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Dan Ellin

Dan is a historian and the archivist for the International Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive. With a PhD from the University of Warwick, he has been studying the history of RAF Bomber Command for years. He curated the exhibition about the bombing war at the IBCC in Lincoln, and has given talks at conferences including Aviation Cultures and the We Have Ways Festival. He has published articles and chapters on Lack of Moral Fibre and how the bombing war has been remembered.

He grew up in Lincolnshire, surrounded by old RAF stations and worked for a while in a warehouse that had been a former hangar. This led him to think what it was like for the men and women who worked on similar sites during the war. It was cold enough for him in winter inside the hangar – what was it like for those who slept in the Nissen huts and worked out on the flights? Talking to veteran ground personnel, they often replied that ‘they didn’t really do anything’. However, being posted to a station for years at a time, they saw the attrition rate among the bomber crews and had to come to terms with their loss. Some had nagging doubts that perhaps an aircraft didn’t return due to something they had missed. His book will tell some of their stories.

For every member of aircrew who flew a bomber aircraft in RAF Bomber Command there were up to ten men and women who served in supporting roles. Their diverse trades included aircraft fitters and mechanics, WAAF clerks, parachute packers and drivers, and the lowly AC2 who emptied the latrines and drove the sanitary truck. ‘Penguins’, as flightless ground personnel were sometimes called, were marginalised in the RAF, and the women of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), could be reduced to sexual objects. Women who had dated an airman who failed to return were shunned as bad omens or ‘chop girls.’ However, without the effort of all these personnel, the bombing campaigns would not have got off the ground. Using published and unpublished testimonies including oral histories recorded for the IBCC Digital Archive, this book will examine the lives of male and female RAF ground personnel on operational bomber stations. It will follow them through recruitment and training and considers their experiences of the hundreds of different trades they performed to the best of their abilities in sometimes difficult circumstances.

Dan Ellin
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