Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Winston Churchill - black aircrew

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Suffolk
    Posts
    828
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Winston Churchill - black aircrew

    Winston Churchill - black aircrew

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hi guys

    I've seen it implied that Winston Churchill was against the idea of black aircrew joining the RAF.

    Can anyone point me in the direction of written evidence of this?

    Cheers
    Brian

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Grantham, Lincs
    Posts
    565
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Hello Brian,

    Not sure this will help as I have not read it, but a possible source of clues could be in Cy Grant's book " A Member of the RAF of Indeterminate Race".

    Bah humbug and all that,

    Ian

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    6,401
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 32 Times in 31 Posts

    Default

    Brian,

    At the start of World War II many West Indians wanted to enlist in the British military. However, the British War Office was reluctant to recruit black people from the colonies, despite the fact that West Indians had fought in World War I. Winston Churchill had sent a telegram to every Embassy and High Commission, telling them to find "administrative means" to reject black volunteers.

    Eventually, due to the shortage of manpower and the fear of serious protests in the Caribbean, some hundreds of well-qualified men were recruited as air crew and about 5,000 as ground crew for the RAF. Seventy became commissioned officers and over 100 were decorated for their bravery.

    See:
    Under One Flag:How Indigenous and Ethnic Peoples of the Commonwealth and former British Empire helped Great Britain win World War II.
    Myers-Davis,Erica.
    London:Get Publishing,2009.
    p.86.

    No sources quoted for the above comment, but see:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/colonies_colonials_01.shtml

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 24th December 2012 at 23:16.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,527
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked 11 Times in 11 Posts

    Default

    Barbara Leaming in her book “Churchill Defiant” (Harper Collins, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-133758-1) makes the point that Churchill was never enamoured of “the brown races”. You only have to look the number of (failed, or ‘difficult’?) senior officers who ended up being posted to India (Mountbatten, Browning, Leigh-Mallory, etc,). I get the distinct impression that Churchill saw India as a political dustbin.
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Lancashire
    Posts
    524
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    A very curious choice of names! In the case of Mountbatten, making him Supreme Commander in SEAC was hardly likely to happen if he was considered difficult or failed. Leigh-Mallory was well-favoured in the eyes of the Air Ministry, and IIRC intended to become head of 2 TAF and Deputy Allied Commander for D-Day (rather than Tedder). As for Browning, he lead the elite paratroopers in Europe until the end of the war.

    More generally, prewar posting to India was considered important in an officer's career, and a definite plus. Whereas retention in India after 1939 may have been considered a sign of lack of favour, that seems to be untrue from 1943 onwards.

    Now Wingate, there was an officer considered as "difficult", yes. But not Slim or Mountbatten, surely?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,527
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked 11 Times in 11 Posts

    Default

    Mountbatten had ideas above his station - and was meddling in the Succession. Who needs to be Commissioned in all three Services one might well ask? Overweening ego! His domestic life made him a laughing stock!
    Browning failed lamentably at Arnhem - I was on the team that made "A Bridge Too Far", and the military advisers to the film company were of a similar opinion. Browning made military decisions to try to make him personally 'famous' by the end of the War. Error of judgement.
    Leigh-Mallory was not, essentially, a 'team-player'. He was instrumental in undermining Park and Dowding. He was a dangerous officer and another supreme egotist!
    They all deserved each other, except that Leigh-Mallory was killed on the way to take up post.
    "Bill" Slim was one of the few very able Officers in that part of the War, and is to be applauded!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,527
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked 11 Times in 11 Posts

    Default

    Mountbatten had ideas above his station - and was meddling in the Succession. Who needs to be Commissioned in all three Services one might well ask? Overweening ego! His domestic life made him a laughing stock!
    Browning failed lamentably at Arnhem - I was on the team that made "A Bridge Too Far", and the military advisers to the film company were of a similar opinion. Browning made military decisions to try to make him personally 'famous' by the end of the War. Error of judgement.
    Leigh-Mallory was not, essentially, a 'team-player'. He was instrumental in undermining Park and Dowding. He was a dangerous officer and another supreme egotist!
    They all deserved each other, except that Leigh-Mallory was killed on the way to take up post.
    "Bill" Slim was one of the few very able Officers in that part of the War, and is to be applauded!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Hornsea, East Yorkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,789
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 23 Times in 22 Posts

    Default

    Hi Peter

    I think Mountbatten being given three commissions was standard policy, as all RAF officers with responsibilty for soldiers under joint command were given temporary Army commissions, examples being the AOC Iraq Command, the post was usually an AVM and the holder was given a commission as a Maj-Gen.

    Happy Christmas

    Malcolm

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Lancashire
    Posts
    524
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    There's a lot of post-event wisdom going on there. Mountbatten was not seen in such a negative light at the time, other than by officers passed by in his rapid rise. Having rank in different services must have materially assisted his time in the Commandoes, themselves cross-service in manning and operations.

    Browning's failure at Arnhem, which I would not disagree with, was very late in the war, to consider posting to the Far East as a punishment. The European war was over as far as such operations were possible - the war continued in the Far East.

    Your opinion of Leigh Mallory is that of a particular clique (now dominant but not then) who see Park and Dowding as heroes and others as villains - it has to be mentioned that L-M had his supporters both in higher and lower ranks. Although it goes against the grain of much comment, he cannot be faulted in believing that meeting numbers with numbers was the best way to win, as this is standard military theory then and now. Throwing penny packets against a larger force just means disproportionate losses. The lack of communication with Park cuts both ways, as Park consistently failed to call for assistance early enough for it to be effective. This failure to rein in his juniors must be seen as a major failing in Dowding's handling of the battle.

    However, this has gone a long way from discussing Churchill's supposed attitude to coloured personnel.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,527
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked 11 Times in 11 Posts

    Default

    Graham (et al), - I take your point(s)
    Sorry for ‘thread drift’ – but it is important.
    Many of these people were seen as “the saviours of the country” at the time - largely due to the public relations efforts (something we are not entirely unused to today?!!). It is only now, and after much diligent research by a few, that we learn that these so called ‘Knights In Shining Armour’ were nothing like. Many had delusions of grandeur – particularly Mountbatten. Montgomery had a very seriously flawed character, but we were told, at the time, that he was god’s gift to the army. I am surprised that after (or even, during!) his disastrous period as post-war GIGS he was not shunted off to be Governor of Bermuda/Falkands/Pitcairn/Tristan da Cunha, etc, etc. These people were flawed (some badly) when we were being told they were brilliant by the PR machine at the time. Those in power were not fooled.
    My point was – in pursuance of the original post in this thread – that Churchill (and/or his allies) did not send the failed, or unpopular, Generals/Air Marshals to one of the ‘white’ Commonwealth countries but to a ‘brown’ Commonwealth country!
    It may not be, today, very PC, to say this but historians have to attempt to get to the nearest approximation to the truth at the time regardless of how un/popular their views may be at any point in time!
    And as a "by the way", I did, in pursuit of the original post, some months ago, email some of the West Indies (now independent) countries to see if they had any knowledge of the personnel in the RAF Enlistment Numbers attributed to their locations (Routledge, and others). Not one single reply. What do you make of that? Perhaps a new thread is called for?
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •