Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Professor John P. Campbell


In its broadest perspective the following thesis is a case study in Anglo-Canadian relations during the Second World War. The specific subject is the relationship between RAF Bomber Command and No.6 (Canadian) Group, with emphasis on its political, operational (military), and social aspects.

The Prologue describes the bombing raid on Dortmund of 6/7 October, 1944, and has two purposes. The first is to set the stage for the subsequent analysis of the Anglo-Canadian relationship and to serve as a reminder of the underlying operational realities. The second is to show to what extent Canadian air power had grown during the war by highlighting the raid that was No. 6 Group's maximum effort of the bombing campaign.

Chapter 1 deals with the political negotiations and problems associated with the creation of No. 6 Group on 25 October, 1942. The analysis begins with an account of how the Mackenzie King government placed all RCAF aircrew graduates of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan at the disposal of the RAF and then had to negotiate for the right to concentrate RCAF aircrew overseas in their own squadrons and higher formations. This policy of concentration was known as 'Canadianization' and its greatest success was the establishment of the Canadian Bomber Group.

The second chapter is an operational history of No. 6 Group. Inevitably, this largely reflected the fortunes of Bomber Command as a whole. The Group's performance during the period from January 1943 to March 1944 was lacklustre; only after the advent of the pre-invasion bombing camping of 1944 did it improve. The period from April 1944 to May 1945 was one of triumph as the Group's performance improved remarkably.

Chapter 3 deals with social relations between RCAF personnel overseas and the RAF and English civilians. During the early years, 1941 and 1942, relations between the Canadians and their hosts were poor, primarily because of mutual misunderstanding. In the period 1943 to 1945 the two sides settled down and got to know each other better, thereby leading to an overall improvement in Anglo-Canadian relations. Even so, there were always points of friction between RCAF personnel overseas and the RAF.

The fourth chapter examines four intergovernmental disputes over the policy and administration of the RCAF Overseas: namely, Canadianization, commissioning, special aircrew leave, and the duration of an operational tour. In spite of the victory achieved by the creation of No. 6 Group, the Canadian government had difficulty at the policy level because the British still had to be consulted regarding the effects of such decisions on the war effort. The history of those disputes underscores the importance for Canada of maintaining administrative autonomy over her own service personnel, even in the absence of strategic control.

Two key themes are brought out in the Conclusion. The first is that although the struggle for RCAF administrative autonomy overseas had little strategic significance, this period was a most vital and necessary one in the development of the RCAF as a separate service within the Canadian Armed Forces. The second is the degree to which a small nation like Canada finds it impossible to retain strategic control over her own armed forces when she is allied with larger, more powerful countries.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

History Commons