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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 14th Sep 2008, 17:47
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Cor Blymy. Reg.
What a C.V. How about joining in the fun, you must have some very interesting tales to tell. You are more than welcome to join this happy band. Iím sure the others on this blog would be only too pleased to hear from you. As you will gather, there are quite a few ďyoungstersĒ who want to know what their relatives did in 1939/45 . You will find you get quite a buzz when you receive a reply., or a question..

I said I would describe the Arnold scheme, well this is as I remember it, Somewhere NEAR the truth. When the war started Roosevelt, the American president about that time wanted to help the British all he could , he was limited in what he could do. However, a scheme evolved, where R.A.F personnel were allowed to enter the U.S.A for training providing they wore civilian clothes on entering the states , remaining in civvies, and training at American airfields. When Pearl Harbour was bombed by the Japanese, America declared war on Germany and Japan the B.F.T.Ss where formed. This is as near as I can describe the Arnold scheme, perhaps the ppruners who trained there, would like to correct if necessary . Although they were prevented from exporting aircraft to other countries at war, before P. E . they built an airstrip on the Canada/U.S border, flew Harvards there, took the wings off, and wheeled them across the border, The wings arrived later, and the Canadians bolted them back on ready to train cadets under the Empire Air Training Scheme. Pilots trained under the Arnold scheme were awarded both American and R.A.F wings. Presumably because they trained under the American system, as distinct from the R.A.F system.
Well , thatís what we were told , I donít know my F.F.I from my I.F.F. . Letís see if any Arnold types add or correct.

P.S Some may not understand the reference to Brylcream. This was a very greasy hair dressing unlike todayís product, and was as commonplace as the walrus mustache . Aircrew were sometime referred to as the Brylcream boys, and some times as the intelligentsia, usually sarcastically.
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Old 14th Sep 2008, 18:07
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Almost totally off the subject of the thread, (keep 'em coming, please Cliff), but touching vaguely on the Brylcreem subject: the Irish (or was it the Brits?) made an excellent WW2 movie ten years ago called "The Brylcreem Boys". Based (loosley, I suspect) on a true story about Brits and Germans interred in two halves of the same camp during WW2. Great story, with the added bonus of more than a flash of very decorative boob by the leading lady, (Jean Butler?) who was lead dancer in 'River Dance' for some time. A bit like Cliff's excellent stories, it tells of a sideline of the war that perhaps most of us wouldn't have known anything about. Here's the link: The Brylcreem Boys (1998)
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Old 15th Sep 2008, 17:31
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Are you sitting comfortably?

Then I'll begin. By thanking you, Cliff, for your welcoming words. I will try and live up to your generous comments. I had a long career but stress that Lady luck was my co-pilot all the way through.
We moved to Blackpool from Liverpool when I was 12 (1934) and my Father ran the Plaza Cinema whilst my Mother ran "Avalon", a 14 room Boarding House conveniently placed next to the Princess Cinema opposite the North Pier and Metropole Hotel. When war broke out I was seventeen and , even then, absolutely aeroplane crazy. I flew "Frog" and "Warneford" model aeroplanes , was a member of the first A.D.C.C. which was the forerunner of the ATC Air Training Corps and volunteered ( Later to learn the maxim of the services "Never volunteer for anything!) for training as a Pilot when I was 18 in May 1940. I went for an exceedingly nerve racking interview , which took place in London with an Air raid going on to which the very fierce looking Group Captain ,conducting the interview ,took not a blind bit of notice and did his utmost to persuade me that the RAF needed navigators, not pilots. I still don't know how I had the nerve to stand my ground but I told him that I would only consider training as a pilot. He burst out laughing and said "Well at least you know what you want" and wished me good luck .
I was actually called up for service as an A/C 2 (pilot u.t) but was told that there was no room at any of the primary schools and would have to serve "G.D." General Duties . This mocked the u.t. which stood for "under training". After all the usual kitting out and "jabs" (Cardington, where the enormous Airship hangar that had housed the famous R series still loomed over the station then posted to Bicester Oxfordshire where I was welcomed by the Station Warrant Officer with the news that I was in charge of the cleaning of the lavatories in the Sergeant's Mess. As I was also the only member of that squad it was a full time job. Bicester was, however , the place where I first flew. A kndly Sgt./Pilot named Hoggard befriended me when I was performing my duties in the Mess . On hearing that I was a u.t.pilot and from Blackpool , he said that he was flying to Squires Gate the next day and would I like to come along ? Would I !
Squires Gate was just north of Blackpool on the Lytham Rd. I was so naive that I did not even realise that I should get permission from the SWO but just presented myself at the Flight line next morning where my friend showed me how to put the parachute strapping on the right way round and took me out to my very first aeroplane. It was an Avro Tutor and ,to me, looked the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. It had ,just, escaped the first World War but I shall never forget the thrill that I got when we got airborne. I sat there for what seemed to be five minutes but was probably about two hours with headwinds all the way.
We landed at Squres Gate where my pal (by now we were on first name basis) told me to be back by four p.m. which gave me time to catch a tram outside the aerodrome and walk in to my startled Mother and Sister in the Avalon. I learned from my sister that my parents had had a row over me joining up so young. My Father defended me and ended up by joining up himself, he was just 39 in 1939. and was now on an Officer's Training course as a Signals Officer. Not only that but the Avalon had been commandeered by the RAF and my Mother had 35 airmen billetted on her ! She bitterly complained to the Office i.c billetting that it was not right that two defenceless women should have all these licentious airmen in such close proximity. To her surprise he agreed with her but was speechless when 40 WAAFS took their place, At least the airmen had done all the odd jobs that were around. I never complained !
On arrival back at Bicester after what was the finest day of my life up to then, I found that I was on a "fizzer". I was charged with absenting myself without leave and wheeled in front of a very understanding Flight Lt. pilot who could hardly stop laughing and was confined to camp for seven days and given the Officer's Mess lavatories to clean as a memento of the day. I have got your finger trouble now, Cliff ! They are aching so will sign off here and await results. And there's more....!

Last edited by regle; 16th Sep 2008 at 06:02.
 
Old 15th Sep 2008, 18:23
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BFTS's

Cliff, please call me Andy.

From my research on the Arnold Scheme and the BFTS scheme, I don't think it was Pearl Harbour that kick-started the BFTS's.

I say that because BFTS1 started in 9 June 1941 along with BFTS2, Pearl Harbour was on Sunday Dec 7th 1941, incidentally I remember Reg telling me that he was at an American football match when it was announced.

What I think is more probable was that the Arnold Scheme (which I believe was USA Army) could not produce enough pilots, hence the BFTS's.

Also there was some resistance to the fallout at Arnold Scheme, the early classes were 45% "washed out", my Uncle was one of them. The BFTS schemes were run under more RAF environment and unlike The Arnold Scheme a cadet stayed at the same airfield to do his Primary, Basic and Advanced training instead of every 10 or 12 weeks moving to another town/airfield.

Cliff hope you don't mind me commenting?

Regards Andy
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 09:40
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Reg And Andy.

WOW.

REG AND ANDY. KEEP EM COMING. THIS IS THE SORT OF THING IT SEEMS EVERY ONE WANTS.

Back to lower case. Andy it's the comments that keep this going.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 13:35
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Cliff, Reg,

I have followed this thread from the start. Reading and re-reading your excellent memoirs has kept me entertained throughout my lunch hours at work, and will continue to do so.

This really is a cracking thread, keep it coming!

Regards,

Tom
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 13:44
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If you keep going like this, it'll need it's own forum.

Keep it up tis fascinating stuff.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 15:05
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Gun Sights

Cliff, sorry to ask a Bomber, a Fighter question!

Looking at you notebook about gunsights, can you explain more fully about the 100mph and independent of the range notes. Can you explain more fully how you would sight up the "victim" and how you would allow for angles etc

Regards Andy
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 15:46
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Off Thread ?

In my humble opinion Wiley, nothing so far has been off thread . All has been relevant to the sidelines of the war, as you put it. It might have been a better title. Also I have learned how to spell Brylcreem (Brylcream)

To Chugalug2 check your P.Ms. Do you want to mention B.C.H here ? It wouldn't be off thread.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 22:42
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Here we go..

Just before Xmas 1940 I was posted to Stratford upon Avon for "Square bashing" and more jabs. It was'nt too bad as we were billeted in the "Shakespeare Hotel" and, although we were six to a room that was normally occupied by two, it was warm and comfortable and we started to meet up with our own kind, fellow pilots u.t. and now entitled to the white "flash" in our forage caps that denoted that we were amongst the "elite" chosen to train as future pilots. I lost count of the time that we were marched by Anne Hathaway's cottage but it was still a grand feeling and was usually accompanied by the rendering of "Bless 'em all" sung to march time. We were getting pretty good at drill by now and it was wonderful news when we were given leave and told that we would be notified where to report for the vital Initial Training that was the six weeks ground course that had to be passed before proceeding with our flying training. I never got my leave because before the alloted day, about thirty of us were told that we had to report immediately for our course which was starting shortly in Aberystwyth, North Wales at No 6 I.T.W.
(Initial Training Wing).
The journey from Stratford to Wales was long and laborious. Train journeys in those days were always dotted with uncertainty as to when...and where ! ..your train was going to end. The carriages were packed and as everyone had a kitbag to lug, which could not be put up on the racks there was hardly room to breathe in the corridors let alone the compartments. The only lighting allowed was a very weak blue bulb in each compartment which made reading impossible and shed a weird light on the crammed airmen, soldiers, sailors, Waafs, Wrens and Th'ats as my fellow Lancastrians fondly called the girls of the ATS. To make the journey more difficult all the Station names had been removed from the platforms to make life more difficult for the expected Jerry invaders.
By now we had made some friends amongst the vastly assorted mass of would-be fliers and were hoping that we would not become separated.
When we eventually arrived in Aberystwyth around midnight in early January 1941, we were all surprised to find transport awaiting us and lots of very nice girls handing out steaming mugs of cocoa and tea.
A lot of us ,who were told that we were to be called "B" Flight ,were billeted in "The Marine Hotel" and once again, we were pleasantly surprised at the good accommodation that was awaiting. We were between six to ten to a room depending on the size of it. We soon found out that the food was good and rationing did not seem to have hit that part of Wales because eggs and bacon were on the menu at least twice a week. The Marine Hotel was right on the promenade and we were out there by seven thirty every morning after breakfast for P.T. and ...yes..Drill. from 9a.m. we were in the requisitioned classrooms of the local schools and were straight in to the courses of Navigation, Meteorology, Radio (Morse code and minimum of eight words a minute to pass.), There must have been more subjects but the course lasted six gruelling weeks and around 75% of the class of B Flight passed with the requisite percentage . I think that it was around 80% but am not certain. Navigation was the stinker especially if, like myself, Maths was not your strongest subject. The end of the course soon came although it lasted the regulation six weeks. Then came the anti-climax. We were told that ,due to the very severe winter , the Primary Flying Schools were way behind so we were sent home on two weeks leave. By now we at the beginning of March and it was not until the end of April that we were sent home on what we were told was embarkation leave for an unknown destination where we would receive our Flying courses.
I cannot actually grumble because we were all promoted to L.A.C.s (Leading Aircraftsmen) and were paid the princely sum of six shillings and sixpence per day with all our meals and accommodation paid for. When I tell you that our daily programme for nearly eight weeks was the usual breakfast at 0730, Roll Call and P.T. unti 10a.m. and then we were dismissed for the rest of the day and we would pour in to Aber and have another huge breakfast of eggs bacon and chips for 10pence. 12 pence to a shilling, twenty shillings to a pound and you could buy a lot of braekfasts with 6s.and 6p. a day. Ask Grandad to translate how much that was ! There was a huge mountain (or so it seemed to us ) at the end of the promenade and a variaation on the usual PT was to run up and down Heart Attack Hill, as we called or even worse names. A lot of very healthy eighteen to twentyone year old
young men were then let loose on Aberystwyth. It was not too bad because London College for Girls had been evacuated to Aber so there were plenty of dances and other "pursuits "to pass the time . On those very fond memories I will leave you for now... Oh yes. One thing still sticks in my mind. We were given extensive Medical and Dental care, all the time we were at Aber. The Dentist was quite an old man.. at least thirty something and I can remember him saying to me "I am too old to fly but the least thing I can do is to see that your teeth last you all of your life. In those days nobody lived to the ridiculous ages of today but he didn't make a bad promise to me at least. I think that I had most of mine until about seventy , which was the expected span...Threescore years and ten... I wish...but that's another tale.
 
Old 17th Sep 2008, 09:37
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Jolly good show Reg. Wizard.
Brought back happy memories of my first leave. Twelve hours standing in the corridor, Torquay to Anlaby, Hull.

NOSTALGIA CORNER.
Herewith picture of your Frog aeroplane. I had one pre war, think it cost seventeen shillings, and sixpence. Every boy's dream.



So Long.

Last edited by cliffnemo; 17th Sep 2008 at 11:50. Reason: INSERT PIC
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Old 17th Sep 2008, 13:06
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Goodness, Cliff, I never realised that the Frog was so expensive. That was a lot of money in 1930,s . Did you buy the little bottle of banana oil to lubricate the elastic ? I think that cost 1s/6d at a time when pocket money was around 6d per week if you were lucky. By the way I have been told that Heart Attack Hill is commonly known in Aber as Constitution Hill and also (from a lady who fondly remembers the RAF,
that it was London University for Women, not College. She remembers it well like ,Maurice Chevalier. All the best. Like MacArthur, "I shall be back". Reg
 
Old 17th Sep 2008, 14:57
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100 M.p.h Gun Sight.

Andy, the one hundred M.P.H gun sight allowed a pilot to calculate the amount of deflection to apply. That is calculated by the pilot, rather than estimated
using knowledge of the enemy aircraft's angle off, percentage of speed due to this angle, or if it is climbing or diving. The angle/fraction of enemy speed to allow had to be memorized i.e at 90 degrees allow full enemy speed. at 45 degrees 3/4 of enemy speed (eight angles in total) As an example at 90" , with a crossing aircraft in the gun sight full enemy speed would be allowed for at 300 M.P.H , resulting in the pilot aiming three rings in front of the enemy. We were taught not to open fire until within 250 yds (about 220 mtrs ?) The range bars had to be set before action on information from the controller, as to which type of enemy aircraft to expect, but we were taught that a 40 foot aircraft would fill the gun sight at 200 yards.

This is the best I can do Andy, as it was sixty years ago, and I am trying to condense hours of study into a few words, but I can assure you it required a lot of mental work, and calculation, and I haven't mentioned , gravity drop. allowance for side slip error, line error, and bullet trail. We practiced all these exercises in A.T. 6s using cameras. All good fun diving and attacking each other with cameras over the 101 ranch, but never "used in anger"
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Old 17th Sep 2008, 18:40
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cliffnemo:
To Chugalug2 check your P.Ms. Do you want to mention B.C.H here ? It wouldn't be off thread.
Your word is my command Cliff!
BCH stands for Bomber Command Heritage. Their site can be seen at:
Our Journey Together - Bomber Command Heritage Website
Their aim is to secure the intact Tech Site at RAF Bicester in order to establish a heritage centre there dedicated to RAF Bomber Command and in particular the Bombing Campaign 1939 to 1945. It is further hoped that a National Memorial bearing the names of those who died in that Campaign be erected there, easily accessible at this site on the edge of the town which is in turn served by the M40 Motorway and the London-Birmingham Railway. There is a thread dedicated to RAF Bicester's preservation at:
http://www.pprune.org/military-aircr...-bicester.html
There is also a sticky thread on the Aviation History and Nostalgia Forum at:
http://www.pprune.org/aviation-histo...merged-14.html

Thanks for the plug, Cliff. May I in turn once again say how enjoyable and informative your posts are, and now joined by those from regle! Power to your respective elbows gentlemen, not to mention your long suffering fingers. Please keep it coming, Stop, Don't Stop, Over and Out!
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Old 17th Sep 2008, 19:07
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The start of the beginning

Eventually towards the end of March we were taken to a school hall in Aberystwyth and told that we were to consider ourselves no longer as members of the RAF. We were in absolute consternation but we were told that we were being sent to an unnamed neutral country who could not accept us in uniform as we would be considered as "Belligerents". Furthermore no questions could be asked as they did not have the answers but all would be revealed later. You can imagine our state of mind as we were lined up and given twenty pounds each to purchase civilian clothing "suitable for a hot climate". We were told that we would have two weeks embarkation leave and advised to purchase our clothing as soon as possible as sailing date could be changed at any time. We were issued railway warrants and told to report to Wilmslow, near Manchester and would be notified of the date whilst on leave.
Of course speculation amongst ourselves with the majority guessing, correctly as it turned out, that we were bound for the U.S.A. so off we went with much to think and talk about.
I had made sure that I said a fond farewell to the delights of Blackpool and they were genuine as I had a wonderful boyhood and early adolescence in that terrific place so I kissed the Tower Ballroom and the Winter Gardens goodbye and went with much mind searching as to the future to Central Station and caught the train to Manchester.
At Wilmslow we were reunited with our fellow LAC's and hundreds more besides. Our congestures as to our ultimate destination were increased when we were issued with the most awful, heavy, grey flannel double breasted suits that you have ever seen . To cap these bizarre suits we were issued with old fashioned pith helmet topees, complete with ear pockets for securing radio ear pieces whilst flying. They had obviously lain in some storehouse since the twenties when they would have been issued to the intrepid pilots flying "Wapiti's" and aeroplanes of that ilk.
With these in our kitbags, which must have weighed 25kgs. we struggled on foot to the station where the train was waiting for our long journey up to Glasgow.
I have already described the train journeys during wartime and this was no better but one very cold morning in early May 1941 we pulled in to the dock station at Greenock. There was a huge ship waiting there but no name on it. On boarding we soon found out that it was the White Star liner "The Britannic" As an eight year old or thereabouts I had gone, with my parents, to the Pier Head in Liverpool to watch the "Britannic" depart on it's maiden voyage. I little knew that eight years later I, with four hundred other pilots u/t and a complement of well over 2000 Air Force, Army ,Navy and other personnel on board would be setting out on her to start the biggest adventure of my life.
 
Old 18th Sep 2008, 13:12
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The FROG Mk. IV was introduced in late 1932 at 10/6d. By Christmas 1937 it was down to 5/-. To put that in perspective, in 1937 a labourer would have been paid a basic 30/- per week !!!

Sources -
FROG Model Aircraft 1932-1976 ISBN 0-904586-63-6
My angling pal Ernie (aged 87 - farm boy who joined the Army in 1938)

Best wishes to all you survivors - and my undying gratitude.
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 13:29
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Apologies from Regle

Cliff, Reg wants you to know that he is struggling with the website, he entered the last story then said quote "several things flashed up" and threw him off, he had not finished the story.
I am going to try and teach him how to make the story in word, then cut and paste into the forum which is the way I think that you do it?
I was also going to start to link some pictures of Reg's USA training, is that OK?

Regards Andy

PS thanks for the description of the gun-sight, when I spoke to Reg today he said that they (in 42A, 1941) were not taught this, so you must have been in a later class and had a more sophisticated training!
Certainly by your description I can see why there are Ace's who must have been natural mental calculators. I seem to remember that only 2% of the fighter pilots were Ace's (5 or more kills) and a lot of pilots got through the war without seeing an enemy aircraft (after the Battle of Britain)
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 15:28
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Sorry Diesel addict, you are right After I had posted it I realized I really meant 7/6 seven shillings and sixpence , but hadn't got round to correcting it.Think it would be about 1937 when I was a proud owner.
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 16:18
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Class 42A leaving Greenock

Hi Cliff, this is a bad photo I took from Reg's photobook (I asked him if I could download it for him), it shows the salubrious luxury that the RAF cadets had leaving for the USA in (I guess) May 1941, didn't look as though there was much space?


Perhaps Reg can comment, that is if his computer isn't playing up?

Regards Andy
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 16:30
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OK it does not like snapfish now photobucket!

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