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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 7th Mar 2012, 19:46
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Fred (Birthday Boy)

Fred

Thank you so much for that insight .... trying to document the service life of someone that was KIA is difficult as you can't get a sense of the sights, sounds, smells and emotions ... that is why this thread is priceless ....

Once you were airborne .............. hope you get the hint.
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Old 7th Mar 2012, 23:04
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Blackouts and the Empire Flying Training Scheme.

Kookabat,

Thank you for your #2304. Yes, the blackout was all too real in wartime Britain. The Air-raid Warden's cry of "Put that light out!" rang round in every town and village in the land.

I cannot think that it ever came to be a fact in the Dominions, but I can quite see that it made sense to practice it. I would think that Sydney was a long way for the Japanese to attack by air - places like Darwin would be more likely.

There is a possibility. In the eastern coastal cities of the US, they had to institute a blackout because it was found that the U-boats were having a field day with coastal shipping, which was clearly silhouetted against the shore lights. Could a similar thing be a problem at Sydney? It's a long way for a U-boat, but I suppose they could lay on a refueller way out in the Southern Ocean.

All the best, Adam,

Danny.


*****************


Millercourt, Greetings!,

Following my Post #2383, and seeing that nobody else is leaping into the ring to defend the US/Canada trainees, I should like to expand on my remark about "more and better particulars".

The two authors say "In the autumn of 1941". These two gentlemen will have kept their logbooks, so exact dates, please, and the number(s) of the Unit(s) involved in this "re-train" exercise. Perhaps you could contact them through their Publishers and try to get this information for us?

These units will all have had to keep up their Operational Record Book (F540) and then render the pages monthly to Flying Training Command. Now these will be stashed away somewhere in the Air Historical Records Branch. Although I don't have the computer skills to dig about at that rarified level, I know from reading past Posts, that many of our PPRuNers have; it should not be hard to get at the "nitty-gritty" in them about this business. Then we can all read the whole sad story (which I cannot find in Google or Wikipedia - can anyone else?)

From the authors' remarks, there seems to be some misapprehension:

First: "The SFTS's had been shipped out to Canada and the US for their flying training". I don't quite understand. Do they mean that trainees did their EFTS in the UK, and then went over for their SFTS? As far as I know, all the people who went overseas for training went straight from ITW, did their EFTS and SFTS out there, and returned to the UK for AFU and OTU. In the Arnold Scheme, we did our whole training in the States, then came back at the same point.

AFU - "ay, there's the rub!" (what did "AFU" stand for?) Even at the time, nobody seemed to know - a stamp in my logbook reads: " No.9 Flying Training School, RAF Hullavington". Someone had crossed out "Flying Training School", and written "(P) AFU". Nowhere was it written out in full.

However, our authors seem to know: "It was arranged that we should become (Pilot) Advanced Flying Units with the object of just brushing up these pilots' flying before shipping them off to their operational units". (They went to OTUs in fact, but let that pass).

I spent 25 days at No.9 AFU, 20 hours on the Master by day and night, two and a half on the Hurricane by day. Hardly SFTS! It was explained to us that the purpose of the Course was to familiarise us with the different British weather, the blackout (yes), the more congested British countryside (yes), Instrument panel layout and wheel braking systems - all eminently reasonable. Nowhere was "brushing up our flying" mentioned - and nobody tried! (on my departure, the CI certified that I was an "average" pilot and a competent pilot/navigator).

"..........fully trained pilots. This was the case with those trained in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa" - (S.Rhodesia?) - "but these were few in numbers". So what was it that they had been doing which differed from the practice at the US/Canadian Schools? Did nobody ask, so that the problem could be sorted out - the War has still four years to run? I was told that the UK EFTS-SFTS curriculum was followed unchanged at all Empire Flying Training Schools, wherever they were - and it would have been stupid if it had not been so.

I've asked more than enough questions. Let's wait for some answers to turn up.

Danny42C

I'm getting a bit worried about Cliff. Does anybody know?

Last edited by Danny42C; 8th Mar 2012 at 00:52.
 
Old 8th Mar 2012, 08:07
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Danny42C

Those quotes were from John Newton Chance's book Yellow Belly but i remember Denis Peto Shepherd saying the same thing. I will look through his book and once I find what he said will copy the relevant bits.

Newton Chance was an Instructor until about 1944 when he was declared unfit medically and discharged. He died some years ago as did Denis Peto-Shepherd who around 1944 went onto bombers the Lancaster via Wellingtons and Stirlings and after the war was given a permanent commission reaching Wing Commander.

If you google his name you will see his logbooks and other stuff have been donated to some place.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 09:30
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Hmm, as Danny was around at the time and was unaware of any of the sentiments expressed as told by Millerscourt, despite being one of the alleged "rotten fruits", I would suspect that this was more a case of an attitude towards America by Messrs J Newton Chance and D Peto-Shepherd. If it were otherwise then surely Danny and others would have been the first to know and in no uncertain terms?
There was then I suspect at the very least an irritation that the USA was once again to be a late comer to the party, that the British Commonwealth, and in particular the United Kingdom, had to carry on alone confronting Naziism, until Barbarossa and Pearl Harbour made allies for us of Russia and the USA. Could that be the explanation? These trainees had to be "harmonised" to European conditions at the AFU's anyway, so where better to hang one's prejudices than on them, depending whether they were Commonwealth or US products? I take the point that the Canadians were lumped in with the States as providers of overripe fruit, but perhaps it was their bad luck to be subject to "Location, location, location".

Fredjjh, a belated Happy Birthday to you. I see that Cliff beat us all to it. There has been some concern that we have not heard from him in a while. You obviously have. Good News!
Thanks for the minutiae of the pre-departure sequence. Perhaps the tradition included thereof, re the Port Main Wheel, might account for the much later failure of the Starboard one on my Hastings. It might have been once thus fitted to the Port Undercarriage of a Halifax!

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Old 8th Mar 2012, 11:28
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Good Morning Danny,
Your wish is my command
Originally Posted by Danny42C
No cabin for me this time, just a hammock on a mess deck. They're quite comfortable once you've worked out how to get into them. You must have a "spacer" - a strip of wood about 15 inches long to hold the top ropes apart where your pillow is going to go. As to getting in, my memory is that there was some form of handhold on the deckhead between the hammock hooks. You grabbed hold of this and hoisted yourself up into the fold of the hammock. An RN rating could give you a better description, but all I can say is that I did not fall out and slept like a log. The hammocks had to be taken down each morning ("lash up and stow"), and stowed against the ship's side, out of the way of the mess deck tables where you ate and spent most of your day. They'd also absorb the steel splinters which would be flying about if the ship were hit by gunfire.


Hopefully the red arrows mark out the spacer (stretcher) that you are describing which also does exactly what you are talking about.

The very tired looking sailors in this picture have fitted them in a different way to how we were taught, the strings (nettles) should go over the spacer (stretcher) this then helped keep the hammock from smothering you but looking at that picture the stretchers may have deliberately been fitted like they are to keep the occupants warm!!

They say a picture paints a thousand words and looking at that image I would guess this is a Second World War destroyer on active service during the war, probably deployed in either the North Atlantic or Artic convoy duties. The ship has just stood down from action stations and those off watch are attempting to grab a few minutes precious sleep. Wearing a cap on a messdeck is a very BIG no, no and I am guessing the guilty parties are far too exhausted to know what they are doing.

When the hammocks are stowed the messdeck looks similar to this...EXACT same class of ship but in peacetime and on Christmas Day, note the hammocks in their stowage area at the top right of the picture.



Danny, I trust you put in seven turns on your hammock when you stowed it and yes this is where the saying 'Lash up and stow' comes from.

The hammock would be used to 'bung up' any holes from incoming shells, shrapnel etc. plus if they are secured tight enough, it was alleged that they would float and could be used as a buoyancy aid but how they would escape from a sinking ship is beyond my imagination

I hope this picture has bought back some happy memories and I do have a copy without the red arrows

Incidentally, approximately TWENTY sailors would live in that messdeck, they lived, eat, slept and played in that confined area for weeks on end, sometimes not ever seeing the light of day until the ship arrived in harbour!

Back to your engrossing tales of yesteryear and I concur with the sentiments expressed by Chugalug.. The author of that book might well have a grudge or any of a dozen reasons for making such a silly and unsubstantiated claim. It would only need an instructor to have a pupil that might not reach the standards required and all of a sudden EVERY pilot trained at the same location as that poor student might get branded as being of the same poor standard?? YOU KNOW DIFFERENT and more to ,the point the free citizens of Great Britain know different. We ALL owe your generation so much and I guess I get tetchy at those who dare to criticise those that were prepared to pay that ultimate price in defending our freedom.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 11:35
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Could a similar thing be a problem at Sydney?
Indeed Danny, in May 1942 exactly that happened - see Australia Attacked - Sydney Harbour for a very quick overview.
Darwin was attacked by air a number of times - it was recently the 70th anniversary of the first raid (19th Feb 1942). I believe they were attacked something like 64 times all the way through to November 1943.

We're still no closer to having official confirmation that there was indeed a permanent blackout in Australia, but the evidence for that having happened is certainly stacking up! I'll ask a few people and report back.

And Fred - Happy Birthday, and all that - and thanks very much for that description of preparations for a raid. There are a few little gems in that - I particularly liked hearing about the Elvington engineer giving you a test!

Adam
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 12:05
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Danny42C

I have now skimmed through Denis Peto-Shepherd'd book and his career was as follows

Nov 1940 No7 ITW Newquay

Feb 1941 No 9 EFTS No 33 course RAF Ansty Leics 56 hrs in 53 days

May 1942 No 6 SFTS Little Rissington 85 hrs and wings with total of 141 hrs

After 4 days leave though expecting to go to an OTU was instead posted to No 15A Flying Instructor's course at No 2 CFS RAF Cranwell

Oct 1941 one yaer after joining RAF posted to No 3 SFTS South Cerney as Flying Instructor Cat C ( probationery). Coinincidentally that is where J Newton Chance spent the whole of his FI career until 1944 when dischaged in rank of Flt Lt

Mid 1942 he was posted to No 2 CFS Montrose the same school he had trained at Cranwell as a FI which had been moved to Montrose and just after 8 months as a FI he was teaching pilots to be Flying Instructors.

In 1944 he went on to Lancasters after training on Wellington and Stirlings

Whilst at RAF South Cerney in No 3 SFTS he says in Feb 1942 and I quote as follows Page 183 of his book

Jan 1942 gave way to Feb and some of the first courses to arrive back from the US and Canada and were sent to an SFTS for refresher training. It was a shock to the staff and no doubt to the authorities to find that in the main the ability of these were so low that they would never have qualified in this country etc etcIt was quickly realised that the requirements were not a brief refresher course but a complete retraining in the entire SFTS course from start to finish. With the passing out of the Mid Feb 1942 course of the SFTS partially no doubt to mask the predicament that had arisen No 3 SFTS was renamed No 3 (P) A.F.U and we continued with the same syllabus as before.

In terms of wasted effort this was apallling but not our concern but must have been a painful delicate predicament for the authorities.

I find it hard to believe as Chugalug says it was a case of sour grapes but who knows. I am just stating what two FI said and why was the SFTS changed to a (P) AFU if that was not the case??


Clearly this low abilty did not apply to all and certainly not the late Regle or Danny or Cliff plus many others no doubt


PS Danny In answer to one of your questions Peto Shepherd says those who returned from the US and Canada were all shipped off overseaes after the ITW and did both EFTS and SFTS overseas and according to Newton Chance and Peto Shepherd they on arriving at SFTS Soutrh Cerney did in effect three courses. Perhaps Danny they weeded out the lower ability types and sent them to places like S Cerney and others like you who were rated better to a different place even though it was a (P) A F U as at South Cerney but with less hours required to reach the required standard??

Last edited by millerscourt; 8th Mar 2012 at 12:21.
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Old 9th Mar 2012, 01:40
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I have so many people to thank that I'll have to lump you all together in one Post - so thanks, chaps!

Millercourt,

I must first thank you for providing the answer to a question which was bothering us a few Posts back: what is a ballpark figure for the total training hours up to Wings in the UK in the early part of the War? Now we've got it - 141.

As for the main business, it is probably going to be hard and non-productive to get to the bottom of it. The two sources are no longer with us, and de mortuis non nisi bonum applies. It is pointless to speculate over possible motives. I would think that this might be a case of arguing from the very particular to the general, and that the numbers involved were very small in relation to the totals returning. Indeed, if it were not so, the story would have been all round the Air force in no time, and I certainly never heard a whisper of it.

The institution of the (P) AFUs was a perfectly sensible step; all the newly trained pilots from the Empire Training Scheme were coming back to a world utterly unlike that in which they had been trained. It was clear that they would have to be "acclimatised" to wartime UK conditions. It is true that 9(P) AFU took over this task from the former SFTS at Hullavington (as the stamp in my logbook attests), but I would hazard a guess that the requirement for flying training had greatly lessened now that the Empire, BFTS and Arnold schemes had shouldered the load.

It is obvious that the former, now redundant SFTS instructors and aircraft would be ideal to take over this new task, and possible that they did not appreciate the precise nature of their changed roles. To quote: "....to mask the predicament which had arisen No.3 FTS was renamed No.3 (P) AFU and we continued with the same syllabus as before". The same syllabus ? 85 hours and about three months, while all our Course (at No.9 (P) AFU) were doing 30 hours in 25 days ? Or was it just possible that this one AFU was chosen for the putative dullards? Assuming that this was the case, it went on without anyone else knowing about it ?

Anyway, we've got a handle on the thing now. We know Jan-Feb 1942, and No. 3 SFTS becoming No.3 (P) AFU. That's plenty. Bring on our computer wizards - who can be the first to get the true story out of the Historical Branch?

As to the minor point about when the trainees went out - we're in agreement now - straight from ITW.

Cheers, Danny.


Chugalug,

As ever, a thoughtful analysis of this rather strange story. I do not think that there was very much resentment of the johnnies-come-lately in the early days, although later the well known gibe: "Overfed, overpaid, oversexed and over here" was, I regret to say, bandied about.

I think it might have been more a case of "making a mountain out of a molehill", or, as I have suggested to Millercourt, an imperfect understanding of the purpose of (P) AFUs. Anyway, we'll find out soon, I hope.

Danny.


glojo,

Marvellous pics, that's just how we were, living cheek-by-jowl! Thanks for the kind offer, but I'm just as happy with this one in my laptop.

Without detracting in the slightest from the incredible courage and endurance of Bomber Command, let's all spare a thought for the men of the Navy and Merchant Marine, who lived for weeks in miserable conditions with a constant "sword of Damocles", of a torpedo and sudden death, hanging over them.

Thanks, John,

Danny.


Kookabat,

I think we've got as near as we can to the Australian blackout story. As Darwin was being bombed, they'd almost certainly have had a full blackout. In the South, it would just be a few-mile wide coastal strip that would have to be blacked-out. Get hold of an old-timer, buy him a tinnie and ask!

Goodnight, Adam and all,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 9th Mar 2012 at 03:19.
 
Old 9th Mar 2012, 20:06
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Danny42C 2396

One item of training in the UK which has not been mentioned is The Grading School. I first met some one who was at a grading school in late 1941, I think it was at Cliffe Pypard, and he explained to me that his course from ITW had been posted there to fly 12 hours in Tiger Moths. They were not expected to fly solo but their assessment determined if they would continue pilot training.
It was explained to them that it would save the expense of shipping them abroad, then finding they had no aptitude for flying.
My bomb aimer on a second crew at OTU had done 12 hours in Tiger Moths then told he would never become a pilot. He was offered the new post of Air Bomber and a commission if he accepted. In 1943 I met several B/As who had been "scrubbed" from Grading Schools. I don't know how long this continued but many Grading Schools later became AFUs. In addition to AFU(P) there AFU (N) for navigators. I never heard how Bomb Aimers were trained. The very first lot, former Wireless Operators, were trained by Pilots and Navigators at OTUs.
Fredjhh,
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Old 9th Mar 2012, 22:17
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Fred,

Thanks for the Post. Yes, I had known about Grading Schools, but they must have come in after I went over to the States, so they didn't concern me. I am interested in what you tell me about their becoming (P) AFUs later, though - I thought that these had all been "remustered" from former SFTS, as mine (No. 9) had been.

As to bomb aimers, I believe it was the practice early on for the "Observer" (later Navigator) to find his way to the target. Having got there, he would be out of a job until they set off back. What better way to employ him than to stuff him down the nose with a bombsight? I'm not sure, but I think that that excellent war film "Target for Tonight" (the one in which S/Ldr Pickard and Wellington "F" for Freddie appeared) showed this taking place.

I find it hard to believe that rejects from these Grading Schools had to be "bribed", with offers of a Commission, to become Bomb Aimers. In the Air force I was in, you did what you were told and went where they sent you.
And I've often wondered what the Bomb Aimer did en route to and fro the target (I know they "doubled" as Gunners, but I should think that on a bombing run was when you needed all your gunners with eyes peeled!)

All the best, Fred - you probably are our Oldest Inhabitant and fully entitled to the best seat by the fire. I am as enthralled as any "sprog" by your highly detailed accounts, for my flying was a far simpler affair altogether.

Danny
 
Old 9th Mar 2012, 23:20
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Danny42c 2398

You are right. Most AFUs were based on SFTS schools.
I don't think the early bomb-aimers were "bribed" with commissions, - the Bomb Aimer I mentioned was 33, wealthy, and had spent two years as an A/c2 Balloon Operator. His Balloon Site was quite close to a pub, so he spent more nights sleeping in the pub, and dining there, than under canvas. I don't know how he managed to get on a Pilot's course.
The Wireless/Operators ordered to re-muster to Bomb Aimer were all Sergeants.
Until the beginning of 1942 the Whitley and the Wellington had two pilots, a navigator, two wireless operators and a rear gunner.
(A second pilot could get in ten trips before promotion to Captain. Later you were lucky to get one trip.)
One W/Op manned the front turret, the second pilot acted as the bomb aimer and spent the rest of the time attempting to map read, - looking for the coast, rivers and lakes.
In March 1943 Bomber Command decided they could no longer lose two pilots from one plane, so the second pilot was taken off the crew list, and navigators dropped the bombs until the new B/As came into being.
The Bomb Aimer sat next to the pilot on take-off and landing, then went forward for his map reading duties. When Gee and other devices were introduced, the B/A was give a seat alongside the navigator and helped with these gadgets, so he could be quite busy. The Front gun (Vickers G.O.) in the Halifax was rarely used. Fredjhh
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 00:42
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Two months of luxurious idleness (well, not quite!)

At Bournemouth, our little bunch of some thirty new NCO pilots had (in the nature of things) to be placed under the command of someone whom authority could hold to account for our misdeeds. The choice had fallen on a brand new Air Gunner Pilot Officer - of all things! We wouldn't have minded if he'd been a tour-ex NCO from bombers - we'd treat such a man with the utmost respect due to him. But this chap was just a "sprog" like ourselves. Everyone knew that you only needed a month's Course to qualify as a gunner, whereas we'd all had a year's hard graft in pilot training. It was a delicate situation, but this chap realised just how incongruous his position was, and treated us with "kid gloves". We rubbed along well enough.

At this point, I should explain that everyone in the training system would spend some time (often quite a lot of it) in Transit Camps, as the sequence of Schools had gaps between stages. All Transit camps are basically the same, nothing much happens apart from meals and the occasional inspection or roll-call, while you wait for your posting to arrive. In fact, it must be much like being a POW, except that you can escape! In the spring of 42, Bournemouth wasn't a bad place to kick your heels in, for a month. Then, for some unaccountable reason, they shipped us all up to Harrogate. Here we were billeted in the "Majestic" (is there anyone who didn't spend time there?) This was much less majestic than the name implies, after years of being knocked-about by generations of trainee aircrew. We did another month's "stir" there.

At last the RAF took notice of us. Our next move was to Hullavington (Wiltshire), a Flying School, to accustom us to map-reading in England, where the countryside was vastly different from the wide open spaces of the New World. Also new to us would be British weather, the Blackout, and RAF cockpits and wheel brake systems. Hullavington was an RAF "Expansion Station", built in the late thirties when the RAF was "expanded" to meet the threat of oncoming war. It was the last time the RAF ever had any money to spend on permanent buildings (as this only happens when the public and the politicians get really scared). These "Expansion Stations" are with us yet; the architect seems to have sketched only one set of designs for the individual components of a Station, then slightly adapted them and moved them around to suit each particular site (and the Treasury saved money).

The result (quite helpful) was that you could walk round any new Station and confidently say: That's the Armoury, that's the M.T. Section, that's the NAAFI, that's the Sergeant's Mess, that's the Stores, that's Station HQ,
and every time you'd be right - even though they'd all moved about from the layout on your old Station.

They had another enormous advantage - they were centrally heated! And they had proper paths and roads round them! They even had garages! Nobody who has not struggled with those dreadful little square coke stoves we had in our rooms in the Mess huts, can imagine how we seethed to see our transatlantic cousins ensconced in luxury, while our Squadrons were banished to the forests of Nissen huts in forlorn fields, ankle deep in mud.

But at Hullavington we were billeted in the peacetime airmen's Married Quarters. It must have been a brutal upheaval for the families living there at the outbreak of war, for they'd been turned out without ceremony, and left to fend for themselves to find somewhere else to live, so that the accommodation could be used for the wartime influx of single airmen. These stripped-out quarters were sad little places, and I imagine very cold in winter, but we were in early summer, and in any case all we did was to sleep in the places and sweep them out.

We flew from Castle Combe, a few miles away, and next time I'll tell you all about it.

Danny42C



It's being so cheerful 'as keeps us going.

Last edited by Danny42C; 10th Mar 2012 at 01:20.
 
Old 10th Mar 2012, 09:21
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In respect of the Bomb Aimer discussion I have a copy of the log book of a chap whose qualification reads Air Observer Armament. He qualified in June 1941 after dropping just 48 practice bombs and firing a few rounds. The navigation side of his training took a little longer but when he graduated he had a total of 165 hours before he joined his first (Whitley) squadron. Only 20 of these hours were at night ! He goes on ops as a Navigator until he becomes the CO of a squadron when he operates as an Air Bomber until the end of the European War.
I am sure there were others like him who could alternate between the roles as required.
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 11:55
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Danny42C 2400

Danny.
All Transit camps are basically the same, nothing much happens apart from meals and the occasional inspection or roll-call, while you wait for your posting to arrive. In fact, it must be much like being a POW, except that you can escape!
Tut! Tut!

POW Camps were not at all as you see them on TV, or a Harrogate Hotel!
I was stripped of my civilian suit (I had been on the run for some weeks) and given a Polish Cavalry Jacket and Breeches. The Jacket would not button across my chest, so I secured it with a piece of string. The breeches would not pull over my calves, so the German Sergeant cut them off to wear as shorts. A pair of ancient German army boots and a French army blanket, dated 1917, and almost transparent, was all I had until we were liberated in 1945. And the German winters went down to Minus 22 in unheated barrack rooms, with no glass in the windows. I never caught a cold!
Fredjhh.
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 18:52
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Fred #2402

Mea maxima culpa, Fred! I shouldn't have been facetious about a subject which was not at all funny - even though the wartime "Majestic" was no "Savoy", I can assure you!

I should think you couldn't catch a cold where you were - conditions must have killed off all the virus!

But, after the taster he's just given us, there must be a new Thread waiting to appear - let's call it "Fred in der Kafig" or something like that. For there has to be a book in Fred's experiences (my apologies if there's one already). Better still, will kind Mr Moderator let it in here, where it'll feel at home?

What do you say, chaps?

Danny.
 
Old 10th Mar 2012, 19:32
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The prettiest village in England.

That's what was said about the village of Castle Combe, and it may well have been true. Our interest was in the hilltop above, where a large field had been turned into a Relief Landing Ground for Hullavington, a few miles away.
(Today it serves as a motor racing circuit, but the runways there now had not been built in our time).

Here the Air force had planted the usual gaggle of Laing and Nissen huts, with a collection of Miles Master Mk Is and a few elderly Hurricanes, left over from the great days of 1940. The Master was a curious aircraft, the story I was told was this:

At the end of the biplane era, the RAF had in store large numbers of Rolls-Royce "Kestrel" engines, new and low-hours, taken from the scrapped Hawker biplanes used throughout the thirties. Miles was a small builder of wooden aircraft; they'd already sold a primary trainer, the "Magister" to the RAF, but I don't think it was much competition for the established De Havilland "Tiger Moth" (DH82). The Air Ministry then had the idea of building a wooden advanced trainer, to use up these "Kestrels". Miles got the contract.

With hindsight, we can see that they had simply re-invented the wheel. The definitive single-engined advanced trainer already existed: the North American AT-6A, which we know as the "Harvard". This was mass-produced in the States and Canada, and was available to us after "Lend-Lease" in 1941. Maybe the "Master" was ordered earlier, when we'd need scarce dollars for the Harvard, whereas Miles would be happy with sterling. And of course, we wouldn't have to buy any engines. Waste not, want not.

We didn't realise that the Harvard is one of those rare aircraft which simply couldn't be bettered for the work it had to do. The C47 "Dakota" was another, and in today's civil aviation I suppose the Boeing 737 fills the bill. In the end, almost all single-engine pilots trained in the Empire Air Training Scheme or in the USA flew the Harvard. The Australians converted some into single-seat fighters (the "Wirraway") in the desperate days after the fall of Singapore. They were a good deal better than nothing, and at least as good as the Brewster "Buffalo", which had been the main air support in Malaya.

Before leaving the story of the Master, there were two sequels. It's well said that the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. A decade later, the same mistake was made again. Again the RAF had a batch of good engines on the shelf (Merlins), and aircraft builders looking for contracts.

This resulted in not one advanced trainer, but two. Avro produced the "Athena", and Boulton Paul the "Balliol" to the same specification. They were as alike as two peas, and the ostensible reason for their introduction was the new policy of side-by-side seating for student and instructor. I could never see the point in that idea, but the Air force was decided on it, and it led to the "Provost" family of piston and jet trainers. (I suppose it could make it possible for the instructor to thump his student - or vice versa. Our instructors' only recourse was to slam the stick violently from side to side to deliver a painful blow inside our knees).

But surely we didn't need all that many new pilots in our scaled down post-war RAF? There would be plenty of demobilised wartime pilots about, still in their mid-twenties, and only too keen to get back into the "band of brothers" of happy memory.

The Athena and Balliol soon faded from the post-war scene. I did a refresher course on the Balliol in 1953, and remember a real "old gentleman's aircraft", comfortable, easy to fly and no more than a bigger and more powerful copy of the Master.

The second sequel? Post-war, Miles diversified into making the very first ball-point pen in 1945. A few got out to India via welfare sources. I forget its trade name. (EDIT: It was the Miles Martin Pen). I bought one, it cost two guineas (say 50 today). The business end was much the same as now, but the ink was contained in a long, fine, copper capillary tube, folded several times. This made the barrel rather fat. No matter, we were used to fat fountain pens and marvelled at this new invention.

Back at Castle Combe, bussed out from Hullavington on our first morning, we had a good look at the Master. First impressions were favourable. It stood four-square on a wide undercarriage. Narrow meant trouble. A wide "track"
makes an aircraft much easier to handle on the ground and lessens the chance of a "ground loop". This shaming faux-pas happens to a pilot when a "swing" develops, usually on a cross-wind landing or on take-off when power has been fed in too quickly before reaching "steerage way" (don't throw the horse into the collar before the cart's moving). If you don't catch a swing at once, it may go out of control and you describe a graceful pirouette (usually in sight of a mocking audience), Damage is rare - unless you hit something or are swinging fast enough to put a wingtip in. In those days it happened to nearly everyone at one time or another. Now nosewheel undercarriages are almost universal, and they can't ground-loop. For this reason, many of today's pilots are wary of flying an old "tail-dragger".

Climbing in, we were introduced to the standard British cockpit and panel layouts we were going to fly with from now on. The Master was dual, we had the instructor in the back. His forward visibility was poor, and the designers had (unusually) taken pity on him. The roof of his "glasshouse" hinged up to form an extended windscreen, and his seat rose so that he could see over the cockpit in front. There must have been some way to extend or raise his stick (and rudder pedals), otherwise he would have a better view of coming disaster, but no way of doing anything about it. My recollection is that instructors didn't use this facility much.

That's about your lot for tonight, Goodnight all !

Danny




Gentlemen, today is the tenth - again!

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Mar 2012 at 03:49.
 
Old 11th Mar 2012, 01:46
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Long shot

Must admit I've been off the forum for a long while - glad to see it has regained steam and going strong again. Have much reading to catch up.

Danny42C - its a long shot but do you remember an RAF pilot by the name of Arthur (Jack) Salvage - he trained in the Arnold scheme (Albany) right around the same time you did - unfortunately I don't have the exact dates?

Cheers
Rodger
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Old 11th Mar 2012, 03:33
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Danny42C
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rmventuri #2405

Rodger, thanks for the kind words!

Sorry, can't help, I'm afraid. I trained in Carlstrom (Florida) , Gunter and Craig (Alabama). Your chap (Albany) would be in Georgia (I think). It's possible we travelled out and back from the UK together, (with hundreds of others) but - so long ago, and so many names!

Cheers,

Danny
 
Old 11th Mar 2012, 18:37
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"... so long ago, and so many names!"
Thanks Danny - knew it was a long shot but you never know. Now I need to catch up on this great thread. Keep the stories coming!
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Old 11th Mar 2012, 19:30
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Hali Mk2 fins

Fredjhh,

I spoke to someone who is in contact with a handful of Hali Mk2 pilots (with the triangular fins). All the corkscrewing and other stress they put their aircraft through they never experienced the stall issue attributed to the fins. Suggesting it may not have been as big of a problem as originally thought and replacement with the square fins may have been an over reaction?? Did you ever experience any of the stability/stall issues attributed to the fins?

Cheers
Rodger
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