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The Empire Has An Answer

The Empire Air Training Scheme as reported in the Australian Press 1939-1945

(14 customer reviews)
Authors: Tony James Brady
Military History
C format

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In 1943 the Royal Air Force recognised that training a vast amount of aircrew for a high attrition war was essential to an Allied victory, and that the key to winning the ‘battle of training’ was the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS).

37,576 Australian aircrew graduated from the EATS.  Over 300 were killed whilst training for war and 9874 aircrew were killed or listed as missing while on active duty.  Those who fought under this scheme during World War II amounted to just 6.7 per cent of Australian service personnel serving overseas yet the aircrew losses amounted to almost 25 per cent of all the Australian fatalities during the war.  This made serving in EATS among the most hazardous duties of the war.

The Empire has an Answer was researched using more than 35 000 articles, from 150 metropolitan, regional, and district newspapers, and what materialised was a story of one of, if not, the greatest training programs the world has seen.

Follow the journey from the conception and implementation of the scheme, through recruitment and basic training, flight training, and then into combat.  The individual accounts woven into the narrative provide a first-hand experience of the triumphs and trials of typical airmen and airwomen who performed extraordinary feats in a time of great need.

The significant achievements and success of the Empire Air Training Scheme has for the most part been overlooked in our history, until now.

Tony James Brady

Tony James Brady

Tony was the inaugural winner of the RAAF Heritage Fellowship in 2014 and wrote his debut book The Empire has an Answer in fulfilment of this award. The book, based on more than 45 000 newspaper articles from the period, draws on the lived experience of numerous men and women to paint a picture of […]

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14 reviews for The Empire Has An Answer

  1. Love it and it’s not just about the battles it’s also shows us real life experiences of our hero’s.

  2. So pleased to have had the opportunity to launch my debut book “The Empire has an answer” at the inaugural RAAF History and Heritage Symposium. Many thanks to Air Commodore John Meier, Group Captain John Martin and RAAF Historian Martin James for their kind words, and a big thank you to Denny Neave and the team at Big Sky Publishing for getting my book out on the shelves.

  3. An immensely informative, entertaining and beautifully written account of EATS. A book that gives you more than the facts, but incorporates the personal, the heart on the home front, and debunks the myths. Well done to author Tony Brady for penning such an inclusive account and the the RAAF History and Heritage Branch for bringing this narrative to the people through the RAAF Biennial Heritage Fellowship. A truely great read! Highly recommended!

  4. This is the first book-length treatment of the EATS, though it has been the subject of a 2010 thesis. The book delivers more than the title promises – it is implied that it consists of the Australian press coverage. While there are many quotations from the press, the book is indeed a wider historical examination reliant on many other sources.

    There are chapters dealing with Australia’s entry into the war and its consequences for the RAAF; the inception of the Scheme; the magnitude of the training task; how training progressed; how the Dominions worked together and the resultant issues and a very useful squadron by squadron operational summary. This provides a very comprehensive overview of the Scheme. Newspaper sources and several interviews add an important personal dimension.

    This book has a very useful index. Its bibliography is large and unconventional, listing each of the newspaper issues examined. The author acknowledges the contribution of the National Library of Australia’s Trove digitisation project which enabled the convenient access to this valuable information source.

  5. A highly recommended book for aviation, war enthusiasts and historians.

  6. Tony’s efforts have helped to shine a bright light on what is perhaps the biggest military aviation aircrew training program the world has seen or will ever see.

    The author enables you to follow the challenging journey from the conception and implementation of the scheme in late 1939 and as the EATS grew across the world to Australia and beyond, you can see how recruitment, basic training, flight training was undertaken followed by the sharp end – combat missions.

    A highly recommended book for aviation, war enthusiasts and historians.

    Down Under Aviation News

  7. Using assorted individual personnel accounts this book brings first hand experiences of the situations airmen and airwomen went thru while performing extraordinary feats of combat and survival in a time of brutal warfare across the globe.

  8. The RAAF has rightfully supported this book as part of its History and Heritage. It is a very good thing that we now have this comprehensive account.

  9. Fantastic read with attention to detail second to none. The research data must have taken an eternity to sift through and chronologically sort, a job well done.

  10. As I was not in the war I can only go by what Norm told me.

    Reading the book drew me into his time in Canada. He was sent to wireless school then a bombing and gunnery school. He spent some time in Nova Scotia, at Greenwood. His history is WAGS, Winnipeg then onto to B&G at Mossbank, OTU at Greenwood, then FTU Lyneham, England.
    From there he went to North Africa Blida.(squadron), then Grottaglie ITALY, then Sardinia. AlGHERO.

    Reading the book it gave me a better understanding of what happened in the war and the power and control over the servicemen. I came to tears about the white feathers and the newspapers reports back home. it was cruel because those men fighting the war didn’t have a say, they had to obey.

    My husband was of Irish descend, his father wouldn’t sign the papers allowing Norm to enlist, his mother signed the papers as Norm was underage. Many of the men would have been underage also.

    You wrote a wonderful true story.

  11. A great historical work often starts with a few really good questions followed by extensive research. This book examines questions including: why the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS aka BCATP, JATP or just simply ‘The Plan’) is not so well recognised now; how it influenced the W.W.II development of the RAAF; what its effect was on Australia’s key alliances; and how the public perceived the deployment of Australians to the northern hemisphere as opposed to Pacific theatres of the conflict.

    Working under the umbrella of the RAAF History & Heritage Fellowship, the book was launched at the RAAF History and Heritage Symposium in July this year. The author’s examination of the Australian experience of EATS is viewed through the prism of a staggering number of newspaper reports from the era and many other primary sources. The research is extensive with the endnotes, bibliography and index consuming a whopping 113 of the book’s 309 pages. Much of this research has only been made possible recently through the availability of online archives.

    This is a must read.

  12. What a great book! This is a must read for all!!
    Well done written amazingly!!!

  13. The Foreword by Dr Ronald Houghton enables the reader right from the start to get an understanding of the Scheme which is then elaborated on by the Author until by the end of the book you are completely informed. It certainly makes interesting reading when there is a summary of the role played by each and every RAAF Squadron under the Scheme. Making it much more personal is then to tell us about airmen from each RAAF Squadron and about Australians who served on RAF Squadrons, as many did.
    I consider the book to be noteworthy in that it contains so much good information on the Empire Air Training scheme, which, to my knowledge is not available in one volume elsewhere, but is not too tied up with unimportant facts and figures and is still a good read.

    Flying Officer Tony Adams joined the RAAF and served as a wireless operator in heavy bombers over Europe during WWII

  14. A great piece of work!

    Much more needs to be written about the EATS, it was good to see this subject finally being tackled. Well done!

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