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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 7th Nov 2012, 20:21
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The best of friends must part!

Valete Vultee Vengeance perhaps but, thank Goodness, Danny is still with us to tell their tale and his - long may that so continue!

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Old 9th Nov 2012, 15:53
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Back to the top with ye!

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Old 9th Nov 2012, 21:29
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Danny, I too have felt the pain of taking an aircraft on a last flight, not mine but its! The end of the line for the Hastings came suddenly, when all talk of it lumbering on until the long awaited and wondrous HS681 appeared was suddenly replaced with the bargain basement deal announced by Harold Wilson for the Hercules. AOC Parades to bid it farewell, postings to OCUs to tackle the clever but complex systems of the new machine, were followed by the bitterest pill of all, disposing of our trusted steeds. 60 was all it cost an "authorise body" to obtain a fully serviceable aircraft, not for flying but for fire training purposes.
My last flight on type was to Strubby. We taxied to the apron but a Chief Tech emerged from the line hut with his arms revolving in "keep them turning" indications, climbed up the ladder put down for him and asked that we taxy back the way we had come in, but before getting to the runway we would see a gap in the hedge to our left. "Take it across the field beyond and in the far corner are the remains of a burnt out Canberra. Just shut it down there, I'll follow with a LandRover and bring you back here, to await your aircraft home".
So all unsuspecting this faithful and loyal old girl (not laying it on too much I hope) made her final taxy to her final resting place.
The thought of having to do the dirty deed as well would have been simply beyond the call of duty. You did the right thing Danny, to insist that others do it. Its one thing to shoot a horse to put it out of its misery, quite another to do so because it has passed its usefulness. There should be sanctuaries for old aircraft like old horses. Come to think of it there are, and a few Hasties ended up in museums, but I could never have put one to the torch, how could that possibly be a lawful command?

Last edited by Chugalug2; 9th Nov 2012 at 21:35.
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Old 9th Nov 2012, 23:10
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Danny's Farewell to his Steed.

Union Jack and Jason Burry,

Thank you for the kind words and for bumping our incomparable Thread back to the head of the column (where it belongs!)...........D.

Now that they have shuffled off into the wings of history, it falls to me to say a few more words about the Vengeance and the last days of Cannanore before we lower the final curtain on India.

As to the aircraft itself, I can only urge any new reader to look up the wonderful "YouTube" clip found by Chugalug (# 2549 p. 128), and the Camden Museum story started by mmitch (#2626 p.132) which just went on and on; everybody (it seemed) put in their two cents' worth; there was still a mention in #2690 p.135. Curiously, Wiki now lists the Camden Museum specimen as a Mk. IV, the sole surviving Vengeance in the world. Did the Museum Directors ''fess-up", or did Wiki rely on us (was that wise?) There is good stuff about the IAF, too, (they ran two VV Sqdns, 7 & 8), see (www.bharat-rackshak.com/IAF).

Unwanted in the beginning, the Vengeances would now go to their graves "unhonoured and unsung"; they had been virtually unknown outside India in their heyday and are now completely forgotten. Yet in their time they had "done the State some service, and they know it". They had even aroused a modicum of affection. I am indebted to Peter C. Smith's "Vengeance" for these valedictory words from a 82 (?) Sqdn pilot:

"You always were an ugly brute,
Of that there can be no dispute.
From you an angry Elephant
Would take the Palm for Elegance.
But yet you'd always give the Boost
To bring us safely home to Roost"

I will not say that I shed a tear, but I allowed myself one backward glance as we walked away, we'd been through a lot together.

And could have been through more. I have always thought that withdrawing them from operations on the onset of the '44 monsoon was a mistake: we could have been useful for another dry season up to the end. "BBC - WW2 People's War - Army Days" (which I have mentioned a few Posts ago, lost, and which Union Jack has kindly found again for me) contains a gripping account by an infantryman (Percy Bowpitt) of his time in India and Burma.

In our southward push after the break-out from Imphal - Kohima, the Jap reverted to the dig-in-and-hold tactic he always used in retreat. On one occasion, Percy recounts how his unit was held up in an advance over an old rifle range. The Jap was well dug-in in the butts at the far end, a frontal attack over the open range would have been very expensive.

They called in an air strike. First, a pair of US Lockheed "Lightnings" turned up, assessed the situation, chose the wrong end and (in all good faith) shot-up Percy and his pals. (Why weren't they marking the target with a mortar smoke bomb, surely the Army would have them ?) Fortunately, the Lightnings' aim was so poor that they only killed a couple of mules.

Hurricane IICs did better next time, at least they attacked the right way, but their bombs would be far less accurate than ours, they'd only carry two apiece, and, entering at a much shallower angle than ours, much of the blast would be harmlessly up into the air. Dug-in, Johnnie Jap kept his head down and laughed at the cannon.

I sighed on reading this: a "box" of VVs would have removed the butts in toto and everything in them in one fell swoop.* Sadly, they'd been pensioned off by then. EDIT : * Provided it was late enough in the year for dive bombing - Wiki says Imphal/Kohima finished end of June '44. (Percy is not good on dates).

The game was over: we were a subdued little group in the Nagpur Mess that evening. Next morning, on the train for the 600-odd miles back to Cannanore. It was a two-day trip.

Bedtime now, Goodnight, chaps,


Ninety-one today !
Ninety-one today,
They've taken away the key of the door,
Never been ninety-one before !.................D.

Last edited by Danny42C; 10th Nov 2012 at 17:44.
Old 9th Nov 2012, 23:56
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Ninety-one today !
Ninety-one today,

They've taken away the key of the door,

Never been ninety-one before !.................

Just back from an excellent run ashore and delighted to be able to raise my (liquid) nightcap to you with very best wishes for a thoroughly enjoyable day, coupled with renewed thanks for all the enjoyment you have give your avid readership - and for the encouragement you have given to others to come out of the woodwork!

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Old 10th Nov 2012, 00:56
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Lawful (?) Commands and Sad Partings.


It's nice to know that I'm not the only one to over-sentimentalise a few tons of alloy, perspex, rubber and wiring. I think I may know the field at Strubby where your old friend was laid to rest before going to its fiery Valhalla - better than chopping up for scrap, I would have thought.

Strubby was my first posting as an airtrafficker, we spent the first three years of our married life in Mablethorpe. The posting was, of course, to Manby: Strubby was just the flying satellite: although it had its own little Mess I don't think there were any single officers' quarters - they would all be at Manby. But there was airmen's (hutted) accommodation and a Mess at the place.

In later years I have sometimes mused on 225 Group's threat of Court Martial to enforce their order. I think it was probably bluff; so when I showed fight they climbed down. In the administrative chaos of those days the last thing they needed was an onerous extra task. There would be no certainty that AHQ Delhi would grant permission in the circumstances.

Many years later I was a member of a Court at Acklington. After it was finished, I mentioned my case (over a quiet "half" in the pub where they put us up) to the Asst. J.A.G. His opinion was that they would have had no more than a one-third chance of a conviction: no AOC would go ahead on that. As you say, my defence would have been: "an unlawful command".




Union Jack,

Very many thanks for your cordial greetings, and the complimentary remarks about my offerings on the Thread. Sadly, I think that all the old ones in the woodwork have come out already, but I live in hope !

I shall now allow myself a small sherry,

Goodnight, Danny.
Old 10th Nov 2012, 08:41
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BBC News Kohima

There was a report on BBC News about the Battle of Kohima with interesting (and touching) interviews with some of your contemporaries, Danny. There's a very brief flying clip in the middle.

BBC News - Palace honours Battle of Kohima veterans

Have a very happy birthday and many thanks for your posts!

Last edited by Viola; 10th Nov 2012 at 08:47.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 08:54
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Echoed Viola.

Many happy returns Danny, thoroughly enjoying your offerings!

Best regards

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Old 10th Nov 2012, 09:13
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Best wishes from me too Danny. I will raise a glass to you and all the veterans this Sunday.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 12:27
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And the same best wishes from the southern hemisphere.

Looking forward to the next instalment.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 17:33
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cockney steve,

My post #3171 p.159 - ref. the film "The Bridge at Remagen" - it's on Channel 5. 1930 tonight.

Old 10th Nov 2012, 18:44
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Many Happy Returns and you have more than adequately held the breach after CliffNemo Reg et al.

Enjoy the sherry, it's well deserved!
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 19:57
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Hi Danny, and many Happy Returns. I have followed your stories avidly, but I would like to query your post #3194. I am not sure of the dates you are talking about, but in 1964/5 I was at Strubby completing the second of 2 off load Meteor AFS courses, and we definitely stayed in the Mess. At the time the Gnat was suffering a lot of problems and so we were sent to Meteors and one course went to Linton on the Vampire. Infact the only sleeping accomodation at Strubby was in the part allocated to the Officers Mess although there were eating facilities for all. A great place to stay in the Nissen huts - first back in the evening put one half of the radiators off (there were 2 circuits in our accomodation) since the system was only capable of supplying 50% of the hut. I also remember that the bar was often left open after the barman went home, and those who were still there were charged for the stock shortfall the next day. Happy days!
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 20:53
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Danny, your amazing powers of recollection of a war that ended over 67 years ago are undiminished and, witness the tributes paid to you above, much appreciated. Happy Birthday! I hope that it has been a truly enjoyable one.

As I write this I am watching the British Legion Festival of Remembrance that encapsulates all that this thread stands for, and the tales told by its succeeding contributors, you now being Resident Contributor in Chief. For this is a story of Remembrance, of Duty done and Sacrifice made. I'm sure that you will be remembering fallen comrades tomorrow, as we all will. There is much talk of "going to the dogs" about modern Britain and the present generation. I disagree totally with that view. There has never been more awareness of the debt we owe to the sacrifice of your generation, and to succeeding ones, especially the present one. That is why this thread is such a success, that is why it is so treasured, that is why we are so grateful to you and your fellow contributors, Danny.Very Many Happy Returns of the Day!
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 22:37
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Hi Danny
Happy Birthday to you and hopefully you will have many more. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Cooks tour of India or should that be Danny's tour. I have raised a glass of finest malt to toast your health.
Like Chugalug I have been watching the Remembrance Service from the Albert Hall, it always brings a lump to the throat.
Charlie Juliet
Re Strubby, radiators in a coke nissan huts indeed!!!. In my day there in 1944 it was a coke stove.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 22:55
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Danny's Cup Runneth Over.

Union Jack, Viola, Jobza Guddun, mmitch, CoodaShooda, Icare9, Charlie Juliet, Chugalug and Taphappy.

I'm overwhelmed with the number and warmth of your birthday wishes to an old man. Thank you all most sincerely ! (and that goes for anyone else who may be kind enough to remember me).

It is the luck of the draw that I seem to be the last man standing in the shoes of the giants of this best of Threads - Cliff (who started it), Reg (both sadly no longer with us) and many others who have contributed to these gripping recollections of the wartime days when we were all young and eagerly working our way to the wings which meant so much to us.

As I've promised in a PM today: Dum spiro, scribo. (there's plenty left in the pot).

Goodnight all, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 10th Nov 2012 at 23:01. Reason: Addition.
Old 11th Nov 2012, 00:13
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Nissen Huts....Radiators ?...What is the World coming to ?

Charlie Juliet,

I was at Strubby '55-'58. The palatial Nissen huts you mention must have been a later addition. As Taphappy says (of '47), it was coke stoves for everybody, same in '58.

I'm glad you confirm Nissen huts though, for a tale springs to mind:

I think it was '57, and it was the day of the AOC's Inspection. I was Officer i/c of one of the airmens' Nissen Huts. The place had been bulled-up to perfection; on our last check before the Parade, the hut Corporal and I were quietly confident. Sixteen (I think) beds were made up impeccably, the floor lino had been "bumped" until it shone, the stove was blackleaded into a dull gleam.

Parade over, I rushed back to my hut, the airmens' billets were No.1. on the AOC's itinerary after coffee & biscuits in the Mess. I reckoned twenty minutes at most to Ground Zero. The Corporal and I went in.

Fifteen perfect beds met the eye, plus one dishevelled heap in the corner. It seemed that one of our chaps had been unexpectedly grabbed for night guard duty. Coming back to the billet during Parade and finding all quiet, he'd assumed the place had already been inspected and tumbled gratefully into his pit.

Officer and NCO acted without a word being said. We leapt upon this poor wight, flung him out of bed, threw a blanket round his pyjamas and bundled him out over the hedge into the field behind, under strict orders to stay put out of sight until further notice (luckily it wasn't raining). Then we turned our attention to the bed. Never was a bed made up to (passable) Inspection standard so quickly.

We finished about five minutes ahead of the official entourage. Of course, the AOC passed by our Hut, didn't he ? Always the way ! We gave him time to get well away and then collected our shivering castaway from exile.

Happy Days,

Old 11th Nov 2012, 07:02
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A Happy belated Birthday greeting to you Danny.
I'm all sure we want to hear more stories from you for years to come.
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Old 11th Nov 2012, 10:11
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Many happy returns and THANK YOU for taking the time, and the effort to share these experiences with us youngsters that owe so much.
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Old 12th Nov 2012, 10:44
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Danny, Very belated greetings on your birthday.
You are proof , indeed, that "three score and ten"is a load of codswallop.
If I make it to your age and keep my marbles like you, I'll be a very happy bunny!
Thanks for the link, but as a practising tightwad, I don't have a telly(much to the chagrin of the clipboard-bearing TVLicencing jobsworths)

Just to rub it in, I always refuse entry and tell them they'll be welcome , when they have a warrant...what was that?little things/little minds?

I was very heartened at the interest shown in the brief diary of trivia,I discovered. I've successfully photographed some of it, now i'll have to learn how to post it on the net and do the linky bit.

Keep up the good work!....Steve.
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