19 November 1943
Washington, D.C.


SUBJECT:  Instructions for Air Force Historical Officers in theatres of operations

     1.  Authority for Establishment of Historical Officers Circulars

        1.  Attention is directed to AG 320.21 (15 Nov. ’43), Par. A, in which the Commanding General, AAF, is authorized by the Secretary of War “to prepare and Forward direct technical instructions and circulars appropriate to the preparation of organizational histories” to Historical Officers of air forces and commands in theaters of operations to the end that a systematic fulfillment of AR 345-105, as amended 9 Mar. 1943, should be realized.

    2.  In accordance therewith there is established herein a series of
publications to be known as Overseas Historical Circulars. These circulars will be issued to all Historical Officers concerned from time to time as necessity arises and will be reproduced and distributed to lower echelon Historical Officers as approved by appropriate commanding generals.

   II.      The Army Air Forces Historical Project

    1.  There has been created in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, a Historical Division charged with the execution of the AAF historical project and the performance of special intelligence staff functions. It is responsible for the collection of all historical data of importance, for the preparation of a comprehensive history of the AAF (Svc N345-21-43). The newness and special significance of air power in the rapid developments of modern warfare make the coordination of this record a task of special importance. What is sought is a record of experience.

    2.  There are four branches in the Historical Division. The first of these is the Archives, which has been established as the official depository of documents pertaining to the activity of units serving with the AAF. The second is responsible for the administrative history of those commands and services which fall directly under the command of the CG. AAF. The third deals with combat operations in all theaters of war and the administrative experience of units abroad. A fourth branch compiles biographical data on AAF personnel. There is also a unit charged with compiling human interest materials.

   III.     The Duties of Historical Officers

    1. The primary duty of the Historical Officer is to collect and 

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    Collate all data of historical significance. In the lower echelons he will prepare and keep up to date the unit history and meet other requirements set forth in AFR 345-105 (See Changes 3). He will bear in mind that this unit history or journal constitutes the official record of his unit’s experience and achievement. The Historical Officer has a unique opportunity to make certain that a full, accurate, and personal record is preserved for his unit. From these unit histories and their accompanying supporting documents plus other data received in Hq. AAF, there will be prepared and published appropriate volumes.

    2.  The Historical Officer will forward each month two copies of the history of the unit activities for the preceding month. These will have attached  the supporting documents specified in AR 345-105, change 3. All will be marked “Historical Data” and directed through channels to the Commanding General, AAF. Where monthly installments have not been compiled and forwarded heretofore, the Historical Officer should immediately undertakes to bring the history of his unit up to date.

    3. Specific duties will be set forth in subsequent Historical Officers Circulars.

   IV.     The Form and Style of the Unit History

    1.  The form of presentation should be narrative. Since it is desired that the history be both official and personal, the author’s own observations and comments are essential. The authority for important statement of fact should be indicated where possible either by quotations or references in the text, or by the attachment of supporting documents, or by the use of footnote citations.

2.  The unit history should attempt to answer as a minimum such questions as the following:
A. When, where, and by what authority was the unit activated?
B. Who were and are, its key personnel?
C. What have been its major movements?
D. What changes of organization have been made? When, why, and by what authority?
E. With what missions and assignments was the unit charged by higher command? What was its success in executing them?

    3. The Historical Officer should also include pertinent items  regarding living conditions, recreations, morale, outstanding individual or

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Group achievements, and citations, and he should feel free to record all such parts of the unit’s experience as in his judgement the numbers of the unit would want to record. It is especially important to include, as record of first–hand experiences, some narrative account of missions undertaken.

    4.  Photographs, both official and unofficial, are in themselves a valuable record.  In forwarding them care should be observed to include exact identifications on the back of each photograph.

    For the Commanding General, Army Air Forces:

                        /s/ Clayton Bissell
                         /t/ CLAYTON BISSELL
                               Major General U. S.  Army,
                               Assistant Chief of Air Staff,

Reproduced by Headquarters Fifteenth Air Force, 9 February 1944:  WG

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