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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 3rd Oct 2008, 21:20
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regle
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Warm Toast

Thank you for that news of Arthur. I met him after the war at an Arnold reunion but I did not know of his terrific War record. The Arnold scheme produced some fine pilots including a Chief of Air Staff and a V.C. As I have mentioned, the training was the finest possible and was worth the comparatively small price that we had to pay for having to undergo the indignity of the "Hazing" from the Upper Class throughout the courses.
I met one or two of them in England later when they came over with the Eighth Air Force and it was amazing how different they had become.
They were no longer young College boys but then I suppose that we were no longer the same either. Reg.
 
Old 4th Oct 2008, 12:54
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Regle: A little more for you. The only RN destroyer I located that was lost in Jan '42 was HMS Matabele (Tribal class a la Cossack) which in company with HMS Somali escorted convoy PQ-8 and was torpedoed and sunk in 2 minutes on 17 Jan by U454 off Kola Inlet (69 deg 21 N; 35 deg 27 E) with loss of her complement of 190 men. Now, get on with your stories!!!
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Old 5th Oct 2008, 13:35
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PQ8

Not sure if that is the right convoy as it was going to Murmansk, maybe the RAF ship joined for part of the trip?

See:--

http://yourarchives.nationalarchives...voys_1941-1945
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Old 5th Oct 2008, 14:56
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Andy, hmmm, just goes to show I should have taken longer to cross check. HMS Belmont was sunk on 31st Jan with loss of all crew whilst escorting Convoy NA2 by U82. The sub was sunk a week later by HMS Rochester and Tamarisk. Now back to the real action!!! Apologies, Cliff and Regle!!
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Old 5th Oct 2008, 15:22
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Great thread and well worth a long browse, thank you.
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Old 5th Oct 2008, 18:41
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Once more unto the breach, dear friends....

In compensation for the really tough course was the hospitality we received during our precious few hours of freedom. The citizens of Albany took us to their hearts and the Deep South lived up to the reputation of "Southern Hospitality. To this day I have the warm memory of lush, warm evenings, the croaking of the bullfrogs, the incessant chirping of the crickets , the scent of magnolia and the soft creaking of rocking chairs on Southern porches to remind me of the adolescence that I spent there.
Our day began at 5a.m. with "calisthenics", then the room had to be left spotless. We were billeted two to a room with our own bathroom and shower. Fabulous luxury compared with our previous RAF billets. The school introduced us to a new word "Dietician". "Miz" Tickner gave us the most fabulous meals I can ever remember eating in my whole life. We were served by the all black serving staff who rapidly became our slaves when they saw that we were treating them with courtesy and refrained from calling them the ubiquitous "Boy" employed by the other class. We were bronzed, fit and ready for all that the school could throw at us.
The Commanding Officer was a US Army Air Corps Major Knight; he wore the straight brimmed hat that all West Pointers wore and we nicknamed him the "Boy Scout". He had absolutely no sense of humour at all, never even began to understand either us or our very British sense of humour and despaired of us ever winning the war. Flying training always took place in the early morning before the relentless sun could bake the Georgia clay landing surface so hard that you would float on and on when landing , cushioned by the warm air rising off the ground.
Our first aircraft was a very, sturdy big biplane called the Stearman PT17 (PT stood for Primary Trainer). Right from the start we were denied the luxury of an Airspeed Indicator, Altimeter or Artificial Horizon. We were taught to fly by "The seat of your pants." You quickly learned to judge your speed by the sound of the airstream whistling through the struts and wires that held the wings together and estimated your height by the change in the size of the dwindling figures and trees beneath you.
My Instructor was a very small man, the size of a jockey, who had come to the school, Darr Aero Tech, straight from Hollywood where he had been a stunt pilot featuring in such films as "Hell's Angels" and "Dawn Patrol". He was called Gunn and rejoiced in the nickname of Kinky. Although we had all passed our ground training at I,T.W.s mainly in seaside towns such as Aberystwyth, Babbacombe , Newquay and Torquay, few, if any of us, had even been near an aeroplane, let alone fly one. Kinky Gunn's initiation for his trio of pupils was to take us up, one by one, and throw that Stearman all over the sky until we had completely lost our orientation.... and some of us our breakfast. After that the real teaching began. It started by learning some basic rules which I have never forgotten through my forty years of flying. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots but there are no old, bold pilots. Even with permission to line up I could never forget to turn my head to look at the approach to check if there was someone coming in to land. We had no radio at all at Darr, just a man who gave you a green or red light. He was human and, so, fallible.
One of Kinky's favourite tricks was to "buzz the"out of bounds") red light district of Albany (called "Ragsville" for your interest ). "That'll shake the Who..s out of their beds" he would yell over the slipstream, as the wheels would scrape the roof. He must have been a good teacher, though, as we three were amongst the first to solo after seven to eight hours of dual. I had made what I thought was a rather bumpy landing when the figure in the cockpit in front of me disappeared and there was Kinky standing on the wing. "OK Reg" he said giving it the hard G that all Americans used. "Take her up and give me a real nice landing" and he was gone. I suspect that his heart was beating as loudly as mine. With the now lighter, aircraft I was airborne before I knew it. It was the 28th. June 1941 and I was nineteen and forty days old. The thrill of that first time of being alone in an aeroplane and Master of it, albeit a very timid and quivering Master, remains with me to this day, sixty seven years and twenty five thousand flying hours later. I hope that this brings back memories to some of you and enjoyment to Y'awl. Reg.
 
Old 9th Oct 2008, 15:16
  #327 (permalink)  
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Checking my note books I noticed one headed Course 108 2 Sqdn C Flt 14/11/ 42. This means I was then at I.T.W Torquay at that time, so must have attended the recruiting office about Jan 1942 , and I am now describing flying training at Ponca City in January 1944. Two years gone and still no brevet,, and we haven’t even seen a Spitfire. Bear in mind, my friend who visited the recruiting office with me had been K.I.A on Beaufighters by the time I left Torquay.
However in January , final exams were then due. Most of the flying assessment had been done , with a few washouts. Only written and oral exams to come. These were conducted in a classroom with the usual invidulating officer , and time limits. Test paper subjects were on meteorology , navigation , aerodynamics, gunnery , aircraft recognition, bomb aiming, engines, radio , Morse code, in fact everything we had been taught in the last six months, and previously at A.C.RC and I.T.W We were a mixed bag, university students , private school students, and council school students. There were no class barriers, and we mixed freely with no problems. The university types did generally better in the written exam, but it came as a surprise that the top cadet was from a Bradford council school , and the only one to fail was a university air squadron type. It was a bigger surprise however when he was allowed to re-sit the exams, which he passed. The reason given for the retest , which was unheard of , was that the cadet’s commission had already come through from the U.K At that time it was usual for all ex university air squadron types to receive a commission, regardless of results, and the rest only received a commission if they were top of the heap”.
Flying that month included all the usual exercises but mainly the accent was on aerobatics, gunnery, and formation flying.

After the written exams a few of us decided to to celebrate . We hitched to a dance hall on the shores of Kaw Lake ( Johnny cash fans will have heard the song about the red Indian Kaw Liga). As Oklahoma was a dry state, no alcohol was served. The American cadets decided that one of us should go to the local bootlegger, and buy a bottle or two. I lost after tossing coins, and was instructed to hitch into town and buy bottles of rum and coke from the local bootlegger. It was something like “knock three times on the house with the green door, and say Spike sent me “ which I did. I was quite surprised to see that only a few dozen bottles were in sight. When I asked the bootlegger if that was all he had , he said no, he had a shed full in the back yard, but the police raided once a month removed the contents from the house, after which he restocked for a further month . Evidently every one was happy with this arrangement. I returned to Kaw Lake and the procedure was to put the rum under the table and the Coke bottle on the table , pour the coke into a glass, and when no one was looking put a tot of rum into the coke . This arrangement went well until Bill D**** (ex Mosquitoes) and I went to the toilets and returned to carry on drinking. Sometime later Bill whispered “I’m going outside” got up and walked towards the dance floor, where there was a one foot drop ( 30.5 cm ?) Bill tripped and fell flat on his face. A large elderly lady nearby got up and muttering “he’s p***d, lifted ;Bill up and carried him outside. I decided to follow to make sure he was O.K, but not make the same mistake that he did. It was not to be, I made the same mistake and fell , but picked my self up and with all the dignity I could muster walked out to find Bill asleep between two cars in the car park. I decided to follow suit, the next thing all I remember is waking up in my bed. Evidently the American cadets had laced our drinks with the rum. The next day I was flying, but poor old Bill “reported sick” as every time he had a drink of water he felt “inebriated” again. The M.O took him off flying for three days.
Many years later he managed to locate me and visited me at my home. The first thing I did was to offer im a drink , which he refused , saying he had never touched spirits since that day.

Below should appear a copy of my notes relating to "the computer" which was non electronic. and which I may have previously mentioned. It was strapped to one knee, could be used to plot track , wind , drift, variation , deviation . supply a course to steer,and E.T.A. It also had a circular slide rule , and worked on the principle of adding and subtracting logarithms.

I hope to continue soon with our wings parade when a Group Captain Donaldson flew in , in Mustang.




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Old 9th Oct 2008, 15:56
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We hitched to a dance hall on the shores of Kaw Lake

Cliff,

It's now the Kaw Indian Nation Casino. US gambling laws haven't changed a whole lot in the past 60 years, and it's a lot easier to get a licence to build a casino on the reservation than it is to build one on County land. Booze laws have gotten a little better, but you still can't buy alcohol on a Sunday in either Kansas or Oklahoma.

Sorry for the thread drift.

FlightTester
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Old 9th Oct 2008, 21:00
  #329 (permalink)  
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A bit more Gen on gigs.

Cliff, you must have been a little time after me in the USA but I take my hat off to your memory and to your technical knowledge. I must have been on two BAT courses and taught SBA to dozens of ,mainly Naval, pilots (As a civilian at Rochester using two stage amber) but I could not put it down in writing or even remember how. It must be that Liverpool air which I have not breathed for so many years. Anyway "Felicitations" on your explicit diagrams and instructions.
I have just picked up a book fron the library called "Night & Day Bomber Offensive" . It is mainly US oriented but contains many terrific photos and, interestingly , tells the tale, in the side columns, almost like another book, of the same training that we had but of an American in the class of 43E. As an explanation of the "Hazing system " I will just quote his entry of the 14th. Sept 1942. "Meals are a terror. A lower classman sits in a stiff brace with his stomach touching the table, his head back, his eyes on one point on the table and the end of his backbone on the edge of his chair. The sadistic upperclassmen see to it that this position is not relaxed. If anything is to be passed the man has to say "Sir, does anyone want the bread ? Pass the bread, Sir."
The only answers a new cadet can give are "Yes Sir,"No Sir," and "No excuse ,Sir." Seven "gigs" (Demerits) constitute a "tour". A tour means a 50 minute march with a rifle on the shoulder and a cartridge belt. ( The greater part of this training was given in the Southeastern States where the temperatures were always high with huge humidity .My comment ) This ,performed from Saturday midday until evening, normally part of our limited free off camp time . Thirty five tours during the lower class period of each course ,and accumulative, will automatically bust a boy out of the cadets. This happens only in cases where the fellow is a chronic dummy or has a bad temper. (Descriptive of a lot of aircrew, particularly Officers that I met . My comment, Reg ). The average cadet receives about seven tours during his lower class period."
Interesting ! In retrospect I am full of admiration for the numerous remustered Sergeants and Corporals who put up with this and just ignored it and went ahead with their training.
I should like to hear the comments of anyone for or against this type of procedure which, possibly had it's beginnings in our earlier Public Schools, but was refined--if that is the term-- by the US Army at West Point.
 
Old 12th Oct 2008, 15:18
  #330 (permalink)  
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This is a picture of the navigational computer used at that time by pilots of single seat aircraft, or those without a navigator. Used for calculating E.T.A and course to steer. The circular slide rule is on the top when closed, and on the underside of the lid is the pad for writing down results.


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Old 14th Oct 2008, 14:14
  #331 (permalink)  
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Wings Parade

By February we had completed all our exams, and check rides, and informed that a wings parade was to be held.When the great day arrived we "fell in three thick" in front of the hangars, with the American cadets parents, who had traveled vast distances to be present, suitably seated. Harvey's family had traveled from Iowa, a round trip of about 1400 miles to be present. Other families
traveling much further.

As we waited, we heard the sound of an aircraft approaching, which instead of landing flew at full throttle immediately in front of us at almost ground level. The aircraft, which was a Mustang proceeded to complete four slow rolls, turn round, land, and taxy so that it was only a few feet from us. Out stepped an R.A.F officer who if I remember correctly was a Group Captain Donaldson, and removed his flying helmet, then putting on his service hat.
Each cadet was called to the front, and presented with his wings, by "Groupy". I was amused when I heard one of the American parents say "Gee that's a mighty fine airplane" However it was said to be, by some, as the best fighter of W.W 2 after it was fitted with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine.

The following day, I was informed I was two hours short of the necessary two hundred, and to take an A.T.6 up for two hours. I spent the two hours performing aerobatics, probably the most enjoyable two hours I ever spent in an aircraft.


Every one was elated, we now knew it all ( we thought) and no need to study,thrust, drag, lift, isobatic changes , adiabatic changes, the stars, morse lapse rates, temperature inversion, but little did we know.



Bill on left, Hardy with two wings, cliffnemo on right, and Hardy's family behind.


A cadet being presented with his wings. Possibly a University air squadron cadet as he has a white flash on his shoulder which possibly signifies he has received a commision.
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Old 15th Oct 2008, 16:37
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Flash on shoulder

Cliff, that white flash is the RAF Albatross and is worn by all ranks but not Officers (I am not sure about them when they are in battledress.) I must admit that I don't remember seeing one quite so white but that is what it is, Reg.
 
Old 17th Oct 2008, 15:11
  #333 (permalink)  
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The fledgling tries his wings

The tales of our adventures and misadventures were related in our luxurious lounge over the ubiquitous cokes. All flying schools in the US were dry but that didn't seem to bother us as there were very few drinkers amongst us. We would just gather in the lounge and chatter after we had completed the homework from the extremely thorough ground course that we were given every afternoon after the morning's flying.
As our confidence grew and we became more proficient we were introduced to the thrill of aerobatics. Loops, Lazy eights, Immelmanns ( a half roll at the top of a loop to bring the aircraft flying straight in the opposite direction to the commencement of the loop) and the dreaded spins, which I hated although I was quite competent in all the required skills. Even in those early days I had the feeling that I would like to fly big aeroplanes with lots and lots of engines.
One of our chaps, Ted Headington, later, tragically killed at Advanced Flying school,was sent for his first solo and his Instructor, as was the custom , was standing in the centre of the field, watching his pupil. As Ted was approaching, he encountered a strong thermal current which turned him on his back at about five hundred feet. Ted continued the "roll" and made a perfect landing to find his Instructor apoplectic with rage at Ted's disregard for safety and performing aerobatics at a very low altitiude and gave him enough "gigs" to keep him at Darr for the rest of his time there.
Like all American Colleges, Darr Aero Tech. encouraged their pupils to produce a Class Magazine. Ours was called "PEE TEE" and a position on it's editorial staff carried the privilege of being allowed into Albany, occasionally, to liaise with the printers and to solicit advertising from the only too willing shopkeepers etc. who loaded us with samples of their goods including a very nice record player. I was already a very keen writer and photographer and I was appointed one of the Editors. The magazine boasted the usual glamour photograph of each course member with a brief biography which makes interesting and, sometimes, embarrassing reading today. I still have the original copy of the magazine which I sent home to England and, despite the war ,arrived safely together with it's 1941 postmark and 6 cents postage stamp!
The photographs were reminiscent of the Hollywood films of that era. Cloth flying helmets with goggles worn on the forehead (Only when you had soloed ) and skilfully retouched. Not that we had many wrinkles at that age.
Our sorties into Albany always took us to the only Hotel, The Gordon,
which had a downstairs lounge with a bar and small dance floor. We called it the Clubroom. Mint Juleps were the fashionable drink but some of us, a very few, as we were not heavy drinkers were introduced to the notorious Zombie....only one to a customer. For your interest I append the recipe at the end of this article. Coke was the favourite drink although we had never tasted one before going to a few miles from where it was invented.
There was a piano and one of our cadets, Cockney Joe Payne ,constantly amazed us all and the very admiring Americans around with his tremendous , professional rendering of "Honky Tonk Train Blues."
The Drug Store on the corner was another American institution that we grew to love and Lee's was our favourite. The pretty daughter of the Lee family that owned the store was the main attraction but she broke our hearts by marrying our popular Aerodynamics Instructor "CsubL" Clark, so called for his love of the phrase when trying to explain to us the equation for the co-efficient of lift. We were introduced to Banana Splits, the like of which I have never tasted since, and in the little restaurant next door we were served "Sizzling T-Bone Steaks" that really did sizzle as they were served on an iron platter at the special price of $2 to British Cadets. $2.50 to everyone else.
Radium Springs, nearby was our favourite swimming and dating place with it's weekly "Georgia Peach" Competition. It was also noted for the iciest water that I have ever encountered including Alaska.
We were by now, Upperclassmen ourselves to the new all British class of 42B, but we were not able to bring ourselves to treat them as we had been treated by the Americans and after a few half hearted ( and derisively greeted) efforts we gave up and settled down to completing our Primary training and proceeding to the next six weeks of... Basic.
Recipe for Zombie Cocktail; 1oz. Heavy Rum, 2oz.Puerto Rican or Cuban Rum,1oz. White rum, 2tsp Apricot Brandy, 3/4oz.Pineapple juice,
3/4oz.Papaya juice, juice of 1 lime and some fine sugar. Shake well in cracked ice, pour into tall glass, float a dash of heavy rum on top. On a toothpick ,spike 1 green cherry, piece pineapple, 1 red cherry. Decorate with sprig of mint, sprinkle with fine sugar... Be ready to catch recipient.
 
Old 17th Oct 2008, 16:58
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Reg I must try a Zombie!

But thank you for leading me onto one of your photos



Reg is on the right and the Peach is in the middle (sorry Reg)



You must have soled as the goggles are on the forehead?
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Old 18th Oct 2008, 10:21
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Subject Birds As Usual

You are absolutely right Reg ( Regle), it is an Albatross, but when I scanned the photo it appeared as something white on his shoulder. After scanning , enhancing and increasing the size it appears as an albatross in the post. Unfortunately I didn’t look at the photo after posting.

But are we right in calling it an albatross ? I call it an albatross, you call it an albatross, my Halton apprentice oppo called it an albatross in 1938, and every one called it an albatross during the war. However I bought two flashes on E-Bay , and the vendor told me in no uncertain terms that it was an eagle. He said that when the R.A.F decided to produce the flash they sent an artist to the Museum to sketch one, he couldn’t find one so sketched an eagle. I Googled this and read an article about the Australian R.A.F doing the same thing ! Now, many people are claiming this is an eagle. I will try to produce below a scan of one, and hope that some ornithologist, or historian , will put us all right. At the same time I will endeavour to show the unpadded wings with Kings crown I received in Ponca City.

Mirror image of wings. Think I printed on negative setting



Think Taffy ( mid upper gunner) has albatross/eagle on shoulder of battledress.
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Old 18th Oct 2008, 20:23
  #336 (permalink)  
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Andy re Photos

Thank you, Andy, for the photos. I have not the faintest recollection of the girl's name on the photo taken at Radium Springs but I know that the chap on the left was John Henry. I know that he got his wings and came from Yorkshire. Yes I had just soloed and that is one of my favourite pictures as I thought that the good old Staerman came out well.!
 
Old 19th Oct 2008, 09:17
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Sorry cliffnemo but as any ex-brat knows it is not an albatross but a shitehawk!!!
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Old 19th Oct 2008, 20:34
  #338 (permalink)  
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I have just finished reading this book which, if you are not aware of it, would greatly interest some of you

The Royal Air Force in Texas: Training British Pilots in Terrell During World War II


By Tom Killebrew

It's available from that well know river place.
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Old 20th Oct 2008, 20:30
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The Book you suggest

Green Granite, that indeed is a good book but it refers to only BFTS1 Terrell in Texas. Which incidentally my Uncle was transferred to from The Arnold Scheme (which was the scheme that Reg learned to fly in) Nemo I think was Pensecola?

If you want I can suggest Arnold Scheme books and also further BTFS books?

Regards Andy
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 08:48
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More Books!

If you want some interesting reading on the RAF training schemes try:-

The RAF in Arizona: Falcon Field, 1941-1945 ISBN-10: 0971912718

(about 4 BFTS) This has the best set of pictures and is more pictorial than the other books, which are:-

Wings over Georgia ISBN 0-907579-11-6 this is about the Arnold Scheme

RAF Wings Over Florida ISBN 1-55753-203-6 about 5 BFTS

Also worth a read (although the aurthor continues the book into his career) An Evil Boy ISBN 0-9548778-0-2

Finally if you can work out an Internet TV viewer there is a mini film on Mesa Channell 11 worth watching:-
Mesa Channel 11 - Broadcast Schedule

Hope that helps?

Andy
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