Hastings writes that even now (or at least at the time he was writing Bomber Command), it is difficult to obtain information about crew who were classified as LMF: lacking moral fibre.
Based on his interviews, he estimates that as many as 1 in 10 men were unable to complete their tours due to medical or psychological reasons. From his vantage point in 1979 he comments that “Few of these cases would be classified by any but the most bigoted as simple cowardice, for by now the Moran principle that courage is not an absolute human characteristic, but expendable capital every man possesses in varying quantity, has been widely recognised. But in 1943 most cases of men relieved of operational duty for medical or moral reasons were treated by the RAF with considerable harshness (270).”
There was great fear at the top of the service that if an honourable path existed to escape operations, many men would take it. Court martials, humiliating stripping of rank and public disdain fixed crews to their grim operations.
Many men talked of their fate:
“One much-liked officer came fresh from a long stint as an instructor to be a flight commander. ‘You better tell me about this business, chaps’ he said modestly in the mess. ‘I’ve been away on the prairies too long.’ After a few operations he concluded readily that he had no chance of survival. ‘What are you doing for Christmas, Stuart?’ somebody asked him in the mess one day. ‘Oh, I shan’t be alive for Christmas,’ he said wistfully, and was gone within a week, leaving a wife and three children.” (Hastings 281)