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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 Nov 2010, 11:22
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Thanks Fred.

Fredjhh's book has just arrived by post, which I will read, and scan any interesting items. In the meantime if any one has a specific question, about check lists, beam approach, flying limits etc, just ask, I am quite happy to scan any page.

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Old 13th Nov 2010, 20:01
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Sorry chaps, been away in our pad in Spain and only just back in UK.
If it helps at all, Wally Dring is buried in Bergen op Zoom
Rank: Wing Commander (Pilot)
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Age: 28. Date of Death: 13/01/1945. Service No: 104424
Awards: D S O, D F C
Additional information: Son of Walter and Ethel Dring, of Weston, Lincolnshire; husband of Sheila Mary Patricia Dring, of Worsley, Lancashire.
Grave/Memorial Reference: 13. B. 6. Cemetery: BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY
Will probably also be able to identify your Polish ATA lady, just need a tad more time to get over the 3 day drive from Mojacar!
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Old 13th Nov 2010, 20:31
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Unidentified Aircrew personnel in photos

I have some photos my father left me which I think were taken in India or possibly the USA. However, I have no idea who anybody is, or what group of people are in the photos. Anybody recognise anybody?

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Old 13th Nov 2010, 21:01
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Whilst there is a small chance that I am wrong, I have doubts about the photos were taken in USA.

The reason is that there is a Blitz truck in the background and I doubt if they ever served in the USA


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Old 14th Nov 2010, 10:30
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Peter Brett's memoirs - Fighter Leaders school

This is the complete 12th chapter of Peter Brett's memoirs.

On 27th February 1945 I was flown, once again in a trusty old Anson, back home to the UK. I was taken to Tangmere first where I dumped my kit and then on to Northolt for a few days leave. During this leave I took part, with Wg Cdr Bill Brown and my foster brother Eric in a large ATC parade where a new Squadron flag was presented to 101 ATC squadron. This was quite an impressive public display and was reported, with photographs, in our local newspaper the Harrow Observer. After an enjoyable leave, I returned to Tangmere in time to start the Fighter Leaders course on 4th March 1945.

The course lasted seven weeks and consisted of all the usual ingredients such as air-to-air firing, dive bombing, rocket firing, and a large number of exercises. All these exercises had names ranging from 'Buster and 'Bluebeard' to 'Whatsit' and 'Winkle'. Mostly they were navigational and map-reading exercises but there were two that I remember near the end of the course called 'Roundabout' and 'Interdiction'.

‘Roundabout’ was a sort of treasure hunt. We were each given a set of eight sealed envelopes and sent off at five minute intervals. We had to open the first envelope whilst orbiting base at 2000 feet. The first one said something like "Fly a true course of 048 degrees for three minutes at 380 True airspeed and look for a large country house in a park near a lake". The next envelope read "Count the windows on the South and East sides of the house and multiply by seven to give you the true track to fly for eight minutes at 290 mph groundspeed"

These sort of clues continued for the next six envelopes when the last instruction was to read the large white letters displayed on the ground. Of the twenty or so pilots on the course only two managed to come up with the right answer. I was not one of them. I evidently made an error on the last but one clue and finished up heading for the centre of London which was obviously wrong since on that particular leg the instructions had told me to fly BELOW 500 feet!!

Still, I did better than some of the others, one of whom ran out of land when he headed off on a reciprocal course, which took him out over Lands End! The actual final destination should have been Gatwick airfield, as it was then, with the letters GW on the flying control area.

I was much more successful with exercise 'Interdiction' where we again were sent off individually to try to attack Corfe Castle without being 'bounced' by several sections of Spitfires which were patrolling the area. We were given 'carte blanche' as to how we did it. Most of the chaps tried coming in from the sea at very low level and dodging round the Isle of Wight. I studied the contour maps very carefully and came in from the North West.

Down on the deck, probably about fifty feet above the ground I followed a little river (the Piddle!) which I picked up at Puddletown. Following it past Burleston, Tolpuddle, Affpuddle and Briantspuddle (yes, they are real places) then past Lane End, I arrived behind Trigon Hill and continued to follow the river to Wareham. At Wareham I picked up the main Swanage road and still keeping as low as I could, I approached Corfe Castle below the hilltop and eased up to take camera gun pictures as I climbed up towards the castle. As I pulled up over the castle and banked hard left I found myself right behind a section of four Spitfires who were patrolling West to East just South of the castle. Pure chance of course, but I took more camera-gun shots and subsequently claimed to have 'shot' at least one down. Not only was I one of the only four aircraft to attack the castle without being intercepted, but I was the only one to claim having 'shot down' one of the defenders!

The 'instructors' were all veteran fighter pilots, most of whom had fought in the 'Battle of Britain'. The Station Commander was Air Commodore Atcherley, known to all as 'Batchy Atchy'. How he ever reached the exalted rank of Air Commodore was a puzzle to all of us. Even if half the tales told about him were true they would surely have meant that he would have been the oldest Pilot Officer in the air force!

One tale that was probably true, is that he once flew a Spitfire through a hangar, having previously arranged for both end sets of doors to be opened. It was also rumoured that he had once done a 'touch and go' landing in a Magister trainer on an aircraft carrier anchored in the Solent.

One of my fellow students on the course was the only other amputee pilot in the RAF. This was Colin 'Hoppy' Hodgkinson. He had one leg amputated above the knee and one below. He was flying Spitfires and I had a few drinks with him. One evening he and I went out to a local dance in his car, either a Morgan or an MG, I'm not now sure which, that he drove fast and expertly. About a year ago, [from the original time of writing], I spoke to him by phone. He had married a French girl and was living in the Dordogne in southern France.

During the course we all had an opportunity to fly the various other aircraft types on the station. Thus I flew a Tempest V a few times and also had a half hour trip flying a Spitfire IX. Having done so many hours on the Typhoon, some 350 at that time, I found the Spitfire rather odd. The main thing I noticed was the relative lack of vibration. It felt, and sounded, like a quiet sewing-machine after the rant and bellow of the Tiffie. However I was not so happy with the controls. The Typhoon was very light on the ailerons and fairly heavy on the elevators. The Spitfire was the complete opposite and required some getting used to. It was obvious that pulling a high G turn was easy but I was disappointed with the rate of roll and the effort required to get on 'full stick' in the roll. No doubt those Spitfire pilots who flew the Typhoon felt as if they were driving a tank. It was all a question of familiarity.

There was one aircraft on the station, a Tempest V, which had been stripped of all external bomb and rocket racks, The paint had been removed and the metal skin polished. It was known as the 'Silver Bullet' and was reckoned to be the fastest prop driven aircraft in the world at the time. Everybody had at least one flight in it and I did an exercise called 'Tracker' so I got to fly it for about 1˝ hours!

At the end of the course a party was held in Chichester and my leave acquaintance Wg Cdr Bill Brown came down to attend it. The next day one of the instructors asked me where I had met him and how long I had known him. I explained that I had met him a couple of years ago and had seen him a few times while on leave. I said that he had told me that he was doing some sort of 'Special Ops' secret work so I had never asked any questions. More of him later!

On 1st May I reported to Lasham airfield and was flown once more by Anson to B103 at Plantlünne where I took up my new post as Flight Commander of 'B' Flight 164 Squadron. Still with many of the same blokes I had been with before, since 164 was also in the same 123 Wing as 183 Squadron.

More soon ==TOW

Last edited by tow1709; 18th Nov 2010 at 19:13. Reason: Edited to remove references to particular instructors - see comment by allan125 and my reply further on in this thread.
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Old 14th Nov 2010, 10:57
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<<Not sure why Jack would have stayed with 51 squadron when flight group 'C' moved on to form 578?>>

I have requested his records - so hopefully that will cast some light on the matter.

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Old 14th Nov 2010, 15:14
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tow 1709

Peter Brett's memoirs, like so many others on this thread, are simply priceless. The feeling of "being there" is unique.

Thank you, Sir.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 10:24
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I have received a P.M from a Bossmofo in Canada which I append below (with his permission).He says he will share some interesting information, with us shortly.

Probationary PPRuNer

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Thank you.
Hello and thank you for the speedy reply. I am as I said before excited to be talking with you and it is much appreciated. My Grandads name was John Bradburn Walker. He was born in Scotland, but was in Canada when he signed up to serve with the R.A.F. He and his crew were shot down over Germany on a cold winter night and he was to spend the remainder of the war in a P.O.W. camp (4B). His Pilot was Frank McCutcheon, Johnnie Walker (grandpa) was the Bomb aimer, George Leverington was the Wireless operator, Knocker Walsh the Navigator, Paddy Pottinger the Upper gunner, Dave Wells the Flight engineer, and last but not least was Ron Jeffcoat the Rear gunner. My dad had a painting commisioned of a Halifax and there are some smaller letters and numbers showing just in front of the tail on the side.(unsure as to wether or not these are the actual factual letters and numbers). They are JD 118. The large letters on the side are W(R.A.F symbol)MH. My dad has alot of information about Grandad but is in Mexico at the moment, as soon as he comes home I will have more to share. (a week or so). My interest is deeply rooted in things like this. Grandads dad Andy Walker served in the Great war in the Calvary if you can believe that! Grandads wife was a war bride and came over in something like '46 or '47. She instilled in me a great respect and pride for the sacrifices made by people of your generation. Her father Great Grandpa Kitson served four years in the trenches in France. My great Uncle Pete Bogard served with the Winnipeg Grenadiers in the Pacific theater. He was captured and spent the remainder of the war in a Japanese P.O.W. camp. When Grandad was liberated the Germans who began to flee had started to burn the building that held all the files on the camps P.O.W.s. He waited until they took off and ran into the burning building and took all the files they had on him. So that is some of the interesting stuff I will be able to share. I will talk to you soon. We will be going to our Rememberance Day Ceremonies and have lunch with some our Veterans, hope you are able to do the same. Take care, Ken

We look forward to hearing from you Ken

Enclosed in Fredjhh's pilots note book were two excellent colour photos ,of a Halifax 'cockpit' and instrument panel which I will post tomorrow.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 13:27
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JEJ & DB at the FLS Tangmere Mar-May '45?

I have enjoyed Peter Brett's story - thanks tow - but find this piece a bit too incredible

"The 'instructors' were all veteran fighter pilots, most of them had fought in the 'Battle of Britain' and there were some famous names: among them 'Johnnie' Johnson and Douglas Bader"

On a 7 week course that Peter Brett started on 4 March '45 we find JEJ at B.90 Petit Brogel/Belgium as WingCo Flying of 127 RCAF Wing, moving by the end of the month to a Group Captain post as CO of 125 Wing, and Douglas Bader banged up in Colditz until it was liberated by the americans on 16 April.

At the end of the course JEJ was at B.118 Celle in Germany, and nowhere near to Tangmere to be able to speak to Peter the day following the party.

You don't have to take my written word for it as both facts are well documented in Wing Leader and Reach for the Sky.

"The feeling of "being there" is unique" - but were JEJ and DB there at the same time as Peter, I don't think so!

Do I now stand back and await the flak at querying something in an otherwise excellent account!?

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Old 16th Nov 2010, 13:34
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Been lurking for a long time, only joined Pprune so I could read this wonderful thread, I mourned the loss of Regle with the rest of you. I was also interested to see mention of 578 squadron as that was the number of my old ATC squadron, not much of a link I know.

Anyway to business, I thought I'd have a look on the web and see if I could find the aircraft that Bossmofo refers to in his message that Cliffnemo reproduced above. In doing so I came across a website that some of you doing research may find useful.

The site address is: Lost Bombers - World War II Lost Bombers I hope I'm allowed to post links on my first message ?

The aircraft he refers to JD118 was flown by 78 squadron and was damaged in a raid to Leverkusen on 19th November 1943 but crash landed in Yorkshire, so his grandfather may have flown in it at sometime but not on that instance. However according to the website on the same raid HR950 MH-S was shot down over Germany and Bossmofo's grandfather and the other crew members are listed as being the crew. MH appears to be the code for 51 squadron.

Hope the above is of use to you.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 17:30
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cliff, please pass on the following info, if not already known)
JD118 was obviously photo'd with that crew whilst still with 51 Sqdn, but lost subsequently after transfer to 78 Sqdn:

78 Squadron Halifax Serial Number JD118 Coded EY-U Operation: Leverkusen 19th / 20th November 1943. Delivered by English Electric Co. (Salmesbury & Preston) between 22 Apr 43 and 7 May 43. JD118 was one of two 78 Sqdn Halifaxes lost on this operation. (See also: LW223). JD118 was initially issued to No.51 Sqdn. Airborne 1616 19 Nov 43 from Breighton. Seriously damaged by flak over the target and on return, crashed at North Cave, 10 miles SW of Beverly, Yorkshire. Sgt Valley is buried in Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery.
F/S W. Hrynkiw RCAF
Sgt S. Littler
Sgt W.A. Valley RCAF (KIA)
F/S L.G. Preece RCAF
Sgt W. Jones
Sgt G. Creer (Injured)
Sgt T. Stump

MH was the Squadron Code for 51 Squadron and obviously JD118 had the individual code letter "W" whilst crewed by Frank McCutcheon et al.

The very same night that JD118 was lost, the McCutcheon crew were also shot down whilst flying HR950...............

51 Squadron Halifax Mk II Serial Number HR950. Coded: MH-S. Operation: Leverkusen 19th / 20th November 1943
Delivered by Handley Page (Cricklewood & Radlett) between 16 Jun 43 and 31 Jul 43. Airborne 1642 19 Nov 43 from Snaith. Hit by flak which killed Sgt Ward and injured Sgt Hall. Despite his injuries he was able to abandon the stricken Halifax and landed safely. Sgt Jefcoat states he made his exit at 15,000 feet and was soon arrested. He was taken to a local police station where the others who had survived were present.
The two airmen killed are buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery.
F/S F.T. McCutcheon RCAF KIA
Sgt D.S. Ward KIA
Sgt N. Hall PoW
Sgt J.B. Walker RCAF PoW
Sgt G.W. Leverington PoW
Sgt J. Pottinger PoW
Sgt R. Jefcoat PoW
Sgt N. Hall was interned in Camp 4B, PoW No.263477 with Sgt R. Jefcoat, PoW No.263489 and Sgt J.B. Walker, PoW No.263517.
Sgt G.W. Leverington in Camps 4B/L3, PoW No.263488 with Sgt J. Pottinger, PoW No.26350

As there are RCAF crew, it may be possible to obtain Service Records and also Debriefing Notes after the War ended, which might detail more precisely where the Halifax crashed.

Hope that may fill in a gap or two.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 18:26
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cliffnemo & brossmovo

Halifax JD 118 was a Mk 2 Series 1a............. Built between Apl - July 1943.
Halifax HR 930 was a Mk 2 Series 1 Built between Mar -July 1943. HR 930 had the blanked-of nose turret and no front gun. JD had a perspex nose-cone with a single Vickers K gun.
F/Sgt McKutceon (Pilot) RCAF and Sgt D S Ward (F/E) were both killed and are buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery. The aircraft was hit by flak which killed Sgt. Ward and wounded Sgt. Hall (Nav). Sgt Jeffcoat (R/G) said he jumped at 15,000 feet, was quickly arrested and taken to the local Police Station with the rest of the crew.
N. Hall, Service No.1503810 POW No:263517 in Stalag IVb
J. B. Walker, RAF Service No. R139840 POW No:263517 In Stalag IVb
G . W. Leverington, Service No.1442279 POW NO:263488 in Stalag IVb
J. Pottinger, Service No: 1145191 POW No:263505 in Staleg IVb
R. Jeffcoat, Service No: 1476531 POW No: 263689 in Stalag IVb.
Halifax JD 118 Marked LK-K was transferred from 51 Squadron to 78 Squadron. fredjhh
SORRY. I was interrupted when writing my notes and had not checked before sending it and then seeing a much more detailed account.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 19:14
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Fighter leaders school Tangmere

Allan125, I have to agree you are right.

DB was not liberated until 16th April (assuming Wiki has got it right) and PB's course would have ended the day before if it was exactly 7 weeks long.

JEJ also was not an instructor there, although DB did later become the CO of this school.

Knowing PB as I do, he would not name-drop just for effect. I can only suggest that maybe he was mistaken about the start date and exact duration of the course, and/or whom he met there - remember he originally wrote these notes up in the early nineties, nearly fifty years after the event, although his memory seems to be excellent about most other stuff. I will ask next time I see him - probably just after Christmas.

PB did meet DB at some point though, because I asked him what sort of a chap he (DB) was. All PB would say was that DB was a pleasant enough bloke but who obviously knew he was someone who was a bit special.

As we shall see in one of the three or four extracts still to come, it would not have been the only time PB was mistaken about the identity of someone.

I have edited PB's original words to make them more generic!
Glad you are enjoying the story. ==TOW

Last edited by tow1709; 18th Nov 2010 at 19:18. Reason: To advise of editing of earlier post.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 19:31
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May I correct the story of the liberating of Stalag IVb?
The Germans left on the 22nd April 1945. The only incident was by a group who began to tear down the Polish hut, as the Poles chose to go with the Germans. "Snowshoes: Jack Meyers, RCAF, the Man of Confidence, managed to persuade them to stop. At 07-00 on the 23rd April the Russians entered the camp to liberate us. All Russian POWs were ordered to leave by 10-00 hrs and my friend, the Russian doctor, came to see me and say "goodbye." He was convinced they were heading for Siberia, "as they had been contaminated by associating by the west." As soon as they had left, our Medical Orderlies checked through the Russian huts to make sure that the Typhus victims were really dead. The Russians carried newly dead on parade to get their rations for a day or two. The guards stood well back and would not go into the huts for fear of Typhus. The huts were then burned. The Kommandatur was not burnt and it was easy to get one's German documents. I have mine still intact. fredjhh
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Old 17th Nov 2010, 07:17
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Robbie Robertson

Message for John Fairr

John you were good enough to allow me to use quotes from your fathers diary in a book I have just had published about another former Spitfire Pilot who knew your father - Rodney Srase Spitfire Saga.I would like to send you a copy as a small thank you so could you contact me off board and let me have your details.

I would also like to talk about the possibility of maybe writing your fathers story.


Angus Mansfield
[email protected]
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Old 17th Nov 2010, 13:42
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Fred's photos

Herewith Fred's photos of the Halifax.Presumably this is the Elvington Halifax inside the 'Canadian hangar' Some readers will be surprised to know this was originally a scrap fuselage used as a chicken coop in Scotland. What a tribute to all the directors and staff who were involved in its rebuilding, with most of them volunteers. Perhaps Fred will confirm that this is the Halifax at The Yorkshire air museum.

Fred , is this a picture of the engineer panel, looking aft.

Last edited by cliffnemo; 17th Nov 2010 at 16:14.
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Old 17th Nov 2010, 18:49
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The two photos I must have left in the Pilot's Notes. I did not know they were there. The second one is a rather cramped shot of the Engineer's panel, looking back from below the step down to the escape hatch. The basket held a portable oxygen bottle and the two yellow bars aft are the back of the mid-upper gunner's seat.
The restoration is a wonderful piece of work and I was privileged to be invited on board some years ago, and twice in recent years. I can certainly recommend a visit. I said to the project engineer, the only thing missing was the smell of oil, Elsan fluid, sweat and cordite. He said he would work on that!
When I look at the distance from the pilot's seat to the bomb-aimer's pad, I wonder again how I survived being thrown that distance, but I expect I was already unconscious after hitting the starboard side of the cock pit.
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Old 18th Nov 2010, 08:54
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Steve Cox - a word of warning concerning Lost Bombers. That website is sometimes very, very wrong - the man who built it essentially plagiarised clear out of WR Chorley's Bomber Command Losses - and there are many transcription and other errors that have come across to the website as a result.
As I understand it the owner of Lost Bombers passed away some years ago and the site is no longer updated. Perhaps useful for initial research, but make sure you check anything that you pull off it in other, more reputable sources.

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Old 18th Nov 2010, 10:28
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A question if I may? What are the inner handles on the pilot's control?
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Old 18th Nov 2010, 12:45
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The inner handles, inside the control column of the Halifax, are the brake levers. The rudder pedals control the differential of the brake power.
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