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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 Feb 2013, 22:38
  #3481 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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"No Business like Show Business", says Danny.

Then there would be a third tier of attractions, for there was a sort of Garden Fête "free-for-all" atmosphere for all sorts of "side stalls", official ones like recruiting stands, and the usual unofficial "Hoop-las", "Coconut Shies" and the like. An officer or SNCO was detailed to keep an eye on, and act as general facilitator for each of these.

So it was that I was appointed official guardian to the "Mrs Hughes-Williams' Troupe of Welsh Folk Dancers". On the face of it this seemed likely to be a pleasant assignment. But the devil, as always, was in the detail. Detail No.1 was that the Troupe consisted of 12 - 15 girls aged from about 8 to 12. Detail No.2 was Mrs Hughes-Williams herself: and she was not to be trifled with. A County Councillor, prominent member of Anglesey society, and (IIRC) she was from a military family where subalterns were expected to be seen and not heard.

As if all this was not enough, there was Detail No.3. The performances ideally required a small but level "sprung" floor to give of their best. It so happened that Valley had a transportable sectional boxing ring which was suitable for the purpose. The problem was where to put it up. If it were pouring down, obviously in a hangar. But in bright sunshine, much better in the open air. And the decision to assemble had to be made at the last possible moment, which meant that I had to keep my working party together and defend my chaps against all attempts to "borrow" them by other sections (I "pulled rank" on the SWO mercilessly).

It is well said of Valley that you can have four seasons in one day - and all of them winter. That morning, it was belting down; a cold front was coming through. But the Met man swore by all his Gods that the clearance would come at lunchtime. For once he got it right. Promptly at 1200 a beautiful blue rain-washed sky came in from the West. I'd held the assembly decision back to the last possible moment: now there was just enough time to erect the Ring in the open air position, before kick-off at 1400 (I don't think anybody got much lunch that day).

Everything ran like clockwork after that. Their coach turned up on time. We had the Ring up in position, levelled and decorated with a bit of bunting. They had their accordianist with them. A warm sun shone brightly. Even the wind dropped. And the dancers did look charming, in full Welsh folk costume with their little black cloaks and witch's hats.

I cannot now remember how many performances they were scheduled to give, but there were obviously long rest periods. In these the performers mixed with the crowds, where they were great favourites, being in particular demand for adding local colour to photographs, for which service they naturally expected a tip (I believe 6d was the going rate). They did quite well on that basis.

There may yet be folk who believe "St. Trinian's" to be a work of fiction. I have news for them. The little witches got into all the devilment they could find, the prize going to a small one found using the pitot head of the display Spitfire as a swing ! - while the airman on guard was fending off others.

One thing we did not have - Air Training Corps cadets among the crowd, rattling collection tins for the RAF Benevolent Fund. I know this is a Very Good Cause, and it was done on most of the "At Home" Days in later years, but I always thought it demeaning and the Cadets must have hated it.

Goodnight, chaps.

Danny 42C


Bless 'em All.
 
Old 4th Feb 2013, 20:31
  #3482 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Wiltshire
Age: 67
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Talking Danny and his Battle of Britain day

Please excuse the thread drift but Danny has awakened memories that should raise a smile or two here and there.

The Lancaster, as a momento.

I once was privileged to work as a team leader on Field Repair Squadron (FRS) the old 71 MU at RAF Abingdon. I was tasked as gang boss on the team who were to overhaul the wings of PA474, at Abingdon. A real bonus as most of our jobs involved weeks away from home. The job was scheduled for around 6 months duration, and would involve removing all structure from the mainplanes down to the main and rear spars, removal of corrosion from the spars and the rebuild, by replacement, of all structure removed for access. At Abingdon we had the only Station Workshops who could manufacture replacement structure up to primary structure. They were exceptionally good.

The job was very interesting, I discovered that our Lancaster had a Lincoln undercarriage, and across the wing Merlins of various Mks and output. All adding to my admiration of the aircrew in keeping it going.

As a result of our "deconstruction" of the wings, we found ourselves in possession of a large amount of genuine Lancaster structure, that someone suggested would make good "souvineers", suitably cut to a reasonable size and mounted on a piece of varnished wood, a certificate would complete the ensemble, adding to its attractiveness at the coming Battle of Britain at home day. The B of B organisers decided this was a good idea and so every piece of Lanc, was sent to Station Workshops for duplication (for rebuild) and mounting (for sale at B of B). FRS however had Cat3 repairs going on all over the UK, and bits of metal various were turning up from all over. To my certain knowledge many Canberra structural samples were "added" unwittingly to the growing pile of Lancaster souvineers. It was always a source of fun to me and the 50 plus tradesmen who worked on the project that someone would be very proud of their bit of Lanc, which was really a bit of Canberra. Suffice to say I paid £10 myself for a bit, and have no idea of its provenance. So much for horse meat in Beefburgers !!!

Smudge

Last edited by smujsmith; 4th Feb 2013 at 22:33.
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Old 4th Feb 2013, 20:48
  #3483 (permalink)  
 
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Danny, your Welsh Folk Country Dancing dance floor assembly team were obviously honed to the highest peak of efficiency. Perhaps with a little more imagination, the pride of Mrs Hughes-Williams might have been the centre piece of a display to rival anything that the Senior Service put on at the Royal Tournament. A similar set up involving ramparts, narrow gaps, and the obligatory crocodile infested river, with the troupe performing on each bank having been transported from one to the other by a suitable system of A frames, blocks and tackles, together with the disassembled dance floor, could have brought fame and fortune to all involved. Who knows where it might have led? The Royal Air Force Dance Floor Race, with opposing teams from each Command? Alas, we will never know. Another "might have been" in the space time continuum...
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Old 4th Feb 2013, 22:27
  #3484 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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B. of B. At Home Days.

Smudge,

It's "Danny" actually (only mentioning it as there is another "Paddy" (Padhist) on strength, but he hasn't posted on this Thread for a while)........D.

Chugalug,

What a captivating entertainment you bring to mind ! Besides Mrs H-W's Troupe of little witches, there would have to be ferocious fire-breathing * Welsh dragons to be slain, Bards, Druids,...... the lot..... Stage set - papier maché copy of Caernarvon Castle........ Music? - The Fron Male Voice Choir!...... Villain? - Edward I !..... Hero? - Owen Glendower !...... Should go like a bomb at the Box Office !

Danny.

* If H&S permits
 
Old 4th Feb 2013, 22:34
  #3485 (permalink)  
 
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Danny, my sincere apologies. I have amended the post and thanks for putting me right.

Smudge
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 22:52
  #3486 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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Danny wraps up his B.o.B. Day, and sees a monowheel landing.

The afternoon passed off without any major disasters, the crowd oohed and aahed over the flying displays, the Tiger being as always a favourite (we may have had the "old-tramp-pinches-aircraft-left-ticking-over-while-pilot-goes-for-ice-cream" routine, but I'm not sure). My Welsh Folk Dancers gave their last performance; the Station Commander (who knew what was good for him) making a particular point of thanking Mrs H-W profusely for her and her girls' efforts; their coach driver was found (not, I trust, in the Beer Tent), and off they went. The afternoon was adjudged a complete success.

Our visiting static displays refuelled and went home. Our own came back. My first task was, of course, to round up my crew, dismantle the Ring and return it to store - for it would surely rain over the weekend. Then, and only then, could I dismiss them and go back to the Mess for a well-earned half-pint (or perhaps two).

The British (well Welsh) public were no better in their day than their counterparts are today in the matter of dumping litter. Our only advantage was that plastic bags had not yet been invented. After 48 hours, the standing Valley gale would have redistributed most of the paper bags all over Anglesey, but bottles, tins, ice cream cartons, cigarette packets and sundry rubbish remained. From Monday the clean-up began (it was just as well that we'd had our AOC's Inspection earlier in the year). It would be the next weekend before our cleaning parties made Valley half way presentable.

It was a few days after that that "Bish" (he who had left the FAA with three Seafires "confirmed" to his name) was just lifting off in a Spitfire when his port wheel left him. It went bounding off into Rhosneigr, from where it was returned to us (there being no ready market for Spitfire wheels), together with a sheaf of compensation claims. From the size and number of these it would appear that the wheel had caused unbelievable damage in the village, almost demolishing a small bungalow.

Meanwhile Bish was airborne with his peg-legged Spitfire. It was left to him what to do: he elected to do a one-wheel landing. This he executed brilliantly (reminded me of that wonderful bit of wartime film - which everybody must have seen - of a B-17 pilot doing it perfectly). Bish kept the left wing up as long as he could, and there wasn't much damage when the hub touched the tarmac, and he slewed onto the grass and it went up on its nose (just a bent blade, I think) and flopped back. He was unhurt.

And now we had the "smoking gun". The wheel had recently been changed, and of course the hub nut should have been split-pinned. Assuming a wheel race had jammed (broken ball ?), would the whole assembly have been able to rotate on the shaft, and transmit enough torque through the washer to shear the pin and spin the nut off ? (All this is half-remembered mech's chat overheard by one with no mechanical expertise and which may well be arrant nonsense - in which case I invite correction).

If that had been the case, then the remains of the pin must still be jammed in the hole in the stub axle. The hole was empty, therefore there had been no split pin. I think the offending airman got fourteen days in the House of Correction from the Station Commander in which to reflect on the importance of Split Pins.

Cheers, chaps,

Danny42C


"For the want of a nail..."

Last edited by Danny42C; 6th Feb 2013 at 23:00. Reason: Spacing Error.
 
Old 7th Feb 2013, 08:39
  #3487 (permalink)  
 
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BoB Day, St Athan, early sixties. Great flying display planned and weather kind but cool. But enough of that - the Welsh hordes were to arrive from the valleys with their families and everyone knew that the ladies would not be interested in aeroplanes! So the cunning plan was to cream them off into the station cinema for BINGO and considerably enhance the RAFBF funds, leaving dads and kids to carry on to the flightline. What could go wrong? Well, the fact that only about six stalwarts actually paid their entrance fee is what. And worse, they stayed all afternoon boring the pants off the volunteer "caller". But serve him right as it was his brilliant idea.

Last edited by 26er; 7th Feb 2013 at 13:10.
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 21:14
  #3488 (permalink)  
 
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Danny

Your marvellous postings about life at Valley would appear to make you a strong contender for the appointment advertised at http://www.pprune.org/military-aircr...ml#post7682200 - just so long as you still had time to carry on your splendid narrative here!

With very best wishes

Jack
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 22:36
  #3489 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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"Open Pagings" for RAF Vacancies.

Union Jack,


Jack,

I am greatly honoured by and appreciative of your recommendation of me for this post. Do you think they'd let me carry my 62 years seniority as Flt.Lt. with me into my new appointment ? And if so, what might my chances of my "scraper" be ?

(Stop Press - Mrs D. says: "Not bloody likely - We're not going back into Married Quarters again !")

So no go. Ah well. Thank you again, Jack,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 7th Feb 2013 at 22:40. Reason: Add Text.
 
Old 7th Feb 2013, 23:27
  #3490 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Oh well, worth a try .....

Is Mrs Danny also known as "Ayesha" by any chance - aka "She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed"?

Jack
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Old 8th Feb 2013, 07:25
  #3491 (permalink)  
 
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But Danny, these days Valley OMQs:


are fitted with all modern conveniences:


The Valley two-holer (Yfali Twhllwr) is fitted to all Grade 3 and above MQs...
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Old 8th Feb 2013, 10:33
  #3492 (permalink)  
 
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Now, now, BEagle - don't you go raising the Danny household's expectations, since I'm pretty sure that you've said before that these were photos of William and Kate's place ..... Mind you, Danny could always pull a few years' seniority on William!

Jack
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Old 8th Feb 2013, 17:17
  #3493 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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O.M.Q.s

BEagle and Union Jack,

The first hiring offered to us at Strubby was not unlike Picture No. 1, except that it was standing in a pond. In the place we first moved into in Mablethorpe, we hadn't been in the house ten minutes before the next train load of trippers were on the doorstep, wanting to know if we did B & Bs ! (first of many financial opportunities missed).

A W/Cdr on the course at Manby stuck it out for six months in the potential B & B. We ended up, the envy of many, with the best hiring in town.

Danny.
 
Old 8th Feb 2013, 17:46
  #3494 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Danny, your tale of the "good show" of your chum Bish is a classic case of where one knows that it will all end up with a Board of Inquiry, whatever happens.
As it turned out in his favour anyway all well and good, but I wonder if it occurred to him to ask that the BoI be convened and publish its findings while he was still airborne? All that he would then have to do was to follow their recommendations to the letter and future happiness and prosperity would be assured!
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Old 8th Feb 2013, 18:29
  #3495 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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Chain of Responsibility

Chugalug,

Too true ! Let the chap with the problem sort it out - that way anything that goes wrong must be his fault ! (it was ever thus).

Danny.
 
Old 9th Feb 2013, 00:46
  #3496 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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Danny gets Smoked Out and has some Good News.

When I arrived at Valley, the official "heating season" had ended; no more coke for the room stoves until autumn. To brighten up what was to be my room, a (bricked-off) half of a Nissen hut; the previous occupant had had the stove painted black. In October, the coke ration came on again; it was a chilly evening. "Light the stove tonight before you go off", I told the batman.

After tea in the Mess I went back to my (hopefully nice, warm) room to change. When I opened the door, my first impression was that someone had hung a grey blanket over the entrance. Then the blanket rolled out on me - it was smoke ! The stove had been painted with gloss paint. Door propped wide open, the two little windows in the hut end open, and wait for the fumes to disperse. As far as I can remember, the place was unfit for habitation for a day or two, I had to get my kit out and bunk down in a spare hut.

A little of the smoke had percolated through the mortar (which was the seal between the brickwork and the corrugated iron) into my neighbour's half of the hut: he wasn't well pleased, but his part wasn't too bad. Even after I got back I stank like a kipper for ages. Yet there was a consolation - I'd passed my "B" !

Now I was a Flight Lieutenant again (for my SSC as Flying Officer came with a backdate of seniority which would satisfy the time promotion requirement when (if) I passed the "B"). But my seniority as Flt. Lt. dated only from the date of the exam. Tongue-in-cheek, I put in an official request for backdate to the previous March exam, which I had been unable to take on account of illness. Much to my surprise, they gave it to me. The next step was obvious. What about the back pay ? "Nice try", they said. Ah, well. Even so the jump (from 21/- to 24/- p.d. - a 14% increase) was not to be sneezed at.

In November, Willie Hewlett (my Flt. Commander) spotted a Supplement to some AMO or other. It seemed that a Combined Services Winter Sports Association had been formed, for officers of all three Services. They offered 14 days in Chamonix in the New Year, absolutely everything all-in, for £30 (say £750 today).

Willie and I each had a fortnight's leave left. We emptied our piggy-banks (and with my new found wealth !), we could do it. Travel was by train and boat, but for an extra £5 they had a charter aircraft from Heathrow to Geneva, then by coach to Chamonix (only an hour or so). Pay someone to fly in an aeroplane ? Unthinkable ! The proper thing was that they should pay us, wasn't it ? We dismissed the idea with the contempt it deserved.

Off to the slopes next time.

Goodnight, all,

Danny42C


Give up when you're winning.
 
Old 10th Feb 2013, 01:50
  #3497 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Torquay, England
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Apologies for posting on this excellent thread but periodically I see posts asking about what can be done with memoirs of Second World War experiences.

Can this be of any help?


Best wishes
John


Dear John,
Forces War Records would like to hear from members that would be interested in publishing their ancestors diaries of their time in the forces.

We have an extensive library of historic documents that we are looking to expand for prosperity and would welcome any interesting content that we can digitise and publish.

We are also able to offer a licensing arrangement on certain items, so if you feel you have anything of value that other members would enjoy reading, please do get in touch.

In the first instance please simply reply to this email with some scanned examples of the kind of documents you have and a list of items and we will respond once we have had time to catalogue them all.

In the meantime, if you have yet to enjoy our library take a look now, we have publications such as newspapers from the first world war to training manuals to memorial registers, all viewable within seconds at: http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/library

Kind Regards,

The e-mail address they refer to is:

[email protected]

I used this site to get a copy of my father's War time service, plus a list of all medals he was awarded.
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 09:39
  #3498 (permalink)  
 
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Just a little word of warning. Do remember that the site AUTOMATICALLY renews your monthly subscription if you don't ensure that the option is amended. Ensure you cancel before the month is up, OR take out the Annual subscription if you want to continue.

I have no connection for or against the site, just that like some others it can catch you by surprise if you don't read the small print properly.
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 09:54
  #3499 (permalink)  
 
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Wise words from Icare regarding monthly payments to this commercial site operated by Forces Reunited. I too have no views on the site one way or t'other but I did notice the Freudian slip in their letter:

Forces War Records would like to hear from members that would be interested in publishing their ancestors diaries of their time in the forces. We have an extensive library of historic documents that we are looking to expand for prosperity and would welcome any interesting content that we can digitise and publish.

I think they mean posterity ... but maybe they don't
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Old 12th Feb 2013, 23:39
  #3500 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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Danny va faire le ski.

To keep costs down, IIRC, the members on the rail/sea party would travel on leave warrants made out to Folkestone, but would first join the air party at the assembly point (Victoria), then split up and go on to the boat train or to Heathrow (this arrangement was to be of value to us later). As far as I remember we were about evenly divided, about 30-40 in each party, mostly Army singles and no Navy at all). Apart from we two, the only other RAF representative was a W/Cdr pilot in the air party.

We travelled in early January in the "dead" (cheap !) Winter Sports season. First we enjoyed the comforts (?) of British Rail (Irish Mail from Holyhead). Then to Folkestone and on to an ancient, rusty, SNCF ferry, which pitched, rolled and groaned across to Boulogne. After that there was an endless overnight journey (but at least they gave us couchettes ) right down through snow-bound France (no TGV then) to Chamonix. There we found that the air party had had a comfortable night in the hotel, after kitting-out late the previous afternoon, and were now enjoying their first morning on the slopes. Suddenly, the air option didn't seem such a bad idea after all.

Our thoroughly train-lagged party had lunch, then went out to pick-up boots, kit, ski passes, skis and poles (and of course all the better stuff had been bagged by the air party). I wasn't surprised to find that we were on the same old cable bindings I'd had four years before in Kashmir (I was still on them in Gargellan as late as '61 !)

The Association had done us not, perhaps, proud, but quite adequately. The hotel (name forgotten) would be four-star in the terms of that era. Willie and I shared a warm, comfortable room. The food was a revelation, causing us (not for the first or last time) to wonder who exactly had won the war (I particularly remember oeufs en cocotte )

On the Monday morning we met our French instructors. They had limited English ("Bend ze knees" was about it), but we got along well enough with mime and schoolboy French. Their first task was to sort us into classes. Willie had done some skiing in Scotland and I could at least remember what I should be doing.

My memory of the topography is hazy, but as far as I can remember, the "home peak" (Le Brévent) divided into three sections. Right behind the hotel was a gentle rise over a very wide area. Generations of woodcutters had cleared all the trees; it served as one huge nursery slope. Above this was a large flat mogul field with a small ski restaurant at one side. Running up to it from the hotel was a succession of T-bar drag-lifts (I suppose it's all different now).

On the snows next time,

Goodnight, all,

Danny42C


Not to worry unduly.
 

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