AbstractThere are many studies of the air campaigns of the first World War: almost all have concentrated on the strategic and tactical issues, on the technical development of aircraft or the skill and daring of the aircrew concerned. The effects of the dangers of flying and air combat, which tested aircrew to their limits both physical and mental with consequent psychological disorders have been ignored. This study examined and analysed the operations of the RFC/RAF over the Western Front from 1014-1918 with the aim of establishing the incidence of aircrew failure for nervous disorders. The factors affecting the psychological and psychiatric reactions of aircrew to combat have been examined. The significance of morale as a factor affecting the psychological responses of aircrew has been assessed and the effects of leadership, training, fatigue and aircraft performance and reliability are explored in relation to aircrew failure due to psychological disorder. The outcomes of this thesis were compared to similar studies for Second World War Aircrew. Medical and casualty records, official histories and operational reports have been used in conjunction with personal accounts and memoirs to establish the prime causal factors for psychological disorder in aircrew and its incidence in the RFC/RAF on the Western Front. The treatment and disposal of aircrew diagnosed with ‘flying sickness’ have been described and the results evaluated. The incidence of breakdown has been compared with similar studies for Second World War Aircrew. It concludes that the incidence of failure due to psychological disorder for the tears 1914-1917, was low and manageable. However, in the last year of the war, the incidence not only vastly increased but became a significant part of the total wastage rate and seriously affected RAF strength on the Western Front.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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