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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 21st Jul 2012, 23:03
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Danny42C
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Disbandment of 110 Squadron.

Fareastdriver,

Thanks for the sight of your last logbook entries for 110 - I never knew it was still in existence as late as '71. Was it ever reformed after that, do you know? And were they still carting around the "constipated tiger" of Hyderabad in your day?

I was a bit intrigued by the "Mr Hoxtin" (?) who's down on the airtest as 'First Pilot' on the 10th. Was he a civilian (in which case, how come?) or a Warrant Officer? (I bet it was quite a party at the end!)

And of course, I'm most grateful for your technical suggestion, which has put me back on the road again,

Cheers,

Danny.
 
Old 22nd Jul 2012, 00:08
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Taphappy's Travels.

Taphappy,

I can feel for you in the situation you were in, b-ggered about from pillar to post in an organisation which had clearly lost its purpose and was winding down all the time.

I'd had my fair share of transit camps (as had all aircrew trainees), but at least we had the Holy Grail of our brevets always in our sights. You seem to have had your hopes lifted and then repeatedly dashed, and now a second lot of ITW. What on earth could they teach you now that you hadn't learned before? Seems like the "white stones" ploy - give him something, anything, to do, rather than do the obvious thing: send him home on indefinite leave (on full pay + ration allowance) until you can decide what to do with him.

Even when you'd "got through", there were always the times when you were "supernumerary", a sort of dogsbody at everybody's beck and call. Strangely enough, some of the odd jobs you collected on these occasions turned out the most interesting of all.

"Mundane experiences" - yes, please! It was all part of the warp and weft of Service life in those days. It is a truism that War is 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror; the humble day to day stuff seems just as interesting to our readers as the glorious deeds of valour.

"Reculer pour mieux sauter" as you say,

Keep it coming!

Danny.
 
Old 22nd Jul 2012, 02:25
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Its all fascinating Taphappy ! Wonderful reading your memories.Please carry on !
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Old 22nd Jul 2012, 07:40
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Taphappy, there was it seems an RAF Reading and, just as you recall, there seems to have been no stated purpose for it nor named units based at it. However, the co-ordinates given put it close by the railway station and hence probably never "on the outskirts". It seems to have occupied 8 Gun Street! I wonder if that was the "front door" of your place, or more likely perhaps yours went after a completely different ID, named after some hamlet or village around there.
The only airfields around Reading that I could find were RAFs Woodley, Theale, and Smiths Lawn (all 50Gp EFTS) and further out RAF Hampstead Norris (12 Gp OTUs). Do any of those ring a bell?
Stations-R
Edited to add, to the East lay RAFs White Waltham, Waltham St Lawrence, , and Bray Court (EFTS), to the North RAF Henley (EFTS), and to the South RAF Shinfield Park (HQ Flying Training Command!)

Last edited by Chugalug2; 22nd Jul 2012 at 16:16.
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Old 22nd Jul 2012, 10:52
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Danny.
The standard was laid up at St Clement Danes and is still there, probably for ever.
That Mr Hoxtin was Roy Moxam, a senior test pilot with Westland helicopters. We were having problems with engines running down so we were doing a few trials to see if we could find a cause.
That included running a Whirlwind with a fire engine pumping water a full chat into its engine intake to see how long it would take to put the flame out.
It took a surpringly long time, actually.
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Old 22nd Jul 2012, 16:05
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Angel Reading

Chugalug2

Interesting stuff butI can assure you that the camp at Reading was not near the railway station but was on a bus route somewhere near Wantage Hall.
The Gun Street location might have been the site of the HMSO.
Cheers
John
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Old 22nd Jul 2012, 16:26
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Could well be Taphappy, as the HMSO docs were ones for the RAF. BTW I would point out that if you were near Wantage Hall, then you were quite close to Shinfield Park (HQFTC). Your administrative "creativity" could have been dealt with summarily by a galaxy of Air Marshals, if only they'd known ;-)
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Old 23rd Jul 2012, 13:01
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Angel

Chugalug2
Your mention of the word Shinfield ringa a bell and on looking at a map of Reading I see a Shinfield Road which is quite near Wantage Hall and I am pretty sure that on the way out of Reading the camp was on the left hand side of this road.
It was a small camp and I would not have thought that it was the HQ of Flying Training Command but perhaps it was only the living quarters.
Can't say I ever saw any Air Marshalls wandering about but had we realised we were in such august company perhaps our actions at HMSO would have been somewhat different!!!.
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Old 23rd Jul 2012, 14:27
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The 1946-47 edition of Who's Who in British Aviation shows Shinfield Park as the HQ of Flying Training Command. AOC was AM Sir Arthur Coningham.
Tel. no Reading 60471.....!
Within the Command were -
21 Grp. Spitalgate, Grantham
25 Grp. Buntingsdale Hall, Market Drayton
23 Grp. South Cerney
50 Grp. Sylvesters, Berkeley Avenue, Reading
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Old 23rd Jul 2012, 16:48
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Shinfield Park - hmm - about 1965 I took a drill squad of cadets from Cranners to HQ FTC - CinC was Sir Patrick Dunn. I think it was a bash for the 25th Anniversary of the foundation of the Command. Had just done a rehearsal when a message came that I was to report to the lawn in front of the Officers Mess - I turned up to be faced by the CinC and his predecessors - getting a glass of sherry down my throat was, in the circumstances, a bit of a challenge.
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Old 23rd Jul 2012, 16:57
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If you do a search for Cirrus Drive, Reading, on Google Maps, and follow it back to the roundabout where it starts, then zoom in down to street level, you are looking through the gateway to an old and substantial house surrounded now by a Barratt Homes Estate. I suspect that house was Shinfield Park, HQFTC. No doubt the grounds were populated with a hutted encampment and now all gone. The usual signs of previous RAF MQs, ie roads such as Spitfire Way, Hurricane Avenue, Lancaster Road, etc, are all absent. Perhaps they were replaced with the more aspirational ones of Zenith Ave, Pascal Crescent, Aphelion Way, Rossby and Perigee, as well as Cirrus Drive that the site now boasts.
Edited to add that the site backs onto the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts), which rather explains the choice of road names. Perhaps it constitutes their MQs!

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Old 23rd Jul 2012, 17:01
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Fareastdriver,

Thanks for the information (that 110 is just a memory now) - and I suppose in your time the "Hyderabad" part of the name had been dropped by the Politically Correct RAF. Were you a bit puzzled by my "Constipated Tiger" query? The full story is in my Post #2559 p. 128. (Perhaps the white ants did get it after all !)

I've only just realised the significance of "winding-down" in a chopper (never was very bright). Having to surrender to gravity never was a soft option, and though I was never in Malaya, I would think that it would be much like Burma in that good forced landing sites were few and far between.

Cheers,

Danny.
 
Old 23rd Jul 2012, 21:39
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The Vultee Vengeance in Offence (Part II).

Good News - my gremlin has vanished as mysteriously as he came. All back to normal! (fingers crossed).

Being so close to the "sharp end" had its advantages. We were almost entirely spared the usual time-wasting visits by high-ranking notables from Calcutta or Delhi, keen to get in a bit of "front line" time to boast about when they got back. Not entirely, one such party came down to have a look at us in early '44, keen to see how this mixed squadron was getting on. As both flights were furiously busy just then, we gave an impression of rather more harmony than in fact existed, and our visitors were duly impressed. They stayed the night.

At breakfast one asked: "What was that clanking noise we heard during the night?"........"Fifteen Division's tanks moving up" "How far away are the Japs?"......."About thirty miles"......Nothing was said, but our visitors disappeared with the speed of light. I grimly recalled my school Shakespeare (Henry IV Part 1), and the young Percy's scornful words: "Came there a certain Lord, neat and trim'ly dressed" - the epitome of the red-tabbed Staff Officer through the ages. (Nagged by this individual to hand over his prisoners, the weary warrior: "I, all smarting with my wounds being cold, answ'd him roundly, I know not what" - but we can guess!)

We lived in luxury compared with the P.B.I. in the jungle. In bamboo bashas, with mosquito nets and camp beds (in my case, my DIY travelling bed), we were quite comfortable and reasonably well fed, although a lot of bully beef was on the menu - (our Hindu colleagues had to turn a blind eye). The cooks could generally find something to curry; rice was no problem in Burma, and you could always get hold of eggs and the odd scrawny chicken. Nobody starved.

It was unwise to bring the odd cold chicken leg back to your basha for a midnight snack; the scent would attract baboons and you might awake to find a ferocious squabble going on over the titbit by your bedside. The thing to do was not to interfere, but let them get on with it; the beasts had fearsome teeth and were quite ready to use them. As with most wild creatures, they were no trouble if you left them alone.

There was nothing to distinguish one ASC job from another, just another puff of white smoke against another dark green background, a dive and another big cloud of dust and smoke. One trip (by 82 Sqn at Dohazari?) gave particular satisfaction. The Army had a small clearing up front in the Box from which they evacuated their badly wounded in (I think) Stinson "Reliants". Somehow the Jap had managed to get a small mountain gun into range and was causing a problem. We got a "fix" on this gun, (Lord knows how), put in a strike, the gun was no more, the gunners went to join the ancestors and the Army was well pleased.

IIRC, the drill was that the "Reliant" took the casualties back to one of the Cox's Bazar strips; if they were in extremis the MFH at Cox's would patch them up; otherwise the empty 'Daks' coming back from air-drops to the Admin Box landed on some strip and took them on to Calcutta (or up to Chandina, near, it seems, a big hospital in Comilla). The 'Reliant' went back for more. (All this I was told - in the MFH? - any medic from those days who can confirm/deny?)

Not all our sorties were trouble-free. One morning George Davies was hit in the hydraulics over the target (sounds a bit painful), and pulled out of the dive with just enough fluid to get his brakes in before the hydraulic power failed. One undercarriage leg was dangling. He couldn't do anything about it, or close his bomb doors, and it slowed him down a lot.

By arrangement, the front three carried on home by themselves. I'd been No.4 - ("in-the-box"), but now we back three reformed to put George in the lead, with one of us each side so that our gunners could offer him a little extra protection from an attacker coming in from either quarter. We had a Hurricane escort that day, two pairs. One pair went on with the front three, the other stayed with us, sweeping side to side a mile astern to give us some rear cover.

In this configuration we limped home without further incident. Paddy Lamb and I landed; George worked on his problem, but try as he might, he couldn't get the other wheel down or the first one up. They'd tried everything without success. It was obvious that any any attempt to land must write-off the aircraft and probably them with it. They headed it out to sea and abandoned it. Both floated down unhurt on land and the aircraft splashed down in the Bay. That was about the only case where the loss of a Vengeance could certainly be put down to ground fire, although there would be others (such as mine) where it was strongly suspected.

It was a common enough story in itself, but there was an unusual twist to it. S/Ldr Thomas (whom we know well), tells a remarkably similar story of a VV which developed a hydraulic fault shortly after take-off, and had to be abandoned in the same way. In his version, the empty aircraft turns back and circles round, threatening one of the parachutes at each pass (very much like my story of the dropped Form 1 at Carlstrom Field long ago).

I never heard of this occurrence, and wonder if we are hearing a much embroidered version of the George Davies affair (could it be? - remember that S/Ldr. Thomas's reminiscences were written 40 years after the event). If that is the case, it is strange (and typical of the IAF "chippiness") that it is told without a single mention that a British crew were involved !

Goodnight, chaps,

Danny42C


Keep smiling!

Last edited by Danny42C; 23rd Jul 2012 at 21:43. Reason: Add Material
 
Old 25th Jul 2012, 22:03
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So notch one VV up to the Sun God, no matter, the important thing is that the crew were alive and well and took exactly the right decision.
Ah, SOs chasing gongs etc, but staying only long enough to get them! Was there a gong in it for them this time, or would they have really had to "get some in" to get a Star?I would hope so!
The Stinson Reliant was a rather impressive aircraft by the looks of it, a sort of Mini Beaver, and rather more substantial than the Piper Cub or Auster utility types usually associated with casevac. Of course Mr Vultee and his associates didn't do "small" did they? So no real surprise. The Haynes Manual equivalent for the type is 4283, the pilots notes for the RAF AT-19 is 4282. here:-
Reliant
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Old 26th Jul 2012, 17:28
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Gongs in Burma, and Stinson Reliants.

Chugalug,

No, I'm afraid there was nothing in it for the Top Brass who came slumming from time to time. Everybody in Theatre got the Burma Star, even if he'd spent his whole time polishing an office chair in Delhi (it was ever thus).

Yes, the Reliant looks a very capable not-so-little thing. AFAIK, I never saw one, and your link looks interesting - thanks! (I particularly liked the archaic US expression "ship" - that takes me back - and had to smile at the ernest injunction not to confuse the Carburetter Heat with the Cockpit Heat (as if I would ?)

I would have thought that the poor devils on the stretchers would find it a bit more roomy and comfortable than (say) an Auster (did we have those then?)

Cheers,

Danny
 
Old 26th Jul 2012, 19:28
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We did, Danny, "we" being the RAF, the RAAF, and the RCAF. Special AOP RAF Squadrons were formed with RA and RAF personnel. They were supposed to operate the Stinson Vigilant, of which 100 were ordered but were "severely damaged during shipping"! So 100 modified Taylorcraft Austers were ordered instead and operated in North Africa, Italy, France, The Low Countries and Germany. There was also an RAF Squadron equipped with them in Burma, as well as Australian ones in the Pacific Theatre. Finally, some RCAF Squadrons were formed at RAF Andover and seconded as detachments after D-Day.
Their role was Artillery Spotting, but I have no doubt that they were often the quickest means at hand to move the wounded, do general recce, and to act as an aerial jeep:
Taylorcraft Auster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 26th Jul 2012, 21:48
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Austers and the like.

Chugalug,

Once again, thanks again for filling in the gaps in my knowledge! Rooting about in Wiki, I find that Vultee did have a "puddle-jumper" in their stable - they'd taken over Stinson in 1940; the Stinson "Sentinel" was renamed their "Voyager", it seems.

Danny.
 
Old 27th Jul 2012, 06:00
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I've got the service record of a 222 Sqn pilot (Spitfires then Tempests) who spent some time between 'tours' flying for '84 Group Communications Squadron' (Treble Two being part of 84 Gp) - ORBs for 84 Gp CS record multiple flights in Austers that he completed in late 1943-early 1944 in northern France and the Netherlands. They were used for general 'odd' jobs for the operational squadrons, it seems - eg ferrying pilots to pick up other aircraft or doing the mail run etc. So the Austers got around a little bit (though at no great speed I'd reckon...).

Adam
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Old 27th Jul 2012, 14:59
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Private Messages

Taphappy,

Please check PMs,

Danny.
 
Old 27th Jul 2012, 15:21
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Exclamation Auster Flying in WW2.

To Kookabat.

Adam,

If your chap was flying about over France and the Netherlands in 1943 and "early" 1944, then he sure wasn't just "doing odd jobs"! (We didn't get ashore on the continent until June '44 - "D" Day).

More likely he was was ferrying agents and dropping off stuff for the Resistance. Usually they had Lysanders, which could land on nothing and take off on next to nothing, but I suppose an Auster would do.

Anyway, thanks for the information,

Danny.
 

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