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Library Reference Number: 008

Archives Book Conclusion

Jack Burgess, Scottish Saltire Branch, ACA

This is the conclusion which appeared at the end of the Branch Archives Books presented to Museums. Please note there is no 'next page'. Taking a personal interest in one's Squadron(s) has always been a feature of aircrew life. While undertaking the branch video project, it was an ideal opportunity to draw up an analysis of squadron statistics within our branch. We formulated the following results from the list of branch members shown on next page ======>

The Scottish Saltire Branch membership covered squadrons from No.7 - No.691 Squadron. Of the 135 squadrons represented in our branch, 36 related to more than one branch member. No.207 Squadron holds the record with 5 former members; closely followed by Nos.15, 52, 70 & 148 with 4 former members. Nos.34, 42, 49, 90, 97, 101, 113, 602 & 612 Squadrons have three former members; while Nos.37, 40, 51, 61, 77, 78, 88, 104, 106, 115, 178, 216, 218, 240, 246, 289, 355, 405, 511, 620, 635 & 683 Squadrons all have 2 former members. All this from a total branch membership of 113 at time of writing (December 2000).

Being directly involved in setting up the original Aircrew Association Website, we were also able to extract and print-out squadron history from the Internet (this included RCAF and RAAF records). So far, we have printed and mailed out over 180 copies of relevant Squadron History material to individual branch members having served on those specific Squadrons. As expected, we found that the most widely-flown plane was the Avro Lancaster; 18% of our membership had experienced flying in that aircraft. Many members expressed a great affection for the Stirling aircraft, which they had flown before moving on to the Lancaster. A very wide range of aircraft types emerged during this project, where one pre-ww2 aircrew member listed Hawker Harts, Hinds & Hectors, 12 had flown Spitfires, while at the other end of the spectrum several of our branch members had flown well into the Jet Age. As Lancaster figures show (along with ex-Stirling, Halifax, Wellington members) ex-Bomber Command Europe members are very much in evidence. The survey also shows that all other Commands and areas of conflict during and after WW2 are well represented within the branch. One member had flown 42 different types of 1, 2 & 4-engined aircraft, another had flown 18 types, while yet another had experience of 8 different Mks when flying Spitfires.

Like members of other ACA branches, we are very mindful of the many aircrew colleagues who failed to return. We are thankful therefore to be classified 'survivors'. Some members flew deep into Japanese territory fully aware of the horrific and barbaric consequences of being forced down. Two of our members survived ditching in the sea, while six times that number survived crashing on dry land. Seven branch members were P.O.W.s in Europe, three being held in the same POW camp (unknown until revealed in this survey). Another branch member evaded capture after baling out over France and returned to UK in a Special Duties Hudson. There was evidence of the aircrew bond extending beyond national barriers when a passing Luftwaffe officer spotted one of our captured aircrew members, came over, offered a cigarette and said "Good luck!"

There was ample evidence in the project of the huge variety and diverse flying duties our members were asked to carry out. In addition to what one may expect to see in 'bomber & fighter roles'; branch members came up with information on special duties, photo-reconnaissance, pathfinder, air-sea-rescue, glider-towing, and other specialist flying duties. To enable all this to happen, the branch also contains former members of Training Command, also Instructors involved in Navigation, Bombing, Gunnery instruction, without whose professionalism in passing on their skills, the ever-demanding number of aircrew required could never have been acquired. The environment in which those Instructors operated was not always in UK., but occurred in many overseas areas such as USA, Canada, West Indies, Rhodesia, South Africa, Middle East & Far East. To also enhance the cosmopolitan nature of branch membership, it was revealed that quite a few of our members flew with RCAF, RAAF & SAAF. aircrews. As if to emphasise this point, the present Branch Hon Treasurer is a former RCAF member. Finally, it will be noted that names have not been related to above events. The intention was not to distract the reader, who may find it more interesting to study the preceding pages and discover for oneself "how it was at that time!"

Acknowledgement is hereby given to all branch members whose willing co-operation during the Project, and whose additional contributions of 'aircrew experiences' have made this publication possible. In closing, we can only reiterate the statement made by President Bill Reid in his 'Introduction' to this Book:- "We are now losing a few members as ageing creeps up, but I feel we are able to hold on to our numbers, as ex-aircrew members are still joining us, and general interest is still increasing - - - - and long may this last !!

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