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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 13th Sep 2010, 23:00
  #2001 (permalink)  
 
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Question on forming up logistics

Would be interested to hear how the stream formed up before heading towards the enemy coast. Would it be reasonable to assume that two heavies (halifax MkII’s in this case) taking off one after the other within a few minutes remain in relative close proximity while forming up and remain so during the out bound leg? Or did the forming up technique basically maneuver aircraft around so there is no relationship to take off order? I understand that once formed up separation was maintained so during most of the route you were not in visual proximity to the nearest aircraft in the stream - at least until converging on the target. The details of this particular case is Dec 3/4 1943 from Snaith. The two aircraft took off in good weather around midnight - three minutes apart - with little or no moonlight (Leipzig raid). According to the ORB weather was “clear across the North Sea to East side of Zuider Zee and then cloudy becoming 9/10ths thin cloud in the target area – tops 8-10,000 ft. Wind light variable becoming N.E. 5-10 mph.”

Note; with the contribution and aid of pbeach have now identified the entire crew in the photo I posted #769 pg. 39 - I went back and corrected the post in case any other family members find this site. Turns out Doug was not in this photo.
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Old 14th Sep 2010, 16:29
  #2002 (permalink)  
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Equipment Assistants Course

KIRHAM 2
What a big change. From being a team not only pulling together but with the same object in mind ,nearly all of us were only waiting for the day we could go home. No one was interested in becoming an L.A.C equipment assistant, so when classes finished exercise books were closed until the following day . However the information gained did help me later in ‘civvy street’ for I was later to set up a stores system for an Inernational Harvester agency of which I was a director. Although I.H.C was an American company their stores system was very similar to the R.A.F system. This is not surprising, as the R.A.F system was based on the Woolworths stores system, or so we were told. (Yawn)
The system only used in the U.K was virtually fiddle proof, and , I think, was known as ‘system A’ . Amongst other things, all stock sheets had to be registered in a central registry, kept under lock and key, numbered, and signed by a senior officer, replacements could only be made on the damaged or worn out item being handed in i.e for a replacement light bulb at least the brass bayonet fitting had to handed in. System B was for use over seas under war conditions , it was far simpler and was wide open to abuse . In fact I might eventually write about a certain W/O who must remain nameless and who had to do a lot of fiddling to save a certain officer I/C stores from court marshal. ( You never know that bloke from the Judge Advocates Generals Dept might still be around) . Instructors were not as dedicated as they might have been, I suppose they were also waiting for the day when they receive their ‘Trilby ‘ hat, over coat, and train warrant. Consequently we occasionally had to organise our own classes, which didn’t have much relevance to store keeping, good fun though. After all every one was either ‘Dollaly Tap’ or ‘Flak Happy’. We did learn some very useful things such as not to issue Hangars , air craft as Hangers , coat, as this could cause the officer I/c stores to panic.

For entertainment we were only a short distance from the pubs in the centre of Kirkham and the R.A.F Astra cinema was just up the road at Warton. Wizzo, we could see the Thirty Nine Steps again. However Saturday night was the night we looked forward to most..
The railway station was only a short distance from the camp entrance with frequent trains to the centre of Blackpool. Consequently nearly every one took the train on a Saturday night to Blackpool , visiting such pubs as Yates’s Wine Lodge , Uncle Toms cabin etc. Uncle Tom’s had a piano and excellent pianist who knew all the usual popular R.A.F songs which we sang with great gusto. One song being the most popular at that time was ‘When this blinking war is over’ which ended with ‘We will tell the Squadron Leader to stick his Spitfire up his jumper’

The last train back to camp was at ten thirty, so was absolutely packed, but no one cared, we just sang our heads off all the way back. However one Saturday night something silly happed (Well, as a refined old fogey that’s how I would describe these juvenile antics).
As we were all approaching the ticket collector we noticed a stack of fifty six pound test weights, about two and a half tons of them , and a quantity of red , paraffin lamps. Some wag suggested it would cause a laugh at the station if the S.P s were to find them in the morning outside the guard room. We each put our tickets between our teeth and picked up two items, and approached the ticket collector, who took the tickets, and didn’t even bat an eyelid.(such was life then).
On disembarking we staggered down towards the main gates. Unfortunately the local ‘Bobby’ happened to be approaching from the opposite direction and he looked a bit surprised to see a solid phalanx ? Of airman each carrying two fifty six pound test weights. He was a nice man , and politely requested that we return them to the Kirhahm station , fortunately he didn’t know they really came from Blackpool Station, so I suppose in our twisted minds we had the last laugh.
BAH THE YOUTH OF YESTERDAY.

P.S If you don’t know how heavy a fifty six pound weight is, then , two of them make a hundredweight.
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Old 21st Sep 2010, 05:44
  #2003 (permalink)  
 
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Another hilarious anecdote. Please keep them coming!
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Old 22nd Sep 2010, 07:47
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RMVENTUri

There was no "forming up" on night operations with Bomber Command.
Even immediately after take-off it was rare to see any other aircraft until near the target. On a clear night in mid summer one might see another aircraft just before sunset. Only once did I see a Lancaster near enough to read his letters, PH-N. fredjhh
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Old 22nd Sep 2010, 16:10
  #2005 (permalink)  
 
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Bomber Stream

I am no expert - still researching - but based on reading, a bomber stream formed because a, they all had the same flight plans, landfall etc, and b, they all took off at an appropriate time. In Martin Middlebrook's book "The Battle of Hamburg" nine Lancaster's of 57 Squadron were allocated late take off and bombing times by mistake - they arrived over Hamburg 20m after the Main Force and took on the night fighters and flak on their own... every body else had been and gone. On the other hand the American bombers did attempt to form up before going on a daylight raid.
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Old 23rd Sep 2010, 09:07
  #2006 (permalink)  
 
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I was chatting to my departmental administrator one day and the conversation drifted to this thread, she told me that she had recently begun typing out her fathers memories of his time in the RAF during WW2.
She has kindly given me permission to post the following:

Thomas Henry Ransley, born 19 March 1919, was conscripted into the Royal Air Force in June 1939 as a Militia man. This was a reserve corps whereby they spend 6 months training and 6 years on standby. In actual fact he spent 6 months on reserve and 6 years fighting due to the fact that the Second World War started at the end of 1939.

One of his memories is:

On 1 June 1943 he was ordered to fly out from Hendon Air base in a Dakota bound for Algiers in North Africa via Lisbon, Portugal to fit anti radar equipment to fighter aircraft based at various airfields in North Africa. Also on this flight were seven fellow electrical technicians and numerous senior ranking officers who were in charge of the North African campaign.

The Dakota took off from Hendon at 12.00 noon but during the flight the crew received a message that the German intelligence had information regarding a Dakota flight between London and Lisbon which was carrying very senior members of the allied forces. The flight therefore was diverted to Cornwall where they were held until midnight to confuse the Germans. In the meantime a civilian Pan Am flight had arrived in Lisbon from America, the passengers had transferred in Lisbon to a Dakota bound for London. On this flight was Leslie Howard the actor. This flight took off from Lisbon during the mid afternoon and was shot down by the Germans over the Bay of Biscay in mistake for the military Dakota aircraft, there were no survivors.

At midnight the Dakota with Dad on board took off from Cornwall bound for Lisbon, they flew over France, which was occupied by the German forces. However once they arrived over Portugal which was neutral territory they were fired upon by Portuguese anti aircraft guns, they had to take evasive action by climbing higher with no cabin pressure.

After Lisbon they flew to Gibraltar on the next stage of their journey. They landed at Gibraltar with no assistance from the airfield and were confronted with a mutiny of the British forces as Gibraltar had just been declared a Home Base as opposed to an Overseas Base, which meant that the regular three year leave had been cancelled. Due to the unsettled state of the base all members of the Dakota passengers and crew were housed in the Sergeant' s quarters for one week until the dispute was settled. During this time they managed to find some civilian clothing and travel by boat for a day trip to Algeciras in Spain which was neutral territory but did not allow German or English military personnel to enter Spain. The dispute was settled by the threat of the British Authorities threatening to send the army to shoot all staff for desertion.

Once the dispute was settled they took off for Algiers, North Africa in an American Dakota, however, during the week in Gibraltar the British Navy had sunk the French Vichy fleet at Oran Harbour in North Africa and the French and the North Africans had become very anti British so much so that the French had started shooting anyone in British uniform. The Dakota flew over Oran to show the senior staff on board the sunken French fleet. On arrival in Algiers all members of the flight were kitted out with American uniforms as a precaution due to the anti British feeling.

On arrival in Algiers they were billeted in a transit camp near the Kasbah which was bombed on the first night. After a couple of months Dad caught dysentery and had had to be transported to hospital in Constantine. As there were no ambulances available Dad was taken in General Spaatz' own staff car, which due to the state of the uneven roads and uneven state of Dad's stomach was in a pretty bad state when they arrived at the hospital. He was in hospital for 2 weeks but during his convalescence he was warned not to venture into Constantine as if he was caught by the French he would be thrown off the bridge.

After Constantine he travelled to El Kairouan, which was a holy city surrounded by squadrons and burial grounds as the muslims only bury their dead approx. 2ft. below the surface the smell at night was horrendous. Whilst in El Kairouan the nearest point on the coast was Souse he took the radio van down to the coast and went in swimming and saw a partly eaten dead body, tried to swim to a small island with his colleagues, but got into trouble and ended going under twice but one of his colleagues saw him and came to his rescue by swimming with him on his stomach to the island. They then pumped him out at the island and after recuperation took him back to the shore. A few days later he suffered very badly from appendicitis.

After fitting the equipment to the aircraft around Kairouan and Castel Beneto they had to wait until a further consignment of equipment arrived at Tripoli from England. This was coming by sea but after waiting a few days they were told that the ship had been torpedoed off the island of Pantellario. As the Sicilian invasion was pending a further consignment had to be sent out by air. They flew from Tripoli across the Gulf of Sirte to Benino (Benghazi). There they fitted the equipment to an RAF squadron just in time for the invasion of Sicily.

On the way to Tripoli they were put up by Free French army engineers at Kasserine pass in a mosquito infested area where they had to plaster repellent all over their exposed areas at night.

The British captured Kastel Benito airfield from the Italians and used it to fit the anti radar equipment. Dad stayed in North Africa for 6 months fitting the anti radar equipment to approximately 12 bomber squadrons. Travelled back to Tunis via Tripoli where they travelled by cattle truck train from Tunis to Algiers. During this time the invasion of Italy took place from Tripoli and Dad travelled back to England on the first convoy of ships out of Africa with Italian fleet as escorts. During this voyage they were shadowed by U-boats and German fighter aircraft which were all destroyed by the captured Italian naval escorts.

The only way to keep under air cover they had to go under cover of the Azores and then to Londonderry and arrived at Liverpool.


I notice that there are several references to anti radar equipment for the aircraft, does anyone have an idea of what this might have been?

If you find this of interest I'm sure I could persuade her to find out more about her fathers life.

Tilleydog
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Old 23rd Sep 2010, 10:10
  #2007 (permalink)  
 
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If you find this of interest I'm sure I could persuade her to find out more about her father's life

Yes please, and VMT "Miss Ransley"!

What a marvellous input from a completely different perspective, touching as it does on several very contentious aspects of WWII. The Leslie Howard "mystery" and the amazing fightback by the RAAF Sunderland of 461 Squadron attacked by eight JU88s when sent to look for survivors have already been covered in some detail in this very thread.

Jack
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Old 23rd Sep 2010, 10:38
  #2008 (permalink)  
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If you find this of interest I'm sure I could persuade her to find out more about her father's life
Indeed, it would be a valuable contribution to this thread, the war from other perspectives is always interesting..
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Old 23rd Sep 2010, 10:51
  #2009 (permalink)  
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Thanks to Tilleydog1

If you find this of interest
Tilley of interest ? It is VERY interesting. More please.
There are not only sons and daughters of wartime airmen reading this thread , but historians and museum staff . They want to know about all R.A.F wartime personnel before it is too late.Keep it up.

Thanks Tilley.
FROM TODAY'S FACE BOOK.
Paula K. DensonNumber 1 British Flying Training School - No. 1 BFTS: My husband and I thought the entire fly-in weekend was wonderful. It was so nice to meet so many people sharing the same interest. I, too, took a similar photo of the beautifully tended graves. Paula Denson, author of The Royal Air Force in Oklahoma.
7 hours ago · Comment · Like

Last edited by cliffnemo; 23rd Sep 2010 at 16:36.
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Old 23rd Sep 2010, 15:23
  #2010 (permalink)  
 
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Cliff,

Would you have an ISBN for Mrs Denson's book? I'd be very interested in acquiring a copy.

My late Father trained at 3BFTS Miami Oklahoma (Spartan School of Flying).
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Old 23rd Sep 2010, 16:16
  #2011 (permalink)  
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Info re ordering 'The R.A.F in Oklahoma

.Exascoteer.
Could ask my Grandson for I.S.B.N number , I bought him the book. Before I do, could you E.M Paula at [email protected]

Think I ordered my copy direct from Paula

I am sure she will have all the info immediately to hand, and will be very pleased to hear from you. Any problems just P.M me again.

Have you any anecdotes pictures etc you could post on here, we would be very pleased to have more contributions.

Last edited by cliffnemo; 23rd Sep 2010 at 16:26.
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Old 23rd Sep 2010, 19:18
  #2012 (permalink)  
 
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Many Thanks Cliff.

I shall Email her directly.

I've been looking through my father's stuff - plenty of photo's of 3BFTS, some photo's of the Rhine Crossing and a 12 page manuscript of his exploits.

If anyone is interested I will type the manuscript out and upload it.
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Old 23rd Sep 2010, 23:39
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If anyone is interested I will type the manuscript out and upload it.

Yes please!! Let's keep this thread going...
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 00:59
  #2014 (permalink)  
 
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A Glider Pilot's Tale, Part 1

OK then, these are my Father's memoirs (apologies it will take me a while to type them up):



I grew up until age 12 in Burnley, Lancashire, following which my family moved to Ely, Cambridgeshire, where my parents took over the running of a Pub. Whilst in Lancashire I had read with interest books about the First World War Fighter Aces to the extent that RAF Boy Entrant Service was of some interest. However, having been awarded a scholarship to Soham Grammar School, plus an additional County Scholarship, the thoughts of Boy Entrant Service receded.

When war broke out I was 15 years of age and, like most lads, when the opportunity arose, I joined an ATC Squadron. Cadet service took me to two Bomber Stations, Mildenhall and Waterbeach. At both Stations I saw aircraft crash; at Mildenhall a Wellington, and at Waterbeach 2 Stirlings went in. Despite this I had, and enjoyed, my first flight in a Stirling.

Aside from school and cadet work I built a 12ft kayak and also swam and roller-skated a lot. After leaving school I was employed by the River Great Ouse Catchment Board and commenced studies to become a surveyor. I didn’t realise that I had entered a ‘Reserved Occupation’!

Upon reaching my 18th birthday (17 Aug 1942), as with others, I had to register. By keeping quiet about my ‘Reserved Occupation’, and by volunteering for aircrew in the RAF I followed the usual route via the Aircrew Reception Centre St John's Wood London, finally to RAF Cardington. The some 300 volunteers at this time being examined and checked over a 3 day period, 2 of us were called for immediate service under the then 'PNB' scheme (Pilot, Navigator, Bomb Aimer). The 2 of us were given one week unpaid leave and then required to join the Aircrew Reception Centre in London. I met my colleague after the war – he had failed Flying Training.

Service training took me through the usual route: ITW, Grading School,

(My note based on my Father’s logbook – this was a single trip in a DH82 Tiger Moth with a Sgt Johnson at 13 EFTS, Perth, August [no date specified] 1943)

to No 3 BFTS Miami Oklahoma. There I flew PT19 Cornells and AT-6 Harvards.

(My note: My Father was (according to his Logbook) at 3 BFTS, Miami Oklahoma, from Dec 10 1943 to 10 Jun 1944. He received his 'Wings' on 18 Jun 1944)

As with 95% of successful candidates I graduated as a Sgt Pilot. My flying recommendations were: Fighter Low-Level, Fighter Medium-Level and Fighter High-Level as priorities 1,2 and 3. I had enjoyed my flying training and looked forward to Fighters!

It was at the NCO Pilots' pool at Harrogate when events put me on a different course. We were called to assembly where several high ranking Army Officers endeavored to recruit volunteers to transfer to the Army to become Glider Pilots!

(My note: Operation MARKET GARDEN in Sep 1944 had so denuded the Glider Pilot Regiment of pilots they were desperate to replace them.)

Needless to say the Army Officers were booed off the stage, though a few lads did volunteer. Some 10 days afterwards we were called to assembly again, whereupon we were told: “You either accept secondment to the Glider Pilot Regiment, or you will be transferred to the army as Privates and sent to the Far East as Infantry!”

Last edited by ExAscoteer; 24th Sep 2010 at 21:08.
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 10:03
  #2015 (permalink)  
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ExAscoteer

ExAscoteer

I predict there will be a lot of ppruners saying yes PLEASE

If anyone is interested
Any one ? it will be EVERY ONE
[/QUOTE]
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 10:14
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As Privates? To the Far East?? As Infantry???! Bit of a Hobson's Choice there...what a switch, from fighter pilot to gliders.....
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 15:54
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Infantry threat.

Needless to say the Army Officers were booed off the stage,
I think the Army Officers ' got in a flat spin' and that was their parting shot as they fled from the rostrum. I think I have said it before, we were OFFERED , glider pilot, P.F.E, Fleet Arm pilot, or train stoker. I refused all offers , and spent time at pre-AFUs, and on various courses. I never heard of any one actually remustering to 'squadie
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 18:53
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I don't think the threat was actually carried out. I remember my Father telling me that he volunteered for the FAA but was 'on the wrong half of the list'. Apparently those that did transfer were lost at sea, how true this might have been I cannot say.

I was talking to my Uncle this pm who had trained at Pensacola with the USN on PBYs, and who was at Harrogate a month or so before my Father. He told me that he knew of at least one chap who was itching to get on 'Ops', volunteered based on a notice in the Majestic Hotel and found he'd volunteered for the GPR and couldn't retract.

The gentleman involved was P/O Cy Henson and was part of the original organising team for the Op Varsity Remembrance Parade at Earls Colne (the first being in 1991 IIRC).

Last edited by ExAscoteer; 28th Sep 2010 at 20:22.
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 21:17
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A Glider Pilot's Tale, Part 2


So, battle training, first by the RAF Regt and then the Army followed by glider training in Hadrians (WACOs) and Horsas. All this and then a posting to ‘B’ Sqn The Glider Pilot Regt at RAF Earls Colne. Prior to this, and in company with some 100+ RAF pilots we were stationed at Fargo Camp on Salisbury Plain undergoing infantry training. Just before Christmas (1944) we were paraded and told that there would be no Christmas Leave since the civilians would require all available civil transport. That evening there was a tremendous kerfuffle! It subsequently transpired that a number of pilots had acquired a load of explosives and set off to blow up Stonehenge, which was some 2 or 3 miles away, to mark their displeasure. Fortunately for Stonehenge the party was intercepted half way along their journey! Nothing was said and no action taken. The next morning Christmas leave passes were issued and we left Fargo for good!

At B Sqn we flew Horsas and continued battle training. Glider crews tended to be all Army or all RAF. In the latter case an RAF Officer would be First Pilot with and RAF Sgt as Second Pilot – my First Pilot was F/O Ted Barton who was an experienced pilot who’d just done a tour as an instructor prior to joining the GPR. Co-operation between the Army and RAF crews on the Sqn was very good.

The day came when we were confined to camp. It was obvious that we were in business when we commenced loading our Horsa MkII gliders. Our glider, loaded to an unusual plan, carried a Jeep, trailer, 17pdr gun and 6 troops. The troops were planned to sit at the rear of the glider – a position to which they objected since they would be slower to de-plane after landing.

(My note: The Horsa MkII had 2 doors, one either side of the rear fuselage which lifted and swung in an overhead arc to open and which were known to jam if there was any fuselage distortion as would be the case in a heavy combat landing.)

Consequently we did a quick recalculation of the loading plan, and with extra work by the troops, the load was re-positioned so that the troops sat as far forward as possible.

It was a great sight, the gliders marshaling, taking off, and joining the stream. We flew north towards the Wash behind a Halifax tug, before turning South-East on our way towards the Rhine. As far as the eye could see there were aircraft towing gliders, whilst overhead Fighter Sqns weaved providing top cover. Some 5 minutes before the Rhine, which we could easily see, my skipper F/O Ted Barton called me to look to the left. The combination to our immediate left was a Halifax towing a Hamilcar. I was just in time to see a tank, probably a Honey, had broken out of the rear of the Hamilcar and fallen to earth.

(My note: the tank was, in fact, probably a Locust.)

I saw the tank bounce some 50 – 100 ft in the air before losing sight of it. The Hamilcar was, by now, causing too much drag for the Halifax and so the Halifax jettisoned his tow rope causing the Hamilcar to crash. Our opinion was that the tank driver had left the vehicle in gear and that when he started his engine, it fired first time and thereby caused the ensuing calamity. It was the practice for tank drivers to start up 5 mins before the LZ. The idea was that, in an emergency, the tank could be driven through the closed nose doors ready for immediate action.

(My note: There is a letter in my late Father's notes from one Peter Davies, a Sgt glider pilot from C Sqn GPR, who also witnessed the tragedy while on board his Hamilcar. The tank commander involved was Sgt Dawson. The other 7 tank carrying gliders all arrived safely.)

As we crossed the Rhine at approximately 1500 ft we could see that the whole of the landing area was totally obscured by dense smoke, through which the flashes of anti-aircraft gunfire could be seen. On a position call from our tug aircraft we released, turned right, steadied our glider, and descended with full flap into the smoke. Up until this time Ted had always flown the landings, on this approach he handed it over to me with the words: “Maybe you better do this one.” The descent was so steep that, being only 5 ft 6 ins I was nearly out of my seat standing on the rudder pedals!

The smoke was so thick that we saw no other glider during our descent, and only saw the ground when below 100 ft. The landing went well, although we ploughed through 2 or 3 wire fences. We came to a stop about 15 ft from a ditch from which several American Paratroops were firing at the enemy.

Last edited by ExAscoteer; 25th Sep 2010 at 03:02.
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 01:59
  #2020 (permalink)  
 
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Looks like you were taking lessons from the sadly missed Regle.

Talk about leaving us hanging off a cliff!!
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