This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the Commonwealth. Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the publications section of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs:
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
GPO Box 9998
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6289 1111
Fax: (02) 6289 4849
Published by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Canberra.
Written by Glen Sunderland
Information is current at date of publication.
Bomber Command is the second book in the Australians in World War II series, published by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). Written by historian Dr Richard Reid, this book focuses on the Australians who flew with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in Bomber Command and tells the story of their training, their operational lives and their unique experiences following the German surrender.
This educational resource features a brief introductory activity called ‘Getting Started’, followed by six separate activities which use inquiry-based questions to encourage student exploration of Bomber Command during World War II.
Teachers using these materials are encouraged to select specific activities, parts of activities or the broad selection of primary and secondary materials within this learning resource to suit their own purposes.
Many of the visual and written sources included in this resource are taken from Bomber Command. Page numbers are provided for these, to allow students to view larger digital versions in an online photo gallery.
Viewing the Resource Online
http://www.dva.gov.au/aboutDVA/publications/commemorative/bombercommand/Pages/default.aspx This location will link you to the DVA Commemorations webpage dedicated to Bomber Command and provide PDF and Microsoft Word versions of these educational materials.
Australian Curriculum links
Historical knowledge and understanding: Depth Study 1 – World War II (1939–1945) Students investigate wartime experiences through a study of World War II in depth. This includes a study of the causes, events, outcome and broader impact of the conflict as an episode in world history, and the nature of Australia’s involvement:
An overview of the causes and course of World War II
An examination of significant events of World War II, including the Holocaust and use of the atomic bomb
The experiences of Australians during World War II, such as prisoners of war (POWs), the Battle of Britain, Kokoda, and the fall of Singapore
The impact of World War II, with a particular emphasis on the Australian home front, including the changing roles of women and use of wartime government controls (conscription, manpower controls, rationing and censorship)
The significance of World War II to Australia’s international relationships in the twentieth century, with particular reference to the United Nations, Britain, Asia and the USA
Use chronological sequencing to demonstrate the relationship between events and developments in different periods and places
Use historical terms and concepts
Identify and select different kinds of questions about the past to inform historical inquiry
Identify the origin, purpose and context of primary and secondary sources
Process and synthesise information from a range of sources for use as evidence in an historical argument
Evaluate the reliability and usefulness of primary and secondary sources
Identify and analyse the perspectives of people from the past
Develop texts, particularly descriptions and discussions, which use evidence from a range of sources that are referenced
This resource encourages students to explore and interpret a range of historical sources. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs cannot be assumed to agree with or endorse any content or opinions expressed in websites or other publications quoted or referred to in this source.
Dr Richard Reid, Bomber Command, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Canberra Paragon printers, 2012.
Avro Lancaster, online at upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Avro_Lancaster.png
Australian Department of Defence, 20120628adf8262658_688, Bomber Command Memorial, online at images.defence.gov.au/
Charles R Bastion, 32 CoPilots, Trafford Publishing, 2004.
David Crossland, ‘Germans Grudgingly Accept Bomber Memorial’, Spiegel Online, 6 June 2012, online at spiegel.de/international/europe/controversial-memorial-to-british-wwii-bombers-to-open-a-840858.html Schräge Musik, UK Ministry of Defence, online at raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/images/ju88guns2.jpg Roberts Dunstan DSO, The Sand and the Sky, Robertson and Mullens, Melbourne, 1945.
Don Derbyshire,‘One Leg In The Sky’, 2006, online attheoddbods.org/2006_04/oddsnends13.htm Douglas Harvey, Boys, Bombs, and Brussels Sprouts, Goodread Biographies, 1983.
Lancaster drops bundles of 'Window' over the target during a special daylight raid on Duisburg, c. 1944 (Imperial War Museum Image IWM CL 1405), online at http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205022390 Naxos Radar, UK Ministry of Defence online at raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/images/ju88radar.jpg Whirlwind: Bombing Germany (September 1939 – April 1944) in The World at War (1973), directed by Jeremy Isaacs, United Kingdom, Thames Television. [Documentary]
Peter Jackson, ‘Bomber Command fliers in their own words’, BBC News, 27 June 2012, online at bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18501658 ‘Bomber Command Memorial – Review’, by Rowan Moore, The Guardian, 24 June 2012, guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/jun/24/bomber-command-memorial-london-review?newsfeed=true Harry Mount, ‘The Bomber Command Memorial is a noble, handsome thing’, The Telegraph (London), 26 June 2012, online at blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/harrymount/100064711/the-bomber-command-memorial-is-a-noble-handsome-thing/ ‘Dresden May “Blesses” Memorial’, The Daily Express (London), 27 June 2012, online at express.co.uk/posts/view/329135/Dresden-s-mayor-blesses-memorial ‘British Memorial Honors World War II Bomber Crews’, New York Times, 28 June 2012, online at nytimes.com/2012/06/29/world/europe/britain-honors-world-war-ii-bomber-crews.html H2S Radar, online at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H2S_radar Michael Veitch, Flak, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, 2006.
A poem written by an air gunner during World War II introduces students to Bomber Command.
ACTIVITY 1 Why did men volunteer for air crews within Bomber Command and how were they trained?
Students examine primary and secondary source evidence to explore the men’s motivation for joining the Royal Australian Air Force and their training to become Bomber Command air crews.
ACTIVITY 2 What role did Bomber Command play in World War II?
Students identify the different roles of Bomber Command. They develop their numeracy skills as they organise and interpret historical events and developments using a scaled timeline and statistical data. They also explore terms and concepts as well as develop their critical thinking skills in order to identify the crew positions of a Lancaster bomber.
ACTIVITY 3 How did technological advances impact on Bomber Command’s war?
Students investigate some of the major advances in technology that affected Bomber Command’s war and the ways in which they favoured first one side and then the other.
ACTIVITY 4 What can primary and secondary sources tell us about the experiences of Bomber Command air crews?
Students process and synthesise information from primary and secondary sources and use it as evidence to answer inquiry questions about the experiences of Bomber Command air crews. Students examine the usefulness of visual and document sources, taking into account their origin, purpose, context, and reliability. Students are also encouraged to develop empathy for the airmen and an understanding of the conditions they faced.
ACTIVITY 5 How important was the support apparatus for air crews and their bombers?
Students use primary sources to investigate how ground crews and the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force supported the air crews of Bomber Command during the war.
ACTIVITY 6 How has Bomber Command been remembered?
Students investigate the way Bomber Command air crews have been remembered since the end of World War II and critically analyse different perspectives on commemorating their service. They also examine the significance of major design features of the new memorial in London.
Read the poem silently. Your teacher will then divide the poem into seven verses. Students will be chosen to read these sections aloud for the class and then complete the questions on page 7.
2. What imagery (sights, sounds, smells, feelings etc) is used in the poem and what emotions does it elicit?
3. Describe the tone of the poem and what specific language is used to create this:
4. What dangers did Bomber Command air crews face during missions?
ACTIVITY 1: Why did men volunteer for service in air crews with Bomber Command, and how were they trained?
A. The Empire Air Training Scheme and the road to Bomber Command
Examine the following eight sources and read page 12 to 15 of Bomber Command to complete the questions on pages 9 and 10.
Source 1 You can have a go at joining the Air Force if you like. If anything happens there it will be quick and sudden and you won’t have to suffer at length. William George Pearce recalling his father’s comments before enlisting in the RAAF.
Bomber Command, p. 12
‘Coming? – then hurry!’, RAAF Recruiting Poster, c. 1940. This poster reflects the drive to recruit potential Australian air crew for the war against Germany in 1940.
Bomber Command, p. 129 (AWM ARTV04297).
Source 3 The exploits of the airmen of World War I, in chivalrous combat above the mud, futile bayonet charges and pounding artillery, had been kept alive by the barnstormers, extended by the pioneer aviators such as Parer, Kingsford Smith and Hinkler, and exaggerated by writers of fiction for boys. Rockfist Rogan fought his way through daring exploits in The Champion and Biggles (James Bigglesworth), ex-Royal Flying Corps, flew his first book-length mission in 1932. Hank Nelson, Chased by the sun, courageous Australians in Bomber Command, ABC Books, Sydney, 2002, pp. 5-6
Source 4 It is so hard to say that you joined up for this reason or that reason – when so many things come into it. Some people join up because it is the thing to do, or because they are hard up, or because they want to get away from domestic unhappiness, or because they simply want to get at the enemy. It’s all those things. Perhaps it was a stirring R.A.A.F poster that shouted: ‘It’s a man’s job!’
Roberts Dunstan DSO, The Sand and the Sky, Robertson and Mullens, Melbourne, 1945, p. 40
Source 5 Mental Attributes of Pilot
(Guide for selection panels, March 1941)
A combination of alertness with steadiness – dependability, promptness in decision – imagination – sense of humour – punctuality, attention to detail – power of observation – good education – all-round interests, with mechanical bent – a leaning towards swift forms of locomotion and a love of flying – strong personality – popular type, inspiring liking and respect in his fellows, and a gift for leadership. Hank Nelson, Chased by the sun, courageous Australians in Bomber Command, ABC Books, Sydney, 2002, p. 10
Source 6 A ‘Wings’ Presentation parade at an Empire Air Training School in Canada, c. May 1943.
Bomber Command, page 142 (AC0182).
Source 7 In the first year of recruiting for the Empire Air Training Scheme 92 per cent of graduating aircrews had four years or more of secondary education. For pilots the figure was 96 per cent and for navigators it was 99 per cent … The clerk who had a good school record, played football at the weekend … was likely to impress the selection panel. Hank Nelson, Chased by the sun, courageous Australians in Bomber Command, ABC Books, Sydney, 2002, pp. 17–18.
RAAF Trainees study aircraft recognition drawings at an EATS flying school in Southern Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe), c. 1941.
Bomber Command, p. 140 (AWM SUK14939).
1. Why did men volunteer for Bomber Command? Use evidence from two sources you have analysed:
2. Describe the composition (background) of men training to become air crews in Bomber Command?
3. Source 6 refers to a guide for pilot training selection panels. Why might these qualities be considered desirable in bomber pilots?
4. What was the purpose of the Empire Air Training Scheme and why was it a success?
5. What were some advantages and disadvantages of training in countries not directly affected by the war?