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.
My father was trained at Pensacola in 1943. He was an ex brat instument technician who wasn't accepted for pilot training when WWII broke out as he was married with children. This was relaxed in 1942 so he was older than the rest being thirty years old. The only comment from my mother was that before he went to the States he was two left feet on the dance floor but when he came back he could see off Fred Astaire.
For the uninitiated . Trenchard's brats were the elite. Trenchard toured the country's technical colleges, pre war to give the R.A.F the best technicians possible. The competent ones were then given an apprenticeship second to none. In those days an aircraft apprentice fitter was fully trained at Halton. After training he could carry out any repairs to airframes, engines even recover wings and fuselage and dope the calico? to tighten it. They became the sergeants and chiefys when the war started. At that point the trades were separated, into engines , airframes ,,etc, so that they could be trained quickly.
Just plucking up courage to start my next contribution Thought - Didn't mention the " Welcome to Darr school" given by the C.O. We had heard it all before but it went like this. I'm a strict disciplinarian, but you play ball with me, and I will play ball with you. It was referred to by the ranks as "you play ball with me , and I'll ram the bat up your b*tt*m, or words to that effect.
Just sharpening my pencil, to be ready for desription o my first trip in a Stearman.
Hello MTOW & others, I really think my writings are too verbose to be posted here, however would be delighted to e-mail them to you (and/or any other interested party); could you advise me of your address via the private message facility?
Pick was posted as squadron commander of 311 Czech squadron (Wellingtons) at East Wretham. 311 Squadron were not-fully operational, but as part of the ‘running-up’ process crews were sent on missions over Germany. Pickard became known as a hard task-master amongst the crews, often accompanying pilots on raids on Germany. A pilot accidentally ejecting his window shortly after take-off with Pickard as co-pilot, attempted to turn back for base, only to have ‘Pick’ point him in the direction of Berlin. Several hours later a hypothermic, but infinitely wiser Czech pilot found his way back to England. Language problems with the Czechs did not help matters either. Pickard decided to concentrate on those pilots with the most hours. An interpreter told him of one Czech named Joe with 2000 hours experience; Pickard turned his attention to him. After several trips the man was still strangely inept for a man with 2000 flying hours under his belt. Pickard probably felt a little silly when he finally learned that the individual was actually a navigator, with no piloting experience at all. Pick was not deterred, and trained him as a pilot anyway. Ironically, Joe married Pickard’s sister Hilary.
An old friend of mine, himself a brat who had made the transition to GD/P, often reminded me that "You can always tell a brat, but you can't tell him much".
There's an interesting account of how "The First Fiji Contingent to the RAF" got into WWII in the latest edition of "Intercom", the magazine of the Aircrew Association. It took them 18 months to get into the War, including boat and train travel from Fiji, through NZ, to Australia, to South Africa to EFTS at Salisbury (Harare), with wings at the end of it. After arriving in Liverpool, they became trained aircrew and were posted on to the war effort.
One of the group, DPF McCaig, wrote "From Fiji to the Balkan Skies".
--------------------------------- Point of order your honour. Not "were" but are, even if we are a bit older now days.
mea culpa or summat, and I apologise for killing off a fine bunch of engineers. Did you know that an ex Halton Brat, with only tin snips , schobert rivet guns , and was it alclad ? plus original Hallifax bomber blue prints, built a complete nose section from scratch. The work comprised, pilot, flight engineer navigator bomb aimers position . All radios, instruments hydraulics. electrics. and tail plane. Yes Hairy M , even an elsan chemical closet. It is now complete in the Yorkshire air museum, Elvington. It had been used as a chicken coop in Scotland, and arrived at Elivington with no wings tailplane or engines That brat still is, rather than was. I was speaking to him yesterday.He eventually qualilfied as a pilot (Rhodesian trained) Think there maybe a few videos left,of the complete build. could find out. It is called Halifax project.
However if you read a previous blog of mine you will see I said "to hell with past tense .present tense " etc get it down while there is still time. Sorry, folks if I got carried away, but they certainly were/are/is a fine bunch of blokes and deserve complements, for we would never have got any where without them. Cliff.
Many thanks for your service. And for telling your stories.
As has been related here, many from that generation are exceedingly reluctant to tell their tales. And far too many of those stories have disappeared forever with the passing of the storytellers.
Having interviewed numerous WWII veterans, British, Canadian, Australian, and American, most had never really talked about their experiences and their families were amazed what quiet, unassuming Dad or even white-haired Granddad had done in his younger days, both on and off duty.
As to 'no DFCs' or 'DFMs,' one gent I spoke with was an RCAF pilot who volunteered in 1941, but didn't finish OTU in Mosquitos until May 1, 1945 due to delays in training, waiting for transport, etc, etc.
Today I should be making a top for the bird table. However I am going to visit Mr Dux on the flight line, before I "get put on a fizzer" for being absent.
I am sure the day was fine, very hot, as it did remain for the first few months, with visibility forever.
Mr Dux arrived and introduced himself to about 4 or 5 of us, and then we proceeded to our PT 17. We looked at this massive biplane "don't laugh you jumbojet drivers" very few of us, although our average age would be about twenty, had ever done sixty miles an hour on a motorbike. He then went through . preflight checks, demonstrated the movement of the ailerons, rudder. and elevator. The location of the throttle, mixture control, joystick. rudder pedals, and instruments. The instruments were pretty basic , a compass, altimeter, air speed indicator, plus a turn and bank indicator. The turn and bank indicator consisted of a vertical needle which swung either left or right , the amount depending on the rate of turn, underneath which, was a glass tube, similar to a spirit level, but it was curved \_/ with a ball in the bottom. If the ball remained at the bottom of the curve it indicated the aircraft was flying level. In a turn, it indicated if the aircraft was side slipping. So when blind flying, or "under the hood" the cadet set the throttle, and airspeed. Any increase in speed indicated the aircraft was descending, and a decrease, climbing. Hence the expression from the instructor, when things went wrong . needle -ball -airspeed, needle=-ball- airspeed NEEDLE-BALL-AIRSPEED. Gyro compasses and artificial horizons were used at that time, but we were told that it was absolutely imperative that we should be able to blind fly, using only these instruments, in case every other aid had failed.
After our introduction to the aircraft, we had our first flight. First of all we had to go to stores to collect a parachute. I was asked what number I wanted, feeling capricious I asked for number thirteen. I was surprised it was virtually new and unused. After that I always asked for number 13 , whenever I had the choice.
From my log book -- Pilot Mr Dux, pupil cliffnemo, Taxying, straight and level, climbing, descending, 45 minutes. A nice gentle introduction, and beautiful views over the 101 ranch. I was also surprised to see many " "nodding donkeys" These were machines which pumped up oil, night and day. The area was very prosperous, at that time because of the oil fields, and was the home of the Continental Oil Co (CONOCO). This company was the major employer in the area.
The railway was pointed out with its large water tank with Ponca City written in large bold letters. The wide streets , running .N.S.E or W. , the Arkansas river , and some small towns such as Tonkawa. Guthrie. Enid. This was to be useful when we eventually solo'd. After this , according to my log book I went to the Link trainer for familiarization, with a Mr Reid. The Link trainer (GOOGLE R.A.F. in Oklahoma for a pic ) was of wooden construction ,enclosed, in the rough shape of an aeroplane with the standard controls and instruments, and responded to the joystick by tilting in the required direction. I ended the day feeling quite confident and elated, and that Mr Dux and I would get on well together. We were told that in the future, we would spend half a day on the flight line and half a day in the classrooms, studying , meteorology aerodynamics, navigation, gunnery , bombing etc, until we started night flying.
-------------------------- Do you really love me , or is it your first field dressing?
(If you don't understand it, I will tell you when you're 21