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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 31st Oct 2012, 12:55
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Greetings, Danny and thank you for your kind words.

I've done a bit more delving and now I'm pretty certain that this is our correspondent:-
LAC Harry Thomas 2217848 released 29 03 1946 5013 squadron RAF

His "service and release book"states that overseas service was 15 months and 20 days and he was awarded the France-Germany Star. served in "RAF UR" (or could that be "VR") His rank was AC2 and his ID card for "mechanical transport drivers" states "available from 19 12 44 to 18 12 45......so this must have been issued annualy. Born 30 7 1912, he was quite old by standards of the day, so I'd guess that the W.D. were "scraping the barrel " when they called him up-all 65 inches!

Anyway, back to his diary

Jan 31 left florenze 10-o-clock Arrived Durbuy in ardennes at 3.30 via dinant-siney-avelange-maffy-durbuy.

Feb 16 had walk to barvaux johnny took some snaps
feb 17 worked until 10
Feb 18 had a rest. unburied Germans beginning to skin & smell. No time to bury them yet.

Feb 19 Special day My darlings birthday. many happy returns love. xxxx

Feb 20 Nearly bought a watch in BAYEAX * for £15-10-0 but changed my mind

*could this be BAVEAX?

Feb 21 nothing doing.....................................

Feb 28 Been to Verviers again. Got stuck in yank tank convoy going to front. Hundreds going up all day must be something big on.........................

March 11 Yanks pulling our Bailey bridge down for over the Rhine.
March 12,13,15 nothing to report
March 13 one of lads, playing with tank mine killed.
March 16 Went to liege it sure has had a battering
March 17 nothing new....................

March 21 first day of spring lovely day. Went to Liege with Johnny and Freddie.....................

March 24-28 nothing to report.
March 29 Went to Liege with Johnny.
March 30-31 nothing to report.
April1 Moving to Germany as soon as line is static.............
April 4,5. At Brussels on 48 hrs. rest.Been to see belgian show. Not so good. billeted at Toc H
April 6th. Back at zuzerian
April7th. got to pack for move to munster
April8th. Officers having a farewell party but we may not move now for 2 weeks.
April 9,10,11,12 nothing to report
April 13 went to Liege
April 14 Had good PX ration 16 bars chocolate 5 pkt. Spearmint 400cigs.
april14 Had a good pic. show.
April 15 16 packing up in readiness for Germany
April 17: 18 left ZURAINat8.30 for southern Germany via BARVEUX,LIEGE,AACHEN,LIMBOURG,STALBOURG,DUREN,ZULPICK,RHEINB ACH,Ccrossing Rhine at REMAGEN & staying night.
April 19 20 After Rem. we by passed a wood &travelled 100 miles on a auto bann through Montbarr to crossed river Main to frank fort & Nien Rodent
Aschhafenborg aeindafild tauber- eisicheishein & on to Bad -Morgenthien.

April19 Went to Wurtburg in Bavaria or at least what is left of it for ration........

Well, that's all for today. It may be that the roads were so bad, or there were pockets of Enemy, that they had to divert....but he did make AAchen!

Writing gets a bit scrappy when he gets to Germany,-He seemed to have little problem with French spellings, but the German place -names are very tediously written.

We must remember, it's likely he'd never been abroad before,so this was a huge challenge.

Last edited by cockney steve; 31st Oct 2012 at 13:01. Reason: added more explanation
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Old 31st Oct 2012, 15:23
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.... could this be BAVEAX

So far as Cockney Steve's fascinating posts 3155 and 319 are concerned, and as confirmed by the entry for 16 Feb 45 (and 25 Feb 45?) in the latter, Barvaux-sur-Ourthe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia seems to fit pretty well into the account of Harry's war - and, as Cockney Steve says, he did get to Aachen bless him..

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Old 31st Oct 2012, 22:11
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Tutti Frutti

ancient aviator,

Too right I do ! This is very interesting. It would seem that his trips as a Squadron Commander were as the Bomb Aimer in a crew. This would make sense. Many a Post ago I speculated that the separate B/A must have been a bit de trop for most of the op, for originally the Nav dropped the bombs during his rest period from navigation (ie during that short and stressful few minutes over target when they knew for certain where they were), and there would seem to be no need for a separate B/A at all in the early days.
He would now be ideally placed for an overview of the battle, as far as it could be judged from a single aircraft.

(I quote): "In August the Squadron moves to Broadwell in preparation for the move to India". Did they move out there before/after the fateful 15th ? Strictly speaking, if it were "after", they should have been ordered to "stand fast" in UK. But the "Giant Flywheel" was spinning madly: no one could stop it and this was one of the results.

Having said that, another Squadron of "Daks" was more than welcome in India to pull people in from the outposts. The "co-pilot" entries are not surprising - he wasn't a Pilot at all, but he would be sitting in the seat. You couldn't expect a Squadron Commander to sit with the plebs in the back, now could you ? We await developments........D.


Our travails took place just a month before the "Iron Curtain" speech, and we were still pals with the Russians (as far as we knew). It wasn't really all that bad. You must remember that we were all young, fit and resilient in those days. We had been kicked around by the RAF for five years by then, and had got quite used to it. And when you think of some other experiences (in mortal combat with the Japs in the Burma jungle, or enjoying life as a prisoner working on the Burma railway), then we "never had it so good" (to coin a phrase !)

I think your last suggestion may be near the truth (cold baths are good for you, my boy !).............D.

cockney steve,

Your chap (Harry ?) is taking shape. His enormous airman's number (2217848), about double mine (1132877), shows him to be a late arrival, called up at about the age of 30 and opting for the RAF. "5013" Squadron (did MT sqdns have numbers ? - it's beyond my ken). "VR" - could be, but I thought only volunteers were in as "VRs", the rest RAF. Could be wrong.

Whatever, he seems to have landed in a pretty hot spot at the end of '44. The "Battle of the Bulge" (Hitler's last desperate throw in the West) had involved some of the heaviest fighting of the war. The cold, snow and awful weather in the Ardennes * (which had grounded the Allied air forces) did not help. Gradually, the Allies prevailed (with heavy losses); the weather cleared and the fighter-bombers got their teeth into the German defenders. But sporadic fighting, as always, continued for weeks afterwards throughout the area at the time he arrived on the scene.

* On a glorious spring day in '60, I drove through the blossom-laden woods and forests of the Ardennes with my new Peugeot 403 on the way back from Paris to Geilenkirchen. What a difference !

I quote from his Diary:

"Feb 20 Nearly bought a watch in BAYEAX for £15-10-0 but changed my mind"

Probably a wise move. Would have been knocked off from a live (dead ?) German. Could have got one for a few cigarettes later (if he stayed out there).

"Feb 28 Been to Verviers again. Got stuck in yank tank convoy going to front. Hundreds going up all day must be something big on.........................and March 11, Yanks pulling our Bailey bridge down for over the Rhine........... BARVEUX, LIEGE, AACHEN, LIMBOURG, STALBOURG, DUREN, ZULPICK, RHEINBACH,............. Crossing Rhine at REMAGEN & staying night.

"The Bridge at Remagen" - a good film.

"March 13 one of lads, playing with tank mine killed".

Happened all the time. Familiarity breeds contempt.

"April 14 Had good PX ration 16 bars chocolate 5 pkt. Spearmint 400cigs".

Found the PX ! (NAAFI, eat your heart out !)

"We must remember, it's likely he'd never been abroad before,so this was a huge challenge".

JOIN THE CLUB ! ...................D.

Union Jack,

Spot on ! It would have to be Barvaux-sur-Ourthe. Not Bayeux, anyway...........D

Thank you all for the interesting comments,

'Night all,


EDIT (ref next Post): Chugalug, what a fantastic piece of research ! Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 1st Nov 2012 at 00:36. Reason: Additional Material.
Old 31st Oct 2012, 23:27
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"Florenze" must mean Florennes, just south of Charleroi, which in turn is just south of Brussels. Then via Dinant, Ciney, Havelange, Maffe, Durbuy to Bavaux-sur-Ourthe. Not sure about "Zuzerian" or "Zurain", though there is a Juzalne near Barvaux.
With the move into Germany via Liege, Aachen, "Limburg?", "Stalbourg" (Stolburg), Duren, Zulpick, Rheinbach, Remagen, "Montbarr" (Montabaur) (then Limburg?), Frankfurt, "Nien Rodent" (Niederrodenbach?), Aschhafenburg, "aeindafild" (Altfeld?), "Tauber" (Tauberbischofsheim?), to Bad Mergentheim, our man is now equi-distant between Mannheim and Nuremburg.
As you so rightly say Steve, foreign travel other than via HM Forces was unknown to the vast majority, and at least he was prepared to try to keep track of his progress, probably struggling phonetically with what he had been told. My mother followed the global proceedings of WWII on a small school atlas, and even after the war my Aunt used to try to detect English words in European broadcasts on Medium Wave, suspecting that they couldn't possibly survive without resorting to it in desperation! You'll note the "Rodent" detected in Niederrodenbach above.
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Old 1st Nov 2012, 08:38
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the move to Broadwell is logged as Aug. 6 and is recorded as 'Squadron move'. Here are the entries from then on, again all as 'Co Pilot' in Dakota Mk 4'.
Sep 2: Broadwell -St Mawgan
Sep 5 St Mawgan-Elmas
Sep 6 Elmas-El Adem
Sep 7 El Adem- Lydda
Sep 9 Lydda-Wadi Halfa-Aden (in a different a/c and pilot )
Sep 10 Aden-Masira-Mauripur
Sep 10 Mauripur- Bilaspur
This seems to have become their base for a while at least. At last we are in Danny territory. More later
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Old 2nd Nov 2012, 01:05
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Danny and the Round the Bend Ski Club (Part 3).

But it was all good fun, and the weather was wonderful, with bright clear days and a hot sun. Far across the Vale of Kashmir, some 40 miles north, rose Nanga Parbat. This 25,000 ft plus triangular peak lay at the Western end of the Himalayas. The morning sun on the snows of the East face glowed pink and white like fire against the deep blue background: it was a magical sight that stays with you for a lifetime (like the rising sun over the bows, going into Bombay).

With our crude equpment, and the rough-and-ready orginisation of the School, you'd expect a lot of injuries, but I can't remember any serious ones. Basically, with the soles of our skis more like glass-paper than glass, and the (wood) edges badly worn, it was difficult to reach any speed before the next attempted turn brought you down. I suppose they must have had a luge to get immobile casualties down off the mountain, but I never saw it used (or even practised).

These days I suppose they just whistle up a helicopter, but in more primitive times you had this box-like sled (for the casualty) with double shafts fore-and-aft. In Austria the luge came out on a Sunday morning after Mass. They hauled it up to the "patient" on whatever lift they had. One of the village lads had volunteered (?) as victim. The contraption then started down with one instructor in the fore shafts and another between the rear pair.

As the heavy thing rapidly accelerated down the mountain, it took real skill to keep it under control, and of course sometimes the luge would win, often capsizing, hurling out the occupant, and bringing his violent abuse down on the two hapless "drivers", sprawled in the snow. Merriment all round (what would have happened if it had been our "instructors" in control, I shudder to think).

All too soon our month was up and we took the pony express back to Srinagar. There we said farewell to whatever beards we'd been able to grow (employing a professional with a cut-throat for the job), and looked round the place for a few days before starting out on our way back.

Srinagar was renowned for its silversmiths, and I had some tiny silver plates made of my name, number and (on a second, smaller one) the legend: "RC (and Blood Group). These were sewn on to my watch-strap as a back-up to the dog tags we wore (or were supposed to wear). IIRC, there were two of these, one green and and one red: one fire and the other water-proof. The hope was that, if they picked you up alive, they'd know what to transfuse you with, and if dead, which part of the cemetery to bury you in, and what name to put on the headstone. (The little silver plates soon fell off).

Kashmiri men had devised an interesting form of central heating. A small round basket was lined with baked clay, and into it was placed live charcoal. They'd settle down, swathed in a blanket, with this basket held between crossed legs under the blanket. I could see how this idea would keep out the cold very well, but was told that it was apt to cause an unpleasant form of cancer.

Kashmir was an anomalous State * in that its people were largely Muslim, but ruled by a Hindu Rajah. This caused difficullties in provisioning British forces there. Bully beef was anathema to the Rajah: tinned ham or "Spam" equally so to his subjects. The solution was to re-label all imported tins of meat as "goat", irrespective of the contents. This subterfuge, which deceived nobody, satisfied both sensibilities.

* It may be mostly forgotten now, but the Raj at the height of its power only ruled directly over 3/5 of India. Over the other 2/5 we ruled indirectly through the Rajahs and Maharajahs of the Native States. These were largely autonomous, although British (Indian) Law, Police, railways, Posts, telegraphs and currency held sway everywhere.

At Partition, there were 550 odd of these States, which had now to choose to join either India or Pakistan. Either way, they lasted about five minutes before the Rajah got his P45 (and a Pension if he were lucky) and their new country took over. At least, under the Raj, the Rajah still "retained the name and all the appearances of a King" ("Lear", shaky quotation?) . That was, of course, so long as he behaved himself and did as he was told (by the Political Resident). Otherwise he was out , and the Viceroy appointed a more malleable member of his clan in his place.

Srinagar, with the famous Dal lake and its houseboats, was a lovely place, not unlike our Lake District but on a much larger scale (and much warmer - and drier ! - in Summer). It is sad to think that the problem of dual loyalties snowballed after Partition, with India and Pakistan both laying claim to the territory, and fighting four wars (so far) over it, to the immense misery of the inhabitants.

(This was to have been the last Part of this tale, but it just grew, so there'll be more).

Once again, Goodnight, all,


You can't have too much of a good thing !
Old 2nd Nov 2012, 09:05
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Carrying on with the tale of the move of the squadron from Broadwell to Bilaspur. I will merely list the different airfields visited in India from the log book and no doubt many of them will be familiar to Danny.
Then a 'Squadron Move' to Poona.
Santa Cruz
The entries stop on Jan 8 with a final trip from Palam to Poona.
During the time he is on 'Daks' he does not bother with the usual monthly summary all the entries just follow on from each other. RHIP ! I assume then he is repatriated to the UK and no doubt a welcome demob..
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Old 2nd Nov 2012, 18:44
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Faraway Places with Queer Sounding Names

ancient aviator,

Your chap seems to have had a short "tour" in India - from September '45 to January '46 ! (Was his journey really necessary ? - as we used to say). I quote from your last Post, adding a word or two in comment (abbreviated as follows):

"*" - landed there sometime;......"?"- don't know it, would have to look it up;........."#" - know it but never landed there.

" I will merely list the different airfields visited in India from the log book and no doubt many of them will be familiar to Danny.

Palam________ * Delhi
Bamrauli______ ?
Akyab________ # Bombed it once
Barrackpore___ # Calcutta
Poona________ # (Spiritual home of "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells")
Agra_________ # Taj Mahal a must-see.

Then a 'Squadron Move' to Poona.____aka "Pune"

Baroda_______ ? (somewhere up NW)
Mauripur______ # nr Karachi (far NW, where they assembled the VVs)
Santa Cruz____ * Bombay
Arkonam______ ?
Bhopal_______ ? (somewhere up NW)

The entries stop on Jan 8 with a final trip from Palam to Poona".

It's a pity he didn't add a few details of what they actually did in all these places. What a fund of memories must now have gone beyond recall !

But thanks all the same,


EDIT: Surfing the net, recently found "BBC - WW2 People's War - "Army Days" by Percy Bowhill. Good about India.......D.
EDIT II: Can't find it again now. Must be doing something wrong. You may have better luck !.........D.

Last edited by Danny42C; 2nd Nov 2012 at 19:09. Reason: Add Title and More Material.
Old 2nd Nov 2012, 19:43
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Danny - Could you have meant BBC - WW2 People's War - Army Days


PS To use your own sign-off style "Take a bow"!
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Old 2nd Nov 2012, 21:22
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On the button as always! (noted details of BBC link carefully in notebook, can't read own writing, where did "Bowhill" come from ? Must be losing my marbles !)

Thanks, Danny.
Old 3rd Nov 2012, 13:28
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One small anecdote if you will all bear with me. We took a Herc to St Athan for one of their open days and retired to the mess to refresh ourselves after the 'long' trip from Lyneham. Whilst I was in the loo recycling some of the recently consumed liquid an 'old boy' in the next position asked 'what squadron are you on' ? I told him and he remarked that he had been an Engineering Officer on 78 Squadron in WW2. I asked him if he knew 'my' Observer. Indeed he did and over another refreshment told me several tales . He also said that he had some of the engineering log sheets of the squadrons Halifax and offered to send me a copy of the one from the Peenemunde raid which duly arrived. This raid has always been an interest of mine especially the fact that the crew of OC 78 on the raid lists another W/C ! He was still in contact with the former CO and offered to ask him about it on my behalf.
Not long after I received a letter from him explaining the puzzle.
The 'spare' W/C was and Admin Officer from 4 Group who had been authorised by the AOC to fly on the raid. Must have been a real eye opener for him !
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Old 3rd Nov 2012, 18:10
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Memory Lane.

ancient aviator,

Of course we'll bear with you ! This is exactly what this Thread is all about - filling in the jigsaw with one more piece.

IIRC (I was in W.Bengal at the time), 83 Sqdn. (Lancs) with 78 (Halifax) were on the Peenemünde raid in August '43. Your Air Staff W/Cdr must have had a tale to tell when he got back to 4 Group.

I have very tenuous connection: it fell to my lot to introduce the daughter of the Master Bomber to the arcane mysteries of ATC at Shawbury in the early '60s.

Old 4th Nov 2012, 14:23
  #3193 (permalink)  
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the 'Master of Ceremonies' on the Peenemunde raid was the late Air Commodore John Searby I believe, then a 'mere' Group Captain.
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Old 4th Nov 2012, 23:01
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Danny and the Round the Bend Ski Club (Part 4).

Freshly shaved, and invigorated by my month in the snows, * I entrusted my life and my kit to another suicidal country bus-driver. This time it was even worse, for there was a fair amount of snow on the road, and on the long downhill stretches he put it in neutral, switched off and coasted. But by good fortune and the power of prayer I survived the return to Rawalpindi.

* My (tiny) experience is that when you go ski-ing from scratch, you are just about getting the hang of it after 14 days. Next year, if you go back, you get to that point again after 12 days (if lucky) - and so on. Save up and take a month if you can, the last two weeks will be fun.

That night, in the Mess, a gin too many induced me to express an interest in this parachuting lark. At breakfast, to my horror, I found that they'd taken me seriously. "But", they said, "you'd have to stay a fortnight to do your ground training before your jumps". What a shame ! I couldn't possibly wait that long ! I had to get back to my Unit right away !

Now there was no more first-class treatment. It was back on the train again. From Rawalpindi I got to Lahore around dawn and waited there for an hour or so for the Frontier Mail to come through to take me on to Delhi. It was a clear, quiet morning and I mused on the hundreds of thousands of British servicemen who must have passed through the station in the century past.

"My name it is O'Kelly and I've heard the Reveille / From Bolton to Bareilly and from Leeds to Lahore". (Kipling)

I plodded my way down the stepping stones of Indian Railways to Yelahanka, booked in at the RAF station there and got a signal away to the Unit. Next morning a VV flew in to pick me up. They were quite active at Cannanore. It was the end of January '46, but there was still a busy month's flying ahead.

February, 1946 was remarkable for a number of reasons. It was the first sheet of my log to be completed using my new Miles "Martin" ball-point pen (the first, it had just come onto the market, I got it through Welfare sources, but even then it cost me two guineas - say £60 - 80 today).

Then I got my acting "scraper" - for all of two months until I left at the end of March. And the month began with five mysterious flights, all: "camera obscura - chedlets" - just that. We know what "chedlets" were, small sectional gas tins. But camera obscura ? My mind is a blank. I knew what a Camera Obscura was, of course; it must have been set up at Porkal or Kumbla by the CDRE, but why ?

Two further factors were unusual. My passenger for the first two runs was a Major Truelove, who always came with me when something new or special was afoot (you may recall that it was he who brought the gas down to Sulur and flew with me on two rather dicey gas drops from there in the August).

And my "normal" gas drops were of the order of 1hr - 1hr 30 min. These were all 2hrs 30 min or more. 40 mins would cover to and from range. What had we been doing ?

All I can think of is that they wanted to see the actual impacts from very close range, but wished to avoid being splashed. So why not stand back 100 yds and use powerful binoculars ? Don't know. Didn't the Wing Commander or the Major tell me all about it ? Must have done ! Can't remember. Has anybody any ideas ? Were Camera Obscuras used for any other military purpose ?

That seems to have been the last Trial we took part in. Now we would do one last service for CDRE - destroy all their remaining gas stocks. These we dropped 40 miles out, making sure that there were no craft of any kind within three miles of the drop. I still remember the nasty yellow-green patches on the sea, after we dumped the gas cans from 1,500 ft.

I suppose that if the stuff mixed with water (probable as the advice was to "wash it off with copious quantities of water"), then it would rapidly dilute into harmlessness; if not, then as heavier than water it would sink to the bottom. There was no trawler fishing, only inshore nets in use, so it should be safe down there for ever (and would soon disperse anyway).

The brief DDT spraying experiments must have been made while I was away at the Ski school, for I can trace no relevant entry in my log. Now the End was Nigh - but not yet. There is still more to come.

Bedtime again,


ancient aviator.............Thanks - (IIRC, I read that he was a G/C at 25)....D.

Not to worry.

Last edited by Danny42C; 5th Nov 2012 at 12:50. Reason: Typo.
Old 5th Nov 2012, 06:30
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Danny, to hazard the journey to and from the RAF Ski School, let alone the risk of injury there, is one thing. To deliberately abandon a fully serviceable aircraft in mid flight is another. Thank heavens that the exigencies of the Service saved you from such foolhardiness!
In contrast you have obviously seized the white hot heat of technology with your 2 guinea (always the mark of an upmarket purchase!) ball point pen. Miles Martin? Was that the Miles Aircraft Company? Weren't they doing something else high tech then, the M52?
As to your Camera Obscura, that rings a bell. At RAF Bicester, the pre war Station HQ had such a device set in its roof. The idea was that the release point of practice bombing aimed at a fixed "ground zero" was plotted with it after the release (from Tate and Lyle Syrup Tins) of a "cloud" of a chemical substance, though its exact sort eludes me at the moment. Thus the variation from the "DS" correct drop point, given the upper winds could be passed to the trainees and their instructors. Whether this system could be applicable to your trials and your chedlets, you would know better than I. Perhaps it was an attempt to assess their ballistic performance?
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Old 5th Nov 2012, 16:39
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Parachuting and Cameræ Obscuræ.


I quote from you:........"To deliberately abandon a fully serviceable aircraft in mid-air is.........foolhardiness". My opinion exactly. (Great Minds etc).
As I've said a while ago, I'd have to have the flames licking at my toes before going over the side.

I think you are almost certainly right about the Camera Obscura. I did not know of the installation at Bicester, but it makes very good sense, everything starts to fit nicely into place, provided we make a few assumptions.

Let us suppose: (a) D. did not know what they had hung on/put in his aeroplane. Had the sun got to him at last ? (very probably, effects still visible, says Mrs D.); (b) He was doing a test of a DDT anti-malarial spray; (c) Some way had been found to turn on/off the spray - that would allow repeated runs, which would account for the 2½ hours (my gas sprays in October had lasted 2+ hrs - much longer than a single can-dumping exercise).

Now the log. "Chedlets" must be wrong (we were chucking the things into the sea a week later). Only explanations: (a) D. was temporarily of unsound mind; (b) the log was written up some time later (it was self-certified, there was no one else, might even have been written up on way home), memories fade and my mind was elsewhere. And remember the ORB that never was ?

I reckon we are as near the truth of the matter as we shall ever be - thanks to your (always invaluable) suggestions !

Yes, the same Miles, the Miles "Magister", "Master" and M52 Miles. IIRC, they also built some of the little aluminium "prefabs" which came out after the War. (They must have been very cold, but better than nothing).



Last edited by Danny42C; 5th Nov 2012 at 23:15. Reason: Format.
Old 6th Nov 2012, 09:14
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Not exactly an RAF brevet story perhaps, but a pretty amazing story of an extremely hazardous wartime flight of which I had certainly never heard - regrettably in the form of an obituary: Kazimierz 'Paddy' Szrajer - Telegraph

An amusing "tailpiece" - or should that be "codpiece"? - following the cutting of the brake lines to free the Dakota's wheels reads: "Because its hydraulic fluid had bled away, the undercarriage could not be retracted. The pilot’s report merely stated that the reservoir was recharged “with all available fluids” until sufficient pressure was obtained to permit the undercarriage to be pumped up by hand."

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Old 6th Nov 2012, 16:57
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Homo sum, nihil humanis a me alienus puto (hope I've got it right)


What an amazing story (in the DT obit) ! He should have got an immediate DSO for that !

My #3104 p. 156 retails a "Tee Emm" account of a case when the same Novel Solution to the Problem was successfully adopted.

Thanks for the link,

Old 6th Nov 2012, 18:12
  #3199 (permalink)  
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Duly impressed by your Latin, Danny, and thoroughly agree that Flight Lieutenant Culliford deserved even greater recognition that the decoration he actually received.

Having now done a shoogle with Google, and noted some interesting variations on the theme, including Szrajer being mentioned as the pilot on at least one website, I attach a link to his own account of Operation Wildhorn III, namely third bridge (the Polish name for the operation), which indicates that he had never flown in a Dakota before the night in question, so Flight Lieutenant Culliford "qualified" him as co-pilot for the flight in about five minutes!

Fortunately, this apparently included the undercarriage system, although perhaps not immediately the novel top-up method which I did indeed remember from your earlier post. Clearly someone onboard in these epic examples who could organise a piss-up, albeit not in a brewery!


Last edited by Union Jack; 6th Nov 2012 at 18:14.
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Old 7th Nov 2012, 19:54
  #3200 (permalink)  
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Danny, Lend-Lease and an Argument with Higher Authority.

At the end of February the CDRE's programme was complete, all the gas was gone and there was no further use for 1340 Flight. 225 Group ordered me to stop flying and get rid of my aircraft. The Thunderbolt and Mosquito had long gone back with their pilots, the Harvard had been written-off and I was left with the three VVs (all Mk.IIIs, so Lend-Lease aircraft). Now the fine print of that generous arrangement kicked in.

From the US standpoint, it made perfect sense. They had lent us these aircraft to fight a war, and the war was won. Now they were entitled to take back anything they could use or sell themselves. (Primarily these would be transport aircraft like the Dakota. These, refitted as DC-3s and repainted, would be the backbone of short-haul civil aviation round the world for years to come (the things are flying yet).

As for the rest, if we wanted to keep them, we had to pay for them (in scarce dollars). Otherwise we must destroy them completely, so that no components could come back on the market to compete with new US sales. Sadly, no one thought of keeping even one as a museum specimen.

This led to a lot of heartbreaking waste. For example, the Navy had an escort carrier en route to Ceylon. Stowed on the flight deck were a number of Vought "Corsairs" in crates, for assembly in Ceylon and flying out to carriers in support of the planned invasion of Malaya. The crates were bulldozed off the flight deck, the brand new aircraft went to the bottom. I would guess that many US-built Fleet Air Arm aircraft at sea at the time of the surrender would suffer the same fate.

Predictably, nobody wanted a Vegeance. 225 Group took the last option and ordered me to burn my aircraft where they stood . I was appalled. It would be a disgusting thing to leave three piles of blackened scrap on the town maidan as a last memento of our occupancy.

And what would be the likely effect on my airmen's morale? They'd worked tirelessly on their aircraft for two years: we'd never had to cancel a single Trial for unservicability. Was I now supposed to order them to chop them up and put them to the torch ? These were the times of the large scale mutinies in the northern cities (among disaffected troops kicking their heels, waiting to get home). I didn't want a mutiny on my hands, and protested vigorously.

Group's first reaction was pig-headed. They ordered me to do as I was told or face Court Martial. Still I remained obdurate, and after further exchanges of acrimonious signals, wiser counsels prevailed and the SASO relented. I was allowed to fly my aircraft to a M.U. at Nagpur for scrapping. There the dark deed would be done, but at least by somebody else out of sight of my chaps.

The day came in March 1946 when FB986 and I had to part. We'd come to the end of the road. I had to move quickly before Group changed its mind. On March 4th I paid my last visit to Yelahanka "pour prendre congé" from the SASO, did airtests in the next few days and on the 12th my log reads simply "Hakimpet - Nagpur.......4hr 15min". It would be the last entry in it for more than three years.

A forlorn little armada set off. Hakimpet was of course a refuelling stop. I had faithful Sgt Williams in the back with all the paperwork, and the other two VVs with me. We were cruising around 10,000 ft and as Nagpur came over the horizon ahead I toyed for a few moments with the mad idea of doing a dive down on them as my swan song.

Of course I put it out of mind immediately; the Cholaveram reaction was reason enough, and neither of the other two pilots had ever done a dive; they were non-operational (on VVs, that is); we'd never dived at Cannanore - there was no reason to. I suppose I could have said: "just follow me down and do what I do", but that risked making a profound impression (or even two !) on Nagpur. (As a matter of interest, Nagpur is reckoned to be in the exact mathematical centre of the Indian subcontinent - just thought you'd like to know).

We trailed in, parked, handed over the aircraft documents, patted the aircraft, lugged our parachutes over to the parachute section, left them there and that was that. It was the end of the Vultee Vengeance story (well, not quite yet).

Bit more next time. Goodnight, all,


The best of friends must part !

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