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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 20th Feb 2013, 09:35
  #3521 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
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Unhappy The Khormaksar Kids are drawn into the Cold War

Far in the future we’ll go to Google, in 1951 Aden we go to F/Sgt Tubby Trinnick. The genial pharmacist from SSQ always helps his neighbours’ kids. Besides the others fancy his lovely daughter Marcia with her dazzling smile, though I think she’s getting a bit past it, she must be 17 if she’s a day.

Mrs. Trinnick invites us in and splits an ice-cool Coca-Cola between the three of us, an expensive treat at 50c a bottle, about 4p in 2013 money. “Please Mr. Trinnick, what’s VD?” Both parties watch us warily as we explain what has happened, then Mr. Trinnick beckons us closer. “I can’t tell you, it’s a State Secret”, he says. We plead for just a teeny inkling.

“Well, only if you promise never never never to mention it again. You know about the Russians?” Even we had heard about the Cold War and the conflict in Korea. Wide-eyed, we nod agreement. “And you’ve heard about things that come from space?” Again we nod, for a film about such creatures had shown in the Astra Cinema only last month, with an H for ‘Horrific’ Certificate to protect tender under-16s like us.

“The Russians are trying to give us something nasty like that, but we’re guarding against it. We don’t want them to know they know that we know, and that’s why you mustn’t breathe another word about it. Now I require all of you to sign the Official Secrets Act”. The Act, which happens to be printed on an envelope cunningly concealed in the wastebasket, is duly signed in shaky hand and we leave, carefully checking the street for Russian spies.

I glance back to see Mrs. Trinnick displaying all too familiar symptoms. Her face is red, her eyes are streaming, and she is making funny choking noises. Oh well, I think, Mr. Trinnick’s a pharmacist, he can get tablets to treat all sorts of infections.

Coming shortly: Family life on the overseas posting in 1951.

Thanks for the kind words, fellow Pruners, there’s more to come ...

Last edited by Geriaviator; 7th Oct 2017 at 16:34. Reason: Replacing picture from photobucket
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Old 20th Feb 2013, 19:45
  #3522 (permalink)  
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Then we skied slowly and sedately back down to the hotel and spent the rest of the day window-shopping in Chamonix.
As well you might, Sir. I dread to think of the gravity and extent of the bylaws that the pair of you had so egregiously offended, had you so carried on in 21st Century UK Local Authority jurisdiction that is of course. As it was you were under the care and patronage of our Gallic allies, so once past the "Danger de Mort" sign, obscured or not, you were on your own! Why is it that the French so assiduously reduce everything to such self serving common sense? Very annoying indeed!
Geriaviator, thank you for dating the two photos, lest we confuse the two;-) How tidy Khormaksar looks in 1951, as though it were an Architect's model of proposed council flats in a post war slum/ bomb-site clearance scheme. Oh, wait a minute though ...
I wonder if those very unpleasant terrorist gangs that made Aden such a dangerous place later got any ideas from observing the antics of the Brit kids, reducing all around them to helplessness? Probably not, more Just William and the Outlaws than FLOSY and the NLF, but an obvious threat to King and Empire nonetheless!
Edited to add, Geriaviator please check your PM's (top RH corner when signed in)

Last edited by Chugalug2; 20th Feb 2013 at 20:10.
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Old 20th Feb 2013, 23:46
  #3523 (permalink)  

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Geriaviator, brilliant the innocence of a child's curiosity can be so funny at times.
Talking to my eldest daughter the other day, and she remembers as a child being in Kuwait, when I was posted there. You'd think people would forget over time but she has great memories of there.
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Old 21st Feb 2013, 19:42
  #3524 (permalink)  
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Thank you for your wise words comparing our present Nanny State with the insouciance of our French allies sixty years ago (but I fear it may be different now - there must be some sort of EU regulation in force !)........D.


What a wonderful panoramic view ! But what a perimeter to have to defend if you needed to. (Where were the OMQs ? - not in the Mess block, surely). But with a band of "Just Williams" like you and your pals around, I think it would be the terrorists who had more reason to tremble !

If no more comment comes in by midnight, I'll launch my next Post on 22 Feb,
and then we'll see how our agreed system works out.......D.

A bientôt, you two,

Old 22nd Feb 2013, 07:31
  #3525 (permalink)  
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Danny, the photo was taken overhead the Officers' Married Quarters which were on the opposite side of the Sheikothman Road from us hoi polloi. The Kids were dissuaded from entering therein for reasons we could not understand, though looking back perhaps Graham's insertion of Qty 4, Locust size 4", via the window of OMQ No. 27, Adjutant and Lady for the habitation of, might have had something to do with it.
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Old 22nd Feb 2013, 22:57
  #3526 (permalink)  
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Danny takes to the Air.

That evening in the bar, we heard that there might be a possibility of swapping our rail/sea tickets for air ones (there would be no problem about identities in those days, tickets were fully tranferable - if you had one, they didn't care who you were, you got on board). But why would anyone want to do such a thing (after paying £5 extra ?)

At this point I must explain that there seems to be a general impression today that the great British public became all air-minded as soon as the war was over. But this was far from the case. Starting with some unreliable statistics, and making all sorts of unwarranted assumptions, I've come to the conclusion that about 120,000 ex-aircrew came back on the labour market in 1946 (0.3% of the adult British population). These thought no more about getting on a plane than of hopping on a bus.

The other 99.7% were in much the same frame of mind as their parents had been twenty or thirty years before. Hardly any of them had ever flown. "Going Up In an Aeroplane" was still a serious adventure; to be contemplated with anything from mild apprehension to abject terror. Long ago on this thread, Fred (RIP) and I swapped nostalgic Posts about a certain Belgian M. Giroup (oux?) with his old Fox Moth on a pre-war Ainsdale Beach. There M. Giroup. sold three-minute "hops" for 5/- a head (with four packed in the Moth cabin); post-war he was back again (to my surprise) still getting the customers in at ten bob !

The era of Mass Air Travel didn't start till the '60s, and for a long time after that the airlines ran "Fear of Flying" Courses to pull in the faint hearted punters (do they still ?)

It followed that our Air Party contained a number of first time flyers, some of a more nervous disposition than others. One young Army couple had been so petrified by the approach into Cointrin that nothing could induce them to take the flight back (the W/Cdr did say it had been rather hairy, and about this time (IIRC), a Constellation going in there had hit a peak near Mont Blanc)

This was going to be very expensive for them as they would now have to pay their own rail/sea fares back to UK (and how could they organise that with the currency restrictions ?) The air journey was a charter - there would be no refunds.

Now if any of the surface party could be persuaded to do a straight swap........It was the answer to all our prayers. We closed the deal on the spot (we did not offer to refund them the £10, I'm afraid). On the Saturday morning after breakfast, we waved goodbye to the ground party, and had a last, most enjoyable morning on the slopes. After lunch we blew our few remaining francs on coffee and a cinzano or two, then returned all our kit to the hire shops during the afternoon.

At tea we learned with some indignation that next month a party of Sandhurst cadets would be coming out to our hotel. But they would have their holiday fully paid for by the Army - it would cost them nothing - and RAF Transport Command would fly them out to Lyon and back ! (One law for the rich - there were sarcastic references to: "jeunes milords anglaises" and "À bas les aristos" !)

Our coach left promptly after tea for the short road trip to Cointrin. But on arrival, where was the next tranche of eager holidaymakers, waiting to board our bus ? Not a soul ! Something was badly wrong.

Courage, mes braves !


If it ain't one damn' thing, it's another.
Old 23rd Feb 2013, 08:35
  #3527 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 78
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for a long time after that the airlines ran "Fear of Flying" Courses to pull in the faint hearted punters (do they still ?)
Indeed they do, here are just two that do them:-

Flying without fear

Flying with confidence - British Airways

As you say, it is easy for those of us so used to flying, but difficult for us to comprehend that there are many who can't face up to it, and others who do but suffer severely from the stress it induces (as against that caused by delays, lost luggage, terminal congestion, security procedures etc). These courses are spectacularly successful in helping many put all that worry and fear behind them. I always commended them to those who spoke of such problems of their own or of loved ones, friends, etc. Evidently explaining simple (?) stuff like how the wings can support so much weight in the air, why one has to bank an aircraft to turn it, and how that is done, why bits of the wing have to run back and downwards when coming into land and why there is usually a high pitched sound when that happens or when the gear is lowered (ending with a thump!).
Even as I write this I can see it opening a Pandora's Box of fellow PPRuNers ostensibly seeking my advice and reassurance at the anxieties they purport to experience.
Well don't bother, simply follow the links!

Though on reflection, after reading of the hairy arrivals into Cointrin, I might just do the same thing.

Danny, get those train tickets back, now!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 23rd Feb 2013 at 08:40.
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Old 24th Feb 2013, 14:34
  #3528 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
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From left: Our house on the edge of Khormaksar’s married patch; one of the four grim barrack blocks, each of which housed some 250 airmen; and a Bedford truck patrol grinds its way at 4,500 ft up the Jebel Sugeima, the arid mountains north of Aden.

RAF Khormaksar was a peaceful place in the 1950s, for the independence movement did not flare up until 1963. Like other bases, it was a large British village community living the same Service life in places and countries far distant and different from its origins. The only difference was in continuity, for most families were posted after a couple of years.

We were allocated a box-shaped semi with verandahs front and rear and louvred doors both sides to allow through passage of air. The kitchen was built on the end gable. At first there was nothing to distinguish the ‘garden’ from the surrounding desert but homesick residents soon diverted the grey water from kitchen and bathroom into a trench at the front. If the rich volcanic sand was so watered the local parrot trees, named for their beak-shaped flower, were 20ft high in less than two years.

Everyone slept on a charpoy, the Indian word for bed, which as Danny has described comprised a wooden frame with rattan ropes tied across it in grid pattern. It was very comfortable once you got used to it, for a mattress would have been unbearable in that heat. Ants could be annoying until the bedlegs were stood in tin cans containing an inch of paraffin. Aircon was unheard of except in the squadron office, where a bulky trailer unit used for cooling aircraft had its long trunk diverted into the doorway, after which the office became very busy with people doing nothing.

School and the RAF began at 8am and ended at 1pm, Monday to Friday. The afternoon heat was adult charpoy time, while we children walked to the seawater pool a mile away at the civil air terminal, with side trips to inspect the visiting BOAC Hermes or TWA Constellation en route to the Far East. Once a week mum would stump up 50 cents for the gharri, the three-ton Bedford QL which left at 2pm daily for Steamer Point lido with its shark-proof netting. Some took taxis to the beach at Conquest Bay and risked the shark, barracuda, sea snakes and sting rays in the shallows.

The open-air Astra Cinema ran six days a week, otherwise there was the BBC news at 9pm if the reception was good enough. We did not attend the Families Club as the main activity was bingo, then known as housey housey. To my Scottish Presbyterian parents this activity was way down there with fornication and the Hire Purchase, though looking at the British economy today perhaps they weren’t so far wrong with the latter.

Before we left RAF Binbrook my headmaster Alfie Gordon, who would do anything to help RAF families, had noticed that I would be away for the qualifying examination, and then found that hundreds of other Service children would also be abroad. He joined my father in a series of letters to the MP for Louth, Cyril Osborne, who raised the matter in Parliament. As a result, in Aden and most overseas bases we 11-year-olds underwent the Moray House Test (MHT), on which the 11-plus exam was based.

On our return to the UK and the ghastly transit camp at RAF Croft, near Warrington, we were told the MHT was unacceptable and I was sent to a grim secondary modern which was by far the worst of the 11 schools I attended. My father again contacted Cyril Osborne and the system was changed, for I and my peers were allowed to take what became the review procedure. Its result took me to grammar school, but a full year behind everyone else. Only now have I found that other Service children went to grammar school on the strength of the MHT. I wouldn’t have missed my childhood journeys but I wonder how many other families were caught by this travel trap ?

While our native bearers Mo and Saleh did the housework, Mum did most of the cooking on two Primus stoves and a paraffin oven which often gave a unique aroma to the food. Kitchen temperatures often topped 40 degrees, but she never faltered. Most of the Moslem bearers would not touch the breakfast bacon or its cooking utensils, and she thought nothing of preparing Sunday dinner with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. Basic provisions, all bought from the NAAFI, included spam (in tins, not the internet pollution), powdered eggs, and dehydrated potatoes. At least they were alleged to be potatoes. Everyone soon became used to taking salt tablets every day and the sherbet flavoured lemon or orange drink made from tinned powder. We Kids preferred Coca-Cola but at 50 cents per bottle we were lucky to share one a month.

Christmas was the highlight of the year, when my parents would open their house to pack in my father’s National Servicemen, stuck in a rocky, arid desert land far from home and family. What was fun for me and my friends 1951-1953 must have been misery for hundreds of young men, most of whom told my father that they considered their Service as two wasted years. Of course life became more exciting a decade later when the nationalist attacks began in late 1963, leading to Britain’s abrupt departure in 1967. Today, long freed from their British oppressors, the good folk of Aden enjoy unfettered life in the delightful Republic of Yemen.

Coming attractions: on his second day at school, the 10-yr-old Geriaviator anoints the Headmaster.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 7th Oct 2017 at 17:02. Reason: Replacing picture from photobucket
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Old 24th Feb 2013, 16:32
  #3529 (permalink)  
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The dreaded Moray House Test.

I had to do that before I left Rhodesia in 1953. In Rhodesia we stayed at Junior School until twelve years old. The result was that I went straight into Form 3 at grammar school in England.

For those that missed it Warmtoast has an excellent thread on overseas travel in the fifties.
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Old 24th Feb 2013, 17:26
  #3530 (permalink)  
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....The next place we came to was Aden....(trad song)


Your quote: "Danny, get those train tickets back, now !" Never was truer word spoken ! Would that we had ! (as shall presently appear).

Thanks for the links. From these it would seem that 90+% of the timorous were miraculously freed from their terrors (but then Virgin and BA would say that, wouldn't they ?)

My experience is that reason is of no avail against unreasoning fears. I know that incey-wincey-spider can do me no harm, but I still would not have him as a pet. And I must confess that, the first time I paid good money to fly in an aeroplane post-war, I was rather uncomfortable, being without a parachute (or four-point harness) !......D.


Again, a feast of pics of quite professional quality ! It would seem that the place was one of those "Far Flung Corners of the British Empire that hadn't been Flung Far Enough". Questions abound: if the airport could get seawater and it was only a mile away, why didn't you have a pool ? Was there a shortage of seawater ? Hadn't pipes and pumps been invented yet ?
And what was the fresh water source ? (place looks rather dry to me). And your sewage system ?

Your (NS) airmen didn't need to be bored. How about learning Arabic ? - think how useful that would be now. And how I appreciate the irony in your final sentence !...........D.

Cheers to you both, Danny.
Old 25th Feb 2013, 15:37
  #3531 (permalink)  
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Danny is Up Creek w/o Paddle.

In the terminal we learned the worst. There would be no aircraft for us that day - or ever. Shoestring Airways (or whatever it was called - a man and a boy affair, with one Viking) had gone bust that day. It was a defunct airline, an ex-airline, a non-airline. We were on our own, thirty-plus strangers in a strange land, with not the price of a cup of coffee between the lot of us (for we'd all got rid of our francs - as we'd be back in the UK in a couple of hours). Someone rang the Consulate.

To the end of my days, I will not hear a wrong word said about our Consular Service. They were splendid. Within an hour they'd got us a coach to Geneva rail station. There they'd booked us all, via Paris, to Calais, and on a British Rail ferry to Dover. And even booked couchettes for us on the midnight train ! And their generosity didn't end there. They stood us a slap-up dinner in the station restaurant, then (as in many places on the continent at that time), the best eating place in town. The one thing they couldn't do, apparently, was to advance us any currency (because of the restrictions).

It wouldn't cost us, or the British taxpayer a penny, they assured us: they'd get their pound of flesh back from the Liquidators. I wished them luck with it. I don't think there was any ABTA or ATOL in those days. It was said that: "the only thing an airline owns is the pilot's cap badge". The aircraft would be on lease; marketing, maintenance and all the other services contracted out; there would certainly be no money in the bank.

The next part was surreal. An attaché rang his opposite number in the Paris Embassy; he told his wife; she told the Ambassador's wife; things started to happen. They immediately rounded up all the staff and embassy wives they could get hold of. These then sallied out and raided the surrounding boulangeries and épiceries within easy reach. Then they made dozens of cheese, ham and egg croques-monsieur. They gathered all the vacuum flasks they could find in the embassy, brewed coffee and filled them.

By the time we pulled into the Gare du Sud (or was it the Gare St. Lazaire, or somewhere else ?), we were no longer surprised to find a coach waiting to take us across to the Gare du Nord. And then it was breakfast time and we were feeling a bit peckish after the overnight journey. We needn't have worried. A group of embassy staff and wives was waiting for us with the coffee, and the baskets of provisions under snowy white cloths. Our train to Calais didn't leave for an hour, so we'd plenty of time to eat all the food they'd brought.

I'm glad to say that when we got back, the W/Cdr wrote to the Foreign Secretary to express our gratitude, and to congratulate our Ambassador in Paris, the Consul in Geneva (and all their people) on a splendid effort.

Now, back to Blighty,

G'day, folks,


Home, Sweet Home !
Old 25th Feb 2013, 16:15
  #3532 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
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More from the Barren Rocks of Aden

The runway runs across an isthmus and its builders chose to site the saltwater pool on its eastern end away from the quarters. The pool had a corrugated iron canopy section and was the only building on a superb beach, though swimming was shared with shark, sting rays and venomous sea snakes. The post-Suez development brought a new pool within the station perimeter. Today a dual carriageway runs along the beach and the entire area has been built upon. It was indeed a terrible posting for adults.
In our day water came from Sheikothman via a 12-mile pipeline and even then was seen as a major weakness. Sewage? Not even the Kids explored this connection, though I daresay it would be easy to find from downwind
We Kids were welcomed (within reason!) in the barrack blocks as little brothers but I don't remember anyone learning languages least of all Arabic which was probably something to be left behind as soon as possible. There were some very good guitar, mandolin and accordion players, though.

Interesting to hear of your Moray House Test being accepted. I'm beginning to think that the only ones who missed out were the children returning via Croft or Padgate transit camps, perhaps the Lancashire education authority were to blame. Today we have few (albeit very nasty) places to scatter our dwindling Servicemen but I still feel for the families of those who serve their country.
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Old 25th Feb 2013, 20:38
  #3533 (permalink)  
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Danny, what an inspiring story of action well beyond the call of duty! Could it be that the very novelty of early post war civil aviation meant that the fate of Shoestring and their stranded pax was very much a one off situation, almost as though you were the victims of a ship-wreck or railway accident? Perhaps the later bonding of airline companies made the resolution of their failure more certain, but surely not more uplifting? As you say bully for His Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Paris, and three cheers for our man in the Consulate. Now they are as likely as a US Hospital to require your Bank and Credit Card details before advancing so much as a sou. The tax payer is now the victim to be defended, and those who find themselves abandoned and penniless in far off places seen as part culpable in their own misfortune.

Geriaviator, I must say that Aden never was on my "must see" short list, and it seems from what you tell us that I had got it about right. What a gamble Service life has always been! Winters spent in the cold wind swept wilds of Lincolnshire, the sweltering heat of the desert, or a tropical paradise in the Far East? "Faites vos jeux, Mesdames et Messieurs, ....rien ne va plus!" Where will the bouncing ball finish up? What will fate decree? You need to ask yourself if you feel lucky, well do you?
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Old 26th Feb 2013, 07:54
  #3534 (permalink)  
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A little late for many...

250,000 veterans of Arctic convoys and Bomber Command to be honoured - Telegraph
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Old 26th Feb 2013, 09:30
  #3535 (permalink)  
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Too late for Dad, who served in HMS KGV as a Signal Boy, aged 17. He remembered an oerlikon gunner who froze to death at his post because the "black heater" in his sponson had failed. And being sent up the mast and out along the yard arm to free a signal flag that he had got jammed in the block. In a force eight, 20 below and rolling 15 degrees either side. It was a different life. May God Bless them all - nobody else did.
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Old 26th Feb 2013, 09:51
  #3536 (permalink)  
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Late indeed ...

Yes, I suppose 67 years is a little on the late side but better late than never? Maybe not. I was privileged to have met quite a few Bomber Command aircrew and those who would talk about their experiences at all were sad that the sacrifice made by so many of their comrades was never recognised. None of those brave airmen is with us today, and none saw the long awaited Memorial.

Rudyard Kipling spoke for all Servicemen a century ago:
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's " Saviour of 'is country " when the guns begin to shoot.
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Old 26th Feb 2013, 22:20
  #3537 (permalink)  
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Bomber Command Veterans

In a pub on Saturday I had the privilege to meet a 92 year old, fitter onDefiants, Air Eng on Halifax. Ex 6 Group whose lapel badge he proudly wore. Atlast the recognition they all deserve.
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Old 26th Feb 2013, 22:52
  #3538 (permalink)  
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My father in law, sadly passed several years ago, served as ground crew on Stirlings and Lancasters throughout the war. Having done a bit in the modern RAF, it was my great pleasure, whilst repairing PA474 to give him a private look around. I can think of no one else who exemplifies my respect and admiration for the people who fought for us then than him. I believe he would have been proud that his service had finally been recognised for its real value. It's a shame that politicians have to get involved in this sort of stuff.

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Old 26th Feb 2013, 23:49
  #3539 (permalink)  
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You seem to have had some fearsome aquatic life swimming around in your end of the Arabian Sea ! Looking back, I sincerely hope they stayed up there, and didn't stray down to our end while I was splashing about in it. But then, our ignorance was bliss, I suppose !

Your point about the 12-mile freshwater link is a serious one. When the terrorists started up, it would be very hard to secure. Singapore (I was told) was a lost cause as soon as the Japs got a stranglehold on the water supply across the strait from Johore.

We are alike in our admiration for Kipling. Out of favour in the eyes of the intelligentia (?) for generations, he seems to be regaining his proper place as a Giant of English Literature..........D.


I'm afraid "Shoestring Airways" was far from unique in those days. Ex-RAF pilot blows his war gratuity on getting his "B" Licence, forms Limited Company, then scrapes enough money together to hire a 2/h DC-3 (ex-Dakota) and spray it up. Gets a licence to operate from CAA (or whatever it was called then - "Board of Trade" ?). Hires a couple of other ex-RAF types, who will fly almost for nothing to get in the hours to keep their "B"s alive, buys in maintenance (kick-tyres variety) and the rest from the lowest bidder. Sets up in Charter business.

For every one who made good (Freddie Laker) ten went to the wall (the DC-3 would be recycled to the next starry-eyed hopeful, get another coat of paint - same again). We may have been one of the first to call on the nearest Consul, but I wager we were not the last, and they would soon get fed up with this caper.....D.


At last ! But too late for the majority (may they Rest in Peace)...D.

Regards to you all, Danny.
Old 27th Feb 2013, 09:05
  #3540 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
Posts: 555
The mysterious bold thread titles

Our OC and we others have been wondering about bold titles for this wonderful thread, so I contacted those very nice folk who run PPRuNe and Clee replied:
"Bold type in thread titles is not something under the thread creator's control. Threads show up in bold print to you if they've had new posts since your last login."

As most of us go straight to this thread, the only time we'll see our title in bold is when we go to the Forums listing. Easy when you know how, as my QFI told me after each of his flawless landing demonstrations ...

I'm glad you got home in comfort, Danny, their Airships normally arranged a much less luxurious return for their minions. Mind you the ultimate experience is the stranded package tour with 20-hour delay at the airport and all the travel money long gone ...

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