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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 3rd Jul 2012, 19:59
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One last question which must have an answer, was there ever a double-ball rig like this on one pilot's panel? (I don't mean the one for each of two pilots in the bigger things). Speak now, or forever hold your peace!
The P40 recently discovered in The Sahara appears to have the same two instruments featuring a ball.

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Old 3rd Jul 2012, 19:59
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Danny, how did your turn indicator with the two balls work? Was it exactly the same but just had two balls instead of one floating around? (Edit: it's two seperate instruments apparently!)

I found this on my internet travels:

Introduction

the autobiograpghy of William Wood, RAF, wartime fighter pilot after training in Florida.

Last edited by Hipper; 3rd Jul 2012 at 20:03. Reason: misunderstanding
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Old 3rd Jul 2012, 20:47
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End of Two Balls Story.

Chugalug, 682al and Hipper,

That shoots me down ! What can't speak, can't lie (I believe they've found the poor pilot (RIP); he didn't get far and must have died miserably).

So they did have two ball indicators. Only question now is - Why? You can only watch one at a time. They must work (unless gravity has been suspended - they're still working). We'll never know. Better leave it alone.

So it means the Camden panel isn't a one-off, any other Mk.IV would presumably look the same; we haven't got a firm ident feature to tie other pics to Camden.

I know when I'm beaten! Let's call it a day!

Danny.
 
Old 4th Jul 2012, 00:30
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Taphappy,
However I digress
Please keep digressing as often as you like - often these little sidelights are as interesting as the 'main' story!

Adam
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Old 4th Jul 2012, 00:35
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Taphappy,

Considering how much time had gone by since I'd joined, it's remarkable how similar our experiences were - at least in the early days. Messed about from pillar to post - one Transit camp after another, nothing ever changes. You got three bob a day? - Jammy! - we had to get by on two. Never mind, when you get through ITW, you'll be in the money.

I liked the tale about the officious W.O. and the billiard room lights (It's not a digression, Tap (may I call you that); this is exactly the sort of detail which gives life to the story; the more of it, the better). But I agree with you, we had to see the point of view of some of these long serving W.O.s and SNCOs. They'd slogged slowly up the tradesman's ladder for perhaps fifteen years to reach the Sgts' Mess. Then along comes some 20 year old aircrew sprog with barely 12 months' service, and he's "in". It must have rankled with them.

Bridgenorth, did they select straight away for Nav or BA, or did you have a common ITW for the first part of the Course, and then split? But I'm jumping ahead of your story,

We're all standing by for the next part,

Danny.
 
Old 4th Jul 2012, 18:54
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The Well Dressed Danny.

You might be interested to know what the well-dressed aircrew wore for operations over Burma. Much of it was a matter of personal choice, but we had to consider that we might have a long trek home if we had to bale out over jungle (hopefully evading capture). Therefore a bush jacket (preferable as more pockets) or long sleeve shirt (both cellular) and khaki drill slacks were a must for mosquito protection after dark (underclothes? - don't be silly).

What we had on our feet was most important; we would have to hike over rough terrain, and through rivers and streams. While in the States, I'd bought a pair of basketball boots. I didn't play the game much, but the boots came in handy now. They were ideal for the job, canvas with thick sponge rubber soles and ankle pads. (The Japanese soldier wore a similar thing, I believe, with a separate compartment for his big toe). Mine were very light and comfortable, they'd keep out the leeches and it didn't matter if they got wet. And they gave me a much more delicate touch on the rudder pedals!

I'd been issued with a .38 Smith & Wesson and a box of 18 rounds at Madhaiganj, together with blue webbing belt, shoulder strap, ammo pouch, holster and lanyard to go with it. Hung on rhe other side for balance, I had a fierce looking kukri (the Gurkha knife). I'd picked this up in some bazaar or other with no intention of engaging in Errol Flynn heroics; the thing was for the purpose of cutting through undergrowth (who was Errol Flynn, Grandad?)

This ensemble was completed by a RAF side pack beside the kukri, and the other shoulder strap to go with it. The side pack carried a first-aid kit, a jungle survival outfit (water purification tablets, fish hooks and line etc, I suppose there must have been a compass), and a spare pair of socks.

It also held leaflets in Burmese, for villagers you might meet and whose help would be vital. In translation they read, so I was told, something like this:

"Dear Friend",

"The bearer of this letter is a British soldier come to save you from the hated Japanese who have caused so much sorrow in your land. If you treat him well, hide him from the Japanese, and help him to reach the British Army, you will be very well rewarded by Government".

This was all very well as far as it went, (and the Burmese were generally well disposed to us, particularly the Naga and Kachin tribes in the north), but I couldn't help feeling that if I floated down in or near a village that we'd just blown off the map, it wouldn't go down too well with "Dear Friend" - always supposing I could find one who could read.

You might think that all this was quite enough to carry, and you would be right. But the ever-solicitous RAF had one more treat in store for us. To back-up the ingratiating letter, the Intelligence Officer doled out a cotton money- belt apiece. This had sewn into it sixty Indian rupee coins, which were still legal tender in Burma (the Jap hadn't bothered to print any occupation currency; he didn't need to; he took what he wanted at bayonet point. This was a serious error on his part, it alienated a populace which might otherwise have decided to throw in its lot with him as a welcome change from us).

The money-belts were to reward helpful villagers, as you would have no cash of your own. Figuratively speaking, you must go naked into battle. Nothing personal can go with you. Cash, wallet and everything else in your pockets (except a watch) has to be put in an envelope, sealed and left with the I.O. for safe keeping until (if) you come back.

The money-belt idea was sound enough, but a disturbing rumour arose that a bad mistake had been made in the filling of the first batches of these belts. They had been filled with newly minted 1942 rupees. There shouldn't be any 1942 rupee coins in Burma - the Japanese had taken the country early in the year before any of these coins had been put into circulation. All the Jap had to do now was to offer ten rupees for every bright new rupee handed in, and he'd be hot on the trail of any escaper! We were assured that all such belts had been withdrawn, and the contents replaced with worn coins, but the doubts lingered.

So now you get the picture. Your bush-jacketed, bush-hatted and khaki- slacked young man first tied this belt round his middle. Then he buckled himself into his webbing, ending with crossed shoulder straps, holster and pistol on his left hip, lanyard (on shoulder under epaulette flap, NOT round his neck), On his right hip lay the the kukri and side pack. (The webbing belt was buckled over the money belt).

Thus encumbered, he climbed up into the cockpit, scorching after hours in the tropic sun, sat down on his hot parachute seat cushion (hotter still if he hadn't folded the back over it when he last climbed out), fastened the shoulder and leg straps tight (or his chance of posterity might, after bale-out, be negligible), then clipped the four ends of the seat harness in the quick-release box and tightened that over all. Thank Heavens, all our trips were over land, so we didn't have to wear "Mae Wests", or sit on the lumpy, abominably uncomfortable "K" dinghy pack!

By the time we'd donned flying helmet (tropical, cotton), and goggles over our fevered brows, we were damned glad to get the big fan in front working. That first long blast of air (hot as it was !) was pure bliss. Our canopies were always left open, In the climb, temperature drops at the rate of three Fahrenheit per thousand feet, so at 10,000 it was 30 deg cooler and we shivered. But by then we'd be running in to our targets, closing our canopies, and would be down in the hot-air oven again very soon.

I can feel for the poor squaddie in Helmand today, with body armour and all his kit in 40+ C. (My Grandfather was out there 130 years ago; I have somewhere his India General Service Medal with clasps for Mohmand and Kandahar. Nothing changes!)

What happened to all my armament? Well, the Smith & Wesson and its 18 rounds was handed back intact when I left India. I hadn't fired a single shot. I never heard of anyone using his pistol in anger, but on VE day some wild colonial boys were reputed to have fired feux-de-joie through their Mess basha roof - a practice greatly deprecated by their seniors (and, as Chugalug will I'm sure agree, was apt to bring down a shower of beetles - and worse!)

The kukri was a most imposing piece of hardware, with its silver-banded grip, and the kit of two small skinning knives fitted into a silver-mounted scabbard. It came home with me, and on my return I ran into "Bert" Andrews, my pre-war line manager (and an ex-Captain in the RFC, flying Sopwith Camels). He'd climbed two rungs on the Civil Service ladder while I'd been away, and was now an S.E.O. in another Department.

Before the war, he'd kept me spellbound with tales of his adventures, and when I went into the RAF gave me one of his old RFC tunic buttons for good luck. This has the same crown and eagle as an RAF button but with a "rope" design round the rim. I kept it for long enough, but somewhere it had got lost. Never mind, I'd had all the luck I could reasonably hope for.

Bert had a teenage son who was an avid collector of exotic swords and knives. I passed the kukri on to him. There wasn't much call for them in Southport then. (Nowadays we'd have the Armed Response Squad round within the hour!)

The money-belts? We had to turn them back in to the I.O. after each trip. We were very honest; he didn't need to count the "bumps" in each one.

Will get back to the main story next time,

Goodnight, all,

Danny42C


It was working all right yesterday.
 
Old 4th Jul 2012, 22:26
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Danny, I was only ever issued once with a .38 Smith & Wesson, other than temporarily for annual range practice, for a Jungle Survival Course in the Malayan Jungle in the very early Sixties. Confrontation was on and incursions were a worry, so although we were still required to go where no man had been before (well, since the previous course last week) we were now required to go armed.

We had much the same accoutrements as you, ie revolver, belt, holster, lanyard, and six rounds. The latter we were ordered to fill all six chambers with. Could we not at least leave the chamber under the hammer empty? Certainly not, you might lose the round! We were more worried about losing something far more personal, with macabre predictions of branches becoming entangled with the lanyard pulling the revolver out of the holster having "popped" the press-stud, and then somehow firing the weapon. The technicalities of the latter action were somewhat vague, but could be summarised as "if it can happen then it will happen". Happily it didn't, and we heroically hacked our way out of the jungle to come upon a tarmacadam road where a Magnolia Ice Cream man waited with his "Stop Me and Buy One" van, as he did at the same time every week when the jungle reliably disgorged yet more grateful customers!

As to navigation I seem to remember the tip was to head down-hill until happening upon flowing water, follow that down to a stream, follow that down to a river, and follow that down to habitation. Of course all that rather supposed you were trying to find fellow humans rather than avoid them, but happily that was more of a problem for the Indonesians.

The post war RAF still had a pressing need for money belts, issuing them to Co-Pilot Imprest Holders and stuffing them (the belts, not the Co-Pilots) with wads of notes in every currency likely to be encountered on the planned flight. As soon as the wheels were up on each leg the co-pilot was out of his seat and making his way down the passenger cabin with the traditional call of "Any more fares?". There always were, for indulgence pax were joining or leaving at every stage. After landing, the crew minus the Co would go off to their various accommodations, be they civil or military. The Co, like some Benidorm rep, accompanied the through pax to their Hotel accommodation (included in their "fare"), saw them settled down, paid for their stay from the imprest, and only then rejoined the crew. The next day was deja vu all over again, with the appropriate currency sub imprest being brought up to date. A desk and high stool would have completed the scene nicely.

I heard that Maria Theresa Dollars were the currency of choice of our "Dear Friends" in the Middle East, with offers of even more if the bearer were returned to his Majesty or his authorised representatives as intact as when he was found. Given that "even more" could be had by simply cutting his throat and liberating his money belt, I don't think that was too well thought out either!

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Old 5th Jul 2012, 01:10
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Revolvers and Moneybelts,

Chugalug,

A thoughtful intervention, as ever!...... I think they were a bit overcautious on the five-round load. As I remember, no one would be crazy enough to have a cocked weapon in his holster, and with the hammer closed the S&W had a good safety catch. The greater danger we foresaw was of strangling yourself with your lanyard if that got caught up in some way and it was round your neck.

Your co-pilots seem to have been handy with figures - did the RAF send them on an accounting Course? And in the belts, they must have looked like Michelin men! (did they get any extra pay for the extra duty?)

As for our moneybelts, the Burmese were a humane race, and in any case it was generally known that the Govt. would pay out far more for an intact airman than the Rs60 in the belt, although it would be more trouble to collect. Quite a few people did successfully walk back, but I don't know what experiences they had with their belts.

All in all, our 'ops' outfit was a bit of a pain, but if you had to hop out, you'd be very glad of it. Alas, it is all too true that, as you say: "if a thing can happen, it will happen" (this is just a restatement of "Sod's Law").

Changing the subject, shall we ring down the curtain on the Mk. IV. Vengeance in general, and on the Camden one in particular, and just enjoy the pretty pictures ? I think we've said all that can usefully be said. Let's pack it in!

Time I went to bed!

Danny.
 
Old 5th Jul 2012, 08:35
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On my only real operational trip to provide top cover for the parachute drop at Port Said in 1956 we Hunter pilots were issued with fifty gold sovereigns, a goolie chit and a pistol. The only place for the gun was the bottom leg pocket of the flying suit (worn over the anti-g suit in those days) Mae Wests were worn so no chance of keeping it on the body. Of course had one to eject the gun would have stayed in the aircraft, and probably the sovereigns too as they were quite a solid lump in another pocket. I was cynically amused on taxying to a stop, as soon as the ladder was fitted to the aircraft, the AOC (AVM Paddy Chrisham) was elbowed aside by the accountant officer who was the first up the ladder demanding his gold back !

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Old 5th Jul 2012, 11:38
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Danny, I think that the unease about the Smith & Wesson merely reflected the prevalent feeling that loaded personal weapons and aircrew then were a dangerous combination for themselves and others around them. When supply dropping we were issued with loaded Stirling sub machine guns. They were promptly stowed in the forward (crew) loo which was then locked. We preferred to run the gamut of the open (for supply dropping) fuselage doors to get to the rear (pax) loos rather than tempt providence. If carrying personal weapons had been a more familiar experience then no doubt we might have felt more confident. As it was I'm not sure if we had have been faced with the distinctly unpalatable prospect of a jungle forced landing then the first action would have been to jettison the Stirlings beforehand!
Re the Co's, the "course" consisted of a 5 min chat with the Accountant Officer, which basically meant that you and he together had counted it all out and would count it all back on return. Any discrepancy was of course your problem, not his.
Yes the fully loaded money belt could add to one's girth, but then it was sylph like in those days so the extra inches under the Bush Jacket were not so noticeable. Extra Pay for running the Imprest? You're joking of course. It was the Senior NCO's on the crew that saw it as an additional source of income, "footwear allowances, "laundering the aircraft" (for the VIP Mk4 Hastings) and no end of other supposedly legit expenses were always being suggested. The solution for the Co was of course to get a signature for each and every transaction, and not to fall for the blarney of his elders and betters.
The one thing worse though for returning with too little money was to return with too much. A colleague's aircraft had to be defuelled as it had been inadvertently overfuelled. The bowser man refused to take it back so it was drained off into oil drums and sold locally. The mistake he made was to declare the proceeds on his Imprest instead of keeping the crew in the manner befitting them for the rest of the route. In the end the accountant officer had to do some creative accounting to obscure this illicit trading. It seems that Public Funds can be lost and written off, what must never happen is to add to them!
Re the MkIV, you are as ever the boss. I wish it were that easy though. Questions re aerial arrays still remain unanswered. Known unknowns as Mr Rumsfeld would say....
Oh, a PS. Would the "two balls" US instrument arrays be because their Directional Gyro/Indicators included it to ensure that there was no slip being induced when the instrument was uncaged onto the Compass Heading? I can think of no other reason why a Directional Gyro should be so equipped but if there are other ideas then let's hear them and finally answer Danny's question.

Last edited by Chugalug2; 5th Jul 2012 at 11:59.
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Old 5th Jul 2012, 15:43
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The chat about weapons reminded me of my dad's diaries -- he was ground crew, his experiences are on this thread way back in the page 60s.

He had a Sten which he used to take into the jungle to shoot off a few rounds. I don't think it was necessarily for fighting Japs -- although there were times he was close to the fighting -- but rather it was to see off Dacoits who were always trying to pinch stuff.
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Old 5th Jul 2012, 17:56
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26er

I can see your problem - you might be debagged in an ejection - losing the lower half of the flying suit as well as the gun and the bullion!

Accountants were a race apart; a year ahead in my tale, I had to fly a 300 mile round journey to collect the cash to pay my troops. He would hand over only if I gave him an Acquittance Roll already signed by all my lads !

My neck was stuck a long way out, but he was in the clear whatever happened !

Danny42C
 
Old 5th Jul 2012, 18:08
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Cost of a Jumbo

A trained elephant was not cheap. For comparison when I had to purchase one in 1979 it cost 20% more than a new Mitsubishi pick up truck, about 2,600 gbp.
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Old 5th Jul 2012, 19:03
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Chugalug,

Thought-provoking as usual ! We are both in the grip of the Seekers into the Unknown syndrome - we must break free from this dreadful affliction. Let's have some form of Delete Bin for all these matters for "that way madness lies" (King Lear ?) Forget that damned aerial ! (Yes, I know I started it, my fault entirely).

I never had anything to do with the Sterling, but understand it to have been a sort of posh Sten. And all I remember about the Sten is that you had to keep your fingers out of the way, or you'd have them sliced off.

As to obesity, you're quite right - we were all thin as rakes, weren't we, and fitter than we should ever be again. Even now my BMI is only 22, but in early post war snaps I appear as a "skeleton covered with skin"!

Danny.
 
Old 5th Jul 2012, 19:35
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Costly Elephants.

Pom Pax,

Quote:...... "when I had to purchase one (trained elephant) in 1979".........

You can't leave us just like that ! (Mr. Moderator, please),

Danny42C
 
Old 6th Jul 2012, 14:27
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Cost of a Jumbo

There was no call for Elephants in the UK in WW2, but when my room mate left his Oxford at 6,000 feet, flying from Lyneham in 1941, he found he was presented with a “Bill” from the Instructors.

To LAC George Cooke

One Ripcord Handle 2s. 6d
One Oxford Aircraft £ 30,000..0s..0d
One Dairy Cow £ 30..0s..0d
Total £ 30,030..2s..6d

Will LAC Cooke pay cash, or have it deducted from his Pay?


Signed............................................(S/Ldr. Accounts)

Sorry about the prices; pure guess work apart, from the Rip Cord handle.
Fredjhh

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Old 6th Jul 2012, 15:30
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Elephants, Oxfords and Dairy Cows (Prices of).

Fredjhh,

Welcome back - you had us all terribly worried ! Now don't go away again like that, will you?

Prices: Oxbox way over the top, the "Spitfire Fund" reckoned that you could get one for £5,000, but I believe the real price was about £12,000. A Vultee Vengeance cost us $68,000 ($4.08/£1 in those happy days), say £16,000 then.

Cow? Dunno, seems a bit pricey, you could get a new Royal Enfield 250 for £31. (any farmers in the house?)

Ripcord handle - about right (£5 today).

Think the Instructors were trying it on a bit !

We're very pleased to have you back, Fred - all of us, I'm sure.

Danny42C
 
Old 7th Jul 2012, 21:58
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Danny,
Your tales of derring do in India and Burma are fascinating, how you can remember all the details is beyond me and I am ashamed that we in blighty were mostly ignorant of what was taking place out there given that you were operating in such difficult circumstances. Just as well you have a sense of humour.
Having arrived at Bridgenorth we were joined by contingents from other ACRCs and from grading schools and became Course number --- comprising of u/t Pilots,Navigators and Bomb Aimers.
Bridgenorth in comparison to Scarborough was more akin to a real RAF station and was fairly large covering quite an area. There was als o an Air Gunners School of some sort there.
The accommodation was in wooden huts and the bunks were of the two story variety.
The camp itself was fairly dispersed and involved a good bit of marching between living accommodation,mess halls and lecture rooms
I certainly remember interminable lectures on such subjects as Theory of Flight,Navigation,Meteorology, Astro Navigation Aircraft Recognition, Morse Code etc,etc interspersed with the usual PT and sports.
All in all we were kept pretty busy.
One day we were told that we were going for dinghy drill so we we were all looking forward to a day at the seaside but the reality was a trip to a private estate on the road to Wolverhampton. There was an outdoor pool there and we all plunged into it. I was not a very good swimmer, truth to tell I could hardly swim at all and we were told that we had to be able to swim 100 yard or an aircrew future was in doubt. Necessity being the mother of invention I convinced the PTI that I could do it.
Some of the course fell by the wayside but I managed to get through and went on leave with an increase of pay to7/6 a day.
Previous posts indicated that you were promoted to LAC when you passed ITW but that did not happen in our case, so again there must have been changes to the system
Anyhow off we went on leave to await the next posting.
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Old 8th Jul 2012, 09:06
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Taphappy

As you say, after June 1943, aircrew were no longer promoted to LAC at the end of ITW. A new system was introduced whereby AC2 was split into AC2 (Grade A), AC2 (Grade B) and AC2 (Grade C).

Those on the PNB Scheme (Pilots, Navigators and Bomb Aimers) were promoted from Grade A to Grade C on completion of ITW training, with 7/3d pay. All other trades would be promoted to Grade B, with 5/- pay.

[Source: C G Jefford, Observers and Navigators]

Looking forward to the next instalment.

Regards

Pete
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Old 8th Jul 2012, 09:48
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Taphappy, I am constantly amazed by the depth of recall of all those who tell their stories here, yourself included. The accounts are told as if it were but yesterday and we have constantly to remind ourselves that all this was happening some 70 years ago to very young men, indeed some could describe them as boys, though fated to become men very very quickly.
Where you were, what it was like, what you wore, what you did, how you were treated, all described in fascinating detail from a distant world so remote from the present.

As has been said so often, it is the detail that is so vital and so captivating. Thus money spent on promotion could be saved by issuing a "bonus" within existing rank, and further clawed back by modifying that bonus according to "trade". Come to think of it, not so remote a wheeze after all, perhaps!

Quite how a poor swimmer "persuades" a PTI that he is a proficient one I would have no idea. I suspect though that it was yourself that you persuaded, the same driving force that lies at the root of all these tales. Failure (to coin a modern phrase) was not an option. You all had a burning ambition to fly. That at least most of us can relate to!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 8th Jul 2012 at 09:52.
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