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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 Jun 2013, 13:26
  #3921 (permalink)  
 
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DFCP, hopefully this link
https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=54.5...hl=en&t=h&z=14
will reveal the Google Satellite image of Teeside Airport and still show the 3 original MSG runways, as well as the then OM (St Georges Hotel now, as you say). Danny covered the incident some time back, but looking at the layout I'd hazard that the TO runway was the one marked 28? (strangely still not obliterated and replaced with a cross).
If that were so he didn't have that much distance to cover in a RH arc until hitting the Mess. As the Tech Site & ATC was then further East, and the modern terminal not even dreamed of, he could have had a pretty clear run until his own room loomed into view.
RIP.
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Old 20th Jun 2013, 16:22
  #3922 (permalink)  
 
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The Middleton Ghost.

Chugalug,

A most informative link, which to my mind makes the whole sad affair clear as day. Thanks !

09/28 looks far too short for a Meteor (even allowing for the fact that the white rectangular patch in the SW corner is the Leisure/Catering/Goofers platform Centre of a much later date, and a chunk of the west end of the old 28 must have been chopped off to build it.

He must have been on the much longer 23, took to the open country about abeam the Centre position, then roared round clockwise in an "ever-decreasing circle" of about 240 degrees until head-butting the W wing of what I take to be the Mess (marked "St George"), coming in from from the West.

The other end (05) would be the spot where I disgraced myself in '52 !

dfcp,

Yes, he got quite a long way, didn't he ? I wonder if, in the heat of the moment, he left it too long before cutting the power ? Hard luck in any case.

RIP, as we all say. Poor chap !

Danny

Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Jun 2013 at 16:49. Reason: Add Text.
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Old 20th Jun 2013, 18:32
  #3923 (permalink)  
 
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mmitch,

A few more points come to mind when re-viewing this wonderful video. I never even knew of the existence of this footage until now (reminds me of Chugalug's video of the Vultee Vengeances in India months ago - I knew nothing about that before, and I was out there at the time !)

The reference to the FCU's "Town Headquarters" may need explanation. All the Auxiliary flying squadrons must obviously be based on an airfield. But a FCU can be anywhere (one was at Alton Towers, which I think was a big leisure Centre). They had to be somewhere where their people could easily and quickly reach them on public transport, for only the officers would generally have cars.

So they were based in a town centre for the most part; they would do their basic and synthetic trade training there, and presumably be bussed out at weekends to the particular "hole" where they did their practical training as Radar Operators and Fighter Plotters. For that reason the Town HQs could not be too far away from the ROTOR stations they served. It follows that they might never even see an aircraft (apart from Summer Camp - and even then perhaps not, but they were usually accommodated on a nearby airfield as being the only place which had the room for them.

RAF Thornaby was a very special case, for it had been built right on the outskirts of town; No.8 bus ran into Stockton High Street (10 mins); all the Teesside towns were generously connected by bus and trolley-bus. So we needed no "Town HQ" at all, and the old Coastal Command Operations block might have been tailor-made for us. But we were exceptions, and I presume all the video shots were of the more "normal" variety of FCU.

I was surprised to see an auxiliary squadron of Meteors , all the ones I knew ran Vampires with a single T7 for I/F training. The Meteor would be more difficult for their pilots to handle: they would need twice as many engine etc mechs for the two engines; they would burn more fuel. I presume this would be somewhere in London or the Home Counties.

1915 hrs, had another look to see, still pic there, but now says "Video not found" - what's amiss ? (anybody know ?)

Danny
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Old 20th Jun 2013, 18:46
  #3924 (permalink)  
 
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Danny,

It still works for me. I'm using an IPad. Are you selecting the title block at the top of the video screen, that's what opens the link for me. Hope that helps.

Smudge

PS this is the direct link. It may work as an option.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=1b6_1323049249

Last edited by smujsmith; 20th Jun 2013 at 18:48.
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Old 20th Jun 2013, 20:03
  #3925 (permalink)  
 
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In 1970 I was posted from 604 FAC to 3 Maritime HQ Unit RAuxAF. My boss at the time, FltLt Peter Maillard, did not believe the posting as he thought that the RAuxAF had been disbanded years ago! However, it turned out that there were 3 MHUs - No 1 MHU London (Valency House, Northwood), No 2 MHU Edinburgh (Pitreavie) and No 3 MHU Mountbatten. Had an interesting time 1970-73 instructing RAuxAF teleprinter operators (TPOs), wireless operators (WOps) and telegraphists (Telegs). The unit also had some ops clerks & ground wireless mechanics/fitters. All trades worked at Mount Wise in the commcen and ops room. Training was carried out on 3 Sundays a month plus 1 or 2 evenings each week. There was also the annual continuous training of two weeks.

Last edited by ricardian; 20th Jun 2013 at 20:03.
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Old 20th Jun 2013, 20:56
  #3926 (permalink)  
 
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smujsmith,

Thanks for the tip, but no joy, I'm afraid. Not to worry, will try again tomorrow. Am operating on a laptop of which 99.9 % is a complete mystery to me. My touchscreen has a mind of its own, works or not as it pleases. (Could never see the sense in using touchpad to manouvre a spot the size of a gnat's proboscis into another gnat's fundamental orifice).

ricardian,

Yes, I've heard of these odd bits of RAux.A.F. which escaped the general chop in '57 - '58'. MHUs are new to me, but an RAF Regt contingent was around for a long time.

Danny
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Old 20th Jun 2013, 21:05
  #3927 (permalink)  
 
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Danny

Sorry I was of no use, I must say your description of the Gnat/touchscreen brought to mind the old, oft heard song of long ago, "The sexual Life of a Camel". Now, I'm not sure why, but your description just makes me think of that song. I'll not get any sleep tonight now, I can't stop chuckling . Maybe something to do with the line - The sphinx's inscrutable orifice ?

Goodnight Danny

Smudge

Last edited by smujsmith; 20th Jun 2013 at 21:41.
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Old 20th Jun 2013, 21:57
  #3928 (permalink)  
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Danny - Google "liveleak" to get the host website and type "Wings of Defence" into the search box. That way you can bookmark it and watch it as many times as you like.

Last edited by Blacksheep; 20th Jun 2013 at 21:58.
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Old 21st Jun 2013, 00:00
  #3929 (permalink)  
 
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Smudge,

It ended:

"Which accounts for the hump on the camel,
And the Sphinx's Inscrutable Smile !"

Blacksheep,

Thanks ! Off to bed now. Will try it tomorrow and report progress.

Goodnight to you both. Cheers !,

Danny
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Old 21st Jun 2013, 10:59
  #3930 (permalink)  
 
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Just tried mine and smujsmith's links (click on the video screen) and both work.
mmitch.
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Old 21st Jun 2013, 16:27
  #3931 (permalink)  
 
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Danny has a Sad Duty to perform

The winter of '54/'55 was wet and miserable in Somerset. Flying conditions were poor, a lot of low cloud and drizzle, and in the four months I spent there we had several fatalities. When a man was killed, there was a delicate question to be asked of the next of kin. Would you like us to bury him here, with military honours ? We will bear the whole cost; the grave will be maintained in perpetuity by the CWGC.

Or would you prefer us to send him home to you for burial ? We'll pay the cost of the carriage, and (this is not a misprint) pay 10 (!) towards the funeral expenses. This was an ungenerous offer (even allowing for inflation); I think we were embarrassed about it. To avoid having to exchange letters (and because time was of the essence), an officer in uniform would be sent to the family to put the sad question as tactfully as he could. Someone who could easily be spared for a day or so. Guess who?

This task fell to me on two occasions. I was always well received: my wings and ribbons marking me as one who (as they supposed) shared the dangers which had robbed them of their boy. It was harrowing. A mother would break down. Family photographs would be trotted out for me to see. His sporting trophies, brightly polished, would be on display. I could honestly assure them that he didn't suffer, death would always be instantaneous in the sort of accident we had (CFIT - we had one incident in which a wingman bounced his Meteor off the Quantocks and got back to tell the tale).

The case which is burned into my memory came late in January IIRC. The family concerned lived in Loughborough. It was the only one to opt for a private funeral. It was just a matter of sending him home. Now any barrack-room lawyer will tell you that the RAF Casualty Manual then stated: "Escorts will not be provided for corpses" (or so I'm told - AP 1922 ?)

But of course we did provide. You really can't send him home like a parcel. And who more suitable as an escort than the officer whom the family had already met ?

So out with the black armband (rest of story in a day or so).

Evenin' all,

Danny42C


You've got to take the rough with the smooth.
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Old 21st Jun 2013, 16:50
  #3932 (permalink)  
 
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Smudjsmith and Blacksheep,

Problem solved (by accident). If I close the tab, go back to "Military Aircrew", select the "Brevet" thread and start again, it works ! But thanks for the excellent advice

Cheers, Danny
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Old 22nd Jun 2013, 08:28
  #3933 (permalink)  
 
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Danny,
during my time with the Hercules I did several repatriation of bodies mainly from the Balkans operations. Usually a special flight was laid on with the a/c fitted out inside with black drapes. An escort party would be waiting at the UK airfield. However one day when we landed (at Split I think) a coffin was loaded along with other cargo and pax. When I queried this with the Movements Officer he showed me a signal from MOD which stated that anyone who had taken their own life was not to be afforded the usual full military honours and the body was to be returned to the UK on as 'normal cargo !.
Once we were airborne an Army Major started to have a go at the RAF (via me !) for a lack of respect. Fortunately I had a copy of the MOD Order and showed him. When he calmed down we both agreed that it was petty in the extreme but typical of 'them'. When I got back I rang the relevant department in MOD to query this but the only reply I got was a 'wingegram' saying MOD policy was none of my business. I do not know if this is still the policy today.
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Old 22nd Jun 2013, 16:27
  #3934 (permalink)  
 
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Transport of Coffins.

ancientaviator62,

Your quote: "saying MOD policy was none of your business". Typical ! T'was ever thus.

"Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die". Nothing changes.

Danny.
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Old 22nd Jun 2013, 17:50
  #3935 (permalink)  
 
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Repatriations

You will recall that Repatriations are a recent phenomenon. In fact, the first ones as we know them were after the first Gulf War. The deceased were to be returned through Brize Norton (6 if memory is correct) by C130 but the crew for the final leg was in Akrotiri and needed to know what was required, especially on the ground once at BZZ.

The Stn Cdr sent me over to Brize with the rehearsal aircraft. We parked and I went down the crew entrance steps to meet the London GSM - he is the one you see at the head of the steps marshalling the troops in the RAH for the Festival of Remembrance. He is always ex-Guards is about 9ft tall with (out of dress uniform) a cap vizor which conceals not just his eyes but most of his face as well. Being a relatively diminutive Sqn Ldr at the time, he addressed me to say "Right, Sir, the aircraft will land and park here" with the tail facing directly at the gathered grieving relatives. With some trepidation I challenged this claiming that the back of the Herc was not what the rleatives would need to see - who knew what the need would be to stack coffins end or on top of each other to make sufficient room for each bearer party to muster, drape the coffin, lift and march out.

He saw my point, much to me relief, and what you see today is the result - first view is the bearer party and coffin in immaculate parade order being guided down the ramp in perfect unison. I always feel humble but proud each time I see it on the News.
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Old 22nd Jun 2013, 18:12
  #3936 (permalink)  
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Humble?

"Humble but proud"

I feel bloody angry every time I see such a scene. These poor lads and gals died and the associated grief thrust upon their families purely due to the commercial interests of the funders of the US government. Blair and Cameron being utterly complicit in the whole utterly corrupt state of affairs.

It's all about profits for the few whilst our servicemen and women are expected to die or be maimed as part of their contract.

WMD? Yup. Saddam funding Al Q?. Yup. Gaddafi's murder? Yup. No fly zone over Libya? Civil causalties due to bombing released? Yup. How many mistakenly targeted drone strike deaths? Yup.

Every time I see a returned dead serviceman or woman to Blighty from these invented wars in the interests of the multi nationals who actually run the US, I get angry. Such a bloody waste.
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Old 23rd Jun 2013, 07:47
  #3937 (permalink)  
 
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Xercules,
with the a/c parked tail towards the families, they would not have appreciated the blast from the Allisons even in ground idle, nor the waft of Avtur that would have enveloped them. I recall in the early seventies repatriating bodies from the Oman, who all appeared to have died in 'car crashes' They were not afforded what has now become the usual honours. But my first recollection of the current ceremony is of the casualities from the various Ops in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. But as Danny will confirm the previous policy was not to repatriate as the CWG in many parts of the globe bear witness to
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Old 23rd Jun 2013, 15:34
  #3938 (permalink)  
 
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Repatriations.

ancientaviator62,

Yes, in former times the principle was that the British soldier was buried where he fell, and, in the glorious words of Rupert Brooke (?):

"There is some corner of a foreign field
That will be forever England" (hope I've got that right).

It was then impossible to bring them home (although Nelson was pickled in a barrel of brandy for the purpose). There were so many of them, they were too far away, it would take far too long, they didn't have the transport anyway.

It so happens, in my next Post which will shortly appear, that it wasn't all plain sailing, even as late as '55.

Danny.
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Old 23rd Jun 2013, 16:59
  #3939 (permalink)  
 
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Danny has a Night to Forget on British Rail.

"Oh, Mr Porter, whatever shall I do ?
I wanted to go to Birmingham, but they've taken me on to Crewe !"

An ambulance took me with the coffin to Taunton station on a dark, foggy evening. An enclosed "parcels van" had been attached to the end of the train, and the coffin went into that. We were to change trains at Bristol and Birmingham, to reach Loughborough about ten in the morning. I snuggled down in an empty compartment, and dozed as the train crawled through the West country, coming into Bristol just before midnight.

I watched like a hawk as the van was uncoupled and shunted onto the waiting train. So far, so good. Then we trundled off again into the darkness, reaching Birmingham (New Street) about two in the morning. The next train to Loughborough was not till eight, so we were stuck where we were for the rest of the night.

Our train had not yet been made up, so the first thing was to see the van uncoupled and parked. There were three lines of track between platforms, and the van was left in full view in the middle one, where I was assured it would stay, so as not to impede trains running through during the night. Now I could look after myself. The only waiting room open was a scene of Dickensian squalor, with a couple of miserable coals smouldering sullenly in a grate. "I'd nip up to the hotel, sir", said a friendly porter. "He'll be all right where he is for the rest of the night".

It sounded like good advice. Climbing an infinity of stairs and out into the street, I turned to face the black Gothic turrets of a Dracula's castle. (In fairness to Birmingham, I must say that the same was then true of every Victorian railway hotel after a century's accumulation of grime). Pushing through the revolving doors into a gloomy, cavernous hall, I found an old night porter and the lounge, pulled a couple of easy chairs together and settled down under my greatcoat. At six the old chap woke me up with a mug of tea and a piece of toast. After a shave and brush up down in a magnificent Victorian temple of rose marble, gleaming brass piping and snowy porcelain, I gratefully left him a half-crown and went down to the station.

The van had gone.

I've read that the victim of car theft stares in denial at the empty space, willing his car to reappear. I'm absolutely sure this is true. Reeling from the shock, I raced round the station, fairly gibbering with horror and grabbing every railway official I could find. But the night shift had gone off, the day shift knew nothing about it and cared less.

Where was the van ? It didn't bear thinking about. It could be going anywhere on British Rail, and in those days might not be found for weeks. What can I do now ? With or without it, I must go on to Loughborough. Suppose it's without. A reception committee of the undertaker and maybe the family will be waiting on the platform. I'll have to creep off the train like a condemned man going before a firing squad.

"Well, where is he ?" What can I say ? "I'm awfully sorry, but...." I can see horror dawning on every face as they realise the implications. And what will happen to me when I get back ? To the end of my time in the RAF (and that might not be all that long), I'll have this can tied to my tail: "The Man who Lost the Coffin he was supposed to be Looking After".

It was a Bateman cartoon come to life. Suppose the Press got wind of the affair ? It was just the sort of publicity the RAF did not need: public opinion was already growing restive over the mounting casualties in what was no longer a wartime service.

This waking nightmare must have lasted a good half hour. At last an assistant stationmaster chased after me: the van had been found. I fell on his neck like the Prodigal Son. It had never been lost, but merely shunted out of the way into a siding to be coupled to the Loughborough train. Happily reunited, we travelled on, arrived and the family's undertakers took over.

Visibly aged by several years, I represented the RAF at the graveside and caught the next train back to Weston. Needless to say, I kept my mouth shut. To this day, over half a century later, the mere mention of "Birmingham New Street" sends a cold shiver down my spine. Thankfully, I never had to act as a coffin escort again !

Still trembling from the memory,

Danny42C


It's quicker by Rail

Last edited by Danny42C; 17th Mar 2015 at 00:28. Reason: Typo.
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Old 23rd Jun 2013, 17:00
  #3940 (permalink)  
 
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The VC10 used to have the front hold fitted out in black drapes, I remember when the Dutchess of Windsor was dying a Ten was prepped and VIP readied. I seem to remember she recovered slightly, so the jet was released back into service and then later another was prepped later which brought her back. If I remember rightly, it was left prepped for quiet a while to await her demise in the end.

Last edited by NutLoose; 23rd Jun 2013 at 17:02.
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