National Archives UK Free Downloads - Pilot Researchers Wanted!


Due to the pandemic, the National Archives (UK) are offering free downloads of ORBs (summaries, records). This is a great time for users of this site to do extended research on pilots and squadrons.

Our senior editor, Kevin Charles, relies on this resource heavily, and he has noted that during the pandemic, a certain number of monthly downloads are available for free.

I wanted to check this out, by researching a particular pilot I had entered on the site. So the first step is to register online, and, confirm by email your registration. After that, you login and select a squadron and year range. You can then sort by date (most useful) to find the time period you are interested in, perhaps a relative of yours who was in service with a particular squadron at a particular time.

What I found fascinating were the summaries. The C.O.'s tend to describe all squadron activities. In the reports I was interested in, for 416 RCAF Squadron, I noted the records showed the sortie details whereas the summaries gave the big picture, including leaves (pilots on leave comings and goings), training, aircraft replacements and the pilot remarks on these, parties, and of course, action details and missing pilot reports or updates.

You can get going here at the Royal Air Force operations record books 1911-1963.

Where does your interest take you? The Battle of Britain, Malta, or the ferry routes from Brazil to Takoradi Sudan and off to Egypt over jungle and desert, flying over the pyramids perhaps. You can find everything from Normandy and Belgian campaigns, to activity in Italy, the UK, France, North Africa, Australia, Asia, and Germany.

Since our site supports pilot pages which can include serial numbers flown, with sortie notes -- what a great time to update (or add) a pilot to this site from archives material. We'll take it from there, in turn showing all pilots who flew a particular serial, or, all pilots within a particular squadron as entered on the site. Keep the information rolling in, as these constantly yield new discoveries and fill in the details of life on the ground and in the air.


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by: AdeMottram Air 27 index National Archives via RAF Commands website 2021-03-02 10:09:08

Hi Kurt,
If you use this link and type in the Squadron number it will take you straight to the downloadable ORB records in a more user friendly way than by searching on the National Archives Site.


reply: kurtis Thanks Ade 2021-03-02 18:41:46

Thank-you, great stuff.