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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 1st Oct 2013, 09:53
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"And all this is supposed to have happened before I came, and I cannot vouch for a single word of it."

Anything read on the internet is best treated with a generous pinch of salt... though when it comes to forces tales, truth is often stranger than fiction.

I do hope that the motorcyclist's insurance paid out for the Ford.

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Old 2nd Oct 2013, 14:59
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No contribution to make except to put it back on p1 where it truly belongs.
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Old 2nd Oct 2013, 15:21
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Xercules,

Never was truer word spoken ! Logging-in two minutes ago, I ran down P.1 - nothing. P.2 - likewise. P.3 (with mounting horror) - nix !

Thought: "ah, well, Moderator's binned us at last - it was good while it lasted".

Last throw of the dice: check P.1 to see if I've missed anything. And there you were, loud and clear ! You came in at 59 past the hour, I must have looked a few milliseconds later, exactly as PPRuNe's billposter was pasting it up.

Nonagarian recovers from incipient cardiac arrest !

Danny.
 
Old 2nd Oct 2013, 18:34
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Danny samples Life (Under) the Ocean Wave (Part I)

It seems that the Navy decided to extend the hand of friendship to these light-blue people come among them. HMS Vernon was selected to invite a small number (three or four, IIRC) at a time from Thorney, for a day's instructional "course" on torpedoes ! As we knew nothing (and had absolutely no need to know anything) about these, it is hard to resist the conclusion that this was just a "jolly", but no less welcome for all that.

Shortly after our arrival at Thorney, I was detailed as one of the first groups nominated for this, and went over to Portsmouth, as advised, in battledress. In the morning they told us all about the fearful things, but the little I recall is that they come in two sizes (18 and 21 inch dia) and hydrogen-peroxide torpedoes are a Bad Idea, and that shoehorning any kind into the subs is a tricky business.

Lunch in the Wardroom was a pleasant affair. The grub was fair enough, but what took my eye was the little lectern-thing provided at each table place. On this you could prop the (folded) newspaper of your choice, and read while enjoying your lunch in comfort at the same time. This struck me as a most civilised and agreeable idea.

The gilt on the gingerbread came after lunch: a trip round the bay in a submarine ! For this task they had selected an "S" Class 'boat', the "Subtle" . I gathered that she was an old vessel eking out her last days on odd jobs. Our Captain was a mere Lieutenant, and I think he had a Sub-Lieut and just a skeleton crew. We embarked rather apprehensively; but all managed to get aboard without disgracing ourselves by falling into the harbour or down any ladders.

First we were assembled together for a short instruction on the use of the Davis Escape Apparatus (gulp), and then the noisy diesels cranked up and there was much smoke and a lot of "Let go forrard" and "Let go aft" business familiar to everybody from the films. We had now been marshalled up to the conning-tower to see how things were done.

He didn't hit anything on the way out (although some ships did seem a trifle close), and soon we were chugging along, making for the open sea (Solent, actually). On the way, all hands not needed to work the ship (two men and a boy ?) were mustered on the foredeck for a touching little ceremony probably unchanged since Nelson's day.

At the top of a large bluff was a signal station: we would pass quite close under this. As we neared the spot, someone blew a whistle *, the troops came to attention, our Ensign was dipped, the Captain saluted: we all saluted, as clearly it was the thing to do. Far above us, a great Ensign slowly dipped and rose in acknowledgement. Obviously we were "booking-out". This procedure was repeated on the way back, so that a hue and cry could be raised if we didn't turn up on time.

And then we were running in open waters with the land receding behind us.

As this is rather a long story, I have chopped it into two, this is the natural break, the rest tomorrow - with luck.

* (tongue-in-cheek to tease Union Jack - of course I know it's the Boatswine's Pipe !)

Evenin', chaps,

Danny42C.


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Old 3rd Oct 2013, 00:54
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Tongue-in-cheek to tease Union Jack - of course I know it's the Boatswine's Pipe!

Tease away, Danny Someone who can switch so smartly (and subtly....) from "tales of the tower" to spinning salty yarns is perfectly at liberty to describe a bosun's call anything they like as far as I am concerned!

Standing by to stand by for Chapter 2 - I'm just hoping that you didn't "get your own back" - in the heads I mean!

Jack


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Old 3rd Oct 2013, 17:38
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Danny samples Life Under the Ocean Wave (Part II).

Union Jack,

You must be positively psychic ! How did you guess ? (See my few words on the "Heads" below - your comment now takes on a double entendre, too !)..D

*******************************

Part II

When the skipper reckoned that there was sufficient water below the keel to allow it, the diesels were stopped, electric drive took over the propulsion, all the hatches were closed and we went under. But not very far: naturally we were always at periscope depth in those congested waters. Then we were split up into individuals for a guided tour of the vessel.

We were shown the rating's bunk space; if you kept a dog in such conditions the RSPCA wpuld be after you. Then we saw the Wardroom; I've seen bigger wardrobes: if you got three officers in there at once you wouldn't be able to close the door. The engine room was dominated by the massive diesel engines and what little space was left was mostly filled by a black-bearded giant of an Engine-Room Artificer who might have walked straight out of the "Victory". We only had a cursory look at the torpedo compartments as of course there were none of the things aboard.

Most interesting were the loos ("Heads" in naval parlance). Behind the doors was painted a list of "Instructions for Use", which really meant "Instructions for Flush". You were well advised to read these most carefully. Offhand, you had to close Valve 'A' and open Tap 'B', then work handle 'C', then do something else with 'D' - the list went on and on. And if you got it wrong, you could let in the Solent and sink the submarine. We decided it might be better to be anti-social and leave the job to the next man, who hopefully might be practised in the art.

High point was your time in the Control Room. They let us have a go at steering the ship, this was done by reference to a little panel Directional Gyro very similar to the DGs in all the aircraft of the period. It seemed simple enough, although you had to wait a bit between turning the wheel and seeing a result. But we were allowed nowhere near the "elevators" - diving planes - for obvious reasons !

Meanwhile our Captain, resplendent in the white woolly roll-neck of his profession, navigated the ship. This was done by visual bearings, and again we were charmed by the centuries-old routine. It went like this:.."Up Periscope"...(scouts around for suitable landmark)..."Ship's Head !"..."Ship's Head, Sir"......"NOW !"....."123, Sir"..(or whatever)...."Down Periscope" Skipper reads off from compass rose engraved on a ring round periscope...notes time, does simple sum, plots position line on chart..."Up Periscope"...(finds another mark). And so on. I suppose Columbus worked this way in his home waters.

As the rotation system allowed only one of us in the Control Room at a time, they were able to play their favourite Practical Joke on us all individually:
Skipper looks around till he spots some slow little tug, coaster or fishing boat, heading directly towards us, but a mile away, and no danger at all. Hands periscope over to us "Take a look". What we do not see is that, as he turns aside, he slyly works a twist-grip on one of the handles. This puts into the optics a set of 40x (?) binocular prisms, so when you look you see something the size of the "Queen Mary" bearing down on you from 100 yards away, with a huge "bone in its teeth", about to run you down in seconds. You recoil with a cry of horror: this absolutely makes their day for them. They revive you with a mug of cocoa (which seems to do the same duty in their Service as tea does in ATC).

All too soon it is time to come up and go back to home port. The conning-tower hatch is opened, the diesels start with a tremendous hiss and clatter, and down into the Control Room comes the most glorious cold, fresh, sweet sea air sucked in by the engines. We realise how stuffy it must have been - and we've only been down less than an hour. What must it be like after 12-plus hours, I do not like to think.

And that's about it. The booking-in ceremony was the same as the booking-out. We returned to our berth, bade a fond farewell to our new friends and to "Subtle", and went home. It had been quite an experience. (No, we did not get any Submarine Pay or Hard Lying Money).

That's all, folks.

Danny42C


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Old 4th Oct 2013, 21:53
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Well at least you got to get to look around the boat, Danny, which was more than three of us did when invited for a cruise up the Rajang on the Grey Funnel line. As soon as we were onboard, following a mutual invite the night before (we get the cruise, they get a re-supply flight in exchange), we were invited to the wardroom for a welcoming drink. We never left it until the ship (a minesweeper of minute dimensions) had tied up (or is it made fast?) at the refuelling jetty which was its destination. Somehow we staggered down the gangway without falling in, and clambered into a prearranged taxi which had mercifully turned up to take us back to Kuching.
Next day there was no sign of our previous day's hosts. Some mention of urgent operational reasons, but I strongly suspect that they thought we would similarly ply them with booze (presumably between DZs).
Of course in these more enlightened days of jointery such misunderstandings are a thing of the past...
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Old 5th Oct 2013, 22:14
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Angel

Chugalug,

You seem to have had a more jovial time with your mariners than we had with ours ! We saw no signs of spirituous liquors on board the good ship Subtle, but then, when your're running around in such close proximity to Davy Jones's Locker, I suppose that is a Good Idea.

We had to make good with Cocoa !

Danny.

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Old 6th Oct 2013, 00:36
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Danny goes Mushrooming.

A while ago I promised you a Post on the subject of the humble mushroom, and the important place it holds in the hearts of every true air-trafficker. It was now the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness". Most airfields, carved out of farmland well nourished by millenia of good farm manure, usually grow a succulent crop of these dainties, and all the best spots are known to ATC. This knowledge is passed from generation to generation of Local Control staff, shared by the Crash Crews and quite rightly witheld from the lesser breeds.

So it was with Thorney. As it was a Master Airfield, open 24/7/365, the Aircraft Movement Area (pretty well the whole of the grass) was permanently under ATC control; no one (in theory) could venture on it without their permission, which permission would rarely be granted. On the other hand, the ATC Landrover is always running about on it, checking lighting, Radar Markers etc. and generally looking out for anything which might damage an aircraft. GCA Truck people are a law unto themselves and are often to be seen wandering about near their Truck for reasons of their own.

Therefore ATC effectively "owned" the airfield, and every thing which grew thereon, which put them in pole position, although poaching could never be entirely eliminated. But on "ordinary" (8/5, M/F) places, things are different, when the field is closed it's a free-for-all.

But in all cases a sort of "gentleman's agreement" was observed: you picked only enough for a good meal for your family, and left the little mushrooms alone - for "little ones get bigger every day". Any attempt to gather commercial quantities was severely discouraged (and there are more means than one of discouraging people). At Thorney ATC ruled the roost.

As I've said, it was a lovely summer and autumn. All along the South coast, the holiday crowds had been thrown out of their boarding houses after breakfast with a packed lunch and strict orders not to show their faces again till teatime. They went down to the beach: the Channel glittered invitingly. Were they not part of a seafaring race ? Did not the blood of Drake, Hawkins and Ralegh run in their veins ? They blew up their rubber rings, inflatble sea-monsters and Li-Los and put to sea.

But being totally ignorant of the exisence, never mind the effects, of tides, waves, winds and currents, it was not long before they were well on the way to Brittany. And as none of them could swim a stroke, their piteous wails grew fainter until a Policeman was found (this was quite possible in those days). He pedalled furiously to the Station. "Here we go again", said the Desk Sergeant, and rang the Rescue Coordination Centre.

Then did the noble fellows of No. 22 Squadron at Thorney gird their loins and get their whirlybird going, and soon the hapless castaways were spotted and brought ashore to the bosom of their grateful families (markedly less grateful now when their rescuers refused point-blank to go back for the Li-Lo, as their next customer was already awaiting them, bobbing about a few miles down the coast).

It followed that 22 Sqdn had to be at readiness from sunup: the DIs done at first light. It seems that the DI included a mandatory airtest (is this true, anyone ?). This was done in an unusual way. It was flown slowly, about 10 feet above ground, the winchman sitting in the step of the open door, legs dangling, in what looked like a "creeping line ahead" across the grass areas.

Every minute or so it would land, winchman would hop off and pick up the cream of the night's mushroom crop, then the chopper would lift off, fly another few yards and down again. We could only look on in impotent fury as our mushrooms were being filched from us wholesale before our very eyes. (I do not doubt that HRH is aware of this strategem and may even have practised it)

An accommodation was reached with the squadron: if ATC got their fair share (ie enough for all ranks in the Tower plus GCA, Crash and ambulance crews), then we would not kick up too mucn of a fuss about what we strongly suspected to be bogus "mandatory" Airtests (or was it just our nasty suspicious natures ?).

Once more, a Very Good night to you all,

Danny42C.


The Race is to the Swift.
 
Old 6th Oct 2013, 09:58
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Mushrooms

Johnny Onions beret was the was the working head wear in the immediate period prior to Danny's visit to sunny TI. This was favoured bag mushrooms for the collecting of, probably could contain 2 lbs per landing. The crews of 22 Squadron seemed to have the airfield pretty well mapped out, first a quick forage round the area where Danny's set up would later be, then north across the public road to conduct the "creeping line ahead" search and finally a quick dart across to the northern boundary.
Us u/t navs believed the story of the mandatory daily airtest.
Danny I knew what this story was going to be since many months ago you hinted at mushrooms later on.
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Old 6th Oct 2013, 10:36
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We saw no signs of spirituous liquors on board the good ship Subtle, but then, when you're running around in such close proximity to Davy Jones's Locker, I suppose that is a Good Idea.

I'm appalled and feel that the Silent Service owes you a belated apology, so here's a virtual large G and T or whatever else takes your fancy. Although submarine wardrooms traditionally used not to drink spirits at sea, the hard stuff will undoubtedly have been there for use in harbour.. I can still remember on my first visit to a submarine, long before I joined the dark blue, being amused by the fact that the wardroom noticeboard used the metal expanding/contracting old style bottle tops from Gordon's Gin (the very strong one) as bulldog clips.

We had to make good with Cocoa !

Er, I hope you didn't. "Ki" is what they should have given you, made from solid bars of darkish chocolate and inevitably as thick as you like.

Jack
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Old 6th Oct 2013, 12:41
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Re your mushroom scrumpers at Thorney, I seem to remember that at Chivenor some time in the sixties the SAR Flight had their own lobster pots in the Taw estuary. A relatively easy way to harvest the sea, but the local fishermen resented this and as many of them were RNLI, an accommodation was reached whereby they would supply sufficient lobsters to the flight if they would desist from using the Queen's aircraft to go fishing. It was also the case that part of the HSE course (Hunter Simulator and Emergencies) was to be thrown off the lifeboat in Bideford Bay and after a suitable time to allow one to become soaked with cold sea and sea sick from being in a bobbing dinghy - immersion suits of those days were not very waterproof - along came the chopper to winch up the brave Hunter pilots and fly them back to base.

The other trick they had was to have several airman who volunteered for "wet winching", one of the requirements demanded was that that they were teetotal as the M.O. authorised a generous tot of rum for each survivor so the flight were able to acquire a regular supply.
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Old 6th Oct 2013, 13:05
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Union Jack, you must forgive my fellow crab. and indeed me, for any offence that may be inadvertently inflicted by our woeful ignorance of the customs of the Senior Service. For myself, it goes back as far as my earliest Service memories.

I was still a schoolboy in the RAF section of the CCF when, with a colleague, I was despatched to a Summer Camp at RNAS Culdrose. In vain did we try to meld in but, as the only two light blues in a mass of dark ones, it was in vain.

Infuriated PO DIs tried their best to synchronise our movements with the RN cadets to the order, "Off", pause, 2, 3, "Caps!", but berets have a life of their own at such times, more so even with the inevitable, "On", pause, 2, 3, "Caps". We were their despair and the inter-Service gulf, no doubt the very reason for our presence, merely widened further.

I remember varied, and for the most part unintelligible, "Pipes" on the PA system, all commencing with a "Do you hear there?". Given the numerous loud speakers, all of obviously high wattage, one had no opportunity but to, yet remained none the wiser.

The ultimate weird thing was however not being allowed to stroll down to the local village chippy, requiring one to be merely reasonably properly attired to exit RAF Station gates, without not only being similarly open to such scrutiny but also to mill around until sufficient numbers had amassed to fill up a "Jolly" boat, of which of course there was no sign.

In fairness I must admit to a similar bewilderment by the RN when, for whatever the reason, they are participants in RAF ceremonial. I believe that the "Telling Off by Squadrons" when on parade has been labelled by them, with some justification, as "Are you there, Moriarty?".

It all goes to show that we are very different, and not even united by a common language. Long may it remain so!
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Old 6th Oct 2013, 15:01
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Chug, remember it well . RAF section CCF cadet and went on RN Section "Aviation" course at Culdrose. Great week, flew in the Sycamore, had a trip in an MFV from Falmouth to Fowey (and I still cannot stand tea with evaporated milk). Must have been about 1960. Got my own back when we joined up with the RN when we formed 360 in 1966.

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Old 6th Oct 2013, 19:38
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Being a bit picky, the RN did not operate Sycamores. It could have possibly been an example of the other airborne mass of useless pandemonium, the Dragonfly.

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Old 6th Oct 2013, 20:21
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FED - how right you - got my names mixed up. Thanks for the correction
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Old 6th Oct 2013, 20:43
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Talking about RN tales, one of my favorites was from one of my best remembered teachers at school who had been in Burma during WWII.

He was an officer with the Gurka's, of whom he was very proud and pleased that he spent some time with a very loyal bunch of soldiers.

He told us lads, one day in a boring maths lesson, of the time he got a weeks leave and decided he would hitch a ride on a naval gunboat to the local city. It was a nice sunny day so he was treated quite well with wardroom drinks on deck watching the world go by.

At this point a tannoy came "Foo, foo...Foo foo, that is all" at which point the RN lads ducked below decks and shut all the hatches leaving himself and one other Army officer puzzled on deck as they were well behind enemy lines.

Then they noticed coming the other way a line of barges towed by a small vessel. Oh dear these barges were filled with buffalo dung ready for the paddy fields etc and with the temp during the day there were also millions of flies etc.

Appears no-one went near these two officers for some time and they belongings joined them on deck as they were no longer permitted to go below decks for the rest of the trip.

In was a great pleasure a few years ago to be chatting to a member of staff at the Watercress Line only to find out he was George's son. That brought back a few school memories and tales but also a shame to find out George had been a victim of the big C a few years previous.
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Old 6th Oct 2013, 21:21
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Sorry to pop in "mid flow" chaps,

Has anyone else seen this story today.

Back where he belongs! 90-year-old pilot who flew in World War Two returns to the skies in Tiger Moth biplane like one he learnt to fly in | Mail Online

He is definitely of your era Danny, but trained in Canada in 1942. Perhaps you may know or have heard of him. Seems keen.

Smudge
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 02:12
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Uncle Tom Cobley an' All.

Pom Pax,

I can confirm your observation that the area later selected as the TI GCA truck site was a prime hunting ground, and as it was manned 24/7, in the mushroom season, a chap would go out as soon as activity was detected over at the 22 Sqdn flight line. In this way their knavish tricks could be frustrated - at least on our little patch !

As for the mandatory (?) airtest, hasn't it all gone quiet ? We've got plenty of chopper experts on board. Come on, chaps, "tell the truth and shame the Devil" (they can't nail you now - or stop your pension !)....D.


Union Jack,

I gained the impression that Subtle was no longer "on active service", but more some sort of a 'hack' used only for odd-jobs (taking 'crabs' round the bay, for example), and therefore unlikely to have a regular crew or a well-stocked wardroom. And I must admit that the cocoa did seem a bit strong, now I come to think of it !

I once heard a tale about a sub skipper who was very impressed by the ability of the rating, who brought up his (the skipper's) cocoa (Ki ?), to climb the ladder to the conning tower with a brimming mug without spilling a drop. He enquired how this was achieved.

"Well, Sir", was the reply, "I take a full mouthful at the bottom, and then at the top....."

(Apologies if you've heard it before). And you mean there was actually room for a noticeboard in the sub wardroom ?.......D.


26er,

I must say, I've heard of most things, but lobsters are a new one on me! How was it done ? I assume that they'd a boat (hopefully not a Bomb Scow) to service the "Walrus" or whatever, and it picked up/dropped off the pots en route to the moorings.

The teetotal "volunteers" must have been very public-sprited citizens indeed. What was the quid pro quo ?......D.


Chugalug and Wander00,

The difficulties inherent in learning two systems of foot (and arms) drills are all too vivid in my memory. (US Army late'41 and early'42 on top of British early'41). Recollection is painful ! "Take a brace, Mister !" ....D.


Wander00 : your "still cannot stand tea with evaporated milk" Try it (the milk) with gin ! (one of my Posts of long ago, where we were stuck for the night in a train compartment, climbing the Bolan Pass into Quetta, and had the last of the gin left, but nothing to go with it except condensed milk) ......D.


Fareastdriver,

I think 22 Sqdn had Whirlwinds at TI in my day......D.


clicker,

Ouch ! Terribly bad form to abandon your guests to their fate, dont'cher know ? Not in the best traditions of the Service ! (Union Jack ?)......D.


Smudge,

"Sorry to pop in", forsooth. You pop-in for all you're worth - and that's an order !

Fred Lamprey. What can I say ? GET HIM IN HERE, WHERE HE BELONGS ! Anyone have a contact we could follow ? ....D.

Whew ! Caught up at last ! This is what this Thread's all about. Keep it rolling !

Goodnight, all,

Danny.
 
Old 7th Oct 2013, 11:49
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clicker, being a British Army officer leading Gurkhas has always been considered to be a great honour and privilege, but not without its little inconveniences. The isolation enforced upon your ex-teacher was by no means unique. One of the Cranwell War Studies team in the 60's, a British Army Major, recounted his experiences to us of being a young Gurkha platoon commander in Burma in WW2.

Every day he would receive a sitrep by radio regarding the likely Japanese positions. He made his dispositions accordingly, instructing his Havildar and Naiks upon that night's assault. Having ensured that they fully understood his instructions regarding the Bren giving covering fire, the main assault, and the secondary one, his men would then reportedly dig a trench, and place their Commanding Officer in it, securing him lest he should unwisely decide to join the fray. The planned assault would then go ahead, the position taken, secured, and then, and only then, would one of them be sent to release him to join his command once more.

Their logic was faultless so he told us, for only he could understand the radio and thus secure the information required for that next night's work... well that was his story, and it was he who told it to we young and eager RAF Flight Cadets, so it must be true, mustn't it?

Danny, your description of the Great Mushroom Wars of the 50's has come as a great revelation and, I might add, some surprise. I had no idea of the extent nor ruthlessness with which they were fought. Given the nature of such struggles, no doubt local war lords emerged to control large areas of particularly fertile production, taking over the numerous airfields of East Anglia and the East Riding, for example. Perhaps the closure of many of these RAF Stations, stemming from this time, was in reality the only way that the authorities could curb their evil influence? In any event I will view Air Traffickers in a different way in future and accord them the respect they deserve, lest they should make me an offer that I cannot refuse!
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