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9. Operations

Tom Killebrew UNT Press ePub

Chapter 9

Graduates of the British Flying Training Schools, now Royal Air Force pilots, undertook a journey back to Britain that in many ways mirrored the original journey to the schools. Shortly after graduation, the new pilots assembled at the train station, said goodbye to local townspeople and traveled back to Moncton, New Brunswick. From the Canadian Personnel Centre the new pilots traveled to Halifax and boarded ships to Britain. There they undertook additional training before being posted to an operational unit or other duties. This later training and service assignments varied depending on the stage of the war.

One of the grim realities of wartime service for RAF pilots is that graduates of early courses suffered heavy losses after posting to operational squadrons due to the strength of the Axis forces, the intensity of the fighting during the early war years, and the limited manpower of the RAF. As the various training programs turned out a surplus of aircrew and the status of the war grew more favorable for the Allies, many graduates of later courses encountered delays reaching operational squadrons, while graduates of the last courses saw little or no action.

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Chapter 10: The Final Year

Tom Killebrew UNT Press PDF

Chapter 10

The Final Year

British and American citizens followed the course of the war on their radios and in newspapers and national magazines, which regularly published situation maps depicting the positions of the Allied forces on the various war fronts. By late 1944 Allied armies that had landed in Normandy six months earlier were now advancing across northern

France toward Germany. Allied forces that had landed in southern France were rapidly moving northward, while other Allied armies battled up the mountainous spine of Italy. Numerous massive Soviet armies steadily drove German troops back all along the broad eastern front. The situation maps graphically depicted a relentless tightening of the noose around

Nazi Germany, which would lead to ultimate Allied victory.

The only exception to this unremitting advance came with a German counteroffensive through the Ardennes Forest toward the Belgian port of

Antwerp, which was eerily reminiscent of the first German advance into

France in the spring of 1940. Caught off guard by Hitler’s last gamble,

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Chapter 1: Overseas Training

Tom Killebrew UNT Press PDF

Chapter 1

Overseas Training

Even before the beginning of World War II, British Air Ministry officials, drawing on the flight training experiences of World War I, recognized the need to move some aircrew training out of Great Britain in the event of war. Drawbacks to flight training in Britain during wartime included the limited size of the country, an urgent need for airfield and support facilities for operational squadrons, the often abysmal weather, and the very real possibility of enemy attack.1

In spite of the advantages of moving some flight training to Commonwealth countries, officials also recognized several drawbacks to any overseas training plan. The distances involved were in many cases daunting, literally involving potential locations on the other side of the world.

Another concern involved dealing with other governments.

Initial discussions with Commonwealth governments before the war concerning aircrew training produced mixed results. Australia, New

Zealand, Kenya, and Southern Rhodesia responded quickly and favorably.

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Chapter 7: American Hospitality

Tom Killebrew UNT Press PDF

Chapter 7

American Hospitality

British flight students arriving in Canada had experienced generous and abundant hospitality. This much-appreciated warm welcome, although surprising, was still understandable because Canada was a Dominion country, a member of the British Commonwealth, and totally engaged alongside England in a devastating war with a common and deadly foe.

Nothing, however, could prepare those British students destined for the

British Flying Training Schools for the overwhelming hospitality soon to be encountered in the United States.

Ever mindful of Anglo-American relations, British officials gave each student a small blue book. The book began, “You are going to America as guests” and then explored various aspects of American life, defined the different geographical regions of the United States, recommended several books on American history, and offered tips on conduct. The small blue book described America as a “great, friendly, yet different nation” and warned students, “you will not be expected to tell your hosts and hostesses what is wrong, in your opinion, with them and their country.” Students were also advised to be careful when asked about

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10. The Final Year

Tom Killebrew UNT Press ePub

Chapter 10

British and American citizens followed the course of the war on their radios and in newspapers and national magazines, which regularly published situation maps depicting the positions of the Allied forces on the various war fronts. By late 1944 Allied armies that had landed in Normandy six months earlier were now advancing across northern France toward Germany. Allied forces that had landed in southern France were rapidly moving northward, while other Allied armies battled up the mountainous spine of Italy. Numerous massive Soviet armies steadily drove German troops back all along the broad eastern front. The situation maps graphically depicted a relentless tightening of the noose around Nazi Germany, which would lead to ultimate Allied victory.

The only exception to this unremitting advance came with a German counteroffensive through the Ardennes Forest toward the Belgian port of Antwerp, which was eerily reminiscent of the first German advance into France in the spring of 1940. Caught off guard by Hitler’s last gamble, American forces were temporarily thrown back by a combination of surprise along a front weakly defended by second-line troops, poor and complacent intelligence, and vicious winter weather that grounded Allied air support. By the beginning of 1945, however, the German advance had literally run out of gas and had been forced back with heavy losses. The Luftwaffe was also running out of fuel, as well as aircraft and trained pilots as Allied air forces roamed over Germany in massive formations by day and by night striking targets at will.

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