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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 23rd Aug 2008, 11:42
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I have just finished publishing two pictures of me on “ PPRuNe Sticky Photos of Everybody” , a then and now. Your chance to have another laugh.
With regard to the S.B.A question thanks for the interest. Think descent through cloud might be the best interpretation . To Flight tester I see you are in Wichita Kansa. I hitch hiked there, and bought a pair of cowboy boots, and Hickok belt. We often hitched to places at weekends. Tulsa, (The oil capital of the world). Oklahoma City. Guthrie etc. Wichita , seventy miles North, was always less than two hours hitching, and on the way we were questioned about things happening in the U.K by every one, and often offered accommodation. The Americans certainly appreciate servicemen.

Back to advanced training. In the classroom, studying armaments, bomb aiming errors, bomb sight installation errors, Types of airfield lighting, and Darky.

Darky was a system used for establishing an approximate position, when lost , or when navigational equipment was U/S. T his system would give a position within ten miles of a named H/F radio station. We learned we had to use the correct words otherwise the ground station would not answer, which w ere as follows .
1/ Hello darky (3 times)
2/This is gothard fox (3 times)
3/do you hear me (2 times)
4/ over
A station within ten miles would then reply this is Marham, standing by , over. If in trouble, a pilot would call hello darky. May day, may day , may day. over. If a station heard or saw an aircraft in distress, they would call out “hello nemo (three times) do you here me , over. The aircraft in distress would then give the letter of the day. After which the ground station would give their position and ask what assistance was required.. This had to be written down in the classroom, and re-written using fountain pens (The biro pen had not been invented) in our exercise books in the evening , then memorised . We were later tested to ensure we were word perfect. Later we were asked questions on all these subjects during our wings exams.
Ringing home was unheard of, just a microfilm letter once a week to parents, saying the usual serviceman’s, every thing is fine, wherever they were , or whatever the conditions..
In the month of November 43 we were introduced to low flying. Cross country navigation, and aerobatics. Although in the classroom we were studying astro nav, using the sextant , and star positions, The navigation exercises , consisted of plotting a track , applying corrections for wind, and compass deviation to arrive at a course to steer. Calculating E.T.A. All this was done with a thing we called a computer strapped to one leg , in effect a circular slide rule based on logarithms. A Douglas protractor completed our navigational equipment at that time The course to steer was then pencilled in on a map, gnomonic projection ??? The use of Mercator charts was to come later.
Aerobatics, consisted of, slow rolls, barrel rolls, Imelmans ( a roll off the top of a loop) loops (100% look you) We could not fly upside down as the A.T 6 was not fully aerobatic , the carburettor wouldn’t deliver the gas, but with sufficient height we could glide upside down. Low flying was thrilling, and we had plenty of space over the 101 ranch. However this had to be authorized, and unauthorized low flying was a serious punishable offense..
Total hours for November were, dual 10, solo 3, link 5..
Some say good old sergeant, and others tell the truth.
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Old 23rd Aug 2008, 15:34
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To Flight tester I see you are in Wichita Kansa. I hitch hiked there, and bought a pair of cowboy boots, and Hickok belt. We often hitched to places at weekends. Tulsa, (The oil capital of the world). Oklahoma City. Guthrie etc. Wichita , seventy miles North, was always less than two hours hitching

Hi Cliff,

I also fly down to Ponca fairly regularly - the next time I go I shall be looking at it with a whole new perspective. I also get to go up to Cedar Rapids a couple of times a year. Marvellous story, please keep it going.

Cheers

FlightTeste
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Old 24th Aug 2008, 23:09
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6BFTS in Ponca City, OK information

Hi Cliff,
As a journalist and author of the Royal Air Force in Oklahoma I have been enjoying your stories and only wish I had found you before my book was published last year. This photo shows the cadets in Ponca City at Darr School as they splashed and played. Did you know that Mr. Lew Wentz, a wealthy oilman and philanthropist, was responsible for building this pool for you? Mr. Wentz provided generous funds to many needy children with health problems over the years he lived in Oklahoma. His memory lives on as he left a big endowment for college scholarships as well.

Please tell your devoted readers to check out my pages on www.pkdenson.com.

Paula Denson
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Old 25th Aug 2008, 15:03
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cliffnemo:
I have just finished publishing two pictures of me on “ PPRuNe Sticky Photos of Everybody” , a then and now.
OK Cliff, I'll buy it, which is which? Seriously, you seem to have learned the secret of eternal youth. The question is always posed, so what would you put it down to? As regards your engrossing tale of the odyssey from initial recruitment to operations could you say a word or two about the RAF presence at US Flying Schools. For instance you say that:
unauthorized low flying was a serious punishable offense
which chimes with the RAF attitude to such shenanigans, but punishable by whom, and how? I would guess that the sword of Damocles wielded over all of you was the ever present one of being chopped, so would that be effected by the civilian staff there, or was there a resident RAF chain of command, complete with thread bare carpet on which you could be summarily chastised, fined, confined to barracks, defaulters parade, glass house, or worst of all sent back to Canada for re-assignment? You have rightly emphasised the freedom and hospitality enjoyed by you all in the US, but I suspect that there was a fairly short leash in reality or was it truly as remote from the RAF CoC as you make it sound? As ever, more please!
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Old 25th Aug 2008, 15:23
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As a journalist and author of the Royal Air Force in Oklahoma (cliffnemo tried to highlight this , but didn't succeed . (Back to the drawing board)

_______________
Hi Paula. Welcome aboard. Nice to hear from Ponca City. It is apparent Mr Wentz was ( think was. as you used past tense) typical of the generous people of Oklahoma. He enabled us to spend many pleasant warm evenings in the pool.

Hope you keep reading, and if you want to use any of the posts in the future you have my permission. If you want to obtain a print out, just click on thread tools ,second orange line down for a printable version

I purchased a copy of your book, about two years ago. Very interesting, after reading I gave it to my grandson, to add to his collection of my memorabilia . I would recommend any one to click on Paula K. Denson | Ponca Prairie Press. and then on home , the book cover will then appear , click on book cover. More details will then appear and prove that all the foregoing is not a figment of my imagination.


Many thanks to you and all the Poncans.
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Old 25th Aug 2008, 15:29
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The Secret Of Eternal Life.

Perfectly simple dear Chugalug 2. Just choose the right parents. Will answer your questions when I have recovered.

Cliff.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 10:16
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News Paper Cutting

Just something for you to read, while I cobble up a reply to Far Eastern Driver, Warmastoast, Brian Abraham. et al.

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Old 26th Aug 2008, 22:33
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An R.A.F. Pilots brevet in WW11

Do you remember at Moncton we were told not to discuss the "color" situation in the Deep South? Only if we were "got at" over India. What was wrong with India we wondered...? The American Aviation Cadets on our course even began to use Christian names. We took the mickey over their netball and rounders, but we all got on remarkably well. I cannot remember any bad behaviour in Terrell or Dallas. If you were eliminated in the morning it was back to Moncton on the afternoon train. Wings parade brought "our" families to the airfield and I was in touch with "my" family until deaths in the fifties. It was a great experience. At Kissimmee last March I had a trip, hands on, in a Harvard. I was asked to bring my log book when I booked and they were fascinated to read about the B.F.T.S. Training.in the States. I hope this helps
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Old 27th Aug 2008, 19:37
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month course to gain wings in 1938.

Hi Cliff, keep up the postings.

I was just back in the UK and caught up with my grandpa (age 88+). He gave me his RAF logbooks for safe keeping.

It is interesting to see how swift he got his wings compared to you!

First flight Mar 7th 1938 in B2 G-ACEM w/ Flt/Lt Powell at Brough (4 FTS).

First solo Mar 18th after 8 hours 55 minutes.

RAF Depot Uxbridge 7-22nd May 1938 after a total of approx 82 hours.

From May22nd at 6 FTS Netheravon, Wilts, training continued on Hart and Audax aircraft. CFI test on 4th august in Hart K5024 with W/Cdr Toogood, with logbook certified as "Qualified for award of flying badge on 20th august".

Therefore 5 and a half months to get his wings in 1938 with a total of 99 hours 50 minutes flying experience (97.15 day/1.35 night) at the age of 18 years 10 months.

His training continued at 6 FTS until 17th December 1938 in the Hart and Audax with a total of 153 hours 10 minutes. Remarks for sorties in this phase of training include formation, quarter attacks, astern attacks, war load climb to 15 000' etc.

I don't intend to bore too much with details. As an airline pilot I found the total hours/experience vs age aspect of his logbooks quite interesting.

In 1939 he was target towing in a Seal at 2 AOS and 10 AOS/BGS, before going to CFS in Jan 1940 with a total of 436 hours as a Plt/Ofc, age 20.

Lot's of instructing followed at 8 FTS (Montrose) on the Magister Mar 1940 to Feb 41, and then 54 OTU Church Fenton (mainly Blenheim) until Nov 41 as a Flt/Lt with a total of 1404 hours, age 22 years 1 month.

First tour 219 squadron (Beaufighter NF) Nov 1941-Sept 1942 with first kill, a Ju88 in aug 42. Total hours 1715.

Second tour initially 255, then 600 squadron in north africa from Feb 43 until Feb 44. Sqd/Ldr DFC with total 2190 hours, total 7 kills, all at night.

54 OTU Beaufighter/Mosquito May 44 till Mar 45. With 2260 hours total experience, he became O/C 605 Squadron apr-aug1945 as a W/Cdr age 25 years 10 months.

My grandfather remained in the RAF until 1969, retiring still as a W/Cdr. Having joined the RAF on a 4 year short service commission (1938-1942) he was transferred to the reserve/ retained on the active list on the same date in 1942. In sept 1945 he went from a "war substantative W/Cdr" to a permanent commission Flt/Lt with a seniority date of 1 Dec 1942. (airline pilots will go "ouch" in sympathy).

His last flight was Jan 16th 1960 in a Chipmunk at Cranwell. Total hours 3360.

Total career 3360 hours/31 years = 108 hours per year!

It is nice to see such details in books/ and from logbooks etc, but the real stories are what make people understand what it was really like. It is not easy to get such details from my grandfather, so it is imperative that we get as much real history as possible in print or on the net.
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 14:02
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Jonathon68

Please check your PM's
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 15:48
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Hope you don't mind me barging in with some "my Dad's better than your Dad" stuff but, for comparison, my father (180272, Cpl Derek George Threeputt) went solo on Sept 4th 1943, after 8 hrs and 50 mins, in a DH 82 (R 4899), whilst at 4 EFTS at Brough. His QFI was a Fg Off Copeland and his pre-solo was done by Fg Off Patterson.

He went on, eventually, to advanced flying training in Canada and the USA at USNAS's Grosse Isle and Lambert Field, USNATC Pensacola and USNAS's Saufley Field and Whiting Field.

As he was destined for PBY 2/5 Catalinas he had to complete the Air Navigators certificate (second class) in Canada at No1 R&N, S Summerside Prince Edward Island.

3P
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 16:24
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Pro Bonu Publico

Threeput please barge in again. Your father after graduating at Pensacola, was one of the few R.A.F bods who were awarded both R.A.F and American wings, and entitled to wear the American wings on his right chest.

It seems as if Warmtoast has the correct solution to the Q.G. H question, we were all right. He was using Q.G.H (controlled descent through cloud) in the fifties. Sometime after this, it must have been deleted from the Q code so it no longer exists. An electronic glide path ?


To answer Chugalug, Darr School was the name of the airfield, but in effect it was a R.A.F station under lease-lend, with a C.O , adjutant , and maybe one or two other officers . Can’t remember. These officers were in charge, and we were still subject to K.Rs, (Kings) S.R.Os etc. All other staff were civilians, but it was best to obey the flying instructors, We did have a “very short leash” but nevertheless I cannot remember any one being put on a fizzer. Too much was at stake we were there to learn , and return to the U.K. to get in our spitfires, and destroy M.E 109s . (some chance). We did have a half hearted enquiry after an A.T 6, one night with landing lamps on, flew down the local railway line , towards a train. The train driver did an emergency stop, and reported it to the police. Surprisingly no one would own up to it, and as other aircraft were in the air at the time the matter was dropped. We were informed the American cadets were put on our course, so that the army air corps could compare training methods and results.

To bravo lima In “Thlandidno“, Can’t remember discussing the “color “ prob discussions at Moncton, but can remember that horrible film in the camp cinema showing the effect of certain diseases. Memories of Astra cinemas , and that oft repeated film, Robert Donat in The thirty nine steps. By the time the war ended we could have acted any part of it,

Johnathon68 your contribution was far from boring. In fact very interesting. I suspect there are one or two old codgers on here ,like me, who’s minds wander off to times gone by when people like you mention Brough, East Riding (Blackburn Aircraft Ltd, Beverley, Bucaneer, Skua), Uxbridge, target towing ( brings back memories of towing a drogue behind a Lanc on a long rope so that “tail end Charlie” could practice firing) , the remaining bits of rope came in useful . We used the remaining bits to tow the crew back from the local pub, in Gainsboro. Well six crew at least. Three on the motorbike and three on the towed push bike, providing it had a backstep.
Was your father from the Republic of the East Riding.? May tell the tale of another Sqdn Ldr ex Brough about the same time as your grandfather, whose famous mess trick was to stand on his head, swallow a raw egg, and then drink a pint of beer.

Better get back on thread, where we should be changing back from American K.Ds to R.A.F uniforms,Irvine jackets and trousers, due to the weather becoming colder.
P.S my spell checker doesn't like the word backstep. Two long tubes , screwed on to the back spindle of a bike, rear gunners for the use of.
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 19:42
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How about explaining " violet picture homing" to some of us impecunious oldies
The VP homing is based on an indicator which shows a deflection either left or right, you ask ATC to transmit for a '5 second homing' and turn to get the needle in the centre of the display, repeating as required.

Once in the overhead the needle goes off the scale.

You then fly an outbound QDM following the same procedure, descending as required 'for a specified time' then carry out a 'procedural turn' to achieve an inbound QDM, again on ATC broadcasts, still descending to Minimum Approach Altitude/Height, until the overhead is reached or visual for an approach and landing.

Cliff, having reviewed the above, it looks as if I was still doing your type of instrument approach in the 70s!!
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 12:12
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Cliffnemo.

I have finally tracked down a beam approach procedure in writing. It’s for a Halifax but I am sure that a Lancaster would have been the same.


Looking at that the modern equivalent of decision height would have been 100 ft.

My father once explained to me the ‘Timed Circuit’. This was a procedure to get his Halifax on to the runway when there was a sheet of low stratus over the airfield, especially at St.Eval or Brawdy.

You would be homed on to the airfield using a manual homer so that you were approximately on the runway heading and when they heard you coming they would fire a ‘porker’, a parachute flare, vertically upwards from the tower. Seeing this above the cloud you would aim to just miss it and as you passed it you turned downwind on the runway reciprocal heading using about 30 degrees of bank. Rolling out you would fly for one minute dropping the Dunlops etc and at the end of that you would do a descending turn using 25 degrees of bank so as to keep the radius of turn the same. If everything worked out you would be pointing on the runway heading with the flare gasping its last in front of you. You then descended into the murk At about 2-300 feet you could pick out the wreckage from the people who had tried it before and then you followed that to the runway.
I tried it a few times in the early sixties, not for real, but it worked out every time.

My father’s biggest claim to fame was that he changed the date of D Day. He was on 517 (Met) Sqn. On June 1/2 1944 he did a special weather reconnaissance flight off Western Europe and as a result of this the decision was made to postpone the Normandy Invasion by 24 hours.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 29th Aug 2008 at 23:48.
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 19:21
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The naming of parts (bicycles, air crew for the use of)

If the rear AG used the backstep, did the WAAF get a croggy?
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 20:13
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Cliff, thanks for the explanation of the RAF presence at Darr School. One is never alone with KRs (or QRs) is one? I hope that I didn't imply that you and your fellow trainees were anything other than paragons of virtue, well the cutting that you posted testifies to that.
Regarding Violet Picture, its use as an Approach or En-Route aid as described by others wasn't used per se by myself while on Hastings. However it was tied into the UHF T/R, by selecting ADF. If the recvr was tuned to Guard (243) then it became a means to home in on a Sarbe emergency beacon, and it was SOP to have this combination selected especially for Sea Transit. The result when flying from Changi to Hong Kong was that the needle was hard over on the LH stop for the mid part of the leg. This was the 60's and the Vietnam War. If you monitored the "chatter" you had to feel for anyone who had banged out trying to make themselves heard above the din. Southbound of course the RH stop took the strain. Although mercifully I never witnessed a Sarbe Homing, I imagine in more tranquil airspace it would work well. What was less certain was the procedure without a serviceable ARI 18120, ie Violet Picture (OK I'm reading the notes). "The position or time of receiving the first signal and that of losing the signal should be noted. The aircraft should then return to the central position midway between these points and then turn 90 degrees. If the signal fades the beacon is then astern. Fly reciprocal track and the signal strength should increase. The O/H position should be indicated by a sudden decrease in signal strength. Reduction of aircraft height will narrow the cone of silence and the aircraft should then be well within visual range of other location aids" to which one might add "I'm sure it will give you years of satisfactory service, Sir" Did anyone do such a homing or hear of one that ended in success? I guess you'd just keep on trying to home until the fuel got far too low or the beacon tx stopped, and of course do the MAYDAY Relay bit to get ATC to relieve you with someone better equipped!
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Old 1st Sep 2008, 16:38
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Yes Fareast driver, your S,B.A is much the same as for a Lancaster. However it must be an early version as the airspeed is in M.P.H . all the Air speed indicators were changed to register knots. This made it easier for the navigator, as you will know, who stepped off nautical miles using the vertical scale on the side of his Mercator charts . The flight engineer called out those speeds when on the final approach. On over shoot it would be full power, wheels up. Flap in by five. My oppo, of Halifax Elvington fame will be very interested to receive a copy of this.

Exscibbler - I am claiming the fifth amendment when it comes to W.A.A.Fs. Not going to tell the one about the W.A.A.F who got a crossbar lift on a bike , and then found out it was a ladies bike.

Chugalug. Yes paragons of virtue. Until V.J day, when things changed somewhat. First I would like to point out that at any time, personal possessions , money. kit ,could be left lying about and would still be there on return. However after V.J day particularly in Germany , the black market ruled. If this blog goes on long enough, I may tell how a certain W/O (no names no pack drill) ,took, once a week, 20 rolls of blankets to the laundry in Belsen concentration camp ..but only returned with 19. Also how a roll of blankets was worth a barrel of full strength lager at the brewery in Schleswig Holstein. That Bedford troop carrier, borrowed from the M.T section, fuelled by the equipment section, proved to be very useful.

Sorry , folks, I got carried away. Back to flying.

In November , we changed from Ameican K.Ds into our R.A.F blue uniform as the weather was becoming colder especially at night. Lessons in the air and in the classrooms carried on as before. In the air we were being instructed in aerobatics. On my first lesson Mr C only demonstrated the various manoeuvres, and did not allow me to practice. So the next time I flew solo, I thought I would try a loop. I put the aircraft into a steep dive, then pulled the stick back. The first effect was that I lost my vision, and could only see a black mist, after which, I passed out. I must have released the stick, when I regained consciousness , and found myself in a stall. I recovered from the stall, and decided it would be advisable to wait for further instruction. We flew on one or two navigation exercises , plotting our courses ,and using topographical maps. Practiced overshoot procedures, and practiced and practiced the previous exercises. I flew fifteen hours dual, and sixteen hours solo that month, but for some forgotten reason no night flying.

In the classroom we learned such things as,the mean sea level standard barometric pressure was 1013 millibars , and this fell 3mb per 1000 ft. We studied astro navigation, and the use of the mark 1X A bubble sextant. I attach a picture of a page in my exercise book to show , despite the antiquated methods we had available ,how much we had to learn. In the official Pilots notes of that time it stated that pilots should be capable of navigating in the event of the nav being injured. It didn’t say who flew the aircraft , George ? (The Honeywell auto pilot) when he was in the nav’s position .
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Old 1st Sep 2008, 16:47
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Cliff (if I may)

What wonderful recall you have with your marvellous memories, not to mention what must be the understatement of the week:

"I must have released the stick, when I regained consciousness, and found myself in a stall. I recovered from the stall, and decided it would be advisable to wait for further instruction"!

Jack
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Old 2nd Sep 2008, 16:34
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I have just found a poem amongst my notes,

I apologise for posting this now , and will return to training in December next.
Although this will be seen as sloppy by some, it does prove our relationship with the locals was rather unique.
This was written by an American near another B.F.T.S..

He stood there talking to us
As he waited for the train;
He was leaving us forever
And would never come again.
He was going home to England
To protect his native land;
He was leaving friends behind him
Who had offered him a hand.
But he knew our hearts went with him
And his youthful eyes were wet,
And we never shall forget him,
Out little RAF cadet


Pic of our course leaving Darr school. Note enamel one pint standard issue mug. The smoker is me.


Poncans saying goodbye, at Ponca "railroad" station
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Old 3rd Sep 2008, 11:07
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TYPO

Sorry folks. I missed a comma out on post above.
Should read "Will return to, training in December ,,,,,,,,,,next.
Cliff
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