Ernest Probyn and Letter from Sir Arthur Harris



Ernest Probyn and Letter from Sir Arthur Harris


Two photographs of Ernest, the first as a cadet, the second captioned 'Self as Sgt A/G at No 17 OTU RAF Silverstone'.
The letter is a morale booster to encourage his airmen.



Two b/w photographs and one typewritten sheet on an album page


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[underlined] SIR ARTHUR HARRIS, KCB., OBE., AFC. [/underlined]

“I have always considered that the strain imposed by sustained Bomber operations requires that aircrew personnel should enjoy the maximum amount of freedom from restraint and should be relieved, as far as can be done without loss of efficiency, of routine Station duties. This policy, and I can see no reason for changing it, places on Station, Squadron and Flight Commanders the responsibility for ensuring that such privileges are not abused.”

“Unfortunately, my attention is continually drawn to the lack of discipline prevalent amongst operational aircrew, and to causes of complaint such as irregularities of dress, lack of smartness in bearing and appearance, slackness in saluting and a degree of untidiness in some of their living quarters which practically amounts to squalor. Apart from the bad impression created both inside and outside the Service, such symptoms cannot help but have an adverse effect on the behaviour in the air of the personnel concerned, as conditions of modern warfare, and in particular the gruelling task of Bomber crews, demand instantaneous and unhesitating obedience to orders, combined with a degree of physical and moral stamina which can only result from a high standard of self-discipline.”

“The junior aircrew members of today are the Flight and Squadron Commanders of tomorrow, and the Station and Base Commanders of the future, and unless they grow up with an understanding of, and a sincere regard for, the right ideals and best traditions of the Service, our efficiency and our prestige will inevitably decline. The conduct of our aircrews on operations has won, and continues to win, the admiration of the world. It is particularly undesirable, therefore, that their conduct on the ground should fall short of this magnificent standard, and should excite unfavourable comment by the other members of the Royal Air Force, by other Services, or by the general public.”

“Constant steps must be taken to see that aircrew personnel take sufficient physical exercise to keep them fit, particularly during lulls in operations. They must be educated in matters of general, as well as Service knowledge. They must be made aware of the achievements, both past and present, of the Royal Air Foce, [sic] and thus gain pride in their membership of our Service. Finally, they must be reminded that, as aircrews of Bomber Command, they form the spearhead of the national offensive, and as such can lay claims to be called a “crack Corps”, but that every “crack Corps” which has ever existed in any arm of the Services in any country, has been distinguished for its all-round efficiency, smartness and esprit-de-corps, just as much as for its valour and fighting skill. Let us see to it that Bomber Command aircrews do not forfeit in the eyes of the world, through ignorance fostered by poor leadership, their full claim to that title.”

[black and white head and shoulders photograph of Ernest Probyn in cadet uniform]

Self as Cadet Aircrew.

[black and white photograph of Ernest Probyn in Sergeant’s uniform, standing in front of trees next to a fence]

Self as Sgt. A/G at No. 17 O.T.U. R.A.F. Silverstone


“Ernest Probyn and Letter from Sir Arthur Harris,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 20, 2024,

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