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, ... read more ...
Lots of entries continue to pour in from enthusiasts and relatives of former pilots. As founder of this site 5 years ago, I am thrilled about the growing database of pilot biographies, regardless of their operational experience. And not just their war efforts (if they survived) what they went on with after the war. And their pre-war histories as well. Who were these men and women that desperately wanted to fly in order to protect the free world from tyranny. That's part of what the site is about, along with operational details, the aircraft they flew, the squadrons they belonged to and so on.
I personally would like to add more software features, to build both feature and function that users of the site (about 3,500 a month) enjoy. There is a lot more to do?
As it's one person doing the development (me), and hosting the site, there are costs. So my question to any reading the blog, if you so choose to support the site, how would you do that, and, what other ideas or features would you like to see. Likely others would want the same.
Any user who visits the 'Spitfire' section of the site where all 22,000+ Spitfire serials can be accessed, will notice that if the page (Spitfire) has any images in it's listing, one will be selected and placed at the top of the page, in large format. Spectacular new detail emerges with this enhancement, as the horizontal nature of the Spitfire images lend themselves to wide full screen display.
See Spitfire LA323 as an example of the new page format. To view others, click 'Spitfires' on the top navigation of the site and select any you see a thumbnail for. It is exciting to see a Spitfire with crew around it in various theatres of operation. These are precious snapshots, some of these images being liberated from attics for the very first time, just like LA323 above.
So how do Spitfire images appear. Users make use of the WIKI feature on this site to source an image, and, upload it to the Spitfire page (by serial) in question after finding it's entry on allspitfirepilots.org. Users can also add a comment to the image (attribution/source) if required, and, other users can then comment on the image or aircraft details in general. ... read more ...
A contributor to the site (nephew of P/O Brian Raises) reached out to us with a request to help him find a picture of his uncle, who was killed in 1942 near Tripoli and whose aircraft was never found. If any 601 squadron enthusiasts may have some photos and can identify Brian Raises, his nephew would be very pleased.
We've pressed our senior editor (Kevin Charles) whose interest is also North African and Italian campaigns of the air war, and Kevin indicates his "finger prints" are all over the internet, but no images seem to exist, at least on an initial search.
In P/O Raises nephew's (Braham Power) words ...
"I am the last of his living relatives as both his sisters ( one of whom was my mother ) have passed and there is no one else. Here is a bit of background;
Braham ( Brian ) Raises born 22/3/1921 Melbourne Victoria.
Pre war he studied law in London, however flying was his passion so he pursued that instead, joining the RAF when war broke out. He served with
54 Squ Feb 42
127 Squ July 42 Scoring a JU87 2/9/42
601 Squ KIA 10/12/42 flying out ... read more ...
Here at allspitfirepilots.org, we've built the world's largest and best collection of Spitfire pilot biographies going into extra-ordinary detail matching pilots to their squadrons (and other squadron pilots), the specific aircraft they flew, with the ability to ask questions, leave a comment, post a picture, or follow a particular pilot (get informed when others add information). Launched in 2015, there has now been 5 years of global contributions including heart-wrenching stories, humorous incidents, recollections from pilots and sons and daughters, legacies preserved.
As the creator (and software developer) of this site, it has been an absolute pleasure to create this very personal and historical site and make it database driven so that the collection of material grows. Being a global resource, submitters (often family members) have posted otherwise 'lost to the attics' material and imagery. They have been able to both add and seek out more information on pilots. Spitfire Pilots from the UK make up a significant number, but so do the Poles, Canadians, Americans, Czechs, Australian, Dutch, Norwegians, South Africans, Belgians, French and so on. Then there are the pilots from India (one in particular still alive and contributing to the site), Brazil, and even the Caribbean. On ... read more ...
The 75th Anniversary triggered us to list several pilots from different countries (pages on this site with full biographies you can click to) in this post who served in North Africa and Italy, so stay tuned, some of our expert contributors are writing up this short-list presently.
The famed 92 Squadron, for which there are now hundreds of pilots here on allspitfirepilots.org thanks to the nephew of F/L Roy Mottram, has seen continuous additions (pilots, serials, bios) on a weekly basis which will in turn allow other relatives to come along and add details.
That's how this site works, and Adrian has done a great service to the memory of these pilots. As a result of his additions, after having found the almost bare listing on this site (brief stats on a log book being held by IWM along with a name/rank), Ade Mottram (nephew) has not only filled in a brilliant tribute to his uncle, but dozens of other 92 / 54 Squadron pilots.
In a pattern we've seen before, one person takes on the task of researching dozens of squadron mates, and this seeds the database for others to find these 'stub' listings and fill in more, including perhaps their own story of how they came to find out so much.
I had the pleasure of watching the movie "303 Squadron" as it premiered at the Ottawa (Canada) EUFF CFI Film festival Nov 25, 2019. The story of the Polish fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain (they flew Hurricanes) is well known and now better known. This film is a must see on the big screen.
Firstly, the film was introduced by the Polish Ambassador to Canada himself (his Excellency Andrzej Kurnicki), who payed tribute to the Polish airmen, their role in the Battle of Britain, and the connection to Canada this particular squadron had. It's Canadian Flight Commander "Johhny" Kent, went on to become an ace himself and survive the war as Wing Commander. Over 8,000 Polish pilots and ground crew escaped from France to England to assist the allies, but the 303 Polish Squadron is particularly famous for it's role in the Battle of Britain with it's high score (128) and skill in taking out the enemy at Britain's most crucial air battles in August and September of 1940. According to an IWM article, "A total of 145 experienced and battle-hardened Polish airmen fought ... read more ...
Photo Reconnaissance Spitfires - What are they and who flew them!?
editors note: This article was submitted by John Bendixsen, son of PRU pilot Flt. Lt. John Bendixsen, who kept detailed notes and an enormous catalog of aerial photos from his WWII missions, many of which have been passed along to me (sub pens, V1 rocket sites, dice missions, bridges, ships). PRU pilots often flew just off the deck on a dice mission, and in John's father's case, flew 100 feet off the deck in Germany to get a close up of a V1 rocket site (we're waiting for that elusive pic!). For any enthusiasts of PRU Spitfires, please read on -- and should you have a PRU Spitfire pilot to add, please click add pilot and we'll build the list. There are a few others on the site, see the squadron list below and I'll point out a few others on the site in time (check back). Of course, the entry for John S Blyth (US) on this site has a link to a now rather famous SUNDANCE film festival documentary with original footage showing Blyth on a dangerous crash land on returning from a PRU mission. ... read more ...