Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation


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Personnel Strengths 1919 - 1945


The tables below give details of personnel strengths at various times between 1 April 1919 and 1 September 1945

Table 1: RAF (Regular) Personnel Strength - 1 April 1919 to 1 September 1939

Date Officers Cadets Total Officers Airmen Apprentices* Grand Total
1 Apr 1919 17,267 2,081 19,348 83,928   103,276
1 Apr 1920 3,061   3,061 25,647   28,708
28 Feb 1921 2,764   2,764 24,827   27,951
1 Apr 1922 2,918 90 3,008 26,457   29,465
1 Apr 1923 2,962 85 3,047 27,036   30,083
1 Apr 1924 3,166 102 3,268 28,159   31,427
1 Apr 1925 3,354 115 3,469 29,215   32,684
1 Apr 1926 3,377 104 3,481 30,528   34,009
1 Apr 1927 3,215 107 3,322 26,715   30,037
1 Apr 1928 3,268 113 3,381 24,213 2,890 30,484
1 Apr 1929 3,286 99 3,385 24,691 2,989 31,065
1 Apr 1930 3,378 117 3,495 25,317 3,177 31,989
1 Apr 1931 3,358 123 3,481 25,799 3,189 32,469
1 Apr 1932 3,403 119 3,522 26,027 2,738 32,287
1 Apr 1933 3,382 118 3,500 25,601 2,101 31,202
1 Apr 1934 3,343 107 3,450 25,381 1,669 30,500
1 Apr 1935 3,390 111 3,501 26,277 2,367 32,145
1 Apr 1936 3,963 132 4,095 37,523 4,186 45,804
1 Apr 1937 4,846 147 4,993 45,411 5,759 56,163
1 Apr 1938 6,026 143 6,169 56,072 7,224 69,465
1 Apr 1939 7,214 136 7,350 85,464 8,385 101,199
1 Sep 1939 8,200 122 8,322 101,484 7,620 117,426

*Apprentices are included in the Airman total until 1928.  After 1 April 1934 the figures in this column include Apprentices and Boy Entrants.

Table 2: RAF and WAAF Personnel Strength - 3 September 1939 to 1 September 1945

Date RAF WAAF Total
Officers Other Ranks Total Officers Other Ranks Total Officers Other Ranks Total
3 Sep 1939 11,519 162,439 173,958 234 1,500 1,734 11,753 163,939 175,692
1 Jan 1940 15,561 199,171 214,732 359 8,403 8,762 15,920 207,574 223,494
1 Apr 1940 16,332 223,449 239,781 520 8,420 8,940 16,852 231,869 248,721
1 Jul 1940 18,431 272,992 291,423 687 11,170 11,857 19,118 284,162 303,280
1 Oct 1940 23,636 396,473 420,109 1,170 16,194 17,364 24,806 412,667 437,473
1 Jan 1941 26,261 464,401 490,762 1,368 19,121 20,489 27,729 484,522 511,251
1 Apr 1941 28,584 534,030 562,614 1,547 25,497 27,044 30,131 559,527 589,658
1 Jul 1941 31,760 632,866 664,626 1,891 35,493 37,384 33,651 668,359 702,010
1 Oct 1941 37,880 734,727 772,607 3,012 61,297 64,309 40,892 796,024 836,916
1 Jan 1942 43,486 773,773 817,259 4,001 94,410 98,411 47,487 868,183 915,670
1 Apr 1942 46,134 775,246 821,380 4,041 106,787 110,828 50,175 882,033 932,208
1 Jul 1942 49,987 789,787 839,774 4,695 120,961 125,656 54,682 910,748 965,430
1 Oct 1942 54,483 846,065 900,548 5,379 136,088 141,467 59,862 982,153 1,042,015
1 Jan 1943 59,630 880,934 940,564 5,796 160,173 165,969 65,426 1,041,107 1,106,533
1 Apr 1943 64,783 889,104 953,887 5,940 174,119 180,059 70,723 1,063,223 1,133,946
1 Jul 1943 69,093 903,446 972,539 5,974 175,861 181,835 75,067 1,079,307 1,154,374
1 Oct 1943 74,043 914,362 988,396 5,880 174,459 180,339 79,914 1,088,821 1,168,735
1 Jan 1944 80,190 924,481 1,004,671 6,040 170,780 176,820 86,230 1,095,261 1,181,491
1 Apr 1944 84,585 921,560 1,006,145 6,090 169,578 175,668 90,675 1,091,138 1,181,813
1 Jul 1944 88,615 922,812 1,011,427 6,199 168,207 174,406 94,814 1,091,019 1,185,833
1 Oct 1944 92,577 907,600 1,000,177 6,276 164,968 171,244 98,853 1,072,568 1,171,421
1 Jan 1945 98,070 897,795 995,865 6,355 159,810 166,165 104,425 1,057,605 1,162,030
1 Apr 1945 99,926 881,736 981,662 6,316 153,306 159,622 106,242 1,035,042 1,141,284
1 May 1945 101,064 874,965 976,029 6,278 151,008 157,286 107,342 1.025,973 1,113,315
1 Jul 1945 103,023 859,548 929,571 6,233 146,719 152,952 109,256 1,006,267 1,115,523
1 Sep 1945 100,107 840,760 940,867 5,638 130,253 135,891 105,745 971,013 1,076,758

The figures above do not include personnel from Dominion Air Forces at RAF posting disposal but does include RAF personnel on loan to the Fleet Air Arm.

Table 3: Distribution of RAF and WAAF personnel between Home and Overseas Commands

Date Home Overseas Home/Overseas Ratio
Men Women Total Men Women Total
3 Sep 1939 158,718 1,734 160,452 13,857 - 13,857 10.5:1
1 Jan 1940 199,194 8,762 207,956 13,871 - 13,871 13.4:1
1 Apr 1940 221,923 8,940 230,863 16,121 - 16,121 12.9:1
1 Jul 1940 270,420 11,857 282,277 19,200 - 19,200 13.4:1
1 Oct 1940 395,341 17,361 412,702 23,011 3 23,014 16.6:1
1 Jan 1941 453,435 20,486 473,921 35,590 3 35,593 12.6:1
1 Apr 1941 512,711 27,041 539,752 48,229 3 48,232 10.8:1
1 Jul 1941 595,381 37,381 632,884 67,507 3 67,510 9.1:1
1 Oct 1941 667,051 64,279 731,330 103,952 30 103,982 6.9:1
1 Jan 1942 683,095 98,382 781,477 132,561 29 132,590 5.8:1
1 Apr 1942 657,057 110,766 767,823 162,390 62 162,452 4.7:1
1 Jul 1942 627,545 125,474 753,019 209,493 182 209,675 3.5:1
1 Oct 1942 658,385 141,259 799,644 239,366 208 239,574 3.5:1
1 Jan 1943 680,325 165,760 846,085 257,478 209 257,687 3.2:1
1 Apr 1943 663,841 179,848 843,689 287,372 211 287,583 3.0:1
1 Jul 1943 663,353 181,527 844,880 306,810 308 307,118 2.7:1
1 Oct 1943 655,786 180,000 835,786 330,607 339 330,946 2.5:1
1 Jan 1944 659,982 175,940 835,922 342,746 880 343,626 2.4:1
1 Apr 1944 672,761 174,568 847,329 331,574 1,100 332,674 2.3:1
1 Jul 1944 696,942 171,856 868,798 312,737 2,550 315,287 2.7:1
1 Oct 1944 695,993 168,151 864,144 302,485 3,093 305,578 2.8:1
1 Jan 1945 683,587 162,535 846,122 310,628 3,650 314,258 2.7:1
1 Apr 1945 669,927 155,370 825,297 310,088 4,252 314,340 2.6:1
1 May 1945 667,335 152,243 819,578 306,640 5,043 311,683 2.6:1
1 Jul 1945 662,080 147,766 809,846 298,358 5,186 303,544 2.6:1
1 Sep 1945 653,243 130,396 783,639 285,953 5,495 291,448 2.6:1

Table 4: Officer Strength of Regular RAF, Auxiliary Air Force and Reserve of Air Force Officers on 3 September 1939

Branch RAF AuxAF RAFVR RAFO
General Duties 6,402 915 375 1,142
Command Specialisation & PT 353      
Equipment 722 12 277 33
Accountant 311 32   9
Medical 282 46 178 50
Dental 45   25 13
Chaplains 76 7    
Legal 5      
Music 2      
Assistant Provost Marshal 2      
Admin & Special Duties     1,053  
Meteorological     82  
Miscellaneous       142
Total 8,200 1,012 1,990 1,389

Table 5: Summary of Officer entries by Branch 1 September 1939 to 31 August 1945

  1 Sep 1939 - 31 Dec 1940 1 Jan - 31 Dec 1941 1 Jan - 31 Dec 1942 1 Jan - 31 Dec 1943
Ex A = Ex Airmen

DE = Direct Entry

Ex A DE Total Ex A DE Total Ex A DE Total Ex A DE Total
GD Branch
Operational pilots 2,135 1,184 3,319 5,429 260 5,689 5,273 395 5,668 7,073 44 7,117
Non-operational pilots - - - - 4 4 - - - 19 2 22
Non-pilots - 16 16 - - - - 1 1 - - -
Navigators - - - - - - 1,265 5 1,270 3,663 - 3,663
Navigators (B) 428 5 435 1,460 - 1,460 1,688 21 1,709 275 - 275

Navigators (BW)

- - - - - - 1 - 1 15 - 15
Navigators (W) - - - 4 - 4 10 - 10 116 - 116
Navigators (Radar) - - - 74 - 74 24 - 24 177 - 177
Air Bombers - - - - - - 349 - 349 1,214 - 1,214
WOp Air - - - - - 7 339 - 339 1,597 - 1,597
Air Gunners 118 546 664 672 1 673 800 16 816 892 - 892
Flight Engineers - - - - - - - - - 430 - 430
Navigation Instructors - 37 37 1 81 82 2 1 3 1 1 2
Met Air Observers - - - - - - - - - - 3 3
TOTAL

2,681

1,788

4,369

7,647

346

7,993

9,751

439

10,190

15,472

51

15,523

Technical Branch
Mechanical Engineer 386 380 766 806 204 1,010 826 36 862 1,085 13 1,098
Electrician - - - 63 126 189 140 139 279 233 6 239
Signals 164 320 484 357 496 853 369 67 436 643 2 645

Signals (Radar)

- - - 34 110 144 96 179 275 331 11 342
Armament 62 45 107 121 201 322 218 16 234 280 3 283

Airfield Construction (CE)

- - - - - - 2 85 87 55 12 67
Airfield Construction (Plant) - - - - - - 2 4 6 1 - 1
Airfield Construction (M & E) - - - - - - - 6 6 1 2 3
TOTAL

612

745

1,357

1,381

1,137

2,518

1,653

532

2,185

2,629

49

2,678

Other Branches
A & SD 705 6,527 7,232 2,542 6,402 8,944 1,269 810 2,979 4,909 72 4,981
Balloon 350 7 357 311 2 313 117 1 118 1 - 1
Equipment 148 855 1,003 299 970 1,269 365 35 400 831 12 843
Accountant 143 431 574 200 570 770 105 3 108 147 2 149

Medical

12 670 682 6 721 727 9 419 428 5 249 254
Dental - 181 181 2 397 399 - 164 164 1 89 90
Chaplains - 213 213 2 284 286 1 212 213 - 151 151
Legal - 17 17 - 1 1 - - - - 2 2
Music - - - 1 - 1 - - - - - -

Meteorological

- 35 35 - 2 2 - 8 8 - 1.095 1,095
RAF Regiment - - - - - - 1,001 56 1,057 265 14 279
GRAND TOTAL - All Branches

4,651

11,469

16,120

12,391

10,832

23,223

15,171

2,679

17,850

24,260

1,786

26,046

 

  1 Jan - 31 Dec 1944 1 Jan - 31 Aug 1945 Total
Ex A = Ex Airmen

DE = Direct Entry

Ex A DE Total Ex A DE Total Ex A DE Total
GD Branch
Operational pilots 8,633 - 8,633 3,557 - 3,557 32,100 1,883 33,983
Non-operational pilots - - - - - - 19 7 26
Non-pilots - - - - - - - 17 17
Navigators 4,143 - 4,143 2,399 - 2,399 11,470 5 11,475
Navigators (B) 562 - 562 - - - 4,413 26 4,439

Navigators (BW)

5 - 5 - - - 21 - 21
Navigators (W) 525 - 525 - - - 655 - 655
Navigators (Radar) 13 - 13 - - - 288 - 288
Air Bombers 1,961 - 1,961 731 - 731 4,255 - 4,255
WOp Air 2,958 - 2,958 989 - 989 5,890 - 5,890
Air Gunners 1,418 5 1,423 659 - 659 4559 568 5,127
Flight Engineers 1,488 - 1,488 831 - 831 2,749 - 2,749
Navigation Instructors - - - - - - 4 120 124
Met Air Observers - - - - - - - 3 3
TOTAL

21,706

5

21,711

9,166

-

9,166

66,423

2,629

69,052

Technical Branch
Mechanical Engineer 71 - 71 16 - 16 3,190 633 3,823
Electrician 44 - 44 - - - 480 271 751
Signals 141 2 143 8 - 8 1,682 887 2,569

Signals (Radar)

37 - 37 87 - 87 585 300 885
Armament 227 - 227 1 1 2 909 266 1,175

Airfield Construction (CE)

45 3 48 1 9 10 103 109 212
Airfield Construction (Plant) 1 - 1 2 6 8 6 10 16
Airfield Construction (M & E) 1 - 1 1 - 1 3 8 11
TOTAL

567

5

572

116

16

132

6,958

2,484

9,442

Other Branches
A & SD 2,466 53 2,519 880 23 903 13,671 13,887 27,558
Balloon - - - - - - 779 10 789
Equipment 358 1 359 159 2 161 2,160 1,875 4,035
Accountant 78 1 79 237 - 237 910 1,007 1,917

Medical

17 118 135 4 77 81 53 2,254 2,307
Dental - 42 42 - 7 7 3 880 883
Chaplains 1 90 91 - 20 20 4 970 974
Legal - - - - - - - 20 20
Music - - - - - - 1 - 1

Meteorological

57 148 205 119 28 147 176 1,313 1,489
RAF Regiment 229 2 231 108 - 108 1,603 72 1,675
GRAND TOTAL - All Branches

25,479

465

25,944

10,789

170

10,959

92,741

27,401

120,142

 

This page was last updated on 26/05/17 using FrontPage 2003

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