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Thread: Mutiny at the OTU in Summer '42

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    Default Mutiny at the OTU in Summer '42

    I have just read an account in the official history of the RCAF, The Crucible of War 1939-1945, of a near mutiny by OTU air crew in the summer of 1942 over being sent on ops in old crates to make up numbers for Harris's millennium raids. The source quoted is Sweanor, It's All Pensionable Time, AHB, Bomber Command Narrative, IV, 96-97, DHist 86/286.

    Does anyone have a copy of this and can you tell me any specifics about what unit this was or how widespread it was? Or does anyone know about similar incidents?

    The passage in Crucible says the crews were warned this was mutiny but nothing more came of it and the practice was quietly stopped because of the effect losses were having on the flow of replacements - and, presumably, the justified complaints.
    David

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    I do remember a conversation with a former Wellington pilot instructor. He really hated the Wellingtons at his OTU they were old and dangerous. He kept requesting a transfer to return to operational flying as he felt it was much safer !

    He told me of one incident when he had just landed and went to complain to his flight commander about the state of his aircraft. Just as he started talking there was an almighty crash, the undercarriage of his Wellington had collapsed and his aircraft took alight !

    Mark

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    Hi David,

    I know that several Czechoslovak crews of 1429 COTF were also taking part in the Millenium raids and also on old crates previosuly used for several months of operational flying, some of them made 30-40 sorties before starting operational training with the COTF.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    It was normal practice for aircraft to be used by the OCUs after time on operational squadrons and passing through major servicing. What alternative would you suggest, just scrapping them and settling for a much smaller air force? Or sending the latest aircraft to the OCUs and letting the operational units only have older types?

    30-40 sorties does not seem a terribly long time in an aircraft's life - several operational aircraft were to achieve over 100 missions. Of course, the same again in clumsy trainees' hands might cause a lot more wear and tear.

    It was not too uncommon for OCU crews to be sent on operational sorties, although this would usually be only the instructors and the more advanced pupils. In the case of the early 1000 aircraft raids, even Coastal Command was asked to provide aircraft and crews.
    Last edited by Graham Boak; 2nd April 2009 at 18:39.

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    Default Coastal Command in Millenium Raids

    If I remember correctly, Coastal Command only took part in one Millenium raid. th eone against Bremen on 25/26 June 1942.

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    From reading the crews' complaints in the history I quoted, it seems the old Wellingtons were pretty shaky from constant use in training after their service in operational squadrons was over. In one example cited, a pilot was walking away from his plane to complain to a commander about the age of the aircraft when its landing gear collapsed. The statistics were also showing that loss rates were higher among the OTU crews, which is why Harris didn't push the point on subsequent raids.
    Last edited by dfuller52; 3rd April 2009 at 10:29.
    David

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    Max Hastings, in his work, does specifically state that Coastal Comand refused to send its crews on the first (Cologne) raid. Thanks for the correction.

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    hello,

    I'd say it is in "The Thousand Plan" by Ralph Barker that I read that Coastal Command at first would have given a positive answer to take part in the first "1000 raid" but then changed its mind. In 1942, there were some thoughts that Bomber Command would be more efficient to the war effort by taking part in the anti submarine war than in a bombing campaign. So helping BC to prove its point about bombing was against the idea to have the bombers patrolling over the Atlantic.

    I don't recall specifically anything about a "mutiny" in the OTUs.

    I read the book a few years ago, but other forumites might have a more recent souvenir.

    Joss

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    Default "Sir, we are not cowards..."

    From Crucible of War:

    (Monday, Sept. 14, 1942)

    "Tension was at the boiling point at Atherstone where the crews were united in their opposition, and their spokesman advised the CO: 'Sir, we are not cowards, but we refuse to go on any more ops in these old kites'. The CO, although sympathetic, warned of the terrible consequences of mutiny.... The crews stood fast in their refusal."

    The account goes on to to note that weather cancelled the next planned raid to Essen and when it was rescheduled, the OTUs were left out of the plans. Previously, one OTU lost 10 out of 14 crews and most of the instructors were dead. The Atherton crews did later agree to go on the op if their concerns were taken to Bomber Command Headquarters. Harris directed that OTU crews were to be withdrawn from bombing missions.

    So the OTU that was at RAF Atherstone was No. 22 flying Wellingtons but the Canadian quoted refers to an undercurrent of unrest, which implies it was more wide spread.

    The author also writes about CC's refusal to send squadrons on the Millennium raids after first offering to help.
    Last edited by dfuller52; 3rd April 2009 at 15:11. Reason: addt'l info
    David

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    I don't know if Mutiny, or Incitement To Mutiny, is the greater offence under Air Force Law (holders of MAFL will be reaching for their copies!). Incitement To Mutiny was certainly covered by the Incitement To Mutiny Act of 1797 - which was not formally repealed until the end of 1998! The Trigh Road lot in 1946 were almost certainly "done" under it.
    Although Capital Punishment in UK was abolished fairly recently, it still remained a Capital Offence to (a) Commit Arson In State Dockyards, (b) Piracy On The High Seas, and (c) Treason Against the Sovereign's Majesty. These were all repealed in a huge blitz on all these outdated, and arcane, Laws in the early 1990's. I recall that it became no longer an Offence to sound a steam trumpet in Inverness between dusk on Saturday and dawn on Sunday without a licence! - etc, etc, etc.
    Nevertheless, these guys were taking a big risk. Mutiny in peacetime is one thing, but Mutiny in wartime is an altogether different 'kettle of fish'! One has to assume that the potential Mutineers were explained the letter of the law and the likely outcome. It says a lot for their Commanders (right up, it seems, to Harris) that the guys intended to go through with their threats not to fly clapped out kites, and their ancient, battle-worn, airframes were withdrawn from the Order Of Battle.
    Interesting problem for Cranwell to put to various levels of Command Schools. I have contacts in that area. I might suggest it be investigated!!!!!!!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 3rd April 2009 at 15:44.
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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