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#4494338 - 10/24/19 08:44 AM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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Nice find with the Grider quote.
From the sounds of it it all *sounds* like a quite casual conversation not a conspiracy. Does he give a date for this conversation? And what reason did Grider give for Bishop being replaced after a month? I can guess but back to the subject at hand:

85 needs new CO. Bishop leaving after a month. Story there which leads to...
The General stopping by the mess for tea. Talks to pilots.
“You lads need a new boss. Any ideas? Who would you like? I was thinking about Major McCudden. Fine chap. He’s available in England.”
85: “Thanks General but....”

McCudden - and anyone else outside the mess that day - may never have been aware of the conversation. One that we all have participated in at one time or another.
McCudden and Mannock were reported to be “friends” from training days FWIW.

Now I agree that Griders reasoning for not wanting McCudden is blatantly ridiculous. Not to say he really didn’t think that but if so why? And is that the real reason? Social class? Grider is American. Sounds like Grider (and other members of the 85) knew Mannock personally and liked him.

And there is a slight difference between McCudden and Mannock. While “socially” they did have very similar backgrounds (almost exact actually) Mannock entered the RAF as a Lieutenant (kind of) while McCudden was “up from the ranks.” This apparently did matter to some English officers. But, again, why would this matter a whit to an American like Grider?

The mystery continues!

#4494342 - 10/24/19 09:57 AM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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I'm surprised it got recorded like this at all. Generally conversations like this wouldn't be disclosed so explicitly by veterans, since it's considered bad form to make remarks about fellow service members that might be construed as derogatory.


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#4494344 - 10/24/19 10:20 AM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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It’s one man’s recollection of events after the fact. Or was it a diary of sorts.
Mannock and McCudden are both dead.
Granted it’s his opinion and memory but I don’t find it odd nor particularly derogatory just not factually correct as I understand it. Who knows what Grider may have heard from others in the small and insular world of the RFC/RAF.

McCudden was apparently aware of some of this and downplayed his VC award I have heard. The British, generally, were reluctant to make a big deal of the aces at the expense of others. He was somewhat of a sudden hero thrust upon the public by a newspaper campaign (Daily Mail?). Was his VC (though certainly deserved) a result of that campaign?
I believe others thought so (and he may have also a bit and certainly aware of the effect on others apparently) so that, combined with his “lowly origins” in a class conscious society (and Officer Corps) would naturally inspire jealousy/envy in others which leads to “negative talk” in various Squadron Messes on a long winters night. We’ve all been there and seen how things get spread around. Any ex-military here? “Oh yes, well I’ve heard...”

FWIW I have always heard (how true I’ll leave to others) that higher HQ thought highly of McCudden for his leadership, ability, and contribution to the science of aircraft flight in a practical sense. What some thought of him as a Major and VC winner I can’t say.

#4494367 - 10/24/19 02:06 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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Duke,

It was Grider's contemporary diary. Grider was killed not much later. According to Grider, the opinion was generally held by the pilots of 85. Personally, it's an opinion with which I disagree. McCudden seems to have been well-respected as a leader.

Last edited by Raine; 10/24/19 02:07 PM.
#4494375 - 10/24/19 03:28 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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I am familiar with Grider as a “friend of aces” and as his diary (which I shall certainly have to get a copy of) is constantly quoted. I’m sure I knew he was killed at one time but had forgotten that till you reminded me.
And that fact tends, to me, to give his observations and opinions a bit more veracity in that he wasn’t “fluffing” for a post war audience nor did he presumably have some axe to grind for some later offense.
What is the name of his book/diary?

#4494397 - 10/24/19 05:49 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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This McCudden-Mannoc case is pretty interesting. There are couple things I think are worth considering.

Career officers have received full officer training while officers promoted from ranks during wartime often have not. Even if one is great pilot and good tactician that doesn't automatically make him the best leader for a unit. As romantic as it is to think that every officer promoted from the ranks was an incredible leader fighting the man, that's not necessarily the case. More than anything the wartime promotions are a temporary measure to replace the losses of officer cadre with at least somewhat capable people.

The opinion of superiors, peers and subordinates of any soldier/person can be very different. McCudden was loved by the generals because of his achievements alone but that does not mean his peers and subordinates shared the feeling. Whether that's due to simple envy or other things is another question.

Around the time I'd think the 85 squadron's leader was discussed, McCudden had apparently just been sent back to England due to combat fatigue. Here's a quite from Wikipedia:

Quote

By this stage McCudden was suffering from combat fatigue. It manifested itself in his decisions, of late, to seek a victory at any price, which was alien to his normal, calculated approach to combat. Knowing he was to soon be sent home, he was obsessed with catching up to von Richthofen's score...
McCudden was soon rotated home on 5 March. More than 50 officers gathered for a formal farewell dinner and they presented him with a silver model of his S.E.5A on 4 March. McCudden would not see action again.

Reading that, Grider's impression of the man doesn't seem too inaccurate. Even if he had been a careful tactician in the past, the people close to him would remember him as he was when they parted. In the end, it's the current capability of the man that really matters on the front, not past glories and contributions. Overall, Mannock simply seems better leader option at the time than McCudden. There's also the possibility that McCudden was suggested for the post in the first place because of his good relations with the generals, the whole thing kinda turns upside down smile.

#4494403 - 10/24/19 06:41 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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I am not disregarding Mannock as a leader but he had no more (and probably less) “Officer Training” then McCudden. Not that it necessarily equated “Good Officer = Good Squadron CO” who were not expected to fly. The “debate” was not who is better (though that may make a interesting, but impossible, discussion) but why 85 acted the way they did - and what that “way” is is now more cloudy then ever.

For me, as of right this second, I’m going with multiple officers knowing Mannock personally as the main reason followed by a distant number two of simple negative service talk about McCudden rooted in jealousy and “class struggles” all followed up by a casual talk with a General over tea in the mess who asked a question and not some rebellion. Only they know for sure and they are all long dead.

#4494406 - 10/24/19 07:04 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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McCudden was promoted to officer during his flying career on the front. Mannock entered Engineering Corps as a cadet and was promoted to officer before moving to flying school. Mannock definitely had more officer training.

A hero being held down by jealousy and class struggle is definitely more dramatic 21st century narrative than a more qualified commander being picked over a propaganda star obsessed with his personal score. The truth is probably somewhere in between the two extremes.

#4494408 - 10/24/19 07:22 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: mvp7]  
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Guess the only thing left for me is why the General stopped by.
Don’t recall a Squadron ever being consulted as to who they want for a CO.
Circumstances following the strange tenure of Bishop or was McCudden really chosen first which led to grumbling at 85? Who knows?

Originally Posted by mvp7

A hero being held down by jealousy and class struggle is definitely more dramatic 21st century narrative than a more qualified commander being picked over a propaganda star obsessed with his personal score. The truth is probably somewhere in between the two extremes.


That’s a leap. And hardly so dramatic.

And the Engineering Corp (which may not be what you think it is for “Officer Training”) was not Manocks first stop. He left both with short stays before ending up in the RFC.
And since this is apparently turning into a “Mannock vs McCudden” debate McCudden has much more military experience.

But we are wide of the point of the thread at this stage. I have an answer for the 85 thing for now (and more questions) so we’ll let it lay.

#4494409 - 10/24/19 08:01 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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What do you mean by leap? I don't think I have claimed anything that outrageous. McCudden's obsession with beating Red Baron's kill count is well known and hardly something you would wan't from a man responsible for the entire squadron.

McCudden had been in service and in the air service longer than Mannock but Mannock had been officer for longer and entered air service as an officer. Total duration of service does not override the meaning of rank as enlisted, NCOs and officers all have different roles and responsibilities. McCuddens years as a mechanic, observer and pilot don't automatically make him more qualified officer or commander than Mannock.

The point is not which of the two was really better, I just don't see any reason why Mannock couldn't simply have been requested because he was deemed better squadron commander than McCudden (based on what the pilots of No.85 knew of the two). Grider's diary seems to support this as well, rather than plain jealousy and class.

What exactly makes you leap into the conclusion that McCudden was a victim of something?

#4494411 - 10/24/19 08:10 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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To answer Duke's question, I found the quote from Mac Grider in "The Making of Billy Bishop" by Brereton Greenhous. On further examination, Greenhous clearly took it word for word from "Warbirds – The Diary of an Unknown Aviator" by Elliott White Springs. Springs published Mac Grider's diary under that title.

Interestingly, in "The Courage of the Early Morning" by William Arthur Bishop, Billy's son, I found the following passage:

"A rumour circulated through the squadron that McCudden was being considered as Bishop's successor – and McCudden had a reputation for being not only an exceptional pilot, but very discipline-minded and 'regimental.' The Flying Foxes were an easy-going crew, and they feared there would be friction. Bishop's own choice was the slender Irishman he had met with Grid Caldwell – Mick Mannock of 74 Squadron. He was a superb aerial tactician who would probably be popular with the Foxes – and all hands were delighted when Bishop's recommendation was accepted by headquarters."

So here we have Bishop's son, claiming that it was Bishop's own suggestion that Mannock be his successor. Bishop had indeed expressed admiration for Mannock. He wrote his fiancée, Margaret Burdon, "Mannock now has more than 30 Huns. He is a marvel from all accounts. I'm always glad when a man like Mannock does so well. He is such a good fellow, and everyone likes him so much."I believe Bishop saw McCudden as a closer rival than Mannock. Mannock was less likely to challenge Bishop's record (Bishop inflated his claims, McCudden reported his claims accurately, and Mannock deflated his claims). Strangely, Bishop attributes his preference to McCudden's attention to discipline (as opposed to Grider's suggestion that McCudden was too focused on his own score). Yet Mannock could be equally harsh with a pilot who did not follow instructions.

I have an evil hunch that Bishop was a classic narcissist and, as narcissists are prone to do, projected his own weakness (i.e. focus on personal score over leadership) onto McCudden when speaking with his men at 85. There is a lot at play here, and much more than any simple notion of class distinction.

#4494412 - 10/24/19 08:10 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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Hmmm. I feel like you have read nothing I wrote mvp7.
The limitation of the texted word typed into my little phone screen in between silly RL stuff. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind here nor am I carrying the torch for McCudden. You see things one way and I another. I have what I needed and know what I know - unfortunately based on 3rd hand Information 100 years old in a lot of cases - but there it is.

#4494414 - 10/24/19 08:12 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: Raine]  
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Originally Posted by Raine
To answer Duke's question, I found the quote from Mac Grider in "The Making of Billy Bishop" by Brereton Greenhous. On further examination, Greenhous clearly took it word for word from "Warbirds – The Diary of an Unknown Aviator" by Elliott White Springs. Springs published Mac Grider's diary under that title.

Interestingly, in "The Courage of the Early Morning" by William Arthur Bishop, Billy's son, I found the following passage:

"A rumour circulated through the squadron that McCudden was being considered as Bishop's successor – and McCudden had a reputation for being not only an exceptional pilot, but very discipline-minded and 'regimental.' The Flying Foxes were an easy-going crew, and they feared there would be friction. Bishop's own choice was the slender Irishman he had met with Grid Caldwell – Mick Mannock of 74 Squadron. He was a superb aerial tactician who would probably be popular with the Foxes – and all hands were delighted when Bishop's recommendation was accepted by headquarters."

So here we have Bishop's son, claiming that it was Bishop's own suggestion that Mannock be his successor. Bishop had indeed expressed admiration for Mannock. He wrote his fiancée, Margaret Burdon, "Mannock now has more than 30 Huns. He is a marvel from all accounts. I'm always glad when a man like Mannock does so well. He is such a good fellow, and everyone likes him so much."I believe Bishop saw McCudden as a closer rival than Mannock. Mannock was less likely to challenge Bishop's record (Bishop inflated his claims, McCudden reported his claims accurately, and Mannock deflated his claims). Strangely, Bishop attributes his preference to McCudden's attention to discipline (as opposed to Grider's suggestion that McCudden was too focused on his own score). Yet Mannock could be equally harsh with a pilot who did not follow instructions.

I have an evil hunch that Bishop was a classic narcissist and, as narcissist are prone to do, projected his own weakness (i.e. focus on personal score over leadership) onto McCudden when speaking with his men at 85. There is a lot at play here, and much more than any simple notion of class distinction.


Excellent! Thank you. Clearly I need more additions to the library.
Thanks for taking the time to post that.

EDIT: Actually I have about 150 WW1 aviation books in electronic format that I just remembered. Oops.
That title sounds familiar. Wonder if that’s one of them. Got them saved for when I buy a Kindle - which I haven’t got around to in about 6 years. frown

Last edited by DukeIronHand; 10/24/19 08:20 PM.
#4494420 - 10/24/19 08:45 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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I have read what you have written Duke (although I did not see your edits before posting). I'm not trying to extinguish McCudden's torch either. I'm simply proposing another possible explanation to his missed command. I never claimed that my theory was correct and your's wrong, they are merely theories to be debated. I don't think anyone living can claim to know the truth of the matter and even the dead people involved would all have very different opinions of it.

Truth is usually somewhere in the middle of the extremes and Raine's interesting quote seems to point that way: Squadron 85's opinions of the two men might have been biased due to Bishop's personal feelings but in the end it was the Mannock's alleged qualities as an officer that lead to the squadron asking for him rather than McCudden's background being the issue (although it could be a part of it at least on subconscious level).

#4494426 - 10/24/19 09:26 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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All good.
I do, unfortunately, a lot of editing due to typing with big he-man thumbs and only being able to see a couple lines at a time then ofttimes forgetting where I was going with the thought. And Autocorrect, despite its title, is not my friend.
Aaaand. Edited for grammar!

Last edited by DukeIronHand; 10/24/19 09:54 PM.
#4494429 - 10/24/19 09:49 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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This has been a super discussion of the McCudden v. Mannock CO debate. Well done gents. A bit OT, but still well done.

.

#4494439 - 10/24/19 11:46 PM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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Even further off topic I found myself in a squadron entirely populated by SGT's when I turned off "Historical Aces". There was only one LT in the whole outfit. Must have been lonely in the officer's mess and quite surprising for 1916. Turning HA's back on distributed the ranks more credibly. The French and German services seem to have been more or less indifferent to putting NCO's in the cockpit. The German approach was amusing since they originally had the officer as the observer under the presumption that he would "captain" the aircraft and the NCO would be responsible for the lowly mechanical task of actually driving it. This system always reminds me of that old movie "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines". I can't imagine that their social protocols were wildly different from the British system since class segregation was certainly present there. I imagine that the Republican French were more egalitarian.


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#4494444 - 10/25/19 12:36 AM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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I’d be interested in the numbers of NCO pilots by year and by nation plus what type of units they were in.
Seems early war the NCO pilots were heavy in two-seater squadrons. Don’t know if that’s a left over from the “chauffeur” days or officers were clamoring for the single-seater spots.

Did read very recently that the RFC had 170 NCO pilots but I already forget where I read it or the time period. Lemme look again. I will guess that by 1918 the NCO Pilot was a bit of a rarity in the RAF.

#4494617 - 10/26/19 12:34 AM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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Little tidbit about Mannock. Stumbled across this while gadding about. The author generally claims that (with quotes from Mannock’s contemporaries) the blood thirsty persona often attached to “Mick” was an act to motivate the new flyers. Normally, with just cause, you can take anything you find on the internet with a huge grain of salt but the author here is quoting known named sources. The Jones mentioned here is the famous flyer Ira “Taffy” Jones (who reportedly hated William Bishop and started the “73” victories for Mannock - one more then Bishop) and Jim Eyles who, if you are not familiar with the Mannock story, was a family he lived with in his youth.

“On May 21, Mannock brought down four German planes—three Pfalz D.IIIs and a Hannover two-seater—and the next day was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Before the month was out, he flamed eight new victims. After such victories, he would burst into the mess shouting, “Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, wonk woof!” to boost morale. But privately he expressed darker thoughts. By the middle of June, Jones noticed that Mannock’s nerves were “noticeably fraying. He was now continually talking about being shot down in flames.” Writing to his sister, Mannock said, “I am supposed to be going on leave, (if I live long enough)….” He was fighting depression and plagued by dreams of burning aircraft.

On June 18, Mannock sailed home for leave in England. Upon his arrival he was informed that he had been promoted to major and given command of No. 85 Squadron, previously led by Canadian ace Major William A. “Billy” Bishop, and that he also had been awarded a Bar to his DSO. He reacted with indifference to the news.

After spending a brief but painful time with his mother, an alcoholic, Mannock went to stay with his friend Jim Eyles, who saw that he “had changed dramatically. Gone was the old sparkle we knew so well; gone was the incessant wit. I could see him wring his hands together to conceal the shaking and twitching.” One day, as the time approached for Mannock to return to the war, “he started to tremble violently. This grew into a convulsive straining. He cried uncontrollably….His face, when he lifted it, was a terrible sight. Saliva and tears were running down his face; he couldn’t stop it.” Given his condition, 31-year-old Mannock should never have been sent back to the front. But back he went.”

Poor Mick. Goes home on leave in a apparently exhausted state for a rest but has to turn around almost immediately and head back to France to take over 85 where he lasted a month.

EDIT: Guess I could link the whole article eh?
https://www.historynet.com/edward-mick-mannock-world-war-i-raf-ace-pilot.htm

Last edited by DukeIronHand; 10/26/19 01:11 AM.
#4494620 - 10/26/19 01:04 AM Re: OT: Treatment of NCO Pilots? [Re: DukeIronHand]  
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https://www.historynet.com/james-mccudden-perfect-soldier.htm

And one about McCudden from the same source. The same author of both articles is apparently taking excerpts from books on the two men.

For this thread note the several references to McCudden’s “working class background” and it’s apparent effect.

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