Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
It is great to hear, what will hopefully be, one of many instalments relating to your journey through ACRC, ITW and trade school(s) towards the coveted brevet.
I am particularly interested in Torquay, as the flight engineer that I am researching went through ITW there (September 43); so would love to hear more about life there before you move off to Bridgenorth.
I have obtained a copy of the ITW training schedule and wondered if yourself, Taphappy, Danny or anyone else could tell us a few tales about some of the subject matter:
Good am Danny and Petet. I suspect the PACT Pre Air crew Training scheme was started when there was an aircrew shortage--unlike 1944.when there was a surfeit The idea was, I think,to give accelerated schooling to those who did not have a School Certificate. Until a few years ago I had thought ALL the PACT guys with us got AG as a result of the "Aptitude" tests. However I met one of them---George Lovat-- who had been at Torquay with us and went on to pilot training and eventully a tour on Tempests in the ME.He then emigrated to Canada and owned a crop dusting operation in the Maritimes I cant comment intelligently on the ITW course as practiced in EUAS.All I recall is that we had lessons in the HQ building which also served as a mess.All meals though were taken with the regular students in Cowan House Anyway we arrived in Bridgenorth which seemed a deadful place in winter AND I suspect in summer. Shortly after arrival we were advised that those interested in staying in the service could apply for an accelerated training course at Cranwell. I was interviewed but not accepted. My impression was that the ex Oxford and Cambridge UAS guys got preference--certainly none went from the EUAS contingent. A long time afterwards we heard that one of the lucky ones was on open arrest for stealing RAF petrol when his A/M father awarded him his "wings" at Cranwell . I believe the "accused" ended up a Group Captain but died after retirement from a fall improperly diagnosed by the NHS. I dont recall anything but misery at Bnorth but we cant have been there long because my first flight at Grading School was on Jan 15/45 This seems strange as the next log book entry is Feb 5th Grading School was for all of us who had not elected to skip this and become N,s. Several of us went to Abbots Bromley, a satellite of 16 EFTS Burnaston --still all ex UAS but not all the EUAS would be pilots were with me. Dual instruction on Tiger Moths for around 12 hours with the possibility of soloing, Towards the end of our time there we experienced our first accident. A Tiger with Sgt instructor and pupil on spinning training collided with a low flying Halifax. All were killed and I was among those who pulled out the dead Halifax rear gunner from T-OG which crashed almost on the airfield. I soloed at AB after 10 hours and then we all went on to Heaton Park around mid March Detachment to Woodhall Spa followed with 617 and 627 resident there.I got one flight in a Lanc and was located in the mid upper during a practice bomb run at Wellfleet. I got chastised by the S/Ldr/ Captain . He said I had swung the turret during his run in and this affected his aim[. I dont recall doing anything constructive during my time there--no bomb loading or anything. At the time 617 was after what I think must have been the last of the German battle wagons. They were using 22,000 pounders and on one occasion at least landed back at Woodhall with the bombs on board because of weather conditions over the target. From there we were given embarkment leave prior to returning to HP Back at HP about 10 of the 23 EUAS guys were advised of their now U/T pilot category.As the story unfolded though I believe only 3 obtained their RAF Pilots brevets--though none in WW2! All I remember of HP was marking the --convoy number? on our kit bags and it was off to Liverpool. By the standards of that time in aircrew training we were quick since the time between ending Grading School and setting sail for Canada was only about 6 weeks. We were already under way on the Athlone Castle before VE day --May 8/45.The trip to Halifax was uneventful though the experience and smells made me glad I had not volunteered for the Navy!
Thanks for enlightening Taphappy and me ! - now what was it, please ?
Can't help much, but think "Hygiene" in the Services usually meant one thing only; apart from that I had: "The Principles of Construction of The Deep Trench Latrine", which may come in handy one day - you never know.
Our Aldis lamp practice involved one group on the cliff top and the other on the beach. The sender sometimes wobbled about a bit, whereupon the receiver would signal back "FOCUS"; this invariably triggered the response "WHAT - ALL OF US ?" (We thought it funny at the time).
Our "armament" was a single Vickers G.O. gun; they couldn't spare us a Browning. Otherwise I would have known (so Wiki now tells me ) that the Browning is an "Open-bolt" gun, the block stops at the rear, so it has to have a REAR SEAR, which has to have a RETAINER, which seems to need a KEEPER, and there is a SPRING mixed up in it somewhere (Padhist - was it? - and I have remembered this useful information all our lives - much good has it done us).
Last edited by Danny42C; 31st Jul 2012 at 19:44.
Reason: Correct typo
DFCP, a belated but very warm welcome to the thread. Wow, three stories running consecutively again, just like old times! You have scarcely started and yet the realities of wartime have already struck home. No survivors from a mid air collision 'twixt Tiger Moth and Halifax. A clearer illustration of the hazards of the very crowded skies of wartime UK and the urgent need to export the training schools abroad could not be bettered. From a personal point of view I get the feeling that there was an urgency just to get on with it, not only because of the understandable impatience of young men who wanted to fly, but because of the perception that the end of the war was already in sight. A perception shared with the RAF perhaps, seeking a cadre of those "interested in staying in the Service". With almost everyone signed up "for the duration", was that a generally held view? Was there a fear that you might all have just missed the boat? Yet you are about to embark for real and follow in the wake of Danny & Co, across those still seemingly very dangerous seas, for what we know now was not then known for sure. The fat lady was yet to rise and deliver her long awaited rendition... it was not yet over!
Chugalug2 I can't really add much to what I have already said about the Harwell Box, it may be that poor reception was simulated but to me honest so much is lost in the mists of time. R/t in these days had a very limited range and when the weather closed in and the nav was in trouble the w/op could be instrumental in getting you home.. So far as those training overseas having any advantage over the UK, it is hard to tell.So far as I know none of the lads from my ITW intake who were sent to Canada around Dec44/Jan45 finished their courses as the Empire scheme gradually closed down.
DFCP Comparing my experience with yours, it seems that between your arrival at ACRC and departure for trade training a period of 8 months elapsed, certainly much faster than the norm whereas between my arrival at ACRC and departure for trade training the period was 18 months Was there perhaps a fast tracking scheme in operation for UAS bods?
In reply to Chugalug----in my case I had always wanted to be a pilot and at this stage of training it was all fun with any operations way in the future. I think there was a similar attitude among the others in my group. though unlike me,at this stage,I dont tink many considered staying in after the war. Taphappy--Certainly UAS people had preference---how else could one justify us ALL getting PNB while the PACT guys did not. This SUPPOSEDLY because that was how the aptitude tests came out. OK we are now on the way to Halifax on the Athlone Castle--not I think in convoy because VE Day had just occurred. Yet I thoink we must have taken a southerly route as we saw flying fish. As we disembarked there were ladies on hand to give us "goodies" and then it was on the train to Moncton. As some of the EUAS u/t pilpots ended up in the US I,m not sure whether at this stage of the war they came thru Moncton or via a US camp in NJ. My impression is that by say April 45 there was only one EFTS running in Canada---No 23 at Yorkton Sask and one SFTS in Calgary both under RCAF control. Similarly in the US most of the RAF traing schools had closed down. In fact I recall reading an account of one being closed about Feb 45 during the visit of an RAF 'wheel". Moncton was not very inspiring . However I was surprised that despite the fact many thousands of trainees had passed through there I was still welcomed into a home there--as I recall the address was 260 and a 1/2 High Street.It was a long train ride to Yorkton --several days. U/t Navs went to Summerside on Prince Edward Island or Rivers or Portage La Prarie in Manitoba near Winnipeg. R Burton went to Manitoba though at this stage I had no knowledge of him. I am surprised to note that I first flew at Yorkton on July 1 so,while I have little recollection of Moncton I must have been there about 6 weeks. So Course 139 began with a Fam Flight in a Fairchild Cornell. There were still a few RAF instructors on base but almost all my instruction was from an RCAF F/O--Art Sutcliffe.My guess is that there were about 40 u/t pilots on 139 divided into two flights --we alternated between morning and afternoon flying with ground school arranged the same way.There were other pilot Courses underway but I have no recollection of them. On 139 there were 3 or 4 of the EUAS people and I think the rest of the course were all UAS.We were paid at RCAF rates and the food was good! It was the usual EFTS course, all on Cornells. I see I ended with a total course time of 88.45 hours---37.05 of which were solo. All had gone well until VJ Day on August 15th--VJ Day. We were the only course that wasnt closed down immediately. We were allowed to graduate Aug 31. At the commemerative dinner we were called "The last of the Many' Fear of failing the course was always present though I dont recall any c/t,s Maybe they were dispatched quickly back to Moncton. Between Aug 15 and 31 we had a strange fatal accident. On a solo flight a student just dived into the ground--rumours were rife---he had a Union Jack with him, he was unhappy that we werent going on to SFTS,--just in time for the Calgary Stampede---. he had an unhappy love affair . The truth? We must have left Yorkton around Sept 1 with a travel warrant to Moncton and 3 weeks for transit./leave
A five-ton bomb achieved a near-miss and opened up 30 m of Lützow's side and she assumed a 56 degree list to starboard. Two 1.000 lb bombs which hit the forward and aft 28 cm magazines failed to explode. The ship was finished but one main turret was repaired and used against the Russians until the shells ran out. She was then scuttled and remained on the river until 1947 when the Russians managed to refloat the ship and towed it to Gdansk Bay where it was sunk.
Your Post (#2822) seems to have "jumped the queue" - obviously because your Moderator's check delayed it, and then he's "slipped it back into the pack" at the original date/time of submission. Result: Taphappy's and my query about the "PACT" men looks as though it's been answered before it's been asked. All sorted out now!
Don't you dare correct your marvellous 'typo' (was it intentional ?): "deadful" (Bridgenorth). Haven't we all known "deadful" places in our RAF travels ? (I shall include this new word in my vocabulary forthwith!)
And congratulations on your First Solo. Now you are a full member of the Throttle Benders Union (life will never be the same again).
Keep it coming!
As you say, the rundown had started in DFCP's time, but the War was by no means over in Europe and looked as if it could go on for ever out East - at the rate we were going then. As for the RAF looking for potential recruits post-war, they may have been putting out feelers at Oxbridge, but the lesser breeds would be firmly shown the door in '46.
Moderator permitting, I may get round later to my RAF experiences after I got back in '49, but once shared a room then with a (very nice) chap just out of Cranwell. He told me that the current thinking there was: "We'll do no good with this Air Force until we get rid of all these old wartime people".
Three of us now! Just like old times, as you say. (I hope we'll be able to keep up the old standard).
You're right about the limited range of R/T in those days. Neither the TR9 we had in the Spitfire or the US set in the Vengeance were much good any further than you could see. We had to wait for VHF. All right for talking to the chaps in the same formation, but that was about all.
Conditions for flying training were vastly better in the New World even without a war. Life in a Tiger Moth with Halifaxes buzzing about (and vice versa) must have been hazardous in the extreme (to say nothing of the Barrage Balloons!)
I don't think the UAS people would be shown any favours per se. But if they had a fair amount of Tiger Moth time in, it would obviously count in their favour.
Danny, I can quite imagine the talk of getting rid of "all these old wartime people" in the shiny new silver jet age of post war Britain. As an ex Sleaford Tech Grad myself I can do no more than dissociate myself entirely from such talk. That period is marked in my mind as having some of the best Very Senior Officers leading the RAF that it has ever had. Every one, whether at Group, Command, or MOD, had served in WWII and had the gongs to prove it. They also had the humanity and sense of selfless duty that came with it. I remember the one armed (lost when attempting in vain to rescue aircrew from a burning aircraft crashed on take off from the RAF Station he commanded) RAF Inspector-General, Gus Walker. A more affable and loved VSO it is hard to imagine.
Thanks Hipper though I cant quite match the detail. I,m sure 617 was carrying and returning with their Grand Slams, evident because of the removal of the bomb bay doors. April 15th 1945----As I had embarkation leave and some time at HP before boarding the Athlone Castle some days before VE DAY --May 8th I would have guessed what I witnessed was before April 15th. That said there wasnt much German naval might left to bomb by that time! So perhaps my time recollections are off and maybe another squadron was also involved with smaller bombs and 617 never did drop their bigger bombs
DFCP: If it helps at all, I believe the date of that crash at Yorkton was 17th August. No need to go into who etc, just another wartime crash...
I have located a serial for the Halifax as NA317 giving similar details as you, perhaps same source, but Squadron OCTU/HCU lettering just doesn't seem right.
I'm afraid there were simply too many RAF casualties (let alone the Allies) in the first two weeks of March 1945 to locate a Halifax crew and two u/t casualties. Nothing came up on Abbots Bromley as a crash location. (Not that I'm querying the veracity) just tracing who it might have been.
Danny 42c While I might like to have a claim to fame over "word invention", "deadful" was a typo. The RAF,s preference for UAS types for the post war officer ranks reminded me of a story of Royal Navy officer types RNR were sailors pretending to be gentlemen. RNVR were gentlemen pretending to be sailors and RN were neither pretending to be both. As you will learn later in my story, post war it seemed to me that, in the RAF, interest or competence in flying seemed to be secondary to the ability to having "officer like qualities"
Icare9 Thank you--yes Aug 17th --two days after VJ Day sounds right. T-OG and NA317 for the Halifax are engraved in my memory even after 60+ years. The Halifax was from a Transport Command Conversion Unit ?in Shropshire. I did have more information on the crew and actual airfield at one time. The Halifax wreckage was so close to the AB airfield perimeter that we easily walked/ran over to the blazing remains
The book Staffordshire airfields in the Second World War says.......on 9th March 1945, Tiger Moth DE473 was returning from a low flying exercise and on it's landing approach, when Halifax VII of 1665 HCU at Tilstock collided with it. Both aircraft came down north of Redmore Wood, north of Abbot's Bromley village.[ Redmore, in fact, should be Radmore]
Danny I would guess your ex Cranwell guy in 49 would have been on a later course than those who were selected for accelerated training in early 45. I think the only name I recall from that bunch was Omerod from I think Manchester I have often wondered how those guys prospered but there doesnt seem to be a Cranwell course nominal roll available. In the case of the 23 of us who were in EUAS, we have been able to trace the destinies of most, but the search for Davidson,Jackson, Maybe and,McClaclan has been unsuccessful---all were 18ish and u/t PNB in Jan 1945 Some may have now joined the 10 known RIP. We would be interested in any info on the "missing"
Further to my last message,Colin Cummings' book "Though without Anger" shows the Halifax as NA317 - it was flying at low level across the airfield in conditions of haze and low sun when it collided with the Tiger Moth. The names of crew members, of both aircraft, are listed.
Gus Walker was the Station Commander of RAF Syerston (where I did my BFTS on JP3's and JP4's) and saw a taxying Lancaster on fire bombed up with a 4,000lb bomb and a lot of incendiaries. He went straight to the aircraft and tried to remove the incendiaries to prevent the 4,000 lb bomb exploding. He was unsuccessful and lost his right arm in the explosion.
The sort of leadership we rarely see today. I met him while at Syerston and he was a nice bloke who could chat to Acting Pilot Officers even though he was an Air Marshall.