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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 13th Aug 2012, 19:20
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This may be of interest, posted on the Aviation History and Nostalgia forum:

http://www.pprune.org/aviation-histo...-web-site.html
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Old 13th Aug 2012, 21:26
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Angel

26ER
Welcome to the thread, we look forward to reading your experiences.
DFCP.
Your story of the ex Polish RAF pilot reminds me of some of the many Poles who were staff pilots at Topcliffe. One in particular would chuck an Anson around as though he was flying a Spit,his favourite trick was to deliberately stall the kite and then dive to earth scaring the daylights out of the pupil navigators. He was also known for his indulgence in illegal low flying.They were unable to return to Poland because of the Communist regime and had stayed on in the RAF.
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Old 13th Aug 2012, 22:30
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Vengeance Casualties.

DFCP,

AFAIK, there were no certain cases of RAF or IAF Vengeance casualties due to Japanese action. All I knew of were flying accidents of one kind or another.

Peter C. Smith (Vengeance ! 1986) mention cases of aircraft going straight in after dives, but these were far more probably due to late pull-outs - we can never know.

Aircraft were lost due to enemy action, but no people (to my knowledge).

Your "Ziggie" would be a Sigmund (German) or Zigmunt (Polish), of course.

The F-104 was renowned as "the widow maker".

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 13th Aug 2012 at 22:35.
 
Old 14th Aug 2012, 19:33
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A German told me that if you ever wanted a Starfighter all you had to do was buy a small plot of land. One would arrive in due course.
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Old 14th Aug 2012, 20:50
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Originally Posted by Danny42C
There is a present-day slant on the tale of my crash. In any forced landing a pilot has to make the best of a bad job. He can do no other. In two cases which have hit the headlines in the last year or so ( the 777 which just managed to flop over the fence into Heathrow and the Airbus ditched in the Hudson river), the pilots concerned have been surprised to find themselves publicy feted as 'heroes'.

My case was the same as theirs (in kind, though much smaller in degree). Naked self-preservation was the name of the game. Three questions arise: Did I do a good job? - Yes! Was I incredibly (in the true sense of that much abused word) lucky? - Yes! Was I a "hero", in any sense? - Sorry folks, but No! I did what had to be done, and so did they, and we all got away with it, and there's no more to be said.
Danny, what you have said in the above quote I tend to agree. Landing a disabled aircraft does in most cases not make you a hero. HOWEVER, you, all your colleagues in uniforms of assorted colours plus the usually forgotten Merchant Marine crews, who put yourselves in harms way time after time ARE Heroes. There are no ifs or buts about this, just a simple fact.

In another Forum the poster mentions he met a Lancaster pilot at a museum. The words he spoke to the pilot (is there ever an ex-pilot), I thought, says it all. "Thank you for your service". I wish I had thought of those words myself. To all the contributors of this incredible thread and all the other contributors who are reading it who have put themselves in harms way defending our way of life;
Thank you for your service!!

If a Moderator reads this, there is a calendar function on the vBulletin software. Could a reminder be set that will trigger each year on the 6th of June to remind us and so we can remember the Hero who started this topic, Cliffnemo; Lest we forget.
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 01:12
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Heroes ?

Biggles78,

Thank you for the warm words of appreciation and gratitude, which I humbly accept on behalf of all the members of my generation, in particular those of us whose good fortune it has been to be able to say: "I was with Harry - on Crispin's Day !" (and who "show our scars" on this Thread).

I am pleased you make mention of the Merchant Navy crews, for in many ways they were the forgotten men of WW2. In the RAF, even suffering the dreadful losses of Bomber Command at home, at least they had interludes of a few days of (relative) safety, and a little comfort, between operational sorties.

But to live a life where you are constantly in deadly peril, with the "sword of Damocles" of a sudden torpedo always over your head, day and night, must have demanded a special kind of courage. Wearing no uniform (apart from IIRC, a little "MN" lapel badge) to earn public respect, often working in the most miserable conditions, they brought in the food, raw materials and the war supplies without which we could not survive - never mind fight a war. They were not richly paid, and deserve a little honour now.

I must stand by the last sentence of the quotation you cite: "I did what had to be done, and so did they, and we all got away with it, and there's no more to be said". (Of course, there were millions who did not - it was always a matter of blind chance).

"Heroes" ? I prefer the much-quoted: "They were just ordinary men who did extraordinary things".

I like your idea of a "Cliff's Memorial Day", although this Thread in itself is a tribute to the very gallant gentleman (RIP) who founded it. What do other people think ?

Goodnight,

Danny42C
 
Old 15th Aug 2012, 12:27
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26er, great to have you on board, and carrying the banner for n/s pilots. I joined the RAF as a Flight Cadet in 1959, so by then n/s was already running down. Many saw it as an unwelcome imposition, but in your case it was surely the chance of a lifetime.
The only way I was ever going to fly was if HMG was footing the bill.It did so in getting me a Flying Scholarship while still at school (having already sent me solo in a glider) and would now train me as a military pilot. Unless you were very lucky in whose child you were, and who they or you knew, that was almost the only way to become a pilot. Here I think the RAF deserves a plug for instead of drawing from many generations of RAF families (which of course there wasn't) it merely required anyone to have attained the required educational standard, passed an interview and tests to ascertain if you were aircrew material. So we came from all walks of life (mostly educated at Grammar Schools admittedly) but shared in common the burning desire to fly which we shared with all those that have posted in this thread.
BTW the Vampire has been instanced here as best representing this period of the new "jet age" RAF. I have always felt the de Havilland twin boom jets to be some of the prettiest shapes in the sky. Perhaps those that flew them then (we didn't, being the first course on the Jet Provost) thought differently.
Pilots Notes for the various marks of Vampire here:
Vampire
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 12:28
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They were not richly paid, and deserve a little honour now.
Not many people are aware of it, but when a merchant ship went down, the crew's wages were stopped until such time as they went back on the pool and joined another ship. Cruel Sea indeed!
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 15:28
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Re 'That Generation'

My Dad had a good phrase - not sure where he cribbed it from?

"I had a good war, a) I survived and b) they made me an officer and a gentleman"

Not bad for an apprentice pattern maker who left school at 14/15

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 17:57
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gaining an RAF piots brevet in WW2

26ER---It would seem from your experience that certainly by 1949 the RAF had dispensed with Grading Schools in the pilot selection process. Perhaps they had the aptitude tests fine tuned by that time--what was the failure rate up to 'wings"?---thinking a little further I suspect that in WW2 failure rates were somewhat "adjusted" according to "Needs of the service"
26ER and Danny 42c----you two are either side of my age and both of you chose to renlist rather than go commercial.
In 1952 at 26 I vaguely considered commercial aviation but judged that my flying experiece would be of little consequence when compare with the real WW2 guys,a little older, but many of them with lots of 4 engined time.
I am in touch with another RAF pilot my age who after staying in until 54 went commercial.He had a very interesting life but it would seem some rocky times too.
Did either of you consider commercial?
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 19:13
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DFCP

I doubt that most of us old farts can really remember what it was like to be twenty. When I was at Valley having just passed my 20th birthday I wrote to BEA explaining what a greart loss to their airline it would be if they didn't offer me employment. I heard nothing until after I had been demobbed for about a week (early December) when a letter arrived at my Mother's home having been redirected from Valley to Chivenor to there, asking me to attend an interview the previous day! I phoned and was told, "we've all been in the forces, young man, and quite understand the problem - can you come tomorrow?". Which I did, to be asked questions such as "what is full throttle height". They were interested as the chairman of the board said that I was the first applicant he had seen with jet experience. (all of about 100 hours) The outcome of this was to be told that they had filled their training quota for 1951 but they would like me to join in October 1952. In those days all training was done in the winter months. That seemed to be a lifetime away and to cut the story short I rejoined the mob. My life then continued in the usual manner for the RAF in those days, though I always consider myself lucky to have survived the high attrition on Meteors in '52 - '54, even as a "mini god QFI". So I finally handed my watch back in '69, (though I've still my Dalton computor and perspex ruler in my desk) and in 1970 joined BEA. Many of my RAF colleagues from the mid fifties were senior captains by that time and there was I a sprog again, but even so it was a good job - certainly better than going to work in a proper job - and rather like the airforce in many ways but being paid more and being less buggered about, although that was not a given. The Hamble guys were less willing than ex service folk to follow the rules. I finally finished commercial flying on my 60th birthday, that being the retirement age at that time though shortly after it increased to 65. And I carried on in the RAFVR(T) until 65 having flown Chipmunks and Bulldogs with them for twenty years.

So you could say that luck came my way through National Service like many colleagues from those days who still meet up and enjoy a jar or three together. But the real guys were those like Danny, Regle and Cliff. There were so many about when I started, with uniforms covered in real medals - DSOs, DFCs, DFMs and one with a George Cross who became a postman but they were Old Farts, perhaps 30 years of age. As I said earlier, can you really remember being twenty?
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 19:37
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Danny, some snags and the Marvels of Science.

Bomb Doors and the Tin Box.

It was at Chittagong one afternoon and we had a solo Vengeance about to leave for Calcutta. Time was tight, there was only just enough to get there before dusk. At the very last moment, the phone rang in the Flight Office. There was an Army officer on his way home on urgent compassionate leave. He was too late for the last Dak shuttle, could we give him a lift? It would save him a day on the train. Of course !

By now, our pilot had the engine running; we held the aircraft intil a jeep screeched up with our man - and his big steel uniform case! (aka tin box). It was too big to go in the back with him, so while we found a 'chute and were strapping him in, two of our chaps would load this thing in the bomb bay. The pilot did not want to shut down and lose more time, so they had to do it with hydraulic pressure in the system.

The pilot half-opened the doors and held them open with the cockpit control on a knife-edge (the bomb doors are double-folding - see the Camden Vengeance pics (#2627 p. 132). This was highly dangerous (and strictly forbidden), the control might slip and the doors crush an arm flat in a moment.

Struggling in the hot and dusty propwash under the aircraft, pushing it in with bits of stick, they had got the box over the lip of one door - and the control slipped. There was a nasty crunch. Bomb doors are stronger than tin trunks. Desperately, they signalled the pilot to open up again, pushed the sorry remnants of our passenger's worldly goods in, flagged the pilot to close up, gave him the thumbs-up and away he went.

I never did hear the end of the story. It wouldn't be a total loss unless he had a bottle of ink (or Welfare Scotch) inside. Uniforms would only need a good press, and you could get these tin uniform cases in any bazaar for Rs.30 - not that he'd be doing much shopping on his rush home !

Maintenance Hiccup,

I went across to Dispersal one morning to check on my aircraft. By now the (largely Indian) ground staff should be finishing the D.I.s. The last item would be an engine test run. One of the basic rules was: "Do not try to take any serious power out of (any) engine until the oil temperature has risen 15 (C)". Normally this happens very quickly, but there are rare chilly winter mornings and this was one of them. The engine mechanic had decided to speed things up with a very fast tickover.

He'd overdone it; an oil line or joint had blown. The stuff was pouring out of the bottom, but as he was concentrating on the other cockpit checks, and the engine noise blotted out the shouts and waves of the onlookers, it was not until two chaps grabbed the wingtips and violently see-sawed (oil was being blown all over the lower fuselage and tail), that they got his attention and he shut the engine down.

Now the rest of the 21 gallons was forming a quickly growing circular pool under the aircraft. It was at this point that I came on the scene, and never in my life have I seen a look of such utter misery as that on the little chap in the cockpit. I think his name was Subramanian (?), which is a Tamil name from South India. Naturally darker-skinned than his northern counterparts, he looked almost blacker with grief and apprehension.

Well he might, for the (RAF) "Chiefy" had arrived, incandescent with fury. Not wishing to become a witness in a case of an airman about to be assaulted by a SNCO, I tactfully withdrew. Someone recovered our parachutes (which we left in the seats most of the time), without too much oil on them, and I transferred to another aircraft. But I shall never forget that face!

The aircraft would be u/s for a while, everything forward of the firewall would be smothered in oil, the rear fuselage was covered in it, and I suppose there'd be so much oil on the tyres after they pushed the thing out clear of the pool that the covers would have to be scrapped (the individual dispersal pen wasn't much good, either).

What happened to him? Can't remember, but if S/Ldr Sutherland had taken over from S/Ldr Prasad by then, I wouldn't give much for his chances !

Primitive Radar in Arakan.

During our time in the Arakan in '44, Radar was in its infancy out there (I think we might have still have been calling it "Radiolocation"). But there was a small radar unit not far from where we were. I am not sure whether it was purely experimental, or intended to work with the Spitfires which were then in action in the theatre. A small group of us who were not doing anything in particular that morning took a 15cwt and went over to see this Wonder of the Age in action. It was on a kutcha strip with a flight of the Spitfires on it.

The Radar people were housed in a large basha, I forget what sort of aerial array they had, but it was small, low and not very impressive. Inside it was very hot and stuffy, and very noisy too from the row from the diesel generator truck outside. We had not got round to a rotating timebase yet (the "Plan Position Indicator"), they were still working on the linear timebases which we had used in 1940. We gazed in awe at these mysterious "spikes" which, we were assured, meant aircraft; the distance along the line denoted the distance away. I suppose the array would rotate (manually).

Suitably impressed, we enjoyed a glass of "char", and checked with the operators before leaving. We were solemnly assured that there was no aircraft activity within thirty miles. We could relax on the way back. We thanked our hosts, and were walking back to the truck. Half way to it we heard the sound of unfamiliar engines and then the rattle of gunfire: a pair of hit-and-run Oscars came through on a firing pass down the runway. They didn't hit any of the Spits, which were all well dispersed in the trees.

We'd dived into a handy ditch beside the track, there was stagnant water in the bottom as we'd recently had a light shower (the much smaller North-East monsoon). In this were the usual leeches: we were all in shorts and rolled up sleeves: they thought Chrismas had come. There followed a five-minute session with puffed cigarettes - you put the hot end to the leech's bum, he lets go (wouldn't you?) and drops off. You must not try to brush him or pull him off, he'll come off all right but leave his mouth-parts in the wound, the result being a very nasty, festering sore.

Our faith in the Marvels of Science somewhat dented, we accepted the apologies of the technicians - apparently the Japs had come in "under the radar" - an excuse I would often hear in the years to come !

Back to another promised story ("Calcutta") next time, before I leave Bengal for good.

'Night, all.

Danny42C.


Stand-at-ease!

Last edited by Danny42C; 15th Aug 2012 at 19:51. Reason: Incomplete text inadvertently Posted.
 
Old 15th Aug 2012, 19:44
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DFCP - the late regle posted on here about his time with Sabena, starting here I think:

http://www.pprune.org/military-aircr...ml#post5120193

He had a very interesting time in commercial avaiation, especially as described in his posts on page 89.

Last edited by Hipper; 15th Aug 2012 at 19:44.
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 21:16
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Comments.

Chugalug,

Yes, the Vampire flew prettily, too. I liked it very much (Mk.IIIs on 20 Sqdn, Valley, '50-'51, and rides begged on IIIs and Vs from 608, Thornaby, '52-'54). Much more pleasant than the Meteor, which I recall as being all push and no lift. And you could see where you were going when taxying!

Thanks for the link - will enjoy this.....D


DFCP and 26er,

I would have loved a chance of civil flying in '46, but with 600 hours of s/e time, there was no hope. A friend of mine was told, firmly but kindly, by Aer Lingus (?): "As far as we are concerned, single engined flying is not flying, and single engine time is not flying time".

Other firms took the same view, and you can't blame 'em. Why take on an unknown quantity, when you'd a queue at the door with logbooks bulging with two and four hour times?

No option but a return to the Civil Service, fed up with that by '48, managed to get a short-service commission in '49, stayed in till '72. Have now drawn my pension for almost 40 years (got my money out of them at last!).......D

Last edited by Danny42C; 17th Aug 2012 at 14:47.
 
Old 16th Aug 2012, 01:27
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Gaining an RAF pilots brevet in WW2

Hipper---Thank you --I followed all thru Reggies fascinating career on this site. He of course had considerable multi time--Halifax and Mosquito-- when he got into Sabena. It was nice to read his compliments about working for Sabena.I lived in Brussels in the early 60,s and several times flew up to Hamburg on a Sunday evening in one of their Convairs--always a VERYcold meal.
In retrospect the drive to Zaventum was always amusing. Just before you came to the airport you drove over a bridge and then as you turned left you came head on to an undertakers operation with a coffin standing straight up in the window!
Danny 42c-Your views on employment prospects make sense. The guy I referenced earlier had Dakota and York experience before he left the RAF in 54 --even then it was a struggle . I suspect that unless you got into BEA or BOAC there was much turmoil in the industry with attendant insecurity
I dont think it was as difficult in Canada since AC took several of the 400 people who had only 250 ish hours all told. but then I,m sure the 400 Squadron connection helped them get in.
In your 20+ years--49-72--did these consist of a series of SSC and was there any truth in my impression that it was practically impossible to get above S/Ldr without a PC.
And do I recall--RAF or RCAF? that there was an "up or out" policy--eg if you hadnt made S/Ldr by 50 you were retired---but I should have had no fear--"W/C by 39" the RCAF recruiter said--so nice to hear but NO I didnt believe him!

Last edited by DFCP; 16th Aug 2012 at 13:57. Reason: spelling
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Old 16th Aug 2012, 13:54
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Gaining an RAF pilots brevet in WW2

Danny 42c
No doubt the Vampire was more pleasant to fly than a Meteor but as a fighting machine I wonder--in air to ground live firing I recall the Vampires nose danced around as you fired.
I think the Meteor was light on ailerons and heavy on elevators but you certainly knew you were "motoring" with lots of thrust That is, "lots" by 1950 standards
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Old 16th Aug 2012, 17:10
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Careers and Vampires.

DFCP,

I've no experience with the Vampire as a gun platform (didn't have any guns in them in 20 Sqdn !) so must defer to your superior knowledge. Yes, the Meteor was more of a projectile than an aircraft, wasn't it ?

Turmoil wasn't the word for the aircraft industry in the years immediately after the war. Anybody with a "B" licence, and who could scratch the money together to buy a war-surplus C-47 (refitted as a DC-3), set up in business as "Xxxxxxx Airlines", employing ex-RAF pilots. These would fly for peanuts or less just to keep their "B" licences (on which they'd blown all their gratuities) alive. (Maintenance ? - don't ask !)

But for every Freddie Laker who made it, a score of others went to the wall in short order; another hopeful would set up in the same DC-3 as "Yyyyyyy Airlines"; same again. It was a wonder that the poor old things could fly at all with the weight of paint on them. BEA or BOAC ? Dream on !

I came back on a 8+4 SSC, Boss put me up for a PC, AOC said "fine", C-in-C Fighter Command (AM Sir Basil Embry), took one look and found that, although I had gone to a rugby school, I didn't even play for the Station. Thumbs-down!

In all fairness, I must have been a dead duck from the start. A 30 yr old F/Lt with less than 2 yrs seniority was just what the Command didn't want. (I'd be about 36 before I came into the time frame for promotion, far too late).

You had to have a PC to get past S/Ldr ? You had to have a PC to get to S/Ldr ! Luckily for me, the "Limited Career" PC was introduced in '52. The deal was: "we'll keep you on for a pension, you'll not get past F/Lt".

This was at first open for entry only into the Aircraft and Fighter Control Branches; I put in for ATC - accepted. Then they extended it to "Pilot"; I switched - acceped again. CMB ploughed me for flying, opted back (are you following all this ?) - accepted.

Result: retired as F/Lt. with 23 yrs seniority in rank (can anyone beat that ?)

Cheers,

Danny.
 
Old 16th Aug 2012, 20:32
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Angel

Back in Civvy Street but like many other ex servicemen I found it really difficult to adjust but found an antidote to the problem by enlisting in the reconstituted RAFVR in 1948 for a 5 year period.
Flying was done at Scone near Perth in Ansons piloted by civilian pilots employed by Airwork who ran the Reserve Flying Centre. One was committed to weekend flying and 2 weeks camp each year. This would normally be done at your home station but it was possible to make arrangements to go elsewhere.
This was an ideal situation still being able to get airborne on a part time basis and being paid for it.
Unfortunately when my time was up in 1953 there was no offer of re-engagement as the RAFVR was being run down and it must have been very expensive running these centres in various parts of the country . Thus ended my official connection with the RAF.
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Old 16th Aug 2012, 23:02
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Wull ye no come back agin' ?

Taphappy,

"Thus ended my official connection with the the RAF". But please, not with us ! There must be many a tale yet in your times with the VR in '48. Think hard !

I myself joined them as an F/O in that year in Fazackerley (Liverpool), but in the time before I went back into the RAF in summer '49, IIRC, they hadn't organised any training.

Danny.
 
Old 16th Aug 2012, 23:03
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You had to have a PC to get past S/Ldr ? You had to have a PC to get to S/Ldr !

Which inevitably reminds me of the time when I was still a two-and-a-half ringer, riding a Service bicycle (known as a Pusser's Red Devil, despite usually being black - don't ask!) through the Naval Base at Rosyth, when the captain of the visiting US submarine for which I was the liaison officer stopped me and said, "In the US Navy we wouldn't let a Lieutenant Commander ride a bicycle", to which I replied, "In the Royal Navy you have to be one to get one!"

Jack

PS DFCP I note that you said that "I am in touch with another RAF pilot my age...." In the spirit of Danny's exhortations, perhaps he can be induced to join the happy throng ....?

Last edited by Union Jack; 16th Aug 2012 at 23:07.
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