A pilot's log book launches a search to fill the blanks
Chain Home radar cover, bases and group boundaries. Image from Wikipedia
Looking at the various routes of the groups reminds me that I wrote a history paper on 6 Group, which was, if I remember correctly, the only Group composed entirely of Canadians. I wrote the paper on Dad’s suggestion, because it was a tiny slice of a much larger picture of the Canadian participation in the RAF. I loved writing the paper. I used one rather large book from Dad’s collection and an unpublished dissertation on microfiche at the University of Calgary Library. Unfortunately I used rather too much of the former source and was docked marks for not drawing more on the microfiche source. I got a B- on the paper and cried for days. Did the professor not realize how painfully tedious the microfiche system is? I am going to look for the paper in my stacks of school papers. I do not regret writing it for one instant. I think it pleased Dad that I loved history, loved war history and looked to him for inspiration. These connections to our father are worth cherishing. I wonder where 6 Group was stationed and where they flew. Time to re-investigate!
That sounds like a fascinating paper. I would love to read- hope you find it!
I imagine they must have been a bomber group?
You point about sources is good. I think that I’ll set up a proper Works Cited and be a little bit more academic about my referencing. It’s been years since I wrote a paper, but I’m sure I can dust off a few skills.
For the record, I also hate microfiches and would have cried if I received a B- on a paper.
I just happened to find a paragraph on Group 6 this afternoon:
“To survive, brilliant flying was less important than an immense capacity for taking pains, avoiding unnecessary risks and maintaining rigid discipline in the air. Canadians were highly regarded as fliers, but incurred intense criticism as complete crews, as squadrons, as (eventually) their own No. 6 Group, because they were thought to lack the vital sense of discipline. A 50 Squadron gunner who was sent one night as a replacement with an all-Canadian crew came home terrified after circling the target while they sang ‘Happy Birthday to You’ down the intercom to their 21-year old pilot [let’s hope they sang it at the speed that Grandma always made us sing ‘Happy Birthday’]. Later in the war, Group 6 became notorious for indifference to radio-telephone instructions from the Master Bomber over the target” (Hastings 201).
Oh my goodness! They sound like rascals! I’ve found Dad’s book on 6 Group and am going to investigate a bit. The quote you’ve included here about them reminds me that they were all so young for the most part. It does make sense that the British were more disciplined than the Canadians…isn’t that still the case? It makes me wonder if there are certain qualities that are necessary if you are to be a good pilot. Of course there are…but what are some of the qualities that we don’t think about? You’ve met many a pilot now…do they have a certain way about them that you’ve noticed? I’m incapable of discovering these qualities because all pilots are Gods to me and are therefore beyond the scope of my analysis!
They were young. Max Hastings writes:
“…so many aircrew went to their fate as innocent as they had emerged from the cradle. A nineteen-year old who was given his opportunity by a sentimental WAAF still blushes to recall that he turned her down because he had been warned by the medical officer to keep his strength up for operations. A survivor from the crew of a pilot who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his efforts to save his aircraft over France never forgot that on their last night together, the boy admitted sheepishly that he had never even kissed a girl in his life” (193).
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