RE: mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, in trip
02 Dec 95 12:32:00 EST

Hello all,

Not much modeling in this, but mainly history:

> Basically, its point is this: although German records are
>it appears that Allied, mainly British and American, victory claims were
>exaggerated by several orders of magnitude, while, for a variety of
>German claims were pretty accurate. Interesting stuff.
> Carlos

Having been burned once already, this is a thread I should probably stay
well clear of, but I have a few comments.

1. It is probably true that the claims of ALL combatants INCLUDING the
German ones and NOT excluding such luminaries as MvR, Udet,
Bishop,McCudden, Little, Rickenbacker etc etc, are grossly exagerated.
The same applies to WW2 "scores". My reason for this assertion is the
enormous disparity between posted losses of aircraft, and claimed scores.
For example, it is entirely normal for one side to claim for example 10
shot down on a day when only 1 or 2 aircraft failed to return. This has
been documented so often that it could almost be considered the rule, and
applies to both sides and all eras.

2. The overclaiming of victories is not necessarily due to "lying" by
the claimants. Articles debunking such claims made by non flyers 80 years
later seem to assume that the pilots had time to watch their victims from
trigger press to crash, and that suspect claims were fabrications. While
there may be an element of fabrication, an equally or more likely
scenario is double or multiple claiming when multiple pilots, having
attacked an aircraft which spun away, take their eyes away to check on
their own safety and then pick up on and watch the wrong victim fall to
the ground. The latest 14-18 Journal, in a history of 1RFC, has an
instance or two of this.

3. Claiming may have been made easier than _we_ like, and verification
less intense, but there _were_ rules. I have had the privelege of looking
at one of Harry Cobby's combat reports, his claim and the supporting
verification at the AWM. The victim fell to ground on the German side so
there was no wreckage BUT there were 8 or 10 separate reports of the
enemies demise, two from other members of his squadron (4AFC), the
remainder from ground forces. I for one, accept the verdict.

4 Not all pilots bothered to claim victories at all. Collishaw said of
Stan Dallas that his score was probably "many more" because Dallas
basically didn't give a shit about being a hero, he just wanted to finish
the job and go home. He didn't make it. This suggests that if
falsification was widespread it certainly wasn't universal.

5. Bishops VC has always been a little suspect to me, but only because of
it's lack of corroboration, not because of his worth. The VC is supposed
to be won ONLY for AN act of supreme bravery under enemy fire. Thus bomb
disposal experts however incredible their exploits cannot get one (not
under actual fire) and a pilot who consistently acts in a manner far
above normal bravery is not entitled except in the circumstance of ONE
exceptional act. Thus, it has sometimes been done, that an award is made
for an act rather less than supreme, to reward a man whose continuous
bravery warranted it. (WW2 example, Leonard Cheshire VC) I think it's a
small step to imagine that Bishops award may really have been about a
carrer of bravery than the single act, since I can think of no other
award ever made on the word of the recipient alone.

6. The worlds largest collection of VC's is in a room next to the
aircraft hall at the Australian War Memorial. EVERY single one of the 57
VC's in that room (at the time I visited) has the citation beside it and
every one was for an act of bravery cited by an officer who witnessed the
act and corroborated by at least one other. This is what I was taught the
conditions of the award were whilst serving as a soldier myself, and it
accords with the recommendation documents I have seen. One VC (awarded
to Albert Jacka) is flanked by an MC and 2 bars (three MC's), awarded to
him later because at the time no-one was allowed to win the VC twice,
though he was repeatedly recommended for another VC. It was contended
that no-one could possibly survive such an act twice. If you read the
citations you find that his VC was awarded for what seems the least of
his acts of bravery. My point here is that bravery awards are not an
exact science, and not always as transparent as one might imagine, and to
compare one VC award to another, or to a Congressional Medal of Honour,
or whatever German, French etc award is a sterile and silly exercise.

Ob Modelling: How about we all swear off of making models of famous
aces aircraft since their claims are probably exagerated. ANY takers?