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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 28th Jul 2013, 18:54
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Strangers in our midst.


Brings back memories of my days with No.8 (IAF) in '43-'44. And at Thorney Island once a (single seat) Gnat came through, flown by a Flt.Lt. Pal. Looked a nice little machine, and I believe they had some success with them in the wars with Pakistan. As you say, good guys.

Yes, only 75 yards out on the grass, we were always acutely aware of our exposed position - still, you could always think of someone worse off than yourself - the Runway Control Corporal in his van ! (at least one was written-off in a Vulcan crash, I think).

One or two of our top-scorers in the B.o.B tell a similar tale of their first "kill" - in the melιe, it just "popped up" point-blank from nowhere...D.


So now we've quite a roll of good customers - your five, plus Israelis, Saudis and Indians. Anyone know any more ?. (Hope we got our money up front). It's a wonder that we had any training capacity left for our own Bloggses !
Did the Israelis shoot 'em, or the Ghanaians when they got back ? (not that it matters to them much !)

As for the Kuwaiti Hunters, when I was at the School in '64-'67, the joke was that they'd bought two - one flown in Kuwait and the other kept in store at Shawbury - so the'yd got Adequate Horizontal Separation (Air Traffic wise).D

Cheers to you both, Danny

Last edited by Danny42C; 28th Jul 2013 at 19:10.
Old 28th Jul 2013, 20:48
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Danny make that nine you missed my Indonesians!
They were Naval gentleman.With their white shirts and white gloves on parade at Kirton in Lindsey they resembled a flock of penguins with their far eastern style exaggerated arm movements. That was amusement, what was agony was living beneath the Iraqis with the constant wail of Arabic music.
At Thorney Island the Varsity staff pilots refused to fly with any pair of Iraqi students unsupervised. As a result I was lumbered one night with 8 hours babysitting.
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Old 28th Jul 2013, 21:23
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Training Foreign Nationals

Pom Pax

During my time at Leeming in the late 60s as well as Iraqis we were training Jordanian, Malaysian, Singaporean and Aussie students, plus one from Aden.

And of course there were the inevitable Saudis – enough said!

Earlier, at CFS we had Kenyan , Nigerian and Lebanese pilots in training.
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Old 28th Jul 2013, 21:40
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Hi Danny,
On my course at Acklington in 63 we had a total of 29 with 11 guys from Iraq. We were told that they had come directly from training in Russia as those ruling Iraq had changed while they were away. They told us that the Russians had only allowed them to taxi in clipped wing Yaks, and that was as far as they had progressed. They completed the JP course with us, but not totally without incident. Apart from them I saw no other nationalties on my way through the machine.
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Old 28th Jul 2013, 21:49
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In 1956 several members of the newly reformed Luftwaffe went to Chivenor for a short jet fighter refamil course, including if I remember correctly, Majors Barkhorn (301 kills) and Hartmann (352 kills). One of the young Hunter PAIs (pilot attack instructors) was briefing for a high quarter attack exercise which hopefully ended at about 200 yds still with some deflection when one or other of them politely pointed out that most of his kills had been achieved from fifty metres or less, line astern.
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Old 29th Jul 2013, 00:15
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Danny and the NAAFI Van.

I am grateful to all my correspondents - it might have been better if I'd asked who we were not training !.... Inuits, perhaps - or the headhunters of Borneo ?

It was mid-morning at Strubby and things were rather quiet for the moment. The NAAFI van had made its welcome way round most of the sections on the South side of the runway, and now set out round the taxiway to cater for the few people on the other side. Frankly, I can't think of many: the D/F operators in their hut, maybe some electricians working on the lights, and of course the GCA trucks (self-catering, but there might be some cigarette sales).

Now of course all MT traffic wishing to cross the runway must do so at the (live) threshold end, not passing marshalling point until getting an Aldis "green" from the Caravan. A Meteor was half way round on finals, our van was coming up to the point, the Runway Control Corporal flashed it a "red", the van ignored it and continued serenely on its way across the bows of the Meteor which by now was on short finals.

Caravan banged off a red Verey, but the pilot already had the van in sight, "poured the coal on", veered right and went around, the while expressing himself forcibly to our Local Controller on the subject of Runway Controllers in general and ours in particular. He in turn was on his squawk box to the Tower, equally volubly protesting his innocence.

Local Controller sent the ATC Landrover in hot pursuit of the offender, caught it and escorted it back round to ATC, where an immediate interview with SATCO had been arranged.

The young lady (who drove the van herself, as well as dishing out the "char and wads") seemed not unduly perturbed. The dialogue went as follows:

"Why didn't you stop when you saw the red light ? ......
"What red light ?...
"The red light from the Caravan !"....
"What Caravan ? .....
"The one at the end of the Runway !"......
"What's a Runway ?"....

It seemed that, as a new girl, she had been inadequately briefed by the Manageress.

SATCO realised that he'd got a "Right One Here", and launched into a long and detailed exposition of the Regulations which had to be obeyed When Crossing a Live Runway...."Do you realise how important all this is, Miss ?..... Are you sure ?..... Is there anything you don't quite understand ?"

"Yes", said she, in an aggrieved tone, "Do I have to know all this for three pounds a week ?"

"Collapse" (as Victorian "Punch" used to say) "of Stout Party".

Goodnight once again,


Well, these things happen.
Old 29th Jul 2013, 10:19
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A quick aside before we move on;

The two Lebanese on my course that I referred to were going to continue and fly Hawker Hunters that had recently been purchased by the Lebanese Air Force.

I don't think the pilots are flying any more but the Hunters are.

Lebanese Air Force - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 29th Jul 2013 at 10:22.
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Old 29th Jul 2013, 11:21
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Have a Nostalgic Photo

Dear Danny42C - our paths may not have crossed, but I was one of those Direct Entry ATCOs in 1965, and my first posting was … RAF Strubby.

You may recognise the Approach Desk - I doubt it had changed much since your day. Oh, the joys of having half the aircraft on UHF (using the one-sided headset and foot Tx switch) and the other half on VHF (using the HMT with Tx bar in the handset). Dotted trace on the CADF for UHF, solid for VHF, mix of High and Low QGH … GCA (MPN11) to 09 at the same time as ILS to 27 … I learned fast and hard!! Manby JPs, our Varsities and Canberras, Practice Diversions from everywhere (our ILS was very popular!) ...

However, your nostalgia is better than mine. Back to you, Sir.

(Edits to try and get a clearer image and fails! Click image for better brightness and contrast))
Attached Images
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Strubby 1965.jpeg (173.3 KB, 7 views)

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Old 29th Jul 2013, 19:16
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Strubby in the Old Days.


Thanks for the Link. Looked it up. And we think we've had troubles with our Air Force !

"I don't think the pilots are flying any more, but the Hunters are" This I've got to see !! (Or did they just flog them back to us ? - UAVs, perhaps ?) There's a story here, FED - please tell us......D.


That made me sit up straight ! Never heard of it ! Straight to Google, turns out to have been some greater entity of which an AN-CPN-4 forms only a part. So that's what you had for a GCA (you had it good).

The picture is wonderful - where to start ?

The tower has been rebuilt. We were in a Mk.1 wartime job, with a sort of pigeon loft stuck on top for Local Control. That was draughty, wet and freezing cold in winter (which as you know, is 11 months of the year in those parts). I think they had an outside staircase to get up on the roof to it.

The CR/DF console looks the same, but what a runaround they gave you ! The CR/DFs I worked there ('55/'58) took only VHF, and when I met UHF for the first time (at Leeming ('67/'72), it was all CA/DF. Never had a dotted line on the tube. No ILS at Strubby in my time.

Squawk box (to GCA?) in front of you. Monitor on the right looks about 50W, should fill Albert Hall. (Can't see your teacup - your Assistants slacking ?)

Note Mount Fuji of dogends at Controller's elbow - fags needed to calm your shattered nerves. But it was a good place to start for you, if you can hack it in a pilot training school, you can hack it anywhere else with one hand tied behind your back.

I was on the School mid '64 to autumn '67. You must have been on your Course when I was there. What were your dates ? You and I are going to have a lot to talk about, for I intend to pick your brains mercilessly, if you'll let me.

Don't go away,

Old 29th Jul 2013, 19:41
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Thought you'd like that, Danny

Yes, even in 65 we still had that awful little Visual Control Room - so small you could hardly swing a china graph, and with a sliding door and random reflections everywhere. And the outside staircase, so still the WW2 tower.

CADF/CDRF really taught new kids like me about overall situational awareness in all 4 dimensions … stopwatches flying on and off, traces leaping in all directions, all the assorted procedures associated with Refresher Flying … including, as you mentioned previously, the Speechless No Compass No Gyro Recovery. More tales of that on request!

The MPN11 was the "other version" of the same GCA kit.
MPN = Mobile Pulse Navigator = road transportable
CPN = Cargo Pulse Navigator = air transportable
And, yes, that squawk box - was it GCA or Local? Sure it was GCA.
Large circular thing on the right was a indeed a loudspeaker - I think it was used for monitoring the Guard frequencies.

Manby had that awful Cossor ACR-7 with the tilting antenna that could handle one aircraft on SRA. Strubby would regularly have 2 and sometimes 3 on Talkdown, with the Director doing his bit as well.

Although Strubby was, in my time, just Varsity/Canberra we used to have a regular weekend visitor from Chivenor … one Sgt Boulter (personal c/s was either 63 or 69) in a Meteor T7 who would pitch up every Friday afternoon to spend the weekend with his girlfriend, and be first away on Monday to get back in time for the 2nd wave.

I'll PM you with a bit of Shawbury info (dates etc). Glad I stumbled on this thread, during a bored moment!

Last edited by MPN11; 29th Jul 2013 at 20:21.
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Old 29th Jul 2013, 20:41
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Interview with Navigator from Warsaw Airlift 1944

I've posted links to Tinus Le Roux's series of interviews with SAAF personnel from WWII before

Here is his interview (with CGI enhancements) with Lt Bryan Jones of the SAAF, Bryan was Navigator of 31 Squadron LiberatorVi EW105 'G' shot down over Warsaw on 14 August 1944

Bryan's fellow crew were Lt PR Klette (pilot), Lt AE Faul, WO2 LED Winchester, WOII HR Upton and WOII HJ Brown all SAAF and WO TG Davis RAF(VR)

All save WOIIHJ Brown became POW's it is understood that at some stage Brown was shot and wounded whilst attempting to escape and later died of his wounds and probably buried as an unknown 'Canadian airman'

Post war Winchester who had become an SA Senator traced this burial and it is now accepted as WOII HJ Brown

The interview is here


PZULBA - Out of Africa (Retired)

This coming Thursday August 1st, will be the 69th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising
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Old 29th Jul 2013, 23:31
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The Warsaw Uprising


Yes, that was truly an awful story, made worse by the callous betrayal of Stalin in ordering the Soviet Army to stand off and allow Hitler to wreak his vengeance on the Warsaw defenders.

Only when the last of the Poles had been dead or captured did Stalin resume his advance on to the end game in Berlin.

Out East as we were, this was all unknown to us at the time.

Old 31st Jul 2013, 16:57
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Danny has to get out his Winter Woolies.

The rest of the '55 autumn, I spent settling down to my work on Approach Control at Strubby; we closed the deal on 133 Victoria Road and gratefully moved in to our new little paradise. About this time Manby held their Autumn Ball, and we exchanged a few words with the legendary "Gus" Walker (having been carefully briefed to shake his (remaining) left hand. The next (Saturday) afternoon we rose at 4 p.m. It had been a good party.

The nights grew longer, the hour came off and we were looking forward to our very first Christmas. My mother was to join us from Heswall: she would get the train to Lincoln, We would drive across and pick her up from there. The weeks flew by. By now the summer visitors had all gone, all the "attractions" were boarded up; Mablethorpe lived on its fat - and on the RAF families !

The winter before had not been bad, and it was reasonably mild right up to Christmas. I collected Mother without difficulty. Then the snow came, a raging blizzard all along the East coast and a dump of snow which would have no equal until the once-in-a-century monster in'62-'63.

The power went down first. That was not too bad, everyone was well stocked with candles (but it was a nuisance that the little TV was "off"). Roads were impassable over a wide area, and an additional hazard was the miles of telegraph wire which had come down with the poles in the gale, and was now all over the place.

It was impossible to get out to Strubby by road, but we could get out as far as the railway station at the back of town. The steam snow ploughs had kept the trains running, so for a day or two we did our duty and took the train to Manby (if you can't reach your own Station, you must report to anywhere you can). IIRC, we didn't go as far as Manby railway station, but by arrangement with the driver, dropped off a couple of fields away from the airfield and battled through the snow on foot.

SATCO (from Sutton-on-Sea, a few miles south) had managed to get to Strubby (paradoxically, his roads were passible, although he was further away) and was none too pleased that most of his crew were now in the wrong place. But it made no difference, both fields were under a dump of snow beyond any hope of clearance; we just hung about, useless mouths, until it became obvious that the only sensible thing was to stay at home and sit it out.

North Sea gas was far in the future, Mablethorpe was on "town gas"; it had its own little gasworks at the back of town; every day the townsfolk looked out to the two small gasometers to check on the "sink" (if any) compared with yesterday, and worried about how long it would last - for of course the coal stocks were running down as supplies were having difficulty in getting through.

Domestic heating everwhere was from open-hearth fires in those days. The prudent householder had laid in as much as his coal cellar or bunker could hold. The family lit a fire in one (possibly two at the most) rooms and huddled around it. Bedrooms and bathrooms were freezing. But that had always been so. Fr.McEnery from Louth wouldn't have been able to get through on the Sundays; I would be excused stoker duty, but we must have drained down the church CH system to avoid damage, but I don't recall doing so.

The real nightmare was water supply. (Most of) Lincolnshire is flat as a pancake: in order to keep up a head of water pressure there was a Water Tower at the back of town. Water was pumped up into this by electric pumps. Here was the Achilles Heel. Of course Mablethorpe's Water Tower had a standby diesel generator; I don't suppose it'd been serviced for years; it broke down after a few days; spares would take ages. The town looked like becoming uninhabitable. (We well recall melting snow in buckets for all purposes). The big pub across the road (the "Eagle") became very popular at lunchtimes.

Mablethorpe was full of RAF families from Strubby. GCA stepped into the breach. The Matador (6x4) which carried our power unit was unhitched (Strubby was snowbound, anyway) and, Lord only knows how, got across the five miles of country to the Water Tower. I imagine the local farmers must have lent powerful tractors to help haul our truck on its errand of mercy. They hooked it up to the pumps: the day was saved, and someone should have got an MBE out of it, but I don't think anyone did.

Eventually the weather relented, the roads were cleared, the power came back (or the spares for the standby arrived, don't know which), the Matador went back to Strubby. We cleared the runways and we were back in business.

That's enough for the moment.

Cheers, Danny42C

Many are cold but few are frozen.
Old 1st Aug 2013, 08:48
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Ah yes, winter 62/63, Oakington, half the width and half the length of the main runway cleared with shovels, picks (it was frozen solid after the good idea of using chocked Vampires parked in echelon running at full chat turned out to be a very bad idea) and brooms. I was most definitely then among the frozen few of whom you speak. Wg Cdr Flying gets airborne, circuit and lands, through the cleared bit, into the uncleared bit, and then into the barrier. Plan B; get the Vampires and Varsities a/b and relocated to Wyton (which had some of those non-flying Goblin powered bedstead things, being V Force).
As you say, Danny, with a bunker full of coal and drawers full of candles one simply hunkered down until it was over. Water was, and still is, a worry and enough reason to have at least one bathroom equipped with a bath for storing the stuff in these days of walk in power showers. Our ever greater reliance these days on electricity for storing and cooking food, communication via mobile phones, TV, radio and the web, heating (even gas fired CH requires it), as well as lighting, means its loss is more keenly felt.
My 3 day week candles have finally run out (mainly from being used for greasing tongues and grooves and wood screws). Time perhaps to buy some more. You just never know...

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Old 1st Aug 2013, 10:07
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we exchanged a few words with the legendary "Gus" Walker (having been carefully briefed to shake his (remaining) left hand.
If I may intrude into this hallowed thread, I've a footnote of which the Gus Walker dit above reminded me.

I was presented with my Wings by Sir Gus, when he was (just) still serving, and we were all briefed as above. There was some confusion as Sir Gus was used to the unbriefed, and would proffer his left hand reversed (thumb downwards) so a right hand could shake it.

His shake was a powerful pumping action too! I recall introducing my then young lady to him at the post-parade reception, and watched her handbag handle bouncing down her arm and onto his! They still let me keep the wings though. . . . .
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Old 1st Aug 2013, 12:58
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As a Senior Flight Cadet I took a drill team of cadets to HQFTC at Shinfield Park for the 25th Anniversary of the Command. I was still in practice kit (hairy No2s) when I was told the C-in-C (Paddy Dunn) required my presence "now". Went to the OM and greeted by clutch of 3 and 4 stars including Gus Walker. Tried not to choke on my half pint whilst attempting to make sensible conversation with them all.

Some months later, crossing the carpet in the rotunda at Cranwell shortly before graduation, and GW going in the other direction. Brisk "Good Morning, W" from the 4 star and a handshake. BH - my card was well and truly marked.

Six or 7 years later walking through Brancaster with the former Mrs W, and recognised GW walking in the other direction. Greeted me by my Christian name, chatted to herself and wished a brisk "Good Morning". What a memory, and what a memorable man.
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Old 1st Aug 2013, 14:48
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What a memory, and what a memorable man.
As with all good commanders, all you saw was the serene seemingly effortless scene on the surface. It came about only because of frenetic effort beneath. A friend of mine flew Sir Gus to inspect RAF Gibraltar (he was then the RAF Inspector General). Rather than relax in the sumptuous comfort of his VIP aircraft he studied the "rogues gallery" provided by his ADC for the entire trip. Everyone that Sir Gus had previously encountered and was now at RAF Gibraltar was the subject of avid revision, be they high or low. One such had been his driver in RAF Germany. Gus paused in his inspection of the Guard of Honour with a brief, "I hope your driving has markedly improved since I had a daily dice with death from it, Bloggs". Despite the teasing tone, Bloggs swelled with pride at being recognised, as did everyone else of course.
Your story likewise confirms that he had a memory that he could draw on in an instant. No doubt the result of constantly honing it so.
A great man and a great commander, but also a very human one. The guest of honour one night at RAFC Cranwell was a senior Luftwaffe General, who like Sir Gus had been a VSO in WW2. Gus ignored him all night. A very uncharacteristic slight from such a charming man, but then still waters run deep...
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Old 1st Aug 2013, 15:26
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Hard work and a great memory are valuable criteria. I encountered two notables.

Air Cdre Cyclops Brown took over at CAW Manby, and didnt emerge for a week. The following Monday he knew the face/name of every officer and SNCO at Manby and Strubby.

AVM (as he was at the time) Mike Knight was doing his AOC 1 Gp Inspection at Waddington. In the Tower was a brand new WRAF Plt Off, arrived the previous week. He looked at her and said "Weren't you the station photographer at Machrihanish last year?" Sarah did have an impressive chest, which may have helped jog his memory.
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Old 1st Aug 2013, 16:12
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Chugalug, teeteringhead, Wander00, and MPN11,

May I join you all in your tributes to a very great and well loved gallant gentleman. Speaking as one who has always been capable of forgetting the name of someone who'd been introduced to me five minutes earlier, his memory was truly phenomenal.

He saw me, briefly, when I arrived at Manby in late July '55, and did not set eyes on me again until the Autumn Ball at the end of September. At the tag-end of a very long reception line, where he had been greeting the hundreds of guests before us, he recalled without prompting my name and the fact that I was newly married to the Mrs D. by my side. We were enormously impressed.

Truly: "There were Giants in those days".
Old 1st Aug 2013, 16:33
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Had a not dissimilar experience whilst still in my first year at Cranditz, and was recognised by name by AC Alan Deere, the new Assistant Commandant - frightened me to death - thought I was in the poo.
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