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I fear you may be right. But if you wish to appreciate the enormity of the challenge involved, read #2307 - #2312 on p. 116.
My system is as Chugalug explained in his #2310, and it has worked fine for quite a time now. This is something right out of the blue yesterday.
I suppose we'll ferret it out in the end, and meanwhile I'll keep you posted, but it's no more story TFN, I'm afraid. I'll leave the field clear for Taphappy. (I'll not be bone-idle, I'll store up a few episodes in advance of publication).
That's exactly the sort of thing I would do, but in this case I've just checked: I can copy on Notepad, fail to paste on Prune, then go to Wordpad and post the same text successfully there, all in a minute. (I've just done it).
It's got me beaten !
Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Jul 2012 at 16:55.
Reason: Add Text.
Success at last !!! - this has been put on thread by the E-mail attachment route (suggested by Fareastdriver and executed by Danny's Daughter).
After repeatedly saying that the RAF Flight on 8 IAF Sqdn. was "B" Flight (trusting to memory), it occurred to me to look at my log...... It was "A" - at least I say so, and all my Squadron and Flight Commanders seem to agree. ( I shall now stand in the corner with the Dunce's cap on.....D)
(Note: As a typical Vultee Vengeance sortie has been described in detail in an earlier Post (#2651 p.133), there is no need to include any further description here......D.)
The Vengeance was mainly used in Burma as a substitue for artillery. The hilly jungle country made the deployment of of guns difficult, and in any case the 14th Army didn't have enough of them. From the end of '43 onward it was trying to push the Japanese armies back down south in the Arakan, and east on the Assam fronts.
The Jap was a very good defensive fighter, especially skilled in digging-in in strong points from which it was very difficult to dislodge him. He didn't give up when he was tired or wounded. He didn't give up when things were hopeless. He didn't give up if he were sick or starving. He fought till he died. He never surrendered. If you want to know what it was like to be a British soldier facing him in the Burma jungle, read "Quartered Safe Out Here" by George Macdonald Frazer (the "Flashman" author), who fought out there with the 14th Army.
This was where we came in handy. From our rough, dry-weather "kutcha" strips 30-40 miles away, we could put up "boxes" of six aircraft, each carrying two 500lb and two 250lb bombs. It adds up to a formidable total of 9,000lb, nearly four tons of high explosive. This we could deliver accurately, on a point, in about 30 seconds.
It was more than a battery of 25-pounders could put down in a morning, even supposing they could bring up so many rounds. Moreover, the concentration of the bombing meant that, even if every Jap were not killed in the strike, the noise and blast would stun him long enough for our forward troops, who would be close nearby, to rush the position and finish off with grenade, rifle and bayonet before he came to his senses.
The difficulty was the "point". From 10,000 ft the jungle is just a bobbly green wooly jumper. The formation leader can map-read into the general area of the target, but needs help to pinpoint it. This was obvious to us but not always to the Army. I recall one incident, when we were being briefed by a new Army liaison officer (we had one with us most of the time). Having described the target, our Captain ended with some helpful words: "You'll have no difficulty in finding this place - there are two very tall trees just to the north of the positiion". To our eternal credit, the whole briefing tent took this in boot-faced silence. No one giggled or batted an eyelid. But , "Two tall trees" passed into folklore !
We worked an answer out with the Army. The forward troops got smoke bombs for their mortars. They made sure a mortar was zeroed-in on the Jap position, then waited until they could hear and see us coming. With practice they could put the smoke down early enough to alllow the formation leader room to plan his bombing run, but not so soon as to allow the smoke to drift away. This smoke was the key to the whole thing. The formation leader's bombs had to be spot-on, for they kicked up so much dust that you couldn't see the mortar smoke. Each following pilot aimed for the centre of the dust cloud covering the target. Results were surprisingly good. There was often the odd bomb adrift, of course, and as our troops were usually fairly close by, some sad acccidents. But then, there has never been a war in which that hasn't happened (and never will be).
The Jap reacted quickly to this tactic. He'd lob a smoke bomb at us the moment he saw aircraft coming, and there'd be two lots of smoke. This was ineffective, for if the line ran east-west, you'd obviously go for the southern smoke. He could have finessed by putting his smoke further south behind him, to draw the bombs down there (at risk to his own people). But before this became a problem, the Army got coloured smokes, and a colour was agreed for each strike. This was too much trouble for the Jap, and he never bothered to counter it.
Some strongpoints had been hit so often that we had no difficulty in finding them. I remember one hill which had all the vegetation blown off the top. In the morning sun, this bald peak shone like a big brown breakfast egg sticking up out of the jungle. You couldn't miss it. (EDIT: I have been reading up Google/Wiki on the "Battle of the Admin Box"; they describe a Point 551 which had been hammered to such effect that its height AMSL was reduced by five feet. This might well be our hill).
This kind of work was our bread-and-butter. But a change is as good as a rest. We went further afield, but not too far on account of our limited range. Fuel consumption is high with a loaded bomber in formation, and our radius of action was no more than 200 miles. There was a story that locally made long range tanks had been tried on the Vengeance, but the extra weight and drag of these rough and ready bolt-ons needed so much extra power (and therefore fuel) that you got no further with the things on than you did before without them.
The range we had was enough was enough for us to reach Akyab from Chittagong and the Cox's Bazar strips. From Khumbirgram in Assam we could get over the hills into the upper Chindwin valley. But generally our ASC sorties only lasted an hour or so in the Arakan, two hours in Assam.
As soon as a sortie lands back, the "turnround" starts. The aircraft have to be checked, refuelled and re-armed (in our case bombed-up) ready for the next trip. Quick turnround is the mark of an efficient Squadron. You have only limited resources in the shape of fuel bowsers, bomb trolleys, bomb winches and men - particularly armourers. The trick is to use every short cut you can think of (Ryanair and Easyjet wrestle with the same problem today).
A fighting airforce concentrates on turnaround, for in effect it multiplies its strength. If you can fly twice as many sorties in a given time, you're twice the size. This factor was crucial in the Arab/Israeli 1967 "Six Day's War". IIRC, Arab intelligence estimated that the Israelis could turn round their Phantoms five times between dawn and dusk. They managed eight on the day!
On "A" Flight, we had our own "secret weapon". Bombing-up is a slow business. The bomb trolley has to be manhandled under a wing station or bomb bay. Take the case of a wing: with the trolley positioned under the rack, a winch is mounted on top, and the cable passed through the wing. Then the rack is disconnected from below the wing, attached to the cable and lowered for attachment to the bomb. With electrical connectons made, fusing links fitted to the bomb, and the steadying clamps tightened, rack plus bomb has to be slowly winched up (by hand) back up to the wing and secured. Then the winch and cable have to be removed. All this can take up to a good quarter of an hour.
We had "Hatch", a New Zealand farmer of huge size and strength (and as mild and aimiable a chap as you'd hope to meet), now Flying Officer Hatchett of the RNZAF. We didn't need a winch for our wing bombs. A rack was disconnected and clamped onto its 250lb bomb. We folded a couple of empty sacks for padding on Hatch's back, he bent down under the bomb station, four lads lifted the bomb onto his back, and guided it as he straightened up and forced it into position under the wing. Twenty seconds of effort saved ten minutes on each wing of each aircraft. (EDIT: Curiously, neither F/O Hatchett (nor any similar name) appears on the Bharat-Rakshak List of 8 Sqn personnel, but I can assure you that he was there).
Of course he could lift only the wing bombs, the internal 500lb ones still had to be winched up into the bays, but even so we saved a third of the time bombing-up would otherwise have taken. There was no difficulty with the air crews, as we were so close to the fighting areas, our sorties rarely lasted much more than an hour. An hour's rest and a glass of "char" from the char-wallah after debriefing, and we were ready to go again. By then the ground crew would have our aircraft ready and waiting for us.
It looks as though we are back in business now!
If at first you don't succeed............
Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Jul 2012 at 17:40.
Reason: Correct typo.
..then try, try, and try again! Great to see you back in business Danny, and well done to your daughter and FED for coming up with the DS solution. Hopefully you will soon be able to resume normal operations when the gremlins have had enough fun.
Suddenly we are back on the offensive with close air support to an Army that targets everything via "Bushy Topped trees, etc". You say that they soon cottoned on to your needs, but how was that done? Were they briefed by radio to put down the smoke bombs in the way you describe? Did they all have such radios? In these days of FACs talking direct with, and calling in, the Air Support as required, we have to remember that comms were in a different league then.
Forward troops come up against a Japanese strong point that they need help with to dislodge. So they radio back for it to be bombed, that is passed onto your Army Liaison Officer who then briefs you and agrees the timing. That is then passed back to the forward commander who ensures that his mortar crews are prepared with their smoke bombs to coincide with your arrival. Something or nothing like that? Your Kiwi sounds formidable indeed and should perhaps have earned not so much just a mention in the Unit Roll, but recognition of his efforts above and beyond the call of duty.
Oh, just remembered, re my query on the ground move of the Squadron, I should have realised that it would be done via the Indian Railways, a vast concern that outnumbered the Army I believe, and the only way to move around the sub-continent, unless by air of course!
I'm sorry to say that we didn't take much interest in the planning of our operations; if pressed I would have to say that Wing signalled the Squadrons with targets and times, and we just got on with whatever the ALO and IO gave us at briefing. All comms were W/T, of course, except for a few field telephones.
As far as troop movement is concerned, the railways were the main thing, as you say. But in our time (and I would not be surprised if it were so still), there was no through line over the Sunderbands; part of the journey had to be by river steamer. (If you went much further north, it may have been possible). But even back from Assam, which is a fair way north, we had to take to a paddle-boat at one stage back to Calcutta.
This was an enormous hindrance to all our supplies moving east from Calcutta, but fortunately we had been able to stop the Japs in '42 before they took the port of Chittagong, and I would suppose that sea transport carried a great deal of the supplies through there to the forces in the Arakan. (The 8 Sqn ground party came over that way).
From Chittagong there was a spur down to Dohazari about 60 miles south, but after that it was MT, Dakotas, bullock carts and mules! (didn't see any elephants).
The Indian railways were truly an impressive organisation, they were steam-hauled until quite the recent past, reasonable as India had vast coal reserves, like China, but not much oil. Their operation was the stronghold of the Anglo-Indian community, to which I beleve it was reserved by law.
Point taken, Danny. I, for my sins have just attended a 50th anniversary reunion for when our entry was released upon an unsuspecting RAF. Only now, after all those years, have some of the i's been dotted and t's crossed in my mind. It is enough to do your own job without interesting yourself with how others did theirs! Having said that you paint a vivid picture of the logistical challenge of getting your Squadron set up at Double Moorings and into action in the shortest time possible. A quick look at Google Maps illustrates the problems, with the two great ports of Calcutta and Chittagong separated by the swamped delta of the Sundarban. From Chittagong the railway still stops south at Dohazar. In Chittagong (for it extends now to the sea) there is a Double Moorings Police Station but that is all. Presumably your Pied a Terre lay close by. As did the enemy of course, and hence your presence and the need for the move.
Danny. I know that you have left already 110 Sqn in your saga but I also served on 110 Sqn far later in Singapore in the late 60s. This is lifted from my log book on the last day of 110 Sqn's existance.
I apologise for the writing but after landing I had to make up my monthly summary in a hurry so as to get to the start of the Disbandment party.
I am not Ron Jones.
Last edited by Fareastdriver; 21st Jul 2012 at 08:47.
Reason: Name dislaimer
Danny, Glad that you are back on course again and after reading your latest posts I am somewhat hesitant about putting my mundane experiences on this thread.
March 1945 and back at Heaton Park for a couple of weeks and then the same group of u/t Nav/Wops are once more sent out on detachment, this time to Gransden Lodge. a PFF station and home to 405 RCAF squadron equipped with Lancs and a Mosquito LNSF squadron. As had happened at Strubby we were once again spread round the various sections and this time I was allocated to the armoury and my only abiding memory is of being told to paint the stones surrounding the building white. Soul destroying stuff. In these days I was quite a useful football player and Gransden being mainly staffed by Canadians who were not that good at the sport it was reasonably easy to gain a place in the station football team which led to trips away to other bases for matches thus helping to relieve the monotony. We were still at Gransden on VE Day and a huge party for all personnel was held on the sports field, the beer flowed like buttermilk and there were a few inebriated airmen and WAAFs by the end of the day. The squadron moved out towards the end of May and soon afterwards we were recalled to Heaton Park A couple of weeks later we were on the move again,this time to a small camp on the outskirts of Reading.It was not an aerodrome and we had no idea what we would be doing there. Next morning we found out and this was an odd sort of detachment. There was an HMSO(His Majesty's Stationery Office) warehouse in Reading and this was to be our place of employment. This was a civilian establishment and we were the only RAF people there. We were issued with bus tokens and would take the bus to and from the warehouse each day, it was like being back in civvy street. The job was to make up orders placed by various RAF establishments of the various forms required to run an Air Force and ensure that they were despatched on time. Petet asked in a previous post if we just accepted these delays in training but this time we had had enough and being in a mutinous mood we led the guys at HMSO a merry dance, mixing up orders and generally putting a spanner in the works until they were glad to get rid of us. Incidentally I never found out what the function of that camp was.We only slept and ate there. By VJ day we were back at Heaton Park having given up on any idea of ever flying and towards the middle of September we were informed that we had been remustered to straight W/op and that we were being posted to Bridgenorth for a refresher ITW course about a year after doing the original one. Seems like you had to go back to move forward.
Thanks for the sight of your last logbook entries for 110 - I never knew it was still in existence as late as '71. Was it ever reformed after that, do you know? And were they still carting around the "constipated tiger" of Hyderabad in your day?
I was a bit intrigued by the "Mr Hoxtin" (?) who's down on the airtest as 'First Pilot' on the 10th. Was he a civilian (in which case, how come?) or a Warrant Officer? (I bet it was quite a party at the end!)
And of course, I'm most grateful for your technical suggestion, which has put me back on the road again,
I can feel for you in the situation you were in, b-ggered about from pillar to post in an organisation which had clearly lost its purpose and was winding down all the time.
I'd had my fair share of transit camps (as had all aircrew trainees), but at least we had the Holy Grail of our brevets always in our sights. You seem to have had your hopes lifted and then repeatedly dashed, and now a second lot of ITW. What on earth could they teach you now that you hadn't learned before? Seems like the "white stones" ploy - give him something, anything, to do, rather than do the obvious thing: send him home on indefinite leave (on full pay + ration allowance) until you can decide what to do with him.
Even when you'd "got through", there were always the times when you were "supernumerary", a sort of dogsbody at everybody's beck and call. Strangely enough, some of the odd jobs you collected on these occasions turned out the most interesting of all.
"Mundane experiences" - yes, please! It was all part of the warp and weft of Service life in those days. It is a truism that War is 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror; the humble day to day stuff seems just as interesting to our readers as the glorious deeds of valour.
Taphappy, there was it seems an RAF Reading and, just as you recall, there seems to have been no stated purpose for it nor named units based at it. However, the co-ordinates given put it close by the railway station and hence probably never "on the outskirts". It seems to have occupied 8 Gun Street! I wonder if that was the "front door" of your place, or more likely perhaps yours went after a completely different ID, named after some hamlet or village around there. The only airfields around Reading that I could find were RAFs Woodley, Theale, and Smiths Lawn (all 50Gp EFTS) and further out RAF Hampstead Norris (12 Gp OTUs). Do any of those ring a bell? Stations-R Edited to add, to the East lay RAFs White Waltham, Waltham St Lawrence, , and Bray Court (EFTS), to the North RAF Henley (EFTS), and to the South RAF Shinfield Park (HQ Flying Training Command!)
Danny. The standard was laid up at St Clement Danes and is still there, probably for ever. That Mr Hoxtin was Roy Moxam, a senior test pilot with Westland helicopters. We were having problems with engines running down so we were doing a few trials to see if we could find a cause. That included running a Whirlwind with a fire engine pumping water a full chat into its engine intake to see how long it would take to put the flame out. It took a surpringly long time, actually.
Interesting stuff butI can assure you that the camp at Reading was not near the railway station but was on a bus route somewhere near Wantage Hall. The Gun Street location might have been the site of the HMSO. Cheers John
Could well be Taphappy, as the HMSO docs were ones for the RAF. BTW I would point out that if you were near Wantage Hall, then you were quite close to Shinfield Park (HQFTC). Your administrative "creativity" could have been dealt with summarily by a galaxy of Air Marshals, if only they'd known ;-)
Chugalug2 Your mention of the word Shinfield ringa a bell and on looking at a map of Reading I see a Shinfield Road which is quite near Wantage Hall and I am pretty sure that on the way out of Reading the camp was on the left hand side of this road. It was a small camp and I would not have thought that it was the HQ of Flying Training Command but perhaps it was only the living quarters. Can't say I ever saw any Air Marshalls wandering about but had we realised we were in such august company perhaps our actions at HMSO would have been somewhat different!!!.
The 1946-47 edition of Who's Who in British Aviation shows Shinfield Park as the HQ of Flying Training Command. AOC was AM Sir Arthur Coningham. Tel. no Reading 60471.....! Within the Command were - 21 Grp. Spitalgate, Grantham 25 Grp. Buntingsdale Hall, Market Drayton 23 Grp. South Cerney 50 Grp. Sylvesters, Berkeley Avenue, Reading
Shinfield Park - hmm - about 1965 I took a drill squad of cadets from Cranners to HQ FTC - CinC was Sir Patrick Dunn. I think it was a bash for the 25th Anniversary of the foundation of the Command. Had just done a rehearsal when a message came that I was to report to the lawn in front of the Officers Mess - I turned up to be faced by the CinC and his predecessors - getting a glass of sherry down my throat was, in the circumstances, a bit of a challenge.
If you do a search for Cirrus Drive, Reading, on Google Maps, and follow it back to the roundabout where it starts, then zoom in down to street level, you are looking through the gateway to an old and substantial house surrounded now by a Barratt Homes Estate. I suspect that house was Shinfield Park, HQFTC. No doubt the grounds were populated with a hutted encampment and now all gone. The usual signs of previous RAF MQs, ie roads such as Spitfire Way, Hurricane Avenue, Lancaster Road, etc, are all absent. Perhaps they were replaced with the more aspirational ones of Zenith Ave, Pascal Crescent, Aphelion Way, Rossby and Perigee, as well as Cirrus Drive that the site now boasts. Edited to add that the site backs onto the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts), which rather explains the choice of road names. Perhaps it constitutes their MQs!
Thanks for the information (that 110 is just a memory now) - and I suppose in your time the "Hyderabad" part of the name had been dropped by the Politically Correct RAF. Were you a bit puzzled by my "Constipated Tiger" query? The full story is in my Post #2559 p. 128. (Perhaps the white ants did get it after all !)
I've only just realised the significance of "winding-down" in a chopper (never was very bright). Having to surrender to gravity never was a soft option, and though I was never in Malaya, I would think that it would be much like Burma in that good forced landing sites were few and far between.