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University of New South Wales

1. Bechthold, Mike. Raymond Collishaw, the Royal Air Force and the Western Desert Campaign, 1940-1941.

Degree: Humanities & Social Sciences, 2014, University of New South Wales

This dissertation examines the origins of the British system of tactical air support which significantly contributed to the defeat of Germany during the Second World War. Poor relations between the Royal Air Force and Army early in the war hindered the success of operations. The RAF air campaign during Operation Compass demonstrated the fundamental tenets of the formal Allied tactical air doctrine that would emerge later in the war. The central figure was Air Commodore Raymond Collishaw who directed his small force to overwhelm the Italian air force and dislocate enemy logistics to make a substantial contribution to the first major British victory of the war. Collishaw’s career prepared him well for this campaign. Known primarily as a Great War ace, he was also one of the first specialists in close air support during the Hundred Days campaign. After the war he fought campaigns in South Russia and Mesopotamia, served aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous, policed riots in Palestine and deployed to Sudan during the Abyssinian crisis. This experience primed him for senior command and taught him much about the application of air power, especially how to work effectively with the Army and the Royal Navy. The failure of Operation Battleaxe in June 1941, fought according to Army doctrine, led Prime Minister Winston Churchill to consider the higher level direction of future air campaigns. He identified and codified the elements of a successful tactical air campaign in a directive which confirmed the RAF view of mission and target selection. The pattern of operations outlined by Churchill rejected the army’s preference to use the RAF for the close defence of its troops. Rather, Churchill’s directive reflected the basic principles of Collishaw’s air plan employed during Operation Compass. This study is based on a close reading of Collishaw’s papers as well as the documentary records of the RAF, British Army and the British Cabinet. Operational Record Books, War Diaries and Cabinet minutes along with the personal letters and diaries of the main actors form the primary body of evidence for understanding the events in the Western Desert in 1940-1941. Advisors/Committee Members: Grey, Jeffery, Humanities & Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra, UNSW, Hancock, Eleanor, Humanities & Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra, UNSW.

Subjects/Keywords: Hundred Days Campaign; Tactical air support; Operation Battleaxe

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APA (6th Edition):

Bechthold, M. (2014). Raymond Collishaw, the Royal Air Force and the Western Desert Campaign, 1940-1941. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of New South Wales. Retrieved from http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/53942 ; https://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:12652/SOURCE02?view=true

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Bechthold, Mike. “Raymond Collishaw, the Royal Air Force and the Western Desert Campaign, 1940-1941.” 2014. Doctoral Dissertation, University of New South Wales. Accessed November 25, 2020. http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/53942 ; https://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:12652/SOURCE02?view=true.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Bechthold, Mike. “Raymond Collishaw, the Royal Air Force and the Western Desert Campaign, 1940-1941.” 2014. Web. 25 Nov 2020.

Vancouver:

Bechthold M. Raymond Collishaw, the Royal Air Force and the Western Desert Campaign, 1940-1941. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of New South Wales; 2014. [cited 2020 Nov 25]. Available from: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/53942 ; https://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:12652/SOURCE02?view=true.

Council of Science Editors:

Bechthold M. Raymond Collishaw, the Royal Air Force and the Western Desert Campaign, 1940-1941. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of New South Wales; 2014. Available from: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/53942 ; https://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:12652/SOURCE02?view=true

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