In an earlier article on the RAF’s ‘lack of moral fibre’ policy, I provided a broad overview of this controversial issue. In this piece, I will explore the background of the policy in more detail, and look at societal attitudes towards those ( both military and civilian) whose mental health was impacted by war.


‘Even heroes have a breakdown point. Honour and moral fibre are variables. Like pain, the threshold is different in each of us.’[1]  – Philip Gray.

By 1941, the RAF (and Bomber Command in particular) was already suffering from a shortage of manpower. It took many months to train a new crew and increasing numbers of crews were needed both for operational reasons and because of the extremely high number of combat deaths; men were being killed quicker than they could be replaced. As early as January 1941, psychological illnesses among aircrew were causing major concern; just under 10,000 men were removed from flying duties between February 1942 and February 1945,[2] although the actual number suffering from unreported psychological symptoms is likely to be much higher, for reasons explained below.

The Whittingham Committee, established in February 1941, began to investigate flying stress in aircrew, gathering data designed to regulate the length of  operational tours, but which also informed policy-making regarding the handling of airmen displaying psychological symptoms.[3] As the number of psychiatric casualties began to grow, at a time when there were already huge operational casualties, an executive process was introduced, which was, according to Ellin, ‘intended to reduce the numbers of aircrew who refused to fly…but was frequently conflated with mental health issues and often regarded as a medical problem’, not least by the airmen themselves.[4]

‘Aircrews who forfeit the confidence of their commanding officers’

The term ‘Lack of Moral Fibre’ first appears in the minutes of an RAF meeting on 21 March 1940, held to discuss a procedure for dealing with cases of ‘flying personnel who will not [5] face operational risks’; rules regarding the implementation of the procedure were introduced the following month. On 28 September 1941 the Air Ministry published a revised version, known as the ‘Waverer Letter’ or the ‘LMF Memorandum’.

The memorandum was specifically targeted at

‘The members of aircrews who forfeit the confidence of their commanding officers in their determination and reliability in the face of danger in the air, owing either to their conduct or their admission that they feel unable to face up to their duties,’[6]

and applied to all RAF Commands (Fighter, Coastal and Bomber) although much of the mythology, historiography and discourse relates to the impact of the policy on Bomber Command.

Portal was the driving force behind the policy (though it was vigorously supported by both Joubert and later Harris), which was designed to tackle ‘a residuum of cases where there is no physical disability, no justification for the granting of rest from operational employment and in fact, where nothing is wrong except a lack of moral fibre.’ In October 1940, Air Vice Marshall Park of Fighter Command, stressed the necessity of removing ‘immediately from the precincts of the Squadron or Station’ any cases of LMF.[7]

Lack of Moral Fibre
Charles Portal, Chief of the Air Staff

In Martin’s view, the RAF hierarchy approached fear as a collective problem, a challenge to military morale, discipline and fighting effectiveness, which could spread through a whole fighting unit.[8] Fear was a contagion which needed to be stamped out quickly. In 1942, Symonds and William wrote one of the earliest reports on psychological disorders in aircrew, concluding that the two most potent causes of stress in aircrew were fatigue and fear.[9]  


Little literature on LMF exists prior to the early 1980s when details of the policy first began to be discussed in the public sphere. McCarthy produced the first academic study in 1984 [10]; Wells, one of the first historians to write extensively on the subject in 1995, concluded that the concept of LMF has been exaggerated.[11] English argued that the development of clinical aviation psychology and psychiatry helped to shape the LMF policy [12], implying that psychological medicine served a ‘predominantly disciplinary function.’[13] Shephard devoted only one chapter to the aircrew experience in his work on the military experience of psychiatry[14].

Many of these works were written when only limited sources were available, but many more documents are now in the public domain. More recently, Ellin notes that the history of LMF is ‘complicated by how changing medical theories are understood and by the assessments of the numbers involved, using imprecise definitions.’[15] He argues that LMF is shrouded in myths, influenced by changing medical beliefs, the limitations of archival sources, and veterans’ hopes for recognition.’ Ussishkin’s work on morale is curiously silent upon the issue of LMF and morale in the RAF in general.[16]  


In this essay the background to the policy will be explored and the societal and behavioural norms of the day which influenced responses to what is now termed combat stress will be considered. The practical implementation and effectiveness of the LMF policy will be examined and compared with the policies of British Army and the Royal Navy in dealing with psychiatric casualties, together with the management of civilian casualties on the home front. Finally, the legacy of the LMF policy will be considered and viewed in the context of contemporaneous British societal responses to trauma and stress.

Societal context – morale, character, and codes of behaviour

To gain any understanding of the RAF’s LMF policy, it is essential to examine prevailing societal attitudes to psychological reactions to trauma, particularly in the context of wartime ‘morale’. According to Ussishkin, viewed in terms of the nation writ large, ‘morale links modern notions of individual liberty to the demands and duties of democratic citizenship’; he notes that it was during and immediately after the Second World War the notion of morale assumed its unique cultural valance, as it was mobilized to secure or solidify important narratives or forms of representations regarding the nature of wartime British society; the democratic nature of mobilization and sacrifice, the erosion of hitherto accepted distinctions and divisions, and the new roles and duties for citizen and state.[17]

From the outbreak of the Second World War, the British were encouraged to view themselves as being ‘all in it together’ – on the home front, in industry, and in the military.

Grant notes that this was ‘a war which had codes of approved behaviour…The codes emphasised bravery, self-sacrifice and commitment’.[18] Calder describes how the British ‘obsession’ with unity, sacrifice and taking it’ was vitally important in shaping subsequent behaviour as people began living up to  the ‘myth of the Blitz’.[19] According to Ellin, the consensus of medical opinion during the war was that people (civilians and those serving in the military) diagnosed with hysteria or anxiety were thought to be predisposed to illness, or simply the ‘wrong type’.[20]

Rose considers that the famous narratives of wartime unity amounted to a ‘hegemonic discourse’ which dominated British culture, becoming the basis by which all wartime behaviour was judged. In her view this created ‘elevated ideals of behaviour’, and those deemed to have failed to live up to the image of the ‘good citizen’ (and, it could be argued, the good airman, soldier or sailor) were denigrated within popular culture.[21]

Morale, discipline and fortitude

Ussishkin notes that in the decades before the Great War, morale emerged as a new and important military quality, central to discussions of battle discipline.[22] However, he points out that in many ways discussions of morale were still understood along the line of character and moral discipline, but the notion of morale ‘provided a foundation for a new emergent military social imaginary.’[23] These essentially Victorian and Edwardian ideas about character, moral discipline, and mental fortitude were later to play a significant role in the approach of  both the British military and civilian authorities in the  diagnosis and treatment of the psychiatric casualties of war.

Even by the end of the First World War, the psychological strain suffered by military aviators was clearly recognised. The Royal Flying Corps pilots’ days were famously described as ‘long spells of idleness punctuated by moments of intense fear’[24], a narrative which has been used to illustrate the experiences of soldiers, sailors and airmen at war ever since.

The inter-war years

By 1918, psychiatrists were aware of the cumulative effects of stress, identifying the three stages as inexperience, experience, then stress or burnout. However, in the inter-war years, the theory developed that some men had an underlying ‘weakness of character’ and a predisposition to combat stress. This theory began to take hold, and from it developed the idea that psychological reaction to combat situations, and in particular aerial combat, was due not to illness caused by exposure to external situations, extreme fear, stress and trauma, but rather to a chap simply ‘not being up to it’, or to put it more bluntly, cowardice.

Francis observes that concepts of fear and bravery within the RAF were ‘closely attuned to the emotional codes and standards of a wider society’, [25] and notes that reactions to stress and anxiety were shaped by the concepts of Edwardian stoicism and masculinity.


By 1939, official RAF policy was beginning to reflect these beliefs, and ‘character defects’ were emphasised as being the underlying cause in cases of mental breakdown. As Pedersen has argued, psychiatric understandings of the ‘war neuroses suffered by British servicemen were predicated on a notion of the ‘neurotic serviceman’ as an objective personality type predisposed to break down during the strain of wartime. Such an approach minimized the influence of the martial environment in favour of heredity and the events of early childhood as the ultimate arbiters of mental stability in service personnel.[26]

English describes in his work on combat stress in Canadian members of Bomber Command, how the response to such stresses and the development of psychological symptoms became the fault of the individual airman: ‘Unlike a physical disability, their psychological complaint was as a result of their own inability to control their fear.’[27]  Ellin notes that aircrew were expected to be the pinnacle of society and the military hierarchy. [28]  One senior medical officer, Squadron Leader Reid, thought that lower ranks ‘by virtue of their genes and upbringing’, were more likely to suffer mental breakdown, were unfit to be aircrew and ‘should be treated without sympathy’.[29]

Francis notes that NCOs were much more likely to be accused of LMF than officers.[30]  However, Pedersen argues that whilst it was common practice during the Great War to diagnose ‘other ranks’ as hysterical and officers as ‘neurasthenic’, by the Second World War, the thinking around the genesis of psychological disorders was ‘ostensibly more egalitarian, stressing a ‘particular psychic alchemy – the unconscious mind working in concert with the predisposed personality – that cut across class boundaries.’[31]

The unique nature of air warfare

What, then, set RAF aircrew who suffered psychological symptoms apart from other servicemen or traumatised and frightened civilians who were similarly afflicted? Martin believes that discussions within the RAF about how to overcome fear reflected the ‘specific dynamics of air warfare, and in particular the required balance between individualism and teamwork, or between physical strength and temperament.’[32]

Overy observes that the permanent dangers to which aircrew were exposed and the sheer mental and physical demands of combat, at times surrounded by dead or dying companions, ‘with jammed guns or engines knocked out, created a temporary nightmare world in which the one hope was that their aircraft and crew would not be next.’[33]

Lack of moral fibre - damaged RAF bomber
‘Keep smiling chaps..!’

Psychiatrist Squadron Leader David Stafford-Clark spent over four years observing over 4000 airmen and took part in fifteen combat operations, noting that the principal cause of anxiety was a flyer’s instinctive fear of death, maiming, burning or capture; an airman displaying signs of anxiety was frequently reacting to a ‘conflict between his desire to do his duty, and thereby maintain self-respect, and his instinct for self-preservation.’[34]

Such was the strain, that some men simply went mad in the midst of battle. Flying Officer Bob Lloyd, a Canadian bomber pilot serving with 408 Squadron, described the mental impact on his crew:

‘My navigator lost his mind during our 26 November trip to Berlin… My bomb aimer went absolutely wild over the target area on a later raid, to such a degree that we couldn’t let him wear an intercom; the navigator had to drop the bombs… They were as frightened as hell… They flew until they couldn’t fly anymore.’[35]

Wells emphasises that the numbers of neuropsychiatric casualties and the rate at which they occurred reveal a great deal, not just about the nature of combat but also about the quality of leadership and the efficacy of medical care however, in his view, ‘at no time did the number of emotional casualties ever seriously jeopardise the operational capability.’[36]

Implementation, impact and effectiveness

Those who were labelled ‘LMF’ were considered cowards and frequently treated incredibly harshly. Some who could bear the strain no longer were publicly humiliated, and swiftly removed from their squadrons or transferred to menial ground duties such as working in the kitchens. However, there was extraordinarily little consistency in the treatment of the men who developed signs of mental stress; there are extreme examples of men being court-martialled and imprisoned. Officers were required to resign their commissions; non-commissioned officers were demoted to the lower ranks.

If signs of stress were spotted early, an airman, or sometimes an entire crew, would be sent off to the Aircrew Refresher Training Units; these units were disciplinary centres, where psychological issues were treated like offences. After a few weeks, the individual would either be returned to operational duties, if he had mended his ways, sent for groundcrew duties, or discharged altogether. From 1944, those men labelled ‘LMF’ could be sent to work in the coal mines or drafted into the army.

Not every man who developed psychological symptoms was treated in this way; the handling of an individual’s situation depended on the attitude of a squadron’s commanding officer and its medical officer. Many were dealt with sympathetically, being quietly moved to other duties or transferred to an instructor’s role at an operational training unit. However, as Ellin observes, although management of LMF cases was inconsistent and varied hugely from station to station, many of the beliefs about LMF were consistent with what the aircrews themselves understood about LMF.[37]

The threat and the fear

The threat of being labelled ‘LMF’ and therefore a coward, was almost as fearful as flying operations against the enemy, and the policy was used to intimidate and stigmatise airmen who showed indications of combat stress. Any airman who was considered to ‘lack moral fibre’ had his personnel file marked with a ‘W’, to indicate that he was a ‘waverer’. The fear of being made to experience the ritualistic stripping of rank and aircrew badges in front of his peers was a ‘cruel but effective deterrent’.[38] Such rituals were actually extremely rare and certainly not official policy, but ‘it is the narrative of this ritual however that spread and effectively discouraged aircrew from refusing to fly.’[39] One airman, Frank Hugo, recalled:

‘The bravado and boasting in the de-briefing but, later in the dark, the tears being shed into one’s pillow… being very scared and frightened, but even more of showing it, and not being able to do the job properly.’[40]

The risk of being labelled ‘LMF’ did not apply just to those who refused or who were unable to fly. There were instances of men being categorised in this way who, in the very early stages of training, showed a genuine fear of flying from the outset.

Andy Andrews, a wireless operator on 10 Squadron in 1944, recounted how his crew’s bomb aimer had decided during training that he would be unable to cope with operational sorties, and he ‘went off with LMF’. He was removed from the crew immediately, and they never saw him again.[41]  

No distinction appears to have been made between eighteen-year-old rear gunner six weeks into his training who was simply nervous of flying, or an experienced, battle-worn pilot with twenty-five operations, showing signs of extreme combat stress. Even those crews who returned early from raids with mechanical faults, or who had dropped their bombs too early on the periphery of the target area before heading for home, fell under suspicion.

Lack of Moral Fibre 

10 Sqn, Pennicott crew, 12 June 1943.
Pennicott crew, 10 Sqn, 12 June 1943. Their aircraft , Z-Zebra, was shot down two days later with another crew aboard. All were killed

Were aircrew fears of being labelled LMF justified? There has been much debate among historians as to the actual numbers who fell victim to the policy; however, the consensus is that the numbers are very low, with an average of around 200 and 400 men per year officially marked LMF and demoted or discharged. Ellin believes that the figures set out in the Lawson Memorandum of November 1945 are the most reliable [42]:  Lawson recorded 4059 cases assessed, of which 2726 were classified LMF.[43]

Around one third of cases were from Bomber Command. Brandon describes the use of the LMF label as ‘neither necessary or effective’[44]; his allegation of ineffectiveness fails to acknowledge the impact the policy had on the thousands of airmen who felt compelled to carry on with their operational combat duties, despite suffering extreme anxiety and stress, to avoid the shame of being branded cowards.

A counter-productive policy?

In that context, it is asserted that that the policy was counter-productive; certainly, some Commanders sought to avoid labelling aircrew as LMF wherever possible, even retaining such aircrew to the detriment of Squadron morale.[45]  One veteran even thought that ‘these three letters killed more men than German flak or German fighters. They sent terrified men to their death; they forced men to operate when they were a menace to their own crew’.[46]  For many Bomber Command crews, the sad fact remains that death came before they had any opportunity to manifest psychological problems; how many became casualties as result of being forced to fly when mentally unfit to do so will never be known.

English notes that an average of twenty thousand Bomber Command aircrew were killed or wounded each year and estimates that ‘it may not be unreasonable to speculate that fifty per cent, or ten thousand of Bomber Command’s annual casualties, were caused by airmen whose psychological state degraded their operational performance enough to lead to death or serious injury.’[47]

Army, naval and civilian casualties

How does the RAF’s policy regarding psychiatric casualties compare with those of the other British Armed Forces, and the treatment of civilians? What could the traumatised soldier, sailor, or civilian expect?

Jones believes that the large number of psychiatric casualties (particularly after Dunkirk) suffered by the Army effectively ruled out an LMF system, while manpower shortages encouraged a ‘treatment and return to duty’ policy.[48] This argument can be dismissed on the basis that it was precisely for these same reasons that the RAF considered the LMF system to be necessary in the first place.  However, Jones does concede that the LMF label was temporarily and unofficially adopted by 8th Army doctors in the initial stages of the Western Desert campaign, although it fell out of use after the term ‘exhaustion’ was introduced to describe soldiers who were unable to continue fighting but who were not suffering from recognised illnesses.

From July 1942, soldiers who had suffered mental breakdown in battle were admitted to Army ‘exhaustion centres’ where the notion that a man’s physical and mental wellbeing could be naturally restored [49] underpinned his treatment. Pedersen contends that the implication that exhaustion somehow caused, or at least contributed to, the neurotic disorders of fighting men was particularly attractive to the military hierarchy and field medical officers, insofar as it represented an opportunity to ‘reposition’ the neuroses of the fighting man as a physical ailment.[50]

In the Royal Navy, psychiatric casualties were dealt with differently, and no official LMF label or procedure was adopted, although Jones believes that ‘reportedly low levels of psychiatric casualties’ and ‘concern to protect its reputation’ discouraged the adoption of a similar system.[51] In the same way that the Army adopted the term ‘exhaustion’, the Navy introduced the term ‘fatigue’ to describe those men affected by the mental stress of combat. Given that ships could be at sea for months at a time, with no recourse to formal psychiatric treatment, men were encouraged to remain at their posts and to ‘keep busy,’ to occupy their minds. The importance of adherence to every day routines was particularly stressed.

However, it is to be noted that Fleet Air Arm pilots who refused to fly were unofficially labelled LMF; as there was no formal procedure, these men tended to be treated with greater flexibility than their RAF colleagues and transferred to other duties or bases without loss of rank or flying badges.[52]

The civilian experience

According to Shepherd, it was assumed by planners in the later 1930s that the ‘anticipated aerial holocaust’ would not only kill civilians, it would send them mad; it was accepted as a matter of course that ‘widespread neurosis and panic would ensue’, particularly among the ordinary working class who perhaps lacked the ‘backbone’ of their social betters.[53]  

He notes that the Blitz killed 40,000 but this was a tiny fraction of the pre-war predictions, and it did not produce the anticipated epidemic of mental illness – ‘the expected torrent of psychiatric cases was failing to appear.’[54] However, some psychiatrists thought that the number of cases was actually much higher but that the cases ‘just do not get treatment.’[55]  

Lack of Moral Fibre

Woman drinking tea during the Blitz
Keeping a stiff upper lip…

Civilians who exhibited psychological symptoms in the face of trauma or hardship were frequently vilified. According to one particularly unsympathetic commentator, the ‘neurotic individual’ was part of the ‘weaker brethren,’ constituting ‘a burden which every community has to bear.’

Wartime only made the problem more acute as neurotics ‘crowd into the deepest shelters that they may live through the Blitz to grumble at the peace.’[56] It was noted at the time that the ‘individual solder was permitted to be a psychiatric casualty but…the non-combatant civilian is not permitted to be so diagnosed.’[57] Such treatment as was available frequently involved a sedative, a strong cup of tea, twelve hours’ bedrest and a quick return to home and work within 24 hours.


Pedersen concludes that the British response to psychiatric casualties between 1939 and 1945 was highly variegated – ‘a mosaic of diverse and contested terminologies, aetiologies, and treatment regimes’, reflecting the difficulties of articulating an orthodox position on the genesis of the psychiatric disorders of war.[58] Thus terms such as ‘combat neurosis’, ‘battle neurosis’, ‘flying stress’, ‘battle fatigue’ and ‘exhaustion’ were all used interchangeably.

Jones notes that,

 ‘the unpopular LMF system could be justified only in the context of a war for national survival when trained aircrew were at a premium. When victory became increasingly likely and the psychological effects of combat became better understood, it was more difficult to sustain such an inflexible policy.’[59]

Such a system could only have been conceived and implemented in a society where morale, courage, self-sacrifice, and stoicism in the face of even severe trauma were not only expected but demanded of combatants and civilians alike. Squadron Leader RA Read DFC, a pilot serving with 78 Sqn, summed up the attitudes of the day:

‘Many more cases of LMF might have surfaced if we hadn’t been of the generation we were. Disciplined in ourselves, born to respect authority, and obey orders. Above all, regarding any show of fear as an appalling breach of the code. Many of us suffered a loss of confidence from time to time but…we would find a way to rationalise events and carry on until we reached the end of our tours. Or die in the attempt.’[60]

Noble Frankland, co-author of the official history of the strategic bombing campaign and himself a former navigator, did not believe that there was ‘much ‘useful room’ for psychiatrists in Bomber Command. ‘The needs and rigours of the campaign were such that it would be unrealistic to expect that aircrews could have been afforded the sympathy and psychiatric treatment which, in normal circumstances, would be anyone’s due.’[61]

Martin observes that a discussion of the courage or cowardice of the Second World War airman illuminates a much wider question of how manliness was defined in Britain in the first half of the 20th century: ‘Manly courage remained a vaunted standard of normative masculinity, but it was defined in terms which were nuanced and appropriate for the citizen solder in the age of mass democracy.’

In his view, what made the prospect of LMF so appalling was the humiliation of being regarded as inadequate to the pressures of combat in a country completely committed to ultimate victory. A man who displayed fear or shirked his duty would inevitably become a pariah, ‘an insult to the national need’.[62] Wells notes that despite the incredible skill and fortitude demonstrated by the vast majority of airmen, there always seemed to be an ‘undercurrent of doubt’ in the Air Ministry and even at command level regarding the morale and discipline of airmen, especially NCOs.[63]

The legacy of LMF

The adoption of the policy of ‘LMF’, and the treatment of those airmen who developed signs of psychological illness, marked one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the RAF, and one which not discussed publicly for decades. According to Ellin, ‘further mythologised and amplified after the war, LMF is part of the cultural memory constructed by veterans and their families as part of the victim narrative used to push for recognition of Bomber Command.’[64] 

Houghton has observed that such was the impact of the policy that ‘the disgrace and humiliation deliberately invested in the label ‘LMF’ leaves a visible imprint in the majority of the bomber veteran memoirs.[65] The fact that the policy was quickly ‘swept under the carpet’ in the post-war haste to downplay and criticise the role of Bomber Command only served to increase veterans’ sense of injustice.

The introduction of the RAF’s ‘Lack of Moral Fibre’ policy was at best unnecessary, and at worst counterproductive. Even given the prevailing attitudes of the time to issues of morale, character, duty, and psychiatric illness (both military and civilian), the LMF policy was both harsh but sadly unsurprising.

Lack of Moral Fibre
Bomber Command Memorial
Bomber Command Memorial, London


International Bomber Command Centre https://internationalbcc.co.uk/

The National Archives https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/



Allan D English, The Cream of the Crop: Canadian Aircrew 1939-1945, (McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal), 1996.

Alan Cooper, Air Battle of the Ruhr, (Airlife Publishing Ltd, Shrewsbury), 1992.

Martin Francis, The Flyer: British Culture and the Royal Air Force 1939-1945, (Oxford University Press, Oxford), 2008.

Francis Houghton, The Veteran’s Tale – British Military Memoirs of the Second World War, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge), 2019.

Jane Gulliford Lowes, ‘Above Us The Stars: 10 Squadron Bomber Command – The Wireless Operator’s Story’, (Matador, Leicester), 2020.

Robin Neillands, The Bomber Offensive: Arthur Harris and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-1945, (John Murray, London), 2001.

Richard Overy, The Bombing War – Europe 1939-1945, (Allen Lane, London), 2013

Denis Richards, The Hardest Victory: RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War, (Hodder and Stoughton, London), 1994.

Sonya Rose, Which People’s War? National Identity and Citizenship in Wartime Britain 1939-1945’, (Oxford, Oxford University Press), 2003, p.20.

Ben Shephard, A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists 1914-1994, (Jonathan Cape, London), 2000.

Daniel Ussishkin, Morale – A Modern British History, (Oxford University Press, New York), 2017.

Mark K Wells, Courage in Air Warfare – The Allied Experience in the Second World War (Frank Cass, London), 1995.


Dan Ellin, ‘A Lack of Moral Fibre in Royal Air Force Bomber Command and Popular Culture, British Journal for Military History, Volume 6, Issue 3, November 2020, pp.42-65.

Lynsey Shaw Cobden, ‘Neuropsychiatry and the Management of Aerial Warfare: The Royal Air Force Neuropsychiatric Division in the Second World War,’ PhD thesis, University of Oxford, 2016.

Dr Matthew Grant, review of ‘Flyers and their Traumas: The RAF in the Second World War’, (review no.1172), reviews.history.ac.uk/review/1172, accessed 30.10.2021.

James Greenhalgh, ‘The long shadow of the air war: composure, memory and the renegotiation of self in the oral testimonies of Bomber Command Veterans since 2015’, Contemporary British History, 2021, pp.1-38.

Heather Hughes, ‘Memorializing RAF Bomber Command in the United Kingdom’, Journal of War and Culture Studies, 2021, pp.1-23

Edgar Jones, ‘“LMF”: The Use of Psychiatric Stigma in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War’, The Journal of Military History, 70, April 2006, pp.439-58.

Hans Pols and Stephanie Oak, ‘War and Military Mental Health: The US Psychiatric Response in the 20th Century’, American Journal of Public Health, December 2007, Vol 97, No.12, pp. 2132 – 2142.

Elizabeth Roberts-Pedersen, A Weak Spot in the Personality? Conceptualising “War Neurosis” in British Medical Literature of the Second World War’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 2012, pp. 408-420.

[1] Francis Houghton, The Veteran’s Tale – British Military Memoirs of the Second World War, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge), 2019, p.201.

[2] Symons and Williams, ‘Investigation into Psychological Disorders in Flying Personnel’, April 1942, TNA AIR2/6252.

[3] Edgar Jones, ‘“LMF”: The Use of Psychiatric Stigma in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War’, The Journal of Military History, 70, April 2006, p.449.

[4] Dan Ellin, ‘A Lack of Moral Fibre in Royal Air Force Bomber Command and Popular Culture’, British Journal for Military History, 6.3 (2020), p.43.

[5] Italics mine – note the use of ‘will not’ rather than ‘cannot’.

[6] TNA, AIR/28591/S.7C (1), ‘Memorandum on the Disposal of Members of Aircrews Who Forfeit the Confidence of their Commanding Officers’, 19.9.1941, published 28.9.41.

[7] TNA, AIR2/8591, Letter AVM KR Park, 7.10.1940, cited in Jones, ‘LMF’, p.446.

[8] Martin Francis, The Flyer: British Culture and the Royal Air Force 1939-1945, (Oxford University Press, Oxford), 2008, p.106.

[9] Symons and Williams, ‘Investigation into Psychological Disorders in Flying Personnel’, April 1942, TNA AIR2/6252.

[10] John McCarthy, ‘Aircrew and Lack of Moral Fibre in the Second World War’, War and Society, Vol.2, No.2, (1984), p.87.

[11] Mark K Wells, Courage in Air Warfare – The Allied Experience in the Second World War (Frank Cass, London), 1995.

[12] AD English, ‘A Predisposition to Cowardice? Aviation Psychology and the Genesis of ‘Lack of Moral Fibre’, War and Society, 13 (1995), pp.15-34.

[13] Lynsey Shaw Cobden, ‘Neuropsychiatry and the Management of Aerial Warfare: The Royal Air Force Neuropsychiatric Division in the Second World War’, PhD thesis, University of Oxford, 2016.


[14] Ben Shephard, A War of Nerves – Soldiers and Psychiatrists 1914-1994, Ch.19: The Helmeted Airman, (London, Jonathan Cape), 2000.

[15] Ellin, ‘A Lack of Moral Fibre’, p.42.

[16] Ussishkin, Morale,

[17] Daniel Ussishkin, Morale – A Modern British History, (Oxford University Press, New York), 2017, p.2.

[18] Dr Matthew Grant, review of ‘Flyers and their Traumas: The RAF in the Second World War’, (review no.1172), reviews.history.ac.uk/review/1172, accessed 30.10.2021.

[19] Angus Calder, The Myth of the Blitz, (Jonathan Cape, London), 1991, cited in Grant, ibid.

[20] Ellin, ‘A Lack of Moral Fibre’, p.43.

[21] Sonya Rose, Which People’s War? National Identity and Citizenship in Wartime Britain 1939-1945’, (Oxford, Oxford University Press), 2003, p.20.

[22] Ussishkin, Morale, p.9.

[23] Ussishkin, Morale, p.10.

[24] H Graeme Anderson, ‘The Selection of Candidates for the Air Service’, The Lancet, 16 March 1918, p.395, cited in English, The Cream of the Crop, p.63.

[25] Martin Francis, The Flyer: British Culture and the Royal Air Force 1939-1945, (Oxford University Press, Oxford), 2008, p.203.

[26] Elizabeth Roberts-Pedersen, A Weak Spot in the Personality? Conceptualising “War Neurosis” in British Medical Literature of the Second World War’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 2012, pp. 408-420.

, p.408.

[27] English, The Cream of the Crop, p.69.

[28] Ellin, ‘A Lack of Moral Fibre’, p.43.  

[29] Jane Gulliford Lowes, ‘Above Us The Stars: 10 Squadron Bomber Command – The Wireless Operator’s Story’, (Matador, Leicester), 2020, p.164.

[30] Francis, The Flyer, p.51.

[31] Pedersen, A Weak Spot in the Personality, p.412.

[32] Martin, The Flyer, p.106.

[33] Richard Overy, The Bombing War – Europe 1939-1945, (Allen Lane, London), 2013, p.351.

[34]  Wells, Courage in Air Warfare, p.64.

[35] Martin Middlebrook, The Berlin Raids: RAF Bomber Command Winter 1943-44, (Viking/Penguin, London), 1988, pp.317-318.

[36] Wells, Courage in Air Warfare, p.61.

[37]   Ellin, ‘A Lack of Moral Fibre’, p.47.

[38] Ellin, ’A Lack of Moral Fibre’, p.52.

[39] Ellin, ‘A Lack of Moral Fibre’, p.52.

[40] Alan Cooper, Air Battle of the Ruhr, (Airlife Publishing Ltd, Shrewsbury), 1992, p.136.

[41] Gulliford Lowes, Above Us The Stars, p.166.

[42] Ellin, ‘A Lack of Moral Fibre’, p.48.

[43] Air Historical Branch, James Lawson, ‘Memorandum on executive action (LMF)’, 23 November 1945.

[44] Jones, ‘LMF’, p.441.  

[45] Jones ‘LMF’ p.446.

[46] Houghton, The Veteran’s Tale, p. 202.

[47] English, The Cream of the Crop, p.100.

[48] Jones, ‘LMF‘, p.454.

[49] Jones, ‘LMF’, p.448.

[50] Pedersen, A Weak Spot in the Personality, p.418.

[51] Jones, ‘LMF’, p.453.

[52] Jones, LMF, p.453.

[53] Shepherd, A War of Nerves, p.174.

[54] Shepherd, A War of Nerves, p.178.

[55] Shepherd, A War of Nerves, p.179.

[56] Pedersen, A Weak Spot in the Personality’, p.413.

[57] Shepherd, A War of Nerves, p.181.

[58] Pedersen, ‘A Weak Spot in the Personality’, p.408.

[59] Jones, ‘LMF‘, p.458.

[60] Denis Richards, The Hardest Victory: RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War, (Hodder and Stoughton, London), 1994, p.446.

[61] Shephard, A War of Nerves, p. 297 (Letter to the author, 29.6.1999).

[62] Martin, The Flyer, p.125.

[63] Wells, Courage in Air Warfare, p.132.

[64] Ellin, ‘A Lack of Moral Fibre’, p.64.  

[65] Houghton, The Veteran’s Tale, p.199.  

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