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RAF Bomber Command: Effectively Searching The Database
IMPORTANT: Read These Search Tips
Our databases employ MySQL to conduct Searches. This language does not allow certain words to be included in a Search. These are mainly programmer-centric words which are not commonly used in normal Searches. However, the words DOWN and ELSE are restricted and since these are sometimes used as names, they unfortunately cannot be Searched for. To overcome this limitation, we have changed all names Down into Downe, and all names Else into Elsee. Search for these changed names and you will find what you are looking for. In each case we have noted the change in the record itself.


This page may open with a sample Search for illustration, otherwise try Adams.
Creative researchers are likely to find golden threads to research through an imaginative use of the power and flexibility now offered. The data has always been there of course, but seeing the connections has hitherto been problematical: sometimes the needle gets hidden in the haystack. This facility changes that.

To get started, put a name in the Search box, for example Adams. The result is all the Adams in the database. From this first Search you can become familiar with the layout of the database which will enable you to conduct more complex Searches.

SEARCH on Squadron Because our database technology cannot search for less than a 3 letter or digit sequence, this means we cannot search for a single digit Squadron such as 7, or a double digit squadron such as 10. BUT we have fixed that problem. All Squadrons are identified in our database by their Squadron Number PLUS the label 'Sqd'. Therefore, if you want to search for a particular squadron (say 7 Squadron) then search for '7 Sqd'.

SEARCH on Air Force: omit periods, thus RAAF and not R.A.A.F

SEARCH on Date the original data for this database used many variations to record dates. We have programatically changed all variants to a standard format yyyy-mm-dd so that SORT or SEARCH can be performed. If you want to Search on a date you MUST use this format, thus: 1943-03-10 including the hyphens.

A NOTE ON DATES AND TIMES

Normally a sortie was recorded by date and take-off time. Where take-off was before midnight there is no ambiguity, but what happens if take-off was after midnight? Which date applies? Normally the date recorded in the ORB was the date the sortie was briefed, which would have been the afternoon or evening of the sortie, and this is the date we use, even if the take-off happened after midnight and was strictly speaking, the next day.

SEARCHING THE NAME 'DOWN'

Our database software (MySQL) has a number of reserved words which cannot be used in a search. These are mostly technical words, but the word 'down' happens to be included. To handle this issue, we have changed the name 'Down' to "Downe', which can be freely searched for. There is a note in each record to indicate if the name is really Down and not Downe.

SEARCH examples. Replace Adams with Sergeant and now you see all Sergeants in the database. Now put Adams AND Sergeant in the Search box. The AND is known as a Boolean operator, and tells our Search Engine you want to find all records of Sergeants called Adams (i.e. you're not interested in Sergeants NOT called Adams). Now put Adams AND Sergeant AND Lancaster.

You can Search for up to 5 dependencies using AND to separate your Search terms; for example Smith AND Lancaster AND Little Snoring AND Gardening will find all Smiths who flew Lancasters from Little Snoring on Gardening ops. If you are familiar with other Boolean operators (OR for example), use them.

(You don't have to capitalize AND, OR etc. incidentally.)

BOOLEANS. For more sophisticated searches, ensure you follow the standard rules for boolean operators. If, for example, you know the pilot you are looking for is either Smith or Jones and he flew a Halifax, your search would be '(Smith or Jones) and Halifax'. The position of the brackets is important.

IDENTIFYING CREWS. Say you know your pilot's name but you'd like to find his crew members. First search for his name. When you find the correct one, note the serial number of his plane. Then search for that serial. This will produce a full list of the crew onboard that aircraft at that time. For example, search on Jones. The first one in the list was flying a Blenheim, serial V6369. Now search on V6369 and you'll see the 2 other crew members on that flight.

SORT Capability: once you have received your Search results, you can SORT on those columns headed in blue, providing yet another way of seeing your results.

AIRCRAFT LOST WITH NO CREW LOST There are 349 records in the database that do not mention a crew name, such as for aircraft destroyed during ground testing. These can be found by Searching for Unrecorded.

We would like to hear from researchers who find interesting connections through our Search Engine. Caring is Sharing! Perhaps you would like to contribute a story based on your research? We'll be happy to publish you.

Note that a blank entry in the Air Force column generally means the person served in the RAF, or (rarely) the service is unrecorded for that individual.

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