asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will consider issuing an operational medal to all pilots and members of aircrews who have completed a certain number of operational trips, or a certain number of hours of operational flying?
No praise can be too high for the superb gallantry and determination of our operational squadrons, but my right hon. Friend feels that the course suggested would not be in the best interests or traditions of the Service. It is doubtful whether the special distinction which would thus be conferred would be welcome to the officers and airmen concerned, since they know full well that many pilots and aircrews who are anxious to take part in operations must be employed on duties of a less spectacular kind which are nevertheless indispensable and call for high qualities of courage and skill. The proposal to distinguish between one type of service and another would react adversely upon the efficiency of the Royal Air Force as a whole.
Will my hon. and gallant Friend bear in mind that under the present system some operational pilots can take part in, say, 30 operations with complete success, but, owing to the fact that no untoward incidents take place, they do not get any recognition? Will he not consider issuing Service medals to all operational pilots who have taken part in quite a small number of operations?
I will bring that point to the attention of my right hon. Friend. I would, however, point out that it is thought that the automatic issue of medals or badges might become so common as to have little significance.