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Mental Health and the Canadian Forces - Good books to read

OldSolduer

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A bit of history here. In the book "War and Society in  Post Confederation Canada" there is a segment called "Battle Exhaustion: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Canadian Army 1939-1945" Pg 240-251.

Pretty interesting methods the Allies used (some did, some didn't) to treat "battle exhaustion" as compared to the German method.

This is a good read and I recommend this to anyone who has an interest in this. It should be a "must read" for all Snr NCOs, WOs and Officers.

I quote from page 251 - "A diagnosis of battle exhaustion carried no stigma and held not threat of severe punishment"
 

mariomike

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Mid Aged Silverback said:
I quote from page 251 - "A diagnosis of battle exhaustion carried no stigma and held not threat of severe punishment"

It didn't work that way in Bomber Comand.
When a man refused to fly, he was brought before the "Special Cases Committee" to explain himself. Nine officers decided how to label the charge: Inefficiency, misconduct, medical, or "Lack of Moral Fibre" LMF.:
"He was immediately confined and separated from his crew and squadron members. He disappeared from their lives forever. There were no farewells, no explanations."
627 Canadians were charged and labelled LMF in Bomber Command.
The pilot of my uncle's first crew told me of one of the men in their crew refused to fly operations. He said he was determined to survive the war for the sake of his family. He was not charged with LMF, but was grounded for medical reasons.  There was a case of three men getting out of a bomber just before takeoff. Another case of a pilot intentionally stalling the engine. A senior officer came running out, and flew the aircraft himself - in his shirt sleeves. They were all charged.
At an LMF parade they would form up all the flyers and ground crew, and rip off his rank insignia in front of them. His service record was stamped "Lack of Moral Fibre" in indelible ink, and he was banished from the airfield.

"LMF could go through a squadron like wildfire if it was left unchecked. I made certain that every case before me was punished by court-martial, and where applicable by an exemplary prison sentence, whatever the psychiatrists were saying."
Bomber Command page 214.
 

Danneskjold

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Thanks, folks. I've had difficulty finding CF-specific material on mental health. Your guidance is much appreciated.

I would also recommend checking out Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's "On Killing", a book that deals with the history and psychology of (what else?) killing. As an American, his work draws heavily on the experiences of American soldiers, particularly during (and after) WWII and the Vietnam Conflict. But that said, he convincingly argues that the psychological response to killing is fairly universal and consistent across the centuries. Makes for a great read for anybody interested in the psychology of war, PTSD, and mental fitness in general.

Any other suggestions?
 

mariomike

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"The Cream of the Crop: Canadian Aircrew 1939-1945" by Allan D. English.
Allan D. English teaches war studies ( this info is from when the book was published in 1996 ) at the Royal Military College of Canada. He served as an air navigator in the Canadian Forces from 1971 to 1991.

The book discusses RCAF aircrew recruitment and morale in World War Two. In particular, "lack of moral fibre" LMF. ( As it was officially called back then. )
This is not a book review. I include a few excerpts that caught my eye.
The author points out that 92 per cent of all RCAF casualties were fatal, compared to 30 per cent for the Canadian Army. Although ground staff outnumbered aircrew five to one in the RCAF, aircrew accounted for 94 per cent of the dead.
Operational tours for bomber crews were calculated to give aircrew a 50-50 chance of survival. But, during certain phases of the bomber offensive, as many as 75 per cent of the aircrews died.
LMF meant officers were required to resign their commissions. Non commissioned aircrew ( all Flight-Sergeants and above ) were demoted to the lowest rank for at least three months, and assigned the most menial tasks. They could then be drafted into the army.
They were not permitted to wear their flying badge. Their service documents were marked in the top right-hand corner with a large, red "W" ( Waverer ). Sometimes there was a court-martial and an "exemplary" prison sentence.
There was a case of a sergeant air gunner who lost a leg in an air crash. He requested a ground trade. He was reduced to the lowest rank, stripped of his flying badge, and forced out of the air force.
Most aircrew were between the ages of 17 and 22.
A well researched book that I found interesting.

During the Battle of Berlin morale was strained on some stations, but held up remarkably well. Doug Harvey ( one of the two RCAF airmen was in the "Valour and the Horror" series ) tells of a pep talk from "Bomber" Harris, just prior to the Berlin offensive, at his RCAF station that had a profoundly positive effect on the aircrews. *
Morale never became a major problem like it did in the US 8th Air Force during the terrible losses of late 1943 and early 1944.

* "Bomber Harris bounded up on the platform and his very first words were, 'Most of you people won't be here in a few months. We are about to begin a series of raids that will demand the best from all of you. We know there will be tremendous losses, but it has to be done. You have all done a splendid job, but the real test is still before you. We must beat Germany to her knees.' The direct honest way Harris had answered brought a roar of approval from the crowd, and he went down in our books as a man you could trust."
Boys, bombs and Brussel sprouts,' 1981 by Doug Harvey, RCAF. pg 71-72.

Note:
RCAF 6 Group Stn Linton-on-Ouse, England. 408 Goose and 426 Thunderbird Squadrons . The 426 Squadron history confirms the date of the visit as 14 Sept 1943.


Another book, if interested, is "Courage and Air Warfare: The Allied Aircrew Experience in the Second World War" by Mark K. Wells.
 
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