180924 History Talk 24th Sep: RAF 100th Anniversary

Date: Monday 24th September 2018 10:30

Location: Salón de Actos, Espai la Senieta, Moraira (next to the large free car park)

Subject: The Royal Air Force 100th Anniversary 1918-2018

Lecturer: Brian Nicholls

2018 is the 100th Anniversary of the RAF but it was preceded by the The Royal Flying Corps.
A detailed Military History would neither be acceptable or even possible in the time available.

I will therefore, start with elements of the Great War and the recruitment of the first pilots often from Cavalry regiments in the belief that, as with horses, it took a sensitive ‘pair of hands’ and a ‘feeling through the seat of one’s pants’, to fly the often temperamental airplanes of that era.

The initial objective for the pilots was reconnaissance and artillery spotting but this was soon to change to dramatic aerial combat.

As parachutes were thought likely to lower morale, one had to concentrate very carefully, as once the pilots had taken off, there were only two ways down, a safe landing or a crash.
I will include the innovative employment of Women during WW1 and in WW2 their role of ferry pilots delivering aircraft to operational bases of Fighter and Bomber Commands.

Female radio operators of the WAAF were also engaged in the highly stressful situation of being in personal contact with the Fighter and Bomber Pilots, who were often in desperate, and even fatal, situations, as they returned from the various conflicts.

The Battle of Britain in 1940 was, as we all know, perhaps the most crucial single battle of the entire war. Had it been lost, our history might have been very different. It is known ‘As their Finest hour’ from an iconic speech by Winston Churchill.

It could not have been won without the dedicated support of the ground crews and the many rescue and support services, all of whom deserve a mention.

In conclusion, I will move briefly into the Jet age and beyond.