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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 2nd Feb 2012, 14:00
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Your right, Reg mentioned this as well, makes sense when you realise that The Arnold Scheme was US Army run, so was West Point.

As far as I know the Arnold Scheme was distinctly different to the BFTS's in the respect that in the Arnold Scheme they had mainly civilian American trainers whilst the BFTS's followed a more RAF curriculum.

If there are any Ex Arnold or BFTS Cadets please comment?
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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 15:33
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Padhist this thread may interest you if you've not already seen it especially the links in post #119:

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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 16:10
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I wonder if they still play these silly games?
Colorado (the USAF Academy) used to in the early 60's. Our entry visited them (along with West Point) in our senior year. I remember sitting at lunch in their dining hall with a mixture of their seniors and rookies. The latter had to go through the same bizarre routine, to the extent that if they wished to smother their meal in the obligatory Ketchup they had to voice a refrain along the lines of, " Sir, would our guest or any other gentleman care for the Tomato Ketchup, Sir!" Only when no-one responded in the affirmative could he then continue with, " Sir, could you please pass the Tomato Ketchup, Sir!". Then at last could he create the culinary delight that he had set about some time previously. All this done sitting and eating to attention as you describe.
Mind you some aspects of UK Public School tradition still survived at Cranwell, most notably "Crowing". This endearing routine consisted of the Senior Entry sneaking into the South Brick Lines (where we wretches of the Junior Entry resided). They had to sneak in, as Crowing was by then (1959/60) already forbidden. Whatever had been practised in its heyday, by now it was reduced to we juniors being obliged to voice off some doggerel about "Two black crows, sitting on a fence...") while being perched, squatting, on some high point (locker tops etc) to better enact the tale. I remember at the time thinking it was more harrowing for them than for us, as they had to post lookouts and at the slightest alarm would beat a hasty retreat. Inevitably they did not beat it fast enough one night, official retribution followed, and another hallowed tradition bit the dust!
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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 21:55
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Thanks for the interest, chaps.

First, well met, TommyOv! (#2266)
I can't remember any Aptitude Test - think the choice was just Pot Luck.

Likewise Andy1999 (#2267)
Reg said in one of his Posts that he was at Blackpool Grammar School. At the same time I must have been at St. Joseph's College (was there a St. James ?) I remember we played Arnold House, and on one glorious occasion, got a fixture with Rossall School (only their Second XV, their First would have murdered us, their Second just thrashed us!) Surely we would have played Blackpool Grammar? Reg and I might well have been on opposite sides in the scrum.

"Hank", a US Cadet, was at 4BFTS? As I understood it, the South East Training Centre of the USAAC trained only US cadets up to early 1941 (41F). Then the Arnold Scheme was introduced at some of their schools; RAF cadets took over from the US students and at the changeover point the "hazing" became a problem just for the 41F/42A interface. From then until Pearl Harbor only RAF cadets were trained (in a rather open "secret") as "civilians".
in these few US Schools.

We could not wear anything which would mark us out as British military personnel; that would blow open the US status as a neutral. Somewhere way back in this thread there are some very good photographs of RAF cadets of this time, "walking the ramp" - punishment drill. Look at them. They are wearing "Caps, Field Service" - "Forage Caps", (there was another four-letter name, stemming from their appearance, but even in these libertarian days the Moderator would permanently excommunicate me if I were to use it. for it breaches the last taboo).

Look at these caps. There are no white flashes in front, I can see no brass RAF badges on the sides, the front buttons don't seem shiny. They've been "civilianised". The lads just have flying overalls on, the same as I had. What did I have on my head? I can't remember. I'd dumped the beret they gave me in Blackpool.

Pearl Harbor changed everything. There was no further need for the Arnold Scheme; the US Schools turned back into all US Cadet instruction; the British Flying Training Schools were set up to take over the RAF Cadets (they weren't really "Cadets" any more, just LACs; the white flashes came back, with the buttons and badges, and they wore US issue light summer khaki shirts and slacks. And now they had RAF officers and NCOs to "make honest men of them". Why would any US cadets go to a BFTS now that they'd got all their own schools back? It doesn't make sense. If they did, would someone please explain it to me?

Chugalug2, Greetings! (#2271)
"Hazing" was still alive in the Sixties? - Incredible! And even in my time, we fondly thought that the 42A "rebellion" at Carlstrom had slain the dragon for all the Arnold Schools. Not so, it seems.

Time for my cocoa now. I've had my pills. Goodnight, all.


Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Mar 2012 at 12:50.
Old 3rd Feb 2012, 14:03
  #2285 (permalink)  
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The kit issued at every stage - that's a tall order!

Welcome aboard, Petet (#2265) - I'm new in these parts, too. People have been very kind to me, let's get your ball rolling.

Your grandad will have started in a Reception Centre like mine (the one - Babbacombe - I'm describing in my current Posts). What did I get to turn me into some semblance of an airman? A nervous, baffled ex-civilian has been marched into the Clothing Stores.

He shuffles slowly down the line. The Equpiment Assistant sizes him up at a single glance, turns to the shelves behind, and dumps on the counter:

One airman's S.D. (Service Dress) uniform - blue serge, scratchy.
If it fits, he must be deformed. If the fit is too bad, the E.A. will grudgingly swap it for a better one, until a more or less reasonable result is achieved.

One airman's Greatcoat - fitting as before. (Note that there is no raincoat, you use your groundsheet; that is hardly elegant, but it keeps the rain out.

Note that there is no "Battledress". This is May 1941, they came in later.

My uniform was "part-worn": I often wondered what had become of the first wearer!

One "Cap, Service Dress" (flat 'at) with brass badge. One "Cap, Field Service" (forage cap, or fore-and-aft cap), with brass badge and two buttons to polish.

One pair blue woolen gloves

One First Field Dressing (I'll say no more about this for the moment).

* Two (three) blue shirts (collarless). ? blue soft collars. You had to buy your own collar studs; if these were mother-of-pearl things you'd got last birthday from a doting Aunt, they'd be lost - or pinched - within the week. But if they were 3d Woolies, they'd last for years. It's always the way.

* Underwear: Two (three) cotton vests - these doubled as P.T. vests. Same number underpants, cotton, baggy. These had tapes sewn in front so that the leather "tangs" of your non-elastic braces ran through them to fasten onto the metal buttons on your trousers, in that way your underpants stayed in position. No zips, at least not for the likes of us.

One pair Black shoes (or was it boots?). *Two (or three) pairs of black socks. One blue P.T. shorts, one pair Plimsolls.

Bits and pieces: Shoe brushes, Button Stick (ask any soldier), "Hussif" (ask any Grandmother). I think you had to buy your own razor and toiletries - also boot and brass polish!

* The usual in those days was: one on, one in the laundry, and one in the drawer. But I have doubts if the RAF was as generous as that!

All this lot was piled in an enormous heap on the counter; the bemused recipient had to sign for everything (probably in triplicate), and stagger away with his load. Oh, and not forgetting a kitbag to put it all in. You bought
a kitbag lock and a padlock for it ASAP.

That's about enough to be going on with. Eager eyes will spot what I've missed, and fill in the gaps. In my other line of Posts, I'll shortly tell what they gave me - and I never needed - for flying kit for Europe.

Hope this has been some use to you.


Last edited by Danny42C; 3rd Feb 2012 at 21:25.
Old 3rd Feb 2012, 14:18
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Originally Posted by danny
Your grandad will have started in a Reception Centre like mine (the one - Babbacombe - I'm describing in my current Posts)

Hi Danny,
Just a thought regarding your time in Torquay. Do you know how to use Google Earth and if so you can look at the building where you were trained. If you cannot use that program then pm me with details and I will willingly try to get a picture for you. The same offer applies to any of you gentlemen that trained down here in Torquay. We can either use Google Earth together or I will get the snaps

Thank you all for what you have all done

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Old 3rd Feb 2012, 17:49
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glojo #2274

Thank you, John, for your kind suggestion. Yes, I have used Google Earth a little. But the snag now is that I could never identify our Boarding House again. I don't remember any address, all I can remember is a big double-fronted detached house overlooking the sea. There must be hundreds of such places down there: it had nothing to distinguish itself.

But thanks all the same. Best wishes,

Old 3rd Feb 2012, 18:46
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Danny....great stuff!! Looking forward to the rest of your tale. The description of kit issue is pretty close to what I experienced at Henlow in 1971....among other things, I was issued with string vests dated 1942!!
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Old 3rd Feb 2012, 21:10
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Thumbs up

Thanks Danny for your insight into uniforms .... I have been trying to get hold of a copy of the poster / diagram that the RAF displayed on billet walls to show how the kit should be laid out on the bed .... but no luck yet ... but I am keeping my fingers crossed that someone will come up trumps..

I have been thinking about "battledress" or "war service dress" and I was thinking that as it could only be worn "on station" then it would not have been issued at ACRC or ITW because, in effect, recruits were always "off station" .... so I thought maybe they were issued when the recruit was posted for Technical Training .... would be interested in feedback on that.

If anyone has any original photographs of irons, hussifs, kit rolls etc that we could include in our documentation on this subject we would love to hear from you. (The document is a dedication to our grandfather who was KIA in 1945, which has grown so big that we are transferring it onto the internet so that it can be used for education and resource purposes [ie there is no commercial gain on our part]

Look forward to further posts .... thanks again
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Old 3rd Feb 2012, 21:13
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This joke lasted two weeks, and is just a blur in my memory. I remember the importance of hanging on to your "Irons" (knife, fork. spoon and enamel mug), or you wouldn't eat, and knowing your "last three" (digits of your RAF number) without which you wouldn't officially exist and certainly wouldn't get paid. Every ex-serviceman remembers that number to his dying day. Every form (of many) you filled in asked you for the details of your Next of Kin. It was plain what they thought of your life expectantcy.

I remember a day spent in scrubbing the aforesaid bare boards, and looking down at my "kneeler". It was a soggy pad of old newspaper. On top I spotted an RAF recruiting advert: "THERE IS A SPITFIRE WAITING FOR YOU!" I sighed and picked up my scrubbing brush. One day I would get there, but it was a long way off.

All good things come to an end, the two weeks flew by and I was back on the train again. Just a short trip across to Cornwall this time, with a full kitbag slung round my neck, to No. 8 Initial Training Wing at Newquay for six weeks. Of all the RAF Courses I have been on in more than thirty years, this stands out as the best organised and most worth while of the lot.

Not a single moment of our time went to waste. They taught us "Theory of Flight", how and why an aircraft flies and why it sometimes doesn't (at the end, I nearly understood Bernoulli's Theorem). We were grounded in Navigation and Signals (Morse, up to six words a minute on the Buzzer and four on the Aldis lamp). We studied Meteorology and Armaments (in our case the Vickers Gas-operated Gun, an obsolete drum-fed weapon, as all the Brownings were needed in service). Air Force Law and "Administration and Organisation" gave us an insight into how the nuts and bolts of the RAF worked. Mundane mattters were not neglected: I recall one lecture on "The Principles of Construction of a Deep Trench Latrine".

"Aircraft Recognition" was a "must", of course, and fresh air exercise was not overlooked. We had an hour's P.T. down on the sands every day (then deserted, now crowded with surfers). To get there meant a 100-step descent down the cliff face, and we had to "double up" (run) back up to the top. At first we had to stop several times, scarlet in the face and gasping for breath, but at the end we could all run up non-stop and still breathe normally at the top. I was never so fit in all my life.

There was a half-hour's foot drill every day. I can still see - and hear! -Drill Corporal Shepherd (the "Good Shepherd", we called him) - "I wants to 'ear yer boots workin' " In the Service all his life, his proudest boast was of having been "put on a charge", in the early twenties, by Flight Lieutenant the Duke of York (it wasn't every "old sweat" who could say that he'd been "put on a fizzer" by the King !)

More later - Cheers to all - Danny

Disputes will not be entertained after leaving the Pay Table

Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Mar 2012 at 12:59.
Old 4th Feb 2012, 08:57
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Do you have a definitive list of the exams you had to pass before "moving on" from ITW?.

Also, if anyone has a definitive list of the subjects taught at 4 SoTT that would also help with our research.

Finally, and this is a real challenge ... does anyone happen to have an original RAF Railway Warranty circa 1943 / 1944 .... a tall order I know .... but ..... fingers crossed!

In fact ... any original documenation from that era would be extremely useful.
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Old 4th Feb 2012, 09:38
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Green Granite

Many thanks. This is a most interesting post for me. I will give it more study before I donate to it. Paddy
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Old 4th Feb 2012, 13:21
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On the 5th December 1962 I carried out 4 landings in thick fog at London Airport ( see GOOGLE- Flt Lt. C. Grogan)
The following day Mr Prescott a senior BLEU Scientist telephoned me to say that he wished me to be ready to go with him to Cambridge that afternoon to do a broadcast for the BBC.
I must say I was pleased he was driving because it was quite foggy and my ground navigation was rather suspect. On route he said " I hope this is going to work out OK. I have been briefed to find this garage on Jesus Street and ask for the keys of the studio." Well I thought this is going to be more hazardous than landing in fog.
However in the event. We found the garage, and with my fingers crossed, I asked for the 'Keys to the studio'. Without batting an eye lid. I was handed a bunch of keys.and advised that if we turned the corner and parked the car we would see a GREEN door, All will be explained inside!
Beyond the door through a rather tatty corridor, was a modern office door, which we entered. Inside was a modern studio, a desk, on which was a large, old style micriphone and a telephone, also under see through plastic picture frame, was a notice which read,
If there is noise coming from the room next door...Bang on the wall...If the noise persists, ring this number.
After a while the telephone rang and Mr Prescott was advised to go over to radio broadcast. We were now both able to join in and we were told we were being taped. Remember Mr Prescott was an expert at this and I was quite green so during extensive questioning I was constantly challenged to simplify my answers for a non flying public.
OK. Ordeal over, we were now on route home. Mr Prescott said."That broadcast is going out just before the 6 O'clock news. Let's pop into this Pub and see if we can listen to it!" Inside he asked the landlord if we could. Well we were told the only radio was in their front room.They had never done this before, he would call us when the programme was on. We were duly called and looked at vey suspiciously by his wife and Mother. But when the broadcast began, it was miraculous, they recognised our voices and their eyes glowed. They were in the midst of celebreties
I was truly amazed to hear my side of the story It sounded quite professional, such was the expertise of the programmer. It certainly was not down to me. As we left the old lady said to Mr Prescott..." Our television has stopped working! Is there anything you can do".

Last edited by Padhist; 8th Feb 2012 at 14:15. Reason: It should have been in Thread THURLEIGH
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Old 4th Feb 2012, 15:09
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Haven't been in this thread for a while, and just spent a couple of hours catching up. Brilliant stuff, please keep your stories coming.
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Old 4th Feb 2012, 18:28
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Petet #2274

Glad to have been of service! Can't be precise, but I imagine the ITW exams would have covered all the classroom subjects. For example: a) "What is the function of the Rear Sear Retainer Keeper ?" - (sounds like the "Sagger Maker's Bottom Knocker", of the much loved b) "What's my Line?").

Replies: a) No idea! b) Ask your Dad.

No knowledge of SoTTs, I'm afraid.

Rail Warrants of 1943? You must be joking! They would all have been handed in at the time to the Booking Clerks at Stations. He'd take them in and give you your ticket in exchange. Where are they now? Ou sont les nieges d'Antan ? (sorry, can't do accents).

I'm afraid you'll have a hard job finding much documentation of those times.

Best of luck!


Last edited by Danny42C; 4th Feb 2012 at 20:24.
Old 4th Feb 2012, 21:19
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Research wouldn't be fun if finding things was too easy! ... I am sure there is a railway warrant out there somewhere ....

Anyway, more stories on ITW please ...... I believe that the subjects taught were:
  • RAF history, structure and law;
  • hygiene (including “infectious diseases”);
  • theory of flight;
  • basic navigation (using maps, charts and astronomy);
  • aircraft recognition;
  • armaments;
  • meteorology;
  • mathematics;
  • morse code (using keys and light).
Does that sound right? Are there any key subjects missing?
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 00:15
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Danny42C, thanks for starting to share your adventures with us, it gives an insight to those courageous young lads who gave their all for our country. My Dad's cousin "Uncle Fred", went through the same training I suspect. Unfortunately he was shot down over Burma in a Hurricane IIC in '42, on his third mission. They didn't find his body until '56, and he is buried in Rangoon military cemetry.

At the same time I must have been at St. Joseph's College (was there a St. James ?) I remember we played Arnold House, and on one glorious occasion, got a fixture with Rossall School (only their Second XV, their First would have murdered us, their Second just thrashed us!) Surely we would have played Blackpool Grammar? Reg and I might well have been on opposite sides in the scrum.
Twas known affectionally as "Holy Joes", there wasn't a St. James. I was a Claremont lad and my Father and Uncle Fred both went to Palatine school.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 09:14
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I was a Claremont lad and my Father and Uncle Fred both went to Palatine school.
Our house, built in 1914, has been called Claremont since 1931 and I often wonder why
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 18:39
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My #2273 refers.

Checking my Kit List - find I've left an open goal - What about the "White Flash" ?

As I recall, it was a small piece of some light felt-like stuff which fitted in the fold in front of your forage cap. It was issued to all aircrew trainees and they wore it throughout their training. It really signified "potential officer": it was akin to the Sandhurst white capband or a Midshipman's white patches.

We all wore it with immense pride, even though we knew that, at the end of our training, only some 20% of pilots and navigators (and a much smaller percentage of the other aircrew trades) would receive Commissions. The remainder would be promoted from LAC to Sergeant.

Another matter:
I have read various figures quoted as pay rates. I am quite certain what I was paid (all rates per day): AC2 : 2/-, LAC : 5/6, Sergeant-Pilot : 13/6. All subject to deductions like "Sports subscriptions" (what on earth were they ?), Barrack Damages and Voluntary Allotments
to a family member.
Old 5th Feb 2012, 19:01
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The pay section on the Service Record we have for CA Butler only states 12/- at the time of death.

At no stage does it show him being promoted to LAC (which is strange) ... he goes from AC2 to Sergeant when he completes his technical training at 4SOTT.

He doesn't seem to have got any increase in pay for joining the Pathfinders (should be 1/- increase), nor does he get his one rank promotion for joining Pathfinders, nor does he get his Pathfinder Certificate even though he flew 31 sorties with them before his death.

He seems to have been hard done by ... obviously not "teachers pet"!

Going back to kit ....

As I am not able to find a diagram of how the kit had to be laid out on the bed .... are you able to document the layout???!!! .... that will get the grey cells ticking over!

Also, was there a name for the kit roll used for storing irons, toothbrush, buttonstick etc .... and was there only one kit roll (plus the hussif) ?
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