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Thread: Lat WW2 ETO NCO Status/Ranks

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Thanked 67 Times in 62 Posts

    Default Lat WW2 ETO NCO Status/Ranks

    During my 18-month tour of duty as an airman Met Asst during my Nat Svc (in N Africa in the mid-1950s) I did more flying than most. Local piloting/nav instructions in the Pembroke, a “Spare Pair of Eyes” on maritime Exercises in/with/for the detached Malta Shackletons, and a few down-route official air-experience flights in the (then Cyprus based) 70 Sqn Hastings.
    Now these 70 Sqn Hastings had a significantly large number of Master Aircrew (many of Polish extraction). I was surprised at this then – but now understand it. So this is my ‘aircrew experience’ background.
    I (with Mojmir) have been flogging through the ETO POW spreadsheet.
    OK, the ‘unknown ranks’ are likely to have been from the latter part of WW2. Many of the NCO aircrew survivors would have been of senior rank?
    However, I am concerned that a significant number of NCO aircrew POWs are given as of W/O (Warrant Officer) rank/status. More than I would have thought.
    If you look at the various individuals it seems that many were made POW as Sgts/FltSgts but subsequently promoted to W/O (presumably to obtain enhanced accommodation/treatment whilst “in the cage”) but promoted, in absentia, on a time basis?? Is there any indication(s) if there was a policy on this, and how was it implemented?
    On the other hand, was it the policy, in the latter half of WW2, to send senior NCO aircrew on raids wearing a “Tate&Lyle” (even if only as ‘Acting’) on their shoulders/sleeves to ensure they were relatively well looked after in the event of their having a “coming down” in enemy territory?
    This is not ground breaking stuff. It is merely to look at the problem – to gain background information – before folk start doing statistical exercises on the ETO POW data. It will be difficult enough when the data is complete (if ever?).
    Just a thought!!!
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Thanked 15 Times in 15 Posts

    Default Re: Lat WW2 ETO NCO Status/Ranks

    Not a great expert in this subject, and I do not know if and how "promotions whilst in the bag" were handled to any great degree. However it was obvious that the Air Ministry certainly seemed to keep "tabs" on all the NCO aircrew (as well as officers), and any due for "time elapsed promotion", and conforming with policy of having not been awarded any black marks by the normal policy of retaining a "normal command and discipline" structure within the camps, as if it were a VERY detached Flight of a normal RAF Station. It is possible that the Air Ministry sent lists of pending promotions of all ranks to the German Govt, via Switzerland, to be then advised to the COs of all the PoW camps, in some respects somewhat to the procedures followed within the RAF itself (but with some very different twists!) I do not know if any provision could have been made for supply of the new badges - this would have been interesting! Look forward to hearing from those with much knowledge to myself, out in the antipodes.
    David D

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Thanked 55 Times in 55 Posts

    Default Re: Lat WW2 ETO NCO Status/Ranks

    As David posted above - the normal 'Time Promotion' carried on whilst in the 'cage' - these were (mostly) for Temporary Wartime Rank anyway so the Air Min could afford to be generous.
    I have never heard of anybody being given 'Tate and Lyles' just to go on a raid,wartime promotion for NCO Aircrew was fast as long as they survived - and Aircrew had been given SNCO status in 1940 in the hope of slightly better treatment.First tourists would mostly have been at Sgt - Flt Sgt level unless they had spent some considerable time on 2nd line flying duties (QFI or Staff Pilot).
    I do not think that new Rank Badges were routinely supplied to POW's.
    I believe that most Wartime WO Aircrew would have been 'reverted' back to Sgt or perhaps Flt Sgt if very lucky - if they managed to stay on in the peacetime Air Force as Aircrew during the immediate post war period.

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