This is an archived page from the older DCBoard Forum of RAF Commands. This page is read-only. If you wish to post a query about this page, then please go to the newer RAF Commands Forum and register as a member. Alternatively you can leave a comment on this page using Facebook in the comments box at the bottom of the page.


Pilots in The Great War

Pilots in The Great War
Author: Deborah Keegan (Guest)
Time Stamp:
16:18:22 07 July 2001
Post:
Did USAAF pilots fly with the RAF pilots before 1941?

If they did fly with the RAF prior to 1941 did they wear their USAAF insignia on their flight suit?


RE: Pilots in The Great War
Author: N. John Hooper 10 Sqdn RAF (Guest)
Time Stamp:
22:16:26 07 July 2001
Post:
Hi Deborah: No US born personnel (NOT USAAF) wore US insignia

prior to 1941. When US born personnel were released to the USAAF

they wore both insignia, as did those who remained withe RAF.

Those who joined via Canada were treated in the same manner.

As far as I know the USAAF personnel attached to the RAF wore

their US uniforms and insignia. We had a US citizen on 10 Sqdn RAF. He was Dan Brennan, thew writer, who later transferred to the USAAF.



RE: Pilots in The Great War
Author: Hugh A. Halliday (Guest)
Time Stamp:
22:56:10 07 July 2001
Post:
I cannot recall the source, but recall a report that the Catalina crew which found BISMARK (May 1941) included a USN pilot or co-pilot, and that this was hushed up at the time to save embarassment to "neutral" America. Would anyone be able to confirm this ?


RE: USN Aircrew
Author: Ross_McNeill
Time Stamp:
14:24:30 10 July 2001
Post:
Hi Hugh,

There were a number of aircraft flying with USN airmen in Coastal Command prior to December 1941 so it is possible that one was aboard Briggs Catalina.

For example Esn. D A Eldred USN was killed when the No.413 Sqn RAF Catalina (AH556) that he was captain of crashed at Stranraer on 28/08/41.

Regards

Ross



RE: Pilots in The Great War
Author: phantom
Time Stamp:
23:46:01 07 July 2001
Post:
Hi Deborah,

To add to John's comments, there were a number of legal ramifications to US citizens serving in "foreign" militaries. Most significant was the loss of citizenship that resulted if one was caught.

My grandfather served in the RAF and joined, via Canada and RCAF, in early 1941. He served under an assumed name in order to attempt to limit his likelihood of being caught. My understanding is that the citizenship problem had likely been resolved by this point but he proceeded under his false identity anyway.

Despite the situation depicted in the movie "Pearl Harbor", there were no US servicemen serving in the RAF. Seven Americans flew during the Battle of Britain but the Eagle Squadrons, as shown in the movie, weren't involved in this campaign. In any event, these Americans entered service via RAF, directly, or, more likely, by way of the Canada. None were active US servicemen "on loan" to RAF.

There are instances of Americans serving on RAF squadrons after 1942. These were military personnel on official exchange assignments. A few were former RAF/RCAF aircrew who managed to arrange being kept on their RAF squadrons -- usually so they could complete their tours with their crews (Bomber Command). These guys would wear their USAAF/USAAC uniforms and were US servicemen.

In my gandfather's case, his uniforms were strictly RAF items. His wings were RCAF on his service tunic but standard RAF on his battle jacket. The only hint of his nationality was by way of small "USA" titles on his shoulders.

While he was offered a chance to transfer to USAAF, he never accepted -- preferring to remain with his squadron. I believe he was probably so thoroughly ingrained with the British methodology of operations that he was uncomfortable at the thought of deviating from the system he knew. Pure supposition on my part.

I'm not aware of any regulation that would allow US wings to be worn on the RAF uniform, although, as John stated, the former RAF/RCAF aircrew were allowed to wear both wings upon transfer to USAAF.

An interesting wings fact is that Commonwealth aircrew training in the US were awarded standard RAF wings while any Americans attending the same course were officially awarded both RAF and US wings.

Chris



RE: Pilots in The Great War
Author: Hugh A. Halliday (Guest)
Time Stamp:
12:24:06 08 July 2001
Post:
A good book to read is THE AERODROME OF DEMOCRACY by Fred Hatch (some 20 years old) which dealt with various aspects of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The problem for Americans seeking to join the RCAF and RAF early in the war was the oath of bear "true allegiance" to George VI, which by implication was a renunciation of American citizenship. In June 1940 the Canadian government waived the oath of allegiance for foreign nationals, who henceforth were asked only to take an "oath of obedience" - in other words, to follow the rules of military discipline for the duration of their RCAF service.

That rule change permitted a steady flow of Americans northward to enlist. Training Schools began to resonate with American accents; some courses were composed 50 percent of American students. Many more claimed to be Texans than was actually the case; girls who would not have been attracted to somebody from Rhode Island might find a man from Texas more interesting !

As of December 8th, 1941, approximately 6,129 Americans were members of the RCAF. Just over half - 3,883 - were still undergoing training, but 667 were on operations overseas while others were engaged in flying duties in Canada itself - instructing, anti-submarine patrols, etc. With America's entry into the war, RCAF recruiting in the U.S. ceased and American volunteers headed for USAAF offices instead. Americans residing in Canada were still being enrolled, however. Ultimately, the RCAF calculated that over 8,860 U.S. nationals joined that force.

Within a month of Pearl Harbour, official talks were under way for the transfer of Americans from the RCAF to American flying services. In May and June 1942 a board of Canadian and American officers crossed Canada by special train, effecting the release of 1,759 Americans from the RCAF and enroling them simultaneously in American forces. Although the largest number of transfers took place in 1942, the process continued throughout the war. The RCAF calculated that 3,797 Americans switched back to their own national forces. That left 5,067 Americans who elected to stay with the RCAF throughout their service careers.

Many of the Americans had very distinguished battle records, but there is no question as to who gained the greatest fame. Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, born in China of missionary parents, wrote the "High Flight" while training with the RCAF; he was killed on December 11th, 1941 when his No.411 Squadron Spitfire collided with an Oxford aircraft in England. The original manuscript of "High Flight" is in the Library of Congress.

There is a scene in the movie "Captains of the Clouds" when Air Marshal W.A. "Billy" Bishop is presenting pilot's wings to a 1941 RCAF graduating class. One of the men is identified as "Groves". As Bishop pins on the wings a short conversation ensues:

Bishop: And where are you from, son ?

Groves: Texas, sir.

Bishop: One of our most loyal provinces.

Groves: We think so, sir.

Bishop: Well, I think so, too. And we thank you for coming up here and helping us.


RE: Pilots in The Great War
Author: Deborah Keegan (Guest)
Time Stamp:
18:13:19 09 July 2001
Post:
Thanks John, Hugh, Chris, & Alan



RE: Pilots in The Great War ( World War II Version)
Author: N. JOHN HOOPER (Guest)
Time Stamp:
20:21:14 09 July 2001
Post:
Hi Hugh: I'm having to "Piggyback" this question on Deborah's message as I have not yet broken the code on how to origate my own question. My question is: Who were the Civilian Training Corp

that helped to train Commonwealth airmen in WWII, and does a record of its efforts still exist?


RE: Pilots in The Great War ( World War II Version)
Author: Hugh A. Halliday (Guest)
Time Stamp:
23:37:28 09 July 2001
Post:
I am unfamiliar with this phrase or organization in a Canadian or BCATP context; the word "Corps" is almost surely a give-away for it being an American organization.

The BCATP had a substantial civilian element, particularly in the early phases of the war and at the AOS and EFTS training centres (and more paricularly at school management levels) - but not to the extent of hiving off the civil content into a distinct "Corps".


RE: Pilots in The Great War ( World War II Version)
Author: N.John Hooper (Guest)
Time Stamp:
02:38:45 11 July 2001
Post:
Hi Hugh: I remember a member of the "Corps" at Radio School at Yatesbury in 1943. He was an American Merchant Marine Officer and a fantastic radio operator. He could copy from the "Creed" tape machine at upwards of 40wpm while talking to the class and reading a book! His uniform was RAF blue with no insignias except a shoulder flash of some kind denoting he was a member of the "Civilian Training Corps"


Are you thinking about the movie "Pearl Habour"?
Author: RodM (Guest)
Time Stamp:
14:57:16 12 July 2001
Post:
Dear Deborah,

I was wondering if your question was promted by that recent movie, which, with the usual American flair, managed to slightly rewrite the history books!

In that movie, Ben Affleck played a character who was in the U.S.A.A.F. but was assigned to R.A.F. service.

Usually, Americans participated in the European war before Pearl Habour by joined the R.C.A.F. or the R.A.F.

Although I don't like how that portrayed Affleck's character as being in the U.S.A.A.F. and attached to an Eagle Squadron, I think that they had to do it this way in order to be able to bring this character "home" in time for the Japanese attack. If he had been in the R.C.A.F. or R.A.F., he would still have been fighting against the Axis in December 1941.

Regards

Rod

PS - It is not usual for Hollywood to alter historical facts to suit American audiences. The recent movie "U-571" and Steve McQueen's role in "The Great Escape" spring to mind.


RE: Are you thinking about the movie "Pearl Habour"?
Author: N. John Hooper (Guest)
Time Stamp:
13:42:58 14 July 2001
Post:
Take a look at most of the Disney movies like " Pocohontas" and

bless my soul, "The History Channel" My old boss, MRAF Sir Arthur Harris said it right at a joint Bomber Command/Eighth Air Force Reunion in London over 20 yrs ago---"Write your stories right, because someone later will write them wrong"

Enough said!!