years after the airman becomes non-effective.
(d) Character and Trade Proficiency – Five years after the airman becomes non-effective.
(e) Techncal History Sheets – Five years after the airman becomes non-effective.
For Documents in RAF Units
19 Nominal Rolls of temporary importance:-
[Nominal Rolls of Units and others giving important informantion will be preserved.]
Note:-A Ledger Sheet is maintained which gives the full details of the airman’s service, particulars of marriages, and births of children, medical history, trade particulars, &cc; and it is proposed that this Ledger Sheet shall be permanently preserved. It is considered that this record will be sufficient to deal with all future enquiries.
For the purpose of this Schedule the term “becomes non-effective” should be deemed to be the date on which an airman is taken off the strength of the Royal Air Force, or R.A.F. Reserve, whichever is the later.
So after 1 year documents held on the unit were destroyed and headings transferred onto a Ledger Sheet for permament retention.
After 5 years the contents of Form 280 were destroyed and the “contents wrap” retained
After 15 years the Form 280 was to destroyed.
The only document to be preserved was the Ledger Sheet or to give it it’s RAF Form Number: Form 543.