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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 16th Jan 2012, 10:38
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Wonderful stuff, Paddy (if I may), although your latest marvellous post seems to suggest that the time has come to expand the thread title from Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW11!

Out of interest, at what point were you awarded FAA wings?

With best wishes and looking forward to more .....
Jack
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 12:04
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Excellent stuff and no doubt the post by Union Jack was tongue in cheek as you quite clearly earned your RAF 'wings' in the Second World War...

Never upset the 'Sailmaker' the man with that sewing needle badge, he is the geezer that makes sure you are 'tucked up' for that final journey to the ocean deep.

Hammocks... glad you got to experience how the other half lived as that type of luxurious bedding was still being used on warships up to the early 1970's. Imagine just how 'comfortable' they were for someone who is 6' 7" tall!

I for one am looking forward to the next chapter and cannot wait to hear if you remained in the Senior Service and got that much deserved commission.

Thanks very much,

John
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 14:24
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Demob

Chapter 15

Demob...Return to WORK...Marriage.

One day we were at a loss as to what mischief we could get up to when it struck one of us that perhaps we had been forgotten in Ireland! Our Divisional Officer, who was one of us happened to be sitting there and was involved in the conversation. Someone said, you’re our Divisional Officer, why don't you get off your bum and find out when we are going to be demobbed? Well, what an error that was, he came back and told us that he should have brought this up sooner and gave us a date to report to a demob centre in Belfast, we were shattered! We had only said it for a joke. Now what a fine mess we had got ourselves into.
I recall that Cliff and I were posted first and for some reason Fin followed a few days later. I always regret that Cliff and I didn't follow up a prank that we had in mind at the time, which was to meet Fin at the station having swapped our demob Civvy suits. Cliff being about six inches taller than me! What a laugh we would have had. It had already been a hoot at the demob centre. We had about a dozen different outfits to choose from like... A suit, sports jacket and flannels, raincoat or overcoat, shoes, and various types of hats. Of course you could spot a demob from twenty miles away. However, there we were, three little civvies, paid off, railway warrants to home, and not so much as a thank you for winning the war!
Of course, whenever there was a crisis among us we used to head for the nearest Pub and stay there until it went away.

It was quite a trauma for us all and for some months we did nothing really serious except meet up and commiserate with each other. Eventually I plucked up the courage to go to my old firm and get my job back. I was very surprised at the reception. A great lack of enthusiasm and pay scales as though I was a complete beginner. I managed to stick it out for about a year but I was very unhappy and could not see myself staying. I made a lot of complaints about my pay but was always put off with the excuse that I had to catch up on the greater experience and expertise of those who had remained throughout the war.
Life was not all bad though and I used to get out a lot with some mates who hadn't forgotten I existed. Finally I was given a job that a number of the old hands had had a go at and failed. When I finished it OK I used that as a reason for me now getting the full rate for the job. This was accepted and as soon as it was agreed I gave notice to quit.

I took the Commercial Pilots Licence Examinations and got the Licence but at this time there were no jobs around. Cliff had done the same and found a job flying some smugglers in and out of Switzerland. They were caught, and he had a worrying time for a while. All turned out OK in the end and he had managed to increase his flying hours which was important. He went on to take the Airline Pilots Examination and got a job as Second Pilot with BEA.
Soon after our demob Cliff and I had bought motor bikes. He had a war surplus Lee Enfield and I had new one. I remember when I went to collect my bike (I had never driven a motor bike before) I couldn't wait to get going but I stalled it about three times in front of the shop. The owner said "You have ridden before" Of course I have, it's the clutch. It's a bit fierce. Anyway I got started and took off in a cloud of dust. That'll teach him to doubt my capabilities! Change gear. What's happening, the gear change is in reverse to that which I swotted up on all last night!! I am now in top gear but can't figure out how to change down. Right de-clutch. Stop. Put it in neutral and start again. I had to continue like this until I got home when I got it all figured out...... I'm glad the shop owner didn't see me.

I was out of work and studying for my further Licences but I was not happy with the situation and I told my Father that I would have to get a job in order to contribute to the home. He said not to worry. But I did. So he suggested that I should try using the old lorry he had. He had bought this so that he had petrol coupons during the war. But it was not used much.

I used the lorry to transport conduit tubing. This was an interesting story and typical of the situation just after the war. A couple of chaps had a pre-war business making single, cot type beds, out of conduit tubing and springs. After the war when the factories went back to normal peace time production they were granted purchasing rights based on a percentage of their earlier, pre-war orders. Every commodity was in such short supply that they soon found they could make more money selling on the tubing without bothering to work on it.
For me it was really hard work but I made money. The lorry had no self starter so it was a hand crank job. I used to park it at the top of a small rise in the mews opposite our house. Each morning I let it run down the hill and prayed that it would start when I let in the clutch at the bottom. If it didn't I had to turn it over by hand and I only had the strength to do this a few times, before taking a rest, particularly in the winter.
Eventually I got fed up with this and thinking I was going to be stuck in this environment I found a job with a small family firm making machines associated with the printing industry. It was high precision work and I quite enjoyed it for a while.
During this period. July 1947. Madeleine had come to England to join her Mother who, with Mr. Taylor, her second husband, had accommodation in our house. After many months, we met and used to go out together. It was soon clear that neither of us was happy with our present circumstances and we began to discuss the possibility of changing things.
At one time we even thought of going to West Australia. And had a morning at Australia House. However they didn't want a new Prime Minister so we let it drop.
At some time I had made two applications for employment. One was for an Oil Operative in Kuwait. And the other was to rejoin the RAF who suddenly found themselves short of Pilots.
When I attended the interview for the job of Oil Operative, in the Cumberland Hotel. The very smooth interviewer asked me if I knew what the job was. When I replied. NO. He said well lets talk about your background. When he learned I had been a Pilot he was full of enthusiasm and we talked of little else. At the end of the interview he said I am sure you could manage. If it is agreed, you will receive a further telegram to discuss contracts.
Well at this time I was having some very severe troubles with Tonsillitis and as per Murphys Law I received both his telegram and the Air Force acceptance at almost the same time. I chose the latter because I didn't want to get too much sand in my throat.
Having returned to the Air Force I was sent on an OCTU at Spitalgate and flunked it. So that was twice I had missed out on a commission.
I was posted to a flying refresher course at Finningly. This was about a month flying Harvard’s together with a few hours on Spitfires. On this course I had expressed my preference to go on Fighters. However, we then went on to a non flying post at Wolverhampton and during this period I had a chat to a friend of mine who had been commissioned at Spitalgate and was going on the CFS instructor’s course. I decided to change my mind and opt for the Instructor role.

At this time the RAF was experimenting with some new titles for Aircrew. These were. Master Pilot, P1, P2, and P3. This equated with the earlier Warrant Officer, Flight Sergeant, and Sergeant. The P3 grade had no precedent and was if I recall correctly a trainee pilot. This was to be a big structural change separating the aircrew from the administration because however much they disliked it they had to pay the aircrew more than equivalent ground crew grades. The aircrew were even going to have their own separate mess. However in the event they failed to change the Officer grades, which led to big problems. The whole scheme was dropped soon after as an abysmal failure and a return was made to the old system.

I was scheduled to go to Brize Norton to do the Flying Instructors Course when Madeleine and I decided to get married, much to the annoyance of both our families it seemed. My Father had died in the November but he was in full agreement with our proposal and in fact left us a little cash to blow on our Honeymoon in Paris. We were married on the 24th. December, despite receiving no help from our families.
We flew out of Heathrow. First Class, in an Air France Languadoc. In those days you were named passengers and well looked after. Unfortunately, I had a massive hangover, the result of my Stag Party, the evening before. The flight was about one and a half hours, followed by a couple of hours in the stack, due to fog at ORLY. I recall a nice old lady sitting in front of me and seeing my discomfort said. "Don't worry young man. These airplanes are quite safe now"
Our few days of honeymoon were spent with Madeleine's Aunt and Uncle. It must have been the most unusual honeymoon. We sat to the table at about eight o'clock and we didn't leave it until about two o'clock. A traditional French ‘Reveillion ‘This didn't leave me much time, or improve my physical condition to enable me to carry out my matrimonial duties. I leave it to the reader to guess if I was Man or Mouse. Suffice to say I was tired in the morning!! And couldn’t have faced cheese!!
I said we only had a few days, because I had to depart without Madeleine to join a course of Flying Instructor training at Brize Norton, which was then the satellite of Little Rissington. The RAF's Central Flying School.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 14:26
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Chapter 16
Flying Instructor...

Although not aware of it at the time I had often been at the wrong end of what I later considered to be poor instructor techniques. My inability to land properly in the early stages of flying was an example of this. So, I made a determination that I would never be guilty of letting down a student for this reason. I like to think that I was successful in this respect.

The Instructors course at CFS was in my view, first class. I had always thought that being trained in the States was to receive the best possible flying training. This was not so. Many of the American Instructors although excellent ‘seat of the pants' flyers were not thoroughly trained pilots let alone instructors, and with hindsight I am sure we had missed out on the professional RAF standard. Some examples of what I mean in this respect would be that, many of our instructors were not too comfortable when night flying. I only knew of one who would attempt even a Roll at night. Some had no idea of how to control an aircraft on a Air to Ground gunnery attack, they would fire off having the target in their sights but with massive amounts of Yaw on, this we knew from our ground school training was useless. There was little attempt at Pre-flight briefing and occasionally some really bad tempered interference with our instruction, I had been lucky in this respect, I had had mostly patient instructors. One must point out here that this school was not truly representative of the main American training establishments where, I am sure, the standards must have been excellent. This was a wartime expedient and as such worked well. Anyway, any problems I may have had were certainly put right at 'BRIZE', and Little Rissington. Always a well constructed Pre-flight briefing, certain knowledge of who had control of the aircraft at all times and a thorough Post-Flight Summary. The course was six months using a Harvard as the main trainer but I also flew a Prentice, Mosquito, Meteor, Athena, Spitfire and Lancaster for Type flying. At the end of the course I felt really well equipped to carry out my job of teaching flying. I passed the course with a B1. Category. Anyone getting the lower B.2 had to re-cat within three months to the higher category or leave instructing.

After a short stay at Ternhill where I commenced my Instructing I was posted to Syerston in Nottinghamshire. Although an RAF station, the students were mainly Naval Midshipmen, being trained for the Fleet Air Arm. In the latter period some RAF Navigators and Engineers retraining to Pilots, these were unkindly known as 'Retreads'.

We had our first married quarter which had just been built and was fully furnished with all new equipment; I recall the problems of unpacking all the new furniture and above all the many kitchen pots and pans all covered in protective grease. Madeleine's mother had come to assist us in settling in!! I found my work very rewarding. And I was fully engrossed in it. It was pure magic to see young chaps progress from never having been in an airplane to going solo, and eventually getting their wings.

Some months after I had started at Syerston, it was decided that there would be a 'Standardisation Flight' within the station to ensure the standards set at CFS were maintained. This was to be a two week course, run by a Flt.Lt. C.J…. and Flt.Lt. R…….. Both A.2. category instructors. Guess who was to be 'Joed' as one of its first guinea pigs? - Me! This was hardly logical since I had recently left CFS and was therefore up to date with its latest techniques, but the old timers, many of whom had been instructing for years, were very reluctant to have their professional standards tested. So I had been 'Volunteered'... At the end of the two week course we were invited to make comments. Mine were mostly criticisms. It was all very friendly but I thought I might have blotted my copy book. However I was due for leave which I duly took, so imagine my surprise on my return, to learn that I was seconded to Flt J…. as a 'Trapper'. I protested that I only held a B1 Cat. And lacked a lot of experience compared with those I would be about to fly with and more importantly judge. I was told not to worry on that account and that I was expected to Re-Cat to A2 within a few months. This I did and some months later managed to get an A.1.The problem with obtaining the latter is that you have to convince someone holding that category that you are as good as he is. That was not easy. However, having obtained my new category I found that I was very confident now about the job and began to enjoy it even more. I used to do a lot of the final handling tests of the Midshipmen and also of the 'Retreads'

One amusing incident I recall from the many of those days was...The night Sgt C……. put into action his plan to take his wife up in a Prentice to see the station by night. Now, at the end of the main runway there was an old wartime bunker and it was used frequently by students and instructors during long periods of circuits and landings, they used to nip out of the aircraft, having advised Air Traffic Control, that they were clear of the ‘Peri-track ‘ and have a leak!!...Well the plan was that Mrs. Carlisle would wait behind this bunker all kitted up in flying gear and at some stage Carlisle's student would nip out and she would take his place in the aircraft, do a couple of circuits and return to effect the exchange back.....Now the best laid plans----What in fact happened was that another aircraft stopped and it's student got out, came to the bunker and was happily having his leak when he realised he was not alone!!....However thinking the other GUY was another student he continued with his enjoyment and just entered into a conversation on how the cold affected his ability to find his willy beneath all his flying clothing....Needless to say Mrs. C……. never said a word. But she did eventually get her trip, and did enjoy the sights.

Towards the end of my stay I was recommended for a commission and my Boss, C…. J…., was to go ahead of me to see the Air Vice Marshall. J…. was seeking a Permanent Commission. When I went in, expecting all sorts of quizzing, I was surprised to hear the big man, who was a very scraggy individual with a hat that looked as though it had been his when he was a Warrant Officer, say, "I understand from Flt.Lt. J…. that you are responsible for the standardisation training of other Instructors, many of whom are Officers and also that your Instructor category is higher than theirs" "Yes Sir" ..."Can you think of any other organisation that would put you in that invidious position". "No Sir". "Nor can I. Go off and get your commission". And on this occasion I did.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 14:32
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Commision

Commission

The subject of Commission has become a sore point with me, mainly since I have retired from the Forces. Of course when I got my wings I was so thrilled with that achievement the question of an associated commission did not concern me. Nor did it until I was married. One has to remember that the majority of aircrew in the RAF were non-commissioned. However, when one experiences the difference in treatment for the wives and families between the ranks, particularly overseas, it becomes very evident that a commission is all important.

The first opportunity I had to obtain a commission was in the states when I got my wings. But it was perfectly obvious that with my educational background this was impossible and the thought never really came into my head. As I have said I was happy with what I had. Nevertheless it must be noted that ALL of the American trainees were commissioned automatically and there were many of those who were behind many of us in the results tables. I am quite sure that if it were possible to carry out a survey of the results of the service histories of that entire course, there would be little difference between those who were commissioned and those who were not and in many instances I am equally sure some of those not commissioned will have gained greater distinction.

My next opportunity was in the Fleet Air Arm when, at the end of our training and just before embarking for the Far East War, we were considered once again, Now, I had done particularly well on this course as had Cliff and Fin and we had had nod's and winks from our Squadron Commander that all was well. However, I was not selected and this was explained to me to be the result of an error in identification, another chap had wrongly been selected in my place, all would be put right when we sailed. But we never did.

My first Officer Cadet Training Unit (OCTU) this took place soon after re-entering the RAF in Feb 1949. Once again it is difficult to determine what went wrong. But I flunked it on this vague business of Officer Qualities. I am quite sure there were no differences in my qualities then than now, but the staff of the OCTU’s was all powerful so that was that. This attitude was soon to change because about this time there was a very famous war time bomber pilot who had wished to remain a Master Pilot but allowed himself to be persuaded by the Air Officer Commanding to go for a commission. He failed it. When the A.O.C. later learned of this result he blew his top and demanded to know just who was responsible for determining who were to be commissioned. It certainly was not the staff of the OCTU. They were there to carry out a course of instruction. The decision to commission was his, on the advice of his local Commanders. This changed the whole attitude of the OCTU’S

At last RAF MILLOM in Cumberland. That was the place where I had been stationed for final selection into the Fleet Air Arm!! What a dump! Cold and miserable. Three months of winter purgatory dressed up like soldiers, running all over the countryside, charging sacks of straw with fixed bayonets yelling like Indians just to please a band of idiot RAF Regiment Officers and NCOs. I recall one occasion when a Regiment Flt.Sgt. had to give us a lecture on the use of a .38 Pistol but for some strange reason he had no pistol, so a group of us stood around in a circle out in the open, freezing, whilst he demonstrated his 'let's pretend gun' Happily no one got shot!!!

During this course I met ‘Davy’ He also had rejoined but he had lost a leg in a Mosquito prang in his previous service. He told me that he had been bored stiff with Civvy Street and having seen an advertisement for RAF Pilots he thought he would pull his wife's leg a bit. So returning from work he told her that he had rejoined the RAF as a pilot, thinking she would 'Blow her top'. But no, she said "Great I didn't think they would take you back now". Well he then had to go and do it. After the final interview with an AOC, whilst walking to the door the AOC said. "Davy, I still can't see which leg you were worried about" Davy told me he had never had it so good. He now had his full pay as a Pilot, 100% disability allowance and if he wanted a weekend in London all he had to do was request to go to Roehampton to have his tin leg repaired. Rate.1. and fare paid!!
On one occasion one of the very young cadets on the course (we were the old HAIRIES) said to Davy "You're the chap with the bad leg" Davy picked up a broom standing nearby and crashed it into his tin leg twice and said "Bad leg, Bad leg, there's nothing wrong with that" The poor cadet nearly fainted!!

Well at last I made it successfully out of an OCTU and certainly not because I had done any better than any other time. Now I could look forward to a life of elegant poverty. I remember an old instructor mate of mine, Bert Horsfield saying "Paddy, when some of these Officers touch you for the odd ten bob or so because they have no money. Do they really mean they have none? Or is it that they just haven't got it on them at the time" Well?????
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 14:38
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Union Jack
My wings had already been awarded in the RAF.
One point I must make, and that is,that these memoirs were intended for my family so I am sure from time to time I am guilty of slippiing off thread I hope you will forgive me if this is the case.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 14:49
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Malaya

Chapter 18

Malaya. Singapore.

I had just been commissioned and was in the RAF sick bay with a heavy dose of Flu when I learned that I was posted to Singapore. At first I was not too enthusiastic about this but then I heard that the extra cost of living allowances were the best in the service and that the Chinese girls wore Cheongsams, dresses with slits each side up to their thighs. Well we could do with a little more money, the OCTU had already depleted our meagre funds and I was prepared to suffer the sight of these beautiful Chinese maidens for the sake of our future!!

I already had my officers uniform because the system is such on OCTU's that during the first few weeks all the big service tailors attend to fit you out with your uniform needs. They accept that should you fail, then the work they had completed was their loss. However, having been posted to the Far East meant that I had a further allowance for full tropical kit. This, I obtained from Chappel's in Piccadilly. I must say it felt rather grand. Mrs.G…….little boy being waited on by some of the top professional tailors in the city. But I never let this class difference go to my head!!!!!

Now, at the end of my leave it was time to go. Regrettably I was to go alone by air. Madeleine was to follow as soon as possible afterwards. We both would have loved to journey together by boat. At this time we occupied a small flat in Oxford Square, London. The legal tenants of which were Mr. and Mrs. T…... They however had chosen to move to France and we, desperate at this time for accommodation between postings, were obliged to purchase their furniture and continue the tenancy somewhat illegally. Since the flat was on the 5th floor with no lift, one can only imagine the hardship this caused Madeleine. Every time she entered or left the house it meant two or three journeys up and down five flights of stairs with a child, shopping or coal, because the only heating was a meagre coal fire. The problem was twofold. Firstly the physical inconvenience of the flat with two small children. Secondly finance. I was not entitled to the full allowances until we were established in our home in Singapore. This meant we were virtually keeping two homes going on reduced pay. Madeleine managing Oxford Square and me living in mess with quite sizeable mess bills. However that was life at that time.

I left England on the 3rd April 1953 from Lynham. We flew in a Hastings and arrived at Changi on the 7th April having stopped overnight at Idris, Habbaniya, Mauripur, and Negumbo. I must say I admired the Transport Command crews. Each leg of the flight was between 7 and 8 hours, a total of thirty seven and a half hours flying and a 7 hour time difference. On arrival at each stop the passengers seemed to be clapped out but the crews spent the evenings in the bar grogging up and looking fresh as daisies each morning.

Singapore was a wonderful sight on arrival. Full sunshine and what looked like beautiful green grass inviting us to picnic. I was to learn later that one did not picnic as we do in England. The ants are almost capable of putting you between two slices of bread and having you for their picnic. Certainly they would not let you sit quietly eating.

We landed at Changi, the largest RAF base on the island, but were then transported to Seletar where I was to join FETS (Far East Training Squadron). The joining procedures were quite lengthy but I eventually settled down at Seletar in the officer’s mess, with a large room and a Chinese batman. One of the first things I 'won' on joining, was the Malayan Campaign Medal, awarded in Singapore if you were posted in for one day. This was interesting because the main communist activity was taking place upcountry in Malaya but the military there had to serve I think it was six months to qualify for this medal. The funny part was, that some junior ranks (it can't happen to officers) managed somehow to become infected with nasty things from the local girls and had to go to the hospital in Singapore. Yes, you guessed it; they were posted there, so they got the medal!

Apart from some type flying on Mosquito's etc on the CFS course, this was my first job instructing on multi-engine aircraft so, I had to go through a small conversion to become proficient on the twin seat Mosquito and the single seat Hornet. Our job at FETS was to convert young pilots trained on jets to the piston engine Hornet using the Mosquito as a trainer. The general handling of jet aircraft is much easier than for propeller aircraft, particularly the tail downers, or non tricycle undercarriage types.

Both aircraft were very nice to fly but the Mossy, due to the constraints of the Seletar runway, was a tricky so and so when landing on one engine. The runway had no undershoot, just a nasty sea wall and a very short overshoot ending in a wire fence beyond which was a Malay village. The runway was made of PSP (pierced steel planks) and it had a pronounced hump about one third of the way down. We only ever used one direction for landing and take off. It was 1600 yds long. The climate also played a major part in the flying. For instance once you had started the engines it was a race to get to the take off position, if you delayed too long the engines would overheat, the coolant would boil and the take off had to be aborted. Also, because of the heat we flew in just an aertex shirt stitched to a pair of light KD trousers, jungle boots, oxygen mask and helmet. We should have worn full jungle survival gear but I am sure we would not have survived at all if we had. The aircraft had no air conditioning thus flying below 6000feet was extremely hot and low flying over the jungle for any length of time almost unbearable.

I broke two Mosquito T4's during my stay. One was in daylight and due to the fact that a modification to the tail wheel had not been carried out thus allowing the tail wheel to fall off somewhere during flight. This resulted in an uncontrollable swing on landing when the tail section snatched on the PSP and a wrecked aircraft. I was alone at the time and not wishing to be toasted should it catch fire, I nipped out very smartly, unhurt. The second was at night when I had been given the task of trying to salvage the prospects of one young pilot who was not making the grade with night flying. On one landing he over applied brake causing a swing out of control and a wrecked aircraft. Whilst you can apply brake from either pilot position you cannot take it off! On this occasion one of the station Doctors was in the crew room waiting for a flight when he heard the crash. He immediately leapt out through the window and ran in the direction of the runway, forgetting that just beyond the window was a monsoon drain about seven foot deep. He plunged into this breaking his leg but still continued to the aircraft. When the 'Blood wagon' arrived it was pure comedy, the medics could not understand how it was that the only casualty was a Doctor, not a pilot, and he was not even in the aircraft!! That poor Doctor had to return to England because he developed ‘Prickly heat ‘under his plaster which was unbearable in the prevailing heat and humidity conditions.

One important aspect of flying in the RAF at this time must not be overlooked. That was the fact we could not afford to insure ourselves with Life insurance. The premiums for aircrew were far too high. It was whilst in Singapore the RAF decided to fund three quarters of the cost of life insurance and so alleviated, in part, this injustice.

A few months after starting I was informed by the Squadron Commander that the Island's Instrument Rating Examiner was leaving and that he wanted me to undertake this job. He advised me that the CFS examining team (known as the trappers) were due to arrive in October and that I should start intensive instrument flying practice and swotting!! He later advised me that the Command Instrument Rating Examiner was to be returned to the UK so I was to take up the position subject to passing the test!!! Now at this time although I held an A1 instructors category, this had been awarded on single engine aircraft and I certainly did not consider that I was A1 on Multi engine aircraft. My flight commander at this time was of the same opinion and appeared to have some sort of grudge against me, I think because he only held an A2 category. He was however an excellent Mosquito pilot. He decided that in addition to my taking the Command Instrument Rating Examinion I should also be ‘Re Rated ‘this in effect meant that my competance as an instructor would be tested. In the event, the Examiner decided that if I passed the Instrument rating test the Rating test would be included. I did pass this which gave me the authority to test and qualify other instrument rating examiners and confirmed my A1 Instructor Category on twin engine aircraft. I also received a letter from the Civil Aviation Authority advising me that I was approved to flight test and assess civil pilots for instructor rating. At this time I was an honorary member of the Singapore flying Club and unpaid instructor.


Eventually, for this was not easy, I found a suitable house which enabled me to apply for Madeleine's embarkation, we had hoped she would fly out but alas Elaine caught Chicken Pox and this caused some delay. They eventually embarked on the Asturias for a sea passage. It all seemed to take an age, but suddenly I had news that she was on route. A few weeks later I was lucky enough to get a flight on a Short Sunderland flying boat which flew up the west coast of Malaya and made contact with the ship just off Penang. It was all very exciting but of course we could not recognise the passengers even though we flew quite close. We returned to base and were home the same afternoon but it took the ship another two or three days before berthing in Singapore.

Our life now was completely changed from that which we knew in UK. Madeleine now had a young Chinese servant (amah). We lived in a plush, small, rather clinical two bedroom house. The amah having her own separate quarters. My working day was from 7am to 1pm. This I thought would lend itself to nice long afternoons exploring the country but I was usually so tired on my return home that all I wanted to do was rest. This was a situation common to all the married aircrew and did at times lead to strife in the home because the families had usually spent a very quite, sometimes boring, morning alone, and wanted to get out in the afternoons... The mess life was very enjoyable for me but Seletar was primarily a maintenance base of some importance so had a predominance of old senior officer equippers and engineers. They seemed to think the aircrews were superfluous to the RAF and very boisterous. We seemed to affect their blood pressure. I note that this attitude still prevails.

Within days of my arrival one of the chaps said "when are you going to buy your car"? I replied that without cash that event was along way off. "Rubbish you don't need cash here; I will show you the system". With less confidence than he had I went with him to a Chinese car show room. Lots of nice looking second hand cars. You must remember very few of us had cars in the UK in those days; also the laws for purchase in Singapore were the same as in the UK. That is to say, you had to put down a deposit of one third the purchase price! Bingo I thought that's me out. But no! The canny old Chinese millionaire car salesman had it organised, despite a customs officer sitting at a desk in the showroom. It worked like this. Say the car was £600 he put the price at £900 but gave you £300 which you gave him back as your deposit. You then paid the sum due monthly to cover the £600 as you mutually agreed. Thus the British system was satisfied and certainly the subsequent arrangement between the Singapore customs and the Seller would be equally satisfactory and another tarted up old banger would have been sold to a gullible Brit. But we all had cars.

Of course we had a lot of fun and in Jeff M….. I found a kindred soul. We had a similar sense of humour and we used this unmercifully on many in the mess. One of our pranks was to feed false information to the squadron pilots. It would work like this. One of us would join the other at the dining table and, completely unrehearsed, would start a conversation like."Glad I'm not on 45 Sqdn"...."Well I don't mind the cold myself"..."No but what a dump"..."Gives one a chance to save some money". This would have taken place knowing there was a 45 squadron ear in the offing and almost always the news would be flashed around that 45 was to be moved off to somewhere grim and cold.
On one occasion we went to the flying club and in the bar there was only one other member a civilian and I started up a conversation with Jeff saying "What will you drink Morton" in a tone that made him reply "Just a beer. Sir" I ordered and then continued "I hope you will not let this promotion get in the way of our friendship Morton! I would like to think that should you have any little problem you would continue to feel able to approach me. Of course on duty I expect the normal respect due to the difference in our rank". Well this went on for a while when suddenly the other chap at the bar exploded and said, "Don't you think you are being a little bumptious just because you've been promoted?” I said "But it’s not my promotion it's his" He was speechless and left the bar. ( Jeff had just been made up to Flt.Lt.)

It was decided to move the Far East Training squadron from Seletar to the north of Malaya. RAF Butterworth, across the straits from Penang. This move took place in September 1954. Madeleine and the children travelled up by train taking two days. I went up by car in convoy with Jeff M….. and Ray L…. It must be understood that at this time Malaya was designated with 'White' and 'Black' areas the white areas being fairly free of communist activity but the black areas dangerous. We travelled with loaded sten guns beside us. However I don't think we would have stood a chance had we run into a communist ambush. They were pretty efficient. Only a few months earlier they had written off a British General travelling the same route. The journey was roughly 600 miles and apart from a complete loss of hydraulics and therefore loss of brakes in my car, we had no problems.

Our first accommodation was in Penang where we shared a house with Ray L… and family. We had not seen this house before our arrival and were a bit hesitant about sharing; however, the house was huge. It had been used as a transit mess for Singapore Airways flight crews. It was in Residency Road, centred in a massive garden with an impressive drive up to a large covered car porch. Along one side of the garden was a line of Malay Attaps, housing some servants because we were obliged to take on the gardener and a Chinese cook and his wife. What hardship!! The accommodation split up quite well with us downstairs and the L….. upstairs. The cook cooked for both families but we ate separately and cook's wife cleaned around. Our bedroom had two en-suite shower rooms.

Our working day was now more normal and we travelled with our cars by ferry each morning and evening. But, the system for station duties was that one did a full week on Duty Officer and that was it for the tour. Madeleine certainly did not like this idea at all and the Cookies Misses brought all her things to our quarters and slept in with the children.

Butterworth was a very primitive airfield edging onto the sea. One had only to go for a short walk to find snakes, giant monitor lizards and all sorts of creepy crawlies. The jungle and the sea were its boundary. Jeff M….. started a Natural History Club; the guiding light was a Corporal E…… who was very knowledgeable. After Jeff was posted back to Singapore. I became its Officer i/c. There were of course a number of interesting situations arising out of the management of what was a small zoo. One such began when Jeff rang me to ask if I could let him have some snakes because he was starting up another club. Well, we had an Australian crew in with a Lancaster and they were flying on to Singapore so it was natural to ask them if they would take him a package. They were a little hesitant when they learned the content, but agreed anyway. Some time later I read in the Straits Times of an aircraft that called an emergency because a snake had been spotted moving behind the instrument panel whilst they were flying. Even though it was an Australian aircraft I failed to see the connection. It was only following a visit to Jeff when, during the conversation we spotted a discrepancy in the number of snakes I had sent. Clearly two of mine had slithered off. I wonder where number two was.

Now we were sharing the airfield with 33 and 45 Squadrons, these were of course the squadrons we had been converting pilots for, so it was logical we were all together. Our training programs went on normally until the end of February 1955 when it was discovered that the Mosquito's were suffering from woodworm attack and were all taken out of service. This of course was a massive problem and the AOC at the time acted very swiftly. FETS was disbanded and all its personnel transferred into what became 45/33 Squadron. Arrangements were made to obtain Vampire, Venoms and Meteors. Thus we then began a programme of re-converting pilots to jets.

As was customary we were to be allocated a married quarter for our last six months of the tour and as this time approached the Love's having been allocated their quarter and vacated Residency Rd. We were obliged to vacate also and moved to the Chusan Hotel where we stayed a few weeks prior to moving to our new house on the station at Butterworth. Whilst we nearly went mad in this hotel I think that the children enjoyed themselves. Elaine was spoiled by the Managers family who could not get over her blonde hair and Pierre we discovered was billing his drink requirements from the bar!! We had been trying to cut down his squash intake and were unaware he was doing his own thing!! Anyway at last we moved to a modern bungalow with the sea at the foot of our garden and a swimming pool about 100 yards away albeit not quite finished. Swimming in the sea was not to be advised because there were a lot of sea snakes and although due to their small mouths they are very rarely able to bite a human, their venom is extremely toxic.

My last flight was to asses a F/O Eccles for his instrument rating on a Vampire on the 28th October 1995. After which we were to return very reluctantly to the UK. Flying first to Changi, then by civil airlines Hermes to the UK via Bangkok, Calcutta, Karachi, Bahrain, Cypress and Rome.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 15:27
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Return to the UK.

Our return to the UK was a shock in more ways than one. First of all, the temperature. We experienced real cold as we stepped out of the plane in Cyprus. For the first time in three years I was wearing full 'Blue' uniform and feeling distinctly chilly. We were taken to a very nice hotel in Nicosia but unfortunately there was no hot water and we were desperately in need of baths. The second big problem was housing. Since we had no service accommodation available and rented accommodation was not easy to find, we went in desperation, to my Mothers home. That was a pain from start to finish. I had thought that having been away so long she would be pleased to have us but the only thing that really occupied her attention was 'Television'. This had just started to enter homes at this time and she had one with a screen about six inches by nine inches in front of which there was a plastic screen filled with water to magnify the picture, rather like a magnifying glass. It was a fluttery picture and the programmes were awful. But, everyone was glued to their screens as soon as the programmes began. I recall our first night, we were tired out after our journey but were obliged to sit and watch this rubbish. At the end of programme viewing time my Mother turned round for the first time and said "What was Singapore like then?” Well..!......

I was scheduled to go to RAF Worksop for a refresher instrument flying course on Meteors. I felt rather indignant at the thought of having to be treated as a student again after all I had been the Command Instrument Rating Examiner in the Far East. How wrong can you be? I had completely forgotten what the weather conditions in UK in winter were like, I think had I not been flying dual on those first flights I would have killed myself. (Who said pity?).
This was January 1956 and I must say it was a hard winter. I recall one of the pilots had left his car in the open parking and the cylinder head was split due to ice.

Following Worksop I did a three day, three trip, bombing course at Lindholme it must have been quite impressive...I can't even remember it. Had this not been recorded in my log book it would certainly not appear in these pages. Perhaps the cold was addling my brain. Or maybe the Malayan heat had already achieved that.

May/June and we were house hunting at last. I had been posted to RAF Bassingbourne, in Cambridgeshire, on the Canberra Course. Houses were not easy to find and although we had located a house to rent this fell through at the last moment because the owner did not want children or pets!! We had Pierre and Elaine. However, in a panic, we eventually located a little cottage with a thatched roof, at Great Chisell. It was called Walnut Tree Cottage and was very quaint. When we saw the sanitary arrangements, a bucket in a shed outside, we rechristened it 'Thunderbox House'. I had always understood that thatched roofs were warm, this may of course be so, but this house had only a clapboard exterior and plaster scrim inside. It was freezing and the only heating was a small coal fire. Upstairs were two very small rooms and the floors were so much out of level that the wardrobe had to be wedged up to make it stay put. Our bedroom was not much bigger than the bed itself.
We had, as was customary in those days, brought our car back from Malaya and one night coming back from St Ives, I approached the Royston/Cambridge road which formed a T junction to the road I was on, too fast. I finished up having performed a barrel roll, behind the hedge of a farm house. This was not quite as funny as it sounds because a Police Trap had been laid further up the road and they had seen me perform my little solo act in which I had completely wrecked the car and was lucky not to have wrecked myself. Looking back on it it sounds funny. The police had seen me on the horizon driving, they said at speed. Then I disappeared from view, of course I had, after my roll I was behind a tall hedge that had sprung back up, clasping me in its bosom. It was funny to hear them; the car’s battery had been torn from its mountings so the lights had gone out. I could hear them saying “That’s odd he must be here. He can’t just disappear” Unfortunately they found me. I was later convicted of driving without due care and attention and fined £15. A lot of money in those days.
My first thought on loosing the car was to buy a new one with the insurance money as a deposit. Then I remembered the problems we had had with housing and decided that it would be far better to buy a house instead. At this time Madeleine's Mother and her second husband, Mr Taylor had a housing problem so we decided that we would buy the house in Harrow and they would live in it paying rent to offset the costs. It would be available to us as and when we needed it. In order to make this possible financially I was to leave Madeleine and the two children in the house and I lived in mess at RAF Upwood, 50 Squadron. Lincolnshire. This, with hindsight was a big error. I'm sure we would have managed the finances somehow, and without a car I was always in difficulty as to how to get to Harrow at weekends. From that point of view it was a miserable two years.

The Canberra course began in a strange way. I had met an old instructor friend who was now instructing on the course. He told me that all the instructors had letters lodged with their solicitors. It appeared that a number of Canberra's had gone in nose first writing off some very able old hand pilots. Of course the verdict of the enquiries was always Pilot Error. It was considered that this was too convenient an answer in view of the experience and abilities of those who were killed. Something else had to be the answer. However it transpired that a farmer contacted the RAF advising them that he had found the remains of two aircrew in one of his fields...After a very thorough investigation it was discovered that in the event of a runaway elevator trim at high speed, low level, the aircraft would nose down so fast (known as a bunt) and with so much force that it could not physically be controlled by the pilot. That is what obviously had happened in the case of the two aircrew. They had been literally thrown out of the aircraft which buried itself nose down with such force that no bodies were recoverable (Not unusual). The crew presumably were killed on impact some hundreds of yards forward of the aircraft. After extensive tests the Canberra's were modified and high speed low level flight was thereafter limited.

The course was about 70 hours flying which included 25 hours night flying. Most of this seemed to take me over the North Sea at around 40,000ft an environment I never learned to love. I had a strange experience on one of these flights. I had been flying north for some time with all my cabin lights turned off except for the fluorescent lights which permitted me to see only my instruments. My navigator was busy and had not said a word for some time. My sensations became quite odd. I had the feeling that I was sitting alone in space, just me and the instrument panel...No aeroplane. I think it was some form of hypnosis and as soon as I realised what was happening I turned up the cockpit lights and started up a conversation with the Nav. He must have wondered what I was on about because I was never given to idle chat when flying. On another occasion, by day for a change, I had another Canberra cross my bow from left to right, so close that I saw the 'Drivers' head down in the cockpit in one instant flash which I am sure could only be counted in milliseconds. We must have missed each other by feet if not inches!!! Are the Gods not good?

From Bassingbourne I was posted to RAF Upwood. 50 Squadron where I had my first flight with a Flt. Lt. Lagason who I now learn is Sir Philip Lagason. KCB DFC AFC (See what happens when you fly with me!!) I must say he seemed very much an ordinary Bod. He must have had some good connections. Or, perhaps he just used my name!!!

I crewed up with a Fg.Off Smith. Navigator and Fg.Off. Blackford Bomb Aimer This was the normal crew for a B2 Canberra. I liked Smithy but Blackford was a pain in the neck. He had the ability to make your blood run cold without any reason. For example we would be on a high level instrument bombing run, in cloud or over it, in the dark, at 35/40 thousand feet... At this height the controls were very sensitive. Blackford's instructions following the run up to the target would go something like....Right hold this heading.....Steady...Steady...Left Left...Right...Steady. Steady... Oh my God!” What’s happened “I would bellow...? “Oh it's OK. I dropped my pencil “he would reply. But me and the Nav would have our hair standing up on end like scalded cats.

It was during this period and immediately following a detachment to Malta that the twins were born. On the Friday, the day before the birth I had my last swim in the sea in the morning and in the afternoon flew a Canberra back to UK arriving around 4 PM at Upwood. I got home in Harrow that evening. On the Saturday whilst sitting at lunch, Madeleine exclaimed that the water had broken!! Elaine, in aloud voice cried out “ Who broke it, who broke the glass “ All I wanted to do was get Madeleine into bed and get the Doctor. Of course we had had no knowledge that there were twins tapping on our door. The Doctor had said it was a ‘long baby ‘. I was instructed to call the mid-wife...she answered that she was on day off and that I should contact the next on the list.....I did not take this too kindly...My wife was in urgent need of attention and she was taking a day off. Anyway I made contact with the ‘ Next on the list ‘ This time an ancient voice asked me “ What type of bed have you got “ I didn’t know there were different types! “ Is it a modern divan type “she asked, “If it is then you will have to put some blocks under the feet to raise it, my back can’t cope now “. How can you explain to a neighbour that you are cutting up pieces of four by two because your wife is having a baby???? Anyway right in the middle of 7 across in the Telegraph crossword puzzle I am instructed by the Mid-wife to call the Doctor because the next one might be a problem....What next one??...What problem???? Our family had doubled in one fell swoop.

The Canberra was the first of the important aircraft on which you were not allowed to fly unless you had completed the full conversion course. Before that life was a little more casual. I recall when the Jet Aircraft were first making their appearance and I was then among that band of NCO aircrew known as the 'Old hairies' We understood that to be a jet pilot you had to be six feet tall six feet wide and have a big moustache. And of course you had to be an officer. It was with some amusement then that we found ourselves flying these beasts and being NCOs were only supremely handsome. Oh yes and intelligent. Of course I had my commission by the time I went on Canberra'’. The same thing occurred when the V.Bombers came out; we were advised that the captains would not be less than Wing Commander rank. I must say however I know of no non-commissioned pilots on these beasts, but plenty of Flight Lieutenants.

At the end of my tour with 50 Squadron I was quite surprised to find myself posted to 231 OCU Waddington the Vulcan course and more surprised to learn that I, together with a Canadian, Squadron Leader Carlson, also on the course, were chosen to carry out the automatic landing trials on the Vulcan at RAE Bedford. This in my view was a plum posting. Also interesting was the fact that I had not done the Empire Test Pilots Course.

The Vulcan was certainly the most impressive aircraft I ever had the pleasure of flying and the course was a very comprehensive one. Apart from an intensive ground school there was 32 hours of Simulator to get through before getting our hands on the real thing...
As you can imagine with a multi million pound aircraft having a nuclear capability there was a lot of 'Hoo Ha' around every aspect of its flying. During the course, one of our numbers, a Squadron Leader Navigator had flown off to the States with his crew on a long range exercise and the Vulcan had plummeted into the ground from altitude, near Detroit. This was a major catastrophe and it took some time before its cause was established. Up to that time we were being lectured on the infallibility of the Vulcan Electric’s... It was an electrical fault. Despite all this the Vulcan was a fantastic aeroplane to fly. Up to that time it was certainly the largest aircraft I had flown, but that was not all, it was the most sophisticated. We had a crew of five The Captain the second pilot, two navigators, one to take us from A to B and one a specialist on our war bombing target. He was the one who would actually guide us via the autopilot to the final aiming point. And then the Air Electronics Officer. Those three crew members all sat facing aft and had NO EJECTOR SEATS This was the most glaring fault in the design of the Vulcan and one which was to cost the lives of some of those back seat air crew. I found it very impressive to fly in one sortie, all round the British Isles, usually at heights of 45-55 thousand feet. Of course as always in the RAF auto pilots seldom worked properly and so one had to fly the aircraft manually. I have often likened flying a Vulcan at those heights as ‘Like milking mice’ the controls were so delicate. One has to realise that to carry out a sortie which was to last say five and a half hours the crews had to work considerably longer than that. The usual arrangement was for the navigators to present themselves in the operations room allowing some two hours of planning and briefing. The second pilot would require about an hour and the Captain about half an hour to consolidate. The whole crew would then require some half an hour to dress into flying clothing and be taken out to the aircraft. The pre-flight checks would take up to forty minutes and then we were ready for take off. Of course with a full fuel load and supplies the aircraft was quite heavy on take off and required a lot of runway, but all of that had been calculated by the second pilot so there was no doubt that all would be well. The pilot had very little view from the cockpit and could not in fact see the wing tips, but it was a very easy aircraft to control with its steerable nose wheel. Take off was impressive and with its fighter like control column it felt as though you were taking off a fighter. For the pilots the crew space was quite limited and once you were strapped in it was not an easy job to move out of your seat. In fact I never did. For the essentials of life we were equipped with PEE TUBES but if you can imagine the problems of finding a frozen Willie tucked away in the depths of multi layers of flying clothing and two lots of escape seat harness!!! No...The answer is a strong bladder or wet pants! I never wet my pants.
I never ceased to be amazed on coming down the ladder at the end of a sortie to realise just how big the Vulcan was, of course I had just been flying the cockpit.

At the end of the course having packed and was ready to depart Waddington I was most pleased to get a call from an old mate Alfie Camp suggesting that he could come over and pick me up in a Varsity from Bedford. What a relief not to have to move all my gear by train and taxi, for I still had no car.
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Old 17th Jan 2012, 10:20
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Paddy,
This is absolutely fantastic stuff - quite the impressive list of types flown.
Thanks very much for sharing and please carry on. You're almost posting faster than I can read it!!

Adam
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Old 17th Jan 2012, 18:43
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Padhist, fantastic stories. Thank you SO much for sharing them
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Old 18th Jan 2012, 09:55
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How lucky we all are to have these amazingly vivid stories of a past age to wonder at! Many thanks, Padhist, for these.

I see that today is also a special one for cliffnemo, so Happy Birthday to you, Sir!

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Old 18th Jan 2012, 10:41
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How privileged we are to have this very special thread to read. Talking of very special, a Happy Birthday to you indeed, cliffnemo, as the one who kicked it all off! Thank you, and every other compatriot of yours, who have added so much to our understanding and knowledge of what was involved from A to Z in "Gaining an R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WWII". It is of course the detail, the little things, the "Oh, by the way ..." stuff that is the very essence of this historically important testimony.
Finally another very special thanks to you Padhist for such a prodigious and enthralling output. Do others find so much is familiar, and yet other so different, to our own more mundane experience of later life in the RAF? The arbitrariness of sudden and often unwelcome administrative action must strike such a chord with those serving at the moment I fear. We can all look back and contemplate the "if only's" of our careers, but I suspect that the possibilities were nowhere near as stark and unforgiving as in the tales recounted here. Thank you Gentlemen, to each and every one of you.
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Old 18th Jan 2012, 10:59
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Yep, I noticed Clifferno's birthday at the bottom as well. Happy birthday mate.

Padhist -

Cliff had done the same and found a job flying some smugglers in and out of Switzerland. They were caught, and he had a worrying time for a while. All turned out OK in the end and he had managed to increase his flying hours which was important.
So Cliff would log his hours ferrying smugglers in and out of Switzerland! Was he in a Lysander??!!
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Old 18th Jan 2012, 11:58
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Wrong Cliff!!!!!!!
Padhurst's mate not Our Cliff.
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Old 18th Jan 2012, 13:04
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Pom Pax - I know! Tis pure coincidence that Padhist's mate was called Cliff.

I wasn't getting confused.
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Old 18th Jan 2012, 15:35
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Wonderful stuff, Paddy (if I may), although your latest marvellous post seems to suggest that the time has come to expand the thread title from Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW11!

Out of interest, at what point were you awarded FAA wings?

With best wishes and looking forward to more .....
Jack

Amen to that, and ''Press on reward less Paddy' The thread has got a new lease of life.

MANY THANKS for all the kind birthday wishes they are much appreciated and ''made my day'' Cor 89.
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Old 18th Jan 2012, 16:04
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angels
What a mix up! My mate Cliff was working for a couple of smugglers flying ,I think a Cessna. They took Sterling to Switzerland and came back with watches. At that time it was illegal to export sterling £
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Old 18th Jan 2012, 16:30
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RAE Bedford. Blind Landing Experimental Unit

Chapter 20
Royal Aeronautical Establishment Bedford (RAE) Test Pilot

When I learned that I was to test fly the Vulcan on automatics I had some misgivings because at that time I could not conceive of a situation where automatics could do a job that a pilot could not, and my whole line of thinking was..... How was I going to manage the situation when this new fangled device let me down? I thought automatic landing was something of a trick requiring a lot of setting up and performed occasionally to impress some VIP's. I was very surprised therefore when Alfie,anold mate of mine, said on our arrival at Bedford "Would you like to see an automatic landing" Well of course... Yes. And most impressed I was when the Varsity touched down all by itself apart from a few little touches on various switches by Alfie. I had no idea how advanced automatic landing had become. Alfie said "Do you think you have ever flown in fog". Well most pilots think that they can handle an aircraft in any conditions and having landed in low visibility, claim it was thick fog. Alfie said "Wait until you see what we land in”. How right he was!

RAE Bedford for me was a new experience, totally different from the RAF. I was allocated a Married Quarter at Sharnbrook a little village about three miles from the airfield and was able to bring Madeleine and the children with me. There were only sixteen officers on the station, all in married Quarters, almost as many Naval Officers as RAF. The senior rank was Wg Cdr Flying (Mc Creith) but the overall management of the establishment was in civilian hands. There were two sites, the airfield and the wind tunnel site. Both were state of the art and highly secure. The three main flying groups were Aero Flight, Naval Air and Blind Landing Experimental Unit. I was now in the hands of civilian 'Boffins' who controlled all the flight tests... The head of BLEU was a John Charnley, now Sir John. What a splendid character he was, I never saw him without a smile, great sense of humour and quite brilliant. For the first week or so I lived in the mess until our married quarter was available and every morning at breakfast I sat opposite an old chap who was incredibly shy, it was difficult to get a word out of him...One day I asked the mess waiter ...”Who is the old boy”?..”The Boss” he replied!”The Boss of what” I asked? He said. “That is Mr. Hufton the Boss of everything. The whole establishment”.

What a feast of aeroplanes! Vulcan, Varsity, Comet, Javelin, Devon, Meteor, Canberra, resident in the stable, but I also got to fly, Douglas DC 7, Constellation, Hunter and one trip in a Whirlwind helicopter... very unsanitary that!!! As usual I became the Instrument Rating Examiner and this gave me free access to the Meteor. I could use this as I wanted. I must say it was most interesting to realise that we could be flying the Vulcan in the morning change from that to the Devon and then pop into the Meteor for some aerobatics in the afternoon. I was at a function at Chelveston the nearby American base and talking to a navigator who said he had never done aerobatics. I said he should give me a ring and I would fix it... Well he did and after we had carried out the flying he said...”You know, I thought you were being big headed when you offered me this flight and I rang to call your bluff." He said he was absolutely amazed after a short chat in the crew room I said “Let’s go then” signed the authorisation book and we were off. He then told me of the problems involved had I wanted to get a flight with the American Squadron. It would have had to go through the Pentagon for permission!!!

The serious work of BLEU was of course the development of the Automatic Landing System this had begun as an Air Ministry Operational Requirement for the V.Force. It had been recognised that in the event of a Nuclear Alert the first targets would be our Nuclear Bombers. It was therefore necessary to develop a system which would enable the bombers to disperse around the country to defined RAF airfields in any weather conditions. This meant in effect an Automatic Blind Landing System... In the event, the system became so good that an interest was aroused for a system to be installed in Civil Aircraft. This interest was to become the more dominant as the trials improved. Because of the very high demands for the safety of civilian passengers the system evolved around a Smiths Triplicated Automatic Pilot used with ground based Instrument Landing Aids. ( ILS )...In our case we operated a single channel system. ( RAF personnel are expendable) however the integrity of the equipment was such that we never had a problem and were totally confident in its performance.

During the early days of my stay it was decided to lift the secrecy blanket which had hitherto shrouded our work and we were to have an open day for the technical press, giving flight demonstrations of Auto-Land. As usual Murphy's Law came into play and on the day, we had 25 knot crosswind. Not only was this the maximum crosswind permissible for the aircraft we were flying....But Auto landing systems are not designed to function in strong winds of any kind. It was John Charnley who pointed out the problems saying that having called the big press demonstration if we now called it off because of weather the whole system would die the death. In the event we all decided to carry on and the day was a great success. The very strong crosswind in fact helped to show how effective the automatic drift kick-off on landing was. I recall one American correspondent saying "I have been all round the world to see automatic landing systems but this is the first time it has been demonstrated with such confidence, in fact demonstrated at all". He found that there was usually some excuse put forward as to why it could not be shown.

I had some very interesting visits from Bedford to carry out flight tests with other organisations. One was a visit to Holland where we flew a Constellation in a very sophisticated set of night flying trials. The aircraft was fitted with a very elaborate metal visor which only allowed forward view from 200ft and below. We flew the approach from 1500ft down to 200 on instruments and then had to comment on various ground approach light aids. It was quite a demanding test because the weather was heavy rain and blustery winds. We were even linked up to a heart monitor to test our 'tickers' on the approach runs! I also made visits to Villacoubley and to Beauvais in France Also a very pleasant trip to Gibraltar with no work involved. Just a 'swan', or officially Continuation training.

Life at RAE was very pleasant and relaxed, with none of the usual RAF constraints. The self discipline among all concerned gave an impression of casualness but when one considers that during my three years there, despite taking part in some very tricky experimental flying, I cannot recall an accident. It must be noted that we were not aware of the experimental work carried out in the other units but they were probably more hazardous than our own. I suppose the high lights during my period were, Flying chase in the Meteor to Jack Henderson on his first flight in the Narrow Delta prototype aircraft, developed to test the low speed handling characteristics of the future Concord...This test was a great success and clearly Jack was happy with the aircraft from the moment of take-off.... Seeing the first vertical take-offs and landings carried out by Tom Brooke-Smith in his prototype dinky toy!!!..This had four vertically oriented jet engines for vertical control and one for forward flight, on a demonstration flight at Farnborough the grass had been recently mowed, so when the lift engines were started up the cut grass was thrown up and over the aircraft, blocking up the engine filters, causing the engines to cut. How embarrassing..... Flying with the great Calvert the father of Calvert Lighting and many other aids to modern flying......My own claim to fame. Having London Airport all to myself the night of December 5th, 1962 demonstrating automatic landings in thick freezing fog. No civil traffic could operate in the conditions that pertained that night. In fact the contingency plan for this night had allowed for a number of senior persons from London to come aboard to see the demonstration but the fog was so thick that no cars or public transport vehicles were running. In fact had I not had the splendid back up of the Ground Radar which was able to see my exact position on the runway and give me guidance to taxi back to the take off position after touch down? I would not have been able to manoeuvre the aircraft in what was the most dense fog I had ever encountered. Details of this flight are contained in my old flight test records. I think it must have been this flight that put me in the running for the AFC. This was a nice farewell
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Old 18th Jan 2012, 16:42
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Service history

Service History C.D. Grogan. AFC Flt.Lt. RAF Retd.
Event Date
Date of Attestation 1801002 6 January 1942 Euston Rd London
Date of call up 13 July 1942 To Lords cricket ground
Promotion to LAC 26 December 1942 ITW Paignton
Promotion to Sgt Pilot 5 December 1943 Miami Oklahoma
Transfer to FAA FX669242 December 1944 Lee on Solent
De-mobbed from FAA 11 May 1946 RNAS Eglinton N.Ireland
Rejoined RAF 23 February 1949 RAF Cardington
Commissioned 5 March 1953 RAF Millom
Promotion to F/O 5 March 1954 Singapore
Promotion exam sat June 1955 RAF Butterworth
Promotion to Flt.Lt 3 September 1956 RAF Upwood 50 SQDN
Retired December 1962 RAE Bedford



24-02-43...26-03-43 Booker Grading School Tiger Moths
26-05-43...06-12-43 Miami 3BFTS PT.19.......... Harvard’s
31-03-44...01-05-44 Derby 16 EFTS Tiger Moths
14-07-44...04-08-44 Desford 7 Pre AFU Tiger Moths
07-11-44...05-12-44 Tealing 9 AFU Harvard’s
04-02-45...10-02-45 Hinstock NAIFS Oxfords
23-02-45...25-03-45 Crimond RNAS Barracuda
01-04-45...26-04-45 Easthaven RNAS Barracuda
17-05-45...07-07-45 Ronaldsway RNAS Barracuda
30-08-45...11-05-46 Eglinton RNAS Martinet
01-02-48...23-02-49 Stanmore RAFVR Tiger Moths
23-02-49...02-03-49 Cardington Re-entry to RAF Non Flying
02-03-49...21-04-49 Spitalgate OCTU Failed!! Non Flying
27-04-49...20-05-49 Finningley 1 PRFU Harvard /Spitfire
10-06-49...20-07-49 Wolverhampton 45 Reserve Non Flying
0-07-49...31-01-50 Little Rissington Harvard/Athena/Prentice/Meteor
Flying Instructor course Mosquito/Lancaster / 01-02-50...01-05-50 Ternhill 6 FTS Prentice
01-05-50...03-12-52 Syerston 22 FTS Prentice/Harvard
03-12-52...03-03-53 Millom OCTU Passed??? Non Flying
03-04-53...07-04-53 Transit to Singapore Hastings ( Passenger)
08-04-53...31-08-54 Seleter Singapore FETS Mosquito/Hornet/ Meteor
( Far East Training Squadron ) Mosquito/Hornet/Auster/Harvard
01-09-54...31-03-55 Butterworth Vampire
01-04-55...01-11-55 45/33 Sqdn Mosquito/Hornet/Meteor/Vampire
17-01-56...13-03-56 Worksop 211 FTS Meteor
14-03-56...01-04-56 Lindholme Varsity
17-04-56...13-08-56 Bassingbourne Canberra
14-08-56...23-09-58 Upwood 50 Squadron Canberra


16-01-57...27-02-57 Detached Cypress
16-07-57...14-08-57 " Malta
03-01-58...30-01-58 " Malta
11-06-56...27-06-58 " Malta
24-09-58...02-03-59 Waddington 230 OCU (10 course) Vulcan/Canberra
02-03-59...23-02-63 Bedford RAE Vulcan/Varsity/Canberra/Devon
Comet/Meteor/DC.7/Javelin
Hunter/Constellation/
Instructor Category B1... 20-07-49...Average
A2... 25-04-51...Above Average
A1.... 15-11-51...Exceptional
Command Instrument Rating Examiner...Singapore
Approved Examiner for Flying Instructors Certificate of Competency...Civil...Singapore
Air Force Cross......From Queen Mother.....19 November 1963

Last edited by Padhist; 19th Jan 2012 at 07:47.
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Old 18th Jan 2012, 18:05
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Cliff's Birthday

A Very Happy Birthday
to "young " Cliff

from FredJHH

What a wonderful Service History from Padhist. Keep the thread going.
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