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Title: Whitehall warriors : the political fight for the Royal Air Force, 1917-29
Author: Gardner, S.
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2020
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Founded in the heat of public pressure to respond to German bombardment, the creation of the RAF merged naval and military air services into an independent force months before the end of the First World War. This heralded the arrival of three-way inter-service competition and the RAF faced successive assaults on its independence post-war. Many scholarly works have focused on the doctrinal and economic arguments made by the RAF’s leadership in its defence. The significance of the RAF’s lack of history in the context of the period and how the ‘Whitehall Warriors’ at the Air Ministry harnessed that to their advantage remains unexplored. This gap will be addressed by critically evaluating the intentions and actions of the Air Ministry’s senior leaders in order to interrogate their political understanding of the significance of creating and promoting a distinctive RAF culture. The RAF’s novelty, it will be argued, predisposed the Ministry to use the subtler arts of influence, political lobbying, and the promotion of the young service to the public. Meanwhile, escalating inter-service competition encouraged the Air Ministry to take a politically aggressive attitude to its rivals. This thesis will analyse the tensions between tradition and modernity, characteristic of the era and central to the Air Ministry’s challenge. It will investigate the Ministry itself: its status, relations with the establishment and the press, and the networks it used to further the RAF’s cause. A framework of identity, space, time, and power will be used as a methodology for understanding how the RAF created a resilient culture, underpinned by strong foundations and operational experience. This thesis reassesses inter-service rivalry, arguing that virulent attacks on the RAF aided its transition from a fledgling force to a secure one. This offers a new cultural perspective on competition between the armed services in the inter-war years.
Supervisor: Thomas, M. ; Toye, R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Royal Air Force ; Whitehall ; Inter-war ; Military History ; Trenchard ; Hoare ; Brabazon ; Inter-service