OUR SEPTEMBER 1940
The Battle of Britain
It is September 1940. The Battle of France is over; the Battle of Britain is in full swing; the London Blitz is just beginning.
In the summer of 1940, the British, French and Belgian armies retreated across France in the face of German panzer divisions. The Battle of France ended in July in the famous evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk.
Since then, the German Luftwaffe has been trying to destroy the Royal Air Force to allow a German invasion of Britain. A stalwart defence by RAF Fighter Command has mostly managed to hold them off. The Battle of Britain is a short but critical chapter in British history, often remembered in the words of Winston Churchill’s speech; “...never in the course of human history has so much been owed, by so many, to so few.”
With mounting losses of pilots and aircraft, the Luftwaffe has begun to switch tactics away from daytime attacks on airfields to the night bombing of cities - primarily London - in an attempt to break the British people’s will to fight. Truth be told, the Battle of Britain has taken a terrible toll on Fighter Command, and this switch may have just saved them from total destruction. But even with the pressure taken off them slightly, Fighter Command is still stretched almost to breaking point, defending Britain from the daily and nightly waves of Luftwaffe bombers and their fighter escorts.
Our Alternate History
We have made some deliberate changes from the historical situation in the interests of making a more dramatic game experience.
Historically, while the Luftwaffe repeatedly attacked RAF Uxbridge, RAF North Weald and RAF Hornchurch, no station was ever out of action for very long. In our storyline, a few days prior to the game bombing raids have damaged all three stations badly enough that other locations are having to handle their work while repairs are made. While in most sectors, the Sector Control Rooms will have taken on much of this additional responsibility, C and D Sectors have lost their SCRs with the destruction of their Sector Stations (Hornchurch and North Weald).
In reality, the Dowding System was split over many different locations: the Chain Home RDF stations, the Filter Room at Bentley Priory, the 11 Group Operations Room at RAF Uxbridge and the Sector Control Rooms at various airfields. We have brought all of those functions, and RAF pilots, into a single location.
In our game, the RDF station which history has at Canewdon, was at Stow Maries instead. The squadrons stationed in C and D Sectors have been dispersed across their Satellite Stations, and the airfield at Stow Maries has been pressed into service as an overflow field. Stow Maries is also hosting a temporary Operations Room since the necessary telephone lines are already in place. That facility has been built in a hurried couple of days and staffed by WAAF personnel called in from wherever they were available. It’s not quite what anybody is used to, but we must all do our best. There is a war on, after all.
We’ve also taken some small liberties with the introduction of air intercept radar on Defiants slightly earlier than happened in real life, in order to accentuate the difference in capabilities between day and night fighters. We hope that you will forgive us.
Command At Our Stow Maries
As members of a military organisation, WAAF and RAF personnel are organised into a hierarchy. Within this hierarchy, personnel were expected to obey the orders of those above them. In our game, we’d expect you to roleplay being polite and respectful to people above you, at least when they are present, and obey their reasonable instructions. We’d hope both those in charge and those below them would use “Do It On Monday” to cover duties which are too onerous to be enjoyable.
Everyone serving in the RAF or WAAF is either an officer or enlisted - with enlisted making up the vast majority. Officers are those placed in positions of authority, by the authority of a commission from the King. Experienced enlisted personnel may be promoted into supervisory roles which are referred to as non-commissioned officers (NCOs), although even the most senior NCO officer ranks below the most junior officer.
While military formalities were not always as rigidly adhered to in the WAAF as in other services, it’s normal to address to officers outranking you as Ma’am or [Rank] [Surname], and NCOs outranking you as either [Rank] or [Rank] [Surname]. Personnel of your rank or below would normally be addressed by their surname (or first name if you were on close terms with them.) The RAF were similar (substituting Sir for Ma’am) although nicknames were very common.
Our Stow Maries is commanded by an RAF Wing Commander as station commander. The WAAF station supervisor reports to the station commander, and under her are the three watch supervisors who each have responsibility for their watches.
The Squadron Leaders of the RAF presence are administratively under the RAF station commander, but in combat they follow the instructions of the WAAF running the Operations Room.