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Old 7 March 2009, 04:13 PM   #1
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Did this ever happen in the RFC ??!!

James Farmer in America's Pioneeer Aces writes (page 92):

"Only officer-pilots officially received personal credit for aerial victories within RFC squadrons. Those kills scored by NCOs went to the credit of the British squadrons as a whole and not to the individual."

Can anyone confirm this?

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Old 7 March 2009, 05:07 PM   #2
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While Farmer's assertion is consistent with the social class values
prevalent at the time, it is incorrect. NCO airmen were credited
with the victories for which they were responsible; examples such
as Sgt. Ernest John Elton, 22 Squadron, 16 victories; Sgt. Frank
Johnson, 22, 20 & 62 Squadrons, 16 victories; Cpl. Malcolm Mather,
20 Squadron, 8 victories; Sgt. Jack Mason, 11 Squadron, 5 victories;
and so on. Elton and Johnson were Sgt. Pilots; Mather and Mason
were observers. For more names and details, refer to Norman Franks'
ABOVE THE WAR FRONTS (Grub Street, London, 1997) for all pilot
and observer aces of the British air services in the Great War.

regards josquin
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Old 7 March 2009, 05:17 PM   #3
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It's hard to comment without knowing the context. Perhaps Farmer was referring to recognition by the US air corps rather than the RFC/RAF.
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Old 7 March 2009, 06:41 PM   #4
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No, he was talking about the RFC, and went on to relate an incident in which RFC officer cadets threw an NCO pilot named Butcher out of the Haymarket Theatre in London for entering via the main lobby...

Didn't think this non-recognition could be right, tho', unless it was early on before the service became desperate for replacements...
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Old 7 March 2009, 06:47 PM   #5
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1 Sqn ace Sgt Olley is another good example and of course the great JTB McCudden scored his first victories as a sergeant pilot.

I'd say its an old wives tale.

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Old 8 March 2009, 08:51 PM   #6
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I've never heard of such a thing. Is it possible NCO pilots in the RFC were so badly treated?

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Old 9 March 2009, 05:23 AM   #7
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What a few well-born high-spirited cadets do is, I suppose, not necessarily representative of all RFC cadets, though Josquin does remind us of social values at the time. A bunch of subalterns horsetroughed a buddhist monk in Simla a few years earlier than this for looking at a memsahib the wrong way...
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Old 9 March 2009, 06:31 AM   #8
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This reads like a piece of class-war nonsense.

What annoys me greatly is the way certain people react towards the past, in that they seem anxious to belittle everything and everyone they come across. I suppose it's some kind of psychological mechanism to help them feel "superior," but it's always the mark of an idiot.

"Obviously," they insist, "nothing so silly as the First World War could possibly happen in our own enlightened age, and everyone involved in that disgusting blood-bath were either insane or sadistic or both ..."

Revisionistic historians are good at this kind of thing. But go that way and you can kiss goodbye to any hope of reaching a balanced truth. You merely end up with a tissue of doubtful images glued together in such a way as to support some social theory or another.

Crude stereotypes are no more helpful here than they are anywhere else. Edwardian society was not like our own. There were some serious social distinctions which had to be observed, and the armed forces merely formalized those separations. Few people from either side were comfortable crossing the line, and if anyone thinks that a newly arrived public school boy pilot would choose to disrespect a flight sergeant or Ack Emma with long experience and upon whose good will his life depended, is definitely in need of a re-think.

As with all conflicts, class could be seized upon to manufacture stinging insults when people wanted a row, and I daresay certain ranks were debarred from entering the lobbies of certain London establishments, we even have
a family story of one such incident when a British officer tried to suggest that one of my wife's uncommissioned but very well-off forebears that had no right to sit writing letters in the bar of Brown's Hotel. The officer was promptly told by the said forebear to think again. He apparently pointed to the shoulder patch that said CANADA and said, "Sorry, old man. Wrong army."

Anyway, I doubt if the likes of Mannock were ever troubled by such considerations, either inside or outside his squadron. And as for officially sanctioned disregard for non-commissioned flight crew -- no, no no!
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Old 9 March 2009, 06:40 AM   #9
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No, not officially sanctioned, but some behaviours unofficially tolerated, depending on the prejudices of those in charge. But I'm glad scores were not disregarded as Farmer suggests.
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Old 9 March 2009, 09:47 AM   #10
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Hello all,
If we go right to basics, Was a Sergeant Pilot accorded the right to the Officers Mess. If he was why not the Sergeant Observer (who certaintly wasnt accorded anywhere near the same rights).
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