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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 18th Jan 2009, 14:43
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At last we have both of our contributors, Cliffnemo and Regle back on the line. This really is one of the best threads on the forum. Hearing what it was like from the horses mouth makes the events of that period come alive. It also brings home that it was not as described by Lennie Godber in Porridge "a quick dogfight and back in time for breakfast and medals".

Keep up the good work gents.
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Old 18th Jan 2009, 17:25
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Thanks Cliffnemo for that shot of the Majestic, brought back many memories - such as when our flight, parading outside the main entrance, incurred an officer's displeasure for some reason or other and were ordered to double mark time on the spot while wearing gas masks - very good for the waist line!

Not depicted are the external fire escapes, much used late at night to avoid being penalised for late return. Following the discovery of a body lying beneath one with a broken neck, this mode of entry was strongly discouraged but needless to say such injunctions had little effect - we just took more care.

Keep it coming!

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Old 19th Jan 2009, 21:44
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What comments ?

I am sorry but I have had a bad attack of sciatica and have not felt up to very much. It is a very small bit better today ... it is the first day that I have been able to put my right foot on the ground.
What do you think of the ditching in the Hudson ? My admiration is immense for the Captain and the whole crew, especially the Cabin crew who must have performed miracles in getting everybody out without injury.
I have always thought, when I read of similar "miracles" performed by the pilots in these cases , that each and every one of us who has been flying for a longish time must have had at least one, and very probably more than one , case where his actions have saved many, many lives but it has, rightly , gone unsung because it is our job. It is what we are payed such good salaries for and I would not have it otherwise.
It also makes me very proud of my profession.
 
Old 20th Jan 2009, 00:51
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Reg - very quick thoughts on the Hudson thing - quite amazing scenes there - but there were of course just as many similar acts when you blokes were doing the things you're relating in this thread, with far less recognition. But it was good to hear a 'good news' aviation story for once!

Cliffnemo - the different experiences in wartime depending on what time it was is certainly something I've seen a lot of while reading various people's accounts. Once the EATS was really up and running it was pumping out qualified aircrew in a highly efficient manner. It truly was one of the more remarkable organizational achievements of the war!

Union Jack + taxydual - thank you, that's one mystery solved.
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Old 20th Jan 2009, 10:46
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Union Jack + taxydual - thank you, that's one mystery solved.

Cheers, Kookabat, I'll drink to that, and of course to Regle and Cliff!

Jack
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Old 20th Jan 2009, 16:45
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Ditching.

Sorry Regle to hear about your sciatica, I know the feeling well. I hope you recover quickly..

Re ditching in the Hudson. I think it was fantastic, but then to go through the aircraft and search from stem to stern twice, what if it sank ? Survival time in below zero is almost nil !!!!!!!.
Old Hairy could probably explain the difficulties when “landing” on water or ditching , but we were always told it was much more difficult to judge height above water as smooth water looks the same from any height, and rough water, are they big waves or small ones, Come in Old Hairy and make sense of that.

Harrym . I enjoyed the story about the fire escape, and it made me wonder if the C/Os knew about these unofficial exit and entry points. I think they did, and turned a blind eye knowing full well that they had an awful lot of disenchanted airmen to control. Seem to remember one at Heaton Park, a gulley just behind the guardroom, leading out under the main road, and a previously mentioned one at Moncton, New Brunswick . Could you fill us in on as to what happened at Harrogate, my mind is a blank. Did we have the usual classes, link trainer, etc? I only remember the Yorkshire Hussar pub in Leeds and the Mucky Duck in Harrogate. I remember going away on two courses, but will describe later.

Will have to “get weaving” and knock something together on Sgt Francois Lucian whatsit, who was a very happy go lucky character (very happy, but not much luck).
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Old 20th Jan 2009, 21:08
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Thanks, Cliff.

Just mentioning the "Yorkshire Hussars" brought back memories of some wonderful "after op" thrash ups there when we descended on Leeds , which was far enough from Snaith to need transport. Sciatica still bad but easing a little . I think it is from a slipped disc as I have been already diagnosed as having degeneration of two lumbar vertebrae. We shall see.
Talked to Andy tonight and I am sending some photos which he will "process" and then dsend back to me. So I will continue with my long winded story. .....

I was talking about the dodgy "George" in my last thread but it was'nt really that dodgy. It worked quite well but I always thought that it was the cause of many casualties. A lot of our trips were of very long duration , Berlin was from seven and a half hours or even more than eight. You could count on five hours as being the shortest (The Ruhr). Munich and Nurenburg between eight and a half to the infamous one of well over nine when we lost 94 Aircraft with headwinds so strong.
So continuous "weaving" for 90% of these trips was a very hard and tiring task as the Halifax was not power assisted on the controls and was a very heavy aircraft to fly manually ,let alone "Corkscrew", Remember there was no second pilot to give you a respite.
Nevertheless, from the beginning , I resisted the temptation to engage George and even Corkscrewed all the time over enemy territory which was virtually 90% of the trip. The Corkscrew was a prescribed manoeuvre of diving and turning, losing up to two thousand feet and turning 25 to 30degrees right or left as you preferred then climbing and turning again then repeating the procedure trying not to maintain a pattern .. Not easy for the crew and especially for the Navigator but I am sure that it did a lot to get us through the ever present menace of the German ME110 armed with fixed angle upward firing guns who would position themselves unseen under the blind spot of an unsuspecting four engined bomber and let blast their "NachtMusak" as they called this procedure. This invariably got the central fuel tank and the resulting explosion could be seen for many miles away and invariably caused panic.
The Ops mounted up. We were operating every two or three nights and we had many close shaves. On October 8th.1943 we were briefed to attack Hanover. Taken all round this was one of the most dangerous and yet successful trips that we did because from the time that we crossed the Dutch coast, on the way in until we recrossed it again , going out we were constantly harried and followed by fighters, searchlights and flak. We saw many combats and many aircraft going down in flames. There was a "spoof" attack going on at Bremen and, as we passed south of it we could see Stirlings were really giving it a pounding. Hanover, itself had hundreds of searchlights. We were one of the first aircraft over the target and we went over it with two other Halifaxes followed by three Me 109's spotted by Tommy Walker, our rear gunner but they made no attempt at attacking us for some reason Just after releasing our bombs over Hanover, which was already blazing fiercely, there was an almighty crash and the whole aircraft shuddered. I thought that we had been hit by flak but I managed to control the aircraft. I sent the Flight Engineer back to investigate and called out to him, as an afterthought, "Put your parachute on ". It was just as well that I did because he nearly fell through the hole caused by a large bomb from another aircraft that had gone through the roof and out through the floor just aft of the mid upper turret, leaving it's outline, still horizontal, showing that the other aircraft could not have been very far above us and yet had not been seen by the midupper gunner.
It did not seem to affect the flying of the aircraft but it did not help matters that arriving over Snaith we could not land because of fog and had to divert to Leconfield where we were the main attraction on dispersal where practically the whole station came to look at the holes. They reckoned that it would have been a 2,000lb. bomb. As a matter of interest the trip time was 6:05 hours, all night flying.
Without wishing to be called a "Lineshooter" anyone who was in on these raids ,which were the result of Bomber Harris trying to make our raids as concentrated as possible in order to cut down on the losses caused by the previous system of crossing the target in ones and twos over along periods, will tell you that it was quite commonplace to get back to base and find sticks and even boxes of incendiaries, stuck in the wings of one's aircraft. Collisions, of course, were commonplace and it was quite normal for you to suddenly find yourself battling to control the aircraft to counter the effects of another aircraft's slipstream. As an example of the concentration I remember, vividly a raid over Dusseldorf when 640 four engined aircraft bombed the city in just twenty minutes That would have been in November 1943. That was one of the shorter trips and is in my log book as 5:35 mins.
On September 6th. 1943 over Munich, a burst of flak under the tail put the aircraft into an inverted dive. It was the most horrible feeling looking up over my head and seeing Munich, blazing, and coming down towards us. Many thousands of feet later after wrestling with the controls and all my instruments useless I managed to roll it out and regain control but the inverted "G" force in the pull out nearly forced the rear gunner out of his turret. We got back safely after a long,long haul of 9:35 hrs . We were very tired because we had also been busy the night before ,Sept.5th.1943, on a very long trip to Mannheim. This time we had a very uneventful run to the target which wqs already blazing when we got there and could be seen from a hundred miles away. But... we dropped our bombs and were leaving the target when there was a burst of fire that rattled through the aircraft and I dived away,very steeply, towards the burst which came from the portside. We clearly saw a ME110 and could also see that it was being hit by the return fire of our rear Gunner, Tommy Walker. We had the satisfaction of seeing it go all the way down and crash. |The mid upper gunner was slightly wounded by the initial burst of fire. He was very lucky because he had, like a lot of the gunners were wont to do, taken out the armour plating that was placed just before his face in order to have better visibility, and I had noticed this in my preflight and told him to replace it. The German's first burst of fire had hit squarely on the plating and Roy, the Canadian mid upper, had received a splinter in his shoulder but it was a very slight wound. That was 8:10 hrs. all night flying .
I must have been given some sympathetic leave after that one because I see that my next trip was October 3rd 1943.


I think that my sciatica is telling me "enough, enough". I hope that I have succeeded in giving a small idea of what it was like. Don't forget, if you knew, but we were all non commissioned and Snaith was not a "peacetime station" so we got back to a single pot bellied stove heated Nissen Hut accomodating up to twenty four people, with straw "biscuits" for mattresses and greatcoats for extra warmth over the issue blankets.
The "esprit de corps" was magnificent but, do not kid yourselves ,quarrels among crews were rare but between crews were fairly common but never went very far and were usually settled around the local bar over the watery beer that was wartime Britain.
 
Old 22nd Jan 2009, 17:00
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Harrogate

Yes Cliffnemo, I am sure you are correct concerning the attitude of authority towards those fire escapes - it could not have been easy keeping a horde of bored and semi-gruntled aircrew happy, and on balance we were ruled with a fairly light touch. As for keeping us occupied I only recall the odd lecture on subjects such as ship or aircraft recognition, no doubt there were others but certainly no link trainers. It has to be said that Mr William Tetley's products played a large part in maintaining morale!

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Old 23rd Jan 2009, 15:57
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Hanover

Regle you mentioned Hanover . Here is a picture of me in Hanover just after V.J day when stationed at R.A.F Wunstorf. Think my side pack was full of cartons of cigarettes. (black market)

You mentioned week beer in war time Britain. the state controlled pubs in Carlisle sold weaker beer than any where else in the country. They converted to state control in W.W 1 to control the drinking of the local munition workers.
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Old 23rd Jan 2009, 16:45
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Re Hanover ,Cliff

I hate to think that I was partly responsible for the background in your picture, Cliff. I,too, was stationed at Wunstorf in 1949 when I was flying petrol in to Berlin in converted Lancasters for "Flight Refuelling" ,my old peacetime hero,Sir Alan Cobham's firm, on the Berlin Air Lift. We moved fairly quickly to Hamburg, which had quite an interesting night life compared with Wunstorf! When I went to Tarrant Rushton for an interview for a job with them, I found that the Chief Pilot was an old 42A classmate, Tommy Marks . But that's another story.
 
Old 23rd Jan 2009, 19:29
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More Pictures

Nemo, sorry been busy swimming up river to avoid the credit crunch, however the flow seems to be faster than I can swim.

Reg is going to post some more pictures to me (yes the old way) and I shall under instructions from Reg post them for Reg to add the words.

What we really want from Reg is a picture of the Jeep that he met at 6000 feet!

Regards Andy
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Old 24th Jan 2009, 15:13
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Who Was Responsible

Regle we all feel different now, and I would quite happily have a German as my best friend, but THEN? A picture of my home, below might give some indication as to how I felt. Particurlarly as my father , and friend from next door , were both killed. Also before joining up, I was in a fire station, as a part time ,unpaid motor cycle despatch rider when six firemen were killed.


How about the Germans standing off Scarboro in a battleship and shelling it, during the first world war. Some one had to stop them.
[IMG]
These three oppos, German Jews with me in a jeep,who were all borne and lived in Germany until circa 37 would thank you, as would many , many Poles

As for Hamburg. The Reeperbahn, San Pauli. and Grosse Freheit. I will not enlarge, as my grandson is keeping an eye on me.

Last edited by cliffnemo; 25th Jan 2009 at 15:16.
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Old 24th Jan 2009, 15:44
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agree ..cliff

Cliff ,you are absolutely right, of course and to add to it I, myself, am Jewish, but.....one can't help feeling guilty but God help us if we had'nt stood up to them. We would not be exchanging our free thoughts on this splendid forum and I know that I would not have even been here, but.......!
 
Old 27th Jan 2009, 16:41
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Sgt Lucian

…-. …-. .- .- .-
PADDY G ex B.F.T.S Miami , how about a few posts from you ? Just re read your email, again, you wont be stealing my thunder. Nowt to steal. Same invite to any other B.F.T.S bods, even Empire Air Training Scheme (E.A.T.S) K ercs.,

At last Sgt Lucian Francois !!!!! !!!! Lucian was a good friend, and exciting company, so we soon became buddies, and both had motor bikes on camp. At this stage I would like to point out that we were both , like most of the other airmen, basically honest. Items could be left lying about and would still be there when we returned (despite Regle having his watch nicked). However this did not apply to air ministry supplies, which we considered belonged to us. The latter particularly applied to petrol, so on landing I would fill up my issue water bottle (about 2 pints) from a a conveniently placed tap just above my head, put it in my great coat pocket and slink past the guardroom, like a criminal. This was sufficient for a trip into Carlisle and back. Not so Lucian who filled up a fire bucket and boldly walked past the guard, obviously carrying water. I am sure if the C.O ever required a Kamakazi pilot, his first choice would have been Lucian. There were many more antics, too numerous to mention here, so on to the Court Martial.

Whilst at Harrogate, each weekend I used to go to my temporary home in Anlaby, East Riding and some time later, whilst at Carlisle, realised I had left my spare shoes at home. I therefore asked my “instructor” if I could borrow a Tiger Moth, fly to Blackburn Aircraft Co at Brough and collect my shoes . Permission was granted, providing it was treated as a navigation exercise, with one airman signing as pilot, and one as navigator. This resulted in Lucian and I spinning a coin, he won and elected to be the pilot, so the night before, I plotted a course and track using a Mercator chart, accurately applying variation, forecasted wind speed and direction, and ready to apply deviation the following morning. The following day, Lucian informed me he would map read to Brough, he was the boss, so we took off and I sat back and enjoyed the view. To my surprise, I suddenly noticed the Hotel Majestic, Harrogate , and I then assumed he intended to “shoot up” the hotel, as many disgruntled pilots has done before. Rumour had it that a Hurricane had smashed off a chimney pot on a previous occasion. However we headed West, and I then could see St Ethelburga’s Ladies College dead ahead, in front of which was a large playing field. Lucian throttled back and proceeded to fly in front of the college just skimming the ground, young ladies heads appeared at all the windows waving to us and presumably Lucian waving back. We then started to climb, and I assumed we would head for Brough. Not so, we did a circuit of the college and repeated the performance. At this point I forgot my previous decision not to interfere with the pilot, and shouted down the Gosport tube, to climb as the large identification numbers under each wing could be read a mile away. This only resulted in a loud laugh, after which we set course hopefully for Brough.

We eventually landed at Brough after following an erratic course, and I proceeded to hitch hike to Anlaby. This was easy as , although there were not many vehicles on the road, no one would pass by on the other side. I collected my shoes, and hitch hiked back I double checked my reliable friend to make sure he had fuelled up and away we flew. The return journey was surprisingly uneventful and we arrived at Kingstown Airfield uninjured .

That is enough for today. Next post will be entitled The morning after, or hats off.

To think there is a war being fought, and we are in Carlisle watching the tanks and jeeps roaring past in a Southerly direction.
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 12:33
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Cliff and Lucian Francois ?

Cliff, Do you know if Lucian, like so many Belgian RAF Pilot's, eventually joined the Belgian Airline, Sabena ? I am in touch with their "Old Flyer's Club" and could contact them if you wanted news of him. Regle
 
Old 29th Jan 2009, 09:40
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Thanks Regle, but will answer you, after I finish the story .
Would be amazed if he finished up flying for any airline, think the pax would be jumping out of the aircraft. He was "a wizzo oppo" though.
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Old 29th Jan 2009, 16:09
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ITW Torquay

Hello,
My grandfather - J.A.N. McEwan was with 5,12,and13 ITW in Torquay during the second war. I think he was squadron leader or wing commander. I am looking for any info about him or the ITW.
Hope you can help.
Regards,
Malcolm
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Old 29th Jan 2009, 20:30
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This really is the best thread I have seen on this site...what an amazing collection of experiences you are sharing. The vintage malt I currently have in my hand is well and truly raised in your honour!

Additionally, Reg, you mention visiting Betty's in York. I'm from York and know Betty's quite well...is your name by any chance etched on the famous mirror, along with the names of many other wartime aircrew?

Keep up the good work Cliff and Reg!

Last edited by TommyOv; 31st Jan 2009 at 11:40. Reason: speeling
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Old 31st Jan 2009, 16:33
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No 5 Initial Training Wing

Just had a nice conversation on the phone (SYPE) with one of our contributors in Ontario, he says the snow is 2 metres deep there. It used to snow in feet when I was there.
Thanks for the toast tommyov, hope it was Glenmorangie.

Magslmac, sorry I can’t remember a lot about Torquay, sweet cider form the barrel (oak) was excellent, strong and cheap. The climate was good. However I will try and produce below a photo of our billet, think it was The Windermere Hotel. (camp beds eight to a room). I can remember Clay pigeon shooting on a headland , (Babbacombe ?) P.T (when raining) on the sprung dance floor in the Town Hall. Marching, between classes and again when raining, wearing capes/groundsheets, airman for the use of. Opting to play golf on sports afternoon, as it was unsupervised, with bus fares provided, and then traveling to the cinema in Paignton instead.

With regard to the photo. This shows my flight at No 5 I.T.W, with our flight sergent Kellar?, our Flying OFFICER, and I believe our Sqdn leader.. Possibly a second flight is also included as our flight consisted of 30 A.C2 s.

The only other time I was near the Sqdn Leader , was when I was “On guard “ at the Hotel entrance one night. Armed with a S.M.L.E 303, and nothing up the spout, a squadron leader approached me.
I called out “who goes there friend or foe” , the squadron leader replied “friend,” I followed up with 1250 please sir. As expected he said I’m your squadron leader, to which I replied 1250 or I fire. He produced his 1250 (identity card) and said well done airman. He could have just used the back door .
I must add, that our flight sergeant, F.O and Sqdn Leader where strict disciplinarians, but absolutely fair, and perfect gentlemen.


CORRECTION.
I think I would have used a gnomonic projection map for my trip to Brough , rather than Mercator chart. Not much room in a Tiger Moth. Just put it down to pre-senile dementia.
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Old 31st Jan 2009, 17:23
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Cliff, I hope this doesn't appear a morbid question, but did you ever tally up how many of your course made it through to VE (or VJ) Day?

You'll probably have read Don Charlwood's excellent "No Moon Tonight". His crew was the first in his squadron (100 Sqn?) in 12 months to complete a 30 mission tour.

During their training, someone remarked that there were instructors from Coastal Command and other commands, but none from Bomber Command and wondered why. It wasn't until they got onto their squadrons that they discovered the rather sobering answer.

Probably an even better read, by the same author, is "Journeys into Night". It tells the same story as "No Moon Tonight", but was written ~thirty years after the war, where the author was more willing to give a "warts and all" version of events and (I'm assuming) enough people had died to allow him to be somewhat more forthcoming in criticising some of his leaders. Of Charlwood's (navigator's) course of 20, fifteen were killed, almost all of them in Bomber Command.
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