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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 19th Jan 2012, 13:12
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The Last...At last

My swan song in the service was
The Night London Airport Was Mine.

However I am sure this has been posted some time before so before I clutter up more of this thread. Let me say that it can be found GOOGLE
Just enter Flt. Lt C. Grogan

Should anyone have difficulties I will gladly post it again here.

Best wishes to you all. Of course I will continue reading

Oh yes. In October I managed an hours 'Poling' and it is like riding a bike!

Paddy Grogan

Last edited by Padhist; 25th Jan 2012 at 14:12.
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Old 27th Jan 2012, 03:42
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This is my first Post: be gentle with me!

I've followed this Thread with delight and admiration since joining the ranks of the Geriatric Surfers five months ago. My daughter is instructing me -(how are the mighty fallen, it seems only yesterday that I was taking the stabilisers off her bike!). I'm not very good at this yet.

My pen name gives a clue, I can hear the groans: "Not another of these Arnold Scheme/B.F.T.S. characters". 'Fraid so. But seeing that another contributor might be welcome (and seeing the suggestion that the thread might be expanded from "Gaining your brevet in WWII" (made by Cliff, the "onlie begetter", and others, I've decided to put my oar in (if Mr Moderator will have me).

This is what I can put on the table:

26,000 words on training to OTU.
54,000 words on wartime India and dive bomber operations in Burma.
28,000 words on postwar RAF service.

Don't worry, it's not ready yet. I have to finish editing, then get it transferred from floppy disk onto a CD-Rom (it was produced on my faithful old "Starwriter"), then hope that some kind soul can tell me how to "park"
the lot somewhere where PPruners can reach it, (but nobody else).

Meanwhile, I suggest I feed in bite-sized chunks into this Thread, from time to time. What do you think?

I was born within sound of the "Bootle Bull". Cliff will tell you what that means. There must have been something in the air of Liverpool. I believe he hails from there, as did Reg (Requiescat in Pace). And Reg must have been at Blackpool Grammar School when I was at St. Joseph's College. I was in the First XV. I wonder...

I like Cliff's idea of a little old 'bon mot' to round it off.

You'll be all right on a big Station.
Old 27th Jan 2012, 09:10
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Sounds like a good idea to me
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Old 27th Jan 2012, 09:11
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bring it on ! I for one can never read enough about other's past experiences.
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Old 27th Jan 2012, 12:11
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Hello Danny,

Yes please!!!

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Old 27th Jan 2012, 12:20
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Absolutely! This thread is already the best on the forum; having another contributor will only make it better.


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Old 27th Jan 2012, 20:37
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Danny, please do post your history, this has been one of the most enthralling threads around. Many thanks to Cliff for starting it all that time ago!
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Old 28th Jan 2012, 13:30
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Welcome aboard Danny. Any information you add will be appreciated by young relatives of W.W 2 airmen of all trades, Historians , authors, and modern day aviators. I know because they have emailed me and my virtual friends and told us so. You will get a good reception from an excellent bunch of chaps (and girls of course) and our moderators.


P.S Danny I have sent you a P.M (it should appear above right) headed Welcome Danny, your notifications 1 (I hope)

Last edited by cliffnemo; 28th Jan 2012 at 14:06.
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 20:13
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Thanks, chaps !

Thank you, Cliff, and all the other posters, for your kind words of welcome and encouragement - I only hope I can live up to it !

And thanks for your PM, Cliff, I've managed to get to it at last, but I feel as if I've been in Hampton Court maze , and I don't know how I got out. I haven't the faintest idea how to send one. Yes, it's true that we're both on borrowed time; I'll try and get my first tranche in as soon as I can. Project Propeller sounds a fine idea (and you look fine on the pic) but I don't get out much now, I'm afraid.

Tara, Wack! - it's many a year since I heard that! The Liver building was the proper colour then - black as the pot, and the birds green with verdigris.
The Royal Daffodil and the Royal Iris were the queens of the Mersey!

Tip to all with interest in WWII RAF training: facsimiles of "Tee Emm" (Training Magazine) are available - Google.

More soon. Danny42C

That was yesterday! - It's all been changed!
Old 29th Jan 2012, 20:53
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Danny, Cliff said "Any information you add will be appreciated by young relatives of W.W 2 airmen of all trades".

I will add that their not so young offspring will also enjoy it equally.
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 02:05
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Let's start at the v.beginning - a v.good place to start!

Then came the War. First was the Phoney War, and we sang "We'll hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line (fat chance!). Then came the Blitzkrieg and Dunkirk. The song died on our lips. The long unreal summer of 1940 began with the formation of the Local Defence Volunteers, later the Home Guard, and ended with the miracle of the Battle of Britain, and Churchill's immortal tribute to the "Few".

For twenty years boys had read W.E. John's "Biggles" books, and dreamed of becoming their hero. These decades were the years of record-breaking long distance flights and five bob (five minute!) "hops" at Air Circuses. Very few
had ever flown, and most would never fly in their entire lives (You'll never get ME up in one of those things!).

Just to have a pilot's licence made you a hero in popular esteem (much as are astronauts today). My father often quoted a quip from the first War: "Join the Army and see the World - Join the Air Force and see the Next!". But flying instruction, at £3 an hour (£3 was a good weekly wage for a man)was far out of our reach. Learning to fly had been an impossible dream - until now.

So, with Churchill's words ringing in their ears, just about every red-blooded young man in Britain (and the Empire), with School Certificate and in the age group (17 and a half to 23) flocked to volunteer as RAF aircrew. I was one of them. All wanted to be pilots, of course. There would be many hurdles ahead: it was reckoned that only 2% of all original applicants got to wear the coveted double wing. People were almost down on their knees to get into the RAF, it could afford to be fussy. Most of the rejections were in the first phase.

Just before Christmas 1940, I was called to Padgate (near Manchester) to appear before the Selection Board. They must have been having a lean day, for they accepted me. I scraped through the Medical Board, much to my mother's surprise, for I had a "Weak Chest". This nondescript ailment was then common; the smoke and dust of the cities having packed our lungs with soot. I took the Oath, and enlisted as an Aircraftman, Second Class (AC2 or "erk") - the lowest form of life in the RAF - "u/t" (under training) as a Pilot or Observer (at their option). To seal the bargain, they gave me the "King's Shilling" (a day's pay), (actually it was a "florin" - two bob - inflation had already set in!)

I was in, a full member of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Get fell in !

Last edited by Danny42C; 25th Feb 2012 at 20:36.
Old 30th Jan 2012, 08:51
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Project Propeller 2012

All WW2 aircrew may like to know that details of the 2012 event are now up on the website - Project Propeller

As always, please register early to beat the rush............ :-)

For those who have not heard of it, Project Propeller is an annual reunion for 150+ WW2 aircrew, to which they are flown from all over the UK in light aircraft by current volunteer pilots. Full details of how to take part are on the website.

Nigel Marshall
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 10:21
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Danny, congratulations on a great start! Oh, and a belated welcome from me to this, the most exclusive ante-room of PPRuNe Towers. I can sense a communal settling of backsides into commodious and luxuriant armchairs and couches as you stand with one hand resting on the the mantelpiece in order the better to tell us your tale. Am I alone in finding these very first posts some of the most fascinating in what will be as ever an informative journey through time? We all remember our own confusing first days of joining up. How much more they must have been then with such huge numbers involved. Always the fear of failing at the very first hurdle as one by one others drop by the wayside. The varied and obscure locations, seaside resorts and RAF stations that many of us have never heard of let alone forgotten....
Sorry to have interrupted your flow old chap. I'm quite comfy now thanks, so I'll just sit back and enjoy, whisky in hand. Cheers!
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 10:26
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chugalug has expressed so eloquently what all of us feel about these memoirs.
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 18:39
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Are there any members of Arnold Scheme 42A in earshot ?

The Class of 42A presumably followed the last all-American class of 41L (?)
Now the U.S. Air Corps followed the well known practice of "Hazing".
This amounted to officially sanctioned bullying, whereby the "Upper" (Senior) class of a military (and other) colleges treated their "Lower" class as Flashman treated his "fags" - or as a baby treats a nappy.

I have found only two passing references to this in the Thread: No. 1181 (P.60) from the sadly missed Reg, and No. 1919 (P.96) from Sandisondaughter. Now this later one is dated a year or so back; we are all drinking in the Last Chance saloon now, and I am conscious of walking on eggshells while asking this question: Can Sandisonfather help me with this?

This is the tale I was told, at Carlstrom Field (Florida): Our first British class of 42A met this treatment from 41L - or whatever. There was no particular animus against the British, they would have treated their own chaps just the same. Needless to say, a freeborn Briton would not put up with this; they set upon their tormentors in a body, prevailed and flung them and all their possessions into the camp swimming pool.

Now the authorities couid hardly send the whole lot back to Canada - it would provoke a diplomatic incident - so the situation was accepted, "hazing" was suspended, and 42A followed 41L through all three Schools in peace (I don't know about harmony).

Can anyone please shed any more light on this (which presumably must have gone on at other USAAC bases ?) Thanks in anticipation.

Old 31st Jan 2012, 01:46
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They decide what to do with me.

Thank you, ancientaviator and Chugalug, for your kind words. They are much appreciated .

First, a typo error in the first part of my story: the upper age limit for acceptance was of course 23yrs, not 33 as stated. It has been corrected. I must be more careful.

That night in Padgate, midway between Manchester and Liverpool, we heard and watched the air raids on both cities (the Blitz was at its height). Next day I went home like a dog with two tails. My Dad, an old regular soldier, was well pleased. "With your education, son, you'll be a Sergeant in no time". Sadly, he wouldn't live to see the day.

They'd got their man to sign on the dotted line and take the Oath. Now the RAF had to decide what to do with him. Flying schools were full up for months ahead. They gave me a choice: come in right away for ground duties as an "erk" (ACH/GD - Ground Duties - i.e. dogsbody) until your flying course comes up. Or go home and wait; we'll call you when we're ready for you. This was really a waiting list. It suited me much better. They gave me a little silvery RAFVR lapel badge (to ward off white feathers?). It would have made a fine keepsake, but the frugal RAF wanted it back when I came in, and I hadn't the sense to say i'd "lost" it.

Many boys had to take the other option, notably Dominion volunteers who'd given up their jobs in far-flung corners of the Empire to do their bit for the Mother Country - in which they'd landed penniless after paying their passage back to Britain. Needless to say, Station Warrant Officers rejoiced at this influx of temporary labour and screwed every last ounce of work out of them. But it wasn't a waste of their time, for these few months of experience taught them all the basic survival skills needed in the RAF, and in this respect they were well ahead of us "Deferred Service" people when our time came.

Which was the following May for me. I remember a long, crowded train journey from Liverpool down to Torquay. Somewhere in the Midlands we passed an airfield close to the line. Tiger Moths wre buzzing round it, obviously it was a RAF Elementary Flying School. It was exciting to think that I'd be there - or somewhere like it - before I was much older (for fortunately the RAF had chosen the "pilot" option for me).

"Per Ardua ad Astra" - Ardua first! Everybody knows what Service Reception Centres were like: they've been lampooned on film and TV often enough. We were bawled at, marched about all over the place from dawn to lights-out, kitted out (some of it fitted) and inoculated against everything known to medical science.

Nine years at the tender mercy of the Irish Christian Brothers had left me pretty well inured to hardship, but even I blinked a bit at our sleeping arrangements. Straw palliasses on the bare boards of a stripped-out Babbacombe boarding house ! What most of my intake - never been away from mummy in their lives - thought, I can't imagine. Their wails met the old sardonic RAF response: "Serves you right, shouldn't have joined if you can't take a joke !

More later. Danny.

Get some in !
Old 1st Feb 2012, 22:43
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New kid on the block


We have been following this thread and it has been absolutely brilliant at helping us to understand and document some of the training experienced by our grandfather who was KIA over Bonn on 4th February 1945 with 35 PFF.

We are particularly interested in finding out as much as we can about his training in 1943 / 1944 at 2RC (Cardington) 1ACRC (Regents Park) 3ITW (Torquay) and 4 SoTT (ST Athan) before posting to 41 Base and then on to 35 PFF.

In particular we are keen to establish the kit he was issued with at the various phases of his training, the documents issued, the exact course syllabuses at each location ..... so please ... keep those memories coming .... they are an essential part of our research.

Any help would be much appreciated
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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 12:15
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Fantastic. Can't wait to hear more.

Do you have any inkling as to how the RAF decided that you were to be trained as a pilot instead of any other aircrew branch? Was it based on scores from aptitude testing, or qualifications: i.e. those with a penchant for mathematics became navigators, and others became pilots? With so many young pilot hopefuls it must have been quite an exercise to sort them into branches.

Looking forward to your next installment!

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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 12:16
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reply to Danny

Danny, I will check in Reg's memoirs to see where he went to school, I guess as Reg was not Catholic then it wasn't St James :0)

So far as Hazing goes I have spoken to many cadets and their experience seems to be very varied.

Reg just accepted it and just wanted to learn to fly and get through the course.

There was another cadet in 42A called Bob C**** he was not in the least bothered by it

I spoke to a Spitfire pilot who was on BFTS 4 Mesa Hank C****** and he told me that the American cadets tried it on but he was with an older sergeant who had already seen a lot of action in the war (and not a 18 yr old cadet) and he would not have anything to do with it.

The story was that an American cadet had told this sergeant to tread on the American’s disposed cigarette, the sergeant bent down to do it ,then just rose up and hit the cadets jaw, they apparently did not have a problem with hazing after then.

Hank also said that most UK cadets just wanted to get their wings and get back and fight they found hazing trivial with respect to the job they needed to do. I think it was also disliked that the hazing system encouraged cadets to “snitch” on other cadets, most UK based cadets hated that.

There was of course always a fear of being “washed out” due to disciplinary reasons so that also may have played a role?

I look forward to reading your experiences!

Regards Andy
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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 14:34
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I remember one of my instructors in 1950 who had gone through the US training describing "hazing" and having to eat a "square meal" which consisted of sitting at attention, and presumably with the fork in one's right hand, loading it from the plate, stretching it away from himself, making a right angle turn, raising it to mouth level. bringing it back to his mouth and ingesting, lowering it back down to the plate, so when viewed from the side the fork would have described a square. All this supervised by the senior course. He told me this had originally come from West Point. I wonder if they still play these silly games?
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