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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 15th Oct 2012, 17:37
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As it was practically impossible to find the newcomers a flying job, a short-term expedient (for NCO aircrew at least) was to misemploy them, on quite a large scale, as MT drivers, storemen and clerks, etc. (I believe the same idea was taken up in the UK).

Precisely what happened to the "founding father" of this outstanding thread, the late lamented Cliffnemo, who became an "equipment assistant". Posts 1963, 1973, and 1982 refer in particular, in the last of which he and many others expressed their feelings rather spectacularly .....


PS Danny - belated congratulations on your promotion!
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Old 15th Oct 2012, 20:54
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MT Duties

Danny & U/Jack

My late Dad Ken Crossley (later SATCO with 608 RAuxAF), on completion of First Tour as an A/G with 31/34 SAAF was withdrawn to Egypt in Feb/March '45 and commissioned then posted briefly to 221 Sqd by now withdrawn to the Nile Delta

Then as Aug events came and went was posted to Aden as MT Officer RAF Steamer Point - he quite enjoyed that posting!!! then home for demob Easter '46;

PZULBA - Out of Africa
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Old 15th Oct 2012, 21:50
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Danny, your account of the post August 1945 scene vividly points up the arbitrariness of military assignments in the Far East Theatre of War. For, despite your laudable description of the realities of the logistical issues involved, nonetheless troops had to stay out there while many of their European Theatre counterparts were being demobbed and of course grabbing the civilian jobs ahead of them.
I would suggest that was the trigger for the "Mutinies" (a word that conjures up lurid and bloodthirsty scenarios while the reality was rather more mundane and clerical in nature) rather than enforced idleness per se. Another issue was the varied attempts by the Colonial Powers (including the UK) to regain the territories lost to the Japanese and ironically using Japanese troops to help quell anti-colonial resistance in French and Dutch colonies. While no doubt they were required to obey such orders coming down the Chain of Command, these were somewhat at variance to the Atlantic Charter for which the War had supposedly been fought.
These were troops conscripted for the "duration" which might well be defined as expiring August 8th 1945, or very shortly thereafter. When some at last got home it was to a gloomy Post War Britain where everyone wanted nothing more than to forget about the War, which included those still returning from it. Hail the Conquering Hero! Not!
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Old 16th Oct 2012, 01:56
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Danny gets some New Aircraft to Try.

CDRE decided that they needed something faster than a VV to do some high-speed drops and sprays (to assess the effects on droplet size and area covered, etc.) Everything is faster than a VV, and even though I offered to come down full-bore from 5,000 ft or so (which should enable me to wind it up to 250 mph or so), nothing but a Thunderbolt and a Mosquito would satisfy them. They put in the request to Delhi: - "Certainly, Sir !" - "Right away, Sir ! - anything else you'd like, Sir ?" - Both aircraft duly turned up (only on temporary loan, of course), complete with their own pilots and ground crews.

This set me thinking. Up to then, I'd no reason to doubt the purely peaceful purpose of our efforts in the Defence Research Establishment. But I think they had retaliatory attacks in mind (before the war ended of course): it is often the best form of defence after all, and it would make sense to see how good the two aircraft were at the job, should the need ever arise in future. They were the ground-attack types which would have been used out there had the war continued.

As I remenber, the two aircraft came to us more or less at the same time. The Thunderbolt II was flown in by a South African Army Captain (like the USAAC, they had no unified Air Force then). Capt. Van der ??? came from a Boer farming family and must have dropped straight out of his cradle into a saddle, and stayed there ever since. He gave an impressive demonstration (at least, I'd never seen it before), in which he ran up behind his horse's rump and vaulted clean over it into the saddle. The astounded beast took off like a rocket, but he had no trouble staying on board.

The Mosquito (Mark XVI ?) arrived with a fully qualified (or so he said) veterinary surgeon at the helm (sadly, name forgotten). How on earth he managed to get into the RAF from one of the most Reserved of Reserved Occupations, I do not know, perhaps under that same dispensation whereby my Metropolitan policeman room mate at O.T.U. at Hawarden had wangled it. This vet of ours wasn't very tall, and couldn't see over the Mossie's nose until he got the tail up. Neither could I, for that matter, but he could hardly see even after the tail was up !

Both these aircraft attracted intense interest, of course; we crawled all over them and the question of Having a Go arose at once. Our "airfield" was quite dangerous enough without trying to convert pilots to a new type on it. Moreover, nobody in his right mind would consider flying a Mossie without a proper conversion (and that aircraft did not Suffer Fools Gladly even then, by all accounts). I would authorise only its own pilot to fly it (and it had its own dedicated ground crew as well).

But the Thunderbolt was simpler proposition. All the big American radial singles were known to fly alike; the landing technique was the same in all cases, bring the thing in slow with plenty of power on , get close to the ground, shut off steam. Gravity would do the rest. The Captain showed us round the commodious cockpit and gave us all the "gen". All of us who had relevant experience on big singles tried it, and everybody liked the "Big Fighter". Nobody had any trouble at all with it: the rolling "bulldog gait" of its very wide u/c track attracting favourable comment all round.

I was very impressed. No Spitfire of course, but stable, smooth and comfortable, with wonderful all round visibility - a real "old gentleman's aeroplane", in fact. The Twin Wasp was a much sweeter engine than my Double Cyclone. What charmed me most of all was the power-operated canopy. Until then, I'd had to struggle awkwardly, dragging it closed and pulling it back open, while trussed up in my harness like a turkey. Now press a button, slides open ! Press again, slides closed ! Marvellous !

More about this (and the Mossie) next time.

Time for bed,


What will they think of next ?

.................................................Postscripts :

Union Jack,

Thanks for the congrats ! (Alas, it didn't last long and was to be the apogee of my "career") but it was nice while it lasted !.....D.


I suppose that after the Western Desert even Steamer Point (although I never saw Aden) might seem "cushy" to your Dad ! (everything's relative, after all)..... D.


Yes, those few years when the Colonial Powers vainly thought they could turn the clock back and restore the status quo ended in such a conflict of varied interests, ethnic loyalties and national ambitions that the area has not really settled down yet.

The "mutineers" had some well founded grievances. It was widely believed that priority in repatriation was being given to US forces in the UK and Europe. This was not totally unreasonable. A converted liner carrying (say) 5,000 could do a round trip to the US every 14 days or so, the same operation to Bombay might take 28 or more - the North Atlantic operation was twice as efficient (as a man-mover) in those terms.

And space was at a premium everywhere. The five million people we had in uniform were scattered all over the globe. You had to repatriate the American, Canadian and all the other Dominion and foreign Forces to make room for our returning people in the crowded Britain of '45 and '46. And when you had got them home, then they had to be "parked" somewhere to await the happy (?) day when their Release Group Number came up. The complications were endless......D.

Goodnight, all,

Old 16th Oct 2012, 10:16
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The RAF Winter Sports Association planned Far East branch
That reminds us of the RAF Gan ski team. Anything to wangle a couple of weeks off the island. I believe the CO told them to do some training first - and water ski-ing wouldn't count.
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Old 16th Oct 2012, 12:41
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The Mosquito .. arrived with a fully qualified veterinary surgeon .. at the helm. How on earth he managed to get into the RAF from one of the most Reserved of Reserved Occupations, I do not know ..
In one of the James Herriot books (Vets Might Fly perhaps?) he says that as a veterinary surgeon the ONLY role he could have was actually flying. When he was grounded due to illness he was discharged and went back to being a vet in Yorkshire, where he spent the rest of the war (and the rest of his life). He said he joined up in 1940 as he was very keen to help protect Britain from invasion.

The younger vet, 'Tristram', joined the army later on in the War as an officer to be veterinary surgeon to camels in the desert.

Your posts are so interesting Danny!
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Old 16th Oct 2012, 21:23
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Thinking about the problems of getting people home at the end of hostilities reminds me of the CO of an ATC detached flight I once worked with. He was the skipper of an ASR launch in the Far East and was ordered to take it all the way back to the UK. Although that seemed to me to be a great adventure I don't think that he was so impressed at the time.
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Old 17th Oct 2012, 00:12
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Replies to Comment.


Was there really a RAF Winter Sports Association in the Far East in your time in Gan ? Where was it ? Tell us more ! (My place was a pukka RAF unit, except that shaving was optional).



Yes, I enjoyed the books. Coincidentally, we lived in Thirsk from '68 - '72. We took our little dog to Mr James "Alf" Wight in his surgery in Churchgate once or twice, before he made the place famous.

Also thanks for the kind words !


pulse 1,

Your nautical friend must have had a sizeable vessel (did he really sail it home ? if so, there must be a book to be written about that voyage, if he yet lives). Oddly enough, I would have been glad of his advice and experience on one occasion (mustn't forget to tell the tale).

My thanks to all,

Old 17th Oct 2012, 01:46
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your references to the demob problem at the end of the war in the Far East reminds me that at the end of the war in Europe, 4 Group were converted from bombers to a transport role mainly with the Dakota. Many of the squadrons were then sent out to India. This must have caused huge resentment in those who may have well thought they had done their 'bit' in Europe. It would of course have added to the problems ref accommodation and morale you have referred to.
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Old 17th Oct 2012, 22:42
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Very true, although it made sense in the three months before the Bomb, when it looked as if it would have to be "all hands to the pumps" for everyone against Japan for the foreseeable future, irrespective of whether they'd done their bit in Europe or Burma already.

Did your chaps fly the Daks out to India ? If so, they were at risk of having them "repossessed" by the US after VJ Day, as they would almost certainly have been Lend-Lease aircraft. Then they would have been orphans in the same way as the shipboard people.

Put simply, the Bomb caught everyone napping, and all decisions had to be made "off the cuff",

Old 18th Oct 2012, 01:07
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Danny has an Unpleasant Vision of the Future.

We each had two or three "familiarisation" trips in this aircraft - although all the actual trials flying was, of course, done by the Captain. The last of us to try his hand was W/Cdr. Edmondes. I was a bit nervous about this, but as he was getting around in his Harvard well enough and had flown the VVs from time to time - he should be all right. Even so, a small crowd of us gathered to watch.

He went smoothly off the cliff edge - and vanished ! Cardiac arrests all round for a long second - and then he reappeared, climbing away. Some swore they'd seen spray blowing off his wheels (I think I'd closed my eyes !). He took it round for twenty minutes or so and came in perfectly. Nothing was said. But my blood ran cold, as a dreadful vision loomed up in my imagination. I was in the hot seat at a Court Martial.

The aircraft was my responsibility, not the Wingco's, I'd signed the Authorisation Book; the full weight of the RAF's wrath would have descended on me. I could hear the Prosecuting Officer: "What on earth were you thinking about, Flight Lieutenant, to treat this valuable aircraft as a plaything ? - and so losing it, and the life of a senior officer into the bargain ?" I wouldn't have had a leg to stand on. There were to be no more joy-rides.

As for the Mossie, the rest of us had to be content with passenger rides in the navigator's seat. IIRC, there were no dual controls, so we couldn't even get the feel of the thing. The performance was a revelation, but our vet was keen on demonstrating the s/e capability and feathered one each time to show us. The sight of an airscrew stationary or slowly windmilling did not make me particularly happy; it was a case of: "Yes, yes - very nice, I'm sure - now please get the damn' thing running again!"

My impression of the cockpit was that space was very tight. The nav's seat was set back a bit as there wasn't room for a shoulder-to-shoulder fit, how he did his work I can't think. I hope the canopy came off easily in emergency, for I wouldn't fancy my chances of getting out of the little cabin hatch down by my feet. (As I would have to get out first, I would reckon my skipper's chances even less). But you really need a Mossie man to explain how it all worked.

One of my rides was a little too exciting for comfort. Half way down the runway on take-off, at full power, the auto boost limiter on the No. 2 failed. The sudden surge of extra power on that side swung the nose hard left just as we were leaving the ground, and although the vet pulled the offending engine back at once, we were left heading for the Fort, now far too close to dodge. It looked as if my short and not particularly glorious career was about to come to an abrupt end.

But the vet hauled back on the yoke, the Mossie gathered up its skirts and wet-henned over the top with inches to spare. As I've often said, in aviation a miss is always as good as a mile. I should perhaps say that the "Fort" was not one of these tall things with turrets and battlements, but a low affair perhaps two or three stories high and a wide level top - really a gun platform to cover Moplah Bay and defend the settlement against any seaborne invasion from any other European colonial powers.

For my own benefit as well as that of any readers, I've just had a look at my log to make some sense of the nine months between the Bomb and my return to the UK. Month by month, it went like this: We came back to Cannanore in August about the time of the surrender. The rest of the month and the whole of September seemed to have been spent in a state of shock, all my flying was "admin". October, the CDRE must have received their "Carry On" clearance, we were busy back on the job again all that month and all November, and I was busy for the first half of December.

It was at the end of November and the first few days of December that the T/Bolt entries appear, so that was the start of the time our two "visitors" were with us. On 5th Dec an ominous entry: "Search for Harvard FE965" - (story to be told soon).

From Dec 13 to the end of January '46 I disappear. Where was I ? - scrabbling up and slithering down a Himalayan mountainside (colloquially known as "skiing") - another story on the stocks. While I was away, our Boer performed his super-"greaser" on little more than the inner tube on one wheel and earned his Green Endorsement (tale already told).

We were also honoured by a visit by General Auchinlech, the Army Commander-in-Chief, India, who flew in in his Dakota to do some big (?) game hunting in the inland forests. No doubt the Army component of CDRE did him proud with a Guard of Honour and all the trimmings (I hope my chaps kept out of sight !). Christmas ? - what Christmas ? February, busy again, but at the end we are dumping gas stocks. March 12 - it was all over bar the shouting - but there would be plenty of that.

However, I still have a fund of stories of these and earlier times out there which may yet be worth telling, so bear with me for a while yet, chaps.

Past my bedtime again, I fear,

Goodnight, friends,


You won't feel a thing !

Last edited by Danny42C; 18th Oct 2012 at 01:11. Reason: Reset Spacing.
Old 18th Oct 2012, 02:03
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I have a copy of the log book of one of the gentlemen I have referred to in my previous post. However I am in (sunny) Perth in Australia visiting my grandchildren. When I return at the end of the month, if you wish, I may be able to shed more light on his time on Daks in India. I do not think it would be too great a thread drift.
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Old 18th Oct 2012, 17:30
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Daks in India and Burma post Hiroshima.


By all means let's have the story of your chap's time in India and Burma with the Daks ! Over the years we've drifted so far off this wonderful Thread that it's almost been out of sight. I never cease the marvel at the patience and forebearance of the Moderators (long may it endure), but hopefully they recognise that our old-timers' tales tend to branch off in all directions, yet still manage to come back.

In the post VJ day mle, any extra transport aircraft would have been welcome in the huge numbers of movements which were then taking place, but imho the US would have had Lend-Lease Daks as the No.1 on the list for the recovery of their property.

Make the most of your sunny days in Perth ! Our "autumn" has simply carried on where the "summer" left off. Hope you've got the grandchildren interested in our Thread !

Old 18th Oct 2012, 18:09
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Gaining an RAF pilots brevet etc.

Danny 42c--A couple of thoughts on the demob aspect after WW2
I think certainly the US and Canadian forces were very much quicker in letting people out. I suspect that in the case of the UK there was a fear that the job market could not absorb a quick influx.
There was also what was known as a Class B release.For example if you were accepted for a place as a university student you could be released to take up the offer. I think this was irrespective of your demob number
I recall a friend who tried to take advantage of this but the system was not running fast enough. He complained thru his MP and was soon flown back from Germany to take his place.
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Old 19th Oct 2012, 00:56
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Demob Problems.


I think that when the Demobilisation Number system was first set up, we thought that there would be a comfortable amount of time before we had to implement it. So when "hostilities" suddenly ended in August 1945, we had no choice but to put into operation a still half-baked policy.

All sorts of anomalies cropped up at once (your Class B example, severe compassionate cases, etc) and distorted the system. Considering the many difficulties involved, I would say the demob. process in the UK worked as well as could reasonably be expected. My recollection is that generally people were satisfied with it at the time.

It was always going to be easier and quicker to get troops back across the Atlantic from Europe than to bring our people back from the far-flung theatres of war across the world - and in any case, we needed the room to house them when they got home, but still awaited their Demob Numbers before release.

Your point about the labour markets is well made: we couldn't just dump huge numbers on to ours all at once. Swords cannot be beaten into ploughshares overnight, our industries would take years to recover.

Old 19th Oct 2012, 05:14
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I do not think it would be too great a thread drift.
Dare I say it, the way this thread has drifted over the last four or five years remains one of its most outstanding attributes. Always, as Danny said, coming back to the key foundation of WWII aircrew, but covering life before, during and after the war, in and out of the Air Force, at home and abroad along the way.
Long may it drift!

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Old 19th Oct 2012, 11:07
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And long may it continue to do so.
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Old 20th Oct 2012, 03:59
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Spitfires again..

Don't know if this is old news, or correct, but am in Malaysia
just now. New Straits Times of 19/10/2012 mentions on page 29,
'Spitfires to be excavated'. 'Dozens of rare Spitfires buried in Myanmar during WW2 are to be dug up under an agreement
between the Government of Myanmar...' blah blah blah.
Sorry I have no way to easily quote more. Apologies if this is
inappropriate. John
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Old 20th Oct 2012, 16:47
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Spitfires awaiting exhumation.



This sounds like the old tale which was going the rounds last May (?). There was (is?) a Thread about it somewhere on PPRuNe.

Didn't believe it then, don't believe it now - unless and until I see it.

Thanks for the interest - not inappropriate at all - we all enjoy a good laugh !

Old 20th Oct 2012, 19:33
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This is the update on the story. It is not just a Daily Mail story.
I expect you far eastern veterans can give us a better idea of what effect
the climate can have on aeroplanes.
Has this English eccentric found sixty perfectly preserved Spitfires buried in a jungle grave? | Mail Online
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