HC Deb 09 June 1943 vol 390 cc684-5
16. Wing-Commander Hulbert

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can make any statement in regarding to the proposed change in the present policy of commissioning Royal Air Force aircrews?

Sir A. Sinclair

With the concurrence of my hon. and gallant Friend I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a short statement of the present policy and practice in regard to the commissioning of Royal Air Force aircrews. No change in this policy is at present contemplated.

Wing-Commander Hulbert

Has my right hon. Friend received any representations from the Canadian Government on this matter?

Sir A. Sinclair

Not as regards the commissioning of crews in the Royal Air Force.

Following is the statement:

The Royal Air Force view is that it is not necessary or desirable that aircraft, any more than small naval craft or tanks, should be manned exclusively by commissioned officers. Nevertheless, the policy is to commission all pilots, observers, navigators and air bombers who are found to possess the necessary qualities, personality, character, and powers of leadership and command. These qualities can best be tested on actual operations or by service as flying instructors; but in order to encourage the right types of volunteers to offer themselves for aircrew duties and to encourage them to put their best efforts into their training, it has been found desirable to allow about a third of the pupils to be commissioned at the time when they get their wings. Commissions are granted later to all those who, in actual operations or on instructional duties, show themselves to possess the necessary qualities.

Commissioning in these later stages on the basis of recommendations by the commanding officers of the aircrews, and every encouragement is given to the latter to recommend for commissioning all aircrews who possess the necessary qualities. They are required to review monthly from this point of view the claims of every airman aircrew serving under them. It has been found that, generally speaking, under these arrangements only about one-half of the pilots, observers, navigators and air bombers do, in fact, qualify for commissions; but more can be commissioned whenever a larger proportion is found to be qualified for commissioning. A limit is prescribed for the numbers of commissions that may be granted to wireless operator/air gunners and air gunners, but this is not allowed to operate to prevent suitable men who are recommended for commissions from getting them.