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Flying Sickness - D

Printed From: Cross & Cockade
Category: General Discussion
Forum Name: General
Forum Discription: General Discussion
URL: http://www.crossandcockade.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=88
Printed Date: 09 Jul 2020 at 20:35
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 10.03 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: Flying Sickness - D
Posted By: Ian Mackersey
Subject: Flying Sickness - D
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2009 at 02:53

For a book I have been commissioned by my London publisher to write about the lives of the RFC and RNAS aviators of WWI I am seeking information about the incidence of 'flying sickness D' (for debility) today betther known as post-traumatic stress disorder. There is an extensive literature on the army version - then labelled 'shell-shock' - but little published work seems to exist on the huge volume of the psychological disorders of the pilots and observers. I would welcome being put in touch with either books or articles on the subject (either by lay writers or aviation psychiatrists) or with anyone who may have made a study of it.

Ian Mackersey

Auckland  NZ

mailto:imp@ihug.co.nz - imp@ihug.co.nz



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Ian Mackersey



Replies:
Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2009 at 09:33
Ian
Interesting that you should be looking at this aspect. Only last week I listened to a retired Colonel complaining about the RAF during the first Gulf War, who had raised issues about psychological problems arising from leaving 5 Star hotels for strike missions over Kuwait  while he had been in a foxhole carefully monitoring his water bottle level (nothing much changes, does it ?).
 
mailto:WWI-L@LISTSERV.KSU.EDU - WWI-L@LISTSERV.KSU.EDU tends to have postings on it from people with a medical background.
 
I have :
Fringe of the Clouds : The Story of an RAF Doctor, Livingston, P
 
and a history of aviation medicine, that I can't seem to put my hand on. It will be around here somewhere !
 
I seem to recall that there was a C&CI Logbook/Recce (probably the former, as I think it was during Fergus Read's editorship) that looked at this. I think it was a reprint of an article looking at the physical & psychological aspects of what makes a good pilot and, I think, that it had been published inthe Journal previously to that.
 
PFC Fullard, 1 Squadron, was a sufferer, and his papers are with the Liddle Archive at Leeds University. Mike O'Connor wrote an article for Fullard in the Journal. 
Nick 


Posted By: Ian Mackersey
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2009 at 12:06
Nick:  Many thanks for these helpful leads.  Is 'Fringe of the Clouds' from a WWI doctor? As a newbie to C&CI journal how do I trace the Logbook/Recce and Mike O'Connor articles? Is there an index somewhere? Fullard certainly sounds interesting. I'm in touch with the Liddle Archive and will follow up this 1 Squadron sufferer. Will also tap into the medical site.
Ian


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Ian Mackersey


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2009 at 13:41
Ian,
I think that the Livingston book covers the period from 1918. There was an issue about the RAF medical services initially, in that it was thought unnecessary to create a separate service in April 1918 as the Army & Navy already had their own and secondments could be, and were, used. Hence there are no medical other ranks listed on ther 1 April 1918 RAF Muster Roll !
 
All RFC medical records will be with Army respositories, and all RNAS with the Navy. I would try the RAMC Museum at Aldershot as a first point of call.
 
C&CI now prints indexes fro the Journal. An electronic copy was available on disk, but seems to have disappeared from the online shop. Perhaps Andy can offer you guidance on this ? Worse case is I can send you a copy in a suitable format.
 
I'll have a search through other stuff for you, but there will be a delay of a few days as I'm at Lea Marshes putting a Triplane together (and then taking it apart) over this weekend.
Nick    


Posted By: Ian Mackersey
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2009 at 21:31
Nick,
This is all very helpful. Am about to follow up your suggestions. Will let you know outcome.
Ian


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Ian Mackersey


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 10:14
Into Thin Air : A History of Aviation Medicine, by TM Gibson & MH Harrison, Robert Hale, London, 1984, ISBN 07090 1290X,  contains a reasonable overview of the subject.
 
There is a chapter on flying stress, but this is mostly referenced to WW2.
 
Its bibliograpghy contains :
 
Anderson, HG, 'The Medical and Surgical Aspects of Aviation' (OUP 1919) which, supposedly, the first book on the subject.
 
Lucas, J, 'The Big Umbrella' (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1973) re the history of the parachute.
 
The Livingston book (Fringe of the Clouds) is mostly of value relating to vision research in WW2. Livingston was commissioned int he RAF as a Doctor in May 1919, having previously served with the RNVR.
 
According to Wendy Holden in 'Shell Shcok : The Psychological Impact of War' (Channel 4 Books, 1998, 075222199X) JL Birley was put in charge of investigating 'flying fatigue'. Treatment consisted of rest and recuperation. "One study found that 10% of 100 pilots had developed the psychological disorder and urged that sufferers should be discharged from the air station as unfit for flying before the condition 'infected' any other airmen and 'marred' the squadron". (P57)
 
'The Lancet' may be worth looking at, too.
Nick


Posted By: Errol Martyn
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2009 at 11:20
Ian,
 
Also worth a look are:
 
The Dangerous Sky - a history of aviation medicine, by Douglas H. Robinson, pub by Foulis, 1973
(Pages 72-107 form a chapter covering WWI)
 
The First of the Few - fighter pilots of the First World War, by Denis Winter, pub by Allen Lane, 1982
(Pages 144-152 form a chapter titled 'The dark side - physical strain')
 
Errol


Posted By: Ian Mackersey
Date Posted: 22 Jul 2009 at 00:14

Very helpful Errol. Had seen these books but wasn't aware of their relevance. Am getting copies. Many thanks.

Ian



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Ian Mackersey


Posted By: Ian Mackersey
Date Posted: 22 Jul 2009 at 00:24

Thanks for this further helpfulness Nick.   J L Birley was a specialist on WWI psychological disorders and lectured on it. Have found some of these in 1920 issues of  'The 'Lancet'. Will chase up the Wendy Holden Channel 4 book.  Most grateful.

Ian

 

 

 



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Ian Mackersey


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 22 Jul 2009 at 08:29
Ian,
The Wendy Holden book has only a single page on flying, which I can copy & send to you if you let me have a postal address.
 
I'm fairly sure that the Douglas Robinson book is somewhat US-orientated. I think that there is a copy in the library here and, if time allows today, I'll have a look at it and report back !
Nick


Posted By: Ian Mackersey
Date Posted: 22 Jul 2009 at 10:58
Very good of you Nick. My address:
Ian Mackersey
12 Kakariki Avenue
Mt Eden
Auckland 1024
New Zealand.
 
Does your amazingly wide knowledge of WWI aviation extend, I wonder, to the existence anywhere of English translations of private letters written by German aircrew from the Western Front to their families or friends back home?  Either epistles from German aces in published works or letters from non-famous pilots and observers.
 
best wishes
 
Ian


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Ian Mackersey


Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Date Posted: 28 Jul 2009 at 21:41
Ian,
 
New member here, but I'm interested in the fact that contributors so far consider 'flying sickness' to be a psychological problem.  I'd always interpreted the term as referring to 'hypoxia', the standard treatment at the time being four weeks or so grounding. 
 
I'm currently writing the biography of a WW1 pilot, Captain C K M Douglas, who after service with 15 and 13 Squadrons between November 1917 to mid-May 1918, was posted to the RAF Meteorological Flight at Berck.  His Army Form B.103c records he was grounded for a month with 'Flying sickness' in June 1918, when he was far removed from the stresses of operational flying and unlikely to be so for some considerable time.  However, his duties did require him to make twice daily ascents to 14000-15000 ft.
 
Brian


Posted By: Ian Mackersey
Date Posted: 29 Jul 2009 at 00:08
Brian,
 
The WWI so-called 'flying sickness D' (for debility) was a psychological illness today better understood as post-traumatic stress disorder. It was the aviation form of the 'shell-shock' so devastatingly suffered by ground troops on the Western Front. It was first believed that this often acute psychiatric disorder was simply the concussive effect of being caught in the explosive blast of shell-fire. It was not. The truth, slow to be acknowledged, was that it was caused, even in the absence of shell-fire, by prolonged fear and witnessing the horrors of the mutilation and death of colleagues. The military authorities, even up to WWII, often had difficulty separating genuine PTSD from 'cowardice' and in the case of Bomber Command the dreaded 'LMF' - 'lack of moral fibre.' Appallingly, as it seems today, Bomber Command sometimes court-martialled LMF sufferers and stripped them of their wings and their rank. In WWI the army executed far too many psychologically deranged men for 'cowardice.'  Interestingly the RFC's doctors were surprisingly sympathetic, recognising the combat fatigue as serious illness threatening their ability to fly and fight and sending pilots off for treatment and rest without stigma.
It's unlikely that Captain Douglas, on peaceful meteorological duties, fell in that category.
 
Ian Mackersey


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Ian Mackersey


Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Date Posted: 29 Jul 2009 at 11:08
Thank you Ian.  Seems as though the significant feature is the 'D' which is missing from my man's Casualty Form.
 
Douglas was a very unusual man; after transferring to the RFC from the Royal Scots in the summer of 1915 he flew as an observer with 18 and 34 Sqns during 1916.  During this period he wrote two ground-breaking papers on the relationships between cloud types and temperatures, using data gather during operational duties.  He continued his research and wrote more papers after qualifying as a pilot in 1917.  It was because of this interest that he was identified as the man to take command of the Met Flight.  What is especially remarkable is that he was not a professional meteorologist, having enlisted before completing his degree in mathematics.
 
There's obviously far more to the man than this brief summary, but there's nothing in his background (letters and diaries) that suggest he had any psychological problems, almost the reverse.
 
I know of one other instance of a Met Flight pilot being similarly incapacitated, but that was in Jan 1920.
 
Brian


Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Date Posted: 29 Jul 2009 at 19:41
I forgot to add he was awarded the AFC at the end of the year.
 
Brian


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 08:55
There is a chapter on oxygen starvation and its effects on aircrew in "Into Thin Air : A History of Aviation Medicine in the RAF" by TM Gibson and MH Harison, Robert hale, London, 1984, ISBN 070901290X
 
Nick


Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Date Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 09:04
Thanks Nock, I've been after information on the subject but hadn't known where to look.
 
Brian


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 14:15
Thin Air mostly covers WW2 and after, though I guess the science is the same.
 
Another potential source of information will be personal accounts of Zeppelin operational crews.
Nick



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