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.
Just had a bit of a problem, should be resolved by Tuesday. Will endeavor to continue my diatribe then.
Bravolima. I had an oppo (Tubby) when stationed at R.A.F Wunsdorf near Hanover, he finished up on gliders, did one trip to Arnhem, and returned on a stretcher. He had shrapnel removed from his back, which left a large scar about the size of a saucer , and a scar from shoulder to shoulder and down to his waist from the surgeons knife. He got a red wound stripe for his trouble though ( a small red stripe worn on the sleeve.)
B.L I usually go to Thlandidno (sic) on a sunny day in my beach buggy, take fish and chips to the top of The Great Orme and enjoy the view of Liverpool bay. Any chance of meeting up next summer, and "having the craic" ? A coffee in the Legion"? For a pic of the beach buggy search for :Sticky. Photos of Everybody: On this forum. How about some of the others posting their pics on this thread ? Harry Crun is on it.
If Fareastern’s method doesn’t work on your computer , I found it by typing -stickyhotos- in the search box (top orange line down). Sticky: photos of every body , should appear third entry down. It works ok on my computer. My entry is on page 34. The search facility will not accept words of less than three characters, seems to object to the word of, as in “of everybody, so try entering exactly as above. But remember this is a case of “Blind man leading blind man.” Will now learn Fareastern's method. Have just checked the result on PPRuNe, for some reason their system has changed the colon into a smiley.
EDITED. Phew, well I know what I mean. Will try and send you a sticky colon photos by email
Ah, the old Piston Provost. Fuel on, left hand on the RH instructor's throttle so you arm kept the stick back, right hand down on the starter lever. 1.5 inches of throttle, five seconds on the primer button and then pull. BANG as the cartridge went and then frantically playing the throttle and primer until all the cylinders fired up. Take off. 3,000 rpm, +8 boost with a bootful of left rudder. Tail up straight away and drag it off the ground at 45 knots. The oleos were filled with Kangaroo juice so three-pointers were something else.
It's all automatic nowadays. I cry all the way to the bank.
Last edited by Fareastdriver; 3rd Nov 2008 at 16:17.
Hello Cliffnemo, we will get together next summer.I will try to contact you.. At 1 BFTS at Terrell Texas, we had 20% American cadets who received RAF Wings and their U.S Army silver wings. The ones on 18 Course went on to their Ferry Command. Our instructors were called "Sir" and some were fierce, others genuine Southern gentlemen. The CFI was a Mr Van Lloyd who held Wingco status. Our C.O. was Wing.Cdr Moxham, then Wing Cdr Tomkins. We had check rides with both, possibly to see that our training was standardised.. We also had an RAF Assistant CFI and an RAF Gunnery officer. We considered ourselves lucky to go to the British Flying Training Schools. Primary on the Stearman and then Advanced on the Harvard at the same school meant continuity. Local friendships lasted for months and not just weeks. We all had families to go to when we were off and I was in touch with "mine" for fifteen years until they died.
I must say how much I have enjoyed reading this thread. It has rekindled thoughts about my uncle who did 'time' as a youngster in the Halifax, serving Bomber Cmd. I believe he would have appreciated the recent award to RAF Marham of 1st prize in the RAF Photographic Competition 2008.
Cliff, you brought back many happy boyhood memories when you mentioned looking down on Liverpool Bay. We lived in Liverpool and then moved to Birkenhead when my Father took over the Scala Cinema in Argyle street. We used to go to Thurstaston for days out, New Brighton, of course, and Rhyl. We spent the school holidays on a farm in a village called Calcot near Holywell. Funnily enough we went there in the family car,which was also a Calcot, complete with "Dicky seat" where my Granny sat clutching the feather bed mattress that she would never leave home without. So where were we ?
We were soon shipped out of Georgia. We were all,now, Sergeant Pilots. The ones who were commissioned stayed behind to become Instructors. The USA pilots could never understand the British method of non-commissioned Pilots and neither could we.
We entrained for Moncton where we stayed for a week before going on to Halifax where we boarded the old Dutch steamer, "SS Vollendam" which, as I mentioned before ,had already been torpedoed, cut in half, put together with the half of another ship and loaned to the British Navy. After one of the escorting destroyers had been blown up with the loss of all hands there were no further incidents and we landed back in Glasgow on a damp, dismal day around Feb. 19th. 1942 where a train was waiting to take us the entire length of England to Bournemouth where we had to wait until April before passing on to our various stations. In my case I was eventually posted to a little grass airfield in Oxfordshire called Brize Norton, for a conversion on to twin engined aircraft.
The waiting in Bournemouth was by no means unpleasant as I was billetted in a lovely block of flats that had been requisitioned "For the duration" as the phrase went. The block was called "Bath Hill Court" and we were only two to a self contained apartment, earning thirteen shillings and sixpence per day with all food and accommodation paid for.
We were also given lots of leave and I returned to Blackpool to show off my wings and stripes to the thousands of new recruits who were doing their "Squarebashing" on the five miles of promenade at their disposal.
Much to my delight and my Mother's disgust, the "Avalon" was still full of WAAFS and I did not endear myself to her by refusing to be paraded in front of her Bridge Club cronies. My Father, now a Flying Officer, Signals, was home on embarkation leave for Egypt and we had some nice evenings out before he went on his way to Helwan.
Eventually the good times came to an end and I received my railway warrant to proceed to Brize Norton where the aptly named Oxford was awaiting my gentle touch, or so I hoped. Actually it was a very versatile aircraft, not too easy to handle at first but an excellent all round training machine. I was introduced to my Instructor, a Sgt. Holloway and also from Blackpool. "How many hours have you got ?" he asked me "200" I replied. There was a silence . "Oh, well I've got 35 so let's get stuck in" he said . At the risk of being repetitious I soon found out that the training I had received in the US. was superb, probably the best available in the world at that time. True we had to learn how to navigate as there were no water towers with names of each town on them. Even flying by "Bradshaw"(reading the names on station platforms) was out ,as all these, together with road signs, had been painted out for the "duration" in order to bamboozle the expected landing of German paratroops.
In July 1942 I was posted to No. 17 OTU at Upwood, near Huntingdon for operational training on Blenheims. Upwood was the OTU for 2 Group of Bomber Command and 2 Group were the specialists in low level daylight attacks on shippimg and special targets with light, two engined bombers , mostly Blenheims Mk.IV. I soon found out that the Blenheim was a very awkward aeroplane to fly and even getting in and out of it was a nightmare. You had to climb up on to the wing and then lower yourself in to the cockpit. This, in full flying gear of Irving Jacket and flying boots together with strapped on parachute was a feat in itself. The cockpit layout was a hideous mixture of sharp edges, knobs and levers with no logic or reason or cohesion about them at all. After takeoff, you reached behind you with your left hand to change the pitch on the two-pitch propellors. Next to these levers were two identical ones which were the fuel shut off valves to the two engines. 'Nuff said !
The Blenheim had been developed from a private venture "Britain First" monoplane. Unfortunately by 1942 it was outdated and outclassed by the German fighters which easily, overtook its top speed of about 190 mph (in a following wind !). Casualties on the Squadrons were extremely high but, once again, I was to find that throughout my career , luck would intervene. We were sitting out at dispersal playing cards, whilst waiting our turn to fly one sunny day, when there was a burst of machine gun fire and a Junkers 88 flashed across the airfield at nought feet. We all dived under the table then burst out laughing as we saw that we had all grabbed our cards and money as well. The German had hit our Crewroom, killing three airmen. Later in the day the most fantastic aeroplane that any of us had ever seen flashed across the airfield even lower than the nought feet of the Junkers and much, much faster. Luckily we could see the roundels of the RAF and we realised that this was the much talked and, hitherto, unseen Mosquito. It disappeared into cloud, after performing an upward roll with one engine feathered and I knew,there could be no other aircraft for me.
My hard work at Upwood was rewarded with the plum posting to 105 Squadron of 2 Group, Bomber Command. They were stationed at Horsham St. Faith, near Norwich and were commanded by the redoubtable Hugh Idwal Edwards V.C.,D.S.O.,D.F.C. 105 was the first Sqdn. to be equipped and go into action with "Mossies". They had the unarmed, light bomber MK1V version and was capable of carrying 4x500lb. bombs, usually with an 11sec. delay to enable the aircraft to get clear when the bombs were dropped at low level...50ft. was the norm. The Mosquito was named the "Wooden Wonder" as it was constructed with wood and carried the same bomb load as the American Flying Fortress The US plane had a 17 man crew and was bristling with Guns and ammunition; The Mosquito was a two man crewed aircraft with no guns at all in the MK1V. It was made by De Havillands and was developed , with little or no Government support from The Comet which was the winner of the pre-war London (Mildenhall) to Melbourne , Australia air race. It was one of the finest aeroplanes to come out of the war and one of the most versatile. Horsham St. Faith was commanded by Group Captain "Digger" Kyle. He was later to become Sir Wallace Kyle. "Hughie" Edwards was also knighted and became Governor General of Western Australia The Sqdn. had been operating with the outdated Blenheim 1V and had suffered grievious losses . They had just taken delivery of their first Mossies when I joined them in 1942. My Flight Commander was Sqdn. Ldr. Roy Ralston who with his Navigator, a fellow Blackpudlian, Sid Clayton, were amongst the many famous personalities on the Squadron. One of their most talked about exploits was to bomb the entrance of a railway tunnel in occupied France just after a train had entered it and then had dropped another one on the other side, neatly sealing it in. Sid Clayton made the incredible number of 100 sorties as a Navigator and then persuaded the RAF to send him to train as a pilot in Canada and came back to make another 45 Ops, on Mossies, ofcourse. I had already crewed up with my navigator at Upwood. He was a Southport lad, my own age , Les Hogan, and we were soon thrown straight into the fray. After a few circuits and bumps in the Mossie, no dual instruction, just read the Pilot's Notes and off you went. I found that I was flying a wonderful aircraft as different as chalk from cheese from anything that I had flown previously. We were sent on comparatively uneventful low level sorties against targets ,such as factories, railway junctions in Holland and Belgium. We would roar over the enemy coastline at nought feet and see the German gunners lounging in their bathing costumes in their sandbagged emplacements. There would always be a desultory burst of flak after you had passed so as to explain to the higher ups that they had not been caught napping. On one occasion I was in the third Mosquito of three, bombing the railway yards at Tergnier, N.France and saw the bomb from the machine in front of me bounce over my wing and explode behind me. It was common to see civilians waving frantically with handkerchiefs and I remember seeing a priest walking along and he stopped and blew kisses at us ! At dusk, usually leaving the target, we would see torches flashing the three dots and the dash of the V for Victory sign. It was very reassuring to see the signs of friendship whilst flying at over three hundred miles an hour over enemy territory....much more to come.
Last edited by regle; 15th Feb 2009 at 15:25.
Reason: correct gen
Shortly after I joined 105 Sqdn. they moved from Horsham St. Faith , to a larger grass aerodrome called Marham, near Kings Lynn. It was here that I met the WAAF Flt. Sgt. (Discip!) that was to become my future wife. From the moment that I met Dora, I knew that she was the girl for me and I courted her assiduously even though she was engaged to an Air Gunner fortunately, for me based at another Station. We were both members of the Sgts.' Mess, of course, aand romantically shared the large Chamber Pot filled with beer that was traditionally passed around at Xmas and other festive occasions. Breakfast was served until 0830 and was rarely worth getting up for in those days of rationing, but when real eggs were on the menu and not the awful dried variety, word would quickly and magically spread around and tousleheaded, unshaven aircrew would rush in at 0829 with battledress tops over pyjamas to partake in the luxury of a real egg. On the 30th. Oct.1942 I was sent, with another Mosquito piloted by Flt.Lt. Bill Blessing, an Australian, to attack Leeuaarden Airfield in Holland. It was an important German nightfighter base and the plan was that Bill Blessing should lead and we were to cross the Dutch coast well to the South of the airfield and then turn and bomb it on the way out . It was to be a daylight attack at very low level and we each carried four , five hundred pound H.E bombs with an eleven second delay to enable us to get clear. No armament of any kind was carried. we were to rely on our speed. The visibility was very poor and we lost the leading Mosquito as we were nearing the enemy coast. We pressed on but could not use the radio , of course. Unfortunately we went just over the masts of a smallship when nearing the Dutch coast and it fired off six red Very lights obviously warning the defences that we were en route. Even in the poor visibility and at about fifty feet we saw the airfield right in front of us and attacked straight away. There was no sign of Bill Blessing so we dropped our bombs on the runway and some large buildings on the airfield. The light flak guns were giving us all that they had got and hit us with one burst just as we were turning for home. In that one burst the major part of the nose cone disappeared, the instrument panel disintegrated, wounded both of us but neither of us felt it and were unaware of our wounds until much later, and set the port engine on fire. I feathered the port engine and,struggling, to control the aircraft, yelled to Les to press the fire extinguisher button. He promptly pressed the wrong one ! That wonderful Merlin coughed, spluttered and miraculously fired again as though nothing untoward had happened. The port engine fire had gone out of it's own accord and,much relieved, I struggled to keep the aeroplane straight as we were turning left because of the assymetric power. My left leg was hurting and I put it down to the fact that I could not put any rudder trim on as the handle of the trim had disappeared. In actual fact I had caught some of the German flak in my left thigh and Les had got a small piece of shrapnel in his chest but not deep enough to penetrate far, luckily. By gradually reducing the power and slowly climbing to the base of cloud, about a hundred and fifty feet, I was able to set course for the nearby coast. We were doing about 190 knots which was not bad but we were dead meat for any fighter that could spot us. We crossed the coast between two of the Friesian Islands, one of which was certainly Overflakee, so aptly named ! Unfortunately we also went between two small German naval vesels just lying out to sea. They were firing like mad at us and we could see the German sailors, in their characteristic flat caps, angrily shaking their fists. We thought that they were shaking them at us but it could have been at each other as the trajectory of their firing was so low some of their shots must have been perilously close to each other. Luckily we were not hit again and I set course for England but was very apprehensive at still being shot down as I could not climb in to the very low cloud as I had no Altimeter. The A.S.I. was working, Thank God, and the needle and ball, but most of the panel was gone. We carried on and I began to be optimistic. It was very cold as my left foot was sticking out into the badly damaged front of the Mossie and we were getting most of the airstream in the cockpit but we actually got the aircraft back to Marham . The cloud had lifted very near the English coast and Les map read us brilliantly back. We were given immediate landing permission and I was actually on the approach with the wheels down when I felt the aircraft turning to port as I increased the power as they came down. The principle of "Safety speed" was virtually unknown at that time and I had certainly not heard of it. The next thing that we knew was there were trees coming into the cockpit and we came to a sudden banging, halt. I remember thinking, as I saw the trees coming in "We are going to crash, I hope that my watch does'nt break " It was a 21st. birthday present from my parents. We had crashed into a small copse at the side of the aerodrome, taking down thirty one trees, according to the Farmer who owned them and had the temerity to claim compensation for them and was, literally, thrown out the office of our irate Station Commander, "Groupie" Kyle. My foot had gone through the wooden fuselage and I could'nt get out but Les just stepped through the large space where the front of the aircraft had been and took my boot off from outside. Luckily , as it had been a low level "Op" I had not been wearing my large flying boots. I am sure that had the aircraft been a metal one then we would both have been killed as it would have come in upon us and not broken up the way the our Mossie had done. We both ran from the 'plane as it was burning and it blew up when we were about a hundred yards away. As we were running I first became aware of my thigh wound but still kept running. We came to a small field where there were two Land Army girls running towards us. I was on the ground by then and they promptly pulled my trousers off me and started giving me very rudimentary First Aid by tying their green scarves around my thigh which was now bleeding badly. The RAF ambulance was soon on the scene and the personnel were unable to believe their eyes when they found us. We had not got a scratch from the crash and our wounds were very slight. We were taken to Ely Cottage Hospital where they removed two small fragments of shrapnel from my left thigh and found another fragment in Les's breast pocket which had just broken the skin beneath but had not penetrated the chest. It was Dora's, my wife to be's birthday but we had not got to know each other at that time but had spoken, briefly, the night before. One of her Waafs had told her that we had both been killed as most of the Station had seen the explosion following the crash and had assumed that no one could have survived that. We were visited by the Sqdn. Commander , whilst in hospital who commended us both and was very kind about the outcome of the Op. We had severely damaged the buildings and put the airfield out of use for a time. We were in Ely for about a week and given leave and were back on "Ops" in about six weeks so there is more to tell.....
Last edited by regle; 14th Dec 2008 at 23:08.