Insight #2: Expanding the detail on Manston’s history
We hope to continue to expand posts on both Facebook and the website in due course after referring to the records available from the National Archives and other sources, including records from the Squadrons. These records are known as ORB (Operational Record Books) and you would have seen a number of them quoted directly on our Facebook feed. Unfortunately they either require vast amounts of time spent at Kew (probably achievable for professional researchers connected to book publications), or those that have been digitised so far are available to download, but are often split into many sections at £3.50 each. There can be two main documents per month especially when a squadron is busy – a ‘Summary of events’ Form 540 and a ‘detail of work carried out’ Form 541. You can see both the cost and time easily mounts up.
In addition there can be appendices and there are also individual combat reports, reports from Wings and Groups and Station ORB.
Obviously there are therefore costs in time and money to get the real detail, so we are extremely thankful for the contributions of other researchers such as Mark Crame who allow us to use their transcriptions, in Mark’s case, No.609 Sqn. Finding copies of ORBs on the internet is actually pretty rare even in this age. There can be a type of ‘lucky dip’ anticipation when obtaining records to see what content there actually is – the No.609 Sqn records are well known for being amazingly detailed with a great amount of background information and, considering when they were often written, often great humour, but often elsewhere, detail can be scant.
So, as you can see, a long way to go yet and that doesn’t even cover items of interest from the multitude of published books that make references to Manston that we are also attempting to refer to. Neither does it take any account of the multiple cross references that are required for all of the ‘facts’ as often details differ between sources or contain additional information. Often mysteries or differences remain, so we try to mention these rather than compound any reproduction of incorrect information.
In addition, it is a seemingly forever moving playing field, as new events are often come across daily that would need research.
In addition to daily events and the posts on specific subject matters, we are currently attempting to bring more detail to the timeline for the dates that units (Squadrons etc) were based at Manston. Those can be complicated when Squadrons have been posted as detachments or have used Manston as a forward base.
Hopefully, like us, followers will realise that the amount of history connected to Manston over the years is vast – definitely far more than we anticipated when this project was first considered. Hopefully you may forgive us if from time to time we take a break!