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Looking for someone with experience with ORB entries.


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I have a section of an ORB for No.2 (AC) Sqd RAF covering the period of Nov 43. I am wondering why a known Cat E crash (fatal) that occurred on 11/11/43 is not listed there (AIR 27/19/44, detail of work carried out), but 2 other sorties flown that day are? The fatal accident is entered in AIR 27/19/45 (RAF Form 540 summary of events). Would such an event not normally be recorded in the former, but rather the latter, or could it simply have been an oversight? If an oversight, why not just go back and correct the entry for that days sorties as there is room to add it. I'm sure there are a few members here that have extensive experience with ORB's and can probably shed some light on this. Thanks for any and all help.

 

TBC

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I've often wondered about this. Record of Events and Summary of Events vary in their supposed role. One should list raids in detail (crew, bomb load, target etc) while the other should include more general reportage. Accidents however, had their own reporting procedures and sometimes I think the compiler felt that he was supping with the Devil by just recording a brief note on accidents, if even that. I have seen ORB's with just the scantiest detail for such as collisions between bombers, for instance, with a corresponding high mortality, but include copious notes about clouds and weather. These people know that a Court of Enquiry will sit in judgment at a later date and fear rocking the boat by listing even the barest facts.

This, I think, is why poor gen is often included. Vague recording like: "Crashed ten miles N of Nottingham" or similar, is often the only reference recorded, when, a day later, much more could have been added for posterity, co-ords, nearest farm or road etc.  

What I'd like to see is the C of E notes (if they still exist) I used to imagine that ORBs would be full of photos, code/serial tie-ups and notes about camouflage etc. Not a chance!

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There are as many reasons as you can imagine for the failure to record information accurately in ORBs - laziness, unwillingness to record unpalatable truths, inability of the typist to interpret the spider scrawl of the responsible officer, lack of time, lack of interest, operational pressures, direction by the unit CO.  You name it, there will be some reason but trying to work out why for a particular ORB at a particular timeframe is rather futile.   

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No excuse really because ORB's were collated weeks after the events and presumably so were the general events of the days, including accidents, postings In/Out and promotions etc.. More details would have been known later in the week(s)

 I too have seen entries such as 'Aircraft fell 3 miles South of the airfield' which in reality was an aircraft on an air test and disintegrated in the air and fell into the village 3 mls south of the airfield with all 10 aircrew being  killed.

Edited by Mancunian airman
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While passage of time may have resulted in some details being omitted due to oversight or details being forgotten, it's not true to say they were always collated weeks after the events.  Sometimes yes but not always.  I've seen some instances where ORBs were filled out on a daily basis, some even being handwritten rather than typed due to the operational imperatives.  One must also balance whether there was any real value in updating the records after the events.  Bear in mind the officers in charge of ORBs were seeing their friends die on an almost daily basis.  Going back over old ground may have been too painful for some and would add nothing to the operational narrative.  Squadrons are interested primarily in the number of aircraft and crews available for operations, not specific details on where aircraft were lost.   

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There is a possible simple answer to the omission of the crash from the Form 541 (presumably although you do not name it as such. This document was officially for the recording of operational flights only; if the accident occurred, for example, on an air test or a training flight, there would be no requirement to record it on the 541.  Some squadrons did (incorrectly) record all flights on the 541, but they were the exception rather than the rule.

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I agree with Chris.  Training incidents and accidents are often/usually absent in the Form 541.  Detail may be in any crew movements or the monthly summaries or the base ORB.  Obviously there are exceptions.  My experience is mostly confined to UK-based bomber squadrons.

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Interesting, replies. I've found that the RCAF have published a number of their Squadron ORBs on their website for all to see. I had a friend who flew for 403sqn and I found it interesting, and puzzling reading about events I'd heard about being mentioned or not. Sometimes nights out in London are mentioned and other times significant operational losses are hardly mentioned, when I know they hit home hard. Mhaselden's suggestions as to some of the human factors behind why make a lot of sense to me.

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