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Thread: School Education for Aircrew in Aus, NZ and Canada

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    Default School Education for Aircrew in Aus, NZ and Canada

    Hello,

    Does anyone know - or can anyone point out a book where I can find more about the subject - what school education was needed in order to be able to join the RAAF, RNZAF or RCAF during the war?

    Best regards

    Erwin van Loo

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    From memory, in Canada there was a range of "acceptable" education levels, depending on where you were headed. Early in the war flight crew needed a minimum of senior matriculation (roughly equivalent to university entrance or even one year of college), but this slid to junior matriculation (about Grade 10 or 11) by the end of the war. Better schooling improved your chance of a commission, as did prior managerial work experience, and even family connections in some cases (but apparently not to the extent it did in the UK).

    Ground crew requirements initially placed an emphasis on some high school, but again slid by the end of the war. There were at least a few cases of "self taught" people with practical mechanical experience, and no high school, arriving at the technical trades schools. I have heard of at least one doing fairly well, and serving post war as a senior NCO for many years.

    Again from memory, there were several cases where higher education, like university or civil flight training, doomed the keen young volunteer to duty as a BCATP instructor, ferry pilot, or an adminstrative position.

    For our non-North American readers, "high school" usually started at Grade 9 or 10 in Canada, meaning the student was at least 15 or 16 when they entered. University or college would start at ages 18 or older.

    This is explained more fully in the official RCAF histories, especially the volume on the BCATP. Don't have an author or full name in front of me right now, but I'm sure another reader can supply this.

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    Default School Education for Aircrew in Aus, NZ and Canada

    My Australian RAAF father ,104 RAF & 31 SAAF Italy, took the Intermediate Certificate aged 15 or 16,the Leaving Certificate aged 17 or 18 where he excelled in Maths & completed University before enlisting.He was an Observer /Bombaimer & the Leading Bombaimer at 31 SAAF from Aug. 1944 until his Liberator disappeared in Oct .'44
    Two of his fellow RAAF 31 & 34 SAAF airmen, 21 & 23 yr old pilots, were school teachers before enlisting so would have completed the Inter. & Leaving & possibly University .

    Anne

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    Hi Erwin

    we touched on this a month or so ago, though only in context to Canada/RCAF:

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?t=431

    A

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    Default Aussies in Bomber Command

    The following is an extract from the 2003 History Conference - the Air War in Europe, given by Prof. Hank Nelson:

    Given the demand for places in aircrew training, the selecting officers could afford to be selective. Those chosen were likely to have been sportsmen, preferably having been captain of a team, were educated above the average, had an air of confidence, spoke fluently and indicated some interest in flying or at least in motor cars or motor bicycles. Over 90 per cent of aircrew in 1940 had over four years of secondary schooling, when at that time such a qualification was less common than a degree is today. In 1939, those with the education were likely to be university students, school teachers, journalists, public servants, and junior office workers in banks and large insurance and trading firms.

    Gus Belford, an Australian Lancaster pilot in 463 Squadron, says in his autobiography that propsective pilots and navigators had to have a Leavers Certificate, preferably in science and maths.

    Regards
    Max

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    Dear all,

    Thanks for replying so far. It helped me a lot!

    Best regards,

    Erwin van Loo
    Neth. Inst. for Military History
    The Hague

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    Max,

    "Over 90 per cent of aircrew in 1940 had over four years of secondary schooling, when at that time such a qualification was less common than a degree is today."

    I'm rather sceptical of this statement. It certainly does not reflect the New Zealand situation, which I would have thought to be not all that different from that in Australia. Does he perhaps mean just pilots rather than 'aircrew' (air gunner requirements were set considerable lower than for pilots)? Does the Prof's conference paper include statistical tables, etc to back up his statement?

    Errol

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    I share Errol's skepticism, although I note that the prof is speaking about 1940. The "four years of secondary education" may fit Canadian officer flight crews (including non-pilots) early in the war, but certainly not NCO air crew, and even officers in the last few years of the war.

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    Default School Education for Aircrew in Aus, NZ and Canada

    Erwin
    You didn't ask about RAF crews in England .I know of young RAF recruits in England who left school at 14 & started work then joined the RAF.Because of "needs must" to help support the family or there was not a family tradition of going to University ? I wonder if boys left school at that age in Aus. & NZ & signed up to the airforce ?

    Anne

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    Default An extra word

    Dear all,

    Maybe I need to explain a little bit more about me asking this question. I'm a military historian of the Netherlands Institute for Military History in The Hague. I wrote several books about the (recent) history of the RNethAF and now I'm working on my Ph.D. about Dutchmen who served in the RAF and FAA during WWII. This will mainly be a 'social history': I'm trying to find out where these Dutchmen - a relative small group of only 1300 - came from, how they reached England, what their motivations were to join and what they experienced. I do have a good overall view about the background of 'my Dutch guys', but I'd like to compare it with other nations. I've been reading and searching for books and sources a lot the last couple of month but I was surprised to find only a few books which tell something about the selection criteria for allied aircrew. I do realise that there wasn't a set of criteria all along the war and that they were more or less fluid, but still... another point which struck me was that, although the dominions supplied so many aircrew for the RAF, there are not that many books that give this subject a lot of attention, except some literature from Canadian or Australian origin. Perhaps military history was and is mainly nationally orientated. Anyway, thanks a lot for the interesting views on this subject. I'll keep searching. And if can help anyone with some Dutch airman-related question, just ask me.

    Best regards,

    Erwin van Loo

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