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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 Apr 2013, 20:13
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Bond Roll Rate

As I recall it didn't have much of a roll rate but you could pull a fair bit of g - at least, too much for my mate's Bull Terrier which went straight on when he turned right a bit too quickly. Thereafter, one had to be very cautious if you touched his tail.
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Old 21st Apr 2013, 13:35
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I've answered Brian of Chester's post over here

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Old 21st Apr 2013, 17:35
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Danny finds all is not well.

(follows my #3702 p.186)

Back at Thornaby......

The Bond was in a motorbike garage for a rebore (ten bob for the bore and fifteen for the piston), so I took the bus to Stockton. The strip advert above the seats was interesting: "SUMMER HOLIDAYS FREE - Join No. 3608 Fighter Control Unit, Royal Auxiliary Air Force at RAF Thornaby........ " This did not seem to be exactly the kind of message that we ought to be sending out in our recruiting advertising.

Unfortunately it was not very far from the truth. It rapidly became apparent that things had been allowed to slide in the time of my predecessor. I (honestly) cannot recall his name, but I was told that he had in his time been the Meteor Aerobatic Champion of Fighter Command. Obviously his talents did not tend towards Administration and Organisation: his Auxiliary C.O. would not be of much help to him, being primarily a Fighter Controller.

This is not to say that he had no smart ideas: one in particular (which was up and running when I arrived) I admired, but had to admit was on the wrong side of the law. We ran our own tea-and-bun swindle inside the unit on training days; with no overheads this can be a profitable business. Funds accumulated but there did not appear to be any form of accounting in place. It was not a recognised "Non-Public Fund", so the Station Accountant Officer had no interest in it. However my chap had thought of a neat way to augment its finances.

They designed a quite attractive Christmas Card for the Unit: it sold like hot cakes. An arrangement had been reached with the printers whereby the job was invoiced to us as "Recruiting Posters". TAAFA paid out without question for anything with "Recruiting" in its title - without even asking for a specimen of the goods. As we were getting the cards free in this way , we could sell them cheaply and still make a killing (I think the law calls it "fraudulent conversion", but I am no lawyer).

It was obvious to me that someone was going to get his collar felt if this sort of thing went on, and it could well be me. It was too late to do anything about this particular swindle, but I resolved that there would be no more. I went out and bought a magnificent Cash Book (big enough to be in use yet if the Unit had lasted so long). One of my (two) Auxiliary Secretarial Officers, Tom Oliver, was Assistant Manager of a Darlington bank. I collared all the cash I could find washing around and locked it in my safe. I issued a receipt for all the cash I received, and demanded one for everything I paid out. The counterfoils were passed to Tom, he set up a full set of books, opened an account at his Bank for us, and we were in business.

It rapidly became clear that the appointment of my new C.O. was going to take some time (in fact it took some nine months) and in the meantime I was well and truly left "holding the baby". As I've said, there was no acting rank in prospect, but by the strangest of anomalies it appeared that I was entitled to an Entertainment Allowance of (wait for it) 3/- per day in keeping with my exalted status. I can only suppose that this came from TAAFA in some way, but the amount was so small, and as I had no intention of entertaining anyone except myself, I decided that I was the best home for the windfall.

IIRC, Flying Pay was introduced about this this time, but I cannot be exact. It started at 3/6 a day, and it was payable so long as you remained appointable for flying duties, so I was in the money there, too. The idea of Flying Pay struck us as strange and unwelcome. Why pay an RAF officer or airman extra for doing the job he was paid for already ? It had not been found necessary during WW2; the principle had always been that (apart from specialists like doctors and dentists) all officers got the pay of their rank and seniority no matter what they did. An Equipment Officer store-bashed, a plumber plumbed, a pilot flew and the Admin and Special Duties Branch stirred round the paperwork. All lived happily together on equal terms, but now a divide of Have and Have-nots had been created. I suppose the purpose may have been to encourage pilot recruitment, but when we have reached the stage of having to bribe the young gentlemen of Britain to come and fly in the RAF, it's time to pack-in. (Having said that, we took the money of course !)

I had an unnerving experience in a Vampire one day. It must have been in summer, for when I closed and sealed the canopy it got uncomfortably warm, and I fully opened the "eyeball" fresh air inlet up on the left. Half-way through take-off, I'd just got the nosewheel off when something small hit me hard on the cheek, and it was followed by more tiny missiles. I hastily pulled my goggles down (this was long before helmets and visors); we were far too far down to stop and I took it round for a quick circuit and down. Downwind the fusillade had stopped, but looking in my lap I found two or three small BA bolts.

I climbed out, the cockpit was checked: there were more of them all over the floor and of course others could have gone anywhere in the aircraft. The Vampire was put u/s at once. Maintenance records were checked and the whole sad story came to light.

It seemed that an instrument technician had recently done a job in the cockpit, changed an instrument or something of the sort. To do it, he had taken a little cardboard box of these BA bolts, opened it and found there was no flat surface to put the open box - except that the tiny thing could just fit in the open "eyeball". Of course the inevitable happened: he upended the box and the whole lot went down into the air duct.

He now considered the situation. If he reported the occurrence, half the front end of the aircraft would have to be unshipped to retrieve the bolts, and he would not be Chiefy's blue-eyed boy. On the other hand, the bolts were wholly contained in the ducting and could not possibly escape to do any harm. They could stay down there (wherever they had got to) for the life of the aircraft and no one be any the wiser. And of course, they were "C" stores (consumables); he did not have to account for them.

He took the logical way out and kept his mouth shut. It was just his hard luck that the gale that went through the duct when the aircraft got under way was enough to convert the bolts into the swarm of projectiles which had attacked me. He was for the High Jump: I do not know what happened to him.

More about my problems next time,

Good evening, chaps,


It's just one damn' thing after another.

Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Apr 2013 at 18:37. Reason: Formatting.
Old 21st Apr 2013, 18:24
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All lived happily together on equal terms, but now a divide of Have and Have-nots had been created. I suppose the purpose may have been to encourage pilot recruitment, but when we have reached the stage of having to bribe the young gentlemen of Britain to come and fly in the RAF, it's time to pack-in

.... and the rest is history

I had an unnerving experience in a Vampire one day.

.... and the rest could have been history but, fortunately for us all, and Danny especially,
it was not!

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Old 22nd Apr 2013, 12:53
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Danny, nice of you to credit me with the Bond Minicar pic, but in truth I merely plucked it out of Wikki. That however is bye the bye, for I believe in posting it again you have scored another first. If so congratulations, for you now know how very easy it is. There's a little more to it than that in order to post your own pics,I admit, but nothing that such a versatile operator as yourself can't manage. You'd just need a scanner (often part of a printer these days) and registering with the likes of Photo and image hosting, free photo galleries, photo editing. The rest is experimenting until you get a result. Advice (much better than mine) is readily available here as you know. It's up to you Danny. If you haven't the kit and/or the inclination, no problem. It's your story and your anecdotes that we treasure, and you treat us to both splendidly.
As to gate guardians, the real things are still around, as this story relates:-
BBC News - Gloster Meteor lifted from Imjin Barracks by helicopter
Here's hoping for a safe landing since its last one in 1977.
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Old 22nd Apr 2013, 17:46
  #3726 (permalink)  
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Picture Post.


I must say that I was astounded myself when I managed to copy the Bond picture from your Post. But that's the easy bit ! It's likely to be some time before I get round to being able to scan and transfer pics into my laptop (in dock at the moment). But thanks for the detailed and helpful advice !

This is a particularly useful picture as it shows the massive cast alloy twin-wishbone rig which carried the power unit and front wheel assembly. The thing was really an articulated vehicle, in which this almost stand-alone tractor unit dragged along the rest. And - as pulse1's pal's Bull Terrier found out - it can be whipped across very smartly, the side cut-outs are very low, and Newton's First Law reigns supreme !

Yes, I can see the point in gathering in all the real Spitfires - they're far too valuable to be left lying about. Even so, Bentley Priory ! Is nothing sacred ?


Last edited by Danny42C; 22nd Apr 2013 at 20:48. Reason: Spelling Error.
Old 23rd Apr 2013, 17:45
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Danny puts the Cat among the Pigeons.

As I mentioned in my last Post, I was unhappy with the lackadaisical attitude shown by many of our Auxiliaries to the duties they'd taken on (and who could blame them after seeing the kind of recruiting material we'd been putting out ?). I went through the attendance records with Bob and Sgt Watt: it was obvious that up to a third of our people had just "come along for the ride" - and the "Summer Holidays Free" (I'd had the bus posters removed !).

I decided to take the bull by the horns, and wrote an Open letter to our troops, and for issue to all future enquirers and recruits. I explained that the choice of their next Commanding Officer had not yet been made, but that it was my duty meanwhile to hand the unit over to him (whoever he might be) in the best condition possible. I outlined the purpose of a Fighter Control Unit, and how important it was that we should develop into an effective, well trained and instantly available reserve for the regular Fighter Control service (as the Warsaw Pact would not give us a month's notice of attack).

While I hoped that they would enjoy with us the companionship which is such an integral part of Service life, they must realise that we were not a paid social club; we had a serious purpose; we expected them to live up to the undertakings they had given us on acceptance into the Unit: and if they could or would not do this then, regretfully, we would be obliged to show them the door.

Here my memory becomes rather hazy. We cannot have "enlisted" our auxiliary airmen/airwomen. I do not remember administering any Oath at all, and if any swearing-in had to be done, it would obviously have been done by me. IIRC, they were "in" on a very loose arrangement indeed; they could get out at a fortnight's notice: I could get rid of them on the same basis. Short of doing that, I had a very useful sanction: I could bar them from the Summer Camp if they had not put in the requisite number of weekend and weeknight attendances. As this was the "plum" of Auxiliary service, they would generally then resign in a huff. I suppose it amounted to "constructive dismissal", but there were no Tribunals then.

All this sounded eminently reasonable to me, and to the 70% of the auxiliary strength who were pulling their weight. It did not appeal to the others who were largely passengers in the system. Someone passed the good news along to TAAFA, where it hit the fan.

TAAFA regarded recruiting numbers as the only indicator of a Unit's efficiency, the more the better, never mind the quality. It was a "target-chasing" exercise, long before the expression came into common use. Not only did my intentions threaten to reduce numbers (in the short term, at least), but I had embarked on this course without so much as a "by your leave" from them . They leaned on 12 Group: "Who will rid us of this turbulent Adjutant ?"

Luckily for me, the rather quiet and gentlemanly AVM who'd passed on my PC application a few weeks before had just been succeeded by one of the RAF's more colourful characters in the person of "Batchy" Atcherley. His first instinct was to throw me to the wolves. But then he found that his Staff were equally divided on the matter: one faction said: "The man's trouble, get rid of him" and the other: "About time someone tried to get some value out of these Auxiliaries for all the money we're putting in, more power to his elbow". He decided to see for himself.

Accordingly I was summoned to attend at HQ Newton, cap and gloves on (no chair/coffee/biscuit) . "I hear you have been making a nuisance of yourself, young man ", harrumphed Batchy, "what have you to say ?" I made my case as well as I could. "Well", said Batchy, "I see what you're trying to do - but WHY DID YOU HAVE TO WRITE THIS DAMNED LETTER ?"

"Look, withdraw the letter, we'll say no more about it, I'll square it with the TAAFA, you can throw out as many as you like, but NO MORE LETTERS do you understand ?" "Yes, Sir".

"If you want to stand by your letter, I'll have you removed and the next man will withdraw it: nothing will have been achieved. But if that's your decision - my Comm Flight chap's coming to the end of his tour, how would you like that ?" "But, Sir, I'm not twin trained !" "Doesn't matter, we'll give you a conversion".

It was tempting, but I remembered a meeting two years before (when I spent a week or so at Newton between Driffield and Valley) with a woebegone individual - he was the OC Comm Flight, and he was not a happy man. It seemed that every Staff Officer and wannabe Staff Officer in the place regarded himself entitled to be flown wherever and whenever he liked, at a moment's notice, and did not take refusal kindly. This offer might be a poisoned chalice. The Devil I knew might be the better option - and besides, I'd "set my hand to the plough" and wanted to see it through.

I am mortified to admit that I hauled down the flag and took Batchy's first offer. As it was to prove, it would be extremely fortunate that I did so - but that's a story for two years ahead.

That'll do for the time being,

Cheers, all,


You can't please everybody.

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Apr 2013 at 13:23. Reason: Spacing.
Old 23rd Apr 2013, 21:59
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You can't please everybody

Perhaps not, Danny, but you're making a bloody good job of it!

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Old 23rd Apr 2013, 23:03
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He who fights, and turns away, lives to fight another day ! OK Danny, I'm hooked, and, I bet there was an "although" ?
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Old 24th Apr 2013, 13:58
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Union Jack and Smujsmith,

Thanks for the kind words ! You never know how things will turn out, but as it happened it was all for the best.

At this point I should like to put on record that, in my rare dealings with Airships, I have always been treated with courtesy and consideration. It's the middle-management you have to watch out for !

I am pleased to announce that the Well Known Catalogue Shop has just rung to say Laptop back and ready for airtest. Now no more frantic poking at nonexistent touchscreen and ruddy spacebar that doesn't space (probably "Wotsit" jammedunderneath).

Old 24th Apr 2013, 17:59
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in my rare dealings with Airships, I have always been treated with courtesy and consideration.
I suspect that my dealings with them were even rarer than yours, Danny, but like you found them to be, for want of a better word, gentlemen. When our NCO aircrew were recommended by the boss for possible commissions their first hurdle was an interview with the AOC 38 Group. At the time it was Mickey Martin. On return to the Squadron they tended to report that the AOC was more interested in what was going on at Station level rather than with them. He complained that he was kept in the dark in that regard by his Staff and thus used such opportunities to subvert them and find out things for himself. A good man that man, as were they all in the main. Of course that was then (late 60's) and not now...
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Old 24th Apr 2013, 18:08
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Mickey Martin; that brings back memories.

About one week after he had taken over 38 Grp Chunky Lord (RIP) and I pranged Whirlwind 10 XR478 just outside his office just as he was getting out of his car.

He was the first to arrive. He was most concerned about our health and supervised all the fire and medical services.

Probably the only time that there has been an AOC as a witness to a board of inquiry that he convened.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 25th Apr 2013 at 09:29.
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Old 24th Apr 2013, 18:22
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Mickey came into the Odiham bar on a Friday night after an exercise ended, in his tactical kit. Unfortunately he had his flies undone, in a spectacular way, and a whole army of largely career-minded officers affected not to notice. Except one, a less than career-minded 54 year old Flt Lt who stood on a table, called for quiet and announced that the "AOC had his flies undone, and that all General List officers were advised to follow suit."

All GL officers did, pulling out their shirt tails. Most Supp List officers did the same, thus disclosing their career ambitions. MM laughed harder than anyone and a great evening ensued, noted only for the absence of WRAF who came into the bar, saw, and fled before anyone could explain.
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Old 25th Apr 2013, 07:30
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With the 70th anniversary of the Dams raid coming up Radio Lincolnshire are going mad with related programmes:

the link is the summary page - bottom right is an interview with Lancaster FE, Harry Parkins - 'Ackney Harry'

BBC Lincolnshire - Dambusters 70: After me, the Flood

"Known as 'Ackney Harry', Harry Parkins served with two squadrons, based at two different airfields - 630 Squadron at RAF East Kirkby and 576 Squadron at RAF Fiskerton. The service with 576 Squadron at RAF Fiskerton was more by accident than design. His first crew was a mix of British and Commonwealth, including crew from New Zealand and Australia. The second crew was all British. He flew exclusively Avro Lancasters.

First crew: Pilot Joe Lennon, Flight Engineer Harry Parkins, Bomb Aimer Jimmy Hurman, Navigator Bruce Reese, WOP Jimmy Marriot, Mid Upper Gunner Joe Malloy, Rear Gunner Joe Pollard.

Second crew: Pilot Flight Officer Fry (Chips), Flight Engineer Harry Parkins (Ackney Harry), Bomb Aimer Woodliffe (Fingers), Navigator Smith (Smithy), Wireless Operator Lait (Sparky), Mid Upper Gunner Younger (Geordie), Rear Gunner Jones (Taffy).

On a bombing raid to Munich on 24 April 1944 via the French Alps and Italy to fool the Luftwaffe night fighters, a round trip of more than 2,000 miles, Harry Parkins and his crew are believed to hold the record for the longest flight by an Avro Lancaster. After taxiing for take-off, the plane was topped up, it ran out of fuel just as they touched down at East Kirkby, 10 hours and 25 minutes later.

The final operation of the war, the dropping of food to the starving Dutch (part of Operation Manna) on VE-Day, brought the final tally of operations to 45.


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Old 25th Apr 2013, 10:20
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About one week after he had taken over 38 Grp Chunky Lord (RIP) and I pranged Whirlwind 10 XR478 just outside his office just as he was getting out of his car.
That is very funny!

How did you prang it? Do tell, I reckon it'll fit in nicely here.

danny - keep up the great work. Superb stuff.
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Old 26th Apr 2013, 17:50
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Danny takes some Time Out.

At about this time, Niel invited me over to spend a week with him in Paris. This sounded a good idea - except for the air fare ! As a general principle, we had a rooted aversion to paying good money to fly in any aircraft - it seemed to us an unnatural state of affairs. The cheapest BEA/Air France could offer was a 11 "Positioning Flight" (LHR-Orly) at 11 pm. This was a substantial sum (about a quarter of a month's pay for a Flt.Lt.), but there was no competition in the market in those days.

But for the money you were very well treated. I took the evening train to London, and reported to the Victoria Air Terminal about nine. There all the formalities were completed politely; they made sure I was taking no more than 10 (?) in currency out of the country; they weighed me and my luggage and loaded the passengers onto a coach. Next stop, aircraft steps! (Eat your heart out, Ryanair and Easyjet). Of course, there was no left/right business then: we were all "first class" and took our places in ample and comfortable seats in a BEA "Ambassador".

The flight was uneventful, I don't remember their offering us anything in the way of food or drink, but suppose they must have done. He thumped it down at Orly like a bag of coal, it was just like old times. Then, after customs and immigration there, a coach to the Aerogare des Invalides, where Niel picked me up, and onto the Metro.

Again, he'd been billeted at the apartment of a Mme Semionoff, another White Russian widow from the old regime, who lived alone in the top floor of a house in the Rue de Vaugirard. The two-person lift was an open Meccano kind of thing which squeaked, rattled and swayed up and down the centre of the stairwell: it frightened the life out of me.

He seemed to have been left to his own devices in his Russian studies, but chatted on in Russian well enough with Mme Seminonoff, whereas I had to do my best in schoolboy French. Apparently his only official duty was to attend a pay parade at the Embassy every week or so, apart from that he must have been working to some sort of a syllabus. He had to read a Russian language newspaper regularly, and I found that there were two different ones in Paris.

It seems that at the time of the Revolution, the Bolsheviks had declared a number of letters in the old Cyrillic alphabet to be redundant, and abolished them by decree. The emigres, however,regarded any decisions of the Soviets as null and void, and continued to use the old orthography. This caused additional problems for the student, and meant that two different newspapers had to be printed (with widely differing editorial views !)

With the limited time I had out there (and the even more limited money), we had a look at Notre-Dame, the Sacre-Coeur and Napoleon's tomb. We got up the Eifel Tower, went to the Opera one night ("Tosca", I think). one afternoon to the Galerie des Glaces (ice rink), where I was able to demontstrate my skills to Niel (insofar as it is possible to demonstrate anything on hired boots/skates other than the ability to stand up and move about).

One evening, I recall, we found ourselves in the Salle Pleyel (wherever that was), listening to an erudite lecture (with slides) about "Les Moines d'Athos", who live on pinnacles of rock to be free of the temptations of this world, with which their only contact is a man-carrying basket on the end of a long dodgy rope (sounds like a case for Elf'nSafety). How Niel got hold of these tickets I don't know, most likely someone dumped them on Mme S., and she palmed them off on him.

The only two abiding memories I have of the visit are of a car showroom, with a gleaming new black Citroen Light Fifteen (Maigret's "Traction Avant") at (old) Fr615,000 (about 600) to anyone with the cash. (This at a time when you couldn't get a new car in UK for love or money).

And a clever little electrical plug/socket idea. At the time, Woolworths used to sell little 250V 5A two-pin plugs and sockets for 9d (4p) each. They were very useful for extending flexes, I must still have a dozen in the house. (Elf'nSafety, reach for the smelling salts). The French went one stage better with a combined one hardly bigger than a single. There was a side entry flex, one end was plug. the other socket. It was ideal, you plugged your first one into the wall for your lamp or whatever, and a socket appeared ready for another plug, and so ad infinitum, or until the fuses blew.

All too soon, the week was over, the return (Air France) the same as outbound, and back to Thornaby. Niel ended up in Habbaniya, I don't think I saw him again until '59.



Last edited by Danny42C; 26th Apr 2013 at 22:07. Reason: Add Material.
Old 28th Apr 2013, 19:26
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Danny has a Pleasant Surprise

Sgt Watt brought in the post one morning: "Here's something interesting, sir". We had, it seemed, got an Increase in our Establshment. Not much, but we had suddenly become entitled to "Bicycles, Tradesmen, Qty 2." "Should we demand these, do you think, sir?" Sir thought for a few moments. As a general rule, anything with wheels on was worth having.

A whole generation must now have grown up since the last "Tradesman's" or more colloquially "Errand Boy's" bike was a common sight on our streets. Nowadays a huge pantechnicon goes round with the legend: "You Shop - We Drop". The idea is an old one,for once upon a time every grocer, butcher, baker and candlestick maker in the land would have an "errand lad" on strength (five bob a week if he was lucky), for delivery of goods to the customers.

The lad had transport provided in the form of one of these bikes. A very strong frame had a 26-in wheel at the back, but only about a 12-in one at the front. This allowed for a big frame surrounding a large carrier basket ahead of the handlebars, ideal for carrying a large number of small parcels. Advertising had not been overlooked: a steel plate filled the gap in the frame, with "John Smith, Quality Butchers" - or whatever - (plus address & phone number - if any), and a graceful flourish to finish it off.

We were pretty well self-sufficient, but there are always bits and pieces to be collected from, and return to Stores, (about half a mile away). One of these bikes would be handy. And then it suddenly struck me ! Suppose I kept my parachute, Mae West and flying kit in my office ? Then, when I was going flying, all I need do was to pile the lot into the carrier, hop on, ride to the Flight Office, book-out and ride out to my aircraft. You can't do that in a car, and it may mean humping your chute and the rest a few hundred yards from the Flights to the Line - for Fate will have it that your aircraft is always on the far end - on a hot day. You're knackered before you climb in.

I know that, strictly speaking, no vehicles are allowed in the Aircraft Movement Area without permission of ATC, but they didn't object to my bike, and I could drop it down among all the rest of the necessary bits of things - fire extinguishers, trolley accs, mech's tool chests, cockpit ladders etc, which live in the space between parked aircraft. And of course pick it up and ride away when I climbed out.

"Get the demand in for both right away, Sarge !" The two duly arrived, finished in RAF blue. We dug out a couple of the old "Summer Holidays Free - Join 3608 FCU" posters and stuck them on the frame plates to demonstrate ownership. Sir made it clear that one bike must always be kept serviceable for him. They were very useful, and we were much envied - for it seemed that we were the only Unit so favoured, but nobody knew why.

Once we were well into '52, all our activities tended to build up towards the climax of the Territorial and Auxiliary year - the Summer Camp. This would not be literally a "camp" under canvas (although that had been tried in '51, and proved disastrous). Rather it was a detachment to a regular Fighter Control Station of all the Unit members who had been trained to operational standard. Recent recruits who were still in "Basic" training would remain behind.

You might suppose that this heralded a period of frantic activity for me and the regular staff, but in fact we were only concerned with making up the numbers who had earned their right to the supposed "Summer Holiday", and then solve the logistical problem of getting them to the Station selected. As these "host" stations had mostly been used for the purpose in previous years (and would get a whole series of FCUs in any one season), they had the business pretty well "sussed-out".

All I needed to do was to get them through the camp gates: they would take over from me then and I could "rest on my oars" for the remainder of the fortnight, and see my troops off on the way home again. I think Bob Schroder stayed behind to mind the store and supervise the training of our newer recruits. Of course there was no purpose in my taking Sgt Watt and my Orderly Room staff down, as I had no "standing" down there at all.

More about this next time.

Cheers, chaps,


The onlooker sees most of the game.
Old 29th Apr 2013, 08:07
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I seem to remember Batchey Atcherley coming to see us at Horsham St Faith in his Meteor, as he did with all the stations in his Group, and think it was housed at Newton, grass runway and all. Which makes me wonder, in retrospect, whether the undoubted pleasure in being given two redundant bicycles would outweigh the thought of maybe having access to the AOCs' Meatbox when he wasn't using it to relieve the tedium of driving people about in the Station Flight Anson had he not turned down his offer. Full marks, though, for seeing the other alternative through!

Met Mickey Martin when he was SASO in NEAF HQ Episcopi, and I was junior air staff office boy as Command Weapons Officer, he was a lovely fellow. My job seemed mostly to import sand to the Libyan desert for the El Adam bombing and ground attack range! He had left 38 Group when I was there on the Phantom training staff, again as junior office boy. At least I knew what a Phantom looked like having had a ride in one at Conningsby where I was Sqn Ldr car parks and visits, or so it felt like!

While at 38 Group I was summonsed to MOD, was it called that then, for an Air Secretary branch interview on my future prospects with a charming Wing Commander, who told me no more flying posts, more likely more staff or station jobs, maybe making wing commander by retirement age. I asked him what the chances were if I wanted early retirement. Pretty good he said, but I'd leave it for couple of months if I were you. A couple of months later the first of the redundancy schemes was announced! Good chap. Leading on from which when I told Gp Capt Ops 38 Group, who was an entry below me at Cranwell, I was applying he said "good idea, Tim", which nicely summed up my own views by then as well! Though I had enjoyed it.
Tim Mills is offline  
Old 29th Apr 2013, 08:43
  #3739 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
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A substantial outlay for your Paris trip, Danny. Was the Bond being de-coked, re-bored, or whatever? It would have been a hit in La Belle France for sure, even with their idiosyncratic take on what constituted a Voiture. Given its frugal consumption and the relatively low cost of petrol anyway, the only real big ticket item would have been for the car ferry. I'm not sure if that didn't require vehicles still to be craned on board, or were RORO's then up and running? But we already know of your preference for CAT in those days despite the cost and experience suffered. Positioning flight? Isn't every one? 11 for the 11pm one? Sounds like a marketing ploy. The 1pm could have been a bargain ;-)
Your successful indent for "Bicycles, Tradesmen, Qty 2." was a triumph, for anything that the RAF provided for ground transit was fiercely fought over and never sufficient for the demand. How a RAuAF FCU so qualified I cannot imagine, but possession is 9 points of the law, and 3608 FCU possessed! Your description of the vehicles took me back to my childhood, for I did a Greengrocer's round on Saturdays and a paper delivery round on Sundays. The former was done with a similar bicycle as you describe, albeit in black. The basket was piled high with produce and off I went on my teetering way. The round was rather the opposite to the famous Hovis errand boy ad, in that I went down a steep hill outbound, returning empty up it. An advantage one would think, but the AUW, gradient, and indifferent brakes all led to an acceleration which was both exhilarating and problematic. The unevenness of the road surface seemed to set up a harmonic vertical oscillation of the basket and its contents. Soon cabbages, cauliflowers, or other larger assorted vegetables and fruit could be flung out hither and thither. I would have to squeeze hard on the brake handles, steer into the kerb and, bringing the bike to a halt, stand it up on its retractable legs in order to recover the produce before it was run over. A quick dusting off of gravel and other contaminants and all was as good as new, well almost. Fortunately the customers never complained and indeed often added a tip or two to my 10/- retainer!
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Old 29th Apr 2013, 17:19
  #3740 (permalink)  
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From Spitfire to carrier bicycle ... this thread gets better and better! Most message boys would have given anything to swap bike for Spitfire, but we can rely on Danny to turn things about.

Having tried bike but not, alas, Spitfire (and these days either steed would present big problems, probably ending in disaster) I can sympathise with its riders. Chugalug, I would suggest winding in a couple of turns aft trim to avoid entering the dreaded spiral dive
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