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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 10th Apr 2012, 15:43
  #2501 (permalink)  
 
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Cliff

RIP Cliff, it was a pleasure knowing you.
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Old 10th Apr 2012, 17:04
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It was Cliff who put me in touch with Paula Denson in Ponca City which resulted in me purchasing her book: 'The RAF in Oklahoma'. I will be eternally grateful to him for that - the book has 2 photo's of my late Father within.

RIP Cliff, it was a pleasure knowing you, if only for a short time.
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Old 11th Apr 2012, 22:04
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Cliff (RIP)

Bill,

Thank you for your wonderful Post about your Father's last flight - it was exactly what I would have expected of him, knowing he would "press on regardless" to the end. Cross-wind or no cross-wind, I bet they had to wrestle the yoke/stick away from him!

He it was who encouraged me to "come aboard" this thread only little more than two months ago, and did his best to guide me through some of the problems I had with my early Posts (that I was not an apt pupil was not his fault). I hope he may be having a good natter with Reg (and with many other old Squadron faces) now.

With deepest sympathy to you and to your family,

Sincerely,

Danny.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 22:09
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Second thoughts.

Now that the end of my training was in sight, and before I finish with Hawarden, I think it might be useful for me, and hopefully interesting to you, for me to look over the last fifteen months for some loose ends I've left, and for things left unsaid which perhaps ought to have ben said.

To begin wth, why did I volunteer for the RAF in the first place? Patriotism is almost a dirty word today, but that was at the heart of it. Of course we were thrilled to have the chance to learn to fly for free (what youngster, even today, wouldn't be?) But deep down we all knew that this was a job which had to be done, and we young men of our generation, who had the fitness and schooling to do it, must step forward, for there was no one else.

We only had to look around at the devastation of our towns and cities, and the massacre of men, women and children in the Blitz. It was our duty to stop this, and we would be less than men if we didn't do it.

Having said that, I must admit that for me (and, I rather suspect, for many others, another less creditable reason may have played some part. We can all laugh now at Corporal Jones ("they don't like it up 'em!") and at the bloodcurdling yells of bayonet practice on TV. But the real thing isn't funny at all.

Can you really envisage what it takes to thrust six inches of cold steel into another human being's guts, twist it so that it doesn't stick (doing still more damage), pull it out and then do it again and again (against all your civilised instincts?) I remember a terrible chapter in "All Quiet on the Western Front", where the German narrator, marooned between the lines in a shellhole with a French poilu, with whom he at first becomes friends, is forced by circumstances to disembowel his new "oppo". (Hitler banned the book in Germany as pacifist propaganda). As usual, Kipling has the words for it:

"I do not love my country's foes / Nor call 'em ''eroes - Still , / Where is the sense in 'ating those / 'Oom you are paid to kill?"

There was a way out: accept the risk of death for yourself, but volunteer for a technical arm like the Air Force or the Navy, where you will kill clinically, at a distance, where you won't see " the whites of his eyes". Was this a form of cowardice? Probably. All I know is, I take my hat off to the PBI, who had to do the dirty work.

I would like to hear what my fellow ex-war PPruners have to say about this.


Danny42C
 
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Old 14th Apr 2012, 20:40
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Danny has some afterthoughts about Hawarden.

Cliff (RIP), in one of his Posts (# 631 - p 32), gave an excellent account of the Decompression Chambers used to convince us of the insidious nature of anoxia. I rather think that these must have been road-transportable units (rather like the ejector seat demonstration rigs which came round the stations in the fifties). I know I went through the procedure in one somewhere, and am pretty sure it was at Hawarden.

Everything was exactly as he has described it, down to the illegible scribble into which your handwriting descends a moment or two before you fall into a coma (I think my line was "Mary had a little lamb"). My "oppo" took my watch off me, and even when he handed it back, I was still insisting that I hadn't been "out" at all. It was positively uncanny. Even in recovery from general anaesthetic, you have a sense of having "been away", but there was none of that.

Looking back, it occurs to me that, if you have to go, then this is the ideal way to do it! Setting aside all questions of law, morality and religious belief, it would be a perfect way to commit suicide. Cheap, no expensive trip to Switzerland, no need for injections or even for a rope. In jurisdictions where Capital Punishment still exists, no need even to pay a hangman!

And above all, no suffering of any kind, for this method robs you of any sensation of what is happening to you or appreciation of what is going to happen next. I can recommend a session (properly supervised) as an interesting experience; but I suppose they don't do them any more, for it would give the H&S people "a fit of the screamin' ab-dabs!" now.

To change to more cheerful subjects, there are a few relevant facts which I've picked up from Google/Wiki which plug holes in my memories. (These Posts of mine are excerpts from my "Jottings" - see my #2250, p 113 - which were composed long before I got on line. I shall not feed you anything direct from the internet and pass it off as my memory, I promise you).

What did we have as kit, and when? This is what must have happened. We went out to Canada with our blues and flying kit plus the chalk-striped suits. At Toronto, it seems they took our blues off us (in one of our kitbags) and stored them against our return. So we went down to the States in just our chalk-stripes. What happened to the flying kit? I don't remember having it with me in Florida, perhaps Toronto stored that too.

In the States, it was simple. They gave us flying overalls, we wore them all the time. We would only wear our chalk-stripes when we were off camp. I suppose I went on my Wings parade in flying overalls. At the end, they took their overalls back, we put the chalks back on and got on the train to Canada.

At no time did they issue us any US uniform, although the BFTS students wore summer-pattern US kit with RAF caps.

Of course, our train bypassed Toronto and we ended in Moncton, didn't we! But by a miracle of organisation which I can hardly credit to this day, they'd got our blue kit across ready for us (after all, I suppose the RCAF was doing it, not the RAF!)

At Moncton they must have taken our chalks away; we came back to the UK with blues and flying kit only. We had our first issue of battledress when we got back.

Somewhere recently I read that at that time, at least at one US Advancd School, the AT12s had been replaced by P-40 Tomahawks for Staff Continuation Training - to sighs of relief all round, no doubt.

Reading my log, I notice that at Hawarden our training aircraft carried squadron letters - mostly PW but a fair number of JZ. The curious thing was that the PW series ran PW-A, PW-B as usual, but the JZs: JZ-22, JZ-23 etc. In any case, it looks as if only two training Squadrons - four flights - were there and not six.

Reviewing the entries, both in respect of the Arnold Scheme and at OTU, there seems to have been the odd panic to get the hours in, for there were several occasions when we flew nine days in a row - therefore no weekend - and one day at OTU I flew four trips in a day (total 5 1/2 hrs) and three trips were common. I know that is nothing in operational terms, but it didn't seem to happen in pilot training schools in the fifties and sixties.

Next time we'll sum up Hawarden and put to sea.

Ta-ta for now,

Danny42C


Stand Easy!
 

Last edited by Danny42C; 15th Apr 2012 at 21:06.
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Old 18th Apr 2012, 20:58
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An unashamed 'bump' to get this thread back onto page 1 of the forum. It's gone a bit quiet in here over the last few days, although I'm certain that I'm not the only one who checks daily for any more posts by our esteemed contributors!

Looking forward to your next installment Danny
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Old 18th Apr 2012, 21:49
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Danny gets ready to put to sea.

Tommy,

Thank you - your wish is my command ! (bis dat qui cito dat).

My three summer months with the Spitfires came to an end. I count myself lucky to have had the chance to fly them, and even more to have flown the earliest (and therefore lightest) Marks of that incomparable aircraft. They were not as fast, or could not fly so high, or were not so heavily armed as later Marks, but they were nicer. The "Spit" was simply the most enjoyable aircraft to fly of all time. In memory I liken it to riding (or rather freewheeling) a bike in three dimensions. You just had to think about going round a corner, and round you went!

In later years I would put in around 140 hours on the Mk XVI (which was basically a Mk IX with the US "Packard" Merlin, and no worse for that), and another dozen on the Mks XIV and XXII. These last two I disliked, but no doubt, with more time, I may have learned to love. The Spitfire remained in Squadron service at least till 1951.
But:-"They never could recapture / That first fine careless rapture".

A notice was pinned up "The following have been included in the October quota for India". Three names followed: one was mine. I didn't like the choice of words. As a boy, I'd read the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. For the monster's food the Cretans had to sacrifice "an annual quota of their youths and maidens". The parallel seemed too close for comfort!

We three "volunteers" (you, you and you!) were none too happy about it. The general opinion at home was that the Japs would come through India like a hot knife through butter (as they had through Singapore, Malaya and Burma); our fate was to be certain death or capture. As sacrificial goats, we came in for a lot of sympathy. In the event, we three came through the war more or less unscathed (one got a DFC, the second an AFC, and then there was me) As for the rest of my Hawarden Flight, I never came across a single survivor in later years. I believe that a lot of single-engine trained people were later converted onto twos and fours to help replace the losses in Bomber Command.

I packed my kit and went round with my Clearance Certificate. Sadly, I was never to fly the Spitfire operationally (there were none in India till a year after I got there), and would not see the inside of one again for seven years. But Hawarden had been well worth while. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

I seem to have had a month's Embarkation leave, followed by a week at 9 PRC in Blackpool. Here I must have been issued with tropical kit, but cannot be as sure about the items as I've been about my first issue on joining. We would certainly have got a khaki drill No. 1 set (tunic and slacks), and two or three sets of khaki drill shorts and cellular ("Aertex" style) collar-attached long sleeve shirts. I don't think any bush jackets were included in the UK issue. Two pairs of knee-length stockngs and a comical large sun helmet ("Bombay bowler"), that was about it. (Underwear ? Forget it !)

A point worth a mention is that the brass buttons on the khaki tunic were not sewn on, but fitted through tiny buttonholes, to be retained by a small brass split-pin. In this way they could be taken off before washing the tunic. Your wings would be on press-studs, your stripes just sewn-on white tape.

I'm very hazy about my blue uniform and the flying kit. I know that I had my battledress out there, for we often wore the jacket over shirt and shorts in the winter days up North. And I cannot remember having (and certainly not needing) my UK flying kit out there. I think it, and my blues, must have been handed in at Blackpool. So how did I come to have my Morland "Glastonburys" still with me on demob? At Blackpool I'd been "in" for eighteen months and must have learned a thing or two about how to make kit vanish inexplicably!

They doubled-up on vaccination and on every "jab" I'd ever had, plus yellow fever. This last may explain a strange visit to RAF Padgate, where I spent a night or two in a twelve-man bell tent (exactly like the one on the Camp Coffee bottle label - but no liveried "bearer" to serve coffee to me on my camp chair!) I can only guess that the yellow fever "jab" was on tap there, but not in Blackpool. (I might be quite wrong as to the purpose of the visit, can anyone confirm?)

Towards the end of October, I was embarked at Liverpool in the Stirling Castle, a 25,000 ton Castle liner requisitioned as a troopship. In peace she would have been mostly on the Cape Town run, so this would be a "busman's holiday" for the crew. From the deck I looked down on the Landing Stage where she was berthed. Every inch of that Stage was perfectly familiar; as a small boy my Dad and I had walked it from end to end hundreds of times. It was our favourite spot, I'd known off by heart every funnel colour, every house flag, every shipping line, and most of the names of the bigger ships that plied the Mersey. Now I was not to see it again for almost four years.

Cheers, eveyone,

Danny42C



Stand still !

Last edited by Danny42C; 18th Apr 2012 at 23:56.
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Old 18th Apr 2012, 22:52
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Before you leave Blighty, Danny, a quick demonstration of how to illustrate posts if you or anyone else for that matter wishes to. You need a digital image in your computer (ie photos that have been scanned, or loaded from a digital camera, etc. You register (free) with a photo hosting site such as: Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket
and select upload there and then navigate to your image on your computer. Click on it and it should transfer to Photobucket where you can store it in your "album". There you can click on it and it and a series of links should appear. Select "Direct Link" and "copy" it just as you do text for composing posts. Now go to the post that you are composing, select the Insert Image Icon immediately above the text block (3 to the left of the YouTube one). An image block appears, "paste" in the Direct Link (making sure to delete any "helpful" http// already there beforehand. It won't work of course, so don't waste lots of text in the same post. Just go for the image and keep trying until you succeed or get fed up. Then have another go. I haven't tried it for some time so everyone can have a good laugh while I demonstrate how not to do it:

Well amazingly it seems to have worked, but I must give credit to BOAC for his excellent tutorial here:
http://www.pprune.org/spectators-bal...une-guide.html
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Old 18th Apr 2012, 23:15
  #2509 (permalink)  
 
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In the light of Danny's question, perhaps this image is more appropriate:

Photo title: The old Moorlands factory, Glastonbury
Photographer: Ken Grainger
Distance: 0.00 miles from Great Britain
Description: Once famous for making the RAF's sheepskin jackets.
Category: Factory (disused)
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 00:34
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Photobucket and Flying Boots.

Chugalug,

Thank you for the clear instructions, and the wonderful examples of what can be done in the way of photographs.

The factory looks sad now - I don't know if the firm still exists. Their main line was the boots. I think the flying jackets would be for war production only.

Goodnight,

Danny
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 18:47
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The factory looks sad now - I don't know if the firm still exists. Their main line was the boots.

Morlands certainly does still exist, Danny, and it still makes boots but perhaps not quite what you were used to, either in style or in price, vide:

Ladies Sheepskin Boots | Ladies Sheepskin Ankle Boots | Sheepskin Boots | Quality Ladies Sheepskin Ankle Boots | Ladies Winter Boots | Sheepskin Winter Boots

Jack
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 20:29
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Morlands

Union Jack,

Thanks ! I stand corrected ! (the boots lasted for years).

Cheers, Danny
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 21:29
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Lost my bearings

Danny

Sorry, I have lost my bearings .... can you tell me what year you set off for India? Tried looking back through the thread but couldn't find it.

Thanks

Pete
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Old 20th Apr 2012, 01:10
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Life on the Ocean Wave.

Pete,

Sorry - didn't make it clear - it was the end of October 1942.

Goodnight,

Danny.
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Old 20th Apr 2012, 09:42
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Life on the ocean wave

Danny

Thanks for that .... the reason I asked is because I did some research on the "Winston Special" Convoys for another "India" bound trainee and wondered if it was the same convoy. (Your convoy was WS24).

Regards

Pete

Last edited by Petet; 20th Apr 2012 at 17:20.
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Old 20th Apr 2012, 20:32
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More Life on the Ocean Wave.

Pete,

Please post the result of your researches about my convoy (and escorts). I have little memory of them, and would like to know.

Thanks, Danny.

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

My story continues:

The ship cast off, tugs nudged her round into midstream, the Liver Birds slowly sank from view as we moved downstream past New Brighton and out by the Bar lightship. We were bound for Bombay. In peace, travelling through the Canal, this would be a three-week trip. But the War had closed the Canal route to us; we would have to go round the Cape and put in at Durban. This would put on another week at sea plus a day ot two ashore there. They estimated about five weeks overall.

In fact we were aboard for nearly eight. Where had we been ? To this day I don't know. All I know is that after about three weeks we put into Bahia (San Salvador) in Brazil ! We were told that the ship needed fresh water, and we stayed a couple of days. Strangely, I can't remember whether we still had an escort or were sailing alone.

Now the tropical kit we had changed into a week or so back got a public viewing. I don't think anybody had tried washing it yet - experience with the salt-water soap in the showers had convinced us that it would be a hopeless exercise. So the stuff wasn't exactly in pristine condition.

They decided to use the opportunity to "show the flag" (Wiki tells me that Brazil had thrown in its lot with the Allies in August '42 - no doubt leaned on by Big Brother up North). The idea was good, but...... We would have a march from the quayside to the central Plaza of the town (only about half a mile), round it and back to the ship. in Tropical No. 1 SD and Bombay bowlers. No free time ashore - perhaps they didn't trust us !

You never saw such a crowd of scruffs as the RAF turned out for the good people of Bahia. We got a bit of applause from a thin crowd in the Plaza, but we had no band, and I don't think their hearts were in it. They cannot have been much impressed by their (historically) old Ally. The former Portugese colonial buildings were impressive, and the walk must have done us good, but that was about all. There would have been a big Army contingent with us too, as they had a lot on board, and I must admit they were a bit smarter.

Now perhaps I should get on to a description of our life on board. (Never try to get me on a Cruise - Dr Johnson has it exactly right: "Being in a ship is being in prison, with the added prospect of being drowned"). For a start we slept in seven- tier wooden bunks, in what had been the first-class dining room of the ship. I drew the top bunk of my set, which enabled me to step on everone's faces on the way up and down, whereas nobody stepped on mine, and I had a little extra headroom under the ceiling as well - useful as we had all our "wanted-on-voyage" kit plus life-jackets with us in our bedspace. Such good fortune rarely came my way.

Food was passable - several sittings at mealtimes; the ship had a canteen, but it was "dry" as far as we were concerned. What they did have was plenty of chocolate (a precious treat at that time in Britain), but it was Australian chocolate, stocked up on a previous trip. This has (or had then) a quite different flavour (even though it was still "Cadbury's") and the excitement over it soon died down.

A Troopship was really a floating Transit Camp; the main enemy was boredom. They must have had us out on Lifeboat Drill; there was regular PT of course; we would play deck games; there was the usual "Crossing the Line" ceremony - this involved almost everbody in a ducking from "King Neptune", as very few of us had ever crossed the Equator before.

The Ship's Warrant Officer organised endless games of "House" ("Bingo") in the afternoons and these were always crowded out, although I could never see the attraction. As far as I can remember, the few pence entrance fee went straight into the SWO's pocket. As he was on the ship's staff, he stayed with it, and this handsome source of extra income must (unless he got sunk) have been a very useful addition to his demob gratuity.

Enough for the time being, more soon.

Goodnight, all.

Danny42C



As you were !
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Old 20th Apr 2012, 22:06
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Convoy Information

Extract from: WS (Winston Specials) Convoys in WW2 - 1942 Sailings

11
TAMAROA
21
ATHLONE CASTLE
(Vice Commodore)
31
STIRLING CASTLE
(Commodore)
41
INDOCHINOIS
51
LARGS BAY
22
ARAWA
42
EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND

This was one of the more unusual WS convoys, in that it departed greatly from the normal route. At the end of October 1942 the first great amphibious invasion convoys were at sea heading for North Africa from both the UK and USA; hence it was highly undesirable to have an additional troop convoy crossing their routes and, indeed, the focal point of Operation TORCH. Hence WS 24, which sailed from Liverpool 30.10.42 and the Clyde 31.10, was routed far to the west in the Atlantic and was obliged to use the port of Bahia in Brazil, who had declared war on the Germany and Italy on 22.8.42, as a fuelling stop rather than Freetown.


During the passage INDOCHINOIS lost the convoy on 7.11 and proceeded independently; to the anxiety of the Commodore and Senior Officer of the Escort who had no idea as to her fate or whereabouts. She eventually rejoined the convoy, at sea, on 30.11.42! TAMAROA made a more decorous exit, being detached to Freetown on 8.11 escorted by the whaler SOUTHERN PRIDE.

Escorts were, from Liverpool to the Clyde, the destroyers SARDONYX and SKATE, from the Clyde HOLCOMBE, OFFA, ONSLOW, ORIBI and ROTHERHAM to 3.11, the US seaplane tender BARNEGAT 31.10 to 2.11.

Ocean escort was provided by the armed merchant cruiser QUEEN OF BERMUDA joining 3.11 to 17.11, destroyer ILEX 9 to 17.11 and cruiser DESPATCH and destroyer ROTHERHAM 11 to 17.11.

The convoy arrived at Bahia 17.11 to fuel and water and, while there, took the rare opportunity to land troops (at the insistence of the Brazilian authorities) for a route march which turned into something of a Victory Parade for the inhabitants excited by the Allied landings in North Africa ten days previously.

Sailing from Bahia 20.11 the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruisers QUEEN OF BERMUDA joined by ALCANTARA and destroyer ROTHERHAM to Durban, arriving 4.12 while the cruiser DESPATCH was present until 23.11 and destroyer ILEX until 25.11. The destroyer NORMAN joined 29.11, corvette ROCKROSE 30.11 and destroyer NEPAL 1.12, all to Durban. Corvette THYME was present 30.11 to 2.12.

Sailing from Durban 6.12.42, ATHLONE CASTLE and STIRLING CASTLE were escorted by the cruiser FROBISHER to 12.12 and then by the cruiser MAURITIUS to arrive at Bombay on 17.12.42.





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Old 20th Apr 2012, 23:17
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BZ PeteT - now we know why you wanted Danny's date of departure from the UK

What a splendid bit of research, and what a wonderful contrast between the official description:

"The convoy arrived at Bahia 17.11 to fuel and water and, while there, took the rare opportunity to land troops (at the insistence of the Brazilian authorities) for a route march which turned into something of a Victory Parade for the inhabitants excited by the Allied landings in North Africa ten days previously."

and that of "Our Man in Bahia":

"They decided to use the opportunity to "show the flag" (Wiki tells me that Brazil had thrown in its lot with the Allies in August '42 - no doubt leaned on by Big Brother up North). The idea was good, but...... We would have a march from the quayside to the central Plaza of the town (only about half a mile), round it and back to the ship. in Tropical No. 1 SD and Bombay bowlers. No free time ashore - perhaps they didn't trust us !

You never saw such a crowd of scruffs as the RAF turned out for the good people of Bahia. We got a bit of applause from a thin crowd in the Plaza, but we had no band, and I don't think their hearts were in it. They cannot have been much impressed by their (historically) old Ally. The former Portugese colonial buildings were impressive, and the walk must have done us good, but that was about all. There would have been a big Army contingent with us too, as they had a lot on board, and I must admit they were a bit smarter."

I know which I prefer!

Jack
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Old 20th Apr 2012, 23:32
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Jack

I only extracted the information, so I can't take any credit for it ... I just found the site when doing some previous research.

Your other point is well made .... you get a far better insight into life as it really was from the contributors on here than you do from official records; as I have said before this thread has been priceless in our research.

................. so lets keep it going
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 02:57
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Convoy Information

Pete,

Thanks very much - everything I wanted to know about my convoy !

Goodnight now,

Danny.
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