Low Moral Fibre: Feared More Than Death
– My RAF Journey Part 6
Low Moral Fibre: Feared more than death – My RAF Journey Part 6
All this opulence belied the brutality of the physical, mental and emotional transformation of what was to come.
About a month in, I came across a concept which completely changed my outlook on the RAF – and my whole life subsequently – referred to as LMF. LMF stood for ‘Low Moral Fibre’ and we became to fear it more than death itself. LMF was a label for any officer who displayed a sign of weakness, self-suffering, complaining, victimhood or any form of body language which displayed inner pain. It emerged officially in 1940 within Bomber Command to target reluctant aircrews during the daylight raids in France, when entire squadrons of aircraft were obliterated. The punishment for LMF was cruel and humiliating and was officially outlawed in the 1960s for its inhumane practices. But as with the banning of prefects’ caning of Removes at SJC, LMF labelling continued unabated.
It’s a difficult notion to explain, but anything short of absolute stoicism under the most arduous circumstances would attract the dreaded LMF branding, and within weeks, those tarnished would be expunged from the system forever. There was no redemption for LMF. The RAF was about winning wars against the world’s strongest and only the toughest would be up to that.
Camaraderie was everything. We had to stick together like glue for mutual support in the midst of almost absurd levels of personal growth in body, mind and soul. I loved the diversity of my contemporaries. For those who’ve lived in the UK, they will know how granular the regional characteristics of Brits are, depending on which part of the country they came from. The variety of accents, sense of humour and outlook on life. There was one quirk which fascinated me in particular: the proclivity for some to ‘Pigeonhole’ themselves into rigid class structures, depending on locational upbringing: for instance, a Liverpudlian from the ‘wrong’ side of the Mersey was inexplicably resigned and confined to a ‘lesser’ status, more by self-selected ranking than through imposition from those of ‘higher’ status. Such unquestioned demarcation seemed so foreign to me, especially with a Joburg background in the 70s when meritocracy was the only metric.
And then a setback!
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