Thoughts And Advice Needed - 50MU Diary

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Today I have been fortunate enough to talk to the owner of the daily log of the 'gang boss' of a 50MU salvage and recovery crew. Some of it (Jan-Aug1940) was transcribed onto a website, but there is much more in there - precise locations, serials and full descriptions of hundreds of incidents and recovery operations across the South West.

The owner - the chap's daughter - is keen to lodge the typed original with an appropriate museum or repository. I think it's important that this happens - but I am not sure who would take this on?

Matt

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Profile picture for user Sabrejet

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RAF Museum: it would then be accessible to researchers.

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Would they be even slightly interested, do you think? As you say that I will give them a call.

Unfortunately giving a document to a national collection guarantees it will not be available to researchers for several years or in the case of the IWM several decades.

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I would certainly be interested in a sight or copy of it, as several of the entries related to incidents near me in South Wales. Whilst looking for eyewitnesses to 53OTU losses a few years back I met an old gentleman resting his aged bicycle near the war memorial outside st Athan village. He wasn't in the area during the war, he'd been in Kent digging up crashed aircraft with an MU. Small world. He hadn't kept a diary, I did ask.

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Yep - thinking about it now I will suggest that the whole thing is scanned before being lodged anywhere. Then it can just sit somewhere on t'internet.

Sabrejet I guess you are right, it would be the natural home for it. I just hope they see that too.

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50 MU was here at Cowley, Oxford, and was part of MPRD, over the years I have talked to several members of 50 MU but sadly non kept records.
We have searched the 6or 7 fields around the site over the years and found many interesting items

Jules

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Our diarist was the head of one of several 50MU crews seconded to Wellington Road Taunton (now a Tesco car park) in 1940 in support of 67MU. Salvage was taken back to Taunton for stripping of armament and ordnance and then laid out on the sports fields behind to await a QM from Cowley for shipping back to the MPRD there. What did you find, Jules?

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In praise of the RAF Museum, I have used their archives many times, and unlike many museums (not just aviation), the RAFM archiving cannot be faulted: documents are easy to find and in one instance whilst doing research on the HP.42, they were able to locate log books from those who flew them in RAF service, so their cataloguing system is pretty impressive! I doubt many museums would be able to do that.

RAFM also holds copied documents, so I'd suggest lodging a copy with RAFM and placing the original maybe somewhere that it would be on public view. However, just bear in mind security when placing the primary document with a museum.

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I would say the national archives. Thats where all the ORBs are kept, 50mu records will be there too

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I would love to see such a diary for 58 MU Newark. The ORB for it is crushingly dull-throughout my teenage years I thought it would be an explicit diary. Photos, dates, locations by grid refs, the lot. Oh well. You could ask the TNA if they will lodge a copy (maybe they will only accept a printed copy) to keep alongside AIR29/1009, the records of 50 MU Cowley.

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Like Ju, I would liove to see a copy of the diary due to links with 50MU and area!

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TNA isn't really the correct place: they deal with official records handed down by the AHB, MOD etc, rather than personal accounts. I'm also not sure how/if TNA deals with loans/donations in the same way as RAFM.

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For a while now, having been disappointed with the ORB's of MU's generally, I have wondered whether there wasn't a separate class of document kept for the recording of specific recoveries that has not resurfaced in the NA. It would be strange if no record was kept bearing in mind the complex and resource-intensive logistical excersises that attended many salvage operations - yet none of this appears in MU ORB's as made available by the National Archive.

Profile picture for user OneEighthBit

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Oxford County Records Office?

I, like others, would love to see a copy as a lot of Hotspur gliders went through 50 MU.

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Hi

Great find :)

My thoughts RAFM, after being scanned.

It is then potentialy available to researchers worldwide.

at a local record office probably not so, and possibly prohibitive for non uk researchers.

I was allowed to copy a 67MU private diary many years ago, it was a wealth of info on codes.

but it had a few serials that were supposedly not issued, or of a wrong a/c type, and was only a list of those a/c seen by the writer

cheers
jerry

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I will not say this reply applies everywhere, but it is a cautionary tale I believe. I have been dealing with one counties museum, library and archive services and Mrs WZ is a volunteer in one section of it and confirms my external observation. The solidity of these organisations is being rocked by budget and staff cuts. Documents are being lost and staff churn means there is sometimes a lack of corporate knowledge and memory as to what is there and where it is, as re-filing does not take place. Trevor Kletz wrote, "Organisations have no memory, only people have memories, and they move on".

Digitise the record. and by all means lodge a copy locally, but do offer copies to IWM, RAFM, British Library and air museums that have research facilities. Take advantage of websites such as this, AIX WW2 to publicise the existence and location of your copies. Make sure the original has a safe home for when you have gone blue skies. Store copies on open cloud sites. Just a few ideas there. Good luck.

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Thanks WZ, and all. I have mailed the RAFM - and will ensure the whole thing gets electronically copied first.

I don't have it, it's with June, the owner. But I'll flag up where it sits as a digital copy when it's done!

Matt

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Good work Beermat: many would keep it all to themselves (like many a pilot's logbook) or worse still place it on Fleabay.

I have in the past referred to transcriptions of this diary and can attest to its worth in real (not monetary) terms.

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I have started to receive installments of the scanned document from the owner, and when complete I will put it in the cloud and post a link here. In the meantime, how's this for a 'taster'.. the middle page is astounding, recovering a Hurricane from Chesil Beach in the middle of an air battle..
[ATTACH=CONFIG]251776[/ATTACH]

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that's fantastic reading Matt, i'm looking forward to seeing more.

well done for flagging the importance of this up.

Jules