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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 11th Oct 2013, 23:12
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Al R,

First, thank you for the kind words, they are much appreciated !

First of all, you must know that I have no experience in (Home) Bomber Command in general, nor of Lancasters in particular.

Second of all, what a load of old bull ! The picture of the Pilot and Engineer is obviously staged on the ground; they dressed up a couple of handsome models and sat them in.

There's no engine noise at all, the dialogue (in the purest BBC cut-glass Received English accents) is in the standard way that the lay public thought crews talked to each other (not a hint of stress in the voices !). And are they supposed to be bombing Germany by day ? (this is in broad daylight !)

I could go on and on. This is all "Boy's Own Paper" stuff, as false as a nine-dollar bill. (Good Show, Chaps !)

Cheers, Danny.
Old 11th Oct 2013, 23:25
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I thought you might say that. I was wondering if it could ever have been as measured as that, even with Received Pronounciation.
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Old 12th Oct 2013, 14:23
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To remind you of when you were younger you may wish to see page 21 of the "Weekend" section of today's "The Times" describing a good walk around Thorney Island. It says it is nine miles but on the plus side it begins and ends at a pub.
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Old 12th Oct 2013, 15:12
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In Danny's day the licensing laws for the Lunch time session were 10.30 a.m. - 2.30 p.m. in Hampshire and 11.00 a.m. - 3.00 p.m. in West Sussex. The county boundary being the Emsworth Channel which was bridged by the old A 27. Now conveniently there was a pub on either side of the bridge so the citizens of Emsworth could continue their merriment with only a 50 yard stroll.
In winter with a low tide the glare off the mud flats due to the low sun was pretty bad. So on a BABS approach for 19 whilst one was saying 2 1/2 miles left left at the other end on the aircraft was a continuous "can't see a blxxdy thing" and then suddenly "there's The Royal Oak, ok Nav got it". The Royal Oak being the next pub towards Chichester (no longer exists) and conveniently on the extended centre line of 19 / 01.
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Old 12th Oct 2013, 18:43
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There was another Royal Oak, Pom Pax, that you might remember at Hooksway, north of Chichester off the B2141. It's still there, but in the 60s a couple had been the licensees going back to before the first world war. They held only a beer and wine licence and you needed an Ordnance Survey map to find them, but that all added to the charm of the place.
A group of us went there while attending 242OCU at Thorney. Entering the front door we were confronted by an elderly couple sitting either side of the fireside. Thinking we had stumbled into their sitting room in error, we made to apologetically leave, but they bid us enter and confirmed that it was indeed their lounge (and only) bar.
Later, other regulars joined us having been hard at work harvesting. It wasn't long before they were singing various ditties of the "I had her in my threshing machine" kind. We in turn regaled them with "Shire, Shire, Somersetshire", and other Air Force songs that were more usually performed in the Mess.
A most enjoyable evening spent many years ago. The pub is under different management now, and no doubt in the same Chicken-in-the-Basket mode as so many others these days.

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Old 12th Oct 2013, 21:51
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Definitely a put up job, apart from the the BBC newsreader accents and ropey intercom phraesology, notice that they are not wearing Mae Wests, rather foolhardy since they had to fly over the North Sea to reach their target.
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Old 13th Oct 2013, 13:34
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Going back a couple of days to the RAF Police nomenclature.

I too think Snowdrops is an Americanism adopted here. Perhaps the following name became non PC with the rise of USSR's Red Menace ?

In my deferred to 21+ N.S days (59-61) they wore and therefore were simply called 'Redcaps' - as well as less attractive epithets referring to their lack of grey matter.

mike hallam.

p.s. Wiki consulted since the above. It says my lot on the main gate guard post were RAF Regiment, so my redcaps are different to your snowdrops I guess !!

BTW. M/c to the strip & flew a very light 2 seater from Sussex, via close to o/h Thorney, to the Isle of Wight yesterday for a bacon buttie. Both it & Lee-on-Solent are still active fields.

Last edited by mikehallam; 13th Oct 2013 at 13:47.
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Old 13th Oct 2013, 15:50
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The "Redcaps" were Military Police. I didn't know that our well loved "Rock Apes" had been subsumed into the Infantry to that extent, though. What next ?

Old 13th Oct 2013, 22:27
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Danny makes Preparations for Departure

Niel and Amelia Ker, whom I'd last seen some nine years before, looked us up (Iris had met them only once briefly, in Mablethorpe). He'd come up to Manby, as interpreter for some visiting Russian VSOs to the Empire Flying College. Apparently the Russians were highly amused by the Lincolns, viewing them as museum pieces - Niel tried to save our faces by insinuating that we only kept a few for sentimental reasons, much like the Navy's "Victory".

He'd just bought a bungalow in Littlehampton - only a stone's throw away along the coast, having just left, or being in the process of leaving the RAF. Since last seeing him he'd completed his Habbaniya tour as a Russian R/T monitor, followed by two flying tours: the first on Swifts (he wasn't very impressed) and a second on Canberras in RAF(G) (Sqdns not known). His only tale that I remember concerned his last IRT on these.

The examiner had given him an "Unusual Position" at 25,000 ft. Niel managed to screw this up so comprehensively that their combined efforts only recovered the Canberra at 8,000, at which point they were thinking of abandoning ship. Needless to say, he did not get his I/R, this in turn would not endear him to his Sqdn C.O., but whether that influenced his decision to leave I do not know.

But the purpose of mentioning him is to introduce what he'd brought home with him. At that time, the name Peugeot was hardly known at all in Britain; when two owners met on the road they would exchange flashes of friendly recognition. I tried Niel's car (a 403): it was an absolute revelation.

To be fair, anything would have been a revelation after a 20-year old pre-war specimen which was showing its age in spite of the full mechanical overhaul that I'd given it five years earlier. "Mickey" had served us faithfully and well, I reckoned we'd put on another 50,000 miles and it must now be into six figures (an extraordinary mileage for a humdrum family saloon of the period).

But the 403 was out of this world. Never had I driven anything which rode so well, held the road so well, was so comfortable, steered so precisely and had such powerful brakes. To my mind, it would still stand comparison with today's mass-market cars. It was to be the best car of our lives. The decision was made at once: Mrs D. chose the colour (dove-grey).

Lloyd's Bank in Liverpool - I'd stayed with them since 1948 - played ball. I think the 403 came in at a basic £520 (half the UK price). To this I added £20 for a set of the very attractive wheel trims standard on the insanely overpriced ragtop (TV "Columbo" ran a shabby one of these). The RHD models had a sunshine roof, I would have liked one, too, but for some reason they were not an option on the LHD (I suppose the French reckoned the sun never shone on perfide Albion, anyway, so there would be no demand). My final extravagance was £30 for a "Coupleur Jaeger" (much more about this later, if Mr Moderator will allow).

The bill came to £570, plus a few pounds for rail freight Sochaux/La Garenne, (for I arranged to pick the car up in Paris from the Champs Élysées showroom), and a tank of petrol. Lloyds paid Peugeot (UK) Ltd in sterling, everyone was happy, my loan would (hopefully) be paid off over three years.

Now the run-down started, and the radar rest caravan became a hive of industry at night. For I had to turn my meagre woodworking skills to the task of making open-frame crates for the pram, the Hoover Twin-Tub (these would go out to Germany) and the Winged Wheel (to be stored with our things back home). Of course, when the time came, only the Wheel itself, its appurtenances, and the saddle and front wheel were crated: the old 'grid' was scrapped.

I had my trusty Black & Decker, and bought a set of "Everest" (?) wood drills (these must be somewhere in the garage still, if only I could find them). The "bit" end is flat, shaped as a silhouette of the appropriate screw size, so you take out bore, counterbore and countersink in one operation. Armed with these, about a mile of 2"x 1" planed softwood and a million No.8 screws (or at least it felt like that), the job went on apace, occasionally interrupted by some tiresome pilot wanting a GCA.

Even on the day watches, my spare time didn't go to waste, and I'll explain in my next.

Until then, Goodnight,


No time to waste !

Last edited by Danny42C; 14th Oct 2013 at 16:50. Reason: Typo.
Old 13th Oct 2013, 23:13
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You are one for bringing back some memories.

My third job at the age of 18 around 1970 was working in the stores of Peugeot's dealers in Greencoat Place near Victoria station.

The 403 was coming to the end of its life by then, being edged out in favour of the 404 but it was amazing how many were still coming to be serviced. Lost count of how many had been "round the clock" and still going strong.

While working there I also had my first brush with the law, albeit on the good side and also my one and only appearance in court. Funny that in 24 years working for the police in later years I never got a court appearance for them even thought I must have taken hundreds of emergency calls in that time.

So there I am, working in the stores, when a guy turns up with his right arm in a sling. He came in to buy quite a few spares and wanted to pay by cheque. Because of his broken arm he asked me to write out the cheque so I checked with my boss who said it was OK as long as he signed it as best he could. He also showed the boss some form of ID as a doctor.

Quite a few months later and the local plod come round. The cheque had been stolen from a car along with a few other bits and pieces including a doctors driving licence and prescription pad. The police had followed this one up because drugs had been obtained via the use of the pad.

So I'm now in court being spoken at by the defence who have just asked me what I was doing on a date just three weeks ago to which replied I could not remember.

"So if you can't remember that how can you be sure that my client visited your store on a date several months ago."

"He had his arm in a sling."

"And how can you tell this was the cheque that was passed to you on the date in question if you can't remember what you were doing three weeks ago." Said with a smug look and the client looking pleased that he had a thinking defence lawyer.

Cheque is then passed to me to look at.

"Yes I remember this cheque quite clearly, I wrote it out myself and your client signed it as best he could."

You should have seen the look on the defence's face. Clearly our tealeaf had forgotten that bit or at least not told his lawyer.

Police 1 Tealeaf 0.
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Old 14th Oct 2013, 14:46
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The gents (?) in the 1950 Binbrook guardroom were known as SPs. Their baleful eyes would follow us little lads as a cat watches a passing mouse. In fact I first thought their title was bluddySPs as my father so referred to them: "The bluddySPs came up to the hangar today, they say you've been playing around the Lincolns again".

As if we would try to start a Merlin. Perhaps it was just as well that the trolley-accs were too heavy for nine-year-olds to handle.

We knew the Snowdrops as US military police. One look at their white-painted steel helmets will show why they were so named.
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Old 14th Oct 2013, 15:54
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I find it strange that you ordered a LHD Peugeot. Everyone I knew who did a tour in Germany had a RHD car so that they could flog it when they got back to the UK.
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Old 14th Oct 2013, 16:42
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Must be a generational thing. In my youth, LHD (left hand drive) referred to the side of the road you drove on. Not so nowadays, it would seem !

Old 14th Oct 2013, 17:33
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Small world indeed ! I know they had a HQ in Purley Way. Croydon, but didn't know of your Aladdin's Cave in Victoria. Now you'll be able to help me with all the technical details, and generally keep me on the right track. Tell me, was the Smiths - Jaeger automatic clutch popular in the UK ? To my mind, it was one of the most deserving of ideas that fell by the wayside post-war. Peugeot had it on the 403 and 404, but then went over to full autobox on the 504 (IIRC).

Roote's cars developed the magnetic particle idea into a full auto, but I heard of one catastrophic failure on the autobahn, when some sort of short engaged all the gears in the box together, and the bits of casing, oil and cogwheels stretched a kilometer across Austria !

And congratulations on your well-merited triumph in the Halls of Justice ..D.


Good thing the Merlins didn't come with a Coffman starter (like the Griffons in the Spits). Otherwise you young devils would have been up, and away !...D.

Cheers to you both, Danny.


A day or two ago I came across somewhere on "Military Aircrew" a link to a 90- minute film starring Ray Milland, a sort of "Private's Progress" about Cranwell - a Columbia or a Movietone thing sponsored by A.M.

Can't find it again. Help !.....D.

Last edited by Danny42C; 14th Oct 2013 at 20:23. Reason: Add Text.
Old 14th Oct 2013, 20:57
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Danny ...

Check out my thread "Want a good laugh"

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Old 14th Oct 2013, 21:33
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Here's the link. A one and a half hour, definitive narrative of life at Cranwell, late 1950s.

High Flight - 1957 RAF - YouTube

Hope that helps

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Old 14th Oct 2013, 22:34
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Thanks, chaps (am going to enjoy this !),

Old 15th Oct 2013, 08:25
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Re "High Flight", part of this was filmed by the 2nd unit at Nicosia just after Suez. So many inconsistencies. At about 1hr11min you can see the aircraft sported Nos 1 and 34 Squadron markings. The aircraft are fitted with 2 x 100g droptanks. In the background you can see Hastings (aircraft, not town) on the skyline. I remember that the unit director, who had visions of grandeur, thought the Cypriot setting sun would make a pretty picture. They took hundreds of feet of film which was air freighted to UK but never used.

No matter, the film crew lived in the Ledra Palace Hotel with access to vast sums of company money which we brave lads helped to them to spend on wine and song. Unfortunately the "women" consisted of an old crone who must have been at least thirty and was the correspondent of the Daily Express. Nowadays I would describe her a "tasty piece".

Ah, happy days!

Last edited by 26er; 15th Oct 2013 at 08:28.
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Old 15th Oct 2013, 18:04
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Danny, Sir! ... might I beg a great indulgence, and revert, just briefly, to the Vengeance days?

Following your description of the Vengeance's vital and mighty dive brakes, I was much engaged by your indication that these were sufficiently delicate in their operation to be put to another good - but unintended - use, when wishing to slip in swiftly on rejoining a formation.

Now, having a little in common with Smudge, I am familiar with the use of airbrakes to achieve a very precise (and highly satisfying) landing when no Motive Power is available ... if only you can see where you are going!

I was therefore tantalised for some time by 'what-if?' thoughts following your account of that unhappy day when, heading for home with zero oil pressure, you rejected a straight-in approach in favour of the customary circuit. (I recall that at one base obstructions on approach, in the form of ships in harbour, could be vexing ... brakes ever so handy in that situation? ... but I think you were perhaps not there at that point).

Eventually I convinced myself that, given the limited forward vision in the Vengeance, use of the brakes to assist with the arrival could not really have been an option, and that I was being somewhat stupid in even thinking of it.

Since then, Smudge has awakened my memory and given me a lightbulb moment - glider pilots are now, de rigeur, equipped with an expensive direct-vision panel (about 10 or 11 o'clock low) just in case they might lose canopy transparency (frosting!) when needing to land. (I never - thank goodness! - suffered the pain of needing to open that DV panel for its true purpose - did you, Smudge?). I therefore surmise that, just possibly, the dive brakes on aircraft like the Vengeance might still have saved those condemned to unplanned arrivals some measure of grief, if only people could have practised such use beforehand.

I suspect that the possibility of using brakes to assist with control of the approach never even entered the heads of Their Airships of that time, and only when chaps became faced with the intriguing problem of landing one of those new-fangled (but slowly-spooling) jets on the flat roof of a big grey floating thing (with the hope of using the aircraft again) did the penny really drop. That said, I shall be delighted if anyone can correct me .... ?
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Old 15th Oct 2013, 19:26
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I once had to land back at Syerston in the middle of a downpour. An ASK18 on approach with a reasonable headwind barely shifts the drops, so a bit of side slip and visual through the "DV window" was used. Luckily I never encountered icing during my gliding time, had I done so I feel sure the same procedure would have worked. Hope that helps, looking forward to the pro power pilot Danny and why he didn't do a straight air brake controlled approach to land. I would say that there was always something about the "solid feel" of stability and control once the brakes were out, apart from the fact that you were going to land whatever, there was always, on every glider I flew, a feeling of great control with the brakes.


Last edited by smujsmith; 15th Oct 2013 at 19:53.
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