View Full Version : Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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12th Sep 2008, 13:53
Cliff, congratulations on mastering the computer at such an advanced age.

My Uncle was trained also in the Arnold Scheme (class 42A, the 1st course) in Albany, Georgia, somehow got washed out (a lot of the early course were) and resurfaced at No1 BFTS Terrell (course 3), ending up in 154 squadron flying Spitfires. in 1942.

I have been researching his RAF life and you would be amazed how many pilots (you must be a hardy lot) still are living. I have found 3 pilots that were on the same course as him one lives within 7 miles of me!

One of the pilots is now a close friend of mine and I have directed him to this forum to contribute, hopefully I can help him register later today.

He also has many log books and photographs, I hope you don't mind if he contributes?

Regards Andy

12th Sep 2008, 16:03
Many thanks for your support Andy. By all means encourage your friends to contribute. It seems there are quite a few on this forum who want to know what it was like when their fathers, grandfathers, and uncles, were "in". They possibly have read all the books , of the left,left , steady, bombs gone , type, and now want to read about the more mundane things, (I hope). I can readily understand this, as my father spent four years in France, during 1914/19, mentioned in dispatches. and that's all I know. Wish he had had computer.
When I have finished this, (if ever) I will cut and paste relevant items to a file to be added to my grandson's R.A.F memorabilia.

12th Sep 2008, 16:53
With reference to andy's1991 post above , comment, mastering the computer. I spent yesterday afternoon typing , more or less what appears below, saving every paragraph in M.S Word as I went along. Then copy, and into pprune. Then paste , nothing there, and nothing in word. Found some of it in Word pad. So Rewrite.as below..

In December ,we practiced all the previous exercises. Plus formation flying , night flying cross country, navigation, and pinpointing.

Formation flying, was first practiced flying dual, with instruction on flying line astern, echelon to port, echelon to starboard, and changing position.. We flew a few feet apart, watching our leader, and hoping he knew where he was going.. We later practiced this solo, and enjoyed it immensely .

Before night flying training , we were told that it took twenty minutes to obtain full night vision, and could be achieved by sitting in the dark, and that it took only seconds to destroy it, if suddenly exposed to a bright light. We flew dual initially. With the exception of the billets the airfield was completely blacked out (no lights) We had only the goose neck paraffin flares along the left hand side of the landing path. and the Christmas tree, previously mentioned After night flying dual, we were allowed to go solo. This was quite pleasant, as we could tune our aircraft radios to the local radio station, W.B.B.Z and listen to music, this was quite novel as even cars didn’t have radios in those days, and no local radio stations, in the U.K The only person on duty at night, was the airfield controller, who seemed completely bored. On landing the procedure was to call “Two nine five on the base leg. Wheels down, and locked. Pressure up. Gas on reserve, ready to land . Over.. The controller would reply “Land when clear, out” . I suppose this reply meant that if any thing went wrong, then it was the pilots fault. One night a cadet called out "Lucky Strike means fine tobacco, so round,so firm, so fully packed etc (a W.B.B.Z radio advert) , a tired voice replied "Land when clear") Some of our comedians , who had heard that an empty uncapped coke bottle would scream when dropped from an aircraft , took a few empties with them and dropped them on the local Japanese prisoner -of -war camp, at Tonkawa.

We also had our final navigation test in December, this consisted of flying two thousand miles in three legs. Ponca City to Waco Texas, Waco to , I think it was Galveston, but forget, certainly down to the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf back to Ponca. This took two days. But more about that later, my fingers are worn out.
Link training that month amounted to five hours, marked as armaments and nav course flying. But what this included in a Link, I haven’t the slightest idea.

If my fingers haven’t recovered soon, instead of writing I will sing you the following ribald irreverent mess songs, We are leaving Khartoum by the light of the moon/. -- Bless em all/.-- They scraped him off the tarmac like a lump of strawberry jam./ -- Take the joystick from out of my stomach--- ---and assemble the aircraft again.// Shire, Shire Somerset shire, the skipper looks one her with pride // When this blinking war is over (with explicit instructions to where the wing/co can stick his spitfire)/ Will not sing My name is mucky Lilly, There's a street in Cairo or Eskimo Nell. Wonder if these songs are still sung in the mess.
I might also recite "There's a one eyed yellow god to the North of Katmandu".

12th Sep 2008, 16:55
Cliff, I have helped one of the cadets with my Uncle called Reg to register (regle), he is a 25,000+ pilot with many stories, treat him well :0)

12th Sep 2008, 16:58
Cliff, my Grandfather was in the RAF in 1918, got an MBE and mentioned in despatches twice.

You can find a lot of information about him (your Father) I will try to give you some weblinks.

You can also find his personel papers and record at Kew.

Regards Andy

12th Sep 2008, 17:00
Remember to highlight the paragraphs in word to copy first, otherwise nothing will paste into the forum?


12th Sep 2008, 17:34
Hello Cliff, you are a fellow Liverpudlian. I was at the "Inny" (Liverpool Institute) circa 32/34 (Long before the Beatles were there) and lived in Wavertree. We went to Blackpool around '36 and I joined the RAF in '40 when I was 18. I was lucky enough to go to the USA with the very first of the Arnold scheme and was chased across the Atlantic by the Bismarck which was sunk by our only escort,the Rodney while we were still ploughing through the waves at 30 knots to the misery of all of us in the bows wishing that the Bismarck would catch us , so bad were the conditions. I won't go into my long career now but I was also at Darr Aero Tec (Albany Ga,) and graduated in jan '42. I flew from then almost without interruption until 1982 when I retired . Briefly my career was Class 42a U.S. ,OTU, Blenheims, 105 Sqdn. (First "Mossie Sqdn 2 group.,51 Sqdn ., 4 group Halifaxes ,1943/4 ,Bomber Command. Bomber Command Instructor's School, Doncaster. Instructing people how to be good Instructors !, Empire Flying School, Hullavington as a Tutor. demobbed to join BEA's short lived Check Flight at Aldernaston. Disbanded when Labour Government virtually banned all European travel. Went to Air India as an Instructor when they went International, Back to England with Flight Refuelling flying Lancastrians loaded with fuel on the Berlin Airlift. No Jobs when that packed up so freelanced (Thirty shillings an hour) at Croydon on Rapides, Gulls, Oxfords etc. Joined Shorts at Rochester teaching Naval Pilots how to fly on instruments (Two stage amber ) Windscreens with amber panels, pupils with blue glasses..result they saw black so had to fly on instruments. Instructor could see ,more or less, through amber panels.! Then in 1952 Sabena needed pilots. They had over 1500 applications as they did.nt want licences and I was one of the lucky thirty who were taken on and I flew thirty years with them on .practically all their aircraft from D.C.3's,Convairs to 707,s,DC10s and 747s. Over 50 types of aircraft and total 25,100 flying hours. Ther it is in a nut shell. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Reg

12th Sep 2008, 19:30
Tweaked and resized for you, Cliff:


Great picture!!

12th Sep 2008, 20:16
To say nothing about the Brylcreem. Well , we did have to use it or it would have spoiled our "hair does" when we put our flying helmets on (front first then pull down the back)

13th Sep 2008, 17:40
Many thanks Andy1991 for introducing Reg, will reply to him tomorrow, am hoping he tells us a few tales. What an outstanding career. With regard to the disappearing blog, I did highlight it. but in any case, if not, it should have remained saved in M.S word, when I could have made a second attempt. It had just disappeared , never to be seen again.

Think I had better describe the Arnold scheme next as it is frequently mentioned.

Thanks BEagle. Smashing picture of the Mosquito, and Jack.

14th Sep 2008, 17:47
Cor Blymy. Reg.
What a C.V. How about joining in the fun, you must have some very interesting tales to tell. You are more than welcome to join this happy band. I’m sure the others on this blog would be only too pleased to hear from you. As you will gather, there are quite a few “youngsters” who want to know what their relatives did in 1939/45 . You will find you get quite a buzz when you receive a reply., or a question..

I said I would describe the Arnold scheme, well this is as I remember it, Somewhere NEAR the truth. When the war started Roosevelt, the American president about that time wanted to help the British all he could , he was limited in what he could do. However, a scheme evolved, where R.A.F personnel were allowed to enter the U.S.A for training providing they wore civilian clothes on entering the states , remaining in civvies, and training at American airfields. When Pearl Harbour was bombed by the Japanese, America declared war on Germany and Japan the B.F.T.Ss where formed. This is as near as I can describe the Arnold scheme, perhaps the ppruners who trained there, would like to correct if necessary . Although they were prevented from exporting aircraft to other countries at war, before P. E . they built an airstrip on the Canada/U.S border, flew Harvards there, took the wings off, and wheeled them across the border, The wings arrived later, and the Canadians bolted them back on ready to train cadets under the Empire Air Training Scheme. Pilots trained under the Arnold scheme were awarded both American and R.A.F wings. Presumably because they trained under the American system, as distinct from the R.A.F system.
Well , that’s what we were told , I don’t know my F.F.I from my I.F.F. . Let’s see if any Arnold types add or correct.

P.S Some may not understand the reference to Brylcream. This was a very greasy hair dressing unlike today’s product, and was as commonplace as the walrus mustache . Aircrew were sometime referred to as the Brylcream boys, and some times as the intelligentsia, usually sarcastically.

14th Sep 2008, 18:07
Almost totally off the subject of the thread, (keep 'em coming, please Cliff), but touching vaguely on the Brylcreem subject: the Irish (or was it the Brits?) made an excellent WW2 movie ten years ago called "The Brylcreem Boys". Based (loosley, I suspect) on a true story about Brits and Germans interred in two halves of the same camp during WW2. Great story, with the added bonus of more than a flash of very decorative boob by the leading lady, (Jean Butler?) who was lead dancer in 'River Dance' for some time. A bit like Cliff's excellent stories, it tells of a sideline of the war that perhaps most of us wouldn't have known anything about. Here's the link: The Brylcreem Boys (1998) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115770/)

15th Sep 2008, 17:31
Then I'll begin. By thanking you, Cliff, for your welcoming words. I will try and live up to your generous comments. I had a long career but stress that Lady luck was my co-pilot all the way through.
We moved to Blackpool from Liverpool when I was 12 (1934) and my Father ran the Plaza Cinema whilst my Mother ran "Avalon", a 14 room Boarding House conveniently placed next to the Princess Cinema opposite the North Pier and Metropole Hotel. When war broke out I was seventeen and , even then, absolutely aeroplane crazy. I flew "Frog" and "Warneford" model aeroplanes , was a member of the first A.D.C.C. which was the forerunner of the ATC Air Training Corps and volunteered ( Later to learn the maxim of the services "Never volunteer for anything!) for training as a Pilot when I was 18 in May 1940. I went for an exceedingly nerve racking interview , which took place in London with an Air raid going on to which the very fierce looking Group Captain ,conducting the interview ,took not a blind bit of notice and did his utmost to persuade me that the RAF needed navigators, not pilots. I still don't know how I had the nerve to stand my ground but I told him that I would only consider training as a pilot. He burst out laughing and said "Well at least you know what you want" and wished me good luck .
I was actually called up for service as an A/C 2 (pilot u.t) but was told that there was no room at any of the primary schools and would have to serve "G.D." General Duties . This mocked the u.t. which stood for "under training". After all the usual kitting out and "jabs" (Cardington, where the enormous Airship hangar that had housed the famous R series still loomed over the station then posted to Bicester Oxfordshire where I was welcomed by the Station Warrant Officer with the news that I was in charge of the cleaning of the lavatories in the Sergeant's Mess. As I was also the only member of that squad it was a full time job. Bicester was, however , the place where I first flew. A kndly Sgt./Pilot named Hoggard befriended me when I was performing my duties in the Mess . On hearing that I was a u.t.pilot and from Blackpool , he said that he was flying to Squires Gate the next day and would I like to come along ? Would I !
Squires Gate was just north of Blackpool on the Lytham Rd. I was so naive that I did not even realise that I should get permission from the SWO but just presented myself at the Flight line next morning where my friend showed me how to put the parachute strapping on the right way round and took me out to my very first aeroplane. It was an Avro Tutor and ,to me, looked the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. It had ,just, escaped the first World War but I shall never forget the thrill that I got when we got airborne. I sat there for what seemed to be five minutes but was probably about two hours with headwinds all the way.
We landed at Squres Gate where my pal (by now we were on first name basis) told me to be back by four p.m. which gave me time to catch a tram outside the aerodrome and walk in to my startled Mother and Sister in the Avalon. I learned from my sister that my parents had had a row over me joining up so young. My Father defended me and ended up by joining up himself, he was just 39 in 1939. and was now on an Officer's Training course as a Signals Officer. Not only that but the Avalon had been commandeered by the RAF and my Mother had 35 airmen billetted on her ! She bitterly complained to the Office i.c billetting that it was not right that two defenceless women should have all these licentious airmen in such close proximity. To her surprise he agreed with her but was speechless when 40 WAAFS took their place, At least the airmen had done all the odd jobs that were around. I never complained !
On arrival back at Bicester after what was the finest day of my life up to then, I found that I was on a "fizzer". I was charged with absenting myself without leave and wheeled in front of a very understanding Flight Lt. pilot who could hardly stop laughing and was confined to camp for seven days and given the Officer's Mess lavatories to clean as a memento of the day. I have got your finger trouble now, Cliff ! They are aching so will sign off here and await results. And there's more....!

15th Sep 2008, 18:23
Cliff, please call me Andy.

From my research on the Arnold Scheme and the BFTS scheme, I don't think it was Pearl Harbour that kick-started the BFTS's.

I say that because BFTS1 started in 9 June 1941 along with BFTS2, Pearl Harbour was on Sunday Dec 7th 1941, incidentally I remember Reg telling me that he was at an American football match when it was announced.

What I think is more probable was that the Arnold Scheme (which I believe was USA Army) could not produce enough pilots, hence the BFTS's.

Also there was some resistance to the fallout at Arnold Scheme, the early classes were 45% "washed out", my Uncle was one of them. The BFTS schemes were run under more RAF environment and unlike The Arnold Scheme a cadet stayed at the same airfield to do his Primary, Basic and Advanced training instead of every 10 or 12 weeks moving to another town/airfield.

Cliff hope you don't mind me commenting?

Regards Andy

16th Sep 2008, 09:40


Back to lower case. Andy it's the comments that keep this going.

16th Sep 2008, 13:35
Cliff, Reg,

I have followed this thread from the start. Reading and re-reading your excellent memoirs has kept me entertained throughout my lunch hours at work, and will continue to do so.

This really is a cracking thread, keep it coming!:ok:



green granite
16th Sep 2008, 13:44
If you keep going like this, it'll need it's own forum. :ok:

Keep it up tis fascinating stuff.:D:D

16th Sep 2008, 15:05
Cliff, sorry to ask a Bomber, a Fighter question!

Looking at you notebook about gunsights, can you explain more fully about the 100mph and independent of the range notes. Can you explain more fully how you would sight up the "victim" and how you would allow for angles etc

Regards Andy

16th Sep 2008, 15:46
In my humble opinion Wiley, nothing so far has been off thread . All has been relevant to the sidelines of the war, as you put it. It might have been a better title. Also I have learned how to spell Brylcreem (Brylcream)

To Chugalug2 check your P.Ms. Do you want to mention B.C.H here ? It wouldn't be off thread.

16th Sep 2008, 22:42
Just before Xmas 1940 I was posted to Stratford upon Avon for "Square bashing" and more jabs. It was'nt too bad as we were billeted in the "Shakespeare Hotel" and, although we were six to a room that was normally occupied by two, it was warm and comfortable and we started to meet up with our own kind, fellow pilots u.t. and now entitled to the white "flash" in our forage caps that denoted that we were amongst the "elite" chosen to train as future pilots. I lost count of the time that we were marched by Anne Hathaway's cottage but it was still a grand feeling and was usually accompanied by the rendering of "Bless 'em all" sung to march time. We were getting pretty good at drill by now and it was wonderful news when we were given leave and told that we would be notified where to report for the vital Initial Training that was the six weeks ground course that had to be passed before proceeding with our flying training. I never got my leave because before the alloted day, about thirty of us were told that we had to report immediately for our course which was starting shortly in Aberystwyth, North Wales at No 6 I.T.W.
(Initial Training Wing).
The journey from Stratford to Wales was long and laborious. Train journeys in those days were always dotted with uncertainty as to when...and where ! ..your train was going to end. The carriages were packed and as everyone had a kitbag to lug, which could not be put up on the racks there was hardly room to breathe in the corridors let alone the compartments. The only lighting allowed was a very weak blue bulb in each compartment which made reading impossible and shed a weird light on the crammed airmen, soldiers, sailors, Waafs, Wrens and Th'ats as my fellow Lancastrians fondly called the girls of the ATS. To make the journey more difficult all the Station names had been removed from the platforms to make life more difficult for the expected Jerry invaders.
By now we had made some friends amongst the vastly assorted mass of would-be fliers and were hoping that we would not become separated.
When we eventually arrived in Aberystwyth around midnight in early January 1941, we were all surprised to find transport awaiting us and lots of very nice girls handing out steaming mugs of cocoa and tea.
A lot of us ,who were told that we were to be called "B" Flight ,were billeted in "The Marine Hotel" and once again, we were pleasantly surprised at the good accommodation that was awaiting. We were between six to ten to a room depending on the size of it. We soon found out that the food was good and rationing did not seem to have hit that part of Wales because eggs and bacon were on the menu at least twice a week. The Marine Hotel was right on the promenade and we were out there by seven thirty every morning after breakfast for P.T. and ...yes..Drill. from 9a.m. we were in the requisitioned classrooms of the local schools and were straight in to the courses of Navigation, Meteorology, Radio (Morse code and minimum of eight words a minute to pass.), There must have been more subjects but the course lasted six gruelling weeks and around 75% of the class of B Flight passed with the requisite percentage . I think that it was around 80% but am not certain. Navigation was the stinker especially if, like myself, Maths was not your strongest subject. The end of the course soon came although it lasted the regulation six weeks. Then came the anti-climax. We were told that ,due to the very severe winter , the Primary Flying Schools were way behind so we were sent home on two weeks leave. By now we at the beginning of March and it was not until the end of April that we were sent home on what we were told was embarkation leave for an unknown destination where we would receive our Flying courses.
I cannot actually grumble because we were all promoted to L.A.C.s (Leading Aircraftsmen) and were paid the princely sum of six shillings and sixpence per day with all our meals and accommodation paid for. When I tell you that our daily programme for nearly eight weeks was the usual breakfast at 0730, Roll Call and P.T. unti 10a.m. and then we were dismissed for the rest of the day and we would pour in to Aber and have another huge breakfast of eggs bacon and chips for 10pence. 12 pence to a shilling, twenty shillings to a pound and you could buy a lot of braekfasts with 6s.and 6p. a day. Ask Grandad to translate how much that was ! There was a huge mountain (or so it seemed to us ) at the end of the promenade and a variaation on the usual PT was to run up and down Heart Attack Hill, as we called or even worse names. A lot of very healthy eighteen to twentyone year old
young men were then let loose on Aberystwyth. It was not too bad because London College for Girls had been evacuated to Aber so there were plenty of dances and other "pursuits "to pass the time . On those very fond memories I will leave you for now... Oh yes. One thing still sticks in my mind. We were given extensive Medical and Dental care, all the time we were at Aber. The Dentist was quite an old man.. at least thirty something and I can remember him saying to me "I am too old to fly but the least thing I can do is to see that your teeth last you all of your life. In those days nobody lived to the ridiculous ages of today but he didn't make a bad promise to me at least. I think that I had most of mine until about seventy , which was the expected span...Threescore years and ten... I wish...but that's another tale.

17th Sep 2008, 09:37
Jolly good show Reg. Wizard.
Brought back happy memories of my first leave. Twelve hours standing in the corridor, Torquay to Anlaby, Hull.

Herewith picture of your Frog aeroplane. I had one pre war, think it cost seventeen shillings, and sixpence. Every boy's dream.

So Long.

17th Sep 2008, 13:06
Goodness, Cliff, I never realised that the Frog was so expensive. That was a lot of money in 1930,s . Did you buy the little bottle of banana oil to lubricate the elastic ? I think that cost 1s/6d at a time when pocket money was around 6d per week if you were lucky. By the way I have been told that Heart Attack Hill is commonly known in Aber as Constitution Hill and also (from a lady who fondly remembers the RAF,
that it was London University for Women, not College. She remembers it well like ,Maurice Chevalier. All the best. Like MacArthur, "I shall be back". Reg

17th Sep 2008, 14:57
Andy, the one hundred M.P.H gun sight allowed a pilot to calculate the amount of deflection to apply. That is calculated by the pilot, rather than estimated
using knowledge of the enemy aircraft's angle off, percentage of speed due to this angle, or if it is climbing or diving. The angle/fraction of enemy speed to allow had to be memorized i.e at 90 degrees allow full enemy speed. at 45 degrees 3/4 of enemy speed (eight angles in total) As an example at 90" , with a crossing aircraft in the gun sight full enemy speed would be allowed for at 300 M.P.H , resulting in the pilot aiming three rings in front of the enemy. We were taught not to open fire until within 250 yds (about 220 mtrs ?) The range bars had to be set before action on information from the controller, as to which type of enemy aircraft to expect, but we were taught that a 40 foot aircraft would fill the gun sight at 200 yards.

This is the best I can do Andy, as it was sixty years ago, and I am trying to condense hours of study into a few words, but I can assure you it required a lot of mental work, and calculation, and I haven't mentioned , gravity drop. allowance for side slip error, line error, and bullet trail. We practiced all these exercises in A.T. 6s using cameras. All good fun diving and attacking each other with cameras over the 101 ranch, but never "used in anger"

17th Sep 2008, 18:40

To Chugalug2 check your P.Ms. Do you want to mention B.C.H here ? It wouldn't be off thread.

Your word is my command Cliff! :ok:
BCH stands for Bomber Command Heritage. Their site can be seen at:
Our Journey Together - Bomber Command Heritage Website (http://www.bc-heritage.org/)
Their aim is to secure the intact Tech Site at RAF Bicester in order to establish a heritage centre there dedicated to RAF Bomber Command and in particular the Bombing Campaign 1939 to 1945. It is further hoped that a National Memorial bearing the names of those who died in that Campaign be erected there, easily accessible at this site on the edge of the town which is in turn served by the M40 Motorway and the London-Birmingham Railway. There is a thread dedicated to RAF Bicester's preservation at:
There is also a sticky thread on the Aviation History and Nostalgia Forum at:

Thanks for the plug, Cliff. May I in turn once again say how enjoyable and informative your posts are, and now joined by those from regle! Power to your respective elbows gentlemen, not to mention your long suffering fingers. Please keep it coming, Stop, Don't Stop, Over and Out!

17th Sep 2008, 19:07
Eventually towards the end of March we were taken to a school hall in Aberystwyth and told that we were to consider ourselves no longer as members of the RAF. We were in absolute consternation but we were told that we were being sent to an unnamed neutral country who could not accept us in uniform as we would be considered as "Belligerents". Furthermore no questions could be asked as they did not have the answers but all would be revealed later. You can imagine our state of mind as we were lined up and given twenty pounds each to purchase civilian clothing "suitable for a hot climate". We were told that we would have two weeks embarkation leave and advised to purchase our clothing as soon as possible as sailing date could be changed at any time. We were issued railway warrants and told to report to Wilmslow, near Manchester and would be notified of the date whilst on leave.
Of course speculation amongst ourselves with the majority guessing, correctly as it turned out, that we were bound for the U.S.A. so off we went with much to think and talk about.
I had made sure that I said a fond farewell to the delights of Blackpool and they were genuine as I had a wonderful boyhood and early adolescence in that terrific place so I kissed the Tower Ballroom and the Winter Gardens goodbye and went with much mind searching as to the future to Central Station and caught the train to Manchester.
At Wilmslow we were reunited with our fellow LAC's and hundreds more besides. Our congestures as to our ultimate destination were increased when we were issued with the most awful, heavy, grey flannel double breasted suits that you have ever seen . To cap these bizarre suits we were issued with old fashioned pith helmet topees, complete with ear pockets for securing radio ear pieces whilst flying. They had obviously lain in some storehouse since the twenties when they would have been issued to the intrepid pilots flying "Wapiti's" and aeroplanes of that ilk.
With these in our kitbags, which must have weighed 25kgs. we struggled on foot to the station where the train was waiting for our long journey up to Glasgow.
I have already described the train journeys during wartime and this was no better but one very cold morning in early May 1941 we pulled in to the dock station at Greenock. There was a huge ship waiting there but no name on it. On boarding we soon found out that it was the White Star liner "The Britannic" As an eight year old or thereabouts I had gone, with my parents, to the Pier Head in Liverpool to watch the "Britannic" depart on it's maiden voyage. I little knew that eight years later I, with four hundred other pilots u/t and a complement of well over 2000 Air Force, Army ,Navy and other personnel on board would be setting out on her to start the biggest adventure of my life.

diesel addict
18th Sep 2008, 13:12
The FROG Mk. IV was introduced in late 1932 at 10/6d. By Christmas 1937 it was down to 5/-. To put that in perspective, in 1937 a labourer would have been paid a basic 30/- per week !!!

Sources -
FROG Model Aircraft 1932-1976 ISBN 0-904586-63-6
My angling pal Ernie (aged 87 - farm boy who joined the Army in 1938)

Best wishes to all you survivors - and my undying gratitude.

18th Sep 2008, 13:29
Cliff, Reg wants you to know that he is struggling with the website, he entered the last story then said quote "several things flashed up" and threw him off, he had not finished the story.
I am going to try and teach him how to make the story in word, then cut and paste into the forum which is the way I think that you do it?
I was also going to start to link some pictures of Reg's USA training, is that OK?

Regards Andy

PS thanks for the description of the gun-sight, when I spoke to Reg today he said that they (in 42A, 1941) were not taught this, so you must have been in a later class and had a more sophisticated training!
Certainly by your description I can see why there are Ace's who must have been natural mental calculators. I seem to remember that only 2% of the fighter pilots were Ace's (5 or more kills) and a lot of pilots got through the war without seeing an enemy aircraft (after the Battle of Britain)

18th Sep 2008, 15:28
Sorry Diesel addict, you are right After I had posted it I realized I really meant 7/6 seven shillings and sixpence , but hadn't got round to correcting it.Think it would be about 1937 when I was a proud owner.

18th Sep 2008, 16:18
Hi Cliff, this is a bad photo I took from Reg's photobook (I asked him if I could download it for him), it shows the salubrious luxury that the RAF cadets had leaving for the USA in (I guess) May 1941, didn't look as though there was much space?

Perhaps Reg can comment, that is if his computer isn't playing up?

Regards Andy

18th Sep 2008, 16:30

18th Sep 2008, 19:17
Fascinating. Is that Wills Woodbine smoke I see in the foreground? :):)

19th Sep 2008, 11:17
Andy, You don’ need permission from me, If the moderator accepts it, and it is about W.W 2, then “publish and be damned”.

Yes it is better to use Word , initially. Save every paragraph, then copy/paste. Think you will have found that the U.R.L appears on your screen and that your picture does not appear. Have to click on preview to see pic. Encourage Reg all you can, a second opinion is always a good thing, and will help to correct my many mistakes. Bear in mind though he would be at least a year ahead of me.

Would it help if Reg saved his contribution in word, and then you copied it to C.D, or memory stick , copied it, took it home to your computer, and then submitted it ? You could also load his photos ? maybe.

Brakedwell, They must have been Woodbines (2d for 10 ???). If they were Sweet Caporal, they would have all collapsed.


19th Sep 2008, 15:45
I don't think that Woodbines were allowed in the Navy. After all they are the "Senior Service" . Actually that photo showed us all watching the traditional Ship's Concert and must have been later on as the first part of the voyage was very dramatic.
We sailed around the 22nd. of May and, to the ship's crew's amazement , had the Battleship HMS Rodney and four destroyers as escort, and no other ship in the Convoy. The size of the convoy was amazing but the cargo was precious. All the machinery for setting up the U.S.A.'s training of British pilots under the "Arnold scheme", after it's founder General "Hap" Arnold, was on board and we, numbering around five hundred, were the forerunners of this scheme which would, eventually, train 6,000 pilots for the RAF. One of the very interesting passengers that we met was Richard Hillary, the terribly disfigured fighter pilot who was one of the heroes of the Battle of Britain. He took great interest in us and we listened, fascinated, to his accounts of the "Dog fighting" and tales of that battle. He was one of the first patients of the famous Dr. Archibald McIndoe, at the Hospital at East Grinstead who had done so much for the terrible cases such as Richard Hillary, but we had some very mixed feeling, as we listened to him , as to our very near future.
We were about two or three days out when we were dismayed to see that the Rodney and three of the Destroyers were leaving us and as one left, it signalled us. Most of us were pretty good at Aldis by now and easily read the signal which read "Bismarck out. Knows your position, make full speed. Good luck." Full speed on the "Britannic" was around 28 knots and the Atlantic was no mill pond. There were some of us, especially those of us in the crowded quarters of the bow and stern who would not have complained if the "Bismarck" had caught up with us. Then we heard of the dreadful loss of the "Hood" with only a handful of survivors and the terrific news that our escort, the Rodney" had finished off the "Bismarck" after she had been crippled by the gallant old "Stringbags" as the Fairey Swordfish, torpedo carrying, biplanes were fondly named. We docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia, after eight days at sea and marched, gladly off the ship, straight on to a waiting train , complete with "Cowcatchers" just like the movies. We were to stay on that train for two days and finally pulled in around midnight at the end of May 1941 to a platform which displayed the huge sign "Manning Pool. Toronto". .........Enough for today.

19th Sep 2008, 16:52
And managed to delete the photopgraph so here it is along with some new ones. (Reg what do you want me to do about the photographs of you and the "Georgia Peaches)?

Now we start the train journey


Just so the Germans in the USA did not know what was happening!


Not to be tried on British Rail


As these are Reg's pictures, only he can explain what is going on (like what was the flag being waved?)

Here is a picture of all class 42A in Toronto, from here they split up and took a train to various Arnold Schools, Reg went to Albany GA, incidentally so did my Uncle, hence Reg and I meeting.


19th Sep 2008, 17:01
There will be a prize for anyone that can spot Reg in the above picture.

Cliff, I have to do things remorely with Reg as I live Nr Bournemouth and he lives "Near The End of the World" in Kent.

I forgot to add a photograph of my Late Uncle Vernon who was with Reg in Albany on the same course (isn't that remarkable?) well at least Primary training, before he was "washed out" re-appeared in No1 BFTS Texas, he was shot down and killed in North Africa on 30th March 1943. Having flown Spitfires operationally from about July 1942, so he beat the odds lasting 9 months! He was 20 yrs old.


23rd Sep 2008, 19:09
Sorry,Cliff, for the absence but I have, and am still having, trouble with this pernicious plaything. I will do my best...
We disembarked wearily from the train on which we had spent long hours and were confronted by the huge figure of a man with the rank of F/Sgt.R.C.A.F. "Get fell in, you horrible lot." he screamed. "Back to the Bull.... " we thought. We formed into a sweating,humid,weary,grey flanneled blob of humanityand were told "Forward 'H'arch ." We marched forward into a large hall where tables were groaning with all the foods that we had forgotten existed. Steaks, chops, eggs, hamburgers, bacon, butter...Everything was there and all served by the welcoming, smiling, friendly and pretty faces of scores of ladies of Toronto who were there to make us welcome. The F/Sgt's face broke into a thousand cracks and wrinkles which was the nearest he could get to a smile. From then on, as we were the first large numbers of RAF who had come to Toronto since the outbreak of war, we were virtually given the freedom of the lovely City. We were issued with RAF Uniform for our stay and the sight of that uniform was sufficient to open the doors of Cinemas, Restaraunts, Drug Stores (Where I sampled my very first "Banana Split ), Pubs, Cafes. It was impossible to pay for anything.
One day, a friend and I decided to hitchhike to Niagra Falls. A car pulled up, the driver, a middleaged man asked where we wanted to go and,on learning, told us to get in. He returned home where his wife and two very pretty daughters made up a huge picnic and we all drove the very long distance to Niagara to see the wonderful Falls.
Another terrific evening was when we were all invited to a dance where the great Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong was playing. . No one danced but we all stood in the front of the orchestra and swayed and cheered and applauded. Just like the movies ! It all had to end, of course and after two marvellous weeks ,it was back to those horrible grey suits and we "entrained" for the long journey to our destination, Albany, Georgia, The USA.........to be continued, soon I hope, and I do hope that you will forgive any errors of dates etc. but it was nearly seventy years ago and I , foolishly, never kept a diary.

24th Sep 2008, 10:58
Reg Don't worry about it, take it easy, but keep em coming when you can. How about a bit of encouragement for Reg, folks?

Has Chugalug asked you for permission to copy your contributions for use by Bomber Command M<useum ? I hope so.

Just half way through my next contribution.

24th Sep 2008, 11:54
The answer is not yet, Cliff. I was going to let him get into his stride before hand, but at the pace you guys set it is a job to keep up with you!:). So PM on its way Reg. As an explanation to others I am involved with "Bomber Command Heritage", a group that amongst other things wishes to archive, for research purposes, aural and written evidence of the survivors such as Cliff and Reg of the Bomber Offensive 1939-45. The "other things" include the preservation of RAF Bicester, a pre-war ADGB bomber base and later home to 13 OTU of Bomber Command. It has miraculously survived intact with its grass airfield and in its wartime condition. It is hoped that it can become the site of a National Bomber Command Heritage Centre and the National Bomber Command Memorial, but hopefully more of that to come on another thread eventually.

24th Sep 2008, 15:36

I'm not sure if Reg knows about PM's You might want to email him as I know that he would want to share his experiences for future reading.

Reg has written a book (that is not published) I have read it and it's marvelous even though I'm a fighter addict! He also has quite a remarkable intact photo collection which is quite rare nowadays.

Does anyone know an ex-RAF pilot that doesn't have a good story? :0) I don't.

One thing though, shouldn't this Thread be in the Historic section of the forum?

24th Sep 2008, 15:52
Thanks for that andy. I don't wish to hassle and especially not to distract Reg from posting here so will leave it at that for the moment. As regards the appropriate forum for his story, can I only say with all my heart that it is here! Phil, Reg and their colleagues were Military Aircrew, and it is on this forum that they can inter-relate with other Military Aircrew both ex- and serving. With all due respect to the History and Nostalgia Forum, the incidence of such posters there is much lower. The Bomber Command Memorial thread, though now a sticky, has languished there since being moved from here for similar reasons. All this of course is for our esteemed Mods to direct and we must respect their decisions, but I for one fully support them in having this thread based right here!

24th Sep 2008, 16:01
Can't agree more Chugalug.

24th Sep 2008, 17:36
As you might have read ,my first RAF posting was to Bicester and I took to the air for the very first time from it's grass field. It is there that ,a bit like Admiral Joseph Porter from "HMS Pinafore", I polished up the lavatries (sic) so carefully that soon I was the leader of the.. no not the Queen's Navee, but I didn't do too badly. Bicester was 13 OTU with Blenheim 1's (Short nose) and 1V's (Long nose) and I have very fond memories of Ramsey, the lovely little village with , I think, The Red Lion, our favourite watering place. It also has an excellent Golf Course nearby and is where I used to play with the 51 Sqdn. Association against the serving 51 Sqdn team in the happier days when I could walk a golf course which, alas, is beyond me now. Those were the days, my friend....Reg

Tyres O'Flaherty
24th Sep 2008, 17:46

There isn't a village called ''Ramsey''. the nearest village with a Red lion (still ) is Stratton Audley.

It is close to the station.

Thanks for the stories, does give me a flavour of my grandfathers time back then and much appreciated for that

24th Sep 2008, 17:47
By the way, I forgot to tell you that the first picture was us aboard the "Britannic" watching the ship's concert, the next one is the train and the tall figure standing on the step was Alec O........ , a great chap and graduated, with me in 1/42 but was killed in action 08/42. He was from saffron Walden. That is me in the flying helmet topee and dreadful grey suit touching the floral flag. Finally, standing on the cowcatcher, second from the right is Ted N.... whom I met later when he was a Captain in BEA. I think that is JIm A.... standing next to his left. Reg

24th Sep 2008, 17:53
Reg, glad that my mention of Bicester brought the memories flooding back. With your intimate knowledge of the loos there you might be interested in this thread:
The Tech Site is fenced off and boarded up, but substantially the same as when you were there. It is the hope that it may be saved as is, restored, and then dedicated to telling the story of Bomber Command and the Bomber Offensive, ie your story, Phil's, and some 120,000 other aircrew. Can't say you'll find too many posts concerned with the ablutions at RAF Bicester, but feel free to add to the sum of human knowledge on that by adding to the thread! Seriously, great that you remember 13 OTU and its Blenheims. Hardly a sinecure posting though as some 8,000 of BC's aircrew died in training alone.

24th Sep 2008, 18:25
You are quite right, Tyre. I had confused Bicester with 17 OTU at Upwood, close to Ramsey, and that is where I flew Blenheims and played Golf. See what happens when you don't keep a diary (and grow old). By the way ,Cliff, my memoirs are already with an Air Commodore, who is also a member of the Heritage and I, gladly, gave him permission to give them to the Museum. Thank your correspondent for the very nice thought.

25th Sep 2008, 11:34
REG , more photos please, you must have plenty of photographs of interest.

Before I start , I suggest you obtain a print out of all, or just your contributions. Just click on thread tools, second orange line down, then click on printable version . You will save on paper and ink, using this method, and I am sure your relatives would appreciate a copy.
ANDY, I think your Uncle , in the photograph is wearing American helmet and goggles,, so must have been at an Arnold flying school when the pic was taken. Amazing we could smile in those days, and whistle the latest tune as we walked along.

I have received a very nice P.M from an aviator who wishes to remain anonymous , who’s father was the pilot of a Stirling , K.I.A in 1943. He also sent a very interesting book of verse written by his father whilst still flying. Hope to append one below.

My last effort described the 100 M.P.H gun sight, so will try and stick to flying training, for a while. In December, we had a “check ride” with the chief instructor, and a two thousand mile navigation "exam" Two cadets in each aircraft, taking turns in navigating, and flying, Before taking off my instructor asked me to watch the other student carefully, as my instructor didn’t have much confidence in him telling me to “ put him right” if necessary. ( but more about that later) On take off I felt I was flying in the wrong direction, so checked my compass for deviation. This was easy, as I have said before, all the roads ran N.S.E or West. I found the compass was way out. As I had haddd previous lessons in deviation and the deviascope in civvy street I knew how to adjust compasses , but adjustment would have ;been difficult while flying, and frowned upon by the management, so I decided to make a deviation table. I flew North and then South, noting the two amounts of deviation, and ditto East and West, then made a deviation table on my knee pad. I must have been somewhere near as we hit Waco O.K.. A few of us arrived at the same time and stacked up waiting for permission to land on the Army Air Corp field . When we were given permission to land, my oppo was piloting , and unfortunately decided to land down wind. On the base leg I was wondering what to do, after my past decision never to interfere with another pilot ( see ground loop , with Hardy) a loud voice screamed in our earphones. “all American airplanes clear the field, there’s a bunch of God damn limeys landing every which way”. In their mess that night we were royally entertained, but the banter never ceased. With the benefit of hindsight (which is a very exact science ) I realized I should have warned him, but he had signed the form 700 ?.. I would think the telephone lines to Ponca were red hot, but we heard nothing further.

On our next leg, It may have been to Corpus Christie, can’t remember but it was an airfield on the Gulf of Mexico quite a few A.T 6s landed about the same time It was dark but the airfield was lit up like Piccadilly Circus , the airfield controller instructed the first pilot landing (we were all landing without wing landing lights) to switch on his wing landing lights, which he did. We had never landed before using landing lights ,and for some reason this created problems for us. The first pilot had to adopt the over shoot procedure ,as did the second and third. We eventually called the tower and asked for all lights to be extinguished, except the runway lights. After some argument lights were extinguished, and we all landed safely, they thought we were all mad. (no comments please) I can remember seeing the twin towns of Dallas and Fort Worth.,and think we may also have landed at Albuquerque, but nothing else. We returned to Ponca O.K , with no one getting lost, no prangs, in fact nothing to laugh at all.
Below is a poem written by the aforementioned Stirling bomber pilot, written shortly before he was K.I.A. I cannot make this bigger despite scanning numerous times. Max size in scanner, max size in Picasa. max size in Photobucket, then on transfer to pprune we have a small pic.(Clifford must try harder).
On my computer (M.S Vista) I can increase print size by punching Control and plus sign repeatedly . Note reference to goose necks in Night Take-off. They were sometimes referred to as paraffin flares, and resembled an Aladins lamp. Will study Photobucket further when I have recovered.


25th Sep 2008, 12:11
Cliff, the photos of Reg are posted by me because I took some (shaky) shots from my camera on a visit to Reg, next time I visit Reg I will see if we can scan them.

Reg says that I can post them, even the ones of the "Georgia Peaches"! So as Reg adds to his story I will post more pictures.

The picture of my Uncle was in PeeTee magazine the cadets magazine at Darr Aero in Albany, the magazine came out after successful passing of Primary training. Somehow after that Vernon "washed out" along with over 40% of that class. So you were right it is USA gear.

Reg carried on to another field and in those early days continued to Basic and advanced training. However unlike BFTS's they moved each time, so the early classes were really pioneers.

If I remember correctly Reg was one of the 1st three cadets to solo, in celebration of that one of my favourite pictures of Reg in a PT17:-

Also Reg seems to be the official photographer, what a job?

I think that the above was taken in an RAF "watering hole" maybe Reg can advise us?

Now 1st 3 solos, REg is there somewhere

More to come but I have to work now.


25th Sep 2008, 16:53
The Georgia Peaches were at Radium Springs, a nearby swimming pool and more. As well as being the magnet for all the would be pilots and the lovely peaches, it had the coldest water that I can ever remember anywhere in the world, no doubt, done deliberately to cool our ardour !
The three first solo's were l. to r. Wally H......, my roomate and best friend, Alec, 'Ossie O......., From Saffron Walden and ,then, myself.
I am off to Belgium for some treatment in hospital (Old age Waterworks) and don't know when I shall be back so, till then....keep them coming. I enjoy the obvious camaderie of this forum. Reg.

25th Sep 2008, 17:24
Good luck regle, and enjoy flirting with the nurses!

26th Sep 2008, 11:36
Good luck Reg.
I am emailing an "Excused boots chit"

26th Sep 2008, 12:03
I have managed to increase the size of this poem by specifying max size in scanner, picasa, photo bucket, and then correct size in pprune. Fingers crossed


27th Sep 2008, 17:03
I have just found this photograph of the airman's quarters at R.A.F Moncton. It shows typical accommodation during the war. At the top of the bed will be seen the "bed pack" which had to be made up neatly each morning, ready for inspection. and not removed until just before lights out. In the U.K single iron beds were used and not bunk beds. White sheets were only standard issue for aircrew, and officers.

27th Sep 2008, 18:47
Cliff, pretty good looking accommodation?

I wouldn't want to stay in one of those beds for a 2 week holiday though!

Reg called me from Belgium this morning to announce that he's been given the OK and going to spend the weekend with his relatives before returning home next week. Thought you would like to know.

Regards Andy

29th Sep 2008, 17:40
Hope this is new readable A poem mentioned above, by a Stirling pilot K.I.A

henry crun
29th Sep 2008, 22:23
cliffnemo: Have you seen this poem before ? it is in the book "Lie in the Dark and Listen" by Wing Commander Ken Rees with Karen Arrandale.

"Lie in the Dark and Listen."

Lie in the dark and listen,
It's clear tonight so they're flying high,
Hundreds of them, thousands perhaps,
Riding the icy, moonlight sky,
Men, materials, bombs and maps,
Altimeters and guns and charts,
Coffee, sandwiches, fleece-lined boots
Bones and muscles and minds and hearts
English saplings with English roots
Deep in the earth they've left below,
Lie in the dark and let them go
Lie in the dark and listen.

Lie in the dark and listen
They're going over in waves and waves
High above villages, hills and streams
Country churches and little graves
And little citizens' worried dreams.
Very soon they'll have reached the sea
And far below them will lie the bays
And coves and sands where they used to be
Taken for summer holidays.
Lie in the dark and let them go
Lie in the dark and listen.

Lie in the dark and listen.
City magnates and steel contractors.
Factory workers and politicians
Soft hysterical little actors
Ballet dancers, "Reserved" musicians,
Safe in your warm civilian beds.

Count your profits and count your sheep
Life is flying above your heads
Just turn over and try to sleep.
Lie in the dark and let them go
Theirs is a debt you'll forever owe
Lie in the dark and listen.

Noel Coward

30th Sep 2008, 11:57

HENRY, No I haven’t read it before. What can I say ? Very descriptive, excellent, emotive, nostalgic ? There are probably a few old codgers reading that poem who were affected like me with mind wandering at the end of each line of the poem. To be facetious , as usual. The line commencing Coffee reminded me of “ "Instructions to Lancaster crews, action to be taken when hydraulic oil is lost. - The crew will empty the contents of their flasks into the header tank, then urinate into the flasks , and pour into header tank” Never did find out why the F.E couldn’t load a spare can of hydraulic oil.

Churches, bays coves , and sands.? Hemswell,- Lincoln Cathedral.- Skegness ?

And oft when on my couch I lie, in vacant or in pensive mood, they flash upon that inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude.

Blimey , I am now thinking about Wordsworth, and Grasmere, then playing round the top of Helvelyn in a tiger moth. I had better get down to earth, and compose my next effort.

30th Sep 2008, 20:20
I had better get down to earth, and compose my next effort.
Dead right, Cliff, enough of this poetry. Get weaving.

1st Oct 2008, 13:46
It is good to be back and thank you all for your good wishes, especially my good friend, Andy, for keeping you "au courant". So where were we...
After two wonderful weeks in Toronto we entrained for the two day journey to Albany, Georgia. Reluctantly we discarded our RAF uniforms and it was back to the grey suits and the pith helmets ( only we didn't quite pronounce it like it was written).
Albany was a very small Southern town and, in 1942, still very much part of the Confederate States who had seceded from the Union. We quickly learned that anyone from the Northern States was still referred to as "Damyankee" and that was all one word. The accent was quite different from any that we had previously encountered and completely charmed us. We had the luxury of a communal lounge/mess and the phone would ring , one of us would answer and it would often be a girl's voice ..."Are y'all a British boooy ? Would y'all just tolk ?" They would not believe us when we told them that it was they who had the accent, not us.
We learned how to fly and we learned the hard way. General Arnold, when he proposed the scheme that bears his name, had made it quite clear that we would follow the very tough itinerary prescribed for the U.S. Army Air Corps, as the U.S. Air Force was then known, and that standards would, in no way, be relaxed despite the crying need for pilots in the U.K. We got the full peacetime training comprising two hundred hours on three different types of aircraft at a time when some unlucky people were going straight on to Hurricanes and Spitfires with some twenty hours on Tiger Moths in their log books! I have forgotten the times that I have said that I am still here today because of that training (and a lot... I mean a LOT of luck) and I am eternally grateful for it.
Of the five hundred, or so, cadets who started training in the Southeast Training Center (as it was called and spelled),only one hundred and twenty of the class of 42A (The US College system i;e the first class to graduate in 1942) were awarded the coveted silver wings. Many of those who were "washed out" , sometimes for the most trivial "disciplinary reasons" were sent up to Canada where, often, their training was continued or changed to another category i;e Bomb Aimer, Navigator etc. and were flying operationally in England long before we returned.
The school, Darr Aero Tech., was run by civilian Instructors, Flying and Ground School. There were two or three US Army Officers as Check Pilots and one US Army,very West Point Officer responsible for the whole unit. Discipline was maintained by the Class ahead of us 41F. They were all Americans and were used to the West Point "Honour System" which consisted or reporting anyone who committed one of the many misdemeanours possible to the 41F Discipline committee. This included reporting yourself. There was a trio of the Class of 41F who used to go to the lounge after hours to practice "Barbershop" singing and then report themselved to the Committee !
We, as the first class of British "Caydets" had this Class of 41F over us to administer the discipline and the "hazing" that is part and parcel of American College life. At meals an Upperclassman would tell the unfortunate Lowerclassman (us!) "Take a square meal, Mister" and the poor underdog would have to bring the food to his mouth and insert it at right angles throughout the
meal while sitting on the obligatory front six inches of his chair which is all that we were allowed to use whilst we were Lowerclassmen. Room inspection , always carried out by the Uppers (I will use this in future to save my finger, n.b. singular !) . This involved the running of white silk gloves over cupboards, beds and floor..the lot. One speck of dust and a "gig" (demerit) would result. A nickel (5c) would be thrown on your stretched out blanket and it had to "ripple". The turnover of the sheet had to measure exactly six and a half inches and this was measured carefully. So many gigs and our only free time away from the camp (We were not allowed off the Camp except Saturday from noon until Sunday at 1800 hrs.) was curtailed by hours of marching in full uniform (Hastily supplied ny the U.S after one look at us all paraded in our grey flannel suits). As the temperature was always around thirty degrees C with 110% humidity,you can imagine the spirit of unrest that was running through the entire course, especially amongst the several "remustered" Sergeants and Corporals, some of them hardbitten veterans of the bombing of Biggin Hill and other targets of the Blitz. Some of their replies to the Upper were "Get stuffed" "Belt up" and those are the printable ones. Those who survived, and many did not, did not see much of Albany during the six weeks of being the Lowerclass. The "Special Relationship" wore a bit thin at times and the R.A.F liaison Officer, Flt/Lt. Hill, who visited us frequently had his work cut out to persuade us to grin and bear it for the sake of Britain's desperate need. There was a patriotic song at that time. It started off "Off we go, into the wild blue yonder.. "and finished "Nothing will stop the Army Air Corps." Whereupon the whole of us "Lowers" would come in en masse "Except the weather" with the "Except" being long drawn out. There was sometimes quite a lot of blood spilt after such an evening with the Uppers.

1st Oct 2008, 15:11
Here are some more of Reg's pictures to go along with his story:-

1st Oct 2008, 19:15
I am pretty sure that the man, second in line in the first picture of the unfortunate Brirish Cadets "walking" their "gigs" , at the weekend instead of being allowed off camp, is the husband of the girl who was the model for the famous "Jane" of "the Daily Mirror". His initials L-P (Double barreled name). He was a very nice chap who would never talk about Jane. The last picture was of the notorious Upperclass men American 41F marching at Cochran Field, Macon, GA. The other marchers were the first of the British 42A .Look for the Union Jack right background. Regle

1st Oct 2008, 21:25
I would like to thank you all for doing the effort of typing all your stories and posting them here on the board. I really enjoy reading them and i hope you will keep posting them.

It is also very nice to read that in WO II Moncton was a place where you trained, the airfield has a very large history. It is especially nice that people are still getting trained there. I just got back from 2 months of flying lessons in moncton. I guess the airfield changed a lot since then but still.

Can someone maybe explain how there solo went in those days. Today, i think all the planes are quiet strong and will not collapse that easy especially when someone going for his first solo has a very hard "positive" touchdown. Did many accidents happen in those days?

Thanks for all your stories!!

2nd Oct 2008, 09:47
OK I'm only a young whippa snatcher but I believe that Moncton was only a temporary halt or collecting camp on the way to Toronto, which was a distribution centre. I don't think there was any flying there for the RAF. In fact I remember reading somewhere that Moncton was not open in time for the first batch of cadets, is that right Reg? It probably would have been open for Reg on the way home?

Also the pupils would have soloed (or not) in a Boeing Stearman, I have spoken to many pilots from the USA courses and I have never heard a criticism of one of these aircraft yet. They are built like British S*** Houses! And I am sure that they could and would take serious abuse, even in those days, any cadet comments on this?

Here I am on a Red Letter Day in Old Buck, does it look fragile to anyone?

Stearmans in Darr Aero Albany GA ( Photo by Reg)


2nd Oct 2008, 11:20
You are absolutely correct, Andy. Moncton was not ready when I landed in Canada on the 30th. May 1941. The" Britannic " landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax, incidentally , was the scene of one of the worst incidents of the first World War. In April 1917 a vessel, carrying explosives, was rammed in the harbour. It blew up and killed 1,800 people, injured 20,000 others and completely destroyed the northern part of the city.
Moncton was not yet in use so we were sent to the main "Manning Pool" at Toronto. On our return to the U.K. after completing our training we left the U.S.A. on a train journey ,that took us five days, to the receiving centre at Moncton. New Brunswick. There was no R.A.F Air field there, to my knowledge. I do not remember the exact date that we sailed (From Moncton actually) but the voyage took 10 days on an old Nederlands tramp steamer that had been torpedoed already , cut in half and stuck together with a new bow or stern. I do not know which. The S.S. Vollendam, as she was named, was escorted by two destroyers and two days out ,we were up on deck ,and one of the destroyers blew up and sank in minutes with no survivors, that we could see. We continued and reached Greenock early Feb. 1942.
In reply to our very welcome Nederlands friend (Take a tip. People from Holland do not like the adjective "Dutch" for obvious reasons). Holland, Netherlands or Nederlands is much better) Is that true "Justifier"?
The Stearman was and is one of the sturdiest aircraft ever made although I would'nt agree to Andy's likeness to a British latrine. It had to be when you think of the millions of heavy landings, most of which were more reasonably classed as "arrivals" that the aircraft made during it's long career. I read your letter with interest, Justifier. I know Holland quite well and used to play cricket there and,at Rotterdam, saw Holland beat a very good Australian team that included most of their Internationals, one of which was a very fast bowler, Neil Hawke. I was very badly shot up when attacking the German Fighter base at Leeuwarden just off the Friesian Islands in 1942. I was flying a Mosquito of the very first Mosquito Squadron 105 ,daylight, unarmed bomber version of 2 Group
Bomber Command. carrying 4x 500lb. bombs with a 9 sec. delay to enable us to get away before the bombs exploded. I was plastered by the light flak,the complete front of the nose was shot away, my port engine set on fire, my instrument panel disappeared, I was wounded in my left thigh (although I did'nt feel a thing until later on, and my Observer,Les Hogan, was hit, but not badly ,in the chest. We got the fire out and managed to get out over the North Sea... All this at about 100 feet. My feet were sticking out in the slipstream and I did'nt have flying boots on ,only ordinary boots. I will tell you the whole story ,later on,.... of how we got back only for the other engine to give out over Marham, our base in Norfolk . I'll give you a clue. We both survived ! Tot Siens ,Justifier or is it Tot Straaks ? Regle

2nd Oct 2008, 17:38
JUSTIFIER . As far as we were concerned Moncton was just a transit camp, and I cannot remember an airfield. A pic of one of the buildings taken on our return journey is above. On my first solo, I was very apprehensive waiting for the test, but on pushing the throttle wide open , immediately became confident, almost exuberant. I later realized this was due to not having a critic strapped in to the front cockpit.

I found the Tiger Moth and the P.T17 ( A.K.A Boeing Stearman) sturdy enough to stand fairly rough handling, but bear in mind we carried out three point landings, rather than wheel them in., so most times they stalled out and sank gently onto the ground. I saw many “arrivals” but no bent undercarts.



About December we had snow, pic below, but this did not affect our training, as we did not experience wing icing, possibly due to low humidity, and the fact that we didn’t need to fly too high to perform our exercises. We could also apply carburettor heating, and so prevent carburettor icing. The American version of the Irvin jacket together with our four thickness white silk inner gloves and leather gauntlets kept us warm. The enclosed cockpit of the A.T.6 made a big difference to our comfort , particularly when side slipping. The billets and crew room were very warm as the gas for the central heating came from local oil fields at very low cost. In fact it was just taken for granted, and when the billets became to warm, cadets regulated the heat by opening the windows.

Flying exercises continued, all as before plus air to air two plane gunnery practice, air to ground gunnery , all good fun. Formation flying check ride with a Mr Schellennerger. ,. Two 2 ½ hour trips navigational course flying. Precautionary landings , whatever they may be. Solo night flying navigation exercises.

On the Link trainer we had instruction on Standard Beam Approach , and Descent through Cloud procedure. Later log book was stamped Advanced Syllabus Exam passed..

Classroom lessons included lectures on reconnaissance , on conducting a square search (This consists of flying to the point where it is estimated a plane is down in the drink, and then flying N.S.E and W in ever increasing squares until found. ).and navigation, rhumb lines .great circles, phew.

On a lighter note, one of the cadets found that , when night flying , and returning early in the morning that if he glided in to land the propeller would “fine out”. When he was over the billets and he opened the throttle wide, a loud scream would result until the propeller “coarsened out” . When he arrived back at the billets, a reception committee of wide awake cadets, was waiting for him, he didn’t do it again.

2nd Oct 2008, 20:41
andyl999, Haha no you are completely right. The Boeing Stearman looks more sturdy than some cessna that students fly around in those days.

Regle, Nice to know that a Dutch ship transported people there, because the general input of the Dutch was not that big, in comparison to the other countries that fought in the war.

As you can see I used the word Dutch twice in the last piece of text. You told that Dutch people didn't liked the word Dutch. I have never heard of this but I can guess that people who lived in the war were not to pleased with this expression because the word for germans in Dutch is "Duitser" and this looks very much like Dutch. But nowadays i think nobody is offended anymore by that because for most people the war was a long time ago.

Nice to know that you have been to the Netherlands, also after the war. Sorry to hear you got badly hurt during your bombing run to leeuwarden.

Also another quick question. Where there many "missions" during the day because I can imagine that flying during the day was much more dangerous than flying at night?

Actually nowadays Airfield Leeuwarden is just on of the two airfields in the netherlands at which the F-16 Squadrons are located.

Your story sounds like very good flying skills or just very good luck but please continue your story because i am curious how you eventually landed the plane.

And you can use both Tot straks and Tot ziens as they both mean roughly the same.

Cliffnemo, haha, it is nice to read about your experience with your first solo because it was exactly the same when I did my first solo. No but you did you first solo when you had about 9/10 flying hours. When i look at my logbook I had 16 hours when I went solo and I think nowadays people go solo around 12/14 hours. So i was curious if you were confident enough to go solo already with 9 hours.

If have also a small question about the three point landings, why didn't your land on the main gear first and eventually sink onto the tailwheel. Was there a special reason for it or is it just to prevent the airplane from flipping over?

And thank you all three for the replies.

Groeten, (regle, do you know what this means?)

2nd Oct 2008, 22:59
Greetings, I think that we were all taught to make three point landings as a matter of pride but I agree that two wheeled landings were much safer but required less skill and took up far more of the runway or grass.
I soloed on June 28th.1941 after 8hrs50 minutes and was the third in the class of 42A to do so . At that time you were expected to solo around ten hours and would probably have to be checked if you had not soloed after twelve . "Wheelers" came in with the advent of tricycle undercarriages but the 747 was landed just like a three point landing with the nose high in the air and then you have to "land "the nosewheel gently to avoid damaging it with heavy contact with the runway. One of my very good friends in the class of 42A, Ted Headington, on his first solo was about five or six hundred feet high on the approach when he was caught by a heat thermal and was turned over on his back. He managed to complete the "roll" and landed perfectly. His Instructor was watching , as they all did when their pupils went solo, nearly fainted and called him all the name under the sun for doing aerobatics on the approach and told him that he would be severely punished for the offence ! I don't think that they ever believed his story of the thermals but they were quite common . Because of the heat, flying always began before 7.30 in the morning, and we rarely flew in the afternoon until we had got more hours Best regards Reg

3rd Oct 2008, 15:12
Apologies for intruding, but a little more info on the SS Volendam: She WAS torpedoed in 1940 (and some reports that she was also torpedoed a second time). She must have been a sturdy (and lucky ship).
s.s. Volendam 15.534 grt., 1922 Built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast. 1940-1945: in charter by Ministry of War Transport, London, Sept 1940: torpedoed (whilst carrying 321 British children to Canada) and grounded, raised and refurbished into troopship, 1951: laid up at Rotterdam, 1952: scrapped at Hendrik Ido Ambacht.
Sorry, but thought it might help!!

3rd Oct 2008, 15:41
No need to apologise, Icare9. That is not an intrusion but is a very interesting, to me at least, piece of information. It is the first time that I have had any news of the previous torpedoing of the old "Volendam" and I am as old as the ship, as I was born the same year as she was launched, 1922. Glad to hear that it was not just a bit of "lineshooting" by one of the crew. On reflection I think that he was Dutch. Once again "Lady Luck" rode with me having escaped the menace of the "Bismarck" on our outward journey and seen half our escort torpedoed on the return. I think that you, too, Cliff Nemo, know the charms of that " Lady ", having survived for the same length of time. Best regards, Regle.

3rd Oct 2008, 19:58

I am pretty sure that the man, second in line in the first picture of the unfortunate Brirish Cadets "walking" their "gigs" , at the weekend instead of being allowed off camp, is the husband of the girl who was the model for the famous "Jane" of "the Daily Mirror". His initials L-P (Double barreled name). He was a very nice chap who would never talk about Jane.

Chrystabel Leighton-Porter was the model for "Jane" the wartime Daily Mirror cartoon heroine. Chrystabel died in 2000 and her husband Arthur, presumably the second in line in your photo, after training flew over 100 wartime sorties in Typhoons. Arthur died in 2002.

A Google search on "Chrystabel Leighton-Porter" will reveal more - no pun intended!

3rd Oct 2008, 22:20
Thank you for that news of Arthur. I met him after the war at an Arnold reunion but I did not know of his terrific War record. The Arnold scheme produced some fine pilots including a Chief of Air Staff and a V.C. As I have mentioned, the training was the finest possible and was worth the comparatively small price that we had to pay for having to undergo the indignity of the "Hazing" from the Upper Class throughout the courses.
I met one or two of them in England later when they came over with the Eighth Air Force and it was amazing how different they had become.
They were no longer young College boys but then I suppose that we were no longer the same either. Reg.

4th Oct 2008, 13:54
Regle: A little more for you. The only RN destroyer I located that was lost in Jan '42 was HMS Matabele (Tribal class a la Cossack) which in company with HMS Somali escorted convoy PQ-8 and was torpedoed and sunk in 2 minutes on 17 Jan by U454 off Kola Inlet (69 deg 21 N; 35 deg 27 E) with loss of her complement of 190 men. Now, get on with your stories!!! :D

5th Oct 2008, 14:35
Not sure if that is the right convoy as it was going to Murmansk, maybe the RAF ship joined for part of the trip?



5th Oct 2008, 15:56
Andy, hmmm, just goes to show I should have taken longer to cross check. HMS Belmont was sunk on 31st Jan with loss of all crew whilst escorting Convoy NA2 by U82. The sub was sunk a week later by HMS Rochester and Tamarisk. Now back to the real action!!! Apologies, Cliff and Regle!!

Al R
5th Oct 2008, 16:22
Great thread and well worth a long browse, thank you.

5th Oct 2008, 19:41
In compensation for the really tough course was the hospitality we received during our precious few hours of freedom. The citizens of Albany took us to their hearts and the Deep South lived up to the reputation of "Southern Hospitality. To this day I have the warm memory of lush, warm evenings, the croaking of the bullfrogs, the incessant chirping of the crickets , the scent of magnolia and the soft creaking of rocking chairs on Southern porches to remind me of the adolescence that I spent there.
Our day began at 5a.m. with "calisthenics", then the room had to be left spotless. We were billeted two to a room with our own bathroom and shower. Fabulous luxury compared with our previous RAF billets. The school introduced us to a new word "Dietician". "Miz" Tickner gave us the most fabulous meals I can ever remember eating in my whole life. We were served by the all black serving staff who rapidly became our slaves when they saw that we were treating them with courtesy and refrained from calling them the ubiquitous "Boy" employed by the other class. We were bronzed, fit and ready for all that the school could throw at us.
The Commanding Officer was a US Army Air Corps Major Knight; he wore the straight brimmed hat that all West Pointers wore and we nicknamed him the "Boy Scout". He had absolutely no sense of humour at all, never even began to understand either us or our very British sense of humour and despaired of us ever winning the war. Flying training always took place in the early morning before the relentless sun could bake the Georgia clay landing surface so hard that you would float on and on when landing , cushioned by the warm air rising off the ground.
Our first aircraft was a very, sturdy big biplane called the Stearman PT17 (PT stood for Primary Trainer). Right from the start we were denied the luxury of an Airspeed Indicator, Altimeter or Artificial Horizon. We were taught to fly by "The seat of your pants." You quickly learned to judge your speed by the sound of the airstream whistling through the struts and wires that held the wings together and estimated your height by the change in the size of the dwindling figures and trees beneath you.
My Instructor was a very small man, the size of a jockey, who had come to the school, Darr Aero Tech, straight from Hollywood where he had been a stunt pilot featuring in such films as "Hell's Angels" and "Dawn Patrol". He was called Gunn and rejoiced in the nickname of Kinky. Although we had all passed our ground training at I,T.W.s mainly in seaside towns such as Aberystwyth, Babbacombe , Newquay and Torquay, few, if any of us, had even been near an aeroplane, let alone fly one. Kinky Gunn's initiation for his trio of pupils was to take us up, one by one, and throw that Stearman all over the sky until we had completely lost our orientation.... and some of us our breakfast. After that the real teaching began. It started by learning some basic rules which I have never forgotten through my forty years of flying. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots but there are no old, bold pilots. Even with permission to line up I could never forget to turn my head to look at the approach to check if there was someone coming in to land. We had no radio at all at Darr, just a man who gave you a green or red light. He was human and, so, fallible.
One of Kinky's favourite tricks was to "buzz the"out of bounds") red light district of Albany (called "Ragsville" for your interest ). "That'll shake the Who..s out of their beds" he would yell over the slipstream, as the wheels would scrape the roof. He must have been a good teacher, though, as we three were amongst the first to solo after seven to eight hours of dual. I had made what I thought was a rather bumpy landing when the figure in the cockpit in front of me disappeared and there was Kinky standing on the wing. "OK Reg" he said giving it the hard G that all Americans used. "Take her up and give me a real nice landing" and he was gone. I suspect that his heart was beating as loudly as mine. With the now lighter, aircraft I was airborne before I knew it. It was the 28th. June 1941 and I was nineteen and forty days old. The thrill of that first time of being alone in an aeroplane and Master of it, albeit a very timid and quivering Master, remains with me to this day, sixty seven years and twenty five thousand flying hours later. I hope that this brings back memories to some of you and enjoyment to Y'awl. Reg.

9th Oct 2008, 16:16
Checking my note books I noticed one headed Course 108 2 Sqdn C Flt 14/11/ 42. This means I was then at I.T.W Torquay at that time, so must have attended the recruiting office about Jan 1942 , and I am now describing flying training at Ponca City in January 1944. Two years gone and still no brevet,, and we haven’t even seen a Spitfire. Bear in mind, my friend who visited the recruiting office with me had been K.I.A on Beaufighters by the time I left Torquay.
However in January , final exams were then due. Most of the flying assessment had been done , with a few washouts. Only written and oral exams to come. These were conducted in a classroom with the usual invidulating officer , and time limits. Test paper subjects were on meteorology , navigation , aerodynamics, gunnery , aircraft recognition, bomb aiming, engines, radio , Morse code, in fact everything we had been taught in the last six months, and previously at A.C.RC and I.T.W We were a mixed bag, university students , private school students, and council school students. There were no class barriers, and we mixed freely with no problems. The university types did generally better in the written exam, but it came as a surprise that the top cadet was from a Bradford council school , and the only one to fail was a university air squadron type. It was a bigger surprise however when he was allowed to re-sit the exams, which he passed. The reason given for the retest , which was unheard of , was that the cadet’s commission had already come through from the U.K At that time it was usual for all ex university air squadron types to receive a commission, regardless of results, and the rest only received a commission if they were top of the heap”.
Flying that month included all the usual exercises but mainly the accent was on aerobatics, gunnery, and formation flying.

After the written exams a few of us decided to to celebrate . We hitched to a dance hall on the shores of Kaw Lake ( Johnny cash fans will have heard the song about the red Indian Kaw Liga). As Oklahoma was a dry state, no alcohol was served. The American cadets decided that one of us should go to the local bootlegger, and buy a bottle or two. I lost after tossing coins, and was instructed to hitch into town and buy bottles of rum and coke from the local bootlegger. It was something like “knock three times on the house with the green door, and say Spike sent me “ which I did. I was quite surprised to see that only a few dozen bottles were in sight. When I asked the bootlegger if that was all he had , he said no, he had a shed full in the back yard, but the police raided once a month removed the contents from the house, after which he restocked for a further month . Evidently every one was happy with this arrangement. I returned to Kaw Lake and the procedure was to put the rum under the table and the Coke bottle on the table , pour the coke into a glass, and when no one was looking put a tot of rum into the coke . This arrangement went well until Bill D**** (ex Mosquitoes) and I went to the toilets and returned to carry on drinking. Sometime later Bill whispered “I’m going outside” got up and walked towards the dance floor, where there was a one foot drop ( 30.5 cm ?) Bill tripped and fell flat on his face. A large elderly lady nearby got up and muttering “he’s p***d, lifted ;Bill up and carried him outside. I decided to follow to make sure he was O.K, but not make the same mistake that he did. It was not to be, I made the same mistake and fell , but picked my self up and with all the dignity I could muster walked out to find Bill asleep between two cars in the car park. I decided to follow suit, the next thing all I remember is waking up in my bed. Evidently the American cadets had laced our drinks with the rum. The next day I was flying, but poor old Bill “reported sick” as every time he had a drink of water he felt “inebriated” again. The M.O took him off flying for three days.
Many years later he managed to locate me and visited me at my home. The first thing I did was to offer im a drink , which he refused , saying he had never touched spirits since that day.

Below should appear a copy of my notes relating to "the computer" which was non electronic. and which I may have previously mentioned. It was strapped to one knee, could be used to plot track , wind , drift, variation , deviation . supply a course to steer,and E.T.A. It also had a circular slide rule , and worked on the principle of adding and subtracting logarithms.

I hope to continue soon with our wings parade when a Group Captain Donaldson flew in , in Mustang.



9th Oct 2008, 16:56

It's now the Kaw Indian Nation Casino. US gambling laws haven't changed a whole lot in the past 60 years, and it's a lot easier to get a licence to build a casino on the reservation than it is to build one on County land. Booze laws have gotten a little better, but you still can't buy alcohol on a Sunday in either Kansas or Oklahoma.

Sorry for the thread drift.


9th Oct 2008, 22:00
Cliff, you must have been a little time after me in the USA but I take my hat off to your memory and to your technical knowledge. I must have been on two BAT courses and taught SBA to dozens of ,mainly Naval, pilots (As a civilian at Rochester using two stage amber) but I could not put it down in writing or even remember how. It must be that Liverpool air which I have not breathed for so many years. Anyway "Felicitations" on your explicit diagrams and instructions.
I have just picked up a book fron the library called "Night & Day Bomber Offensive" . It is mainly US oriented but contains many terrific photos and, interestingly , tells the tale, in the side columns, almost like another book, of the same training that we had but of an American in the class of 43E. As an explanation of the "Hazing system " I will just quote his entry of the 14th. Sept 1942. "Meals are a terror. A lower classman sits in a stiff brace with his stomach touching the table, his head back, his eyes on one point on the table and the end of his backbone on the edge of his chair. The sadistic upperclassmen see to it that this position is not relaxed. If anything is to be passed the man has to say "Sir, does anyone want the bread ? Pass the bread, Sir."
The only answers a new cadet can give are "Yes Sir,"No Sir," and "No excuse ,Sir." Seven "gigs" (Demerits) constitute a "tour". A tour means a 50 minute march with a rifle on the shoulder and a cartridge belt. ( The greater part of this training was given in the Southeastern States where the temperatures were always high with huge humidity .My comment ) This ,performed from Saturday midday until evening, normally part of our limited free off camp time . Thirty five tours during the lower class period of each course ,and accumulative, will automatically bust a boy out of the cadets. This happens only in cases where the fellow is a chronic dummy or has a bad temper. (Descriptive of a lot of aircrew, particularly Officers that I met . My comment, Reg ). The average cadet receives about seven tours during his lower class period."
Interesting ! In retrospect I am full of admiration for the numerous remustered Sergeants and Corporals who put up with this and just ignored it and went ahead with their training.
I should like to hear the comments of anyone for or against this type of procedure which, possibly had it's beginnings in our earlier Public Schools, but was refined--if that is the term-- by the US Army at West Point.

12th Oct 2008, 16:18
This is a picture of the navigational computer used at that time by pilots of single seat aircraft, or those without a navigator. Used for calculating E.T.A and course to steer. The circular slide rule is on the top when closed, and on the underside of the lid is the pad for writing down results.


14th Oct 2008, 15:14
By February we had completed all our exams, and check rides, and informed that a wings parade was to be held.When the great day arrived we "fell in three thick" in front of the hangars, with the American cadets parents, who had traveled vast distances to be present, suitably seated. Harvey's family had traveled from Iowa, a round trip of about 1400 miles to be present. Other families
traveling much further.

As we waited, we heard the sound of an aircraft approaching, which instead of landing flew at full throttle immediately in front of us at almost ground level. The aircraft, which was a Mustang proceeded to complete four slow rolls, turn round, land, and taxy so that it was only a few feet from us. Out stepped an R.A.F officer who if I remember correctly was a Group Captain Donaldson, and removed his flying helmet, then putting on his service hat.
Each cadet was called to the front, and presented with his wings, by "Groupy". I was amused when I heard one of the American parents say "Gee that's a mighty fine airplane" However it was said to be, by some, as the best fighter of W.W 2 after it was fitted with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine.

The following day, I was informed I was two hours short of the necessary two hundred, and to take an A.T.6 up for two hours. I spent the two hours performing aerobatics, probably the most enjoyable two hours I ever spent in an aircraft.

Every one was elated, we now knew it all ( we thought) and no need to study,thrust, drag, lift, isobatic changes , adiabatic changes, the stars, morse lapse rates, temperature inversion, but little did we know.

Bill on left, Hardy with two wings, cliffnemo on right, and Hardy's family behind.

A cadet being presented with his wings. Possibly a University air squadron cadet as he has a white flash on his shoulder which possibly signifies he has received a commision.

15th Oct 2008, 17:37
Cliff, that white flash is the RAF Albatross and is worn by all ranks but not Officers (I am not sure about them when they are in battledress.) I must admit that I don't remember seeing one quite so white but that is what it is, Reg.

17th Oct 2008, 16:11
The tales of our adventures and misadventures were related in our luxurious lounge over the ubiquitous cokes. All flying schools in the US were dry but that didn't seem to bother us as there were very few drinkers amongst us. We would just gather in the lounge and chatter after we had completed the homework from the extremely thorough ground course that we were given every afternoon after the morning's flying.
As our confidence grew and we became more proficient we were introduced to the thrill of aerobatics. Loops, Lazy eights, Immelmanns ( a half roll at the top of a loop to bring the aircraft flying straight in the opposite direction to the commencement of the loop) and the dreaded spins, which I hated although I was quite competent in all the required skills. Even in those early days I had the feeling that I would like to fly big aeroplanes with lots and lots of engines.
One of our chaps, Ted Headington, later, tragically killed at Advanced Flying school,was sent for his first solo and his Instructor, as was the custom , was standing in the centre of the field, watching his pupil. As Ted was approaching, he encountered a strong thermal current which turned him on his back at about five hundred feet. Ted continued the "roll" and made a perfect landing to find his Instructor apoplectic with rage at Ted's disregard for safety and performing aerobatics at a very low altitiude and gave him enough "gigs" to keep him at Darr for the rest of his time there.
Like all American Colleges, Darr Aero Tech. encouraged their pupils to produce a Class Magazine. Ours was called "PEE TEE" and a position on it's editorial staff carried the privilege of being allowed into Albany, occasionally, to liaise with the printers and to solicit advertising from the only too willing shopkeepers etc. who loaded us with samples of their goods including a very nice record player. I was already a very keen writer and photographer and I was appointed one of the Editors. The magazine boasted the usual glamour photograph of each course member with a brief biography which makes interesting and, sometimes, embarrassing reading today. I still have the original copy of the magazine which I sent home to England and, despite the war ,arrived safely together with it's 1941 postmark and 6 cents postage stamp!
The photographs were reminiscent of the Hollywood films of that era. Cloth flying helmets with goggles worn on the forehead (Only when you had soloed ) and skilfully retouched. Not that we had many wrinkles at that age.
Our sorties into Albany always took us to the only Hotel, The Gordon,
which had a downstairs lounge with a bar and small dance floor. We called it the Clubroom. Mint Juleps were the fashionable drink but some of us, a very few, as we were not heavy drinkers were introduced to the notorious Zombie (file://\\Zombie)....only one to a customer. For your interest I append the recipe at the end of this article. Coke was the favourite drink although we had never tasted one before going to a few miles from where it was invented.
There was a piano and one of our cadets, Cockney Joe Payne ,constantly amazed us all and the very admiring Americans around with his tremendous , professional rendering of "Honky Tonk Train Blues."
The Drug Store on the corner was another American institution that we grew to love and Lee's was our favourite. The pretty daughter of the Lee family that owned the store was the main attraction but she broke our hearts by marrying our popular Aerodynamics Instructor "CsubL" Clark, so called for his love of the phrase when trying to explain to us the equation for the co-efficient of lift. We were introduced to Banana Splits, the like of which I have never tasted since, and in the little restaurant next door we were served "Sizzling T-Bone Steaks" that really did sizzle as they were served on an iron platter at the special price of $2 to British Cadets. $2.50 to everyone else.
Radium Springs, nearby was our favourite swimming and dating place with it's weekly "Georgia Peach" Competition. It was also noted for the iciest water that I have ever encountered including Alaska.
We were by now, Upperclassmen ourselves to the new all British class of 42B, but we were not able to bring ourselves to treat them as we had been treated by the Americans and after a few half hearted ( and derisively greeted) efforts we gave up and settled down to completing our Primary training and proceeding to the next six weeks of... Basic.
Recipe for Zombie Cocktail; 1oz. Heavy Rum, 2oz.Puerto Rican or Cuban Rum,1oz. White rum, 2tsp Apricot Brandy, 3/4oz.Pineapple juice,
3/4oz.Papaya juice, juice of 1 lime and some fine sugar. Shake well in cracked ice, pour into tall glass, float a dash of heavy rum on top. On a toothpick ,spike 1 green cherry, piece pineapple, 1 red cherry. Decorate with sprig of mint, sprinkle with fine sugar... Be ready to catch recipient.

17th Oct 2008, 17:58
Reg I must try a Zombie!

But thank you for leading me onto one of your photos


Reg is on the right and the Peach is in the middle (sorry Reg)


You must have soled as the goggles are on the forehead?

18th Oct 2008, 11:21
You are absolutely right Reg ( Regle), it is an Albatross, but when I scanned the photo it appeared as something white on his shoulder. After scanning , enhancing and increasing the size it appears as an albatross in the post. Unfortunately I didn’t look at the photo after posting.

But are we right in calling it an albatross ? I call it an albatross, you call it an albatross, my Halton apprentice oppo called it an albatross in 1938, and every one called it an albatross during the war. However I bought two flashes on E-Bay , and the vendor told me in no uncertain terms that it was an eagle. He said that when the R.A.F decided to produce the flash they sent an artist to the Museum to sketch one, he couldn’t find one so sketched an eagle. I Googled this and read an article about the Australian R.A.F doing the same thing ! Now, many people are claiming this is an eagle. I will try to produce below a scan of one, and hope that some ornithologist, or historian , will put us all right. At the same time I will endeavour to show the unpadded wings with Kings crown I received in Ponca City.

Mirror image of wings. Think I printed on negative setting

Think Taffy ( mid upper gunner) has albatross/eagle on shoulder of battledress.

18th Oct 2008, 21:23
Thank you, Andy, for the photos. I have not the faintest recollection of the girl's name on the photo taken at Radium Springs but I know that the chap on the left was John Henry. I know that he got his wings and came from Yorkshire. Yes I had just soloed and that is one of my favourite pictures as I thought that the good old Staerman came out well.!

19th Oct 2008, 10:17
Sorry cliffnemo but as any ex-brat knows it is not an albatross but a shitehawk!!!

green granite
19th Oct 2008, 21:34
I have just finished reading this book which, if you are not aware of it, would greatly interest some of you

The Royal Air Force in Texas: Training British Pilots in Terrell During World War II

By Tom Killebrew

It's available from that well know river place.

20th Oct 2008, 21:30
Green Granite, that indeed is a good book but it refers to only BFTS1 Terrell in Texas. Which incidentally my Uncle was transferred to from The Arnold Scheme (which was the scheme that Reg learned to fly in) Nemo I think was Pensecola?

If you want I can suggest Arnold Scheme books and also further BTFS books?

Regards Andy

22nd Oct 2008, 09:48
If you want some interesting reading on the RAF training schemes try:-

The RAF in Arizona: Falcon Field, 1941-1945 ISBN-10: 0971912718

(about 4 BFTS) This has the best set of pictures and is more pictorial than the other books, which are:-

Wings over Georgia ISBN 0-907579-11-6 this is about the Arnold Scheme

RAF Wings Over Florida ISBN 1-55753-203-6 about 5 BFTS

Also worth a read (although the aurthor continues the book into his career) An Evil Boy ISBN 0-9548778-0-2

Finally if you can work out an Internet TV viewer there is a mini film on Mesa Channell 11 worth watching:-
Mesa Channel 11 - Broadcast Schedule (http://www.mesachannel11.com/schedule.php?id=287123)

Hope that helps?


green granite
22nd Oct 2008, 09:57
Thanks for that Andy I'll watch that film when I can sort me and their schedule to coincide. Must explore the library list for the books as well. :ok:

22nd Oct 2008, 15:51
Andy - Managed to log on to Mesa and stream some music. Noted that the first B.F.T.S program is on Tuesday 28/10/08 at 10 P.m. Would this be 6 A.M Wednesday 29th?

22nd Oct 2008, 16:27
How could I forget:-

The Arnold Scheme
( by Gilbert S. Guinn ) ISBN: 9781596290426

It's very complete but a "hard" read, I can only read a few pages at a time!

cockney steve
22nd Oct 2008, 22:03
Gentlemen, I just wish to thank you all for your fascinating reminiscences.
The minutiae if your times is what brings them to life....the many "throwaway " comments that must hide another good yarn...the massive difference between US and UK training (did you survive because of the superior training, or was it just luck,was it cost-effective to spend that long training a pilot that comprehensively for such a short "working life"

I had the honour of working for Wing Commander E.J.Milne, DFC, when I maintained his motorcars. I only became aware of his DFC,by accident.
A very self-effacing gentleman, he claimed his decoration was due to cowardice...I couldn't let that go,so over a "brew" I made him spill the beans.
Eric was a Recce pilot, latterly flying Mustangs, no armament but FAST....so, Eric, having decided that the war wouldn't finish "tomorrow" would fly to his alloted target, do a photo-run and hightail it.

If, subsequently, the pics were not up to scratch, he would repeat the exercise after about three weeks had elapsed...his theory being that the jerries had nodded off again, He claimed that the concientious guys took a second run if the first was questionable,-but that had woken the defence who proceeded to reinforce the statistical chance of 1 1/2 missions for a recce pilot!
Eric lived in a large house and grounds on the side of Wharmton (father was a mill-owner) and apparently would announce his safe homecoming by howling down the valley and pulling up over Wharmton!

After numerous complaints, this activity was apparently curtailed.
(according to locals who witnessed these "flypasts"

RIP Eric, a true gentleman.

Please keep writing, the people who were there are passing and the memories are going with them.

My own father was in the merchant navy, WW1....was blind,but never found out the "whats and whys" apart from a terse "gunflash".

Thank you for the memories you're sharing.

23rd Oct 2008, 17:02
February the 5th 1944 and we now had our wings. We now had no need to worry about anything , but say our goodbyes and prepare for leaving Ponca City. But that only entailed putting our mug, knife, fork, spoon, flannel, tooth brush, hair brush, and Brilcreme in our small packs, load our kit bags, and wait for transport to the station.. So think I will now pause and try to work out how long it had taken to “Obtain a pilots brevet in W.W 2.”

Visited recruiting office and accepted as suitable for pilot U/T. About December 1941.
Visited R.A.F Padgate for exams and tests . About January 1942.
Informed I had passed the exams but to await release from the Ministry of Labour as I was in a “reserved occupation”
About March /42 Informed I had been released from the Ministry of Labour and given an R.A.F number together with a R.A.F.V.R silver badge. At this time I was an apprentice and a National Fire Service, acting , unpaid. spare time motor cycle dispatch rider for the central fire station. from which I was discharged in March 1942..
Called up 19/10/42 . Given a railway warrant and instructed to report to No 1 A.C.R.C. Lords Cricket ground. About eleven months ? That seems to me like three years to obtain the brevet. !!!! To think this started because someone managed it in four months, and then I was encouraged to tell how long it took me.

Yes, cockneysteve, luck did play a part for me, as you see above. eleven months elapsed between attending the recruiting office and reporting to Lords cricket ground, much to my annoyance. As I have previously mentioned my friend who attended the recruiting office at the same time as me, trained in this country and was K.I.A on Beaufighters by the time I finished at Initial Training Wing.

Google “The R.A.F in Oklahoma “ There are quite a few pictures shown, and details of the author Paula Denson. She can supply a copy if required.

You may remember some of my photos disappeared when I deleted them in Photo bucket, so am reproducing (hopefully) the two which relate to leaving Ponca.



24th Oct 2008, 06:57
In reply to your query, Cockney Steve. I always thanked the Americans for the truly superb training we got as the first class (42A) to go to the States. That training and the background, albeit sometimes brutal, discpline enabled one to take advantage of the luck when it presented itself. One example of the luck. I was on the vital bombing of Peenemunde in a Halifax of 51 Sqdn. We were in the first wave. Mosquitos had made a preliminary raid on Berlin and the German fighters were sent there as it looked as though the main stream were Berlin bound. It was a bright moonlit night and we went to Peenemunde, dropped our bombs on the aiming point, saw a lot more Halifaxes doing the same thing, we went back without seeing a fighter or flak and learned, next day that we had lost 42 aircraft ! The luck was being in that first wave and the skill was there to get the hell out whilst the going was good. Thank you for your kind remarks. It makes the single finger pecking away worthwhile when you see that someone is taking note.

24th Oct 2008, 11:31

Rest assured we are all taking note, so keep that finger on the keyboard:D

PS And you cliffnemo too

24th Oct 2008, 23:50
After half a mile change of address, it has taken eight weeks for AOL to get me back on the Internet.
I went to the Recruiting Office in Shrewsbury on 9th March 1942. Called to
1 A.C.R.C. at Lords 23rd November1942. 8 I.T.W. Newquay 8th January 1943' Grading School July 1943. Mauretania August 1943. Moncton to 1 B.F.T S. Terrell Texas October 1943, Wings 12th June 1944. Two years and three months!! Then, not Spitfires or Mustangs, but Gliders. Anybody interested in the R.A.F. Element of the Glider Pilot Regiment should go to Shawbury where the Trust have built a Horsa and Hadrian and also refurbished a Dakota. We were voluntary conscripts!!

25th Oct 2008, 19:13
As instructed, finger (note the singular) to the key board. Basic.!
Basic was cut out of later courses to save time and money. But the US was not at war and would not budge from the stipulated full training course of three stages and two hundred hours. Great Britain, of course was crying out for pilots. Lord Beaverbrook had been a terrific success as Minister of Production and the men and women in the factories were working miracles. We actually had more aircraft at the end of the "Battle of Britain" than at the beginning but pilots were grieviously shortcoming.
So off to Cochran Field near Macon, Georgia we went in Greyhound Buses. Macon was a much larger town than Albany and was also very conveniently situated for the Georgia State College for Women...but that's another story. We were now under the complete control of the US Army Air Corps. No gentle civilian Instructors but fierce looking ,Army First and Second Lieutenants with weird and exotic names, some of them very Germanic. We were told to call them Lootenants... No effete leftenancy in the US Army Air Corps .
Basic was the Vultee BT13A, a huge, ugly, underpowered monoplane with a fixed undercariage. I remember it as heavy on the controls and very difficult in the aerobatics so beloved of the training in the US. But.. it did have instruments, so we were indulged in the luxury of an artificial horizon, airspeed indicator and altimeter for the first time. In retrospect it was wonderful to have been taught to fly only by the seat of our pants but it was a luxury that the US was soon to find they could not afford and Basic disappeared from the itinerary. But we added to our hours and were introduced to the very good custom of two cadets flying together to practice without the eagle eyes of an Instructor upon them all the time.
The time passed quickly and towards the end of the course the "scuttlebutt" (US for a vague rumour) was that we were going back to our beloved Albany for our Advanced training. Not Darr Aero Tech but a brand new military Airfield called "Turner Field" keeping to the US custom of naming their fields after Us flying personnel. I never did find out who Lt. Turner was.
We had some leave...furlough... before going back to Albany and the cinema contacts on my Father's side of the family arranged for me to spend a week in Miami and contacted the USO , the equivalent of our ENSA to see that I had a good time. That I did and the best part of it was meeting and dancing with Rita Hayworth at a Miami Hotel ( together with a few hundred more US forces, I hasten to add.) Nevertheless as the orchestra played "Amapola" and I took that beautiful woman around the floor I would not have changed places with anyone in the world. By coincidence many,many years later, the Aga Khan was a passenger on a flight that I was taking down to Kinshasa. Rita Hayworth had eventually married Prince Aly Khan and I mentioned that I had met her to the Aga Khan. He said that Rita was a wonderful woman and very popular in the family and that the press had been very cruel to her at the time.
So back to the welcoming arms of Albany it was and we found ourselves in brand new barracks with all "mod cons" and the Harvard to cope with. It was not an easy aeroplane to fly but what a difference to anything that we had encountered. It was easily identifiable by it's characteristic "buzz" or high pitched drone caused by, some say , the propellor being a fraction too long so that the tips were approaching the speed of sound. It is true that they were modified by cutting off some of the tip leaving them square edged and thus giving them another sound altogether. For the first time we had to remember to put our wheels down before landing and it even looked like a fighter if you stretched your imagination a little. It's main disadvantage was a tail wheel that was partially steerable by the rudder pedals and, if one was not extremely careful on landing, the whole aeroplane would turn through 360 degrees which was violently disliked by the Instructors and was certain to curtail one's leisure at the weekend.
Georgia, from the air, was predominantly red from the characteristic colour of the earth or clay and there were plenty of good fields around that we used as practice grounds for forced landings. Your Instructor would suddenly pull back the throttle when you were about six thousand feet and not expecting it and woe betide you if you were forced to use it before you put the aeroplane down in one of those fields.. The fields had another use, however. It was common practice to arrange with the current girl friend to rendezvous at one of them and you would land and take them for a "spin" as we used to call it. The penalty for being caught was instant expulsion from the course which only made the whole thing more savoury. A certain Irish Corporal had made such a date with his girl friend at one of the fields but was so excited at the thought of it that he forgot to put his wheels down and slid along on his belly in front of the startled girl who thought that he had done it to "show off". His reflexes were fantastic though. He grabbed his microphone and called up "Mayday, Mayday, This is Army plane 100" he said " My engine has cut and I am going to try and land in ... " naming the field where he was sitting. Back came the reply from Turner Tower, as our home base was called. "Keep a cool head boy and do not, repeat, do not put your wheels down." This was standard practice in a real emergency to avoid tipping over when you landed on rough ground or in one of the many swamps. It also kept the landing distance shorter and only bent an easily replaceable propellor. Paddy actually got a "green" endorsement in his log book for outstanding airmanship. I don't know what his girl friend gave him.
Another story that went into the "Line Book" as it was called in the RAF. "Shooting a line" was boasting of a personal feat and was frowned upon, was when the Tower was trying to contact one of the cadets in the vicinity. "Army 500 this is Turner tower . Are you receiving me ?" was repeated several times without success. Eventually the Tower thought that he could see him "Army plane 500 ,is that you over the field ? If you are receiving me, waggle your wings,.Over" Back came the reply in that clipped British accent that the Americans could never imitate. "Turner Tower this is Army plane 500. If you are receiving me , waggle your Tower." No reply but he was "walking" that weekend. Another time the Tower was called by a British voice that said "Turner Tower this is Army plane 101. I am out of petrol what should I do ?" There was a hurried flurry of words then one of the Instructors was hurriedly summoned to the microphone. "OK Army Plane 101. Don't panic. Keep cool and calm. Put the nose down in a gentle glide and look around. Try and find one of the emergency fields. What is your height and position ? The cool British voice sounded rather puzzled " I am sitting here on the tarmac waiting for the petrol truck, Sir" The "Sir" didn't stop him walking the weekend away. And so it went on

27th Oct 2008, 11:52
Gentlemen, after exhaustive internet research I can proudly now show you Reg and Rita in Miami:-


Regards Andy :0)

27th Oct 2008, 12:00
Is that how Reg learned to formate?

27th Oct 2008, 12:44
Nemo, Phoenix (which was my 2nd home for awhile! but that's another story) is normally 7 hrs behind us. However as politicians move our hour around it can get confusing.

Try http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/city.html?n=197 (http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/city.html?n=197) to see the actual time difference.

I was also trying to download an internet TV recorder so I could make a DVD of it, however as with many things I failed.

The programme is interesting but not outstanding!

A better record (I think) is the film "Journey Together" which I enjoyed immensely http://www.moviemail-online.co.uk/film/34171/Journey-Together/ (http://www.moviemail-online.co.uk/film/34171/Journey-Together/)

I'm off over "The Pond" now for a week but "I will be back" :0)

Union Jack
27th Oct 2008, 13:50
"I never did find out who Lt Turner was"

A quick search suggests that Lt Sullivan P Turner, USAAC was the aviator concerned but, sadly, the website www.turnerfield-miller.com (http://www.turnerfield-miller.com/) , which should have helped further, is no longer acessible. However, a further search reveals that there is a Royal Air Force Memorial at Turner Field and the link Royal Air Force Memorial- Albany, GA (http://tinyurl.com/5vjbwb) provides contact details should you or Andy wish to follow this up.

With best wishes and renewed grateful thanks to you and to Cliff for your wonderful memories - pun fully intended! - keep them coming, although Rita Hayworth will be hard to beat ....


27th Oct 2008, 17:07
Try googling Freecorder, it may do what you require.

27th Oct 2008, 17:19
Thanks a lot. As Al Jolson (Who ? Ask Grandad) used to say "You ain't seen nothing yet !" All The Best, Regle.

Mike Read
27th Oct 2008, 21:25
For years anybody going through 229 OCU at Chivenor in the fifties would have watched "Journey Together" when the weather precluded flying. Not too relevent for embryo DFGA chaps but was really all we had to show the troops.

28th Oct 2008, 00:38
Regle: The Jazz Singer! :ok:

Jimmy Macintosh
28th Oct 2008, 18:28
Though you've now gained your Pilots Brevet, I hope the stories continue.

Fascinating reading, hearing of the unsung heroes of WWII. :D

30th Oct 2008, 17:08
Hi all, This all avid reading, I have lapped it up.

I now do nothing connected with a/c but Mrs 446 has agreed to PPL lessons ASAP, she agreed last Xmas but what a terrible year for learning.

Briefly, I was a crap-app, E&I fitter 216 entry Halton. The finest training I have ever received, but was not cut out for the bullshit so, when a new government decided that a 16yo ( 15 in my case) could not sign away 11 yrs of his life consensually, it was decided that any app could leave after 5 inc app time. It suited me but it killed the brat scheme.

We always called shoulder flashes "Shitehawks" but I always thought it was meant to be an albatross.

Didn't like the crap but had some good times.

Keep it coming.

30th Oct 2008, 19:57
Formate ! Are you sure that you got the spelling right ? Did you notice how like Fred Astaire I used to look ? Any way here goes....
The Seventh of December 1941 was a Sunday. It was a bright and sunny morning in Albany, Georgia and normally we would be enjoying a "lie in" and then a laze around but not this Sunday. It was rather special as we were joining forces with our classmates, the Americans, at the local Football Stadium to give a demonstration of our respective drills. The quick, crisp marching of the RAF contrasted strongly with the more informal and, to us, sloppier style of the Americans and we were warmly applauded by the large crowd gathered there
Drill finished we were standing at attention side by side with the Americans and the banners of each nation were fluttering in the breeze when the PA system broke into life. A highly emotional Announcer gave us the news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbour and , consequently, we were all in the war together. It could not have been staged better if it was a movie.
The next few days were chaotic. To us, war hardened ,veterans it bordered on panic. We were all confined to the Camp itself and woe betide you if you forgot the password which was issued daily (By Tannoy at seven a.m. Believe it or not !) Sirens were always sounding at the oddest times and for no apparent reason. Gradually, however, things got back to normal, RAF uniforms miraculously appeared and we got down to finishing our training which had less than a month to go.
The third of January 1942, we filed into the Camp Theatre to receive ,from the Major General commanding the Southest Air Training Center, General Walter R. Weaver, the hard earned solid silver wings of the US Army Air Corps. We proudly wore them on the right breast of our tunics and the RAF Wings , which the US had thoughtfully preordered, on the left. Later, back in the UK we were forbidden to wear the US wings, an order which most of us ignored.
We celebrated our new status of fully qualified pilots with a gigantic party in the Airfield Reacreational Centre. "Dates" for the Ball in the evening were presented with the traditional sprays of Ocrhids and Gardenias in true movie style and we danced the night away to a terrific band to the tunes of "You are my Sunshine","Frenesi","The Hut Sut Song", Elmer's Tune", "Green Eyes", and "Jealousy". We finished, of course, with Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder.. but there were no upperclassmen to retaliate. We were to meet up with some of them later when they were based inthe cold fens of East Anglia with the "Mighty Eighth" of the newly named US Airforce, but they were very different people and so were we.
The night before the party we had celebrated with some drinks with our Instructors. When the beer ran low, my good and very kind Instructor, Lt. Millar, handed me the keys of his car and told me to go and get a few cases. But" I said " I can't drive a car". He couldn't believe it. I was nineteen years old, had two hundred hours flying experience and, like most of us, had never driven a car in my life.
Then it was a sad farewell to the rightly famed Southern Hospitality and back to face the harsh realities of wartime Britain.

2nd Nov 2008, 17:46
Hi folks.
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.

2nd Nov 2008, 19:50

welcome back to the thread:D we await further news shortly!!

2nd Nov 2008, 20:33
cliffnemo, where exactly is the Photos of Everybody:sticky?

2nd Nov 2008, 22:30
where exactly is the Photos of Everybody:sticky?

Bottom of the List. Jet Blast.

3rd Nov 2008, 07:46
TA very much.

3rd Nov 2008, 10:47

If Fareastern’s method doesn’t work on your computer , I found it by typing -sticky:photos- 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

3rd Nov 2008, 11:05
Thanks Cliffnemo, I found your photos. I am familiar with Thlandidno as I lived in Rhyl during WW2. Admittedly I was only seven when it ended, but I did join the RAF ten years later.

This was taken on 2nd March 1956, after my first solo.


3rd Nov 2008, 11:34
"Wizzo" picture brakedwell, keep them coming.
Just tried Jetblast photos in search. That works as well.

3rd Nov 2008, 13:25
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.

3rd Nov 2008, 13:37
It's all automatic nowadays. I cry all the way to the bank.

Disregarding the bank, ten years on the 757/767 bored me to tears.

3rd Nov 2008, 19:09
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.

Union Jack
4th Nov 2008, 17:14
Will try and send you a sticky colon photos by email

Cliff - You know how much we normally appreciate your wonderful contributions, but maybe you should spare us this one!:)


5th Nov 2008, 07:58
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.


15th Nov 2008, 17:17
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.

3rd Dec 2008, 17:45
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.

6th Dec 2008, 02:06
On with the story, indeed!!

Please don't stop. This is some fascinating stuff.:ok:

6th Dec 2008, 14:26
Hooray! It's back!! We all want more, more more!! So, anyone else want to talk us about their training and exploits??? Thanks, cliffnemo and regle, keep it coming!!

14th Dec 2008, 21:56
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.....

15th Dec 2008, 17:34
Reg, I bet you thought all your birthdays came at one when the Land Girls pulled your trousers off :0)

Dan Gerous
15th Dec 2008, 20:48
Gripping stuff. :ok:

15th Dec 2008, 21:51
If you had read my painstaking single finger episode properly ,Andy, you would have noticed that it was Dora's Birthday, not mine which is an even bigger story, if I ever get round to it. By the way, I forgot to mention .. The watch did not get broken but it was nicked from my billet not long afterwards !

16th Dec 2008, 06:24
Wow!!! :D

10 characters

16th Dec 2008, 07:08
Thank you gentlemen for what you have shared so far and for what we hope you will continue to in your next posts!

I ran across a couple of websites which might be of interest in fleshing out part of the story..

British Pilot Memories - Victor Hewes, Turner Field, Albany, Georgia (http://www.turnerfield-miller.com/british2.htm)

British Air Training at Turner Field, Albany, Georgia (http://www.turnerfield-miller.com/british.htm)

Would any Pensacola trained allies like to contribute? I believe both British and French pilots trained there.

Sailor Vee
16th Dec 2008, 20:05
Just glad to see that you guys are still here to regale us all with these legendary tales, was missing the regular up dates!

21st Dec 2008, 17:02
Sorry for "going A.W.O.L", but after experiencing a few simple problems I ran out of steam. Should be solved soon. Keep up the excellent and good work Regle.

In the meantime I wish a merry Christmas and prosperous new year to all (Readers, Posters. Moderator/s and critics).


1st Jan 2009, 18:28
I find it apt that I am telling this tale today because it is mostly about New Years Eve 1942 and Les Hogan, my Observer , and I were making a lone daylight raid on the marshalling yards at Monceau in Belgium. It was late afternoon when we got there flying at our usual fifty feet and it was very murky with a very low cloud base. I remember that we suddenly found ourselves flying between two huge slag heaps. There was one at each wingtip and we had not even seen them coming ! We dropped our four five hundred pounders on the mass of railway lines beneath us and there was a sudden bang and the windscreen disappeared. I had felt a thump on my chest and I saw that I was covered in blood. Les had cried out and I saw that he was covered in blood as well. I also noticed that there were feathers everywhere and realised that we had hit a large bird. We always wore our goggles above our eyes and we were very glad of them as the wind was howling into the cockpit and it was freezing cold.
Once again we were speeding back over the North Sea but this time we had our two engines but had to restrict our speed because of the windstream in the cockpit. Suddenly, Les let out a yell "I've been hit in the arse " he cried. We searched the sea and sky but could see nothing. Then it dawned on him what had happened. Les had let out the trailing aerial to get contact with base. We were still at fifty feet and the end of the aerial had touched the water and wound out the aerial fully. The handle had whizzed around in the cockpit and had hit him where he said it had. We had a laugh but he had an almighty bruise on his behind.
This time we made it to base but no amount of showering, lathering and scrubbing could get rid of the dead bird smell so Dora and I had to forego the traditional Sgt.'s mess dance and spend it in the Naafi instead
Although the Mosquito was such a wonderful aircraft I still had the urge to fly the really big ones with my eyes set firmly on the future. Bomber Command now had "Butch" Harris as C.O. and the long awaited offensive on the industrial cities of Germany was beginning. I ignored the sound advice of veterans "Never volunteer for anything" and asked to be transferred to heavy Bombers. After a very short period of flying the tricycled undercarriaged Boston and Mitchell I was posted to the 4 Group Heavy Conversion Unit at the famous Civil war battle site of Marston Moor in Yorkshire. Before arriving there I was fortunate enough to get a trip in a captured German Junkers 88. I found it a surprisingly good machine with a performance very close to the Mosquito. Although it had RAF roundels we still had an escort of three spitfires to protect us from some trigger happy RAF fighter pilot.
Four Group were equipped with the four engined Handley Page Halifax. I had secretly hoped to be posted to the more glamorous Lancaster but I soon found the "Halibag" to be a tough,strongly built aeroplane capable of taking terrible punishment. It is true that it did not have the load carrying capacity of the Lancaster and, until the R.R.Merlins were replaced by the Bristol Hercules 16 aircooled engines of the Mark 3,was not capable of reaching a cruising altitude of more than eighteen thousand feet which left it vulnerable to fighters an heavy flak. Nevertheless it was a rugged and, once the rudders of the early marks had been modified to get rid of the lethal rudder stall, a very manoeuverable aeroplane. There was not the luxury of servo controls so throwing a Halifax around the sky took a great deal of physical strength. Nor did we have two pilots. A second pilot was a luxury that Bomber command could not afford so a good aircraft commander, and the pilot was always the Captain irrespective of rank , woul train his Flight Engineer or Bomb Aimer to fly well enough to get the 'plane back to England where the crew, at least, could bale out.
At Marston Moor we were crewed up and so met the men who would be sharing the dangers looming ahead of us. My crew was Howard Phillips, the navigator from Wales, Jackie Collins, the Bomb aimer from Epsom, Surrey, Bill Fox , the Flight Engineer from Yorkshire, Roy Burch, the mid-upper gunner from Calgary, Canada and the "Tail end Charlie" rear gunner, Tommy Walker, a Geordie from Ashington. Roy was the eldest at 28 and I had just celebrated my 21st. birthday
Dora and I had become engaged earlier in the year and we decided to get married, in Blackpool, at the end of the course when we would have some leave before proceeding to one of the 4 Group Squadrons.
Paddy Graham ,my W/op,was my best man and Roy Burch was there too. Dora's inseperable companion from the WAAF , Jackie, was the bridesmaid. I say inseperable because she always came with us when we went out anywhere,much to my disgust ! Not that there was anywhere to go. We walked or cycled everywhere. There was the good old NAAFI in the evening or the Camp Cinema (The gym normally) showing through the smoke laden room films such as "Target for Tonight", "The Wicked Lady".
The Air raid siren would inevitably go before the film finished and I never did see the end of "Night train to Munich", Everyone smoked like a chimney and I once stopped the show when I stubbed out my cigarette on what I thought was the back of the seat in front of me, only to find that I was stubbing it out on a poor little WAAF's neck. Her screams effectively stopped the film.
A very Happy and (dare I say it.?.) prosperous New Year to all of you. REG ..le

Union Jack
1st Jan 2009, 22:20

As the News of the World placards used to say "All human life is here" - what a cracking episode with which to start the New Year. Laconic or what, to use a modern turn of phrase, to experience such a serious birdstrike just after a near miss with two slag heaps, bring your bird safely home, and then go out for the night with your young lady, with you smelling to high heaven!

All the very best for the New Year, and keep the stories coming.


PS Curiously enough, in view of the near miss, I believe that Monceau is the French word for "heap"! And as for Les's accident, it certainly gives new meaning to the expression "You could have tickled my arse with a feather" ....:hmm:

2nd Jan 2009, 07:02
Tout a fait, raison, Jack. En effet "Monceau" signifie un "heap" en Anglais. And I never noticed the apt description all these years. Better still, it was a collection of slag heaps and we were very lucky ...again !.. in missing them. Thank you for your very nice remarks. It makes the effort well worthwhile . My" pretty lady "stayed with me for sixty two wonderful, exciting years, of which I hope to tell you more anon. All the very best to readers and writers in this excellent forum. We do not notice any recession here but hope to show how the youth of each generation rises to the occasion whenever they are challenged. Reg.

10th Jan 2009, 10:16
Occasionally, ENSA, the Forces entertainment organisation would send us one of their wonderful concert parties. Ralph Reader ("We're riding along on the crest of a wave....") and his Gang Show were the best known but I well remember Gordon Harker, a famous cockney actor and film star coming back to the Sgt.'s Mess at the end of one of the shows. Above the fireplace and written on the ceiling in charcoal were the words "Pinky Wood peed in the fire from here". " Anything Pinky Wood can do , Gordon 'Arker can do, " he said and straightaway proved it.
The Pubs, or more usually the Pub was always a long walk from the isolated camps. They were always short of beer and we were always short of money but we were young, we were alive and lived for the moment and morale was high so the everpresent Jackie was always welcome.
We went back to Blackpool and the "Avalon" for our wartime ,rationed wedding reception and then made our way to the railway station to take the train for Southport where we planned on staying a few days with one of Dora's Aunties, who lived there. Unfortunately we had to change at Preston and, as so often was the case, the train for Southport never turned up so we found a grimy little boarding house next to the station and spent our wedding night listening to the stentorian Lancashire voice coming over the Tannoy all night long. " The train standing at platform one is the delayed London to Carlisle express and is subject to unknown delay etc....." There was also the noise of the occasional train rushing non-stop through the station and the very occasional departure but never an arrival. We eventually got to Southport the next afternoon and were made very welcome by Dora's Aunt who must have felt very sorry for the bedraggled , tired honeymooners who were standing on her doorstep.
The honeymoon passed all too quickly and my posting came through . I received a railway warrant telling me to proceed immediately to a place called Heck in Yorkshire. The ticket seller refused to believe that such a place existed but it did and still does and came in to the news a year or two ago when a man, driving a jeep, fell asleep at the wheel and went down the embankment there and derailed the Scotland- London express killing some and injuring many passengers. I noticed, at the time, that the papers called it "Great Heck" but I never heard it called that all the time that I was staioned at nearby Snaith.
Snaith, near Goole, was where 51 Squadron of 4 Group, Bomber command was based and I was made very welcome by the SWO and put in to C Flight which was, unusually, commanded by a Squadron Leader who was not a pilot. He was an Observer and one of the bravest and finest men I was ever to meet aand I was to meet many. He would put himself on Operations with each and every pilot in his flight, replacing the normal Bomb Aimer. I Was now a Flt.Sgt. but when Charlie Porter flew with me I was the Skipper and my word was law. He seemed old enough to be my Father but was probably about thirty three years old. It says volumes for his assessment of ability---and luck---that he survived the mandatory tour of thirty operations despite having to fly with all and sundry. He survived the war and was a popular figure at the annual 51 Sqdn. reunions until, sadly he died around 1992. Strangely enough he was replaced by yet another Squadron Leader Observer, a very different character called Simmonds, who was an ex Guards Officer remustered to the RAF and went into action wearing long brown leather leggings.
Most unusually my first trip on Halifaxes was as second pilot. This, to gain experience, was a very expensive practice that was soon discontinued as two valuable pilots were lost when the machine was shot down. My Skipper was Flt.Lt. Bill Irwin and the target was Hamburg on the night of July 24th. 1943 aand a new device was to be tested on the German defences. It consisted of thousands of thin metallic strips which were to be released from their aircraft as it flew over the target area. Each strip as it floated down would give an echo on the German radar similar to that of an aircraft and, it was hoped, would swamp the German defences. Although the British had known of this device for a considerable time it had not been used in case the Germans used it against us but now, with the ever mounting losses of Bomber Command,
....40 to 50 aircraft on each raid, each containing at least seven crew, was not uncommon... the powers that be decided to unleash "Window" as the strips were codenamed, upon Germany. It was my job, as spare man on board, to drop the bundles of window through the flare chute as we flew over Hamburg. It certainly worked well that night. We heard from our intelligence that it had caused complete chaos in the German Night Fighter defence. Pilots were being ordered to sectors to intercept the hundreds of British planes reported there and being virtually accused of cowardice when no sightings were reported. The use of window in the next few months certainly saved hundreds of British lives but the Germans brought in all their day fighters and illuminated the target area with hundreds of searchlights, silhouetting the bombers above the clouds. This was called Operation "Wild Sow" and was very successful but window had served it's purpose well and was to play a huge part in the D-Day landings when about thirty Lancasters dropping window and doubling back upon themselvs repeatedly, conviced the Germans that a large Naval force was approaching the German held coast.
The raid on Hamburg was to take it,s place in history as the first where great fires were started giving birth to the terrible "Fire storms" that, literally sucked the oxygen from all around it and the destruction, devastation and death toll was terrible. I take no pride whatsoever in taking part in this attack , just a deep sadness that it was found to be neccessary. As "Bomber Harris " so prophetically told the Germans "You have sown the wind and you shall reap the whirlwind.

10th Jan 2009, 16:03
Regle: I don't know if you know of it, but this is the Memorial Garden at RAF Snaith where Mick and Sid look after it. Brave men are never forgotten. Windy place, Snaith; made my eyes water far too much.

http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm250/exscribbler/RAFSnaith1.jpg?t=1231602540 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);)

http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm250/exscribbler/RAFSnaith2.jpg?t=1231602756 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);)





Sorry that the images are of different size - I don't know what happened!

10th Jan 2009, 17:32
Thank you so much for the beautiful photographs of the 51 Sqdn. memorial garden which is, I believe, in the nearby village of Pollington. We always had a very fine bond with the nearby villagers and were always welcome in their homes and farms. We shared their Church and we shared the hospitality of their homes so many times. The result can be seen in the tenderness and love with which the garden is kept. We pay an annual visit during the summer meeting of the Sqdn. Association which is very strong and these reunions are always looked forward to. I think that I can just discern that the first photo is that of the plaque to Sqdn. Ldr. Eno DSO, DFC and his crew. He was one of the Flight Commanders and was operating at Snaith at the same time as me.i.e July '43 /Jan '44.
Thank you so much. That wind that blew around you at Snaith followed your photos because it made my eyes water too.

10th Jan 2009, 23:22
That wind that blew around you at Snaith followed your photos because it made my eyes water too.

And that, Reg, is a wonderfully understated turn of phrase.

I got a little thrill when I saw this thread on the first page of the Mil forum again. Always look forward to the next episode!

11th Jan 2009, 00:33
Regle: I was 3 days old when LW497 with Squadron Leader Eno and his crew FTR from Stuttgart. Sadly his (second?) DSO was a little late:

ENO, S/L Lloyd Higgs (40096) - Distinguished Service Order - No.51 Squadron - awarded as per London Gazette dated 31 March 1944. DHist cards refer to Air Ministry Bulletin 13408/AL.785.

This officer has completed many sorties on his second tour of operations and his continued good work has won great praise. In recent operations Squadron Leader Eno has attacked many targets including Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Magdeburg and Berlin. He has at all times displayed great courage and determination and his example has impressed all. In addition to his work in the air, Squadron Leader Eno has rendered valuable service in the training of other members of the squadron.

Doubtless this is how you remember him and how anyone would wish to be remembered. I don't know what to say except, "Thank you."

13th Jan 2009, 17:40
After a few small problems, things are about back to normal here, so while Regle does the hard work, I will carry on with my journey back to Blighty and then describe the endless training we experienced. .

The return journey form Ponca City to Moncton was similar to the outward journey with a week on the train and the temperature rapidly dropping. The coke stoves were kept at full output day and night, food was excellent, and we received the same hospitality at each stop. On arrival at Moncton we were surprised at the depth of the snow, but more so at the way the Canadians just carried on as normal. All vehicles had chains fitted to the tyres, and just drove around quite normally, although accompanied by a loud clanking sound. We stayed in Moncton for a month, where we expected a pleasant relaxing stay, this was not to be, for shortly after our arrival, we were issued with shovels and bussed to the Canadian Pacific Railway and told clear away snow. There was little opposition to this as we were paid a dollar an hour, which allowed us to buy gifts for our families to take home, and a days pay on the railway was equivalent to about five R.A.F days pay. Taking the gifts home was a problem as we were only allowed to take, a big pack, small pack, and one kit bag on board the troopship.. This problem was soon solved when we found a person in Moncton who would make us double sized kit bags.

At the end of one month we traveled by train to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and embarked on . I think the, Andes (could have been the Pasteur, we sailed outbound on one and returned on the other).
The journey was uneventful , with the Catalina and the Sunderland circling night and day, eventually tying up at Liverpool after four and a half days sailing. We immediately embarked on a train waiting at the Princess Landing stage, bound for Harrogate. The only thing I remember about the journey, was when we reached the open country side east of Manchester, how amazed we were at the beautiful colours . Particularly the green. On arrival in Harrogate we were billeted at the Majestic Hotel, a massive place full of newly trained aircrew, who were all very frustrated at being held there.. The food was poor, and we were treated as “a necessary evil”. However I was pleased to be near home, and obtained permission to keep my T.T Rudge motorcycle on camp which enabled me to travel home each weekend..

I will describe the various courses and airfields I was posted to next.

14th Jan 2009, 00:41
cliffnemo Nice to see you back.

16th Jan 2009, 17:31
I had found an elderly couple, in the nearby village of Pollington, who were willing to let their spare bedroom so Dora, now pregnant, joined me. The accommodation was Spartan, to say the least. There was only an outside, non-flushing toilet so many nightime visits with me, accompanying Dora with a bucket of water, were neccessary. Mr Broadbent killed a pig, once a year and then salted it down. There was always a piece of it hanging from the old fashioned kitchen ceiling. The result was the saltiest bacon that you have ever tasted in your life . Mr. Broadbent had no teeth and used to say, as he supped his porridge, " I only like owt wi' a spoon". They were hardy Yorkshire folks and kindly in their own way but any sort of lodging was at a premium and
at least we were together but it must have been a terrible time for my Wife to be left alone in such cheerless surroundings not knowing if she would ever see me again when I left her to go on the many Operations that followed.
During the day of an Operation we would take our aircraft up on an air test to give all the equipment on board a thorough workout. On one occasion I asked Bill, my Yorkshire Flight Engineer, to feather one of the engines so that I could practice some three engine flying. A rotating propellor, without power, causes enormous drag on the aircraft, so the blades of the propellor of the "dead" engine are turned electrically, so that the leading edge is presented to the airstream, This is called "feathering" as in rowing, when the blades of the oar are turned in similar fashion so that they do not cause drag in the water. We always carried out air tests at an altitude of 5,000ft. or more and it was just as well as when Bill pressed the button of the Port outer engine (The engines are numbered from 1 to 4 looking from the tail to the nose, so the Port outer was No.1). and "Bingo" ...all four engines promptly feathered themselves and, of course, stopped. Bill, the unflappable Yorkshireman , said "Bloody Quiet up here ", leaned forward and pressed the same button and all four engines unfeathered themselves. On the post mortem, later, it was found that a drop of solder from some electrical work above had neatly fused all four circuits together.
On another air test , much later, we were just about to touch down so I closed all the throttles. At least that was the idea but the No 1. (again !) throttle stuck halfway open and would not close. We were racing along the runway towards the 50ft. drop at the end where, with typical RAF planning, the Bomb Dump was situated. I could see startled airmen running away from the huge aircraft hurtling towards them and the brakes could do nothing against the power of the still roaring engine, so I did the only thing possible and pulled up the undercarriage. The cockpit was immediately filled with sawdust from the disintegrating wooden propellors, the Halifax was still sliding along on it's belly towards the rapidly approaching bomb dump but Bill had his screwdriver out and was unscrewing a little clock which had been attached to the dashboard to help us on our bombing run saying "No other bugger's having this". We stopped about twenty feet short of the end of the runway and it was later found that the linkage to the throttle had broken and had jammed the control. Only a few weeks before I got to Snaith , the Bomb Dump had actually blown up, killing well over fifty people but it was still there when we slid to a halt just short of it. The only time I saw Bill lose his calm was on yet another air test when we were about six thousand feet and saw a Jeep drop down from above us and slide under our nose. It was going down at a large rate of knots but we had been to Betty's, in York, the night before and Bill was ready to sign the pledge. We found, later , that experiments were already being made in dropping equipment in preparation for the invasion which was a long way ahead of us. The unfortunate Jeep's parachute had, evidently, not opened.
The Wireless Operator had his position directly underneath the Pilot's rudder pedals in the nose of the Halifax. The toilet, a chemical seat called the Elsan, was way back in the tail of the aircraft and virtually impossible to reach for the Pilot who was encumbered with a seat type parachute, so a bottle was always carried for emergencies. The predictable result of using it was Paddy's usually, unshaven, face appearing on the step up to the cockpit, breathing fire, saying in his broad Irish brogue "All over me log again, Skipper". The Navigator and the Bomb Aimer shared a bench forward of the Wireless Op's position in the plastic nose. There had once been mounted a small machine gun but it was removed from all Halifaxes as it was useless as frontal attacks at night were virtually unknown.
Phil, our Navigator, was a highly volatile Welshman and one night, over Germany, on the way to the target, a coloured flare went down ahead of us. As these were dropped by the preceding Pathfinder Force, I asked Phil if this was a Turning Point on our route. Back came the reply "What do you think I am ? The Encyclopaedia Britannica". There was a silence then the Bomb Aimer, Jacky, came up on the intercom. "Skipper, Phil's unplugged his intercom and has stopped working." I put in "George", the somewhat dodgy Automatic Pilot, got out of my seat and sat down next to the navigator. He took a startled look at me, plugged in his intercom, took up his pencil and got back to work.

16th Jan 2009, 21:09
So it seems that air tests were just as dangerous as ops... :bored:

This is probably a dumb question, Reg, but can you explain what the expression: Bill was ready to sign the pledge

16th Jan 2009, 21:41

If Reg doesn't mind...........

To sign the pledge was to go teetotal. No alcohol at all. Usually done by the Methodists in the UK, and, literally, meant signing a document pledging not to partake of the booze.

My maternal Grandfathers pledge is in my possession, he signed it at the age of 12. However, he totally ignored it from being 17. I often wonder which side of the family I take after.......................

Union Jack
16th Jan 2009, 21:45
Yet another cracking input from "cool as a cucumber" Regle, and so glad to hear that Cliff is back - I do hope that you are both well and thriving.


PS Kooks - in case Regle is offline for a spell, to "sign the pledge" means/meant pledging in writing to give up the grog, a wholly understandable reaction to seeing an "airborne" jeep flying past your nose at 6000 feet!

18th Jan 2009, 12:18
Thanks for posts FAREASTERNDRIVER and UNIONJACK I needed that to stimulate me to further activity. Also thanks Mr Moderator and staff for Happy birthday wishes..

When I read REGLE’S posts, my mind wanders, and I recall various events, passing out on the return from the Elsan due to lack of oxygen, (portable bottle empty). The nearest I ever came to “getting the chop” on an air test in a Lanc rapidly approaching the ground at ninety degrees. Killing the pig, Keep it up Regle, but not so much about urinating, and elsans.(only trying to raise a laugh). And ANDY more pics of Regle ? I know private cameras were verboten “during the present hostilities” but surely he has a few.

Must keep things in chronological order.
Hopefully a picture of the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, which when I was there, was full of aircrew. Stripped of all it's finery, and fitted with eight campbeds to each unheated room.

I think that comparing our two stories, shows the difference timing made to our futures.. Remember, my school friend Geoff Davis, who was accepted at R;A;F Padgate at the same time as I was killed on Beaufighters by the time I finished ground school (I.T.W) and Regle who joined before I did, on ops while I was wasting time at Harrogate, and from our point of view, it was wasting time, with drill, P.T, swimming while a war was going on. A lot of us had lost our homes , relatives, and friends or knew some on who had, and our only objective was to stop the war. It then came as a shock, to find there was a surplus of pilots, and we could be in Harrogate for some time . I was offered a commission in the Fleet Air Arm as a pilot , but after consulting “the barrack room lawyers” was advised I could refuse, I refused. Much pressure was used to try to persuade me to transfer as the F.A.A was short of pilots , but I wrongly assumed, that after my experience crossing the Atlantic , I would always be seasick, and of no use to the King’s Navy . Others were offered glider pilot training, and as a previous post reminds me were also offered jobs as stokers on the railway. I decided to stick to my guns, hoping that after a few had transferred I would have my Spitfire. The rumour was that we were being held in readiness to go to the Far East taking over the planes of the aircrew who had already
done their bit in Europe.

Spitfire ? Some chance. I was posted to Pre A.F.U at Kingstown Airfield on Tiger Moths “to keep my hand in”. While it was all good fun, and no one treated it seriously we were still frustrated despite the fact that we could play around the top of Helvelyn in the Lake District, pretend dive bombing and low flying, chasing each other around the top of cumulus clouds. The airfield, just North of Carlisle was on the West side of the A6 with the billets (Nissan huts, with the ubiquitous coke stoves) on the East Side. So between the two, on the A6 a constant stream of American, low loaders carrying tanks and guns. Jeeps, Ducks. D.U.K.Ws ?, etc passed en route from Glasgow to the South Coast in preparation for D Day.

My oppo at Carlisle was one Sergeant Lucien Francois G***** *******, a Belgian who was quite a character. One of his lesser antics was when he flew to Newcastle in a Tiger Moth, to fly through the balloon barrage,.For some unknown reason he got away with that, but on a subsequent trip, when I was with him, finished up on a Court Marshal. I will deal with that next.

18th Jan 2009, 15:43
At last we have both of our contributors, Cliffnemo and Regle back on the line. This really is one of the best threads on the forum. Hearing what it was like from the horses mouth makes the events of that period come alive. It also brings home that it was not as described by Lennie Godber in Porridge "a quick dogfight and back in time for breakfast and medals".

Keep up the good work gents.

18th Jan 2009, 18:25
Thanks Cliffnemo for that shot of the Majestic, brought back many memories - such as when our flight, parading outside the main entrance, incurred an officer's displeasure for some reason or other and were ordered to double mark time on the spot while wearing gas masks - very good for the waist line!

Not depicted are the external fire escapes, much used late at night to avoid being penalised for late return. Following the discovery of a body lying beneath one with a broken neck, this mode of entry was strongly discouraged but needless to say such injunctions had little effect - we just took more care.

Keep it coming!


19th Jan 2009, 22:44
I am sorry but I have had a bad attack of sciatica and have not felt up to very much. It is a very small bit better today ... it is the first day that I have been able to put my right foot on the ground.
What do you think of the ditching in the Hudson ? My admiration is immense for the Captain and the whole crew, especially the Cabin crew who must have performed miracles in getting everybody out without injury.
I have always thought, when I read of similar "miracles" performed by the pilots in these cases , that each and every one of us who has been flying for a longish time must have had at least one, and very probably more than one , case where his actions have saved many, many lives but it has, rightly , gone unsung because it is our job. It is what we are payed such good salaries for and I would not have it otherwise.
It also makes me very proud of my profession.

20th Jan 2009, 01:51
Reg - very quick thoughts on the Hudson thing - quite amazing scenes there - but there were of course just as many similar acts when you blokes were doing the things you're relating in this thread, with far less recognition. But it was good to hear a 'good news' aviation story for once!

Cliffnemo - the different experiences in wartime depending on what time it was is certainly something I've seen a lot of while reading various people's accounts. Once the EATS was really up and running it was pumping out qualified aircrew in a highly efficient manner. It truly was one of the more remarkable organizational achievements of the war!

Union Jack + taxydual - thank you, that's one mystery solved.

Union Jack
20th Jan 2009, 11:46
Union Jack + taxydual - thank you, that's one mystery solved.

Cheers, Kookabat, I'll drink to that, and of course to Regle and Cliff!


20th Jan 2009, 17:45
Sorry Regle to hear about your sciatica, I know the feeling well. I hope you recover quickly..

Re ditching in the Hudson. I think it was fantastic, but then to go through the aircraft and search from stem to stern twice, what if it sank ? Survival time in below zero is almost nil !!!!!!!.
Old Hairy could probably explain the difficulties when “landing” on water or ditching , but we were always told it was much more difficult to judge height above water as smooth water looks the same from any height, and rough water, are they big waves or small ones, Come in Old Hairy and make sense of that.

Harrym . I enjoyed the story about the fire escape, and it made me wonder if the C/Os knew about these unofficial exit and entry points. I think they did, and turned a blind eye knowing full well that they had an awful lot of disenchanted airmen to control. Seem to remember one at Heaton Park, a gulley just behind the guardroom, leading out under the main road, and a previously mentioned one at Moncton, New Brunswick . Could you fill us in on as to what happened at Harrogate, my mind is a blank. Did we have the usual classes, link trainer, etc? I only remember the Yorkshire Hussar pub in Leeds and the Mucky Duck in Harrogate. I remember going away on two courses, but will describe later.

Will have to “get weaving” and knock something together on Sgt Francois Lucian whatsit, who was a very happy go lucky character (very happy, but not much luck).

20th Jan 2009, 22:08
Just mentioning the "Yorkshire Hussars" brought back memories of some wonderful "after op" thrash ups there when we descended on Leeds , which was far enough from Snaith to need transport. Sciatica still bad but easing a little . I think it is from a slipped disc as I have been already diagnosed as having degeneration of two lumbar vertebrae. We shall see.
Talked to Andy tonight and I am sending some photos which he will "process" and then dsend back to me. So I will continue with my long winded story. .....

I was talking about the dodgy "George" in my last thread but it was'nt really that dodgy. It worked quite well but I always thought that it was the cause of many casualties. A lot of our trips were of very long duration , Berlin was from seven and a half hours or even more than eight. You could count on five hours as being the shortest (The Ruhr). Munich and Nurenburg between eight and a half to the infamous one of well over nine when we lost 94 Aircraft with headwinds so strong.
So continuous "weaving" for 90% of these trips was a very hard and tiring task as the Halifax was not power assisted on the controls and was a very heavy aircraft to fly manually ,let alone "Corkscrew", Remember there was no second pilot to give you a respite.
Nevertheless, from the beginning , I resisted the temptation to engage George and even Corkscrewed all the time over enemy territory which was virtually 90% of the trip. The Corkscrew was a prescribed manoeuvre of diving and turning, losing up to two thousand feet and turning 25 to 30degrees right or left as you preferred then climbing and turning again then repeating the procedure trying not to maintain a pattern .. Not easy for the crew and especially for the Navigator but I am sure that it did a lot to get us through the ever present menace of the German ME110 armed with fixed angle upward firing guns who would position themselves unseen under the blind spot of an unsuspecting four engined bomber and let blast their "NachtMusak" as they called this procedure. This invariably got the central fuel tank and the resulting explosion could be seen for many miles away and invariably caused panic.
The Ops mounted up. We were operating every two or three nights and we had many close shaves. On October 8th.1943 we were briefed to attack Hanover. Taken all round this was one of the most dangerous and yet successful trips that we did because from the time that we crossed the Dutch coast, on the way in until we recrossed it again , going out we were constantly harried and followed by fighters, searchlights and flak. We saw many combats and many aircraft going down in flames. There was a "spoof" attack going on at Bremen and, as we passed south of it we could see Stirlings were really giving it a pounding. Hanover, itself had hundreds of searchlights. We were one of the first aircraft over the target and we went over it with two other Halifaxes followed by three Me 109's spotted by Tommy Walker, our rear gunner but they made no attempt at attacking us for some reason Just after releasing our bombs over Hanover, which was already blazing fiercely, there was an almighty crash and the whole aircraft shuddered. I thought that we had been hit by flak but I managed to control the aircraft. I sent the Flight Engineer back to investigate and called out to him, as an afterthought, "Put your parachute on ". It was just as well that I did because he nearly fell through the hole caused by a large bomb from another aircraft that had gone through the roof and out through the floor just aft of the mid upper turret, leaving it's outline, still horizontal, showing that the other aircraft could not have been very far above us and yet had not been seen by the midupper gunner.
It did not seem to affect the flying of the aircraft but it did not help matters that arriving over Snaith we could not land because of fog and had to divert to Leconfield where we were the main attraction on dispersal where practically the whole station came to look at the holes. They reckoned that it would have been a 2,000lb. bomb. As a matter of interest the trip time was 6:05 hours, all night flying.
Without wishing to be called a "Lineshooter" anyone who was in on these raids ,which were the result of Bomber Harris trying to make our raids as concentrated as possible in order to cut down on the losses caused by the previous system of crossing the target in ones and twos over along periods, will tell you that it was quite commonplace to get back to base and find sticks and even boxes of incendiaries, stuck in the wings of one's aircraft. Collisions, of course, were commonplace and it was quite normal for you to suddenly find yourself battling to control the aircraft to counter the effects of another aircraft's slipstream. As an example of the concentration I remember, vividly a raid over Dusseldorf when 640 four engined aircraft bombed the city in just twenty minutes That would have been in November 1943. That was one of the shorter trips and is in my log book as 5:35 mins.
On September 6th. 1943 over Munich, a burst of flak under the tail put the aircraft into an inverted dive. It was the most horrible feeling looking up over my head and seeing Munich, blazing, and coming down towards us. Many thousands of feet later after wrestling with the controls and all my instruments useless I managed to roll it out and regain control but the inverted "G" force in the pull out nearly forced the rear gunner out of his turret. We got back safely after a long,long haul of 9:35 hrs . We were very tired because we had also been busy the night before ,Sept.5th.1943, on a very long trip to Mannheim. This time we had a very uneventful run to the target which wqs already blazing when we got there and could be seen from a hundred miles away. But... we dropped our bombs and were leaving the target when there was a burst of fire that rattled through the aircraft and I dived away,very steeply, towards the burst which came from the portside. We clearly saw a ME110 and could also see that it was being hit by the return fire of our rear Gunner, Tommy Walker. We had the satisfaction of seeing it go all the way down and crash. |The mid upper gunner was slightly wounded by the initial burst of fire. He was very lucky because he had, like a lot of the gunners were wont to do, taken out the armour plating that was placed just before his face in order to have better visibility, and I had noticed this in my preflight and told him to replace it. The German's first burst of fire had hit squarely on the plating and Roy, the Canadian mid upper, had received a splinter in his shoulder but it was a very slight wound. That was 8:10 hrs. all night flying .
I must have been given some sympathetic leave after that one because I see that my next trip was October 3rd 1943.

I think that my sciatica is telling me "enough, enough". I hope that I have succeeded in giving a small idea of what it was like. Don't forget, if you knew, but we were all non commissioned and Snaith was not a "peacetime station" so we got back to a single pot bellied stove heated Nissen Hut accomodating up to twenty four people, with straw "biscuits" for mattresses and greatcoats for extra warmth over the issue blankets.
The "esprit de corps" was magnificent but, do not kid yourselves ,quarrels among crews were rare but between crews were fairly common but never went very far and were usually settled around the local bar over the watery beer that was wartime Britain.

22nd Jan 2009, 18:00
Yes Cliffnemo, I am sure you are correct concerning the attitude of authority towards those fire escapes - it could not have been easy keeping a horde of bored and semi-gruntled aircrew happy, and on balance we were ruled with a fairly light touch. As for keeping us occupied I only recall the odd lecture on subjects such as ship or aircraft recognition, no doubt there were others but certainly no link trainers. It has to be said that Mr William Tetley's products played a large part in maintaining morale!


23rd Jan 2009, 16:57
Regle you mentioned Hanover . Here is a picture of me in Hanover just after V.J day when stationed at R.A.F Wunstorf. Think my side pack was full of cartons of cigarettes. (black market)
You mentioned week beer in war time Britain. the state controlled pubs in Carlisle sold weaker beer than any where else in the country. They converted to state control in W.W 1 to control the drinking of the local munition workers.

23rd Jan 2009, 17:45
I hate to think that I was partly responsible for the background in your picture, Cliff. I,too, was stationed at Wunstorf in 1949 when I was flying petrol in to Berlin in converted Lancasters for "Flight Refuelling" ,my old peacetime hero,Sir Alan Cobham's firm, on the Berlin Air Lift. We moved fairly quickly to Hamburg, which had quite an interesting night life compared with Wunstorf! When I went to Tarrant Rushton for an interview for a job with them, I found that the Chief Pilot was an old 42A classmate, Tommy Marks . But that's another story.

23rd Jan 2009, 20:29
Nemo, sorry been busy swimming up river to avoid the credit crunch, however the flow seems to be faster than I can swim.

Reg is going to post some more pictures to me (yes the old way) and I shall under instructions from Reg post them for Reg to add the words.

What we really want from Reg is a picture of the Jeep that he met at 6000 feet!

Regards Andy

24th Jan 2009, 16:13
Regle we all feel different now, and I would quite happily have a German as my best friend, but THEN? A picture of my home, below might give some indication as to how I felt. Particurlarly as my father , and friend from next door , were both killed. Also before joining up, I was in a fire station, as a part time ,unpaid motor cycle despatch rider when six firemen were killed.

How about the Germans standing off Scarboro in a battleship and shelling it, during the first world war. Some one had to stop them.
These three oppos, German Jews with me in a jeep,who were all borne and lived in Germany until circa 37 would thank you, as would many , many Poles

As for Hamburg. The Reeperbahn, San Pauli. and Grosse Freheit. I will not enlarge, as my grandson is keeping an eye on me.

24th Jan 2009, 16:44
Cliff ,you (file://\\you) are absolutely right, of course and to add to it I, myself, am Jewish, but.....one can't help feeling guilty but God help us if we had'nt stood up to them. We would not be exchanging our free thoughts on this splendid forum and I know that I would not have even been here, but.......!

27th Jan 2009, 17:41
…-. …-. .- .- .-
PADDY G ex B.F.T.S Miami , how about a few posts from you ? Just re read your email, again, you wont be stealing my thunder. Nowt to steal. Same invite to any other B.F.T.S bods, even Empire Air Training Scheme (E.A.T.S) K ercs.,

At last Sgt Lucian Francois !!!!! !!!! Lucian was a good friend, and exciting company, so we soon became buddies, and both had motor bikes on camp. At this stage I would like to point out that we were both , like most of the other airmen, basically honest. Items could be left lying about and would still be there when we returned (despite Regle having his watch nicked). However this did not apply to air ministry supplies, which we considered belonged to us. The latter particularly applied to petrol, so on landing I would fill up my issue water bottle (about 2 pints) from a a conveniently placed tap just above my head, put it in my great coat pocket and slink past the guardroom, like a criminal. This was sufficient for a trip into Carlisle and back. Not so Lucian who filled up a fire bucket and boldly walked past the guard, obviously carrying water. I am sure if the C.O ever required a Kamakazi pilot, his first choice would have been Lucian. There were many more antics, too numerous to mention here, so on to the Court Martial.

Whilst at Harrogate, each weekend I used to go to my temporary home in Anlaby, East Riding and some time later, whilst at Carlisle, realised I had left my spare shoes at home. I therefore asked my “instructor” if I could borrow a Tiger Moth, fly to Blackburn Aircraft Co at Brough and collect my shoes . Permission was granted, providing it was treated as a navigation exercise, with one airman signing as pilot, and one as navigator. This resulted in Lucian and I spinning a coin, he won and elected to be the pilot, so the night before, I plotted a course and track using a Mercator chart, accurately applying variation, forecasted wind speed and direction, and ready to apply deviation the following morning. The following day, Lucian informed me he would map read to Brough, he was the boss, so we took off and I sat back and enjoyed the view. To my surprise, I suddenly noticed the Hotel Majestic, Harrogate , and I then assumed he intended to “shoot up” the hotel, as many disgruntled pilots has done before. Rumour had it that a Hurricane had smashed off a chimney pot on a previous occasion. However we headed West, and I then could see St Ethelburga’s Ladies College dead ahead, in front of which was a large playing field. Lucian throttled back and proceeded to fly in front of the college just skimming the ground, young ladies heads appeared at all the windows waving to us and presumably Lucian waving back. We then started to climb, and I assumed we would head for Brough. Not so, we did a circuit of the college and repeated the performance. At this point I forgot my previous decision not to interfere with the pilot, and shouted down the Gosport tube, to climb as the large identification numbers under each wing could be read a mile away. This only resulted in a loud laugh, after which we set course hopefully for Brough.

We eventually landed at Brough after following an erratic course, and I proceeded to hitch hike to Anlaby. This was easy as , although there were not many vehicles on the road, no one would pass by on the other side. I collected my shoes, and hitch hiked back I double checked my reliable friend to make sure he had fuelled up and away we flew. The return journey was surprisingly uneventful and we arrived at Kingstown Airfield uninjured .

That is enough for today. Next post will be entitled The morning after, or hats off.

To think there is a war being fought, and we are in Carlisle watching the tanks and jeeps roaring past in a Southerly direction.

28th Jan 2009, 13:33
Cliff, Do you know if Lucian, like so many Belgian RAF Pilot's, eventually joined the Belgian Airline, Sabena ? I am in touch with their "Old Flyer's Club" and could contact them if you wanted news of him. Regle

29th Jan 2009, 10:40
Thanks Regle, but will answer you, after I finish the story .
Would be amazed if he finished up flying for any airline, think the pax would be jumping out of the aircraft. He was "a wizzo oppo" though.

29th Jan 2009, 17:09
My grandfather - J.A.N. McEwan was with 5,12,and13 ITW in Torquay during the second war. I think he was squadron leader or wing commander. I am looking for any info about him or the ITW.
Hope you can help.

29th Jan 2009, 21:30
This really is the best thread I have seen on this site...what an amazing collection of experiences you are sharing. The vintage malt I currently have in my hand is well and truly raised in your honour!

Additionally, Reg, you mention visiting Betty's in York. I'm from York and know Betty's quite well...is your name by any chance etched on the famous mirror, along with the names of many other wartime aircrew?

Keep up the good work Cliff and Reg! :ok:

31st Jan 2009, 17:33
Just had a nice conversation on the phone (SYPE) with one of our contributors in Ontario, he says the snow is 2 metres deep there. It used to snow in feet when I was there.
Thanks for the toast tommyov, hope it was Glenmorangie.

Magslmac, sorry I can’t remember a lot about Torquay, sweet cider form the barrel (oak) was excellent, strong and cheap. The climate was good. However I will try and produce below a photo of our billet, think it was The Windermere Hotel. (camp beds eight to a room). I can remember Clay pigeon shooting on a headland , (Babbacombe ?) P.T (when raining) on the sprung dance floor in the Town Hall. Marching, between classes and again when raining, wearing capes/groundsheets, airman for the use of. Opting to play golf on sports afternoon, as it was unsupervised, with bus fares provided, and then traveling to the cinema in Paignton instead.

With regard to the photo. This shows my flight at No 5 I.T.W, with our flight sergent Kellar?, our Flying OFFICER, and I believe our Sqdn leader.. Possibly a second flight is also included as our flight consisted of 30 A.C2 s.

The only other time I was near the Sqdn Leader , was when I was “On guard “ at the Hotel entrance one night. Armed with a S.M.L.E 303, and nothing up the spout, a squadron leader approached me.
I called out “who goes there friend or foe” , the squadron leader replied “friend,” I followed up with 1250 please sir. As expected he said I’m your squadron leader, to which I replied 1250 or I fire. He produced his 1250 (identity card) and said well done airman. He could have just used the back door .
I must add, that our flight sergeant, F.O and Sqdn Leader where strict disciplinarians, but absolutely fair, and perfect gentlemen.

I think I would have used a gnomonic projection map for my trip to Brough , rather than Mercator chart. Not much room in a Tiger Moth. Just put it down to pre-senile dementia.

31st Jan 2009, 18:23
Cliff, I hope this doesn't appear a morbid question, but did you ever tally up how many of your course made it through to VE (or VJ) Day?

You'll probably have read Don Charlwood's excellent "No Moon Tonight". His crew was the first in his squadron (100 Sqn?) in 12 months to complete a 30 mission tour.

During their training, someone remarked that there were instructors from Coastal Command and other commands, but none from Bomber Command and wondered why. It wasn't until they got onto their squadrons that they discovered the rather sobering answer.

Probably an even better read, by the same author, is "Journeys into Night". It tells the same story as "No Moon Tonight", but was written ~thirty years after the war, where the author was more willing to give a "warts and all" version of events and (I'm assuming) enough people had died to allow him to be somewhat more forthcoming in criticising some of his leaders. Of Charlwood's (navigator's) course of 20, fifteen were killed, almost all of them in Bomber Command.

31st Jan 2009, 21:19
We have a lot more in common than Liverpool, Cliff. The Flt/Sgt Discip sitting in the front row in your ITW picture was called Skoular. I can't vouch for the spelling, it might have been Schoular or Skoular and he was Egyptian. He was also my Flt/Sgt i.c B Flight at No 6 ITW at Aberystwyth when I was there from Dec 1940 until March 1941. He was very tough and very fair as I remember. Our Corporal was a Cpl. Beaton and he and the F/Sgt were a darned good team. Just one of the numerous coincidences that I have encountered during my life. I seem to remember that his moustache was a bit more luxurious when I knew him but then he would have been about a year younger. By the way, in the thread from "Wiley", he asked if you knew how many survived the war. According to statistics , Bomber Command alone, had 55,000 aircrew killed or missing, more than the entire number lost by the brave men of the Merchant Navy.
While I am here at the desk.....I'll get on with a bit more of my story..... There was always a huge gasp of dismay when the curtain was drawn at Briefing and we saw the long ,tortuous track of the red ribbon finishing at "The Big City" as we always referred to Berlin. We knew that we were in for over eight hours of nerve wracking tension and knew that there would be a savage reception awaiting us.
I had been a Flt.Sgt. for a very long time but one day I was called to the Wingco's Office and was interviewed by a very charming Air Vice Marshall Carr . It was a very brief interview and consisted of two questions;" How long have you been on Operations ?" and "What does your Father do ?". The answer to the first was "Over a year , Sir " and the second was "He is an RAF Signals Officer at Helwan, Egypt, Sir." His answer was short and sweet but addressed to my Squadron Commander. "I do know that Helwan is in Egypt and see that this chap does his next Op as an Officer. " As a matter of fact my commission came through in under three weeks , together with that of my Navigator and my Bomb Aimer and I found myself as a very new Pilot Officer for my first Op as a "sprog" . The target was a place that no one had ever heard of and it was very unusual that we were operating at all as it was full moon and we had never been called upon to operate at that time before. We were told that it was a vital target and was a secret Radio Station and if we didn't destroy it that night we would have to go back every night until it was destroyed. We were also told that 4 Group,which was our Group, of course, had the doubtful honour of leading the raid which consisted of around six hundred four engined bombers, mainly Halifaxes and Lancasters.
You have, of course , guessed, by now, that the target was Peenemunde, a small place on the Baltic and the breeding ground for the V2 Rockets that would wreak such havoc later......much later as a result of this operation. I see that the remarks in my log book just say "Quiet trip. Bombed and got an aiming point " or words to that effect. I was astounded to hear that we had lost 42 aircraft, 30 of them over the target as we had not seen any signs of fighters, just the usual flak and searchlights. We had not been told that 30 Mosquito's had been sent, as a diversion , to Berlin and timed to look as though they were the leaders of the main force so that the German fighters had been "scrambled" to Berlin and only arrived over Peenemunde towards the middle of the operation and had then really taken their toll. Once again, luck had played such a huge part of staying alive.
The Germans had used, for one of the first times, their answer to "Window" . It was called "Wild Boar" and was to use every fighter available, even their daylight fighters and get them up high enough to see the bombers silhouetted against the searchlights, fires and the cloud below if there was any. Incidentally I got the code name wrong for the upward firing guns mounted on their fighters. It was not "Nacht Musik" but was "Schrage Musik" (It might be "schraage") Schrage Musik was "Jazz" or "Kinky" as was the idea of fixed upward firing guns, but it worked . Our answer was "Monica", A device that beeped whenever anything came near the blind spot roughly under the main spar. The trouble was it could'nt distinguish betweeen friend or foe and as there were always hundreds of other aircraft around, Monica would sing during the whole trip and was, as often as not, switched off.
I made three trips to Berlin and on one of them had a very unusual experience. We were lucky enough to be one of the first Halifax Squadrons to be equipped with radial Bristol Hercules engines and we could now join the Lancs at the dizzy heights of 22,000 ft where, or so they told us, the flak was less accurate. On this night, over Berlin, it was as light as day because of the low cloud ,the searchlights and the fires blazing below. I had just started my bombing run when I looked out to my left and was astounded to see a Messerschmit 109 about four hundred yards away , literally formated ,just out of our range on our port wing. He stayed there and I told the gunners not to fire as it was useless and would only draw others to the scene. He flew across the target with me as we bombed, then the pilot pointed towards his guns, shrugged his shoulders, gave me a "thumbs up" sign then half rolled on to his back and dived away. We were "coned" after that by three searchlights but I got my head down in the cockpit to avoid being blinded and did some violent weaving and managed to get away.......

Brian Abraham
1st Feb 2009, 03:40
regle and cliffnemo, you may find SilverWings (http://www.clanzyhodge.demon.co.uk/5BFTS/articles/silverwings/silverwings.htm) of interest. From a thread running at http://www.pprune.org/aviation-history-nostalgia/360300-raf-training-base-arcadia-florida.html

Did you know some of you chaps contributed to the war effort even before starting training? Lifted from the link.

A constant stream of relatively fast unescorted passenger ships crossing the Atlantic, kept the cadets enrolling in 5BFTS at the rate of 100 every nine weeks. The ships had a good safety record made possible by naval intelligence obtained from the ultra secret Enigma code-breaking carried out at Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes. Even so, it required excellent seamanship to avoid contact with the 120 U-Boats operating in the Atlantic on any one day in 1943! One such crossing was dramatic however in May 1941. The "Britannic" was carrying cadets destined for the Arnold Scheme. Unknown to the cadets the ship was being used as bait for the German battlecruisers "Bismarck" and "Prince Eugen". It worked and the German warships sailed into the ambush prepared by the Royal Navy.

1st Feb 2009, 12:38
I wonder if I could butt into this fascinating thread for a moment while it still might have the interest of many of those who learned to fly in the USA.

After an immensely adventurous life Flt Lt Lawrence Mitchell died recently and, although the family know that he was an RAF instructor in Texas before going onto Typhoons and Tempests in Europe, they have very little information on his life at that time. Like many war heroes he remained fairly tightlipped about that period of his life.

I just wondered if anyone following this thread might have crossed paths with him and be able to provide any stories which could be passed on to the family. I know that they have followed the official RAF channels and, although they have been very helpful, their information has done little to reveal the character of the man. Based on the rest of his life, which included winning his class in the Le Man 24 Hour race, I would imagine that his RAF life was just as colourful.

1st Feb 2009, 12:58
Reg has asked me to post 3 of his pictures, he will add his comments on a following posting.


B FLIGHT 6 ITW ABERYSTWYTH (spelling help from Mrs AndyL)


REG (avec moustache) Snaith 1943 under his Halifax


REG and his FATHER 1942

1st Feb 2009, 13:46
The photograph of B Flight ,No 6 ITW, Aberystwyth would have been taken around Feb/March 1941. The F/Sgt. Choular (I think that is the name, Cliff) is sitting, third from the left, in the front row; I am standing, fourth from the right, in the back row. I hope that you recognise him, Cliff. On his left is his Corporal Beaton. The moustache did not last for very long, Dora, and many others ,hated it so off it came. The photograph of me and my Father would have been taken mid 1942. I would have been 20 (8th. May), and my Father 41, possibly 42 (1st. Sept.)

1st Feb 2009, 14:10
I think that I told the story of being in the Atlantic on board the Britannic, in one of my first threads. I had seen it depart from Liverpool on it's maiden voyage when I was a very little boy. We were 500 cadets forming the very first part of the "Arnold Scheme" which was to become vital to the supply of well trained pilots for the RAF. we were surprised to find that we had the "Rodney" and four Destroyers as our escort and dismayed when they left us very soon after sailing, to seek and sink the "Bismarck". We were never told of this beforehand but the Grapevine kept us informed all through the battle with the dreadful news of the loss of the "Hood" giving us much to think about before we heard that the "Bismarck" had been given the "coup de grace " by the "Rodney ". Stirring Days! There is a photo ,on an earlier page (13 or thereabouts) taken on board the "Britannic" of us all of 42A enjoying a ship's concert. Brings to mind the quotation "Regardless of their doom, the little innocents played," I don't know who wrote it. I still have a copy of the Toronto Newspaper with the headlines "British Cadets Chased by the Bismarck" . We set sail May 22nd. 1941 and landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 30th.1941 so it all happened just a couple of weeks after my 19th. Birthday. it is a long, long time ago.

2nd Feb 2009, 11:32
It's this.....

Thomas Gray

Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the watery glade,
Where grateful Science still adores
Her Henry's holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights the expanse below
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver-winding way.

Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,
Ah, fields beloved in vain,
Where once my careless childhood strayed,
A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales, that from ye blow,
A momentary bliss bestow,
As waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,
To breathe a second spring.

Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race
Disporting on thy margent green
The paths of pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?
The captive linnet which enthrall?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,
Or urge the flying ball?

While some on earnest business bent
Their murmuring labours ply
'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint
To sweeten liberty:
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,
And unknown regions dare descry:
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,
And snatch a fearful joy.

Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possessed;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,
The sunshine of the breast:
Theirs buxom health of rosy hue,
Wild wit, invention ever new,
And lively cheer of vigour born;
The thoughtless day, the easy night,
The spirits pure, the slumbers light,
That fly the approach of morn.

Alas, regardless of their doom,
The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,
Nor care beyond today:
Yet see how all around 'em wait
The ministers of human fate,
And black Misfortune's baleful train!
Ah, show them where in ambush stand
To seize their prey the murderous band!
Ah, tell them they are men!

These shall the fury Passions tear,
The vultures of the mind
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,
And Shame that skulks behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy with rankling tooth,
That inly gnaws the secret heart,
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visaged comfortless Despair,
And Sorrow's piercing dart.

Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,
And grinning Infamy.
The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness' altered eye,
That mocks the tear if forced to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood defiled,
And moody Madness laughing wild
Amid severest woe.

Lo, in the vale of years beneath
A grisly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,
More hideous than their Queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every labouring sinew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage:
Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,
And slow-consuming Age.

To each his sufferings: all are men,
Condemned alike to groan,
The tender for another's pain;
The unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.

2nd Feb 2009, 11:38


Does the above black object bring back happy memories of barrack room sports? It should appear as brass coloured, but that's scanning for you.

2nd Feb 2009, 11:45
Gallons of Brasso must have been wasted until Anodized buttons appeared. ;)

2nd Feb 2009, 16:30
And after the Brasso came forth Duraglit.

You can ask any questions you want to, morbid or otherwise, with one exception. No questions about the Reeperbahn, Hamburg. 15 course at Ponca consisted of (all approximate figures ) 104 cadets, including 17 American. 22 were eliminated leaving 65 British of which 9 killed.. This comparatively low figure, may be due to it being far safer stoking steam trains, as was mentioned in previous posts.

Have the relatives of F/L Mitchell googled 1 BFTS. . Think there is an American 1 B.F.T.S association, and possibly a British one. Also The Royal Air Force forum, and the R.A.F commands forum, might help.

Your reference to the Britannic , Hood, Rodney etc, reminded me of that old mess song, (becoming all nostalgic again)

I called on my sweetheart they called her Miss Brown.
She was having a bath and she couldn’t come down
So roll on the Nelson, the Rodney, Renown,
You can’t say the Hood, cos the backstuds gone down..

I wonder if the modern aviators still sing daft songs in the mess.

2nd Feb 2009, 16:42
I wonder if the modern aviators still sing daft songs in the mess.

Highly unlikely, I'd say :E

2nd Feb 2009, 16:48
Aaaaargh! Button sticks!! Those horrible things were still around when I went through Cranwell in 1968. The joys of Brasso and Duraglit - and picking the residue out of the crowns with a matchstick....

Then along came 'Staybrite' (sp?) buttons. First they were flat, then 'high dome' in design.

But then we started wearing the scruffy woolly pully - and buttons became largely a thing of the past except when wearing No1s for parades, weddings and AOC's bollockings.

Super thread, cliff - do think about getting a book published!

Jig Peter
2nd Feb 2009, 18:36
Oh how Cliffnemo's stories bring things back !!! Thanks a lot from one old(ish) Cold Warrior who trained at 6 FTS Ternhill in 1950 (35 P course) ...

My reason for posting is that the SBA approach stories reminded me of an occasion under the hood in a Harvard when I was concentrating so hard on getting to the steady beam, with Ns (or As) fading into it, that when the "TN" station callsign broke the dot/dash transmission, I failed to notice that the dit-dah plus steady note had changed to dah-dit...
Nice steady approach towards Shawbury before my instructor suggested I might be interested in the scenery before me ... (P/O Warburton wasn't the gentlest of instructors, but he did teach me a lot !).:ugh:
Thanks again all the predecessors !!!

2nd Feb 2009, 19:00
J P, that reminds me of an incident that occurred in 1956 when a student on our course, flying solo in a Piston Provost, called downwind at what he thought was Ternhill, turned finals at Shawbury and was shot down by a red very from the caravan, which lodged inside the radial cowling and set fire to the engine, forcing him to carry out his first forced landing at a mirror image of Ternhill.

2nd Feb 2009, 20:13
Did you know Sqdrn Leader James AN McEwan who was in Torquay ITWs in 1940's?
He was my grandfather.

3rd Feb 2009, 06:57
Did you recognise FLt,Sgt. Choular from my photograph of B Flight 6ITW Aberystwyth ? I think, in fact I am sure that it is one and the same man who is sitting to the left of the officers in your photo at Torquay. I had a lot of respect for that man as he was scrupously fair and a very .decent chap that you could take your toubles to. Regle' I find our two careers fascinating as they run side by side but in a different time warp and then , occasionally they run in to a common factor such as the sharing of the same Flt/Sgt. Discip. You have far more technical knowledge than me. That was always my weakest subject as I was not particularly mechanically minded.

3rd Feb 2009, 07:08
Thanks for the provenance of my quotation. How true it rings, even or especially, in these days. How nice to read the splendid words that I had never seen in full. I have just told Cliff that I was never very practically minded , Classic literature was always my preference. Don't know how I became a pilot... Perhaps the sheer beauty of Flight was the answer. All the best, Regle.

3rd Feb 2009, 10:37
I (cliffnemo) Just found this in my inbox. Cliff
Flag this message

re: 1 B.F.T.S
Tuesday, 3 February, 2009 1:50 AM
"Al Castleman" <[email protected]<hidden>>
Add sender to Contact

WOW!! Good to hear from you. I found your thread at

PPRuNe. Top notch stuff. I will sign up and join in on the fun. I am on the Board of Directors for the No1 B.F.T.S. Museum in Terrell Texas. The rest of the Board members will enjoy the web site also.

More soon,


4th Feb 2009, 12:08

I read with admiration of your bravery in the accounts of raids you took part in during WW2.

I have one question that I wonder whether you can answer.

In the early 1970’s I was stationed at the JHQ at Rheindahlen near Mönchengladbach (MG) in Germany. The quarter we occupied was alongside the Buntegarten, one of the better areas of MG and not far from the town’s most prominent landmark a massive 170ft high water tower built on the highest spot in town which dominated the town and surrounding countryside.

One of my German neighbours, a schoolboy during the war in MG, said that the water tower, because it was so large an object, was used as an ‘aiming point’ by allied bombers during their raids on the town. I had no way of knowing whether this was true or not, but I wonder did you take place in any raids against MG and if so did your briefing make reference to the tower at MG as a possible aiming point?

The following two photos show the MG water tower.



And here is what the Bomber Command Campaign Diary — for Sept 1944 says:

RAF History - Bomber Command 60th Anniversary (http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/sep44.html)

9/10 September 1944
113 Lancasters and 24 Mosquitos of 5 and 8 Groups carried out a devastating raid on the centre of Mönchengladbach without loss.

19/20 September 1944
227 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and No 5 Groups to the twin towns of Mönchengladbach/Rheydt. 4 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito lost. Bomber Command claimed severe damage to both towns, particularly to Mönchengladbach.

The Master Bomber for this raid was Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, DSO, DFC flying a No 627 [617?] Squadron Mosquito from Coningsby, where he was serving as Base Operations Officer. Gibson’s instructions over the target were heard throughout the raid and gave no hint of trouble, but his aircraft crashed in flames - according to a Dutch eyewitness - before crossing the coast of Holland for the homeward flight over the North Sea. There were no German fighter claims for the Mosquito; it may have been damaged by flak over the target or on the return flight, or it may have developed engine trouble. It was possibly flying too low for the crew to escape by parachute. Gibson and his navigator, Squadron Leader J. B. Warwick, DFC were both killed and were buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Steenbergen-en-Kruisland, 13km north of Bergen-op-Zoom. Theirs are the only graves of Allied servicemen in the cemetery.

4th Feb 2009, 14:35

I used to live near Rheydt - there is a large landscaped "hill" in a park by the A61 autobahn. I believe that the hill was constructed from the debris from the bombing raids you mention.

4th Feb 2009, 15:03
Thank you for your kind remarks but Bravery....! We were all scared witless but knew that the consequences of not doing anything could not be contemplated so "Pressed on , regardless" as we used to say. No, I never bombed Munchen Gladbach but, in any case as we grew more accurate with the Pathdinder Force leading the way we bombed on their various coloured markers and the aimimg points were prechosen by the Pathfinders and then the Master Bomber would take over and direct the oncoming crews to bomb at different points and, above all stopped the notorious "creep back" caused by later waves bombing early on the already blazing targets. I doubt very much whether the water tower would have been chosen as an aiming point because, although it would stand out when viewed from ground level it would just be a very small circle viewed from above. Large prominent factories, junctions of large Railway yards, Railway staions, Reservoirs, River bends in populated areas were the types of aiming points chosen and the colours of the flares would be changed as the targets were saturated...All this over the R/T in a cool calm voice from people such as Leonard Cheshire VC and Guy Gibson VC who would stooge around the Hell raging below and above like a fussy hen gathering their chicks together. That was bravery ! All the very best, Regle

4th Feb 2009, 21:03

I doubt very much whether the water tower would have been chosen as an aiming point because, although it would stand out when viewed from ground level it would just be a very small circle viewed from above.

Thanks for your prompt reply. After submitting my post above I realised that the Water Tower viewed at night from 20,000 ft would have been a relatively insgnificant object, so I reckon my German neighbour got it wrong, although I suppose the tower could have been an easily recognised landmark for ground attack aircraft sweeping in to attack Ruhr targets later in the war.

Brian Abraham
5th Feb 2009, 03:48
regle, just out of interest how many hours experience would you have had when setting out on your first raid, and also how much time in the Halifax prior to first raid. What was the Halifax like to fly, idiosyncrasies good and bad?

5th Feb 2009, 10:53
I first flew the Halifax at 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit , Rufforth, Yorks. The month was May 1943 and I flew the Mk. V Halifax. The original Halifax had suffered a bad design fault in as much as the rounded leading edges of the rear stabilisers did not provide enough area to recover in a turning dive and a "Rudder stall", usually fatal, occurred. Eventually the Mk11A was produced with square rudders and this was effective in curing the fault. When I started the course I had a total of 543 hours of which 200 were my training hours in the USA.
I found the Halifax a very easy aircraft to fly but extremely heavy on the controls and an hour's circuits and bumps was a real hard physical exercise. It was built like the proverbial brick "outhouse" and had armour plating everywhere you can imagine, This made it very popular with the crews as it was capable of absorbing very heavy punishment. It was flyable on two engines providing that airspeeds were rigidly observed and weights were crirical. If you had already released your bombload and were returning to base you would be able to fly there and land on two engines , once again, critical speeds were,,er,,,critical. Once the wheels were down then you were committed to land.
At the Con. Unit I had 14 hrs Dual (1.20 night) and 29 hrs. First Pilot (7,10 night). I was posted to 51 Sqdn. Snaith, Yorks whe re I did some circuits and bumps on the Mk.V and made my first Heavy Op to Hamburg on July 24th. 1943. The comparison between the Halifax and the Lanc. was rather like that between the Spitfire and the Hurricane. There is no doubt that the Lanc could carry the greatest load, further and higher than the Halifax but the Halifax could take the greatest punishment and was less vulnerable to the lighter calibre guns. Later in my career I was to fly the Lancaster a great deal at The Empire Flying School, Hullavington where I was a "Tutor" and it was a delight to fly to the limit and far more manoeuverable than the Halifax.....but !
When I finished my uncharacteristic long tour, Oct.1942 until Jan 28th. 1944, I had a total of 733 hours so I flew 190 hours during my Operational period.,roughly the same amount of training that I had put in during my stay in Georgia USA.
I hope that this answers your question satisfactorily, Brian. It was not the normal run of things as I had a longer training in the USA than those who had trained elsewhere and I had operated on Mosquito's (9 Ops.) before asking to go to heavies. All the best, Regle

5th Feb 2009, 16:03
Regle, I would imagine the Halifax had the same handling characteristics of the Hastings (80000lbs AUW), which was also heavy on the controls and a b****r to land in a crosswind. Flight engineers always claimed the credit for greasers and blamed the pilots for thumpers!

5th Feb 2009, 16:08
Regle. Was there ever a time when you thought "I wish I was back on Mosquito's". I understand that most people would rather have gone to the Mozzie rather than the other way around.

5th Feb 2009, 19:43
No, I have never regretted my decision and, as my career evolved I knew that I had made the right one. I flew large aircraft because I always knew that I would continue to fly after the war and my experience in flying 4 engined aircraft stood me in good stead time and time again. The Mosquito was, without doubt, one of the finest aircraft that I ever flew and I flew about fifty types but nothing could have prepared me for a civil career like the grounding that I got on Heavies both in the Operational sense of the word and, later, by my Instructional experience at The Bomber Command Instructional School from the very beginning of that establishment at Finningley in 1944 and later as a "Tutor" at the Empire Flying School, Hullavington. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and was able to continue flying large aircraft until I retired at the age of sixty . The "Mozzie" was glamorous and a joy to fly (until you put the undercarriage down !). The Convair 240 was about the best civil prop aircraft and , without a doubt, the 747 the finest jet and I flew the 707 and the DC10 as well.
To quote "The little sparrow" "Non, Je ne regrette rien".

Brian Abraham
6th Feb 2009, 02:17
Many thanks regle, could pick your brains for hours, nay, days, perhaps even months. :) Fascinating yarns, going to be a long thread by the time you tell the tale of your retirement flight. :D

6th Feb 2009, 09:53
That reminds me of a joke that I had read in a book about a Mossie pilot.

This WW2 pilot apparently was wearing his winter gear (which must have been quite thick?) and had to struggle to get up the ladder into the Mossie cockpit, finally he said he collapsed "sweaty"on the seat and his groundsman started to belt him up said "don't worry Sir, the Mossie is like a v**gin woman, hard to get into but nice once your inside"

Hope that doesn't offend anyone :0)

6th Feb 2009, 10:39
Ref Gibson’s instructions over the target were heard throughout the raid and gave no hint of trouble, but his aircraft crashed in flames.

My Uncle was Mid Upper on 630 Squadron Lancs. I have a diary put together by one of the crew. Night of September 19th, 1944, is below. The whole crew survived 216 Ops hours.


6th Feb 2009, 17:42
Hello all

First I would like to thank cliffnemo for pointing me to this web site. A little about myself. My father, James E. Castleman, was a flight instructor at No1 B.F.T.S. in Terrell Texas until the end of WWII. He continued flying until he lost his life in an airplane crash in 1967. I received my pilots license in 1973 and logged more than 8000 flight hours before retiring from aviation in 2006. I joined the Dallas Police Department in 1971, spent the first eight years in radio patrol before being transfered to the Helicopter Unit. There I spent the next twenty two years flying Bell 47 and Jet Ranger helicopters. During this period I also flew part time as a Corporate Pilot for a large company in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

It is a pleasure to get to read your messages on this site.

If you are interested you can check out our BFTS web site at www.no1bfts.com (http://www.no1bfts.com)

My best to all.

Al Castleman

6th Feb 2009, 17:47
B Eagle (Think about a book ?)
Many thanks for you misplaced confidence in my journalistic ability, it is appreciated, but I think I will just plod on in my own inimitable style . Every thing off the top of my head. Can’t be a mechanical geniAss, and a journalist.

Regle I think we did have the same F/S (Choular) at our respective I.T.W s, I wonder if he pronounced his name Kellar, by the time he was posted to Torquay. On our first parade we thought he was , to be polite, unsociable. However shortly after one of the cadets received a telegram saying a near relative was seriously ill. The general consensus was the F/S would not help, but to mention it when we “fell in three thick” .
To our surprise, when told he immediately detailed one of the cadets to take charge , and go through the drill book. He then disappeared with the cadet. The next we heard was that the cadet had been given compassionate leave, a travel warrant, and transport to the railway station. Another time , on what was supposed to be a twenty mile route march over Dartmoor, under the supervision of F/S C/K it became more like a ramble. We did complete the twenty miles at a leisurely pace, and finished up in a pub in Widdicombe On our final celebratory night in Torquay he joined in the fun.

Just thinking, with me at the blunt end, and Regle at the sharp end, your should get an accurate picture of how it was.

7th Feb 2009, 22:49
Cliff, I agree that we do seem to "meld". Perhaps we should get together and write a book, alternating chapters ? The thing that stands out , for me, in your threads is the terrific technical knowledge that comes out so strongly and your technical explanations of various subjects make me green with envy. When I was tested by the examining flight of the Empire Flying School for my instructor's grading I was given an A2 and the examiner told me that I would have got the coveted A1 had my technical knowledge been of the same standard as my flying. I used to think that if you could'nt do something about an emergency then it was'nt worth wasting time swotting up the whys and wherefores of that particular subject. How wrong I was ! I always leaned to the classical side of my grammar school education, was hopeless at Maths, Science, Carpentry and all things practical and remained like that all my life. It takes all sorts to make the world and I would rather prefer the comparison to a sword for us as it is two edged with no sharp or blunt aspects. Get my point ! Reg.

8th Feb 2009, 10:51
The modern air force most certainly does sing silly songs in the mess; 30 years in NI with SH (Support Helicopters) was a breeding ground full of hilarious incidents which some bright, witty and occasionally bored aircrew chaps wrote many a pertinent song outlining events, locations, thoughts etc which can be sung to popular tunes. These songs were brilliant! :} Such was their popularity, especially during 'twofers' on friday nights in Sgts and Officers Messes, that a SH Song Book was compiled so that everyone could have a copy. I attended the recent Puma reunion and was delighted to find a re-issue of the SH Song Book (Issue 2) but now in 'Flight Reference Cards' (FRC) format in that it can now be carried in a flying suit pocket! Might have a problem during an airborne emergency if you mixed the two up and started singing 'Do you ken South Armagh?' to the tune of 'do you ken John Peel?' instead of reading out the 'Single engine failure' checks! I suppose we'd all die laughing if nothing else!! :E
The initial idea spawned in NI now includes historic songs about the Falklands and Iraq.
They are 'trench humour' and' historical documents' set to music but not for the PC-sensitive luvvies!
So Cliff, despite these days of not having enough equipment to do the job properly, RAF morale still exists!! Hurrah! :ok:

8th Feb 2009, 11:41
Many years ago at a Guest Night at RAF Northolt I was chatting to a Retired Wg Cdr with DS0 & Bar, DFC & Bar who had been the Sqn Cdr of the Unit from which Guy Gibson had borrowed a Mosquito for his final mission. This Gentleman insisted that the crash of the Mosquito on its return flight to UK was because Gibson was not familiar with the fuel management system required in operating the Mosquito .

I see that Wikipedia state that after the crash the fuel tank selectors were found to be incorrectly set.

Eric T Cartman
8th Feb 2009, 11:52
@<hidden> DPD Pilot
Thanks for the link Mr.Castleman - perhaps you should start your own thread like this one. You must have a huge fund of stories to tell after a career like yours ?

8th Feb 2009, 16:07
I am in the middle of collecting and collating information for my next post. In fact I am now standing hats off in front of the C.O, but thought I had better pause, save my work in M.S Word, and welcome Al Castleman of No 1 B.F.TS.. Al by all means start your own thread on Pprune, but how about some input from you and your friends over there. Everyone who is constructive is welcome here. How about the odd picture ? Transferring photographs is slightly difficult, but you can always send me a personal email for details., (Sorry if you are already au fait with photobucket).

Sorry, Regle your analogy doesn't apply, you did what I intended to do, but I was frustrated most of the time. Flying round the Lake district was good fun though, and the court of enquiry exciting

Dun Diggin. Even though we sang songs like
They're shifting grandads grave to build a sewer.???
Take the joystick from out of my stomach etc ( and assemble the aircraft again) ????
And many more our revered moderator would delete.

8th Feb 2009, 16:28
Eric and cliffnemo

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. There have been a few 'hair raising' events for sure. Fixed wing engine failure and landing gear problems. Being shot at twice in the Police helicopter. I'll look for a thread on this web site where I might add a story or two.

The Board of Director's meeting for the No1 B.F.T.S. Museum is tomorrow, Feb 9Th. I will tell the other Board members about this site and I'm sure they will be very interested. The curator of the museum, Mr. Henry Medgwick, was as student at the Terrell Flight School. I believe he was in Course 4 but will find out for sure tomorrow. He moved back to Terrell Texas after the war, married a local girl and raised a family there. The web site I mentioned contains several photos. Plus I will try my hand at adding one to this thread.

It is interesting to read the stories and comments from you gentleman who are 'across the pond'. Some of the terms and abbreviations you use I am not familiar with but I can catch most of what you're saying.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your post on this thread.


9th Feb 2009, 15:11
I look forward to reading some interesting stories of life in the American helicopter Police Force from you, DPD so don't worry about understanding the weird way that we speak English. It is not just the different schooling, there is a lot of expressions, sayings and words that have changed with each generation. I used the phrase "He signed the pledge " which was a very common term, in my younger days for telling you that a person had sworn not to drink alcohol but it has passed out, completely, from common usage and so, baffled a different age group to my own. I won't go into the mistakes made by the British Cadets when first plunged into the American way of life.... there were so many and I am sure they have been told over and over again, So "Press on, regardless " which was a favourite term of "Get on with it " in our wartime days. Let's be hearing from you. Good luck, Regle

9th Feb 2009, 16:39
And some said 'Press on rewardless'

10th Feb 2009, 10:50
Al, here is a picture that I scanned in Terrell library when I was researching my Uncle who got his wings at Terrell (having started out with Reg in 42A Albany GA, but probably was washed out to Terrell), you might recognise someone?

I also "won" this on ebay, not quite sure what it would have been used for but it was associated with BFTS1


Finally this is shot I took of a display cabinet at Darr Aero recently, Reg should recognise this one?


I do apologise if I am stating the obvious, but there was a distinct difference between the course that Cliff would have taken (BFTS) and the course that Reg would have taken (Arnold Scheme).

Cliff would have been at one centre for the whole course, whilst Reg would have moved every time he completed a section of the course Primary/Basic/Advanced.

When Reg started in July 1941 the dropout from the early courses was significant, nearly 45% dropped out (my Uncle included) some were recycled as Bomb Aimers and Navigators, whilst others (courtesy of Wing Commander Hogan) were given a second chance at a BFTS like my Uncle.


Net Intake






































I don’t know what happened when they got to class 42 E as the dropout improved dramatically, perhaps they shut the local bar? Reg?

The above table is taken from http://www.arnold-scheme.org/ (http://www.arnold-scheme.org/) which is a useful source of information on the scheme.

Later on in the BFTS I think (can you comment Cliff?) the course got improved and they even dropped out Basic training and went straight from Primary to Advanced.

So again apologies if I this Young Sprog has bored anyone!

10th Feb 2009, 10:58
OOps don't know what happened with my last post as the table went haywire, however if hang on to a bottle of wine and squint you might be able to translate class 42A had an intake of 549, 302 made it though for their wings etc etc.
Now onto Reg's pictures:-




Over to you Reg!

10th Feb 2009, 11:42
The difference between the two systems/courses is one of the many things that make this thread so interesting for me.

10th Feb 2009, 11:50
There were more courses still, like the Tower Scheme..........................

10th Feb 2009, 15:06
Wedding, Spring 1944, Outside our Blackpool Hotel/B&B L.To R. My Mother, My Sister Ruth, "The ubiquitous " Jacky, Me with face bandaged after a hasty exit from a Halifax, Lovely Dora, Paddy Graham, my R/O, Dora's Mother and Father.
2. Chiefy Dora,
3. Me with two "Colonial" aircrew that I took on leave to Blackpool L. to R. Kevin ? Newfoundland Observer, Me, Sgt Drimmie, Canada. They had to be forcibly taken back to camp,they loved Blackpool so much !

10th Feb 2009, 16:26

Yes Andy, I had both primary training (P.T 17), and advanced training (A.T 6) at Darr, Ponca City. So no basic training.

With regard to the pic of Darr school, I don't think it is of Ponca City. Our camp was only on one side of the road. Could it be a pic of Darr School at Miami Okla?. Think Mr Darr had more than one school. I could be wrong, but sixty years ago ???

10th Feb 2009, 17:08
Yes Cliff, sorry to mix you up, the photograph is of Darr Aero Albany Georgia, which is where Reg and my Uncle were trained, but only on Primary I think?

To the left of the road are two hangers, which are still being used today. The administration and barracks are on the right hand side of the road, they are now pulled down and a McGregor golf factory is there.

I don't have any of BFTS 6 pictures as I have so far only researched my Uncle, it was that research that lead me to Reg.

Regards Andy

11th Feb 2009, 19:23
November 1943 was a very busy one for Bomber Command and I began to see the end of my tour as a very real possibility. I was told by many people nearing the end of their tours that the last ten were the worst to experience as , it seemed, that many of them "went for a Burton " at this time. I do not know where that phrase came from but it was nearly always used to describe someone "buying it" or "cashed in his chips". There were many euphemisms but no one would ever say the actual words.
In November I went to Dusseldorf (Ruhr or "Happy Valley"), Cannes Marshalling yards....This was a rare event and sighs of relief went up when the ribbon showed the unbelievable target in the South of France. In actual fact there was a lot of Flak and a fair amount of fighter activity but it was not like anywhere in the German heartland. Then we tried to find Leverkeusen again. It was a small town in the Ruhr but had a huge Factory that I think was I.G Farben, but I am not sure. I know that 4 Group had been there before and had never been successful in finding the target and this one was just the same as I see that we bombed on ETA over a thick layer of cloud under which there was certainly the Pathfinder's correct Markers. Then it was back to the Big City once again and a long haul to Stuttgart to finish a very crowded and scary month.
There were rumours going around that the Squadron was going to be split up and they turned out to be true as I had only one trip to Leipzig in the beginning of December and then I was sent on leave for Xmas and New Year with Dora, who had gone back to St. Helens to her parents to prepare for the expected new arrival in 1944 towards the middle of February. I was told by the C.O. that the whole of "C" Flight, which was my flight,were being posted to nearby Burn,to form the nucleus of a new squadron No 578. but that I was to return off leave to Snaith.
I don't remember much of that leave but I know that it was with a very heavy heart that I left St.Helens to return to Snaith where I found that there was nearly a mutiny going on with the "Press ganging " of "C" Flight the bone of contention. No one wanted to leave Snaith and the ties to 51 SQdn. were so strong that there was a very heavy atmosphere about the Station the whole period until the move which was due to take off at the beginning of Feb. 1944.
I was not surprised to see that it was Berlin again, towards the end of the month on the 20th. of Jan. but I see that in my log book I have noted "Target bombed from 21,000 ft. Little opposition" and that was a notation that rarely appeared , especially after that specific target. That was my 28th. Op. so only two more to go.
By now we were a mixed crew as Phil, my Navigator and Jack my
Bomb Aimer, had joined me in the Officer's Mess. I thought and still think , that it was a bad thing to have these differences in rank. We were lucky in that we had a very good "esprit de corps" amongst ourselves and the matter never came up unless it was a joke that someone just had to relate but I know that there were many crews who had been very good ones had told of a completely different attitude towards each other came up when one or two of the crew were commissioned after a long spell of ops on the same footing.
The morning of the 28th. of January 1944, I went down to Breakfast and saw that the Battle list for the day was on the board already. It was usually put up towards the middle of the day and I saw that our crew was on the list so we were "On "for the penultimate trip of my tour. It was no surprise to be told that there would be an early briefing would take place immediately after lunch and it was no further surprise when we saw the red ribbon ending in the heart of Berlin again. It would be my second successive trip to Berlin and my fourth of the tour.
Whenever "Ops" were "On" the station moved into very tight security. All telephones were closed to outside calls and incoming calls could only be directed to Duty Officers. The station gates were locked and the whole of the perimeter was patrolled by the RAF Regiment. I was sitting in the Mess after the briefing when I heard my name being called over the Tannoy. I was to report to the C.O immediately. Rather apprehensively, wondering what I had done to warrant this I went over to his Office and was ushered in by his Adjutant. To my surprise "Wilky" as he was affectionately known to the crews , got up and warmly shook my hand. "Congratulations " he said "I have just received the news that you are the Father of a little boy and your Wife and your son are both fine ". I was absolutely flabbergasted as we were not expecting the baby until early February. I just stood there and could'nt find any words. " I know that you are very surprised and I want you to know that we are all very happy for you. Unfortunately I can't let you go to see them until tomorrow but I shall not be surprised if you tell me that you would prefer not to go on the Operation, tonight. It is entirely up to you and I shall not question your decision." To my own shock I found myself saying that I would prefer that things were to be left as they were and that I would have an added incentive to a successful trip. I am sure that I said "You bloody idiot " to myself but not absolutely. Anyway the "die was cast" and I don't remember much of going back to the mess but I know that I had to tell someone, so Phil and Jack of my crew were the first to slap me on the back and very soon the word had flown around the Mess and it seemed as if the whole Squadron was shaking my hand. Unfortunately the Bar was always dry during Ops to those who were "On" but rash promises were made as to the future celebrations.
The ensuing trip was, without doubt, the longest and scariest trip that I had made during the whole of my career. We were "coned" three times over Berlin, itself and I had to throw the Halifax around for what seemed like hours on end before eventually breaking clear of the ring of Searchlights into the comparative calm of the Flak and the everpresent Fighters. It seemed a never ending battle all the way to the Dutch coast and I and my crew were exhausted long before we saw the welcome sight of the Station beacon winking at us from a few miles away. The end of one of the most eventful days of my life was not yet over. To my surprise Wing Commander Wilkerson , the C.O. himself was waiting for me at the dispersal. He told me that he had phoned the Hospital and had checked that everything was fine and then said " She will be very happy to know that you have done the last trip of your tour. I have personally decided that you have been on "Ops" long enough and you are now screened." I was completely dumbstruck and could only splutter out "What about my crew, Sir? and was told that it would be taken care of properly and not to worry and then he gave me my leave pass, told me not to overdo the celebrations....It was at least five in the morning by now and all that I wanted was my bed to be alone and sort myself out. I honestly did not know whether "I was batting or bowling " as My Wife was always fond of saying. I had been on "Ops" from Oct.1942 until Jan 28th. 1944 but had ony done 29 and not the requisite 30. I somehow felt cheated but I wasn't going to stick my neck out again.
So I went up to St. Helens next day to see my "Sprog" who was awaiting me. He had a slight touch of jaundice, which Dora assured me, would soon go and his lips were a bright purple from some Gentian Violet dressing that Dora had transmitted to him but we both agreed that he was the loveliest baby in the world and when I told her that my Ops were finished she burst into tears and I think that I joined her.
Wilky kept his word and asked the crew individually whether they wanted to continue for the few Ops that they might be asked to do. I think that they were all told that if they stayed they would have to go with new..."Sprog" crews and only Roy, our Canadian Mid Upper gunner, said that he would stay. He was shot down just two months afterwards over Berlin and is buried in the Berlin War Cemetery.

12th Feb 2009, 11:10
'Jolley good show' regle, that index finger must be showing signs of white finger syndrome,by now.

My version of the origination of the saying 'Gone for a Burton' Prewar when companies advertised in most towns by the use of large hoardings, Burton Brewery's contribution was a picture of a wall with an an empty ladder, and written on the wall "Gone for a Burton" . Or was it? Any other ideas ?. Seem to remember Watneys had a wall also, known as Watneys Wall.

Burton Ales were the best and strongest ales in the U.K . at that time. Well us Sassenachs thought so. I might enlarge on that, and it's effects when I reach R.A.F Battlestead Hill. Burton on Trent.

Sorry if it offends any of our Scottish friends or anyone who has signed the pledge.

12th Feb 2009, 13:23
cliffnemo and regle:
Wonderful stuff, please keep it coming (and Dallas Police Dept - Al - too, welcome!).
As cliff says, Burtons had an advertising campaign and there were several versions, generally featuring a group photo (such as a wedding) with usually the central character missing with the explanation "Gone for a Burton" (beer). Obviously the similarity with crew rooms after Ops led to the phrase being adopted as a euphemism. Not old enough to have experienced the adverts at first hand, so will yield the floor to anyone better informed (wide enough net!!).
Regle, how can you suddenly drop in the info that on your wedding photo you had a bandaged face from a "hasty exit from a Halifax"? I don't recall you describing that incident!
Thanks to both (and others) for the wonderful evocation of real wartime Ops. We're practically in the cockpit with you!

12th Feb 2009, 14:38
My very humble apologies for not explaining further..
The crew were "On Reserve" which meant sitting in your aircraft with full operational gear, having been briefed with the rest of the "lucky " chaps who were actually designated for the Op. You would stay there until the Wingco i/c Flying was certain that all designated crews had taken off and were deemed "en route" and then you were allowed to leave the aircraft and stand by in the respective messes. You were bound by the same restrictions as those who were actually going on the Op and No, it did not count towards the number of Ops performed.
We were sitting peacefully in our aircraft when an airman came rushing up to the cockpit and yelled "Get out, Quick, one of the bombs has fallen off and they are clearing the dispersal." Being the skipper I was duty bound to be the last to leave and I tripped on the sill of the rear exit and fell straight on to my face on to the tarmac There were not many people near to help me and I staggered to the waiting truck and was pulled on board, bleeding copiously...Straight to Sick Quarters where I was bandaged up and told to go and rest and come back in the morning. The wedding was about a week later and I was still bandaged and .. No, the bomb did not go off and some awkward questions were asked and not answered of the Armourers.and No, I did not get a wound stripe as it was not enemy action.... Who needs enemies with friends like that ?

12th Feb 2009, 17:45
Gone for a Burton

Am intrigued as others as to the origin of the phrase. A check of the Oxford English Dictionary comes up with the following explanation.

In slang phr. to go for a burton, (of an airman) to be killed; (of a person or thing) to be missing, ruined, destroyed.
None of the several colourful explanations of the origin of the expression is authenticated by contemporary printed evidence.

1941 New Statesman 30 Aug. 218/3 Go for a Burton, crash.
1943 C. H. WARD-JACKSON Piece of Cake 32 Gone for a Burton, killed, dead.
1946 E. ROBERTS in Raymond & Langdon Slipstream 38, I can see those flowers going for a burton.
1947 ‘N. SHUTE’ Chequer Board iii. 49 He went for a Burton over France last year.
1957 J. BRAINE Room at Top xx. 176 We noncoms used to say got the chopper. Going for a Burton was journalist's talk.

13th Feb 2009, 08:09
There were not many people near to help me You don't say! :)

13th Feb 2009, 08:19
on the Peenemunde raid were you flying Halifax HR 951 ? Just my curiosity !
Thank you and Clffnemo for your very interesting stories, please keep going.

13th Feb 2009, 19:03
Yes, that was my usual aircraft. How on earth did you figure that one out ? Regle

13th Feb 2009, 21:30
Hello Cliffnemo, you will notice a change of my name. The badge is the crest of 1 BFTS Terrell. and is on the front of the Course book. "The sea divides us but the sky unites" 70 hours in the Stearman, two weeks leave and then 130 hours on the AT6.That was the form at Terrell. Look forward to seeing you when the weather gets wartmer.:ok:

13th Feb 2009, 22:20
In informal British English, something or someone who has gone for a Burton is missing; a thing so described might be permanently broken, missing, ruined or destroyed. The original sense was to meet one’s death, a slang term in the RAF in World War Two for pilots who were killed in action (its first recorded appearance in print was in the New Statesman on 30 August 1941).
The list of supposed origins is extremely long, but the stories are so inventive and wide-ranging that you may find them intriguing:

Spanish Burton was the Royal Navy name for a pulley arrangement that was so complex and rarely used that hardly anyone could remember what it was or what to do with it. Someone in authority who asked about a member of a working party might be told that he’d gone for a burton.
The name of burton was given to a method of stowing wooden barrels across the ship’s hold rather than fore and aft. Though they took up less space this way, it was dangerous because the entire stowage might collapse and kill somebody.
The term burnt ’un referred to an aircraft going down in flames.
It refers to the inflatable Brethon life jacket at one time issued by the RAF.
It was a figurative reference to getting a suit made at the tailors Montague Burton, as one might say a person who had died had been fitted for a wooden overcoat, a coffin (compare the full Monty (http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/monty.htm)).
The RAF was said to have used a number of billiard halls, always over Burton shops, for various purposes, such as medical centres or Morse aptitude tests (one in Blackpool is especially mentioned in the latter context). To go for a Burton was then to have gone for a test of some sort, but to have failed.
It was rhyming slang: Burton-on-Trent (a famous British brewing town in the Midlands), meaning “went”, as in went West.
A pilot who crashed in the sea was said to have ended up in the drink; to go for a Burton was to get a drink of beer, in reference to Burton-on-Trent. So the phrase was an allusive reference to crashing in the sea, later extended to all crashes.
It is said that there was a series of advertisements for beer in the inter-war years, each of which featured a group of people with one obviously missing (a football team with a gap in the line-up, a dinner party with one chair empty). The tagline suggested the missing person had just popped out for a beer — had gone for a Burton. The slogan was then taken up by RAF pilots for one of their number missing in action as a typical example of wartime sick humour.

13th Feb 2009, 22:27
Thanks I know it's the shield for BFTS1 but I was wondering what the function of the brass version I had?

Regards Andy

14th Feb 2009, 01:29
Andy 1999

I'm 99% sure that the man kneeling next to the fellow in the hat is my dad. I remember dad saying he did a lot of twin engine flying. I downloaded the photo so I can enlarge it to get a better look. Thanks so much for uploading those great photos.


14th Feb 2009, 03:47
Since helicopter ‘war stories’ don’t really belong on this thread I can relay a few stories from my childhood. I remember dad telling a story about leading a cross country flight of, I believe, four or five other AT-6s. As he often did, they flew over the small town in North Texas where his mother, my grand mother, lived. Dad and the other planes would land in a large field and grand mother would drive out the meet them and always brought a large amount of home cooked food. The British boys loved it. On one particular day all the planes were lined up along the side of the road waiting for grand mother to arrive with the food. Dad said he noticed a jeep coming toward them with an officer’s flag mounted on the front. He knew they were not supposed to land in such a place and would probably get into big trouble. Acting quickly Dad had all of the other pilots line up in front of their planes. As the officer passed, Dad called everyone to attention and they all saluted. The officer saluted them back but the jeep never slowed down. Grand mother arrived, everyone enjoyed a great meal and then they were on their way.

14th Feb 2009, 09:13
I have always had a great interest in military history, especially aviation. This iinterest was given a sharper focus when my stepson's then girlfriend casually mentioned that her grandfather had flown on WW 2. To cut a long story short her grandmother sent me a copy of his log book. He had been in 4GP on 78 then 10 Sqns .(Halifax ) He had been on the Peenemunde raid also. His logbook entry is a single line with 6h 35min night recorded. So I obtained a copy of John Searby's book on the raid where it lists all the crews who were on the raid. It was then very straightforward to look up the 51 Sqn crews and work out from your posts who you were and which Halifax you were flying. Hope you do not mind. At the risk of 'thread drift' I we took a Herc to St Athan for an open day when I was in the RAF. As I was having a pee in the loo in the mess, an old boy looked at my Sqn badge and ramarked he had been in the RAF in WW2 on 78 Sqn as an engineering officer.
Naturally I asked him if he knew 'X' and he said he did ! Small world ! He subsequently sent me a copy of the the aircraft and crews of 78 who were on the Peenemunde raid. What is striking is the number of aircraft that diverted to other stations on the return from the raid . Was this normal ?

14th Feb 2009, 10:58
The morning after our return from the Blackburn Aircraft airfield at Brough my instructor asked for my log for the flight. I didn’t have one, and told him so. He replied, “then produce one quick”. I drew a straight line from Carlisle to Brough on my map, and then entered , track, course , wind speed, etc , onto the log sheet and signed it, and gave it to him. Shortly after it was “hats off’ and there I was standing in front of the C.O. Without any preamble, he asked, which way did you fly to Brough. What could I say ?. I had signed the log, but couldn’t drop my oppo ‘in it’ and mention St Ethelburga’s, so I asked, “ is it serious sir” To which he replied “very” As I couldn’t obtain any further information, I decided to tell the truth with a few omissions. I told him we had lost our bearings , and seeing a large town ahead, let down to see if we could identify it, and then recognized The Majestic Hotel., we then set course for Brough. Think I detected a slight smile. He then placed me under open arrest pending a court of enquiry , and a possible court martial. The charge falsifying a R.A.F document. He then went on to say that Sgt Francois !!!!!!, was also under open arrest, and said that a retired Wingco had written down our identification numbers and reported it to the Air ProvoMarshal, who had a permanent representative stationed in Harrogate . Evidently locals were getting a bit fed up about the number of aircraft shooting up the Majestic. For some reason, he seemed sympathetic. And said his hands were tied, and that if it had been reported directly to him, he would have dealt with it internally.

Five weeks passed, before the court of enquiry, and it was quite boring, with no flying, or fun
flying around Helvelyn, or the top of cumulus clouds. I was put in charge of the sports stores and as very few airmen were stationed at Kingstown Airfield, coupled with the fact that sports day was one afternoon a week, I had to find something to occupy my mind. We had been told , nod, nod ,wink, wink that as we were under open arrest we couldn’t go off camp. We didn’t ask how we got across the A6 to the billets, without going off camp. Francois and I still had our motorbikes so we visited places like Gretna Green, and explored Workington , Maryport, and Carlisle. To fill in the rest of the time I ‘acquired” a bench and vice which I installed in the sports stores Nissen hut.. I then made a wooden model of a spitfire as a pattern, took it to the local foundry together width ’acquired’ scrap brass and aluminium . All to be rough cast, then filed and polished. By the time the court of enquiry arrived I had built up a small successful business selling the completed models to other airmen and civvies. N.B ‘acquired ‘ is R.A.F parlance for borrowed.

Eventually the great day arrived, the court of enquiry was held. I was retained as a witness and Francois charged with low flying. I think our C/O must have forgotten to mention the falsification of the navigation log., or did he lose it?. Shortly after, the court of enquiry was held on the airfield. Francois was ‘wheeled in’ and I sat outside for a few hours. In the event, I was not called into the room. Eventually he came out, and we walked to the Billets. On the way he told me that he told the court how he had escaped from Belgium under a railway carriage reaching Spain only to be caught and returned to Belgium. He then said he managed to reach Gibraltar on his next attempt and then travel to England, with which the court had much sympathy. Particularly so as , after all this he was wasting his time at Carlisle. He told me the court recommended that he be posted immediately to a A.F.U in spitfires.
This caused a lot of annoyance among the other pilots, some of whom discussed whether to also shoot up St Ethelbergers . Luckily no one did.

The reason I say , luckily, some years later, in civvy street, I was waiting in Tate and Lyles reception waiting to see the chief engineer, and noticed that the chap sitting next to me was wearing A? AN? R.A.F tie, he told me during the war he was in the Judge Advocate General’s department, somehow the conversation turned to Carlisle, and it turned out that he was the Judge on that day. When I jokingly asked him why he hadn’t punished us all by sending us to an A.F.U, he looked perplexed and asked what I meant. I told him what Francois told me, he told me it was untrue, and that he had been sentenced to six months hard labour and discharge from His Majesties Forces. Evidently he was already on another serious charge before the court martial offence.

Recently watching the Coast program on T.V which was dealing with the Solway Firth, it transpires that during W.W 1 a large ordnance depot was constructed between ~Gretna Green and Annan, near Carlisle . Employed there were twenty thousand female and two thousand males, which resulted in trouble in the local hostelries. As the job was very dangerous handling explosives the government took over control, and remained in control into the seventies. No wonder the beer was week and the pubs terrible when we were there.

14th Feb 2009, 13:37
Al, I am 99.99% certain that it's your Father!

There was a photograph collection in Terrell library that I copied that photograph from. There are other photographs i will see if any look interesting.

If you want the high definition version of the photograph that I have posted (as photobucket tends to process it) then PM me your email address and I will send it to you.

14th Feb 2009, 18:00
Thanks for the explanation. Sounds very easy but I am sure a great amount of research and time went in to it. Anyway I shall be very careful what I say in future ! The longer I live, the smaller the world seems to get' and these "coincidences " get more numerous all the time.
I looked up the Peenemunde raid in my log book and note that we landed back at Snaith and could not see any references to bad weather at base which, with badly damaged aircraft , was the only other common reason for diversion. I also notice that I logged eight hours, all night, for the trip and wonder why there is around an hour and a half difference between the two trips ? Where was 78 based at that time ? was it Lisset or Holme on Spalding Moor ? All the best , Reg.

14th Feb 2009, 18:08
Further to my last reply; it struck me that you only saw the large number of aircraft from 78 that diverted from their base and that could have been due to an accident blocking the runway at 78's base. If that was'nt the case there may have been a large number of badly damaged aircraft that would have been glad to get down quickly. Although we had a quiet trip there were 42 aircraft that were missing from the raid, so there must have been a lot of later action.Reg

15th Feb 2009, 09:35
78 was based at Breighton at the time of the Peenemunde raid . You are right to query the flight time, ' mine eyes deceive me' it was 7H 35m. There are quite a few divs after Ops in 'X' s log book.
Best wishes

15th Feb 2009, 10:32
Hello Reg,

For quite some time I have been researching the raids against Courtrai Railway Yards and Courtrai Airfield (Wevelgem) during WWII. I live only 10 miles from these places.
I have been contacting several veterans of the PFF and Main Force who were involved in the larger raids to Courtrai in order to understand the marking and bombing technique but have never been able to contact a Mosquito crew.
I have read your fascinating report on your war time career and I see that you took part in a raid to Courtrai, being in the third Mosquito of three when seeing a bomb explode behind you.
Could you find back in your logbook on what date this happened and any other detail (like T/O and T/Down). Any other detail you may remember regarding this raid is most welcome: for instance about the height from which you bombed, your experience with flak over the Belgian coast (Knocke was reportedly a dangerous spot to fly over, correct?).
105 Squadron also took part in the marking of Courtrai M/Y on 20/21 July 1944 but at that time you were already with 51 Squadron.
Any help, however brief would be most welcome.


15th Feb 2009, 16:10
Nice to see someone from Belgium joining the Forum, Welcome. I spent most of my flying career in Belgium and have many fond memories of it. I kept a small book of some of my operations and , luckily, found this which I will tell you now, from the book......
Target Courtrai Marshalling Yards (Belgium) Dec.14th.1942 , low level attack at dusk. 4x500lbs. H.E. bombs. Mosquito 1V. 105 Sqdn. Report;
We went out with another Mosquito (Sqdn. Ldr. Reynolds) until we crossed the enemy coast where we split up. We encountered one or two inaccurate bursts of machine gun fire but, otherwise saw nothing.
I climbed from 50 feet to 2000 ft.and dived on the target and in doing so the clear vision panel on the left, blew out, hitting me on the head and giving me a nasty cut. I continued my run and, when the bomb release was pushed, the" bombs gone" indicator did not register. The "jettison" gave no sign either. We came down to rooftop height and took evasive action from the light flak which had now appeared. After three more runs over the target ,the "jettison" showed that the bombs had gone. On the return the intercom went u/s and due to a misunderstanding my navigator, Les, prepared to bail out. Luckily I was able to stop him. Very disappointing trip. Several windows were illuminated below as we went out but very little sign of life anywhere. Nb. Found later that the bombs were dropped over the target and the operation was deemed successful.
That was from my unofficial notebook which, I regret, I did not keep regularly. I see that the time for the trip was 2 hours from our base near
Kings Lynn, Marham, Norfolk. 1hr.30 of the trip was logged as night flying. As it was December I would say that takeoff would have been about 1615, Time over target about 1655 and landing around 1815. I have a feeling that during wartime we kept the extra hour all the year round so add an hour to those times to get the time that would correspond with the time in Belgium in 1942... Is it really 67 years ago ! If so I would have been just 20 yrs. of age. All the best . Tot Siens. REGLE. P.S. The raid that you referred to when we were three and the bomb bounced over me was on the yards at Tergnier (N.France ) not Courtrai. I must correct the mistake. The above report is the only time that I actually bombed a target in Belgium although I crossed the Belgian Coast many times at fity feet on other targets. Knocke was noted for its hostile reception and I later , much later had an apartment near Ostend (Middelkerke) and have often visited the Atalantic Wall Museum which was a tram stop away from my apartment.

15th Feb 2009, 17:04
I have just finished re-reading Patrick Bishop's terrific book "Bomber Boys". It is a must for anyone who has an interest in the part yhat Bomber Command played during the last war. I would just like to quote from the last part of the book p.395 . It is of general interest but particularly to anyone who was in or has connections with 78 Sqdn. ANCIENTAVIATOR62 take note.
Quote; "In Britain there is no public day to mark their sacrifice (my note Bomber Command). But many of the dead airmen shot down over France, Belgium, Holland and Norway are still remembered on the anniversary of their deaths by local communities who regard them as liberators and heroes. In September 2006, the small town of Werkendam gave a fitting burial to the crew of a 78 Sqdn. Halifax that was shot down by a night fighter and crashed into marshy ground on the night of 24/25 May 1944. The town council raised £85,000 towards the cost of retrieving their remains and raising the headstones, The councillor who led the campaign, Gerard Paans declared "We owe our freedom to these brave airmen"
The inscription on a plaque in Tuddenham Parish church in Suffolk commemorates a crew who died flying from the base, which has now, melted back into the fields. There are only seven names on it. But the inscription could serve for all the dead Bomber Boys.
Went the day well?
We died and never knew.
But well or ill, Freedom,
We died for you.

15th Feb 2009, 19:52
Thank you so much for your prompt and very detailed reply. This really adds up a lot to my "picture" of low level attacks against Courtrai Railway Roads and any other target in West Flanders. Magnificent material for aviation researchers like me.
I remember you called these raids "comparatively uneventful low level sorties in Holland and Belgium", but the attack of 14 December, 1942 was indeed far from uneventful for you.
And yet, you remained level-headed enough to make three more runs over the target in spite of the flak.
Thank you for keeping an 'unofficial notebook': they are an amazingly rich source to get a visual picture of specific operations!
Through this it is also the very first time that I am really aware of the reason why the German order of "darkening houses" was so strictly controlled during the war. I read that you saw several windows illuminated below as you went out. I think that the German order of darkening houses must mainly have been to prevent low level attacks from aircraft like Mosquitoes rather than from aircraft flying too high to notice illuminated places. Yet, I think that Mosquitoes will rather not have aimed at 'illuminated places' when bombing however low they were flying... Or am I wrong?
It is interesting to see "Knocke" confirmed as an unfriendly place for incoming Mosquitoes during the war. And it feels good to see that you know Belgium well, especially Ostend (Middelkerke). On the utmost right of the Atlantic War Museum (when looking in the direction of the sea) there was a German flak battery that shot down several aircraft.
I have read that also Sabena is well known to you.
Always welcome over here. Many, many thanks.

16th Feb 2009, 10:31
In the Aviation History and Nostalgia section of this forum, there is currently a thread regarding non standard Mk XVI Mosquito camouflage, apparently only on Percival sourced aircraft. it contains a link to a Mike Spack website which seems to detail his training and operational career, so might be worth making contact.... Here's the Mike Spack link: 4. Photo Gallery: Mike Spack RCAF (http://www.mts.net/~mspack/rcaf4pic.html)
Hope it is of interest

16th Feb 2009, 10:43
Al, I have found the picture in Hi rez but I don't know where to email it as you have turned off your email in Pprune.

Regards Andy

16th Feb 2009, 11:38
Although this has nothing directly to do with the forum, Reg has convinced me that a spot of humour might go down well, this is a pamplet that was handed out to passengers when Liberators were used to bring them back to the UK:-

I think I found it during my research at Kew

16th Feb 2009, 11:48
Here are some pictures I took from an album in Terrell Library, altho Cliff and Reg were at Poca and Albany it should give people a visual idea of what the BFTS and Arnold Schmes looked like with their purpose built airfields. This is BFTS 1 where Al's Father I think was Chief Flying Instructor:-

Terrell Control Tower

Terrell Dorms and Admin buildings, incidentally after the war a plane crashed into them and they caught fire destroying all the records


Looks like excited cadets forming up ready to fly in the advanced training.

16th Feb 2009, 11:50

Thankyou so much for spending the time and effort to recount your tales here. This thread was unknown to me until yesterday, and I have spent the last two days reading it from start to finish. I cannot wait to hear the end of Cliff's story in particular.

I had a short military career myself, very short as it consisted of a year and a half at the Royal Australian Air Force Academy before I left, however it is interesting comparing my recollections of military training in 1985 with your own 40 odd years earlier.

At the RAAF Academy, one of my instructors, Professor Brearly, flew in the war. He once related a story of his ground attack gunnery training in which the group's instructor ("Whitey", an experienced fighter pilot) would challenge each of his trainees to beat his score, and bet a bottle of beer on the result. With his experience, this was just a thinly disguised method for him to enjoy the weekend on free beer.

Knowing he had little chance of winning and, resigned to purchasing his bottle of beer, prof. Brearly simply aimed directly at the target and pressed the trigger - only to find his guns jamming after a just a few rounds. He managed to see the rounds strike the ground ten feet left of the target before pulling up and returning to base. Back at the base, and sensing an opportunity, he insisted on a second run, it not being fair that his guns had jammed, and managed to get that approved.

On the second run, having already made a "sighting" run before, he let fly, and stated: "My only concern was that they wouldn't be able to score the run, as the target was being completely destroyed." :) Apparently "Whitey" paid up like a lamb!

My ATPL theory was taught to me my Noel Lamont, who also flew fighters in the war. Noel was one of the smartest men I have ever met, with a PHD on "The Theory of Time". He had worked out most of the mathematics on flight planning and so on from first principles in order to teach his own set of short cuts and rules of thumb.

Flying off the coast of New Guinea in the war he saw his instrument panel explode in front of him, and that was the first he knew of the aircraft that shot him down. Some of the shrapnel had passed through his body on the way to destroying the panel. He managed to crash in the sea near an American ship and the sailors saved his life. Recovering back in Melbourne on crutches he lost his balance disembarking from a tram, and a lady behind him made a comment about "drunk soldiers". He said if that tram hadn't left, he would have swiped her over the head with his crutch!

Noel went on to fly for the airlines after the war, and one day his crew bus was struck by a drunk driver while travelling to the hotel. He was badly injured, and ended up with double vision which lost him his medical (the reason he was teaching theory.) He was a fiercely determined, and very funny man. Once, after a heart attack, he insisted on having his students come to the hospital so that he could finish their theory course from his hospital bed!

I recently blurted out some of my own memories, flying freight and airliners in Australia on the http://www.pprune.org/jet-blast/360003-few-flying-stories.html thread in Jetblast, so I know how pleasant it is to receive some feedback. To know that the stories you tell are really going out to an audience, and not simply dropping into a "black hole" in the internet somewhere. Given that, please let me tell you all that I, at least, are reading them - and enjoying every minute!

Thankyou again. :ok:

16th Feb 2009, 13:29
Earlier in the thread I read with much amusement about Reg spotting a falling jeep on one exercise, now I see it's true!

Halifax aircraft | ParaData (http://www.paradata.org.uk/content/halifax-aircraft-0)

Any other stories about unusual things dropping out of the sky? Anyone seen a toilet pan flying?

Regards Andy

16th Feb 2009, 14:23
Flying jeep: Read on!!!! One unhappy "pilot"!!!!
Unreal Aircraft - Roadable Aircraft - Hafner Rotabuggy Flying Jeep (http://www.unrealaircraft.com/roadable/rotabuggy.php)

16th Feb 2009, 15:38
If ever there was a case to earn a DFC then it was the Jeep driver, or was it a pilot?

I also remember about reading a pilot that flew around with cutters on the wings deliberately flying into cables another case for a DFC I think?

16th Feb 2009, 18:18
Thanks Cliffnemo. My grandfather is not in your picture so it gives me further info re dates etc. Many thanks.

17th Feb 2009, 16:00
The 6 B.F.T.S Association , of which I am still a member, is 'still alive and kicking'. Members receive a regular news letter , and a meeting is held annually.

An ex cadet Mike Igglesden is our Treasurer and Membership Secretary, and after a bit of googling I came across an article he had written I think for the B.B.C. I emailed him for permission to reproduce, and he kindly gave permission. I thought it might give everyone some one else's view, and maybe a bit of extra info. It may also show up some of my inaccuracies.

Mike Igglesden
Location of story:
Background to story:
Royal Air Force
Article ID:
Contributed on:
22 November 2005

In late August 1942, the writer, with many other aircrew under training, left the Air Crew Despatch Centre at Heaton Park, Manchester, for Gourock. There we embarked in an American troopship, the “Thomas H Barry”, for an Atlantic crossing. She had been designed for the Caribbean and was not the ideal length for the Atlantic seas; this led to a good deal of what might euphemistically be called discomfort among the passengers. The writer volunteered to work in the galley (giving the benefit of fresh-water rather than sea-water showers) and turned out to be impervious to seasickness. On arrival in New York, we had the exciting experience of travelling by train through the ‘dim-out’ - bright to our eyes - of coastal USA and Canada to Moncton in New Brunswick. After a couple of weeks at No. 31 Personnel Depot there, another rail journey took us to our destinations, by regular express trains rather than the troop-carrying superannuated Canadian stock used for the trip to Canada.

For 50 of us, the destination was No. 6 British Flying Training School (BFTS), Ponca City in Oklahoma, where we were to stay for 6 months, becoming Course No. 10. Other than knowing that the mid-West was a centre of isolationism, portending some opposition to the Brits, we knew nothing of the place. On arrival, however, we found nothing but the kindest of welcomes from the citizens, leading to friendships that last until this day.

It is not widely known that, from early in war, well before the entry of the United States in December 1941, Air Force officers in both countries had discussed the training of RAF pilots in the open and friendly skies of the U.S.A., in parallel with similar arrangements for the Empire Air Training Scheme in Canada, Rhodesia and South Africa. Interestingly, similar arrangements had led to the training of RAF pilots in the U.S.A. during WWI.

Approval was finally given by President Roosevelt in May 1941 and seven British Flying Training Schools were set up in short order. Other training would take place with the USAAC in their own schools, under the Arnold Scheme, named after General Hap Arnold.

Unlike the Arnold Scheme, where the 3 levels of training took place at different USAAC (later USAAF) stations, the BFTS training all took place at the one station.

The six BFTSs were, with opening dates:
1 BFTS Terrell, Texas 9 June 1941 *
2 BFTS Lancaster, California 9 June 1941 *
3 BFTS Miami. Oklahoma 16 June 1941 *
4 BFTS Mesa, Arizona 16 June 1941 *
5 BFTS Clewiston, Florida 17 July 1941 *
6 BFTS Ponca City, Oklahoma 23 August 1941
7 BFTS Sweetwater, Texas May 1942 but closed August 1942

* All but No. 6 started their training at other bases until their permanent bases were opened in July/August 1941.

No. 6 was operated under contract to the RAF by Harold S Darr, then president of Braniff Airlines, and was known as the Darr School. Except for a nucleus of RAF staff, all the instructors, ground staff and supporting staff were American civilians. The aircraft were provided by the USAAC, later the USAAF. The RAF staff comprised the Commanding Officer, Administrative Officer and three or four other officers, and NCOs for armaments, signals and other specialist training, discipline and pay

Training was similar in all BFTSs and occupied 28 weeks. Originally, there were three parts: Primary on Stearman PT17, Basic on Vultee BT13 and Advanced on North American AT6A. From Course No. 9, Basic was deleted, cadets going from 12 weeks Primary to 16 weeks Advanced. After the initial build up, when the first Courses of 50 cadets arrived in quicker succession, new Courses arrived at 7 weeks intervals. From No. 11, Courses comprised about 80 RAF and 20 USAAF Cadets and arrived at 9 week intervals.

The first Course ran from 26 August 1941 to 23 January 1942. Because the USA did not enter the war until 7 December 1941, cadets had to wear civilian clothes off camp - suits believed to have been provided from Burtons or The Fifty Shilling Tailors.

The School closed in April 1944. In all, 17 Courses had attended; No. 16 completed its training there, but No. 17 Course completed at the other BFTSs, which remained open until November 1944.

Seven RAF cadets were killed in training and are buried at the IOOF Cemetery, Ponca City. This was the lowest accident rate of all BFTSs and perhaps of all training in USA and Canada. The graves are carefully maintained and a ceremony is held each Memorial Day.

Three USAAF Aviation Cadets also were killed, and five civilian instructors including Henry Jerger, the Chief Pilot, the equivalent of an RAF Chief Flying Instructor. Very well respected, he was killed when the aircraft suffered a failure and his passenger, a mechanic, would not bail out. Mr Jerger was seen to try to get him out and finally jumped himself, but too late.

At 6 BFTS, 1113 RAF pilots and 125 USAAF pilots are believed to have undergone training in the 33 months of its existence. Records are incomplete, but the failure rate was about 30%. A ‘Nominal Roll’ has been assembled, using a variety of sources, and is held by the No. 6 BFTS (Ponca City) Association. The Association exists partly because we were together for 6 months but mainly because of our memories of the hospitality that the citizens extended to us. We were adopted by families, and the ties still exist. We would be pleased to hear from any survivors, or the families of ex-cadets, who have so far not contacted us. Contact addresses for this Association, and for those of other BFTSs, can be found on the Internet (try “6 BFTS”).

Altogether, some 18,000 RAF cadets passed through the BFTS and Arnold Schemes. Another 1,000 USAAF cadets were also trained at the BFTSs.

Most of the survivors of our Course, 33 in all, returned to England via Canada, New York and the “Queen Mary”. Two of us were delayed by sickness in Canada and returned with a later Course on the “Louis Pasteur” to Liverpool. From there, to Harrogate where our futures were disclosed to us and those of us who had been commissioned were kitted out with our Gieves uniforms. As we had all been trained on single-engines aircraft, those who were not selected as fighter pilots proceeded to twin-engine training; the others continued training for combat on singles. And so our RAF flying careers began.

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