November 26, 2017

1942. RAF Pilots Make American Friends Feel at Home

Prima Donnas of the Air Force in Britain
"Two fliers of the 8th Bomber Command clad in high altitude flying clothes including sheepskin coats & helmets, oxygen masks and sunglass goggles, at airdrome in southern England," 1942 (source)
RAF Pilots Do Fine and Friendly Things for U. S. Flier Buddies
United Press Staff Correspondent

A Spitfire Base Somewhere in England — (UP) RAF pilots have given up some of their best planes, fields and barracks to boost American morale by making United States fliers feel at home.

In some cases, British fliers are living in tents at half-finished fields, while Yanks occupy comfortable billets and their former bases. British officers have loaned out cooking staffs until such time as the Americans can organize their own facilities.

As a result, I found in a tour of American bases here, United States fliers have the greatest respect for their British comrades. The British, too, are most pleased with the Americans.

American fighter pilots, who form the "infantry of the air" in sky battles over the continent, are the prima donnas of the United States Army air forces in Britain. Their every ache, pain, gripe, and sign of temper are noted carefully by doctors, intelligence officers and flight commanders.

A careful watch is kept on their morale, which may depend on any number of circumstances from the meals they eat to the entertainment that is provided during their off-hours.

American officers have told me—and I believe it from what I've seen here—that the morale of American pilots in Spitfire squadrons is the highest of any fliers anywhere.

Among factors which contribute to this are the confidence the American pilots have in their equipment and the respect they have for the men who command them.

Great competition exists between the various American Spitfire squadrons in Britain, and it is not unusual for fliers to hang around the field during their leisure hours for fear they may miss something. But the competitive spirit disappears once the men are in the air. For they know their lives depend on teamwork.