Waiverers


Waiverers

During WWII, the Royal Air Force adopted an uncompromising policy to deter aircrews from reporting sick without due cause, or simply refusing to fly.  First suggested in March 1940 and formally introduced in April, it was an administrative response to rising psychiatric casualties from the early operations of Bomber and Coastal Commands. The terms "Waiverer", and showing "Lack of Moral Fibre" (or 'LMF') were applied to affected air crews. The British Army, the Royal Navy, and U.S and Canadian forces did not formally adopt this policy. 

Being classified as a Waiverer was not a psychiatric diagnosis, and in today's parlance, this condition would likely be diagnosed as "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD).  The author's father, a navigator in Bristol Beaufighters with 272 Squadron was classified as a waiver while serving in the Middle East theatre of operations, resulting in his demotion. It was not unheard of for RAF crews who were labeled as Waiverers to be routinely harassed by others, and in some cases, they were beaten-up. The shame felt by those afflicted or labeled was often life-long.

It seems that both the Americans and Canadians had a better understanding of what was happening to their men under battle-stress, and treated them with more leniency and care. Neither the British Army nor Royal Navy used LMF or “Waiverer” labeling on their ranks, so this appears to have been confined to the RAF.  At the time, the “method justified the means”: aircrews were shamed into pressing on even though they may have reached the absolute breaking point.


Reference for "waiverers" was gleaned from:  LMF: The Use of Psychiatric Stigma in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Edgar Jones, The Journal of Military History - Volume 70, Number 2, April 2006, pp. 439-458



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