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Lunchtime Lecture (London): The Fight to Secure the RAF: The RAF and its Imperial Role 1919-1938

14 May 2024

On Tuesday 14th May at 12pm, Brandon Lewis will analyse the RAF’s imperial role in the interwar period. This lecture will be hosted in-person at the RAF Museum’s London site, and will be live-streamed via Crowdcast.
 
Talk Outline
This lecture aims to analyse how important the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) imperial role was in securing the force throughout the inter-war period. Throughout, this lecture will discuss how the RAF and its supporters used the air force’s role in the Empire to secure and advertise the RAF to politicians and the masses, securing its place as the third branch of the British military. There were other factors that helped secure the RAF during this period, most prominently the fear of the bomber. However, this will not be discussed throughout this lecture as research conducted showed it had little effect on the securement of the RAF. During the 1920’s and early 1930’s the only force close to Britain with a substantial air force was France. Since the French were Britain’s allies in this period, the argument for air defence was moot and did not become a major reason for rearmament until the late 1930’s after Germany’s rearmament. This lecture will therefore focus solely on how the Empire was used in the House of Commons, the Hendon Air Pageant and in the RAFs own recruitment posters to secure the RAF, as the research conducted shows that the RAF’s imperial role was arguably the most important factor in securing the RAF.
 
This lecture will utilise a variety of themes to assess how important the imperial role, and the Empire as a whole, was to the continued existence of the RAF throughout the inter-war period. Using a range of arguments, this lecture will argue that the RAF relied heavily on its imperial role throughout the period, using it as a way to secure the force politically and publicly.
Location
This hybrid lecture will be hosted in-person at the RAF Museum’s London site in the Lecture Theatre. Attendance in-person is free but registration is required via Digitickets.
Livestream
To attend virtually, register via Crowdcast.
 
About Brandon Lewis
Originally from the Northeast of England, Brandon Lewis was awarded a First-Class degree from Northumbria University in Newcastle in 2020, before undertaking an MA in History where he achieved a commendation. Both his BA and MA dissertations focused on the history of the RAF in the early decades of the twentieth century. His original dissertation focused on the creation of the RAF, he examined how the RAF came into being by tracking its history from 1911 to 1919. He specifically focused on David Henderson and how he helped create many of the ideas which would one day embody the RAF. While his second dissertation focused on the how the RAF was secured in a peace time role when it had no role to fall back on. Specifically, his second dissertation focused on the Imperial history of the RAF. Brandon intends to pursue his interests in the history of the RAF further by undertaking a PhD where he will expand on his original dissertation on the creation of the Royal Air Force and its forgotten father, David Henderson.

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