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Remembered Today:

Annotation of No. 81 Sqn possibly meant to be No. 81 Trg Sqn? (AM60/MGPR1)


SamCurt
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Hello all,

While compiling info on John William GILLIS, I only recently became aware of a possible anomaly recorded in his AM60/MGPR1 Officer Service Record entries as shown below, which were obviously compiled at a later date.

 

Transferring from Canadian Forces into the RFC, it has been found that after attending No. 8 OCB at Lichfield, he moved on to the SMA at Reading in July 1917.  Passing their courses, and becoming a cadet in the "Imperial Army," he was posted to No. 47 Training Squadron at Waddington for elementary flying instruction (during which time he visited and flew over his nearby old school, having been raised in the UK before emigrating to Canada).

 

After commission as a temp/on prob 2nd Lt. became effective, the AM60/MGPR1 documents record that he went to "81 Sqn, 23rd Wing" the next day (27 Sep 17), before being posted to No. 11 Training Squadron as a Flying Officer in mid-January, then eventually back to No. 81 Sqn in March before being bounced around various "pools".

On 5 January 1918, he got married in Hackthorn, just up the road from Scampton village, where, as a 2nd Lt in the RFC, his abode was recorded as "Scampton," i.e. not the military camp.

Spending some time back in Canada (July to October 1918, with shipping manifests recording his "last permanent residence" as the home of his new wife's parents in north Wales), he returned to No. 34 TDS (Scampton), where a Medical Board in December recommended him for discharge (Cat F) - at some point he had been injured, "on active service," leading to the loss of part of his left forefinger.

 

Given that this gentleman can be placed in the Lincoln area - 47 TS, 11 TS, 34 TDS, school visits, marriage, 16 Trg Grp/NE Pool - is it possible that the AM60/MGPR1 entries for No. 81 Sqn (who I believe were at Gosport), should have been No. 81 Training Squadron (23rd Wing), co-located at Brattleby/Scampton with No. 11 TS?

 

By the looks of it, the clerks compiling his two Officer Service Record sheets were working from the same source.

 

Thanks,
Sam

AM60.jpg

MGPR1.jpg

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Hi Sam,

 

If this is the same chap then the transfer from CEF to RFC would suggest that he was a cadet prior to being commissioned:

 

https://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.item/?op=pdf&app=CEF&id=B3550-S002

 

In that regard there's probably an AIR 79 file somewhere. 

 

The 'N.E.' in his case is more likely to be 'non-effective' (i.e. sick, injured) rather than a North East location, notwithstanding the geographical location of many of his postings.

 

The extract from his officer's file from which you quote would almost certainly confirm a mis-transcription, and that it'd be 81 Training Squadron. As you've noted, Nos. 81 TS and 11 TS were reorganized into 34 TDS.

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Hi there "Airshipped"

 

Thanks for the reply.  I'd already found the Canadian records, and he was indeed a cadet at No. 8 OCB, Lichfield, in March 1917 as noted above, but no corresponding AIR 79 has been found for his time with the RFC/RAF (although it was an "electronic" search at TNA website).

 

Thanks also for the "non-effective" reference, which makes sense given his injury & eventual discharge, plus confirmation that it's not just me who thinks the "Lincoln" connection was a bit too co-incidental.

 

Apart from him lying about his age to join the CEF (not uncommon, but corrected on his RFC/RAF paperwork), details found for his bio throws up quite a few questions... like who really was his father?  From what I've found, although the gentleman identified on his Officer Service Record was a policeman, it doesn't appear to have been his father although annotated as such.

 

Just for info, the aviation link continued post-war, when he later emigrated permanently to the US and became manager if the The Long Island Aviation Country Club, Hicksville, New York, although it's not known if he used their pool and tennis courts!

 

Thanks again,

Sam

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81 Squadron was at Scampton, moving in from Gosport on 15 January 1917, eight days after its formation at Gosport. It was initially intended to receive the RFC's anticipated Sopwith Triplanes, but that didn't happen. It effectively served as a training squadron with Avros and Bristol Scouts but later also received numbers of Strutters, SPAD S.VIIs, Pups and Camels, as well as a few Sopwith Dolphins. The squadron disbanded into 34 TDS at Scampton on 4 July1918.

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Hi Mick,

 

Thanks for the info re 81 Squadron/Gosport dates.  Having been caught out before, was it still officially named 81 Squadron when carrying out the training duties at Scampton, or was it renamed as a Training Squadron?

 

Sam

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On 15/06/2021 at 12:39, SamCurt said:

Hi Mick,

 

Thanks for the info re 81 Squadron/Gosport dates.  Having been caught out before, was it still officially named 81 Squadron when carrying out the training duties at Scampton, or was it renamed as a Training Squadron?

 

Sam

81 Squadron throughout its existence. 81 (Canadian) Reserve (later Training) Squadron formed at Beaulieu on 9 February 1917 and sailed for Canada that month, being initially based at Camp Borden.

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Thanks Mick, and apologies Sam,

 

I thought I was quoting from my trusty copy of Sturtivant's 'Flying Training and Support Units since 1912' but upon re-reading (p.275 of my edition) it's quite clear that No. 34 TDS Scampton's predecessors were Nos. 11 and 60 TS and No. 81 Sqdn.

 

As Mick as pointed out, No. 81 (Canadian) Training (Ex-Reserve) Squadron sailed on the SS Grampian for Canada in February 1917. Mea culpa!

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