Posts Tagged 'Transformation and Innovation'

British Aero-Naval Co-Operation in the Mediterranean and the Formation of RAF No. 201 (Naval Co-Operation) Group

[Cross posted from Birmingham “On War”]

Created in October 1941, RAF No. 201 (Naval Co-operation) Group existed as an independent unit until February 1944, with a complex mechanism of control shared between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. This article examines British aero-naval co-operation in the Mediterranean during the Second World War and the role of 201 Group within this. It incorporates the conflicting policies and strategies of both services, along with the roles of the major personalities involved from each of them, in what was yet another aspect of friction between the junior and senior services.

By taking the debate over the establishment of an overseas RAF Coastal Command, and the subsequent formation of 201 Group, as a case study, it demonstrates that British aero-naval co-operation in the theatre was a compromise between strategies that satisfied neither party. The group itself did make an immediate contribution to relations between the services in the Mediterranean and had an impact upon the maritime war there. Successes were limited though, and the Group could potentially have achieved much more with greater priority in the allocation of resources. However, the greatest innovation regarding 201 Group was not its creation and subsequent operations, but rather its legacy. The article will conclude by showing how it laid the foundations for important innovation in aero-naval co-operation overseas, influencing later and much larger multi-national commands and operations, in both the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

By Dr Richard Hammond, University of Exeter

(This is an abstract from our forthcoming book on transformation and innovation in the British Military)


Operation JUBILEE and the Transformation of Air Support for Combined Operations: The Case of Command and Control and Aerial Bombardment

[Cross posted from Birmingham “On War”]

Operation JUBILEE, the raid on Dieppe on 19 August 1942, has remained an area of intensive and divisive debate amongst historians. Debate remains over questions relating to the reasons for the operation, authorisation for the raid, and the argument over lessons learnt. One area of the operation that has received scant attention from historians is the question about the performance of the RAF during the operation. What attention has been paid to the role of air power has concentrated on the issue of the lack of air bombardment in support of the raid. Brain Loring Villa has remarked that ‘There was a degree of callousness in Portal’s allowing a largely Canadian force to go in without the bomber support they needed.’ However, this concentration on the issue of bombardment ignores the state of Combined Operations doctrine in the early years of the Second World War, which stressed the importance of ‘Control of the Air’.

In addition, Operation JUBILEE has been criticised for Earl Mountbatten of Burma‘s claim over the ‘Lessons Learnt’ from the raid and the impact this had on Operation OVERLORD. However, a careful examination of sources illustrates that the raid did have an impact on future operation, albeit not in the direct way that Mountbatten suggested. Therefore, this chapter examines the ‘Lessons Learnt’ thesis with reference to the transformation of air support for Combined Operations. It contends that JUBILEE formed an important catalyst to changing thoughts over the use of air power in Combined Operations. It will do this by examining the development of Command and Control systems and the use of aerial bombardment. It will illustrate that Dieppe formed an important element of the experience gained in 1942/43. This chapter argues that while there may not be a direct link to Operation OVERLORD in 1944 operations at Dieppe had an impact during 1943 and needs to be considered as one line of development in parallel with those from other theatres of war.

By Ross Mahoney, PhD Candidate, Centre for War Studies, University of Birmingham

(This is an abstract from our forthcoming book on transformation and innovation in the British Military)

Transformation and Innovation in the British Military from 1642 to 1945

I have been working on this event with a couple of fellow PhD student for the past few months. We are now in a position to start advertising it. As you can see there are a f ew air power related papers being delivered on the day…Keep an eye on the blog for similar events. The main web page for the event is here.

Transformation and Innovation in the British Military from 1642 to 1945

A Symposium for Postgraduate and Early Career Historians

13 April 2011

This symposium, organised by the Centres for First and Second World War Studies at the University of Birmingham, intends to give postgraduate and early career historians the opportunity to examine the process of transformation and innovation in the British military as recent literature on the subject has highlighted a need to evaluate the process from 1642 to 1945. The symposium will be held at the Edgbaston campus of the University of Birmingham.

The symposium will also give delegates the opportunity to present aspects of their research to a wider audience and engage with the academic community in military history. The symposium programme is attached;  it includes eighteen papers on aspects of transformation and innovation in the British military from the early modern period to the  early twentieth century and from a range of perspectives. Professor John Buckley, Chair of Military History at the University of Wolverhampton, will deliver the keynote lecture. Professor Gary Sheffield, Chair of War Studies at the University of Birmingham, will deliver the symposium’s closing address.

The symposium fee, which includes tea & coffee and lunch on the day, is £10 for postgraduate students and Friends/Members of the Centres for First and Second World War Studies and £20 for other interested parties.

If you wish to attend the symposium please print out and return the Symposium Booking Form below and send it by Monday 4 April to:

Ross Mahoney

C/O School of History and Cultures

College of Arts and Law

University of Birmingham



B15 2TT

For informal enquiries please email us at or post a comment below.

Provisional Conference Programme:

8:45 – Registration

9:15 – Introduction and Welcome – Ross Mahoney, Stuart Mitchell and Michael LoCicero

9:30 – Panel 1: Transformation and Innovation in the Early Modern Era, 1642-1815

Chair: Victoria Henshaw (University of Birmingham)

Sara Regnier-Mckeller (University of Essex) – Honour and Manhood in the Armies of the British Civil Wars

Britt Zerbe (University of Exeter) – Amphibious Brotherhood: 1664 or 1755? What Foundation and Establishment mean to Marine Identity

11:00 – Tea

11:15 – Panel 2A: Transformation and Innovation in the 19th Century

Chair: Aimée Fox (University of Birmingham)

Peter Randall (University of Reading) – The Influence of the Napoleonic Wars upon the British Military, 1815-1854

Andrew Duncan (University of Birmingham) – British Army Medicine, 1854-1914 (Title TBC)

Edward Gosling (University of Plymouth) – The Cardwell-Childers Reforms, 1868-1881

11:15 – Panel 2B: Transformation and Innovation at the Fin de Siècle

Chair: Michael LoCicero (University of Birmingham)

Dr Spencer Jones (University of Wolverhampton) – Countdown to the ‘Mad Minute’: The Reform of British Musketry, 1899-1914

Dr Peter Grant (Cass Business School, City University) – Learning to Manage the Army: The Army Administration Course at the London School of Economics

Martin Gibson (University of Glasgow) – The Royal Navy’s Conversion from Coal to Oil, 1900-1914

12:45 – Lunch

13:30 – Keynote Address by Professor John Buckley, Chair of Military History, University of Wolverhampton

14:30 – Panel 3A: Transformation and Innovation in the First World War

Chair: Stuart Mitchell (University of Birmingham)

Paul Harris (King’s College London) – Soldier Banker: Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Lawrence as the BEF’s Chief of Staff in 1918

Simon Justice (University of Birmingham) – Vanishing Battalions: The Reorganisation of British Infantry prior to, and as a result of, the German Spring Offensives of 1918

Dr Jonathan Boff (King’s College London) – Innovation and Victory: The British Army during the Hundred Days Campaign, 1918

14:30 – Panel 3B: Transformation and Innovation in the Second World War

Chair: James Pugh (University of Birmingham)

Neal Dando (University of Plymouth) – From ‘Jock Column’ to Armoured Column: Transformation and Change in British and Commonwealth Unit Tactics in the Western Desert, January 1941 to November 1942

Sarah McCook (University of Durham) – Wartime Communications: British Dispatch Riders and the need for reliable communications during the Second World War

Dr Matthew Ford (University of Hull) – Learning the Lessons of Battle: Organisational Learning, Small Unit Tactics and the Problems with the Force Transformation Literature

16.00 – Coffee

16:15 – Panel 4: Transformation and Innovation in the Third Dimension

Chair: Ross Mahoney (University of Birmingham)

James Pugh (University of Birmingham) – Oil and Water: Military and Naval approaches to Air Power Doctrine and Technological Innovation, 1911-1914

John Alexander (University of Birmingham) – Transformation and Innovation in British Air Defence, 1922-1936

Richard Hammond (University of Exeter) – British Aero-Naval Co-Operation in the Mediterranean and the Formation of RAF No. 201 (Naval Co-Operation) Group

17:45 Closing Address by Professor Gary Sheffield, Chair of War Studies, University of Birmingham


Welcome to The Aerodrome, the unofficial blog of the Air Power Studies students at the University of Birmingham.

Please note all opinions expressed are those of the contributors and should not be taken to be those of the University of Birmingham, the Ministry of Defence or any other organisation or body.

Non-students will from time to time contribute to this blog.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about either this blog or about studying Air Power at the University of Birmingham please email us at The Aerodrome

The Aerodrome Forum

As an adjunct to this blog we have set up an Air Power Forum for students and academics working in the field of Air Power Studies.

You can find the forum here.

If you have any questions please Email us.

You can also find an Air Power Studies networking group on LinkedIn

Blog Stats

  • 28,356 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 22 other followers