RAF Casualty Packs 1939-45 Public Access & MOD Appeal for volunteers

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by RAFCommands, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    In 2012 the MoD undertook a consultation into the views of interested parties in releasing RAF Casualty Packs from the period 1939 to 1945 to public access at The National Archives.

    Please note the extent is limited to FB or Battle losses, FA or Accident Losses are excluded from the current consultation.

    The Outcome of the consultation has now been published.


    The headline is:

    "MOD will therefore commence transfer of the RAF casualty packs to The National Archives in 2013. The packs will be released in date order, commencing with those created in 1939."

    When I approached the TNA for confirmation the reply was

    "We have agreed with MoD to select the RAF Casualty Packs. AIR 81/1-1488 are currently in the process of being catalogued and prepared for transfer to TNA."

    It's a welcome start to opening up access to mirror that of Canada, and Australia - will not happen overnight but at least it is starting.

    Drew5233 and CL1 like this.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Ross thank you for posting

  3. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    There's been a place holder in TNA catalogue for these for some time and I've been keeping a regular eagle and eager eye on it.
    Here's the description from the catalogue entry:

  4. me474

    me474 Junior Member

    ROSS, many thanks for the posting, its good news, about time we caught up with the archives in AUSTRALIA & CANADA.
    It may take several years but worth the wait I expect if they contain the details that are available in some of the RAAF & RCAF digitised records.
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Lee - They could be a nice little cataloguing project for someone ;)
  6. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Drew5233 likes this.
  7. nickb

    nickb Member

    This will be a very valuable resource (at last) but I noticed that these records are to be vetted before they are released to some extent anyway, post 1948 information for example.

    Will it be down to the individual that is given the task to copy that file to decide that a piece of information could be construed as "sensitive"? I hope not as even though the content is of a sensitive nature it would still be a vital part of the story.

    Personally I would hope that whatever is in the file, that is then copied and released.
  8. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    I suspect any redactions will be related to data protection of potentially still living individuals like next of kin. For example, Merchant Marine seaman's pouches have all national insurance numbers and fingerprints redacted for data protection act reasons in case the seaman is still alive.

    TNA are now much more sensitive to this than they were a few years ago.
  9. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

    The recent identification in France of an unidentified Hurricane Pilot killed in May purely from records (prompted by an excavation by aviation archaeologists) shows how valuable these would be in the public domain.

    As for sensitive information, I have researched my father's cousin and had a description from the German who buried the crew in the village cemetery as to what state they were in. Did I think they came down from 22'000 feet, crashed and blew up and lay there with the gentle breeze ruffling their hair ? No. Does the fact that there were picked up in sacks and put on a cart to the local cemetery diminish my respect for them ? No.

    Are people more intelligent than the Govt. think we are, I suspect yes. Many are available from Australia and Canada archives, Do I think we are being treated like children ? Yes
  10. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

  11. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    More information from the National Archives:
  12. PeteT

    PeteT Senior Member

    I wonder why the National Archives didn't digitise them so that they could be downloaded rather than ordered. Seems like an opportunity missed, but at least they are now available (although the one I urgently need from 1943 is a long way off being available!)


  13. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Well Pete, as TNA haven't digitised them, I'll jolly well have a good go at doing them instead ;-)

    Hope to get at least one or two of them tomorrow.
  14. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    I took a look at AIR 81/1 today.

    The description for this casualty pack is:

    "Pilot Officer W J Murphy, Flight Lieutenant W F Barton, Flying Officer H L Emden, Flying Officer H B Lightoller, Flying Officer J F Ross, Aircraftman 1st Class R Evans, Sergeant L R Ward, Sergeant S G M Otty, Corporal J L Ricketts, Aircraftman 2nd Class E Pateman, Sergeant O L D Howells, Aircraftman 1st Class E W Lyon and Sergeant A S Prince: report of deaths. Sergeant G F Booth and Aircraftman 2nd Class L J Slattery: prisoners of war. Pilot Sergeant R C Grossey: missing presumed dead; raid by Blenheims N6199, N6184, N6186, N6189 and N6240 on Wilhelmshaven, 4 September 1939"

    It makes rather sombre reading. The file is around 400 to 500 pages with varied contents including the identity disks of several of the aircrew. There are notifications from Germany sent via the Red Cross and even includes two post-mortem reports conducted by a German medical examiner. Correspondence with next of kin was the most harrowing parts to read. The file also contained exhumation reports of the deceased and details of their re-internment. There were notes that the deceased aircrew had been given a burial with military honours and photographs of it had been supplied through the Red Cross.

    A sticker on the cover of file said it contained distressing photographs but there were not any in this particular file. However, it is not difficult to imagine the nature of photographs likely to be present in other of the casualty packs that might accompany the exhumation reports.
  15. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

    It's actually got their DISCS in there !!??

    Wow, that is history in your hand, the discs of the first unfortunate WW2 RAF casualties of a long list to come.

    I object to the removal of any info from these packs, but I feel these should be in the RAF museum
  16. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Have any more packs been released since the batch at the start of the year?


  17. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

  18. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Out of interest has this moved on any further? most of the casualties I'm looking to research aren't until 1943 on.


  19. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Alistair, the last batch of casualty packs were released in July 2014 which brought them up to August 1940.
    I guess another release must be due soon but it looks like it's going to take years before they are all open.
    AB64 likes this.
  20. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Cheers Lee, You wonder why they start things if they aren't going to keep some momentum


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