Author Topic: Destroying Gun History Books  (Read 5866 times)

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Offline FJAG

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Destroying Gun History Books
« on: September 29, 2014, 20:20:44 »
Just read an article in last fall's "The Quadrant" in the "Aiming Point" column that basically states that when our guns are decommissioned their gun history books are destroyed.

In my role with a DND information management project I did extensive work with records management  and the Defence Subject Classification and Disposition System. Basically the government's (ie Library and Archives Canada) records management system requires the retention of all corporate records unless specific authority is given to destroy those records. For DND that comes in the DSCDS which classifies various types of records and then provides specific instructions as to how each one is to be treated.

I've looked at the DSCDS to determine if there is a specific category for gun history books and (not unusually) can't find a clear category although the 11000 block seems the most logical - 11015 and 11025 relate to "Equipment and Supplies Guns ..." in their various calibres and which include(e.g. at 11025) "Records pertaining to guns over 150 mm through 200 mm including cataloguing and identification, tests and testing, technical information, reports, drawings and specifications, manufacturing, production, procurement, supply and demand, modifications, maintenance, repair and disposal, etc."

In my view that's broad enough to include gun history books.

The DSCDS mandates that these records are to be maintained by DND for "5 years routine, 20 years disposal and sale" and then transferred to Library and Archives Canada (where they are maintained in perpetuity)

I found that very few people in DND either understood or obeyed the DSCDS and am wondering if this is the case here.

I find it shocking that we would destroy something as historically significant as gun history books.

Have any of you ever come across the issue of retaining or destroying gun history books and if so what authorities were being used?
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Offline Petard

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2014, 20:55:16 »
If it really is important to some kind of research, I can put you in touch with those that would still maintain the records of these guns, but really I'm not sure what purpose saving those type of documents would serve. The gun history book is more a summary of the life; installation of parts and modification of the system is not recorded just in the gun history book. One part of it that is the only real source of data, is the record of rounds fired and calibration data. Although rarely accurate, this and MV data is supposed to be sent to the Artillery School Master Gunner, for all guns in Canadian service. Lately, in practice, the delivery of that data has rarely been consistent.

Edited: Previously had some info posted that I'll need to check my own archives to make sure I got it right
PM me if further info required
« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 21:04:33 by Petard »

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2014, 21:30:44 »
The first objective of this post has been met. The Canadian Armed Forces have been involved in two incidents that seem to be at 3200 mils to on another, but Petard can probability sort it out.

First one, in 1968 we transferred one or two US 155mm guns to Gerald Bull's HARP project. We soon get a complaint because the daily record of round fired had been destroyed with the rest of the gun history book. That, the master gunner, who owned the gun park proclaimed was by regulation. However, a friend who attended the Australian Army Staff told mw that he was shown daily record of rounds fired signed by ourselves and tons of fellow officers in the gun history books of C1's we sol d to Austraila.

Offline FJAG

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2014, 21:57:15 »
If it really is important to some kind of research . . .

I don't need the info at all.

I was just surprised that these records are being destroyed rather than transferred to Library and Archives Canada.

S12 of the Library and Archives Canada Act provides that "12. (1) No government or ministerial record, whether or not it is surplus property of a government institution, shall be disposed of, including by being destroyed, without the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist or of a person to whom the Librarian and Archivist has, in writing, delegated the power to give such consents." The DSCDS is the authority for DND to destroy specific records and I see nothing in it that would indicates that there is an authority to destroy gun history books. If in fact the data in the books is being transcribed or aggregated at some point into a master record then that could be the authority to treat the gun history books as "transient records" which it is permissible to destroy.

Just wondering what justification/procedures we were using to do so.

Actually on second thought, I do have an issue. Recently I visited an M109 which was put up as a memorial in the town of Wallaceburg and when I recently visited it it made me wonder what it's history had been and whether it and I had crossed paths in the 3rd  back in the day. Any idea who might be able to trace that?

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Offline Petard

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2014, 23:26:43 »
M109 disposal team dispersed awhile ago, but I'll check to see who's minding the records (used to be me BTW)

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 01:24:10 »
One of those at 26 Fld armouries for some reason.
Apparently infamous for his one liners.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 10:47:26 »
We are having similar issues with files on works built and then removed, we wanted IM to retain the file and manage retention periods and disposal. But now they don't want to be the caretaker anymore, seems they want to be only the "advisor" and not get their hands dirty.

Offline FJAG

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 20:22:39 »
We are having similar issues with files on works built and then removed, we wanted IM to retain the file and manage retention periods and disposal. But now they don't want to be the caretaker anymore, seems they want to be only the "advisor" and not get their hands dirty.

Not unusual for IM.

The only place that I know of where there is an aggregated records management scenario is in Ottawa with Shared Support Services which sits as an intermediary between the user/records generating UIC and Library and Archives Canada.

Everywhere else the UICs deal directly with the regional Federal Records Centres as to files/records that required transfer.

There may be some bases and stations that also aggregate records but on a tour that I did some six years ago visiting the various regional AJAG/DJA offices we found that the bases that they were on certainly did not aggregate.

The whole DND RM system is working well below optimum. -- and don't even get me started on electronic records management  :facepalm:

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Offline Newt

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2014, 09:59:12 »
Records Management isn't much better off in most businesses I've worked for, including a couple regulatory bodies and crown corporations. DND did take a step in the right direction by making everyone go through the IM Intro module, but needs to follow it up with the infrastructure and SME's to support it.

I'm not in the artillery, and don't know a lot about the content of the gun history books, but I assume there's a lot of information in them that would be of interest to everyone from historians (which gun was where, and when) to engineers.
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Offline Petard

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2014, 12:03:52 »
I don't need the info at all.

I was just surprised that these records are being destroyed rather than transferred to Library and Archives Canada...

Just wondering what justification/procedures we were using to do so.

Actually on second thought, I do have an issue. Recently I visited an M109 which was put up as a memorial in the town of Wallaceburg and when I recently visited it it made me wonder what it's history had been and whether it and I had crossed paths in the 3rd  back in the day. Any idea who might be able to trace that?

 :cheers:

A bit of follow up on this, the short answer is I can't find someone that can speak to whether or not the history books should be destroyed.

The longer answer
All I have left, with regards to the M109 fleet, are some emails on their possible sale to a foreign power, then disposal. In the disposal directions, there is nothing stating the gun history books are to be destroyed, but then there's also nothing saying they're to be held in archive either, other than guns to be held in artifact condition. This is the same story for the C1 fleet, also recently divested.

The gun in Wallaceburg, CFR 68-34808, was one of the first turned into a monument. By the first two numbers alone, it can be identified as one of the 1st 50 M109, short barrel, brought into service ~1966-67. Since it was also turned into a monument at an early stage of the fleet reduction, it would be a fair guess it was one of the 18 guns declared surplus in 1999, and were held at 25 CFSD for eventual disposal. There was a lot of information I found on how the guns are to be prepared, and made environmentally sound for display as monument, but nothing on keeping the gun history books. 

By comparison, the disposal instructions for a gun to be displayed in "artifact" condition are very clear; their components are to be relatively in tact, other than it cannot fire, and their gun history books are to be retained. This would only apply to two guns that I know of
 -the M109A4 in the Shilo Artillery museum, CFR 68-34838; in fact is still in running condition, last I heard.
- the gun at the war museum in Ottawa, CFR 85-77249, is also in artifact condition.
RMC and the Museum in Gagetown also requested "artifact" guns, but near as I can tell this was not possible due to cost and were instead delivered in monument condition instead

I can see the point of your argument though, that they should be held for all guns. For example, Canada bought 26 M109A2 in 1985, and they were all shipped to Germany, the older M109A3* already there shipped back to Canada. Shortly after these "new" guns were put into use, problems developed with the recoil system (metal filings from manufacture left in the recoil cylinders) which eventually caused the entire fleet to be grounded by the summer of 86. Now someone doing research on that event, would probably go to archive Canada to search for records that determine when exactly that occurred, and the duration it took to repair them all. Certainly a gun history book would help shorten the hunt for that information, but in all likeliness, those books were eliminated, save possibly for two.

The information that is unique in the gun history books, are the record of rounds fired, and calibration data. But like I mentioned earlier, this information is also supposed to be held, and maintained, by the RCAS Master Gunner. I'm not sure, but I'm doubtful those records are retained either after a gun is disposed. I should point out here, that those records themselves are typically very flawed; many units seem to look at maintaining record of round history as an onerous task (akin to doing your taxes by hand), and in my experience many have been lax at it.

Gun history books seem to be thought of something like a running ledger sheet, and there are other records to prove when they were bought, parts replaced etc, but I can't find anything to support that those records are necessarily retained either.
I would have to say there would be potential historical value in making sure all gun history books were archived, for real historical purposes and not just so someone can confirm an emotional connection a gun they might have served on. Right now, I can't find the proof that they are retained

* M109A3 is an M109A1 converted to same capability as an M109A2
« Last Edit: October 19, 2014, 12:08:37 by Petard »

Offline FJAG

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2014, 21:13:43 »
Thanks for all your research on this Petard.

Like I said above, I've had extensive experience with DND record management. The rule of thumb is that all DND "records" (i.e. "any documentary material other than a publication, regardless of medium or form") is to be retained and disposed of in accordance with the DSCDS.

Aside from that the only interest I have in this was to see if CFR 68-34808 and I served together in the same battery. I know that the upkeep of gun history books was always a pain for the troops even though the job was not particularly onerous. I remember that as a young GPO (in the days of the old two-troop batteries) one always had to push to get the post-exercise EFC data for entry. Still the books provided a nice trail of where the guns had been and what had been done with them.

Too bad. A little bit of history gone.

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Offline Petard

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2017, 15:52:44 »
Just reviving this ole one as I came across some updated info on the subject

Recently some folks have contacted me trying to confirm where a particular M109 monument had been in service, not sure why this is so important, but got in touch the life cycle manager I'd worked with, to see if he could help out; there was good news and bad news.

He info'd me that the gun history books had not been destroyed, and that they had tried to get them stored at the Library and Archives of Canada, but due to budget cuts at the time they weren't able to catalog them so sent them back.  They were being stored at the Louis st Laurent building until they could be properly archieved, but the recent fire there also resulted in significant water damage, including where the gun history books had been stored. A lot of the items in the building affected by the fire were moved to a temporary storage facility at Tunney's pasture, where they are being vetted for salvageability; no word yet on the state of the books. No confirmation, as of yet, on the gun history books being backed up digitally either, but it is very likely they were.

One of the few back up files readily available, is one describing the status of the M109 fleet when they were put into storage, this includes the last unit that used a particular Gun. In the case of 68-34808 it last served with 2 RCHA, but I have nothing on where it served prior 

Offline FJAG

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2017, 20:13:34 »
Just reviving this ole one as I came across some updated info on the subject

Recently some folks have contacted me trying to confirm where a particular M109 monument had been in service, not sure why this is so important, but got in touch the life cycle manager I'd worked with, to see if he could help out; there was good news and bad news.

He info'd me that the gun history books had not been destroyed, and that they had tried to get them stored at the Library and Archives of Canada, but due to budget cuts at the time they weren't able to catalog them so sent them back.  They were being stored at the Louis st Laurent building until they could be properly archieved, but the recent fire there also resulted in significant water damage, including where the gun history books had been stored. A lot of the items in the building affected by the fire were moved to a temporary storage facility at Tunney's pasture, where they are being vetted for salvageability; no word yet on the state of the books. No confirmation, as of yet, on the gun history books being backed up digitally either, but it is very likely they were.

One of the few back up files readily available, is one describing the status of the M109 fleet when they were put into storage, this includes the last unit that used a particular Gun. In the case of 68-34808 it last served with 2 RCHA, but I have nothing on where it served prior

That sounds typical for Library and Archives Canada.

I did some further checking myself into the DSCDS (at least the way it was at the time of my retirement. File series 11030 relates to:

Quote
EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES - GUNS, OVER 150 MM THROUGH 200 MM

and which require that all:

Quote
Records pertaining to guns over 150 mm through 200 mm including cataloguing and identification, tests and testing, technical information, reports, drawings and specifications, manufacturing, production, procurement, supply and demand, modifications, maintenance, repair and disposal, etc.

The record holder shall:

Quote
transfer records to Library and Archives Canada at the end of the retention period

The retention period is specified as five years.

LAC is hard pressed to keep up with DND records because DND has a bad habit of not stripping transitory records and other material that does not require retention or archiving from files as we close them and therefore there are miles and miles of DND files littering LAC shelf space. LAC itself does not have the staff to properly vet and strip these files (besides they are not the subject experts on the contents of the files)

As far as converting to electronic files, when I visited the LAC facilities in Halifax, they had racks and racks of large format computer tapes which were part of the original frigate construction program. Those tapes were in the process of disintegrating which probably made no difference anyway because the computer systems to read the tapes no longer existed.

At the time I retired LAC was mired in a project to develop a comprehensive system which would allow for the acceptance of electronic records and the conversion of paper to electronic. That project was seriously stalled and I have no idea whether they have ever resolved it although I do know that they do receive certain types of electronic data.

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Offline Colin P

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2017, 12:33:28 »
We are trying to deal with 15,000+ files before November, we did hire 2 temps and had an officer strip out the transitory/duplicate stuff, in 6 weeks they did about 4-500 files. It's full time consuming work. Then we tried scanning the files here without stripping and got a another few hundred done. Now we are shipping the files to PW who will scan the entire file as one document, without going through it. We are forced to use RDMIN, which to me is a one way black hole, but we are tagging the numbers to our database so hopefully we can find it again. The plan will be, that as a file is pulled up, open the large document, then "print to file" (creates a .pdf) approvals, plans, important docs and then we up load those to our database which is way more user friendly and far more searchable.   

Offline FJAG

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2017, 15:26:11 »
We are trying to deal with 15,000+ files before November, we did hire 2 temps and had an officer strip out the transitory/duplicate stuff, in 6 weeks they did about 4-500 files. It's full time consuming work. Then we tried scanning the files here without stripping and got a another few hundred done. Now we are shipping the files to PW who will scan the entire file as one document, without going through it. We are forced to use RDMIN, which to me is a one way black hole, but we are tagging the numbers to our database so hopefully we can find it again. The plan will be, that as a file is pulled up, open the large document, then "print to file" (creates a .pdf) approvals, plans, important docs and then we up load those to our database which is way more user friendly and far more searchable.

Not familiar with RDMIN--did you by chance mean RDIMS (which I understand is being scheduled to be replaced by GCDOCS).

When we transitioned JAG to RDIMS (we too were forced to use it by IM Gp) we adopted a "day forward system" but still needed four full-time add-on staff to go through and catalogue our existing and closed files (just for file titles and location, stripping etc and not to scan documents into the system).

We looked at several possible solutions to scan in and considered the concept of scanning old documents as time and cost prohibitive and providing too little return for investment. We ended up accepting that if we could access within RDIMS the location/disposition of all our old paper files and had full access to all newly created files and documents then we had achieved a reasonable compromise.

I'm not sure that we ever had a total handle on the number of files involved but would think we would have been close to but not over 15k. As it was we had taken a year dealing with all existing and many old closed files and were far from finished by the time I left the project.

Good luck. I feel your pain.

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Offline Colin P

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2017, 16:17:30 »
Sorry yes RDIMS, I get shakes just thinking about that database, it's apparently not so bad if you live breathe and poop it, but if your an occasional user it's a nightmare. I heard some good feedback on GCDOCS, but not heard anything lately about transitions, I think they are shy about adopting anything new for a bit.
I think part of the problem is that most of our senior management has no grasp of our day to day business or the consequences of the imposed policy, regs and Acts. They also don't have an appreciation for the work that was done by the office admin staff. We used to work in teams of officer/assistant and really the assistant was the custodian of the file which they "lent" to us officers to perform our tasks and the assistants kept our files up to date and organized. I came into the office environment from the ships and I had to say the files were a thing of beauty, the assistants took real pride in their work and god help you if you misplaced a file or did not fill in your stuff correctly. Now our files are a mess, half electronic, half paper, we been bumped around , kicked out of our file room, we misplaced a lot of files in the meantime and our admin staff was cut by 40% and yet the requirements for file management has doubled. RDIMS is a real time sucking monster to process everything into. So more demands, less staff, with less skillsets and less morale. I pity the historians that are going to want to research this period in 200 years, so much data, no pattern and massive gaps, both intentional and unintentional. 
« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 10:09:55 by Colin P »

Offline FJAG

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Re: Destroying Gun History Books
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2017, 01:40:47 »
I actually got to like RDIMS although at the time we adopted it (2009) we all knew it was older technology (HummingBird 5.2 I believe) but it was approved for use and we were able to interconnect it with our SharePoint 2007 system and all the existing Microsoft desktop software.

You are bang on the money when you talk about senior management not having a grasp (and more importantly not wanting to make time to get a grasp). About 50% of my time as the project director was targeted on business analysis and development direction and 50% on the business transformation for implementation plan.

I was lucky. As a DJAG I sat on the JAG's weekly Deputies' Meeting and therefore could sneak in a fair number of presentations and briefings on the project to get senior leadership on board. Most Project Directors are far removed from senior command and only get to do the occasional briefing.

Business Transformation is where everything falls down in DND. We analyzed the products we were delivering as requiring that each individual in JAG receive a solid 30 hours of distance learning to be delivered through DNDLearn; three days in the classroom; and two days by project staff supervising workers at their desktops. Management gave us 16 hours DNDLearn and one day classroom and one day supervising. I could never understand how DND can send people on courses for months on end to learn their military skills but expect them to pick up their computer skills by osmosis.

In the end RDIMS does take more time to use in that it requires a slightly longer entry time for documents (like Word which we had to save to a disc before), and substantially more time to save emails (which we had never saved them before except perhaps printing copies for the paper file. We were allowed to modify the RDIMS data entry screens for our system so that saving records was more intuitive and many entry fields were auto prefilled based on the user's profile. IMHO, the benefits of a comprehensive Document/RM system outweigh the extra upfront work.

 :cheers:
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