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Academic Prize Winners for 2023 Announced

Published on: 1 March 2024

The Royal Air Force Museum is delighted to announce the winners of its academic awards to Doctoral, Masters and Undergraduate students. The prize winners for 2023 are Max Billington (BA), Jane Gulliford Lowes (MA) and Michael Terry (PhD).

These awards are made to final year students, without regard to nationality or academic affiliation, on the recommendation of a selection panel composed of members of the RAF Museum’s Research Board. The bursary and prizes are awarded for writing in the field of ‘air power studies’ in the broadest sense, encompassing areas including but not limited to: the history of air warfare; archaeology, international relations; strategic studies and social and cultural histories. This year’s applications were assessed during the course of 2023.

The winner of the 2023 Royal Air Force Museum Doctoral Bursary is Michael Terry (The Open University). Michael’s thesis examines the representation of aerial combat in First World War literature.

Michael’s research seeks to provide an interdisciplinary approach to the history of the RAF’s formative years through examining the literature associated with the experience of the First World War from the air. In his sample chapter, he examined the official wartime communiqués of the Royal Flying Corps and the RAF, known informally as the “Comic Cuts.” He analysed these sources to explore where the fighter-centric cultural view of the First World War originated, and argued that the likes of Alan Bott should have looked within the RFC itself for the answer. The judging panel felt that the sample chapter was well-researched, written and sets up the thesis with admirable clarity; they look forward to reading the final piece!

The winner of the Royal Air Force Museum Masters Prize is Jane Gulliford Lowes (University of Wolverhampton). Jane’s dissertation is called “The Invisible Campaign: Assessing the Impact of Bomber Command’s Minelaying Operations in the Second World War.”

Jane’s research set out to rehabilitate the minelaying campaign by Bomber Command, and elevate it into a significant contribution to the overall strategic bombing campaign against Germany. It was felt that her research was ambitious, and the judging panel commended Jane for writing such an excellent piece of work that makes an important contribution to the historiography of the RAF in the Second World War by offering some genuinely new scholarship.

Both Jane and Michael have previously presented part of their research via the Royal Air Force Museum’s Research Programme; their lectures can be watched on the RAF Museum’s Crowdcast Channel.

The winner of the Royal Air Force Museum Undergraduate Prize is Max Billington (University of Melbourne and the Australian War Memorial). Max’s thesis explored the experiences of Australian service personnel in Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme.

The judging panel felt that Max’s research utilised a wonderful array of sources about their topic, and carefully handled sensitive arguments and discussions regarding war and casualties. The judging panel also commended Max’s writing style, finding the thesis really engaging and written to a high standard.

The winners of the RAF Museum Awards will be invited to attend the RAF Museum’s 2024 Conference, where they will be formally presented with their awards.

Details of how to apply for one of the RAF Museum’s 2024 Academic Awards will be shared later in the year. If you would like further information, then email the RAF Museum’s Historian and Academic Access Manager Dr Megan Kelleher (megan.kelleher@rafmuseum.org).

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