|Historical sources and standard research documents|
Updated: 17 Jan 12
Stn Operations Record Book RAF Form 540
The Operations Record Book RAF Form 540 is essentially the Operational
Diary of an RAF Station. Like the Squadron ORB RAF Form
540, this ORB records the daily occurrences on the station. The ORB
(often made up of a number of books) was opened when an RAF Station became
operational and was closed when the Station ceased to be an
The Station ORB is a valuable document to aid research on squadrons as
it records the build up to the formation and records
the activities of flying units from a station view point. Unlike the Squadron
Form 540 it does not records the postings in and out of Squadron
aircrew personnel, but it does record
the postings in and out of certain station and admin personnel, some
whom were serving with the Squadrons.
Operations Record Book RAF Form 540
The RAF Form 540 is essentially the
Squadron Diary, containing the daily record of occurrences on the Squadron.
Entries include notifications
of operations, details of postings in and out of aircrew and Squadron
staff (ground crew members are recorded elsewhere) promotions, honours
and awards and listings of aircrew who are either injured, missing
Squadron Operations Record Book RAF Form 541
The Form 541 is the record of work carried out
by the Squadron. It contains full details of all operations and operational
by the Squadron
aircrews. Each entry includes the following information:
Aircraft Movement Cards Air Ministry Form 78
The aircraft movement cards were used to record all movements of an aircraft. It was raised by the Air Ministry and recorded the company who built the aircraft and contract number. Also included were the aircraft type, its RAF serial number and the type of engines fitted. These cards then went on to record every movement of the aircraft, with dates, from the time it left the factory for allocation to a unit or Squadron to the time it was lost, damaged beyond repair or scrapped. If the aircraft was transferred to another Squadron, this was recorded on the card, along with the date of the move. If the aircraft was damaged, the date and type of repair was recorded on the card. These cards are a valuable addition to the records as they help to build up a complete individual history of any individual aircraft.
Every encounter with an enemy aircraft by Squadron
aircrews was entered on to a Combat Report. These reports contain all
the information relating
to such an encounter and include the Squadron’s aircraft details,
the date, the longitude and latitude of the encounter, the time, the
height and a full account of the actual combat that took place. The reports
also include the names of the Gunners who engaged the enemy aircraft
and the number of rounds they fired. If the identity of the enemy aircraft
could be established, this was also included.
Bomber Command Loss Cards
Bomber Command created a card to register the
loss of aircraft on operational sorties, these cards are a pre-printed
form which is filled in whenever
an aircraft was lost. The data recorded on the cards was then used to
try and identify ways of reducing losses. The data on the front of the
cards normally includes the date, the aircraft’s details, the Squadron
or unit, the target, the bomb load and the service numbers, ranks, names
and fate of the crew.
Aircrew Log Books
Copies of Aircrew Log Books are a valuable addition to the records, they give a first hand account of an airman’s training and operational tour with the Squadron. They also offer a very good cross reference medium to the Squadron ORBs and they can help clear up any ambiguities in the recording of the Squadron’s official records. Many Log Books also contain comments and notes made at the time which you would not normally find in the Squadron’s own records. Some Log Books have been know to include drawings and sketches made by airman and can give a very personal view and insight into his time with the Squadron. Additionally the Log Books are the only place that training and other non-operational sorties were recorded, they were never recorded in the Squadron’s ORBs.
Aircraft Accident Record Card Air Ministry Form 1180
The Air Ministry Aircraft Accident Record
Cards were designed to record any accidents involving RAF aircraft so
that the causes could be analysed
and any resulting data could be used in accident prevention. The cards
were in a form design and were filled in by hand, writing the available
information in the various pre-printed boxes on the cards.
Orders For Flying
Orders For Flying, as the name suggests, was a list of Squadron aircrews who were detailed to fly on a particular operation. These orders were posted on the Squadron notice board for the information of all Squadron aircrew members. The document lists the aircraft serial numbers and Squadron code detailed for the operation and the rank and names of the crews assigned to each aircraft. They also included the names of those Squadron aircrew members who were detailed to be Officer i/c Flying, Duty Officer, Reporting Officer and NCOs and Duty NCO for that particular date. It also detailed a spare aircraft, should an operational aircraft go unserviceable, and a spare crew. This document is useful for cross referencing the ORB to confirm which crews and aircraft flew on any particular operation. Again not many copies of these orders have survived but searches of various Bomber Command files at the National Archives can turn up copies.
Escape and Evaders Reports
There are many documents relating to the subjects of Prisoners of War and Escape and Evaders within the National Archives at Kew. Some are fairly easy to find as they are filed under the titles of Prisoners of War. They give details of those aircrew members who were captured and confined in one or other of the many prisoner of war camps though only the briefest of details are available. Usually the number rank and name of the POW and the name and number of the camp is available. Other records are not so easy to find as they seem to be distributed amongst various files relating to the RAF, Bomber Command and other related files. Of interest to me are the files containing the various reports of escapees and evaders which give details of how particular aircrew members managed to escape capture and evade the enemy after their aircraft had been lost over enemy territory. Many of these airmen might have been the only survivors of their crew and their accounts of being on the run in enemy occupied territory are fascinating to read.
Station Narratives were raised by the Station to report to Group Headquarters on the circumstances surrounding the loss of an aircraft or an incident involving an aircraft during an operational sortie. They give a detailed account of the loss or incident with information taken from the de-briefing interviews of aircrew members who survived. They include the date, take off time, the target, full details of the crew and details of the aircraft. Most give very detailed accounts of an incident. They can be found distributed in many different locations within the files of the National Archive and the RAF Historical Branch.
This article is based on an original webpage on the 626 Sqn website.
> RAF history in Lincolnshire
> The command structure
> Airfield information
> Other historical pages
History of the RNAS on the Fleet Air Arm Archive
powered by blueconsultancy