PHYSIOLOGICAL PROBLEMS OF BOMBER CREWS IN THE EIGHTH AIR FORCE DURING WWII

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Milosh, Aug 4, 2012.

  1. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    I did a quick skim of the document and saved off a copy. It looks quite interesting. Thanks for posting this one.
     
  3. barney

    barney Member

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    About 12 years ago I was attending the EAA fly-in at Oshkosh and in a book sellers tent I found a bunch of WWII military reprints (I figured they were reprints but judging from the pricing they may have been originals). One was entitled (as near as I remember), “How to Maintain the Morale of Bomber Crews When They Know They are Going to Die.” Inside the cover was the typical worn out typewriter printing. I was on a budget so no sale. Still, the title continues to haunt me.
     
  4. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    the Ft Knox or Ft Ben Harrison library had a book on aircrew injuries, not for those with a weak stomach
     
  5. iron man

    iron man Member

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    #5 iron man, Aug 7, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
    Read through the dissertation; thanks for posting the link.

    Sort of short of what I was expecting, but that's not a huge surprise.

    Psychological aspects have gained a larger prominence in recent years but this dissertation seems more focused on the physiological as opposed to the psychsomatic impacts...thus my disappointment.

    Imagine the carnage witnessed by some of these guys? 20mm (M) shells made for very nasty results and the 30mm (M) used later in the period was far, far worse.

    How does one go through something like this, and get back into a new aircraft a few days later to "give it another go"?

    That kind of round will literally vaporize a human, if you're within the blast radius.

    The average man will not just wipe the pieces of his buddy off his sheepskins and "carry on"...maybe for the remainder of the current mission but getting "back on the horse" the next day? That's serious business on a psychological level. Face it. Service in "combat arms" (riflemen) drew a person with a psychological construct more attuned to dealing with this kind of "nasty business"; this was by design. The Air Force was always portrayed as a "superior service", one where you had the comfort of a bed and hot meals each day. The "brylcream boys" were derided by the footsloggeers to a significant degree.

    That these "Bryllcream Boys" ended up facing conditions as severe as their ground based brethern was not planned for and proved that only a select few had the "right stuff" to climb that ladder a few days after a particularly "bad one".

    Much of this remains unreported (AFAIK). I couldn't imagine sustaining my commitment to such a "job" (in the USAAF) during 1943.

    Unless I got (very) lucky and got through with my crew intact.
    For the guys in RAF's Bomber Command, this was a nightly crap shoot from 1942, right through to the bitter end.

    I have seen (a few) very graphic photos of some of the "things" (that used to be a human being) being "offloaded" from battle damaged aircraft during this period.

    FUBAR. Chunks of "stuff".

    That this sort of imagery remains largely "unavailable" to this day, is no great surprise. There are (however) lots of photos of wounded guys, all with a grin on their face...and a smoke in their lips.

    "Bryllcream Boys" indeed...

    Ron
     
  6. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    You would be surprised how someone can pull themselves together and carry on the mission day after day, even after witnessing such things. Normally it is at a later point, for instance after going back home, that the problems start.

    Several of the guys that I served with in combat zones experienced some pretty terrible and bloody things. They carried on their missions for 12+ months. The problems were not evident until later.

    When you are in the combat zone, the support group you have from your brothers in arms can help you get through a lot.
     
  7. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Infantry were drafted, of course some volunteered, but flight crew, even in the WW2 US military was 100% volunteers.

    Some of the enlisted flight crew might be draftees, but they had to volunteer for flight duty.
     
  8. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #8 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Aug 7, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
    Not much different today. I was talking about flight crew...

    Edit: I think tyrodtom was not directing that at me...;)
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I was directing that at Iron man, where he said the infantry drew a certain type of person.

    That may be true now, but during WW2, Korea, and thru Vietnam most infantry were draftees.
     
  10. iron man

    iron man Member

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    Point taken guys, but even back then there was a certain kind of "right stuff" that the Combat Arms (infantry) guys were looking for. Admit it, this was not the same individual sought out by the selection boards that dealt with aircrew selection. That the aircrew guys ended up in a similar (or worse) situation (with regards to life expectancy) is not the bill of goods that they were sold on; thus their mental accumen and psychological construct (i.e. how they managed to ultimately deal with the ramifications) has to be seriously examined. And this has not been done in the open domain...AFAIK.

    "LMF"? Lacking Moral Fiber? Seriously?

    There is still much that remains beneath the surface...even after 70+ years.
     
  11. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    You have to be a little bit crazy to willingly volunteer for a combat arm, on the ground, or the air, when a war is going on.

    What some people call very self confident, other people may call crazy. That's my version of the " right stuff".
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Your sources? you including USMC in this blanket statement, or Airborne or Rangers or Special Service Force?
     
  13. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I shouldn't have done that, With a Dad who was a Marine, and a brother who was both Airborne and Special Forces. Those are all volunteer only, but open to draftees also, if they are welling to add time to their enlistment.

    But Airborne don't consider themselves infantry. They call them "legs". Source? Ask ANY Airborne trooper.
    Ask most Marines , they consider themselves much more than just infantry.

    During a few years of Vietnam, the Marines used the draft too.
     
  14. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    There has been a great deal of research done on the subject of why young men (and they are almost always young) are prepared to place themselves in situations that involve almost certain death. The answer always seems to come back the same: loyalty to the group, an evolutionary imperative. And the group is not the x-million citizens back home, it is the fifteen men in your section, squadron or aircrew. Much as we might like to think that past warriors charged into the machine guns of the Somme or faced the enemy in the clouds over Europe out of some high notion of defending democracy or the Fatherland, the reality is different. Young men do these things because the fear of disappointing their brothers is greater even than the fear of death. Military training is geared towards this; group bonding is paramount
    War begins as an adventure - haven’t we all thought about how great it would be to sit in the cockpit of Spitfire or the turret of a B-17 with an enemy fighter in the sights? – but it ends up as something to be endured and survived, not for lofty ideals but for the acceptance of the men next to you.
    As Clausewitz said: “War is a game, which were men wise, kings would not play at.”
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    But in the US aircrew have to volunteer in the first place for flight duty before they develope any of this loyalty to a group.
    Some may volunteer for the love of adventure, or flying, wanting to test themselves.
    Then, of course when on flight duty, you get flight pay, and if you flew in combat you got hazardous duty pay also. But any thinking person knew this wasn't the safest way to their first million.
    If you ask a hundred men why, you may get that many different answers why they entered in the first place. But the reasons why they stuck with it when things got hard, and dangerous, comes from within the person , and sometimes they don't fully understand it themselves.
     
  16. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    I think one has to question the research when the author is still referring to the Air Corps instead of the US Army Air Force.
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Both titles were used through out the war, I had an uncle that used the term "Air Corp" when he was talking about his time in the military
     
  18. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Almost all of the US Military are volunteers today. It is interesting to look at the demographic makeup of the combat arms in the Army.
     
  19. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Almost??? They discontinued the draft in 1973.
     
  20. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The reason I said almost was that if I said "all" someone would find someone who somehow got drafted.:)
     
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