Alexander Massetti awarded prize for dissertation

School of History student Alexander Massetti has been awarded an undergraduate prize for his dissertation on maritime history.

Now a Masters student at the School of History, Alexander wrote his undergraduate dissertation which was awarded the prize by the British Commission for Maritime History around naval history, titled: ‘Atlantic Suicide Squad’?: Examining the Catafighters and Dispelling the Myth of Britain’s ‘Kamikaze’ Pilots of World War Two.

Alexander Massetti

Alexander ‘s attraction to naval history began in college when he embarked upon an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which questioned the severity of the 1943 March shipping crisis. On his continued interest, Alexander said “it persisted into my third year, and I began discussing naval dissertation ideas with Professor Dr. Afflerbach. I stumbled upon The Hurricats by Ralph Barker which explored the daring work of British Catafighter pilots. The frontmatter of one edition described them as kamikaze pilots and I questioned this notion. Ostensibly, it appeared to be true. Pilots were rocket-launched off ships to fight the German FW200 Condor with nowhere to land. Having to bail out into U-boat infested seas with the risk of being abandoned in the Atlantic or freezing Arctic ocean the pilots began calling themselves the ‘Atlantic Suicide Squad’. Ultimately, my project investigated how dangerous their job was and discovered that vigorous standards meant that only a single pilot F/O J.B. Kendal died – and this was only because of a parachute failure.”

Overall I must thank the History Department for the resources provided and in particular Professor Dr. Afflerbach whose supervision and guidance was integral to my project.

Alexander Massetti