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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 25th Sep 2010, 03:15
  #2021 (permalink)  
 
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A Glider Pilot's Tale, Part 3


With some difficulty we managed to open the glider’s nose and get our load out and away to their RV. As we were doing this another Horsa landed nearby, its nose broke off and rolled into another drainage ditch. Shortly afterwards 2 very irate glider pilots managed to extricate themselves with much swearing!

(My note: The Horsa MkII had a hinging nose section – the entire cockpit hinged away from the fuselage, on the stbd side, thus expediting unloading. The earlier Horsa MkI had a fixed nose, the load was loaded through a large side door forward on the port side. For unloading the entire tail section was removed via the undoing of 4 bolts. In a heavy combat landing, distortion to the fuselage could mean that the tail was impossible to remove.)

Ted and I then picked up our gear and weapons and set off across the fields to find our RV. Ted was about 3 yds in front of me as we trotted past the side of a farm outbuilding. As we turned the corner a British Para drew our attention to a spray of machine-gun bullet strikes that had hit the brick wall only feet behind us – without us hearing a thing!

Around the corner of the farm building a number of British Paras had congregated – there were probably about 40 of them. It was then that we saw a German soldier face down on the ground protesting noisily. Sitting astride the German was a Para Medic using his fighting knife to dig a bullet out of the German’s backside. It was so incongruous that we literally fell about laughing.

Having established our whereabouts, Ted and I made our way to the RV. It was planned that some 45 Glider Pilots should meet up at this RV with some of the Royal Ulsters and then proceed to attack and capture a nearby bridge. Since less than half that number turned up, 8 of us were tasked to hold a farmhouse some 500 yds distant. Before we moved off a very young German soldier, probably Hitler Youth, came down the earthen road. He was wearing only boots and trousers and had his hands in the air. One of the glider pilots yelled: “Effing Gerry!” and then shot him. A photograph of the dead German appeared in the 'London Illustrated News' a week later with the headline: “German soldier killed in action near Hamilkeln.”

Having walked to the farmhouse we inspected the premises which were occupied solely by an elderly housewife and her young daughter. Going into the ground floor cattle pens, which were timber enclosures with walls and doors full height to the ceiling, one glider pilot with a Bren gun heard a noise. He kicked open the pen door and opened fire. Result, one very dead cow!

Shortly afterwards a prisoner, a Lt Col of the SS, was put in an empty pen with a young L/Cpl Para as guard. It greatly amused us that his Officer didn’t fully trust this young Para since every 4 or 5 minutes he checked on him. Each time this happened we heard the young Para say: “Please sir, let me take him outside and shoot him – I don’t care if I do get Court Martialed when we get back.”

The Lt Col SS was highly delighted to be moved to a POW compound with an intact skin.

Looking back towards our RV we could see Paras around the T Junction of 2 earthen roads. There was a roar as a German fighter appeared and began to strafe. Lots of brown backsides disappeared into ditches either side of the road. The German fighter (an Me 109) did not escape as 6 Typhoons and 3 Tempests joined in. They circled the 109 and, as one aircraft tried to line up a firing opportunity, 2 more would cut him out. This went on for about 10 minutes. The German pilot, realising escape was hopeless, turned his aircraft upside down and bailed out.

The Paras shot him on the way down.

It being fairly quiet by then, Ted and I walked over to a gun battery which had set up near our old RV. We thought we recognised the gun crew and were correct – it was the crew we had flown in. By the time we met up they had hot tea and sweets awaiting us. However we were prevented from socialising because shortly afterwards a shoot was called in. We retreated to our farmhouse.

Last edited by ExAscoteer; 25th Sep 2010 at 03:29.
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 10:13
  #2022 (permalink)  
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Many thanks ExAscoteer from all of us, I know it is very time consuming but please try and keep going. It reminds me, amongst other things, of my oppo Tubby Baker, previously mentioned, with the large wound in his back.
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 15:59
  #2023 (permalink)  
 
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A Glider Pilot's Tale, Part 4


Then came an air resupply drop; lots of loads with many different coloured parachutes. There was one bright red ‘chute. I thought to myself: “Comforts for the General, I’ll have that!”

I walked out into the open, 200 or 300 yds, and with my army knife tried to open the container. The task took me about 20 minutes and all the time I was being sniped. The fire was obviously close because I could hear the ‘crack’ as the shot went by. Still I managed to get my container open. Imagine my thoughts when I discovered the load to be 6 x 25lb shells! Back to our farmhouse and not at all pleased!

I was then tasked as sole glider pilot to join a Para Officer with his 6 jeeps and 12 Paras. The task was to visit a crash landed Hamilcar and retrieve its load of some 650 x 25lb shells which were urgently needed. We arrived at the glider safely. As a glider pilot I was expected to advise the Paras on how to go about unloading the glider, even though I’d never been close to a Hamilcar before.

Well, we opened a side hatch to find a stack of large wicker-work containers securely roped together and to tie-downs. Being the only one with a jack-knife I got to work rope cutting. As each container became loose the Paras pulled it out and conveyed it to, and loaded it on, one of our jeeps. Having worked for quite a while, and having reclaimed 80 – 90% of the containers, my hands being sore and my knife very blunt, I handed my knife to a Para and took a breather.

The Para Officer and I were standing under the port wing of the Hamilcar, just about where the port strut connects with the underside of the wing. Suddenly a burst of tracer from the nearby woods shot over the port wing. A second burst shot along the ground between the port side of the glider and us. The Para Officer and I looked at each other, and without a single word, made a dignified, if hurried, retreat to our jeeps. We hastily climbed aboard and moved out; for me back to our farmhouse.

At the farmhouse I discovered my colleagues had several German prisoners. Whilst I had been away retrieving the 25lb shells a large party of German infantry, some 80 strong, had advanced towards the farmhouse. An RAF Officer glider pilot had opened fire with a Bren when the Germans were in easy range. A cluster of 6 or 7 Germans were killed and, by pure chance, these transpired to be the Officers and SNCOs of the Company. It was enough, the rest of the Germans downed weapons and immediately surrendered.

Most were soon moved to a POW compound, however a few were left behind to labour for us. I was allocated 2 prisoners to dig slit trenches. One was a middle-aged Sgt and the other a young, cocky, Private. I marched my prisoners along a concrete path at the side of the farmhouse intending them to dig the trenches in the allocated area. Previously I had ‘liberated’ a number of eggs which I had placed at the edge of the path next to the farmhouse wall. As we walked along the path, the Sgt leading followed by the Private and then me, the Private obviously saw the eggs and altered his line of march. I could see he intended to stamp on the eggs. He had his foot raised ready to stamp when slapped the bolt of my rifle. Very carefully and slowly he brought his foot back before lowering it and we marched on. Would I have shot him? At the time, very probably. I took his Sgt to task and said that the War was nearly over and that, if the Private misbehaved I would ensure that he did not see the War out. The Sgt tore into the Private; he also ensured the Private did the lion’s share of the digging.

Dusk was now upon us. I had scrounged 3 American parachutes with which I proceeded to line my chosen slit trench, anticipating a good night’s sleep in the midst of all that silk. However I was given another task.

I was tasked to go and act as personal bodyguard to a British Lt Col Para driving his jeep. The Lt Col was a fairly tall man. Me at 5 ft 6 ins sitting down next to him with a rifle and bayonet fixed, the latter taller than me, must have looked quite a sight. Anyway the Lt Col provided me with much to think about. His technique was to drive, lights out of course, to his various outposts. He would ignore the challenges of the posted sentries and swiftly drive up to his various posts. He then got out of the jeep and raved at each guard for not shooting!

This time I was very happy and pleased to get back to our farmhouse safely!

A good meal of farmhouse eggs and potatoes supplemented by food from American ration packs. This was followed by an excellent night’s sleep in my slit trench. I brought a white American parachute home with me. This furnished underwear for my Mother and Sister, but that’s another story!
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 17:05
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I nominate this thread to become a Sticky - does anyone else agree?
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 17:15
  #2025 (permalink)  
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Yes, very definitely a sticky
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 18:32
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A Glider Pilot's Tale, Part 5


The next morning it was nice and quiet. During the afternoon I was tasked with several others to seek and find a Horsa, which had landed out of the area in an approximately known position, and retrieve its load of a jeep and trailer. I had acquired a Beretta Machine Pistol – something like a very superior Sten. It had 2 triggers, one for single shot and a grooved trigger for rapid fire. A very well made weapon with only one fault – the magazine hung vertically down. This would make crawling and shooting difficult. The model had been acquired following a sweep after the prisoners of yesterday.

(My note: The weapon in question was a Beretta MAB 38A {Moschetto Automatico Beretta Modello 1938A}, a 9mm automatic carbine much favoured by the Waffen SS.)

We set off on our patrol, crossed open land, and entered the woods. Therein we met a Fighting patrol of British Paras. Great interest was shown in my Beretta. In response I thought to demonstrate the weapon. I released the magazine, dropping it perhaps half an inch, but not taking it out of the weapon. Pointing the gun at the ground in front of my feet, I pressed the single shot trigger. Unfortunately I did not know that the sear had been lost off the bolt. The gun fired off nearly half a magazine (some 20 rounds) before I could pull the magazine out. Fortunately no damage was done and nobody shot. The only response was from one Para who turned to me and said: “I suppose you think that’s effing funny Sergeant!”

As we moved on through the woods we came across a stick of Paras, all Brits, hanging in their shrouds in the trees. Obviously they had sustained injuries dropping through the branches. The anger we felt was that they had been bayoneted as they hung injured. Typical German treatment of injured soldiers.

(My note: Whilst not ‘PC’ in this day and age, the last sentence is how my Father felt. In many respects, and as with others who had fought, he remained prejudiced right up until his death.)

We moved on and left the woods for a ditch on the far side of an earthen roadway. We could see the crashed Horsa in the distance near to a farmhouse. Being cautious, 2 glider pilots made their way to the Horsa, whilst we remaining were ready to give covering fire if needed. Our 2 colleagues came back with the news the jeep was not in the glider as expected.

Just then 6 British tanks came up the lane. These had swum across the Rhine as evidenced by a pair of bronze propellers at the rear of each.

(My note: the tanks were ‘Duplex Drive’ Shermans.)

Immediately to our right was a single-track railway embankment. The tanks drove over the embankment in 2 groups, each of 3 tanks. As they did so we heard a German 88mm open up. Three shots and 3 tanks brewed up. We did not go to look!

At this moment a jeep came up the lane. It sported the Airborne ‘Pegasus’ Insignia, but was being driven by a Sgt of the 50th Lowland Div. It was our jeep but the Sgt would not hand it over. He explained that he and his squad had taken the jeep from some German troops. Being short of transport he planned to keep it. He offered to drive us back to Glider Pilot HQ, an offer which was quickly accepted. The jeep was rapidly filled such that the only place for me was lying across the bonnet! We backtracked and turned onto a lane that led to our HQ.

“Hold on,” said the Scottish Sgt as we drove over the 8 or 9 bodies of Germans killed by the Sgt’s squad earlier that day. It was an experience, which still lives in my mind! Again back to our farmhouse. This time to be told to move to another farmhouse some 500 yds away. It transpired that this was the residence of the Mayor of Hamilkeln. We arrived at the house to hear a wounded horse screaming and were asked to put it out of its misery. An RAF NCO glider pilot obliged – and then shot all the other horses and cattle just to make sure!

None of us worried in the slightest.
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 20:28
  #2027 (permalink)  
 
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A Glider Pilot's Tale, Part 6


Ted and I entered the house and made our way to the dining room on the first floor. There stood the Mayor in Tails and wearing a top hat! Ted stuffed his beret down his smock, took the top hat from the Mayor and put it on his own head. The Mayor was deflated. Ted wore the top hat on our later march out of the LZ.

(My note: My Father told me that the glider pilots were notorious for eschewing tin helmets and wearing berets instead. Unfortunately for the RAF glider pilots, their blue berets {the Army glider pilots wore the maroon beret} made them look like German tank crews at a distance. Probably not a good idea!)

I was not popular with the Mayor either. Feeling hungry, I set up my ‘Tommy cooker’ on the Mayor’s large and beautiful dining table, and cooked my meal. The solid fuel made a large burn in the tabletop. Did I care? No way!

We were then told that we were to march out of the area, be picked up by truck, and transported back across the Rhine, all of which occurred. Marching through the woods we remained alert due to the presence of active German troops therein. Happily we had no trouble. You can imagine the bawdy (and worse!) remarks addressed at Ted, for sporting a top hat on our march, by the incoming reinforcements!

And so across the Rhine Bailey Bridge, first to Nijmegen and thence to Eindhoven and a flight home. Our CSM had found 2 motorcycles, one of which was booby trapped. Fortunately he picked up the safe one. This he put on the Dakota flying home. I still wonder if he still owns it.

On landing at home we were marched to Customs! Customs wanted to know where we had been and on whose authority, and had we anything to declare! There we were, some wounded; in Army parlance: ‘in shit order’. The glider pilots started to get extremely annoyed. We all had weapons and plenty of ammunition. One little spark and there could have been a dreadful incident. Fortunately common sense took over and we were cleared quickly. I and my American white parachute got safely on our way home.

(My note: many of the American ‘chutes were in a green DPM type camouflage.)

Do I have any regrets? Not as far as the Army and RAF glider pilots I flew and fought with. My only regret is that I did not fly fighters in combat. I was fortunate to fly Spitfires as well as Meteor and Vampire jet fighters whilst on the active reserve list to the RAF in later years – but again, that’s another story.

I was subsequently sent to RAF Shobdon to fly Hotspurs by both day and night as a preliminary to becoming a First Pilot for duty in the Far East. Fortunately that did not happen, losses on the Rhine and anticipated losses landing on Japan left little chance of survival.

(My notes: Operation VARSITY {The Rhine Crossing} was the single most successful Allied Airborne Operation of WWII. What isn’t generally realised {and what has shamefully been ignored by the Media} is that 2/3 of the glider pilots involved were RAF. These figures are reflected in the losses: Of the 102 pilots killed, 64 were RAF. Of those wounded, 60% were RAF.

With regards to the possible Airborne Assault on Japan, the Official {conservative} Estimate on casualties was 80% minimum on the first wave!

I can safely say that, had Truman not dropped the ‘bomb’, I would not be here today.

A sobering thought.)
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 20:36
  #2028 (permalink)  
 
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A few photo's from my Father's Log Book:



My Father is in the front row, 5th from the right:



My Father is far right, front row:



A view of a Halifax tug from the Horsa cockpit:



His Log Book entry says it all:


Last edited by ExAscoteer; 20th Feb 2018 at 15:27.
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 23:58
  #2029 (permalink)  
 
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For those of us that think the 'Goolie Chit' is a new idea, here is the 1945 version offered to the Germans;


Last edited by ExAscoteer; 20th Feb 2018 at 15:29.
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Old 26th Sep 2010, 19:36
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ExAscoteer

Brilliant reading and many thanks for taking the time to post the stories
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 03:40
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Kookabat

I have also been researching Royston William Purcell (known as Jacky to his family) who was shot down over Lille France in 1944. I visited his gravesite in 2004 with my husband,son and one of my daughters. It was very moving. I had heard about (Uncle Jacky) all my life from my dad. Dad was Jacky's nephew. My nana was Jacky's sister, Rosina (older of course). I have copies of the telegrams from the War Commission sent to his eldest brother (his parents pre-deceased him). I also have a copy of the list of his personal belongings from his locker. I do not have a photo and would love to see one. He also had the nickname Rinso because of his surname being similar to a washing powder at the time, called Pursill. Cheers Donna.
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 04:55
  #2032 (permalink)  
 
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Wow!

G'day Donna,

I'm completely blown away to see this post from you. You're now the third person who's contacted me through this forum to talk about my great uncle. The power of PPRuNe!

I've sent you an email through your profile - looking forward to hearing more from you!

Regards,
Adam
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 10:05
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He also had the nickname Rinso because of his surname being similar to a washing powder at the time, called Pursill.

Brilliant! Just for the record, the washing powder in question was, and still very much is, actually "Persil", which curiously enough is also the French word for parsley.

Good hunting in respect of "Rinso"!

Jack
(former resident of NSW)
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 11:38
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The German pilot, realising escape was hopeless, turned his aircraft upside down and bailed out.

The Paras shot him on the way down.
I was not popular with the Mayor either. Feeling hungry, I set up my ‘Tommy cooker’ on the Mayor’s large and beautiful dining table, and cooked my meal. The solid fuel made a large burn in the tabletop. Did I care? No way!
We arrived at the house to hear a wounded horse screaming and were asked to put it out of its misery. An RAF NCO glider pilot obliged – and then shot all the other horses and cattle just to make sure!

None of us worried in the slightest.
Before we moved off a very young German soldier, probably Hitler Youth, came down the earthen road. He was wearing only boots and trousers and had his hands in the air. One of the glider pilots yelled: “Effing Gerry!” and then shot him.
How many of these despicable incidents were ever investigated?
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 12:57
  #2035 (permalink)  
 
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We arrived at the house to hear a wounded horse screaming and were asked to put it out of its misery. An RAF NCO glider pilot obliged – and then shot all the other horses and cattle just to make sure!

None of us worried in the slightest
When the Luftwaffe occupied bases in France, its personnel were told that any pillaging or plundering of civilian property would be punishable by death:

NICHT PLÜNDERN

PLÜNDERN WIRD MIT DEM TODE BESTRAFT.
In May 1940, two privates were caught stealing some shoes and furs and had been summarily court-martialled and shot within hours.

Another example of German behaviour was the treatment of cattle which the French had abandoned. The cattle were in some pain due to not having been milked. But rather than shooting them out of hand as that 'brave' RAF NCO glider pilot did in 1944, they flew in a 'Milking Kompanie' from Germany who were able to save the French cows......
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 20:36
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This is a brilliant, informative thread where ex WW II aircrew have passed on their memories from when they started flying until the end.

Let's keep it that way.
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 22:24
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These posting are so valuable that I really hope that there is a method of say saving them to disc. In a few years most contributors will cease to be with us and what a treasure of memories and experiences will then be left behind. If we go back several hundred years, first hand posting like these do not exist.

We have a duty to preserve these records and to encourage others to do likewise.

Amongst my interests I do pension assistance to veterans and amazed at how well they can go back in time and recal things that will be so personal and interesting.

Recently I assisted the son of an Australian Halifax pilot lost over Germany in 1943.

He knew nothing about his Dad's death and we were able to get the full history.

As I handed him his complete file. he asked how much he owed for my expenses.

I thought for a moment, and I thought of all the others before him and said " You owe me nothing, the bill was paid long ago in 43".

With part of the mainplane missing, the pilot badly wounded in both legs, stayed at the controls so some of the crew could get out.

Tried to get him the DFC but some rule stops it because so much time has gone by.

Regards

Col
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 23:11
  #2038 (permalink)  
 
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This is a brilliant, informative thread where ex WW II aircrew have passed on their memories from when they started flying until the end.

Let's keep it that way.


Well said FED!

Jack
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Old 28th Sep 2010, 08:19
  #2039 (permalink)  

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You're quite right folks.

My Dad is on here as well. Deleting my 'rising to the bait' posts.
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Old 28th Sep 2010, 10:02
  #2040 (permalink)  
 
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This is a wonderfull thread. Thank you all. BEagle: well said. Bastardry is not the sole preserve of the enemy.
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