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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 2nd Apr 2013, 19:09
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Well do I remember that little square beast in the kitchen ! I spent half a freezing night just before Christmas '67, made about six attempts to fire the thing up (Leeming OMQ) before success, as marching-in with family next day.....D.

Tim Mills,

Did the Merlin seize on you ? ("prop grinding to a halt !"). That must be pretty rare - can't remember another case, but open to contradiction. Sorry that my favourite aircraft let you down so badly, but - "well handled, Sir !"


Practical example of The Tail Wagging the Dog ! Curiously enough, this is the first time I've heard of this phenomenon, having spent all my time in a cosy cockpit up front. Just shows, you don't know how the other half of the world lives.....D.

Cheers to all, Danny.
Old 3rd Apr 2013, 07:14
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I think the average paratrooper (and the ALM) could have quite a bit to say in respect of inconsiderate 'ruddering' during the the last 20 mins of an airdrop task.
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Old 3rd Apr 2013, 07:29
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No Danny, bad choice of words. Should have been 'large three bladed prop windmilling to a halt'. I can't remember when it actually stopped, I imagine on short finals as the speed dropped off, or even when the Spitfire and I came to a stop! I seem to remember that a mixture problem was the cause, which makes me wonder why it didn't happen before, same showing off at Cranwell, the previous arrival. Could have been self inflicted I suppose, but I think I was fairly well up with the landing checks by then. Anyway I am glad it didn't happen half way across the Wash!

Maybe an appropriate end to 50 odd hours of undeserved enjoyment, together with 30 odd in the Hurricane, and as a special treat, 30 minutes in the Spanish version of the ME 109! Talk about right place, right time!

My favourite, not made my mind up yet! But that and the Mk 5 were the nicest Spits.
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Old 3rd Apr 2013, 08:36
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I think the average paratrooper
There is no such thing as an average paratrooper
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Old 3rd Apr 2013, 09:03
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Sorry to intrude but quite a few years ago I knew a Royal Marine, hell of a good chap, and he thought Paras were only average in comparison to Royal Marines.
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Old 3rd Apr 2013, 23:05
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Danny's New Neighbours (follows #3646 p. 183)

What breakfast brought was the realisation of how small the living-in population really was. Besides Jack Derbyshire and myself, there was only John Newboult, the 608 Squadron Adjutant, our M.O. (F/O Hamlett), F/O Keith Marfell (Secretarial), and (later) one or two NS Secretarial Branch P/Os (one was a Smith of Smith's Instruments}. There may have been one or two others, but memory fades.

RAF Thornaby was unusual - may even have been unique - in that the whole family of Auxiliaries was together on one Station. In order of importance, then, we start with 608 Squadron, (motto: "Omnibus Ungulis", loosely rendered as: "All Balls"), with Vampires (originally IIIs, but Vs later - what was the difference ? - I flew my first V in Apl '52, but they may have come in before that). Their C.O. was a S/Ldr F.A. Robinson, to be almost immediately succeeded by S/Ldr G.A. Martin. He, his Adj John Newboult, whom we have already met, and the F/O Training Officer (whom I shall just call "Mike", for the moment), were all Regulars. All the other pilots were Auxiliaries, as was their Engineer Officer (John ? Oliver), and their M.O. (Dr Ian Stewart).

Next in line was No. 2608 (Auxiliary) Squadron of the RAF Regt. Their only Regular was Trevor Rhys-Davies, who IIRC, doubled as Adjutant and Training Officer. But his C.O. was an Auxiliary S/Ldr, whom I don't remember ever seeing, and whose name I've forgotten (if I ever knew).

Bringing up the rear was my No. 3608 (Fighter Control) Unit. The only Regulars were Bob Schroder (Training Officer) and myself. We had an Auxiliary S/Ldr as C.O. - or would have when they (and mark the "they") decided who to appoint in place of the departing incumbent.

Thornaby suited everybody. 608 had the place to themselves (there were no other flying units) with their Vampires and a Meteor T7 for I/F and ratings. The Station had a Harvard and a TM, which 608 looked after. The Squadron also had a big black and yellow thirties' Rolls-Royce saloon as its aircrew runabout, a magnificent thing with partition, speaking tube, a little silver flower vase in the back, Bedford cord upholstery and enough room for them all with a bit of a push.

The Regiment was well placed. Their DepŰt was (then) at RAF Catterick, only about 25 miles away, and a bit further out they had all Catterick Garrison to play around in.

It suited me fine. At that time the policy was that officers on Ground duties had to find for themselves whatever flying happened to be at hand to keep in practice on an operational type. I was luckier than most, with the Vampires on the spot.

On 1st December '51, 608's Boss (S/Ldr Robinson) let me take one of theirs for the first time . My brief was simple: keep doing rollers until we tell you to stop. I'd always liked the Vampire, it was simple, vice-free and docile. The forward view was perfect (after a lifetime of taildraggers). It was very easy to land, you just had to be careful not to get the nose so high as to scrape the tail booms on the runway.

It seems that he went up to the Tower, got out the binoculars and watched carefully. I reeled off four or five greasers on the trot before he pronounced himself satisfied, with the minor comment that I was a bit slow each time in getting the power back on (I didn't think so). I became "Silversand 21" (R/T) and took my place in society.

In mid-week (when the Auxiliaries would be away) I see I did a number of airtests for them, and even at weekends it looks as if they fitted me in when it suited them: I have entries like "GCI famil", "Blue 2 PIs" and "Battle Formation" but, apart fom one occasion when I landed as Mike's wingman (he was pushing his luck !), I have absolutely no recollection of these flights (except that you could smell the steelworks and ICI 30 miles out to sea), but would hazard a guess that I would be the "hare" for their "hounds".

A Tale of Fortune and Misfortune next time.

Goodnight, all, Danny 42C.

You never know.
Old 4th Apr 2013, 06:49
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. . . except that you could smell the steelworks and ICI 30 miles out to sea
A smell that is long gone (along with the jobs) but it all came back to me when I visited Shanghai.

You missed out 1261 Squadron, Air Training Corps, but no doubt the cadets were invisible to the real Air Force. We were however the last light blue unit to operate from the station.
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Old 4th Apr 2013, 11:59
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Some 608 stuff

The Badge

Scan 12 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

BOS Cartoon 1953

Scan 18 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Another 1953 BOS Cartoon - My Dad

Scan 20 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)

Last edited by pzu; 4th Apr 2013 at 12:01.
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Old 4th Apr 2013, 12:42
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Great cartoons, I wonder if Danny has any recollection of them. Thanks for sharing them, very relevant to the current topic.

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Old 4th Apr 2013, 15:06
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Auld Lang Syne


Sorry I forgot 1261 Sqdn ATC ! But now I have someone to cross-check my memories with ! What dates were you at Thornaby ? (I was there 10/'51 - 10/'54). If we overlap, we'll have plenty to talk about.........D.


Marvellous cartoon ! Any idea when it was done - and who was BOS ? Most of the names ring a bell with me, but the faces are out of memory now. Dr Ian Stewart took over from Doc Groves. John Newboult was the sqdn Adj up to about May, '53, when I picked him up from Manby in the Harvard, and he was a S/Ldr then, so Fred Morris must have taken over about that time (which ties in with a '53 date for the sketch).........D.


Yes, I've plenty of memories. Hector Watts used to beat-up his home town of Scarborough (when he got the chance) at weekends, then write letters of complaint about low-flying aircraft to the local rag ! He ran an old Model A Ford saloon from the 30's, IIRC. Most of the Auxiliaries were characters, nearly all were ex-war pilots, and much of the old spirit survived.....D

Cheers to all three,


Last edited by Danny42C; 4th Apr 2013 at 15:21. Reason: Spacing
Old 5th Apr 2013, 13:44
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The rain in Spain ...

Hello folks
I've been busy lately and have just caught up with the always interesting posts, and I've something else in the pipeline. Meanwhile, to lower the tone again, there were times I would have been very happy to have an Elsan. Such as the flight from San Sebastien to Faro when we encountered a stronger headwind than forecast.

Fuel was no problem for the Arrow but it became one for me. It had been very hot, I had drunk plenty as recommended, and after three hours the situation had become as desperate as it had been in the Tiger Moth a decade before. Fortunately lunch had come in a plastic bag, and the Arrow has a small direct-vision opening window ... you get the picture.

With apologies to the good folk of a tiny village five miles west of Oviedo.

The rain in Spain falls mainly from the plane.
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Old 5th Apr 2013, 18:37
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Montrose Air Station

First of all, my sincere apologies for butting in on this wonderful thread. You will see from my username that I am not a pilot, and I was born after WW 11, so Iím WAYout of order on 2 counts!

I have read this thread from the beginning over quite a few evenings (and late nights),and have enjoyed every single one of them. I was born near Montrose, which is the site of the first ever military airfield in the UK, opening in 1913, so this year it celebrates its centenary. Here is a link to theMontrose Air Station Heritage Centre for those interested. - http://www.rafmontrose.org.uk/

I have only seen one reference to Montrose on this thread, although it was a training school. What did strike me was the number of pupil pilots who were killed in accidents during training. The same must have been true at Montrose, owing to the number of war graves in SleepyhillockCemetery I always think that Sleepyhillock is a wonderful name for a cemetery,donít you?

Iíd love to hear of any memories of anyone who was based there at any time. Iíll be going to visit the heritage centrewhen (if?) the weather improves. If anyone wants any photos of anything when Iím there, just ask.

Itís been a privilege to share so many wonderful memories with you guys.

Last edited by OffshoreSLF; 7th Apr 2013 at 20:38.
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Old 7th Apr 2013, 08:13
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Great stories GGeriaviator, not only about being an RAF brat, as I was, but really enjoyed the Tiger Moth Irish Sea transit and the similar one by Arrow San Sebastian to Faro, similar only because of one engine across lots of water, but specially the discomfort involveed! And the adapted quote about rain and Spain.
Luckily I never encountered that, the Falcon 20 I flew in later life had all mod cons, and in general our trips were not long enough to make use of them. The only shortcomings were firstly that the relatively small headroom in the back didn't make it too comfortable for a tall gentleman in the P mode, as our chief pilot put it, and secondly, the luggage locker very quickly filled with very expensive Gucci cases and the like, and tended to overflow into the aformentioned mod con! Dont know how the passengers managed, we were safely up front!
Better get back to proper crew room/happy hour chat before being censored, I'll try and do better next time.
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Old 7th Apr 2013, 08:44
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The Smallest Room.

Some of my very old readers may remember the "Tee Emm" award of "The Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Digit" to F/Sgt ****** for "Failing to Put Up his Hand before Leaving the Room".

In extremis as a passenger in an Anson, he opened the door for the purpose - and fell out ! Luckily he was wearing his parachute.


Last edited by Danny42C; 7th Apr 2013 at 18:57. Reason: Correct Text
Old 7th Apr 2013, 16:17
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Montrose memories

Welcome to this superb thread, Offshore, which seems to have occupied you just as it has occupied most of us. We are privileged to have such stories from those who created them, sadly a diminishing number. My father was at Montrose in 1938 and you will find his tale of the yellow Painted Pongoes in post #3322 (Dec 23 2012). Of course the stuff was not harmful except to the Army's bull, but it was made clear that the real thing was readily available if the Germans had used gas.
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Old 7th Apr 2013, 18:13
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Your story of the Order of the Irremovable Digit reminds me of an occasion when on a night nav exercise in an Anson with two pupil navigaters when the port engine caught fire. We were steadily losing height and the Polish pilot made a bale out call. The two pupils one of whom should have jettisoned the door of the aircraft shot past me to pick up their chutes which were lying at the back and sat down again. Luclily the pilot spotted an airfield ahead and we managed to land on one engine at Syerston.
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Old 7th Apr 2013, 19:12
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The more, the merrier.


Glad to have you aboard ! Congratulations on your first solo (Post !) Butt in by all means (the joy in this Thread comes from the "butters-in" as much, or more than from the main serial stories.

Old 8th Apr 2013, 10:28
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Thanks for the welcome, guys. I must admit to being a bit nervous posting on this thread from my background.

I read your thread #3322, and I as far as i remember, it's the only one to mention Montrose. I was wondering why you thought your Father's little "incident" happened at Fort George? It's quite along way from Montrose, and if they were testing the system along the coast, it would have made more sense to spray the Pongos at Barry Buddon, which is just down the coast between Carnoustie and Dundee. Perhaps not, as when did anything in the services make any sense?

Do you have any other stories of your Father's time at Montrose? I'd love to hear them.

As I said, I was a bit nervous about going "solo" here, but your welcome has put my mind at rest. Unfortunately, I was born with less that perfect eyesight, which precluded flying, and quite a few other careers. However, I carved out quite a successful life in the oil/gas industry, and gained quite a few hours in the air as SLF, hence the name.

Keep up the good work!
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Old 8th Apr 2013, 10:54
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Re Elsans, I recall Dad telling me of one of his chums in Bomber Command who took to throwing the Elsan (and contents obviously) from the plane during raids.

Bomber Command finally got a letter from the Red Cross in Geneva asking them to stop bunging out the things because they were classed as chemical weapons and thus banned. It was okay to carry on dropping HE though.

I presume this is an old yarn and has no truth to it, or am I wrong?!
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Old 8th Apr 2013, 12:51
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Probably made up by Bomber Command. At that time 1,000 lbs bombs would have been cheaper than Elsans.
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