What was it like to be an airman in World War Two?
The RAF (Royal Air Force) played an important part in the war with Germany. In 1940, Britain was the only country left to fight Germany. Prime Minister Winston Churchill refused to give in when Germany started to attack Britain in July. The RAF helped protect Britain from German fighter aircraft. This huge air battle was called 'The Battle of Britain'.
The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) bombed many of Britain's towns and cities from 7 September 1940. They wanted to destroy as many factories, railways, ports and people's homes as possible. This was known as the 'Blitz' which lasted until May 1941.
Fighting between the two air forces carried on until the end of the war. The RAF dropped bombs on German towns and cities. At the time, this was the main type of fighting between the two countries.
Men and women joined the Royal Air Force. It was divided into different groups (squadrons). There were also pilots from New Zealand, Canada, Australia and South America. Women were not allowed to fly but they worked in the RAF control centres.
Gordon Ford was a member of New Zealand Squadron 75. In his squadron many of the airmen came from New Zealand. They lived at Feltwell in Norfolk whilst they carried out their flying missions.
Gordon Ford was lucky to be able to tell his story. From 1940 to 1945, over 47,000 airmen were killed on bombing missions and almost 8,500 were injured.
- Can you find Gordon Ford's name?
- What rank (position) was he?
- What is the date of the flight mission (job)?
- Where was he flying to?
- What kind of plane did he use?
- How many men were in his crew?
- Why do you think the squadron kept a book like this?
1. Read Source 1 and answer the questions.
- What happened when Gordon Ford first saw the German fighter plane?
- Why did this happen?
2. Play Clip 1 and answer the questions.
- What did Gordon Ford think had happened to him and how did he feel?
- What did he later find out about his injury?
- Why had he mistaken the coffee for blood?
3. Play Clips 2 and 3 and answer the questions.
- What happened to the pilot?
- Why were the crew so worried about this?
- How do you think Gordon Ford felt about the whole mission? Why do you think he felt this way?