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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 14th Feb 2009, 08:13
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Regle,
I have always had a great interest in military history, especially aviation. This iinterest was given a sharper focus when my stepson's then girlfriend casually mentioned that her grandfather had flown on WW 2. To cut a long story short her grandmother sent me a copy of his log book. He had been in 4GP on 78 then 10 Sqns .(Halifax ) He had been on the Peenemunde raid also. His logbook entry is a single line with 6h 35min night recorded. So I obtained a copy of John Searby's book on the raid where it lists all the crews who were on the raid. It was then very straightforward to look up the 51 Sqn crews and work out from your posts who you were and which Halifax you were flying. Hope you do not mind. At the risk of 'thread drift' I we took a Herc to St Athan for an open day when I was in the RAF. As I was having a pee in the loo in the mess, an old boy looked at my Sqn badge and ramarked he had been in the RAF in WW2 on 78 Sqn as an engineering officer.
Naturally I asked him if he knew 'X' and he said he did ! Small world ! He subsequently sent me a copy of the the aircraft and crews of 78 who were on the Peenemunde raid. What is striking is the number of aircraft that diverted to other stations on the return from the raid . Was this normal ?
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Old 14th Feb 2009, 09:58
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The morning after our return from the Blackburn Aircraft airfield at Brough my instructor asked for my log for the flight. I didn’t have one, and told him so. He replied, “then produce one quick”. I drew a straight line from Carlisle to Brough on my map, and then entered , track, course , wind speed, etc , onto the log sheet and signed it, and gave it to him. Shortly after it was “hats off’ and there I was standing in front of the C.O. Without any preamble, he asked, which way did you fly to Brough. What could I say ?. I had signed the log, but couldn’t drop my oppo ‘in it’ and mention St Ethelburga’s, so I asked, “ is it serious sir” To which he replied “very” As I couldn’t obtain any further information, I decided to tell the truth with a few omissions. I told him we had lost our bearings , and seeing a large town ahead, let down to see if we could identify it, and then recognized The Majestic Hotel., we then set course for Brough. Think I detected a slight smile. He then placed me under open arrest pending a court of enquiry , and a possible court martial. The charge falsifying a R.A.F document. He then went on to say that Sgt Francois !!!!!!, was also under open arrest, and said that a retired Wingco had written down our identification numbers and reported it to the Air ProvoMarshal, who had a permanent representative stationed in Harrogate . Evidently locals were getting a bit fed up about the number of aircraft shooting up the Majestic. For some reason, he seemed sympathetic. And said his hands were tied, and that if it had been reported directly to him, he would have dealt with it internally.

Five weeks passed, before the court of enquiry, and it was quite boring, with no flying, or fun
flying around Helvelyn, or the top of cumulus clouds. I was put in charge of the sports stores and as very few airmen were stationed at Kingstown Airfield, coupled with the fact that sports day was one afternoon a week, I had to find something to occupy my mind. We had been told , nod, nod ,wink, wink that as we were under open arrest we couldn’t go off camp. We didn’t ask how we got across the A6 to the billets, without going off camp. Francois and I still had our motorbikes so we visited places like Gretna Green, and explored Workington , Maryport, and Carlisle. To fill in the rest of the time I ‘acquired” a bench and vice which I installed in the sports stores Nissen hut.. I then made a wooden model of a spitfire as a pattern, took it to the local foundry together width ’acquired’ scrap brass and aluminium . All to be rough cast, then filed and polished. By the time the court of enquiry arrived I had built up a small successful business selling the completed models to other airmen and civvies. N.B ‘acquired ‘ is R.A.F parlance for borrowed.

Eventually the great day arrived, the court of enquiry was held. I was retained as a witness and Francois charged with low flying. I think our C/O must have forgotten to mention the falsification of the navigation log., or did he lose it?. Shortly after, the court of enquiry was held on the airfield. Francois was ‘wheeled in’ and I sat outside for a few hours. In the event, I was not called into the room. Eventually he came out, and we walked to the Billets. On the way he told me that he told the court how he had escaped from Belgium under a railway carriage reaching Spain only to be caught and returned to Belgium. He then said he managed to reach Gibraltar on his next attempt and then travel to England, with which the court had much sympathy. Particularly so as , after all this he was wasting his time at Carlisle. He told me the court recommended that he be posted immediately to a A.F.U in spitfires.
This caused a lot of annoyance among the other pilots, some of whom discussed whether to also shoot up St Ethelbergers . Luckily no one did.

The reason I say , luckily, some years later, in civvy street, I was waiting in Tate and Lyles reception waiting to see the chief engineer, and noticed that the chap sitting next to me was wearing A? AN? R.A.F tie, he told me during the war he was in the Judge Advocate General’s department, somehow the conversation turned to Carlisle, and it turned out that he was the Judge on that day. When I jokingly asked him why he hadn’t punished us all by sending us to an A.F.U, he looked perplexed and asked what I meant. I told him what Francois told me, he told me it was untrue, and that he had been sentenced to six months hard labour and discharge from His Majesties Forces. Evidently he was already on another serious charge before the court martial offence.

TRIVIA.
Recently watching the Coast program on T.V which was dealing with the Solway Firth, it transpires that during W.W 1 a large ordnance depot was constructed between ~Gretna Green and Annan, near Carlisle . Employed there were twenty thousand female and two thousand males, which resulted in trouble in the local hostelries. As the job was very dangerous handling explosives the government took over control, and remained in control into the seventies. No wonder the beer was week and the pubs terrible when we were there.
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Old 14th Feb 2009, 12:37
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Al

Al, I am 99.99% certain that it's your Father!

There was a photograph collection in Terrell library that I copied that photograph from. There are other photographs i will see if any look interesting.

If you want the high definition version of the photograph that I have posted (as photobucket tends to process it) then PM me your email address and I will send it to you.
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Old 14th Feb 2009, 17:00
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ancient aviator62

Thanks for the explanation. Sounds very easy but I am sure a great amount of research and time went in to it. Anyway I shall be very careful what I say in future ! The longer I live, the smaller the world seems to get' and these "coincidences " get more numerous all the time.
I looked up the Peenemunde raid in my log book and note that we landed back at Snaith and could not see any references to bad weather at base which, with badly damaged aircraft , was the only other common reason for diversion. I also notice that I logged eight hours, all night, for the trip and wonder why there is around an hour and a half difference between the two trips ? Where was 78 based at that time ? was it Lisset or Holme on Spalding Moor ? All the best , Reg.
 
Old 14th Feb 2009, 17:08
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ancient aviator62

Further to my last reply; it struck me that you only saw the large number of aircraft from 78 that diverted from their base and that could have been due to an accident blocking the runway at 78's base. If that was'nt the case there may have been a large number of badly damaged aircraft that would have been glad to get down quickly. Although we had a quiet trip there were 42 aircraft that were missing from the raid, so there must have been a lot of later action.Reg
 
Old 15th Feb 2009, 08:35
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Regle,
78 was based at Breighton at the time of the Peenemunde raid . You are right to query the flight time, ' mine eyes deceive me' it was 7H 35m. There are quite a few divs after Ops in 'X' s log book.
Best wishes
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Old 15th Feb 2009, 09:32
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Courtrai railway yards

Hello Reg,

For quite some time I have been researching the raids against Courtrai Railway Yards and Courtrai Airfield (Wevelgem) during WWII. I live only 10 miles from these places.
I have been contacting several veterans of the PFF and Main Force who were involved in the larger raids to Courtrai in order to understand the marking and bombing technique but have never been able to contact a Mosquito crew.
I have read your fascinating report on your war time career and I see that you took part in a raid to Courtrai, being in the third Mosquito of three when seeing a bomb explode behind you.
Could you find back in your logbook on what date this happened and any other detail (like T/O and T/Down). Any other detail you may remember regarding this raid is most welcome: for instance about the height from which you bombed, your experience with flak over the Belgian coast (Knocke was reportedly a dangerous spot to fly over, correct?).
105 Squadron also took part in the marking of Courtrai M/Y on 20/21 July 1944 but at that time you were already with 51 Squadron.
Any help, however brief would be most welcome.

Dirk
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Old 15th Feb 2009, 15:10
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Nice to see someone from Belgium joining the Forum, Welcome. I spent most of my flying career in Belgium and have many fond memories of it. I kept a small book of some of my operations and , luckily, found this which I will tell you now, from the book......
Target Courtrai Marshalling Yards (Belgium) Dec.14th.1942 , low level attack at dusk. 4x500lbs. H.E. bombs. Mosquito 1V. 105 Sqdn. Report;
We went out with another Mosquito (Sqdn. Ldr. Reynolds) until we crossed the enemy coast where we split up. We encountered one or two inaccurate bursts of machine gun fire but, otherwise saw nothing.
I climbed from 50 feet to 2000 ft.and dived on the target and in doing so the clear vision panel on the left, blew out, hitting me on the head and giving me a nasty cut. I continued my run and, when the bomb release was pushed, the" bombs gone" indicator did not register. The "jettison" gave no sign either. We came down to rooftop height and took evasive action from the light flak which had now appeared. After three more runs over the target ,the "jettison" showed that the bombs had gone. On the return the intercom went u/s and due to a misunderstanding my navigator, Les, prepared to bail out. Luckily I was able to stop him. Very disappointing trip. Several windows were illuminated below as we went out but very little sign of life anywhere. Nb. Found later that the bombs were dropped over the target and the operation was deemed successful.
That was from my unofficial notebook which, I regret, I did not keep regularly. I see that the time for the trip was 2 hours from our base near
Kings Lynn, Marham, Norfolk. 1hr.30 of the trip was logged as night flying. As it was December I would say that takeoff would have been about 1615, Time over target about 1655 and landing around 1815. I have a feeling that during wartime we kept the extra hour all the year round so add an hour to those times to get the time that would correspond with the time in Belgium in 1942... Is it really 67 years ago ! If so I would have been just 20 yrs. of age. All the best . Tot Siens. REGLE. P.S. The raid that you referred to when we were three and the bomb bounced over me was on the yards at Tergnier (N.France ) not Courtrai. I must correct the mistake. The above report is the only time that I actually bombed a target in Belgium although I crossed the Belgian Coast many times at fity feet on other targets. Knocke was noted for its hostile reception and I later , much later had an apartment near Ostend (Middelkerke) and have often visited the Atalantic Wall Museum which was a tram stop away from my apartment.

Last edited by regle; 15th Feb 2009 at 15:20.
 
Old 15th Feb 2009, 16:04
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Bomber Command

I have just finished re-reading Patrick Bishop's terrific book "Bomber Boys". It is a must for anyone who has an interest in the part yhat Bomber Command played during the last war. I would just like to quote from the last part of the book p.395 . It is of general interest but particularly to anyone who was in or has connections with 78 Sqdn. ANCIENTAVIATOR62 take note.
Quote; "In Britain there is no public day to mark their sacrifice (my note Bomber Command). But many of the dead airmen shot down over France, Belgium, Holland and Norway are still remembered on the anniversary of their deaths by local communities who regard them as liberators and heroes. In September 2006, the small town of Werkendam gave a fitting burial to the crew of a 78 Sqdn. Halifax that was shot down by a night fighter and crashed into marshy ground on the night of 24/25 May 1944. The town council raised Ł85,000 towards the cost of retrieving their remains and raising the headstones, The councillor who led the campaign, Gerard Paans declared "We owe our freedom to these brave airmen"
The inscription on a plaque in Tuddenham Parish church in Suffolk commemorates a crew who died flying from the base, which has now, melted back into the fields. There are only seven names on it. But the inscription could serve for all the dead Bomber Boys.
Went the day well?
We died and never knew.
But well or ill, Freedom,
We died for you.
 
Old 15th Feb 2009, 18:52
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Courtrai 1942

Reg,
Thank you so much for your prompt and very detailed reply. This really adds up a lot to my "picture" of low level attacks against Courtrai Railway Roads and any other target in West Flanders. Magnificent material for aviation researchers like me.
I remember you called these raids "comparatively uneventful low level sorties in Holland and Belgium", but the attack of 14 December, 1942 was indeed far from uneventful for you.
And yet, you remained level-headed enough to make three more runs over the target in spite of the flak.
Thank you for keeping an 'unofficial notebook': they are an amazingly rich source to get a visual picture of specific operations!
Through this it is also the very first time that I am really aware of the reason why the German order of "darkening houses" was so strictly controlled during the war. I read that you saw several windows illuminated below as you went out. I think that the German order of darkening houses must mainly have been to prevent low level attacks from aircraft like Mosquitoes rather than from aircraft flying too high to notice illuminated places. Yet, I think that Mosquitoes will rather not have aimed at 'illuminated places' when bombing however low they were flying... Or am I wrong?
It is interesting to see "Knocke" confirmed as an unfriendly place for incoming Mosquitoes during the war. And it feels good to see that you know Belgium well, especially Ostend (Middelkerke). On the utmost right of the Atlantic War Museum (when looking in the direction of the sea) there was a German flak battery that shot down several aircraft.
I have read that also Sabena is well known to you.
Always welcome over here. Many, many thanks.
Dirk
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 09:31
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In the Aviation History and Nostalgia section of this forum, there is currently a thread regarding non standard Mk XVI Mosquito camouflage, apparently only on Percival sourced aircraft. it contains a link to a Mike Spack website which seems to detail his training and operational career, so might be worth making contact.... Here's the Mike Spack link: 4. Photo Gallery: Mike Spack RCAF
Hope it is of interest
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 09:43
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Al's photo

Al, I have found the picture in Hi rez but I don't know where to email it as you have turned off your email in Pprune.

Regards Andy
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 10:38
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RAF Humour

Although this has nothing directly to do with the forum, Reg has convinced me that a spot of humour might go down well, this is a pamplet that was handed out to passengers when Liberators were used to bring them back to the UK:-


I think I found it during my research at Kew
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 10:48
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Terrell BFTS 1

Here are some pictures I took from an album in Terrell Library, altho Cliff and Reg were at Poca and Albany it should give people a visual idea of what the BFTS and Arnold Schmes looked like with their purpose built airfields. This is BFTS 1 where Al's Father I think was Chief Flying Instructor:-


Terrell Control Tower


Terrell Dorms and Admin buildings, incidentally after the war a plane crashed into them and they caught fire destroying all the records



Looks like excited cadets forming up ready to fly in the advanced training.
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 10:50
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Gentlemen,

Thankyou so much for spending the time and effort to recount your tales here. This thread was unknown to me until yesterday, and I have spent the last two days reading it from start to finish. I cannot wait to hear the end of Cliff's story in particular.

I had a short military career myself, very short as it consisted of a year and a half at the Royal Australian Air Force Academy before I left, however it is interesting comparing my recollections of military training in 1985 with your own 40 odd years earlier.

At the RAAF Academy, one of my instructors, Professor Brearly, flew in the war. He once related a story of his ground attack gunnery training in which the group's instructor ("Whitey", an experienced fighter pilot) would challenge each of his trainees to beat his score, and bet a bottle of beer on the result. With his experience, this was just a thinly disguised method for him to enjoy the weekend on free beer.

Knowing he had little chance of winning and, resigned to purchasing his bottle of beer, prof. Brearly simply aimed directly at the target and pressed the trigger - only to find his guns jamming after a just a few rounds. He managed to see the rounds strike the ground ten feet left of the target before pulling up and returning to base. Back at the base, and sensing an opportunity, he insisted on a second run, it not being fair that his guns had jammed, and managed to get that approved.

On the second run, having already made a "sighting" run before, he let fly, and stated: "My only concern was that they wouldn't be able to score the run, as the target was being completely destroyed." Apparently "Whitey" paid up like a lamb!

My ATPL theory was taught to me my Noel Lamont, who also flew fighters in the war. Noel was one of the smartest men I have ever met, with a PHD on "The Theory of Time". He had worked out most of the mathematics on flight planning and so on from first principles in order to teach his own set of short cuts and rules of thumb.

Flying off the coast of New Guinea in the war he saw his instrument panel explode in front of him, and that was the first he knew of the aircraft that shot him down. Some of the shrapnel had passed through his body on the way to destroying the panel. He managed to crash in the sea near an American ship and the sailors saved his life. Recovering back in Melbourne on crutches he lost his balance disembarking from a tram, and a lady behind him made a comment about "drunk soldiers". He said if that tram hadn't left, he would have swiped her over the head with his crutch!

Noel went on to fly for the airlines after the war, and one day his crew bus was struck by a drunk driver while travelling to the hotel. He was badly injured, and ended up with double vision which lost him his medical (the reason he was teaching theory.) He was a fiercely determined, and very funny man. Once, after a heart attack, he insisted on having his students come to the hospital so that he could finish their theory course from his hospital bed!

I recently blurted out some of my own memories, flying freight and airliners in Australia on the http://www.pprune.org/jet-blast/3600...g-stories.html thread in Jetblast, so I know how pleasant it is to receive some feedback. To know that the stories you tell are really going out to an audience, and not simply dropping into a "black hole" in the internet somewhere. Given that, please let me tell you all that I, at least, are reading them - and enjoying every minute!

Thankyou again.
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 12:29
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Flying Jeeps

Earlier in the thread I read with much amusement about Reg spotting a falling jeep on one exercise, now I see it's true!

Halifax aircraft | ParaData

Any other stories about unusual things dropping out of the sky? Anyone seen a toilet pan flying?

Regards Andy
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 13:23
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Flying jeep: Read on!!!! One unhappy "pilot"!!!!
Unreal Aircraft - Roadable Aircraft - Hafner Rotabuggy Flying Jeep
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 14:38
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"Christ" or other expletives ICARE9

If ever there was a case to earn a DFC then it was the Jeep driver, or was it a pilot?

I also remember about reading a pilot that flew around with cutters on the wings deliberately flying into cables another case for a DFC I think?
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 17:18
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Thanks Cliffnemo. My grandfather is not in your picture so it gives me further info re dates etc. Many thanks.
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Old 17th Feb 2009, 15:00
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The 6 B.f.t.s Association.

The 6 B.F.T.S Association , of which I am still a member, is 'still alive and kicking'. Members receive a regular news letter , and a meeting is held annually.

An ex cadet Mike Igglesden is our Treasurer and Membership Secretary, and after a bit of googling I came across an article he had written I think for the B.B.C. I emailed him for permission to reproduce, and he kindly gave permission. I thought it might give everyone some one else's view, and maybe a bit of extra info. It may also show up some of my inaccuracies.
----------------------------------------------------------------

Mike Igglesden
Location of story:
U.S.A.
Background to story:
Royal Air Force
Article ID:
A7189617
Contributed on:
22 November 2005

In late August 1942, the writer, with many other aircrew under training, left the Air Crew Despatch Centre at Heaton Park, Manchester, for Gourock. There we embarked in an American troopship, the “Thomas H Barry”, for an Atlantic crossing. She had been designed for the Caribbean and was not the ideal length for the Atlantic seas; this led to a good deal of what might euphemistically be called discomfort among the passengers. The writer volunteered to work in the galley (giving the benefit of fresh-water rather than sea-water showers) and turned out to be impervious to seasickness. On arrival in New York, we had the exciting experience of travelling by train through the ‘dim-out’ - bright to our eyes - of coastal USA and Canada to Moncton in New Brunswick. After a couple of weeks at No. 31 Personnel Depot there, another rail journey took us to our destinations, by regular express trains rather than the troop-carrying superannuated Canadian stock used for the trip to Canada.

For 50 of us, the destination was No. 6 British Flying Training School (BFTS), Ponca City in Oklahoma, where we were to stay for 6 months, becoming Course No. 10. Other than knowing that the mid-West was a centre of isolationism, portending some opposition to the Brits, we knew nothing of the place. On arrival, however, we found nothing but the kindest of welcomes from the citizens, leading to friendships that last until this day.

It is not widely known that, from early in war, well before the entry of the United States in December 1941, Air Force officers in both countries had discussed the training of RAF pilots in the open and friendly skies of the U.S.A., in parallel with similar arrangements for the Empire Air Training Scheme in Canada, Rhodesia and South Africa. Interestingly, similar arrangements had led to the training of RAF pilots in the U.S.A. during WWI.

Approval was finally given by President Roosevelt in May 1941 and seven British Flying Training Schools were set up in short order. Other training would take place with the USAAC in their own schools, under the Arnold Scheme, named after General Hap Arnold.

Unlike the Arnold Scheme, where the 3 levels of training took place at different USAAC (later USAAF) stations, the BFTS training all took place at the one station.

The six BFTSs were, with opening dates:
1 BFTS Terrell, Texas 9 June 1941 *
2 BFTS Lancaster, California 9 June 1941 *
3 BFTS Miami. Oklahoma 16 June 1941 *
4 BFTS Mesa, Arizona 16 June 1941 *
5 BFTS Clewiston, Florida 17 July 1941 *
6 BFTS Ponca City, Oklahoma 23 August 1941
7 BFTS Sweetwater, Texas May 1942 but closed August 1942

* All but No. 6 started their training at other bases until their permanent bases were opened in July/August 1941.

No. 6 was operated under contract to the RAF by Harold S Darr, then president of Braniff Airlines, and was known as the Darr School. Except for a nucleus of RAF staff, all the instructors, ground staff and supporting staff were American civilians. The aircraft were provided by the USAAC, later the USAAF. The RAF staff comprised the Commanding Officer, Administrative Officer and three or four other officers, and NCOs for armaments, signals and other specialist training, discipline and pay

Training was similar in all BFTSs and occupied 28 weeks. Originally, there were three parts: Primary on Stearman PT17, Basic on Vultee BT13 and Advanced on North American AT6A. From Course No. 9, Basic was deleted, cadets going from 12 weeks Primary to 16 weeks Advanced. After the initial build up, when the first Courses of 50 cadets arrived in quicker succession, new Courses arrived at 7 weeks intervals. From No. 11, Courses comprised about 80 RAF and 20 USAAF Cadets and arrived at 9 week intervals.

The first Course ran from 26 August 1941 to 23 January 1942. Because the USA did not enter the war until 7 December 1941, cadets had to wear civilian clothes off camp - suits believed to have been provided from Burtons or The Fifty Shilling Tailors.

The School closed in April 1944. In all, 17 Courses had attended; No. 16 completed its training there, but No. 17 Course completed at the other BFTSs, which remained open until November 1944.

Seven RAF cadets were killed in training and are buried at the IOOF Cemetery, Ponca City. This was the lowest accident rate of all BFTSs and perhaps of all training in USA and Canada. The graves are carefully maintained and a ceremony is held each Memorial Day.

Three USAAF Aviation Cadets also were killed, and five civilian instructors including Henry Jerger, the Chief Pilot, the equivalent of an RAF Chief Flying Instructor. Very well respected, he was killed when the aircraft suffered a failure and his passenger, a mechanic, would not bail out. Mr Jerger was seen to try to get him out and finally jumped himself, but too late.

At 6 BFTS, 1113 RAF pilots and 125 USAAF pilots are believed to have undergone training in the 33 months of its existence. Records are incomplete, but the failure rate was about 30%. A ‘Nominal Roll’ has been assembled, using a variety of sources, and is held by the No. 6 BFTS (Ponca City) Association. The Association exists partly because we were together for 6 months but mainly because of our memories of the hospitality that the citizens extended to us. We were adopted by families, and the ties still exist. We would be pleased to hear from any survivors, or the families of ex-cadets, who have so far not contacted us. Contact addresses for this Association, and for those of other BFTSs, can be found on the Internet (try “6 BFTS”).

Altogether, some 18,000 RAF cadets passed through the BFTS and Arnold Schemes. Another 1,000 USAAF cadets were also trained at the BFTSs.

Most of the survivors of our Course, 33 in all, returned to England via Canada, New York and the “Queen Mary”. Two of us were delayed by sickness in Canada and returned with a later Course on the “Louis Pasteur” to Liverpool. From there, to Harrogate where our futures were disclosed to us and those of us who had been commissioned were kitted out with our Gieves uniforms. As we had all been trained on single-engines aircraft, those who were not selected as fighter pilots proceeded to twin-engine training; the others continued training for combat on singles. And so our RAF flying careers began.
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