RAAF biographical files

Accession Number AWM65
Collection type Official Record
Object type Official Record
Date made 1940-1959
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

This series consists of approximately 7,700 files containing biographical details of RAAF personnel who served during the 1939-45 War. The files are arranged in alphabetical order and mainly relate to RAAF officers and non-commissioned officers who passed through No 3 PRC and No 11 PDRC. They are predominantly of RAAF aircrew serving outside the South West Pacific Area. Some files for ground crew are included. Files are also included for Australians serving in the RAF, SAAF, RANVR, RAFVR and RCAF (see list of abbreviations).

The files were compiled for use at the RAAF Overseas Headquarters in London. Their purpose was to collect historical information on Australians serving in the RAAF, RAF and RAFVR who achieved distinction from their operational exploits or distinguished service career (AWM93 item 211/2/2) and they were to be used by the RAAF Historical Records Section. Most of the files contain biographical proforma's issued by RAAF Overseas Headquarters through No 3 PRC and No 11 PDRC. The majority of these forms appear to have been issued and compiled between 1943 and 1945. This date range corresponds with the 1943 appointment of an officer to undertake historical records duties at Overseas Headquarters suggesting these forms may be the result of an active campaign to obtain accurate details of service from RAAF personnel to supplement the previously unsatisfactory record keeping.

After the war the files were retained by the Department of Air in Melbourne. The series was transferred to the Australian War Memorial on 21 January 1963 together with a packing list of the files (AWM93 item 211/2/2, letter of 25 January 1963). The covering letter lists a number of files retained by the Department of Air Historical Sub-section at the time of transfer:

Group Captain C R Caldwell
Air Commodore A H Cobby
Flight Lieutenant A P Goldsmith
Group Captain A B McFarlane
Wing Commander W J McLean
Flying Officer R H Middleton VC
Flight Lieutenant W E Newton VC
Squadron Leader A A N D Pentland
Squadron Leader K W Truscott and
Group Captain J L Waddy.

These files are still retained by the RAAF Historical Section. The composition of each file varies according to the completeness of the information entered on the various forms. Some files contain very detailed information on the forms and various attachments relating to the individual"s service career. Other files contain incomplete forms and no attachments. In general the files contain the following information:

(a) A biographical proforma of personal details completed by the subject upon arrival in the United Kingdom recording name, number, rank, degrees, decorations, present appointment and location, previous service experience, places of training, civilian career and activities, family, address, date embarked and destination.

(b) An end of operational tour proforma completed by the subject recording name, number, rank, ITS (Initial Training School) course, date left Australia, date of arrival in United Kingdom, OTU (Operational Training Unit) -AFU (Advanced Flying Unit) etc, present unit, previous units and details of operations. By 1945 this form also included details of squadrons, aircraft flown, command and type of activity and operations or training with American personnel, squadrons or aircraft.

(c) A copy of decoration citations for awards.

Also included as attachments are press releases and newspaper cuttings, debriefs, transcripts of interviews and any form of publicity relating to the member such as Air Ministry or RAAF bulletins, scripts of BBC "Calling Australia" broadcasts and newspaper reports of death in action, operational exploits, sporting activities, marriages etc. There are also some RAAF Directorate of Public Relations bulletins released in Australia.

At the time of transfer the Department of Air issued instructions that the files should retain a grading of "restricted" (AWM93 item 211/2/2, letter of 25 January 1963). The series was access examined in 1984 and all the items are open.

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