Well I am sitting on the train to Birmingham to go and submit my MPhil thesis. Part of me is happy that it is done but the other part feels worried that I have left bits out. I know there are limitations but that is the nature of the beast. Being only 40,000 words there is only so much I could include. I admit as much in my introduction. I am proud of the work and feel that it does what I set out to do and that is to refute the revisionist accounts on the RAF’s perceived failure to use bombers at Dieppe.
One thing that I am very glad about is my choice of supervisor for it. I had the honour and pleasure of working with Professor Gary Sheffield, one of the UK’s leading military historians. I can not stress too much to potential postgraduate the importance of having a good working relationship with your supervisor. The ability to turn to him or her when you get stuck is so important and if the relationship is fractious it won’t help. I have been lucky to have a supervisor who let me explore the problem and offer pertinent advice when appropriate. He also acted as an excellent editor picking up on numerous mistakes that my tired eyes just could not pick up. I am certain that my thesis all the better for Gary’s help and assistance. So make sure you pick a suitable supervisor as it will pay dividends by the end.
In terms of what is next well the first thing will be the Viva at some date not too far in the future. However, before that I have got move. An offer by work means I leave this week. This is not as bad as it seems as I am going to go back to uni full-time for my PhD. I have to admit this is quite exciting. I am going to stick with Birmingham as even as a part-time student the atmosphere has been excellent. Also in the field of War Studies it is an up and coming challenger to KCL and it is exciting to be part of that. Birmingham already had a reputation in the field of First World War Studies and is growing in the area of Second World War Studies. It is also expanding into air power history. In terms of my thesis I plan to shift my area somewhat. Up until now I have concentrated on operational histories of the use of air power but I am now going to look at leadership effectiveness. In particular I am proposing to examine the career of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory who seems to be the villain in many accounts of the Second World War. Hopeful, I will be re-focusing this in my thesis but time will tell on that. I hope to be starting in January. As I go along I will be blogging my experience as a comparison with Robert Thompson’s experience of a military history PhD in the states.
In the mean time I will be starting the process of chopping my thesis into one article and also starting some of the ideas I mentioned a few weeks back. I have just finished the editing process on my first chapter for a book on a conference that I attended last year. That should be out next year. I have also joined Zotero and so far I am pleased with it as a research tool. I have started an Air Power History group with thee aim of collating research and writing on this field. A grandiose task I know but who knows it may be of use to someone. All in all the next few months are going to be eventful.