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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 22nd Oct 2010, 16:12
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Pre flight check

I have received a P.M from a gentleman by the name of Motorola. I have sent e mails by varying methods, and all have been returned. One marked by PPRuNe as ‘ this person has asked that no P.Ms be sent’

His father is an ex Hurricane pilot who wishes to communicate with me.. So please MOTOROLA ‘Get weaving’ and try again. Also could you post a message on here. In the meantime I will see if I can locate my secondary email address and publish it here. I don't think it would matter if it results in many offers of extensions, viagra, etc. to that address. If this is inadvisable will some one let me know. Thanks.

I have asked my 'virtual friend' Dennis the Lancaster rear gunner if he could help with pre flight check info.I append below his reply. Dennis , is extremely knowledgeable about all things Lancaster
Hello Cliff, (From Dennis)
On our squadron, the pilot & F/eng carried out a joint pre-flight check. Included in the pilots list was a check with the other crew members that all was OK.

In my case as rear gunner, I confirmed that guns were set to safe & did a rotation check whilst counting out numbers. This check required the turret to be rotated from port to stbd. a couple of times to confirm continuity of intercom connection & checking the call light button. This light would have been used ib the event of a comms. failure to pass info to the pilot, for example- corkscrew port, series of dashes.
---------------------------------------------
FROM DENNIS
I believe that they each had a small bluish book, that may well have been the standad pilots & F/engs. note books, Iam not sure
---------------------------------------------------------
FROM CLIFF.
Thanks Dennis, but I can't remember a blue book. Also , although I have still got all my old paperwork there is no blue book . Do have a blue 'Pilots Notes' .
. I believe we carried out our pre flight checks, methodically, but from memory. But , I’m suffering from Pre cognitive impairment (L.O.L)
Regards Cliff.
-----------------------------------------------------------
Herewith the scans I promised recently before I got in 'a flat spin' This all the info I can find at the moment. See items on the Engineers log -CHECK BEFORE FLIGHT-



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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 18:45
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Pilot's Notes

Cliffnemo.
I still have my copies of
Pilot's Notes General, A fairly thick blue book, 180mm x 125mm x10mm Pilot's Notes Whitley V Orange Book 200mm x 150mm x 5mm
Pilot's Notes Halifax Blue Book 190mm x 125mm x 5mm
Pilot's Notes Wellington Blue 111, X X1, X11, X111, X1V (As above)
With Two Hercules engines X1, V1, XV1, XV11 (Post War)
I also have the notes for Chipmunk T10 Same size as Wellington & Halifax.
Somewhere I have the Pilot's Notes for The Airspeed Oxford, but I cannot find it at the moment. I cannot recall that I was ever requested to hand over these copies on posting.
I wonder if there was a book for the DH82 (The Tiger Moth) ?
I have not got around to the mysteries of Photo Bucket but, if there is anything you are interested in, I will gladly send photo copies. All my photos are in Picasa 3.
Did your gunners ever hit a sea-gull? One of my gunners sprayed hundreds of rounds at sea-gulls. He was a very good gunner but the birds always flew away! fredjhh

Tow 1709 The Bombing and Gunnery targets on the Severn were named as Stert Flats on our maps.
I remember seeing the beautiful Polish girl of the ATA, picking up Spitfires from Lyneham in '41. She had a habit of taking off from the Peri Track if the field was wet. No runways at Lyneham then. fredjhh
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Old 29th Oct 2010, 07:34
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The Blue Book (Pilot's Notes) for the Tiger Moth certainly did exist, at least in the RAAF. I have a reproduction I bought in the UK earlier this year of a 1944 version.

To all - great to see this thread is still going strong. Cliff your notes are superlative as usual - and also happy to see your correspondence with Dennis. From 'that other forum' I'm building up a collection of 'Things Dennis Said' in a database - there's some gems in there!

Adam
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Old 9th Nov 2010, 13:30
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Just joined so new to this. Reference rmventuri jotting about Ernie Herralds crew photo. My wife is (was) Stan Gibbons daughter and I spoke to Stan on many occasions before his death about 15 years ago. Also have been in contact with Bruce Herrald, Ernies son. I thing the photo you refer to maybe the one that I placed on a board in the Kings Head at Pollington 15 years ago. Stan was in 'C' flight that reformed as 578 sqn for his last 3 flights of his tour over Berlin. All he could tell me at the time was that his pilot was "the CO". This of course was after Ernie had moved on. I would be pleased for any info as there are many gaps in my research into Stans time as WOP not least inactivity on my part in resuming research, so I was delighted to find this website and may be able to continue gathering info. Unfortunately All of Stans paperwork and logbook were destroyed after the war. Look forwad to any help forthcoming.
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Old 9th Nov 2010, 13:33
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Just joined so new to this. Reference rmventuri jotting about Ernie Herralds crew photo. My wife is (was) Stan Gibbons daughter and I spoke to Stan on many occasions before his death about 15 years ago. Also have been in contact with Bruce Herrald, Ernies son. I thing the photo you refer to maybe the one that I placed on a board in the Kings Head at Pollington 15 years ago. Stan was in 'C' flight that reformed as 578 sqn for his last 3 flights of his tour over Berlin. All he could tell me at the time was that his pilot was "the CO". This of course was after Ernie had moved on. I would be pleased for any info as there are many gaps in my research into Stans time as WOP not least inactivity on my part in resuming research, so I was delighted to find this website and may be able to continue gathering info. Unfortunately All of Stans paperwork and logbook were destroyed after the war. Look forwad to any help forthcoming.
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Old 9th Nov 2010, 14:39
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Boggie

Welcome. We can tell you are new here as you have duplicated your post.
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Old 9th Nov 2010, 16:24
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To Boggie

Boggie,

Its nice to see your post, I have replied to you privately, so please contact me.
As you may have read, my Grandfather was part of this crew, so I was able to give rmventuri the relevant information re. the crew.
The photo that is posted on this forum is not one that was placed on the board at Pollington (I think I have a copy), but was sourced from elsewhere, and up until recently was a mystery. It takes some explaining.
Without checking I thought that the last flight of the tour (Not for Ernie Herrald, and Jack O'Dowda) was a trip to Berlin as 578 Squadron with Wing Cdr D.S.S. Wilkerson on 30.1.44.
In terms of help in your research, I think I may have most of the information you need, and if there is any more needed I can help.

Paul
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Old 10th Nov 2010, 16:38
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NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN AND TRUE TO COME TO THE AID OF THE PARTY.
(A typing exercise when I was learning touch typing, but apt)

The number of contributions is reducing daily, so could I ask the following for info, pics or whatever,
FROM. --
Old Hairy,
Padhist.
Ormside,
Farell.
Air1,
Ollie.
and any other bods who may have interesting information and facts , before it is too late.
A few questions also help to keep this thread extant. I am sure the other vets on this thread are happy to answer any questions and help keep it going.
Whilst on the subject , I have not heard from Motorola , the son of a hurricane pilot who tried to E.M me, ,so here is a secondary email address of mine which he may use [email protected] .
Fredjhh is posting me his Halifax pilots notes, from which I hope to obtain some interesting scans,

My stay at Diedeldsdorf was quite pleasant but short and was followed by posting to Wunstorf, to take charge of a section of the large stores.
My first surprise was the friendliness of the civilian staff , when my original impression of the Germans was completely changed. In fact, every morning at eight A.M when they disembarked from the R.A.F ‘three tonners’ men , women, and youngsters congregated, and shook hands with every one present.
This was followed by a search for ‘tab ends’ where each person had his or her own patch.There were no arguments or squabling. And each tab end placed carefully in a tin box, and later sold on the black market. I must admit I had expected , resistance groups, opposition, and extreme danger. Hence the fully loaded Smith and Wesson in my inside pocket. How mistaken I was, in fact I formed the opinion that the ordinary ’Man in the street’ was more like the British than any other nationality. In my stores they worked hard and were completely reliable. The only thing they were sorry about was that we had not joined them to fight the Russians.

I intended to next tell the story about a certain warrant officer, who possibly prevented the officer I/c stores from court martial, but Mrs Nemo has other ideas, so will try again tomorrow.
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Old 10th Nov 2010, 18:56
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Fighter navigation

Perhaps some of you can enlighten me on how fighter pilots, especially night fighter ones, found their way back to base after combat and if you had any navigation and landing aids as I assume for security reasons there were no approach or runway lights. I know bombers had quite a few navigation aids and a navigator well versed in the black art of celestial navigation, but the fighter pilot was on his own and would have needed to carry out lots of violent manoeuvres during combat and must have ended up some considerable distance from where he first engaged the enemy, I assume handling a sextant was out of the question in a spitfire!
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Old 10th Nov 2010, 22:05
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Most (I know, not all) British night fighters were multi crew and multi engine, (although that's not really pertinent to your question). I think you'll find that most were under radar direction until they got to within sight of their station's coded light. In poor weather, they'd probably have recovered via a VDF, (a ground-directed homing, which could get them down to a couple of hundred feet).
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Old 11th Nov 2010, 12:05
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Navigation

EXGROUNDCREW Possibly this might help, a scan of my Beam approach notes (circa 1943) Previously pasted. Also you can refer to a previous post re 'Darky procedure'



Although I did not become a fighter pilot, the training I received covered all aircrew positions, astro navigation included. The reason being that until wings exam, it was not known for which trade we would be selected. Therefore , we were taught to navigate by 'dead reckoning' using maps, a computer strapped to our leg, (In effect a circular slide rule which added , subtacted, divided , logarithmetically) the use of the Standard beam approach, etc. Air fields were always illuminated for landing even if only by flares and a christmass tree (Glide path indicator). Later the Drem system was used. The nearest airfield could be indicated by search light.
Perhaps one of our fighter pilot contributors could enlarge or correct this, and confirm that we could ask for a QDM This was a bearing to steer to reach the airfield. This was obtained by two seperate stations obtaining bearings which would give them our position.
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Old 11th Nov 2010, 13:53
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Perhaps some of you can enlighten me on how fighter pilots, especially night fighter ones, found their way back to base after combat
Geoffrey Wellum can enlighten you if you purchase a copy of his book "First Light".
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Old 11th Nov 2010, 19:07
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Boggie

Welcome to the forum. The photo's I posted are all from originals in my brother's possession (on the back there is a stamp of the photo company). My, now 92 year old, uncle told me my grandmother understandably had a tough time dealing with the loss of Doug - kept what little possessions and memorabilia locked away in a drawer for many years. Eventually they were given to my father (twin brothers) and then to my oldest brother - Doug’s namesake. I can only assume that Doug had this crew photo because he was friends with Jack O’Dowda. They would have met while training at Mossbank, Saskatchewan Canada. Jack was from Winnipeg – Doug from Saskatoon. I have contact info for one of Jack’s nephews (I can PM if pbeach has not already done so). They lost most/all of Jack’s photos to a flood years ago. Unfortunately Doug did not have any pictures of his own crew – if by chance since crews may have hung out you ever discover more photos in your research would much appreciate a copy.

Not sure why Jack would have stayed with 51 squadron when flight group 'C' moved on to form 578?
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Old 11th Nov 2010, 20:30
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More from Typhoon pilot Peter Brett

Peter has just been posted back for his second tour to 183 squadron, now based in Holland in January 1945. His story continues...

In September 1998 I revisited the area of Holland where I was operating in 1945 following a kind offer from a Dutch friend of our family Mr Arthur Jansen-Rouschop living in Horst. I was received very warmly by all the Dutch people that I met, and given great help in tracing the places and events of 1945. I would especially like to thank Mr.Walter.J.van den Hout of the Gilze-Rijen research team and Sergeant 1st class L.M.F. Klerks the custodian of the 'Tradition Chamber' of the Gilze-Rijen Air Base of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

On 5th January 1945 I was taken in an Avro Anson, a rather ancient twin engine communications aircraft, to Gilze-Rijen in Holland to rejoin 183 squadron. Gilze-Rijen is about half way between Breda and Tilburg and was, I have since found out, one of the first airfields in Holland. I believe it had two runways at the time and several buildings, mostly badly damaged, and therefore the accommodation for aircraft was somewhat limited. The dispersal areas were situated on both sides of a minor road. This meant that quite often one had to wait to taxi from dispersal to the runway whilst the traffic on the road was halted to allow us to proceed.

On my arrival however the airfield was almost deserted except for a skeleton maintenance staff and 183 squadron adjutant. The officers’ mess was in what had been the local German headquarters and was a clean modern building. Unfortunately there was only a single mess sergeant in occupation who had the combined duties of cook, barman, batman and general staff.

The reason for this was that the complete wing had been hastily transferred to Chievre in order to assist in combating the German Ardennes counterattack. Everything had been shunted off to Chievre including most of the bar stocks and consequently the adj and I spent the evening imbibing the only alcohol available which was neat gin. As a result of this we became quite maudlin and finished the evening bemoaning our solitary lot as if we were the only survivors of the wing!

However, next morning, with a gin hangover, I was given a hair-raising drive in a jeep down to Chievre. On arrival I found that the squadrons were virtually grounded by the awful weather, snow, rain and high winds, which had proved too bad to enable targets to be identified, apart from the hazards of flying anyway in such bad conditions.

As a result of these bad conditions we tragically lost our Wing Leader. Wing Commander Wally Dring DSO, DFC, 'Stringer' to all of us, had been my Squadron Commander before being promoted to Wing Commander of 123 Wing. He had been up on a weather recce and, on return, had landed on the runway which had been snowbound and then cleared. The foul conditions meant that the freezing rain had left patches of ice on the runway.

He did a good landing but then started to apply the brakes. One wheel must have been on ice for the aircraft swung violently, shot off the runway into the snow piled up along each side, and flipped over on to its back. At this point it must still have been travelling at over 80 mph. When the crash crew arrived at the scene they found 'Stringer' dead. The crash had broken his neck. This must have been very shortly before we returned to Gilze on January 19th because he was buried at Tilburg with full military honours and I was one of the pallbearers.

With the help of the curator of the Netherlands Air Force museum at Gilze-Rijen, the station now being a regular Netherlands Air Force station, I tried to trace his grave. However, although the curator had a complete list of local war graves, his was not among them. I can only conclude that his family had had the body removed and reburied, back in the UK.

I flew a Typhoon back from Chievre to Gilze and, after the funeral, the wing restarted operations. On the morning of 23rd January I carried out my first operation of my second tour. This was a rocket attack and cannon strafe of billets at Doornenburg. The target was an isolated set of buildings set in a completely snow-covered landscape.( I have now established that this was Doornenburg Castle)

I was leading the second four and we dived steeply on the target. As I opened up with my cannon I actually, for the first and only time, saw the bullets! Against the white snow background they suddenly appeared for a fleeting moment as a swarm of black dots converging on the target. There was very little flak and we all hit the target on the second dive with rockets.. Another operation in the afternoon saw us going for the docks and warehouses at Millingen. It seems that our rockets were inaccurate but the cannon strafe was O.K.

Next day I was No.3 on a four plane armed recce but had to return after 20 minutes due to engine trouble. The weather then clamped right down and we were unable to fly again until the 3rd February when I led a four as fighter cover to an eight led by an Australian Alan Cocks. Alan's eight attacked a train but my four had nothing to do since no enemy fighters appeared. It is worthy of note here that never in all my operational flying up to then had I been attacked by enemy aircraft! In fact I had only ever seen one piloted enemy aircraft flying and that was the Focke-Wolfe Condor which was taking off as we attacked the airfield at Brest on Christmas Eve 1943.

Three days off and then an armed reconnaissance around Emden and Oldenburg. Evidently the four of us attacked some transport and a bridge but I have no particular memories of this. February the 9th saw me acting as 'spare bod' on an attack against Arnhem Telephone exchange, which just meant 15 minutes extra flying time. This was in the morning, and in the afternoon four of us took off for a 'Cab rank' sortie. This was where we patrolled a preset baseline and were called up by a forward observation point to take out specified targets.

It was rather hazy which made it difficult for the leader to spot the ground features which the controller specified. This time however the target given to us was a long straight road near Kessel. We were asked to strafe this road, probably to keep the German troops busy whilst our infantry advanced. Once again I was flying with Alan Cocks, this time as his number two. Although I was by now considered an experienced combat pilot it was purely a question of chance and availability which determined your position in any operation and although I had led formations several times it so happened that I was flying in number two position this time, fortunately for Alan!

We did two dives along the road firing our cannons only. As we pulled out of the second run I noticed a fine stream of white vapour coming from Alan's radiator cowling. I called up 'Blue leader, Blue two, you have been hit. Gain height". He pulled up and I followed just behind and below him. At about 5000 feet I suddenly saw flames beginning to appear from the underside of the cowling. I pulled to one side and called " Blue Leader, you are on fire. Bail out. Bail out". Alan jettisoned his hood and then the aircraft dived violently and Alan shot out of the cockpit. He was immediately blown back behind me and I told 'Blue Three' to keep an eye on him whilst I watched for where the aircraft would crash.
Blue Three later reported that Alan had landed safely, as far as he could tell, but very much the wrong side of the lines. The aircraft crashed well to our side but was of course a total write-off.

It was to be over forty years before I heard the full story from Alan himself. In 1987 I attended a reunion in Normandy of members of the 'Typhoon and Tempest Association' and Alan had come over on holiday from Australia especially to attend the reunion. We were indulging in some beer and nostalgia in the bar of the hotel when Alan described his bail-out. He said "As we pulled up the guy behind me said I had been hit" He was somewhat astonished when I said "Yes, that was me!”

He then continued: "At about 5000 feet the engine temperature gauge was 'off the clock' and so I started to prepare to bail out. I had released my harness and oxygen line and was just about to pull the radio plug when I heard the call for me to bale out. I pulled the radio plug, jettisoned the hood, and kicked forward on the control column. The next thing I knew I was sitting out in the fresh air and starting to fall. I forgot all the lessons about counting five etcetera and yanked at the ripcord. Luckily everything worked O.K. and I began floating gently down.

It seemed to take for ever before it registered that the ground was approaching and by this time it was obvious that the wind was not in my favour and I was going to land well inside the enemy lines. It seemed that I was headed for a very level green field so I did not attempt to guide myself at all. Unfortunately the 'level green field' proved to be an area of boggy ground and I finished up being dragged by my chute through some very black and smelly mud. I managed to get rid of the harness and stand up, almost knee deep in mud. Before I could decide what to do I found myself surrounded, at a respectful distance, by German troops who had the sense to remain on dry ground and signal me to come out. I squelched my way out of the bog and they marched me off to what I found out was the local Police Station which had been taken over as the local army headquarters.

Here I was confronted by a German Major, who was immaculate in a superbly tailored uniform with riding breeches and gleaming jackboots. He looked at me askance and said in only slightly accented English 'You are very dirty, we must arrange for you to be washed' and then handed me a pristine white handkerchief. I wiped my face and hands which effectively ruined his handkerchief, and then I was taken down the corridor and put in a cell."

Alan then told us of his further adventures. He did finally get a bath and was moved several times but never made it to P.O.W. camp because of the rapid advances of the Allied troops. He was eventually liberated by the Americans but due to the administrative chaos reigning at the time he never rejoined the squadron and was shipped off back to Aussie, not to meet any of us again for forty two years.
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Old 11th Nov 2010, 20:45
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Halifax 111 Pilot's Notes

Cliffnemo
The Halifax Pilot's notes are in the post.
Exgroundcrew
When I mentioned Spitfire Navigation to a pal he pointed out that they learned their local area just as we did, but they had the advantage of VHF. I first met VHF when flying Oxfords in 1946, and it was wonderful to be able to get a bearing to base by holding the transmit switch on your mike for a few seconds.
Once over base the landing drill was the same for all aircraft, day or night.
"First Light" gives a first class example of Navigation without Radio and in thick overcast.

fredjhh
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Old 12th Nov 2010, 09:11
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On 5th January 1945 I was taken in an Avro Anson, a rather ancient twin engine communications aircraft
I was still doing that in 1965.
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Old 12th Nov 2010, 11:13
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Welcome back, tow1709
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Old 12th Nov 2010, 19:46
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Peter brett's memoirs continued...

Thank you Beagle-Eye, I have been a bit busy recently, so haven't had time to do any posting. Here is some more from Peter...

On the 10th Feb 1945 I noted an RP attack on a stores dump. The only note in my log book for this op was "Large explosion!". Another couple of days off, probably due to foul weather, then three operations in one day. The first two of these were armed recce. Both were in the Wesel/Bocholt area and both abortive. The first was due to weather and we were recalled from the second. In the afternoon however, four of us did an RP attack which I noted in my logbook was 'Winkle'. This, as far as I can recall, was a code name for attacking dug-in troops. On returning from this I found that my engine temperature was climbing slowly but I managed to get back to Gilze-Rijen before it got too dangerous. A check by the fitters revealed a damaged oil cooler.

Feb.14th and St.Valentines day. The morning operation was an attack on, firstly, a rail target at Hurl followed by an attack on some motor transport in woods north of Lubeck. There was no flak at all from the first target and only a small amount from the second. All the operations at this time were FCP, which stood for Forward Control Point. This meant that we were patrolling a fixed area and were called up from a forward position by the army to deal with any trouble spots such as gun positions, mortar batteries, observation posts etc.

In the afternoon the four of us, I was no.3 on this op., were to attack a moated castle east of Goch. (During my 1998 visit I managed to identify this castle. From maps I worked out it was either Kalbeck or Wissen. I visited both and at first thought that Wissel had been the target and that I had made a mistake as to its location. The reason for this was that Kalbeck has no moat whereas Wissen is a beautiful medieval castle with an extensive moat. However, in talking to the owner of Wissen he assured me that it was never attacked during the war since it was a hospital with a large red cross on the roof. Going back to Kalbeck we could not find anybody but did find evidence of bullet damage and also evidence of an old moat. One tends to forget that things change a lot in over fifty years! Since returning from Holland my friend in Horst has been contacted by the owner of Kalbeck Castle who confirmed that there was a moat in those days and that the castle was attacked during February 1945. He said he would like to meet me!!)

Another day off, the weather was terrible, and then another FCP attack on the 16th against mortar positions west of the Forest of Cleve. We made an RP attack followed by three strafing runs but there was no flak. There followed a period of five days when there was no activity at all because of bad weather and then on 21st February I flew an Auster to airstrip B86 with a Fl/Lt Galbraith as passenger and returned.

Back to operations the next day, with an FCP attack on field guns east of Goch. On this operation there were four of us with myself flying number three. The number two, Anton, (I cannot recall his surname) was hit during the dive, burst into flames, and crashed near the target. We were attacking well spaced apart as the leader had ordered us to fire the rockets in pairs as a ripple. This meant that the gunners could concentrate on each individual aircraft. We were all hit, but Anton was the unfortunate one. I did not realize that I had been hit myself until on the way back, when my windscreen suddenly became covered in oil.

A quick check of the engine instruments showed nothing amiss and then I realized that the oil was too clean to have come from the engine. However I was not taking any chances and immediately throttled back. Luckily, since our targets were now nearly always at the front line, we were invariably back over friendly territory very quickly. I spotted a new-looking airstrip and made for it, landing 'straight in' as there was no flying activity taking place at that moment. This airstrip turned out to be B89 at Mill. The numbers were allocated in order of construction, B for British and A for American.

This particular airfield was occupied by a Mustang wing at the time. I was taken back to B77 (Gilze-Rijen) by road whilst the aircraft was examined. It turned out that the reduction gear casing behind the propeller had been hit and had burst. Had I kept going much longer it would have seized up and either exploded or caught fire. Lucky me again!

My aircraft was repaired during the next day and on the morning of the 24th I tried to fly back to B89 with P/O Jack Bridges to collect it. However the weather again put paid to this trip and we had to return. I never did get back to collect the aircraft, as I was on another operation that afternoon and only managed one more op. before being posted.

Much later, the 183 squadron Adjutant told me that I should have been charged the cost of a new parachute which I had left in the aircraft at B89. However he was a decent type who arranged for the chute to be written off "Due to Enemy Action".

On the 24th February, in the afternoon, I led a four on an armed recce. in the Isselburg area. There was a lot of cloud and I suddenly spotted a bridge and some barges. I called "Target, Target, nine o'clock below" and peeled off in a 180 degree roll. The other three followed me closely and we shot down through a small hole in the cloud to fire our 32 rockets in four eight's very quickly. They were all good shots and we learned later that we had severely damaged the bridge and sunk six barges. We were in and out so quickly that there was no flak at all, or at least we didn't see any tracers.

Next day saw me leading 'Green' section of four on a Headquarters building near Weeze. This target was by contrast very well defended and we faced a hail of 20mm tracer. Again we were all hit but nobody was shot down or badly damaged. In my case, it was a couple of holes in the tailplane.

This proved to be my last operation with 183 Squadron as next day I received a posting to the Fighter Leaders School at the Central Fighter Establishment at Tangmere on the south coast near Chichester.

Although I have not previously mentioned it, we were at this time on a direct line between the German 'Buzz-Bomb' sites and Antwerp, which the Germans were attacking constantly with both V1 and V2 weapons, since it was the main supply port for the Dutch campaign.

We were constantly seeing these 'Flying bombs' passing over the airfield and occasionally gave chase to them when returning from operations. We were not allowed however to chase them past the Western edge of the airfield since there was a 'Flying Forbidden' area starting just west of Gilze-Rijen where the American Army had set up a radar operated belt of AA guns which were busy shooting down these weapons. We were told that we entered this area at our own risk since the guns attacked ANY moving targets in that area.

A few of us, during a lull in flying when the weather was too bad, visited one of the gun sights. We were made welcome by the American gunners and given a demonstration of firing. It was noteworthy that the site was alongside a tree-lined road. All the trees were somewhat shorter than originally, since the guns had taken the tops off them!

I recall two particular 'Buzz-bomb' incidents. The first was when we were standing at a dispersal point on the airfield when we saw a one approaching at very low level with its motor misfiring intermittently. It flew past us about 50 metres away and 20 metres up and getting lower. We all stood watching it until all of us, at the same moment, realized that it was about to hit the ground. It was, after all, a large bomb not an aircraft! We all 'hit the deck' at the same moment, a couple of seconds before it exploded some half way across the airfield.

The other, less amusing, incident was when a buzz-bomb landed in the village of Gilze destroying several houses, killing eight people, and damaging the local tannery. At the time this happened, it was around noon I was standing with several others outside the building we were using as an Adjutant's office. We just caught a glimpse of the bomb as it passed a gap between the houses but did not have any time to react other than flinch as it exploded about 300 metres away. In both these cases the engines of the bombs were still operating when they struck so they were not targeted on Gilze but were malfunctions of the autopilot mechanisms.
(From the excerpts from a diary kept at the time and supplied to me by Mr van den Hout, I can fix the dates of these incidents as Sunday 28th January and Monday 26th February respectively - the latter being the day that I received my posting back to U.K. I now have a photograph of myself and Mr. van den Hout standing at the exact spot where I was at the time of the second incident.)

More soon ==TOW
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Old 13th Nov 2010, 11:33
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welcome back Tow

Wizzo Tow .Keep it going.
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Old 13th Nov 2010, 11:38
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welcome back Tow

Wizzo Tow .Keep it going.
Excellent.
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