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'The way to find a needle in a haystack is to sit down.'
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
If you have reached this page through clicking the Search Tips button on a database, use your Browser Back Function to return to the database

Site Search

There are two types of Search on our site.

The first is found at the top right of most pages and looks like this:


Site Search is the way you search through the entire site. Site Search is provided to us by FreeFind. It's a sophisticated solution. (Note that advertising on the results pages is placed by FreeFind and does not benefit Aircrew Remembered.)

By default the search engine tries to locate pages which have exact matches for all of the words entered in your search query. If that fails, it then tries to locate pages which contain any words in your search query. If that happens a short message is displayed at the top of the search results indicating this has been done.

In addition, there are several ways to modify the default search behaviour.

Phrase Search

The search engine supports three types of phrase search.

To match an exact phrase, use quotes around the phrase
Example: "escaped by parachute"

To match a near (within a couple of words) phrase, use square brackets [around the words]
Example: [escaped by parachute] would find 'escaped luckily by parachute'

To match a far (within several words) phrase, use braces { around the words }
Example: {escaped by parachute} would find 'escaped to his great surprise by parachute'

+ and - qualifiers

If you prepend a word with + that word is required to be on the page.
If you prepend a word with - that word is required to not be on the page.
Example: +always -never

* wildcardIf a query word ends with a * all words on a page which start the same way as that query word will match.
Example: gift* will find 'gift', 'gifts', 'gifting' etc.

? wildcard

If a query word contains a ? any character will match that position.
Example: b?g will find 'bag', 'beg', 'big', 'bog', 'bug'

Boolean Search

You can use the following boolean operators in your search: AND, OR, NOT. These operators MUST be in capital letters.
Example: (contact AND us) OR (about AND us)

All of these techniques can be combined: +alway* -ne??r*

Search Tips (Advanced Search)

The advanced search box includes four text fields and a number of search controls. To perform a search, enter your search terms in the appropriate text fields, select your desired search controls, and press "search".

The text fields include "all", "phrase", "any", and "none". Enter your query in one or more of these fields. A page must match all fields to be included in the result.

all - pages which include all of the terms entered in this field are returned

phrase - pages which include these terms together in this order are returned

any - pages which include any of these terms are returned

none - pages which include other selected terms, but none of these terms are returned. Note that this field cannot be used alone, but must be combined with terms in the all, phrase, or any, fields.

Use the search controls to modify the default search behavior.

Number of Results

The search engine can show from 1 to 25 results per page. Use this dropdown to select the number of results you would like to see on each page.

Description Text

When a search is performed a snippet of text is shown from each page which matches the search. Use this dropdown to control how much text you would like to see with each search result.

Word Stemming

Word stemming is used to match multiple forms of a word to a single query term. For example, when stemming is on, the word "use" would also match "used" and "using", and the word "run" would match "runs" and "running".

Word stemming is language dependent and is not available for all languages. Use the dropdown to select the language you are searching in.

If you want only exact matches select "none" from the dropdown to turn word stemming off.

Note: when matching case or accent sensitive query terms, turn stemming off. If word stemming is combined with case sensitivity or accent sensitivity, only the unstemmed portion of the word will be matched sensitively.

Accent Sensitive

By default accents in words are ignored for word matching. For example "März" would be the same "Marz". If accent sensitivity is ON the words "März" and "Marz" will be handled as different words.

Case Sensitive

By default upper and lower case characters in words are considered the same for word matching. For example "march" would be the same as "March". If case sensitivity is ON the words "march" and "March" will be handled as different words.

Note that Site Search ONLY searches data on our site. It does NOT look elsewhere on the web outside the Aircrew Remembered site.

Site Search will find all the names in all the databases but it does NOT find any other data held in the databases. (FreeFind has no mechanism to conduct searches inside our databases). If your Site Search produces a result which points you to a specific database, then go to that database and search again for that name in the Search Box provided on that database. Then you will see all the data we have in the database for that individual.

Because of the amount of data on our site, a typical search might yield many results. If you want to narrow down your search, then refine what you are looking for. Searching for 'Smith' for example might produce too many results for you to look through, so change your search to 'Smith AND Lancaster' (for example) and you'll reduce the number of results.

If you do not find anything, try alternative spellings (if appropriate). McDonald instead of MacDonald for example. Try simplifying your search: instead of searching for George Andrews, try searching for Andrews and then look through the results to see if a suitable candidate is there. If our data only uses the initial G instead of George, then your first search will not find him.

If you still do not get a result, send us a request via the Helpdesk and we will see what we can find. Including as much information as you possess will be helpful.

Effectively Searching A Database

The second type of Search on our site is the Search box found on every database. It looks like this:

This uses our own specialized search software (not FreeFind's) to search through the database you are looking at. This Search is ONLY on the database you are looking at. It does not search the rest of the site.

The following instructions are to help you in this process.

Search on our databases can be very powerful and useful. With a few simple techniques you will be able to extract information that you never thought you could find.

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.

When using databases, be mindful that non-English special characters will normally be ignored and searches will normally be successful whether or not you use the accented character or its Latin euqivalent. However, if your search is unsuccessful you might want to try again using the foreign character(s). Note that if the item includes a special character, searching for a common 2-letter substitution for that character will NOT find what you are looking for: a Search for Goering for example will not find Göring. However, in MOST cases a Search without the special character will find entries that include the special character; thus a search on Goring will also find Göring and vice versa.

There follows a generalized example of the process you can follow. The specific names you need to enter will vary depending on the database you are searching, but these examples will serve the purpose of introducing you to the principles.

To get started, put a name in the Search box, for example Broxman. (you don't have to capitalize names so broxman will work the same way as Broxman). The result is all the Broxmans in the database. This will include entries which have Broxman anywhere within its contents, not just the Name column. From this first Search you can become familiar with the layout of the database which will enable you to conduct more complex Searches.

You can perform a Search for almost anything (2 characters or more) in any column. So now replace Broxman with USA and now you see all those from the USA in the database. Now put Broxman in the first Search box AND Camel in the second Search box. This will find all records of Broxmans who were associated with the Sopwith Camel. (The AND is known as a Boolean operator, and tells our Search Engine you want to find entries that meet both specified criteria.

Note that a Search on 'Sopwith Camel' will look for all occurences of the string of letters 'Sopwith Camel'. This will miss all occurences where ONLY Camel is mentioned, so the rule is: make your Search as simple as you can, don't add words where they are not needed. Be aware that the compilers of the data on which the database is built will have used shorthand descriptions on many occasions, thus 'Bristol' may have been used rather than 'Bristol fighter' so if you search for 'Bristol fighter' you will miss all entries where only the word Bristol is to be found. If you MUST look for 'Bristol Fighter' then you should separate with words with the Boolean operator AND, thus Bristol AND fighter.You can have up to FIVE dependencies in a single search! For example Broxman AND Camel AND Balloon AND France would find all Broxmans who flew the Camel and had some connection to balloon and France.

If you are familiar with other Boolean operators, try those.

Broxman and Camel = all entries that contain BOTH Broxman and Camel. It will ignore any entry that only has Broxman, ditto one that only has Camel. The entry must have both. You can have up to 5 dependencies. Thus Broxman and Camel and Arras and Righthofen and Albatros will only find entries that have ALL five. Clever use of these dependencies can find fascinating discoveries.

Broxman or Camel = all entries that contain EITHER Broxman OR Camel. This will be a longer list than above because you've got all the Broxmans whatever they flew, and all the Camels whoever flew them.

(Broxman or Smith) and Camel = entries that have Broxmans who flew Camel plus entries that have Smiths who flew the Camel. The placement of brackets is important. Thus Broxman or (Smith and Camel) will find all Broxmans entries plus all entries that contain BOTH Broxman and Camel. Can you see the difference? The first one finds Broxmans who flew Camel PLUS Smiths who flew Camel, whereas the second finds Smiths who flew Camel PLUS Broxmans who flew anything.


Because of a limitation in MySQL that Searches cannot be made on single characters, you would not be able to Search for an entry from 1 Squadron, for example, by searching for 1. To overcome this, all squadron entries include the abbreviation Sqd. To Search for a squadron therefore, always include the abbreviation Sqd, thus Search for 1 Sqd


Be careful in your spelling. An abbreviation might have been used to input the original data, Lanc for Lancaster for example. Try different options.


We have many non-English entries in our databases. Where these use non-English characters (the Polish ł for example) you can try a Search using that character, or you might try to Search using the nearest English alphabet equivalent, in the case of the Polish ł this would be l. Our Search function works with non-English characters though not all of them. Note that some data compilers Anglicized names when preparing their data, thereby eliminating the use of non-English characters but others adhered strictly to the native use of non-English characters. This applies to any non-English language that uses characters not found in English, including French and Spanish. You should try a Search using the non-English character and if that doesn't work, use the nearest the English character equivalent. Our Search software is designed to ignore the accent on a character (thus a Search on hôtel will find entries for hotel, and a Search on hotel will find entries on hôtel) but this is not guaranteed, and you should therefore try both.


Data from countries using non-Latin characters (such as Cyrillic characters in Russian) will have been prepared using the nearest English spelling. However, there is no consistency in this since data has been obtained over the years from many different sources, each of which might have a particular preference for the process of Anglicizing names. We do not have the resources to go through entire databases to enforce consistency and therefore we use the data as we found it. The Russian name Sergey, for example, might be rendered as Sergii, Sergy, Sergiy or Sergei in any given entry. You should be imaginative in your Searches to try to catch the particular name you are looking for, regardless of the way the original compiler might have prepared the data.


As with everything in life, our host service's implementation of MySQL has limitations, which we can do nothing about. A key one is you can't search for any single letter or number. You can't search for 7 for example, or X

Also, certain characters cannot be used in a search and if they are, they are ignored. The hyphen is one such character, thus a search on S-5 will fail because the hyphen is ignored leaving you with a search on S, which is less than 2 characters.

Our Database Search allows you to Exclude data in certain columns which you specify. This is useful to reduce the number of entries produced in a search. Thus if you search for 'Spitfire' you would certainly find all entries where 'Spitfire' is in the Aircraft column, but you would also find entries where 'Spitfire' is mentioned in the Notes column. By excluding the Notes column in this case, you reduce the number of entries you must scan through to find the one you want.


For technical reasons an apostrophe is ignored in database searches and a search for O'Connor is treated as though the string being searched is actually oconnor in this example. To facilitate such searches we have made special changes to database entries which include apostrophes and you should have no difficulties. However, if you find in the Names List an entry with an apostrophe that cannot be found in a Search, please let us know and we will adjust the database.


Please contact us via the Helpdesk. We urgently seek corrections and further information and will always credit you as the source, unless you specify otherwise.


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? Or send us a snippet you know. We'll be happy to publish your story or add something to an existing story or database.

View All Aircrew Remembered Databases Available For Search
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