30 May 2020

Findmypast adds WW2 RAF Records

Royal Air Force, Operations Record Books 1939-1945
Findmypast has published an index to these records from The National Archives, not the actual records themselves. However, while TNA is closed to physical access the originals can be downloaded without charge. Now is a great time to take advantage.
My uncle was killed in a Coastal Command accident. His squadron and date of death, found in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database, are all you need with the Findmypast indexes to narrow the possibilities to 24 files arranged chronically. The file for September 1942 from TNA arrived within a minute, his name is among the fatalities. As he was a radio operator some of his last words are likely captured by the report.

British Royal Air Force, Combat Reports 1939-1945
Findmypast makes available an index to records at TNA,  thousands of first-hand accounts from Second World War pilots who engaged enemy aircraft and lived to tell the tale.
Again, to read the actual report you need to download it from TNA which normally costs £3.50 while free during the pandemic closure of TNA. Here is part of the report:

Report by Pilot
The fighter dropped two flairs but did not see us, owing to cloud. I did not see the airraft. I corkscrewed to port on instructions from the Rear Gunner. 

Report by Air Gunner
The Bomb Aimer, who was positioned in the Bomb Aimer’s position, informed the crew that there were two fighter flairs on the starboard bow. A twin-engine aircraft was then sighted making a run in from dead astern, after which it crossed over to the port quarter. I fired to one-second busts in the direction of his line of flight and he dived into cloud and did not reappear. At the time I fired, the range was 150 yards – my aim was point blank. The whole engagement lasted approximately 10 seconds.


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