You Wouldn't Know There Was a War On. A Cultural History of New Zealanders Serving in Bomber Command during the Second World War.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameBachelor of Arts (Hons)
The intention of this project is to reconstruct the culture of New Zealanders serving in Bomber Command of the RAF during the Second World War. Similar work has emerged on the culture of British airmen but cultural histories looking specifically at New Zealand airmen are yet to emerge. In conducting a cultural history of this subject, this paper looks more closely at the airmens' behaviour, routines and emotions. To achieve this, it will focus on three main aspects of the New Zealanders' culture: rivalries, leisure and attitudes. Rivalries were commonplace and include sporting contests, which were encouraged as a morale boosting tool, tensions between members of aircrews, and also a bitter rivalry between Englishmen and New Zealanders which was caused by unpopular decision making by a handful of English commanders. Forms of leisure were particularly varied. Tourism was an activity New Zealanders commonly indulged in, as was visiting friends and extended family on leave, and frequenting the local concerts and stage shows. However it became clear that they had not quite grown out of their rebellious teenage selves as unsanctioned activities such as joy riding and pranks emerged. In the final chapter it is shown that the cheerful demeanour the men tried to present was the result of self-censorship to protect their families, and that once they began experiencing horrifying situations this demeanour became much harder to maintain.