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Independent Force, Royal Air Force, Blast Furnaces

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2009 JSCSC IF 1/8
Held at: Joint Services Command and Staff College
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Full title: Independent Force, Royal Air Force, Blast Furnaces
Date(s): 1918-1919
Level of description: Collection (Sub-fond of Royal Air Force Staff College collection)
Extent: 1 volume
Name of creator(s): Trenchard | Hugh Montague | 1873-1956 | 1st Viscount Trenchard of Wolfeton | Marshal of the Royal Air Force x Trenchard of Wolfeton | 1st Viscount


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Independent Force was established by the Royal Air Force on 6 June 1918 to conduct a strategic bombing campaign against Germany, concentrating on strategic industries, communications and the morale of the civilian population. The Independent Force was formed out of the Royal Flying Corpís Forty-First Wing which commenced operations in October 1917. This initiative was partly in response to German airship and aeroplane raids on England but it also built upon earlier, small scale attempts at strategic bombing by the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps. As its name implied, it operated independently from the land battle and struck at targets in central Germany including Cologne, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Bonn, and Mannheim. It was also intended to operate independently of the control of the Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Foch, although this was later changed.

The Independent Force was commanded, reluctantly at first, by Major-General Hugh Trenchard who was gradually converted to the idea of strategic bombing by the operations of the Independent Force. The squadrons were based on airfields in the Nancy region, well to the south of the British sector of the Front Line. Although the effort appears miniscule compared to later bombing campaigns, four day and five night bomber squadrons dropped just 550 tons of bombs during 239 raids between 6 June and 10 November 1918, the effect on the German war effort was remarkable. The main targets were railways, blast furnaces, chemical factories that produced poison gas, other factories, and barracks to which had to be added airfields in an effort to reduce attrition from enemy fighter aircraft.

The effect on morale was out of all proportion to the size of the bomber force or the material damage caused and the air raids resulted in the movement of German air defence units away from the Front Line. Trenchard ordered statistics and records to be kept to demonstrate the work of the Independent Force and the role of strategic bombing in modern war.


Scope and content/abstract:

31-page typescript foolscap volume with photographs and plans pasted onto and between the pages.

This volume is one of a set of seven that records the damage caused by the Independent Forceís bombing raids during 1918 and the enemy counter-measures that were encountered. This volume records attacks and their affect on blast furnaces in iron and steel works situated at Burbach, Maizieres, Karlshutte, Hagendingen, Rombach, Dillingen and Volklingen. Many of the photographs show bomb damage caused by specific raids and many of the site plans are marked to show where bombs exploded. A statistical appendix records loss of production ascribed to the air raids.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

1 volume as outlined in Scope and Content. Shelved with Royal Air Force Staff College collection.

Conditions governing access:

Open. Access to the Joint Services Command and Staff College Library is by appointment only. Contact Chris Hobson, Head of Library Services, Joint Services Command and Staff College, Faringdon Road, Watchfield, Swindon SN6 8TS. Information on personnel is subject to Ministry of Defence regulations.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original and normal copyright restrictions, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to Chris Hobson, Head of Library Services, Joint Services Command and Staff College.

Finding aids:

No additional finding aids.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Created by the Royal Air Force Staff College (1922-1997) and passed on to the Joint Services Command and Staff College at Bracknell in 1997 which relocated to Shrivenham in 2000. These documents are part of a collection of papers and books donated to the Royal Air Force Staff College by the family of Viscount Trenchard following his death in 1956. Most of Lord Trenchardís private papers were donated to other establishments. The records of the Independent Force form a discrete collection within the donation. Many of the books that had previously formed Lord Trenchardís personal library were passed to the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell in 1996 prior to the closure of the Royal Air Force Staff College.

Immediate source of acquisition:

The family of the 1st Viscount Trenchard post-1956.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: The War in the Air Volume VI by H A Jones, Oxford University Press, 1937. Compiled by Chris Hobson.

Rules or conventions:

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
March 2009

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