Establishing the Coefficient of Bravery in a Crew during a Bombing Raid


I believe that the truth about many Academics, with some truly honourable exceptions, is that their lives have passed with no relevance to the world upon which they comment, and, for all the use their inane prattlings contain; they might well have stayed mute and been content with that anonymity. But, unfortunately, their arrogance outweighs their humanity; they speak, and write, mainly of what they do not either understand or observe; and so descend into their own particular brand of lunacy.

A typicaL example of this academic lunacy in action can be found in this paper, which is entitled within the link, actuality being too verbose to be quickly understood. In this document, published some six years ago; the author, one Robin Hudson, purports to catalogue the odds against any particular bomber being shot down, or otherwise ‘Failing to Return’; from a mission over Nazi Germany.

His ‘statistical’ approach to a matter of life or death, as applied to a British bomber force crew, is both lunatic, and flawed beyond redemption. His thesis rests on various factors inclusive of cloud cover, length or duration of mission, target city’s population, and of course whether bombers went out in daylight, or at night. 

A sample of the lunacies presented is to show that it is possible to predict the probability of being shot down on the most dangerous flight. A lone daytime flight in a Lancaster, bombing a high population target from 50ft with no cloud cover comes out with an approximate 85% predicted probability of failure.

No mention is made of the simple fact that we were fighting across the world for our very survival, nor of the truth that, although Great Britain and France declared war upon Nazi Germany for violations of honourable Diplomatic Treaties held with Poland, no-one actually knew of the evils of Nazi Germany, or of their obsession with the virtual Genocide of the Jewish race until the War was nearly over. 

No calculation, used in Mr. Hudson’s work, demonstrates the sheer ferocity inflicted upon British cities by the Luftwaffe’s bomber forces, and the need to demonstrate to a Nazi Government that two can play at that game. No calculation or variable was utilised by Mr. Hudson could have imagined the bravery of those British Bomber crews as they studied the statistics, plain to everyone who flew from, or was operational on, the many bomber bases across Great Britain as the numbers were listed, both of those who survived, and of those who ‘Failed to Return”. 

I commenced this small piece by railing against the thought processes which could look upon the statistics which represented brave men. Many of those men who would make that ‘Supreme Sacrifice’ whilst attacking their nation’s enemies. I wonder if Mr. Hudson, if he had been around in 1939, would have volunteered for such service, or would he have opted for a ‘reserved occupation’ so he could maybe keep his hands clean of that nasty blood which was being spilled so liberally in defence of his Country? I wonder if Mr. Hudson, during those pleasant years at Nottingham University, studying for his Degree in Economics, and also cataloguing the vast numbers of documents which constituted the background to his ‘Empirical’ dissertation; ever considered the realities of battles some five miles in the air. Battles against men who were determined to kill the flier before he killed them, as could well be discovered if he had read, as I have, the legendary tale of one American flier, who helped fight his bomber through the virtual hell which was the American B-17 attack upon the ball-bearing factories of Schweinfurt: and then attempt to integrate those words into his scholarly treatise about Death?

55,573 deaths were recorded during Bomber Command’s operations against the enemy. 33,000 Americans ‘Failed to Return’ from their daylight bombing raids. I wonder how Mr. Hudson would fold those Allied deaths into his computations, or would they all be written off as ‘Extraneous Variables’?