Officers advanced training school - courts of inquiry and investigations



Officers advanced training school - courts of inquiry and investigations


Covers objects, types of enquiry or investigation, courts of inquiry composition, order for assembly and terms of reference, attendance of witnesses. evidence, procedure, recording of evidence, action when character of person involved, findings, officers under instruction and formal investigations. Appendix giving specimen S.R.O ordering assembly of court of inquiry and the page with questions. Followed by court of enquiry (part 2) - covers enquiries presenting special features detailing procedures for flying accidents, M.T. accidents, accidental or self inflicted death or injury (service personnel), fires, losses and damage to equipment, absence without leave and questions.



Temporal Coverage




Twelve page typewritten document

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[date stamp for No. 1 Officers Advanced Training School Jun 1945]
PART I – GENERAL [/underlined]
Appendix: Specimen S.R.O. ordering Assembly of Court of Inquiry.
References: K.R. 1310-1322.
A.P. 837, paras. 1347-1359.
[underlined] Objects [/underlined]
1. To investigate any matter on which information required. Ordered by Air Council or an officer commanding any body of the R.A.F. referred to as assembling authority.
[underlined] Types [/underlined]
2. (a) [underlined] Court of Inquiry [/underlined]: composed of President and one or more members.
(b) [underlined] Formal Investigation: [/underlined] by a single officer – in some cases may be ordered in place of C. of I.
(c) [underlined] Summary Investigation [/underlined]: by a single officer – conducted informally by an officer detailed by C.O. to report on certain minor matters.
[underlined] Courts of Inquiry
Composition [/underlined]
3. (a) [underlined] President [/underlined]
(i) Experienced officer not normally below rank of F.L.
(ii) Should not be junior to officer whose conduct of character under inquiry.
(iii) If flying accident being investigated, must be F.L. or above and of G.D. or ex-G.D. branch.
(b) [underlined] Members [/underlined]
(i) Court must have no personal interest in matter under inquiry.
(ii) Where inquiry requires specialist knowledge, e.g. accounts, appropriate specialist should be member or, in case of civilian specialist, e.g. clerk of works, attend to give advice.
(iii) Warrant Officer may be member EXCEPT of court dealing with conduct or character of commissioned officer or circumstances of returned P.O.W.
[underlined] Order for Assembly and Terms of Reference [/underlined]
4. Date, time and place of assembly and terms of reference notified usually in S.R.O.s. Terms of reference to state in detail character of inquiry and nature of findings required.
5. Evidence taken on oath if assembling authority directs; MUST be taken on oath in C. of I. into illegal absence of airman or circumstances of recovered P.O.W.
[underlined] Attendance of Witnesses [/underlined]
6. Service witnesses warned in S.R.O. ordering inquiry. Civilian witnesses cannot be compelled to attend. Should be invited to attend; if they refuse, write requesting statement. During inquiry additional witnesses may be called.
[underlined] Evidence [/underlined]
7. C. of I. not bound by rules of evidence as applied in civil courts. Sole test is relevance; but court should always try to get best evidence.
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8. Court sits in private; evidence given is confidential.
9. Proceedings cannot be used as evidence at C.M.
[underlined] Procedure [/underlined]
10. Witnesses called in one at a time and allowed to sit. (President may permit proceedings to be less formal if it should help witnesses). Proceedings recorded on F. 2 (F.412 for flying accidents.)
[underlined] Recording of Evidence [/underlined]
11. Evidence to be recorded in 1st person narrative form, prefaced by witness’s particulars as under:-
1st Witness No. 1234567, L.A.C. James Smith, Equipment Assistant, S.H.Q., R.A.F. Cranwell (being duly sworn) states:-
I am employed in the clothing store at Cranwell and …………………………………………………………………
Court may question witness and will record relevant details in narrative form, unless special significance attached to exact words of question and answers.
12. Each witness to sign at end of evidence (and foot of each page).
13. Each witness to be numbered; both sides of every sheet to be used. Minimum space to be left between evidence of witnesses.
[underlined] Action when Character of Person Involved [/underlined]
14. Procedure laid down in K.R. 1318. Vitally important that
(a) Person encouraged to be present throughout and given opportunity to:-
(i) Cross examine any witness.
(ii) Make any statement or give evidence
(iii) Call any witnesses.
Fact of his presence or otherwise to be recorded in proceedings.
(b) If court, after hearing all evidence, consider that blame attached to him, he is to be so informed and attention drawn to evidence on which opinion based. Given opportunity of making further statement.
(c) If finding adverse to him, assembling authority to send him copy of proceedings and obtain from him statement giving any reason why he should not be found to blame.
[underlined] Findings [/underlined]
15. Findings recorded on F.2 (or F.412) based on evidence and covering strictly terms of reference, signed by President and members. Pages marked numerically; exhibits alphabetically and attached where possible to proceedings. Proceedings to be sent under confidential cover to C.O.
[underlined] Officers under Instruction [/underlined]
16. To ensure that junior officers gain experience in conducting C. of I., commanders should detail them as officers under instruction (K.R. 64)
[underlined] Formal Investigations [/underlined]
17. General rules and procedure as for C. of I. Points to note:-
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(a) Evidence may NOT be given on oath (A.M.C.O. A.27/42)
(b) W.O. may be detailed to investigate personal injuries or accidental deaths of airmen below warrant rank provided not due to road or transport accidents.
[underlined] Amendments to this Precis [/underlined]
[page break]
[underlined] COURT OF INQUIRY [/underlined]
The following detail of officers is to assemble in Room 6, Station Headquarters, at 10.00 hours on 16th March, 1945, for the purpose of:-
(a) investigating the circumstance of the loss from the Sergeants’ Mess of a 36 gallon cask of ale between 9th March, 1945 and 11th March, 1945
(b) assessing the value of the loss
(c) attaching responsibility, if any.
President: F.L. J.A. Robinson, M.B.E. (68798), R.A.F. Cranwell
Members: F.O. H.W. Mackenzie (112659) “ “
P.O. K.R. Jones (123654) “ “
Officer under Instruction: P.O. A.J. Baker (129343) “ “
The following witnesses are to attend:-
F.L. B.J. Wright (54345) – Officer i/c Sergeants Mess
W.O. R.S. Thomas (327890) – C.M.C.
554370 F.Sgt. Symes, O.D. – Bar Member
together with any others whom the Court may decide to summon.
( (x) Evidence will be given on Oath.)
The attention of the Court is drawn to K.R. and A.C.I. Ch. XVIII, Sect. I (particularly para. 1318) and A.P. 837, Sect. 51. Proceedings are to be forwarded to the Commanding Officer under confidential cover.
Note: (x) If directed by assembling authority.
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1. When may a Warrant Officer [underlined] NOT [/underlined] be a member of a Court of Inquiry? [inserted] P.O.W. or senior rank or equal [/inserted]
2. When is evidence taken on oath at a Court of Inquiry?
3. During the hearing of the evidence at a Court of Inquiry it becomes apparent that the character or conduct of an officer or airman is affected. As President, what would be your immediate action?
4. What forms are used for recording the findings of Courts of Inquiry into (a) flying accidents (b) all other Courts of Inquiry.
5. Where will witnesses sign their evidence at a Court of Inquiry?
6. Can a Court of Inquiry accept hearsay evidence?
7. Can a witness at a Court of Inquiry be ordered to answer a question where the answer might incriminate him?
8. How should (a) exhibits and (b) pages, be marked?
9. You are detailed in S.R.O’s to carry out a Formal Investigation on oath. Comment on this.
10. You cannot compel a civilian witness to attend at a Court of Inquiry. What action do you take to procure his evidence?
11. An officer or airman whose character or conduct is affected, is present at a Court of Inquiry. What courses are open to him to refute the evidence against him?
12. What is the test of admissibility of evidence at a Court of Inquiry?
13. F/Sgt. Green has sustained injuries in a road accident. Can a Warrant Officer sit on a Court of Inquiry into the matter?
14. S.L. Brown is P.S.I. A Court of Inquiry is being held into the accounts of the Service Institute. What should be the rank of the President of the Court of Inquiry?
15. A Court of Inquiry is being held into suspected irregularities in the accounts of the officers’ mess. What two considerations affect the composition of the Court?
16. A civilian witness on being invited to attend a Court of Inquiry asks if he will get any expenses. What would be your answer?
17. A Court of Inquiry is being assembled to inquire into a flying accident. What should be the branch and lowest rank of the President?
18. Has a Court of Inquiry power to (a) admit liability (b) compromise a claim by a third party?
19. Would you use a separate sheet of paper for the evidence of each witness?
20. You are a member of a Court of Inquiry. You disagree with the findings reached by the President and other members. What may you do?
[page break]
References:- K.R. Chap. XVII, Sec. 1 (as modified by A.M.Os quoted), A.P. 837, Sec. 51.
[underlined] Flying Accidents (not directly caused by Enemy Action [/underlined])
[underlined] Importance of Careful Investigation [/underlined]
1. Investigations into flying accidents serve following purposes:-
(a) [underlined] Main Purpose [/underlined]: To discover cause with view to preventing similar occurrences.
(b) [underlined] Subsidiary purposes [/underlined]: To ascertain:-
(i) Details of injuries or time and cause of death.
(ii) Damage to airframe and engines.
(iii) If any negligence or lack of discipline.
Need to conduct investigations thoroughly and in ordered manner and to arrive at findings fully by evidence cannot be emphasised too strongly. When detailed to investigate flying accident, study A.M.O. A.1348/43.
[underlined] Reporting Action [/underlined]
2. (a) Signal Message “A” (A.P. 1922)
(b) Report on F.765 C (A.M.O. A.1348/43) amended by A.523/44, A.190/45 and A.267/45.
[underlined] Inquiry Action [/underlined]
3. Appropriate type of inquiry (Proceedings on F.412) will be ordered by A.O.C. Group to which aircraft belongs.
(a) When any person killed or injured and detained in sick quarters for more than 48 hours.
(b) If evidence of negligence
(c) When circumstances doubtful
(d) If considered advisable.
A.O.C. decides whether Court of Inquiry or Formal Investigation appropriate. May dispense with either if summary of evidence, but F.412 to be completed and copy of summary of evidence attached.
[underlined] Composition of Court [/underlined]
4. Limited number of permanent presidents or investigating officers established to handle inquire into more serious cases. Technical or specialist officers detailed to assist where appropriate. Inspector from A.I.B. may be present.
[underlined] Conduct of Inquiry [/underlined]
5. Court should study A.P. 837 Sec. 51, particularly paras. 1360 and 1365. Appropriate remedial action can be taken only if proceedings conducted properly.
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[underlined] Common Errors in Proceedings [/underlined]
6. (a) Assuming higher authority possesses local knowledge, e.g. referring to aircraft as “A for Able” instead of “Anson V.6024”, or using expressions such as “low flying area”.
(b) Not visiting scene of accident and examining wreckage.
(c) Not inspecting relevant documents, e.g. Log Books of crew as well as pilots, R/T Log Books, D/F Log Books, etc.
(d) Not including proper plan of scene.
(e) Not calling in specialist when Court does not possess specialist knowledge, e.g. Flying Control, Signals etc.
(f) Not including all aircraft involved.
(g) Not attaching weather report or forecast, and confusing the two.
(h) Not ascertaining whether pilot conversant with “Pilot’s Notes”, and whether these amended to date.
(i) Including time of flight in para. 6 of F.412.
(j) Not drawing correct conclusions from evidence or not seeing that findings are supported by evidence. (If conflict of evidence which cannot be clarified, court should indicate which evidence accepted and why).
[underlined] Service M.T. Accidents
Reporting Action [/underlined]
7. All claims by or against 3rd parties dealt with by Claims Commission. Every accident, wherever it occurs and whether or not 3rd party involved, to be reported to A.D. Claims of area in which Station located. Also bicycle accidents, if 3rd party involved.
8. Accident Report Form (F.446) in triplicate and sent within 24 hours. Distribution:- A.D. Claims, Group, Unit file. F.446 to state whether C. of I. or Formal Investigation to be held, if so, whether copy of police report or statement of any civilian involved or civilian witness required. [underlined] Under no circumstances is Court or Investigating Officer to attempt to obtain those except through A.D. Claims. [/underlined]
[underlined] Inquiry Action [/underlined]
9. O. of I. [sic] or Formal Investigation need be held only in circumstances set out in A.M.O. A.475/42.
[underlined] Conduct of Inquiry [/underlined]
10. Following points to be investigated:-
(a) Accuracy of F.446.
(b) Whether evidence of unauthorised or improper use of vehicle, including deviation from authorised route.
(c) Whether service driver authorised to drive.
(d) Whether accident due to mechanical defect.
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10 Contd…
(e) Whether speed regulations complied with. (References: A.475/42 amended by A.175/43, A.914/43 and A.1066/44).
[underlined] Accidental or Self inflicted Deaths or Injuries (Service Personnel)
Reporting Action [/underlined]
11. F.551 raised and 2 copies sent to Air Ministry, P.4 (Cas) whatever the cause (except enemy action) if:-
(a) Death
(b) Absence from duty 48 hours or more
(c) When M.O. advises that there may be later disability.
[underlined] Inquiry Action [/underlined]
12. C of I. or F.I.; C.O. may substitute Summary Investigation where death or injury occurred on leave or pass and civil authority held inquiry.
[underlined] Conduct of Inquiry [/underlined]
13. Proceedings to show:
(a) Whether on or off duty
(b) Whether injured person to blame (N.B. Where only evidence that of injured person, Court should not express opinion, but C.O. must do so.)
(c) In case of road or rail accidents whether travelling between residence and place of duty.
(d) Indication of extent of injury though copy of F.551 not to be included.
14. When injury arose through fault of some other person, (e.g. knocked down by Civilian motor-car):-
(a) Evidence and finding to deal with negligence of 3rd party.
(b) Inquiry to show whether injured person intends to claim compensation, and if not, why not.
(References: K.R. 2312 and 2323, modified by A.M.O’s A.337/40, A.473/41 A.1177/42.)
[underlined] Fires (including Enemy Action)
Reporting Action [/underlined]
15. (a) Signal Group and A.M. (ARP (FS)) if damage £100 or over or anyone killed or injured; otherwise letter.
(b) If property requisitioned or leased, notify Superintending Engineer.
(c) If arson suspected, notify Regional A.P.M.
(d) If 3rd party claims received, forward to A.M. (W.6).
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[underlined] Inquiry Action [/underlined]
16. (a) C. of I. held if damage £100 or over. (£25 in case of requisitioned or leased premises).
(b) Otherwise Formal Investigation held unless:-
(i) C. of I. thought necessary by C.O. or A.O.C.
(ii) Damage small, when report by officer may be substituted.
[underlined] Composition of Court of Inquiry [/underlined]
17. Normal rules apply, but:-
(a) If buildings damaged, superintending engineer should be asked to send representative.
(b) If action of W.A.A.F. personnel concerned, W.A.A.F. officer should be member.
(c) Representative of A.M. (A.R.P. (F.S.)) or (by invitation) local fire force commander may attend.
[underlined] Conduct of Inquiry [/underlined]
18. For procedure and findings, study A.177/43 amended by A.336/43 and A.601/43.
Special points to note:-
(a) Inspect scene
(b) Investigate efficiency of Unit fire services and co-operation with N.F.S.
(c) Investigate extent of damage, cause of and responsibility for fire.
(d) Attach sketch of any structure involved, showing:-
(i) Nearest Hydrants
(ii) Lay-out of contents
(iii) Area and presumed point of origin of fire.
(e) Annex copy of Station Fire Orders.
[underlined] Losses of and Damage to Equipment
Reporting Action [/underlined]
19. (a) If outside C.O’s power of write-off, report to Group.
(b) If theft suspected, report to station police and D.A.P.M.
[underlined] Inquiry Action [/underlined]
20. If within C.O’s power of write-off, type of inquiry at C.O’s discretion; otherwise A.O.C. decides.
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[underlined] Conduct of Inquiry [/underlined]
21. Proceedings to show:-
(a) Date loss or damage discovered and value.
(b) To whom, by whom and when loss or damage reported.
(c) Action taken on report.
(d) Persons responsible for equipment, whether periodical checks made, etc. (Refer to A.P. 830)
(e) Whether any person to blame.
(f) When theft suspected, whether reported to Station police and D.A.P.M.
(References: A.1058/43 amended by A.174/44; K.R. App. VI, K.R. 1332).
[underlined] Absence without leave (Airmen and Airwomen) [/underlined]
22. C. of I. held when airman absent 21 clear consecutive days, excluding day absence began and day Court assembles. (When airman due to report at 23.59 hours, absence begins at 00.01 hours on following day), e.g.:-
(a) Airman due back at 2300 hours 1.3.44: Court assembles not before 23.3.44.
(b) Airman due back at 2359 hours 1.3.44: Court assembles not before 24.3.44.
[underlined] Evidence MUST be on oath [/underlined]
23. Object of C. of I. to inquire into:-
(a) Absence of airman.
(b) Deficiencies (if any) of kit, tools, etc. and value.
24. Court must obtain evidence that:-
(a) Airman absented himself on certain date, is still absent and has been absent throughout period.
(b) (i) Inventory of kit taken when absence discovered.
(ii) Which items then deficient.
(iii) Whether any since recovered.
(iv) Value of items deficient.
25. If no Deficiency List (F.1383) found, Court entitled to assume airman has been kitted to scale. Deficient articles assessed at 75 percent of vocabulary rate, unless evidence value greater or less.
26. Court’s findings MUST be in form of declaration in Note 3 to R.P. 125.
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27. C.O. enters and signs exact record of declaration in F.161 (Record of Illegal Absentees). Adjutant notifies Records and R.A.F. Police Headquarters.
28. If absentee surrenders or apprehended, C.O. should deal summarily with any final deficiency of kit on return (subject to airman’s right to elect trial by C.M.), leaving charge of desertion or absence without leave to C.M.
References: A.F.A. Sec. 72; R.P. 125).
[underlined] Amendments to this Precis: [/underlined]
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1. A flying accident occurs:
(a) In what circumstances should a C. of I. or Formal Investigation be held?
(b) Who decides whether either necessary and what R.A.F. form guides him in reaching his decision?
2. Who should be President of C. of I. into flying accident?
3. What form is used for proceedings of C. of I. into flying accidents?
4. To what authorities and on what Form is a Service M.T. accident reported?
5. You are conducting a formal investigation into a M.T. accident. You require (a) a copy of the Police report, (b) evidence of a civilian witness. How should these be obtained?
6. You are conducting a formal investigation into injuries sustained by A.C. Jones. The only evidence available is that of Jones himself. What rule is there with regard to your findings?
7. A fire – damage estimated to exceed £100 – occurs in a requisitioned building at your station. Arson is suspected. To whom should the fire be reported or notified?
8. Certain articles of R.A.F. equipment are missing and are believed to have been stolen. To whom should the matter be reported?
9. Who decides whether a C. of I. or formal Investigation into the loss of R.A.F. equipment is necessary?
10. A.C. Jones fails to return from pass expiring at 23.59 hours on 17th April, 1944. What is the earliest date on which C. of I. may assemble?
11. If, in the last question, the order for the assembly of the C. of I. was delayed until 15th May, and A.C. Jones returned on 14th May, need it then be held?
12. Can there be a formal investigation into illegal absence?
13. What are the main points to be incorporated into the terms of reference of a C. of I. into illegal absence?
14. At a C. of I. into illegal absence, how is the value of deficient items of kit assessed?


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