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Thread: Airman Aircrew Ranks

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    Default Airman Aircrew Ranks

    Can anyone point me in the right direction please?

    I am of the belief that in 1940 Winston Churchill mandated that all airman aircrew should be of the rank of Sergeant and above (As up to then there were airmen from lesser ranks carrying out aircrew duties). What I am seeking is the context and the documentary evidence of this instruction.

    Phil

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    Hi Phil
    I think that the evidence that you seek may not exist. The RAF had always had NCO Aircrew from WW1 onwards in the Pilot and Observer categories. Any other need on a/c was met by volunteers from ground trades, namely Wireles operators and Fitters, and Armourers who retained their ground rank and continued in their trade when not flying. They recieved a pay supplement for flying duties. The advent of WW2 produced a change where it was seen that many more personnel would be needed across the board and training would be wasted if they were misemployed. A trained Groundcrew man would have wasted many months or years of skilled training and experience if all he did was fly where he would use only a fraction of his skills, and whilst there were no barriers to men volunteering to fly full time, the loss to the RAF of their ground skills would be a factor in the balancing act that Staffing the RAF rapidly became. The decision was made to capitalise on the simpler training for specialist Aircrew as against the Ground "equivalents" and the trade of W/Op -Airgunner was born with enough skill in both imparted for a man to function efficiently in the air but not on the ground.The orders were promulgated making these changes during 1940 whilst we were retreating from France, the later one during the period that we now call the Battle of Britain. It was also decided to make the minimum rank for Aircrew to be Sgt. and to parallel the WW1 and between wars practice for pilots and Observers.Just how much politics went into this is difficult to determine as it can be justified on the practical grounds of encouraging men to come forward for what would be,almost inevitably, front line duties in most instances, and right through the war, Aircrew were always volunteers.The timing of all this is not easy to determine beyond the dates in 1940 when the Sgt minimum for Aircrew was published, I believe in May and August. It seems to carry the mark of the evolution of previously considered ideas being accelerated by the pressure of War.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Hi Phil

    The raising of Air Gunners to NCO status came about as a result on AMO A.416/40 of 27 Jun 1940.

    It should be noted that the Observer did not actually exist in the the pre-war RAF. Those observers remaining after WW1 were gradually required to retrain as pilots or leave and it was 1937 before Observers were re-introduced.

    A good reference for all the details behind non-pilot aircrew can be found in 'Observers and Navigators' by C G Jefford

    Malcolm

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    Default Airman Aircrew Ranks

    Thanks for that guys.

    I am sure that I have read somewhere that Churchill was involved in this.
    Maybe I am confusing this subject with something else (Not for the first time !).

    Thanks again.

    Phil

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    Hi Phil

    You may be confusing this with Churchills comments that the RAF should not have to rely on the Army for ground defence whicj led to the introduction of Ground Gunners and eventually the RAF Regiment.

    Malcolm

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    Thanks for that Malcolm. I know about the formation of the RAF Regt and the comments made by WSC.

    Phil


    Quote Originally Posted by malcolm_raf View Post
    Hi Phil

    You may be confusing this with Churchills comments that the RAF should not have to rely on the Army for ground defence whicj led to the introduction of Ground Gunners and eventually the RAF Regiment.

    Malcolm

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