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Waldo.Pepper
07-19-2006, 09:44 PM
Within a few days Lovelace was posted to Upper Heyford for operational training. But when he got to the place, no one seemed to have heard of him. So for a few days he strolled about the airfield examining the Hampden bombers and their totally unfamiliar equipment. The presence of Sergeant James Cameron Lovelace, RCAF, was clearly of little significance to anyone at RAF Upper Heyford. But it was a different story in the local pub. To its patrons the Canadian airman was a curiosity, an exotic figure from a far-off land of adventure that still had real live Indians! Lovelace felt right at home in the pub. He went there every evening until closing time when, reluctantly, he returned to the station.

Another posting soon arrived for Sergeant Lovelace. This time his presence was required at Cranwell, the RAF Staff College in Lincolnshire, for what was termed "vocabulary, technical, and procedures training." At Cranwell, Lovelace encountered many of the Canadian WOP/AGS with whom he had trained. The RAF had billeted them in a dismal barrack block, each room containing thirty-two iron bunks and a single stove.
Before long, the Canadians were ordered to go outside and fall in on the parade ground. Chilly winter rain poured down. A self-important little flight sergeant appeared. He bellowed something at the assembled Canadians. Something threatening, by the sound of it. But no one was sure because no one could understand him. What did he want? Why was he hollering? Everyone shrugged; they didn't know. At last the "chiefie" snorted into silence. The Canadians glanced at one another and trudged back to their billet through the deluge. No doubt it would all be explained in good time.

Within minutes, the incomprehensible flight sergeant was back, as splenetic as ever. He took one look at the floor - now thoroughly begrimed by the Canadians' muddy footwear-and his lace look on a bright pink hue. Voice throbbing with outrage, he at last made himself understood. Bloody Canadians ... savages . , . ami, worse, colonials ... brought up in bloomin' log cabins. He ordered them all to scrub the billet, and to wax and polish the floor. The Canadians ignored him. When a succession of disciplinary corporals arrived, the Canadians simply laughed at them. "After a week," Lovelace recalls, "a youthful, one-armed flight lieutenant took over the parade while the flight sergeant strutted around like a peacock ... Those of us who knew the air began humming to the strains of Figaro! Figaro! as he strutted..."

When the Canadians were taken on a route march, it was a disaster; the neat lines soon broke up into small groups that drifted away on their own. What was the point of the marches anyway? the Canadians asked. Weren't they supposed to be here for technical training? Later, at yet another parade, the flight sergeant appeared with a covey of corporals. All bore the tense expressions of men determined to have their way. One of the corporals objected to the smile on the face of a man in the front rank, a good-natured fellow from Timagami, Ontario. The corporal thought he was being laughed at. This led him to make a serious error of judgement. He grabbed the man from Timagami, who, still smiling, delivered a single, highly effective punch. The corporal lost interest in the proceedings, and the Canadians strolled back to their barracks where "we threw every single stick of furniture out the door of the barracks at the edge of our parade square and set fire to the lot! That incident got us some fame, far and wide, as 'The Canadian Revolt at Cranwell,'" Lovelace recalls.

When an air vice-marshal arrived from the Air Ministry, he called for a parade. He referred to the Canadians as "mutinous colonials." Wagging an authoritative finger, he declared that the British had had years of training in "that sort of situation" and they knew how to handle mutineers.

"That did it!" Lovelace says. "We all broke off and went inside. We had our own meeting and appointed two of our number to go AWOL to London and send some senior officer up to settle the issue." Lovelace himself was one of the emissaries; he returned to Cranwell a couple of days later with an RCAF squadron leader despatched personally by Canadian High Commissioner Vincent Massey. Shortly afterwards it was agreed that the Canadians were to have their own organization, commanded by Canadians rather than the RAF. Over the next few weeks, the airmen were posted (as rapidly as possible, it has to be assumed) to OTUS, thence to operational squadrons. Lovelace was one of the few who survived the war.

Although the Cranwell Mutiny was an event of little importance in the annals of World War II, it had a lasting impact on relations between the RCAF and the RAF. It created a Canadian "image" in the minds of the British. The image has persisted, intensified by various historians' descriptions of Canadian airmen as "brash and quarrelsome" on the one hand, and "happy-go-lucky men, great gamblers and very fond of and successful with the girls" on the other. Such historians like to depict Canadian aircrew as operating almost totally without discipline, ignoring orders, taking short-cuts, a sort of Wild West posse of the air. What is the truth of the matter?

Canadians behaved outrageously. Canadians behaved well. Canadians were crude. Canadians were gentlemen. It all depended on the individual. At one end of the scale were the airmen who revelled in being the "wild men" of British legend, challenging authority at every turn, doing their best to reinforce their reputations with suitably impudent behaviour wherever they went. At the other end was the majority, those Canadians who simply got on with the job and never looked for trouble. But they sometimes found it because, in the main, they tended to be self-reliant individuals, seldom intimidated by rank or reputation. If conditions were sub-standard, they complained, vociferously. If an order was stupid, they questioned it. If there was a better way of doing something, they saw no reason not to try it.

The vast majority of Canadians objected to being referred to as "colonials." This bewildered most Britons. They thought Canadians were colonials. When informed in no uncertain terms that Canada was not a colony but a Dominion, the Brits tended to shrug. What difference did it make? Colony or Dominion, it was all the same, wasn't it? Interestingly, this uncertainty extended to high places. In February 1943, just after 6 Group became operational, Air Marshal Sir Bertine E. Sutton of the Air Ministry found it necessary to explain to his colleagues that: "Canada is a Dominion and as such is no less entitled to a separate and autonomous Air Force than is the United Kingdom.. . "

Waldo.Pepper
07-19-2006, 09:44 PM
Within a few days Lovelace was posted to Upper Heyford for operational training. But when he got to the place, no one seemed to have heard of him. So for a few days he strolled about the airfield examining the Hampden bombers and their totally unfamiliar equipment. The presence of Sergeant James Cameron Lovelace, RCAF, was clearly of little significance to anyone at RAF Upper Heyford. But it was a different story in the local pub. To its patrons the Canadian airman was a curiosity, an exotic figure from a far-off land of adventure that still had real live Indians! Lovelace felt right at home in the pub. He went there every evening until closing time when, reluctantly, he returned to the station.

Another posting soon arrived for Sergeant Lovelace. This time his presence was required at Cranwell, the RAF Staff College in Lincolnshire, for what was termed "vocabulary, technical, and procedures training." At Cranwell, Lovelace encountered many of the Canadian WOP/AGS with whom he had trained. The RAF had billeted them in a dismal barrack block, each room containing thirty-two iron bunks and a single stove.
Before long, the Canadians were ordered to go outside and fall in on the parade ground. Chilly winter rain poured down. A self-important little flight sergeant appeared. He bellowed something at the assembled Canadians. Something threatening, by the sound of it. But no one was sure because no one could understand him. What did he want? Why was he hollering? Everyone shrugged; they didn't know. At last the "chiefie" snorted into silence. The Canadians glanced at one another and trudged back to their billet through the deluge. No doubt it would all be explained in good time.

Within minutes, the incomprehensible flight sergeant was back, as splenetic as ever. He took one look at the floor - now thoroughly begrimed by the Canadians' muddy footwear-and his lace look on a bright pink hue. Voice throbbing with outrage, he at last made himself understood. Bloody Canadians ... savages . , . ami, worse, colonials ... brought up in bloomin' log cabins. He ordered them all to scrub the billet, and to wax and polish the floor. The Canadians ignored him. When a succession of disciplinary corporals arrived, the Canadians simply laughed at them. "After a week," Lovelace recalls, "a youthful, one-armed flight lieutenant took over the parade while the flight sergeant strutted around like a peacock ... Those of us who knew the air began humming to the strains of Figaro! Figaro! as he strutted..."

When the Canadians were taken on a route march, it was a disaster; the neat lines soon broke up into small groups that drifted away on their own. What was the point of the marches anyway? the Canadians asked. Weren't they supposed to be here for technical training? Later, at yet another parade, the flight sergeant appeared with a covey of corporals. All bore the tense expressions of men determined to have their way. One of the corporals objected to the smile on the face of a man in the front rank, a good-natured fellow from Timagami, Ontario. The corporal thought he was being laughed at. This led him to make a serious error of judgement. He grabbed the man from Timagami, who, still smiling, delivered a single, highly effective punch. The corporal lost interest in the proceedings, and the Canadians strolled back to their barracks where "we threw every single stick of furniture out the door of the barracks at the edge of our parade square and set fire to the lot! That incident got us some fame, far and wide, as 'The Canadian Revolt at Cranwell,'" Lovelace recalls.

When an air vice-marshal arrived from the Air Ministry, he called for a parade. He referred to the Canadians as "mutinous colonials." Wagging an authoritative finger, he declared that the British had had years of training in "that sort of situation" and they knew how to handle mutineers.

"That did it!" Lovelace says. "We all broke off and went inside. We had our own meeting and appointed two of our number to go AWOL to London and send some senior officer up to settle the issue." Lovelace himself was one of the emissaries; he returned to Cranwell a couple of days later with an RCAF squadron leader despatched personally by Canadian High Commissioner Vincent Massey. Shortly afterwards it was agreed that the Canadians were to have their own organization, commanded by Canadians rather than the RAF. Over the next few weeks, the airmen were posted (as rapidly as possible, it has to be assumed) to OTUS, thence to operational squadrons. Lovelace was one of the few who survived the war.

Although the Cranwell Mutiny was an event of little importance in the annals of World War II, it had a lasting impact on relations between the RCAF and the RAF. It created a Canadian "image" in the minds of the British. The image has persisted, intensified by various historians' descriptions of Canadian airmen as "brash and quarrelsome" on the one hand, and "happy-go-lucky men, great gamblers and very fond of and successful with the girls" on the other. Such historians like to depict Canadian aircrew as operating almost totally without discipline, ignoring orders, taking short-cuts, a sort of Wild West posse of the air. What is the truth of the matter?

Canadians behaved outrageously. Canadians behaved well. Canadians were crude. Canadians were gentlemen. It all depended on the individual. At one end of the scale were the airmen who revelled in being the "wild men" of British legend, challenging authority at every turn, doing their best to reinforce their reputations with suitably impudent behaviour wherever they went. At the other end was the majority, those Canadians who simply got on with the job and never looked for trouble. But they sometimes found it because, in the main, they tended to be self-reliant individuals, seldom intimidated by rank or reputation. If conditions were sub-standard, they complained, vociferously. If an order was stupid, they questioned it. If there was a better way of doing something, they saw no reason not to try it.

The vast majority of Canadians objected to being referred to as "colonials." This bewildered most Britons. They thought Canadians were colonials. When informed in no uncertain terms that Canada was not a colony but a Dominion, the Brits tended to shrug. What difference did it make? Colony or Dominion, it was all the same, wasn't it? Interestingly, this uncertainty extended to high places. In February 1943, just after 6 Group became operational, Air Marshal Sir Bertine E. Sutton of the Air Ministry found it necessary to explain to his colleagues that: "Canada is a Dominion and as such is no less entitled to a separate and autonomous Air Force than is the United Kingdom.. . "

Pirschjaeger
07-19-2006, 10:26 PM
Interesting. Got beer? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

And all along I thought my problem with authority had more to do with me. Guess I was right after all. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

jensenpark
07-19-2006, 10:55 PM
Great post Waldo!

Very good...amusing.