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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 17th Feb 2009, 16:05
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Re flying into cables, when stationed at Tangmere in the mid fifties the Station Commander, Gp Capt Jonny Kent regaled us with stories of doing that. He was not impressed, having been swung round a balloon cable when trying to test a device for cutting it. I understand that it was a "no-go".
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Old 17th Feb 2009, 16:30
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Jonny Kent

Yes he has a book out and I was horrified to read the chapter about how he missed the wire, then got a b***iking from his boss and had to keep going up until he cut it (or fell out of the sky).

I think I would have rather joined Reg and gone on a bombing raid! Maybe not
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Old 17th Feb 2009, 16:47
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BFTS 1 Start Date

Cliff, I have seen these BFTS dates before and I think they are wrong? Please see these I took in Terrell last year, they indicate a August start for BFTS 1:-


Also seen at Terrell:-



Any more information from readers would be helpful
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Old 18th Feb 2009, 09:56
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Terrel

ANDY,
On Mikes post does the * on the Terrel entry mean anything to you ?
---------------------
* All but No. 6 started their training at other bases until their permanent bases were opened in July/August 1941.



-------------------
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Old 18th Feb 2009, 10:35
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BFTS1 Terrell

Yes Cliff, i saw that but the Terrell calender shows the first intake of 50 cadets to Terrell on August 2nd.
Therefore I think Mike may have the dates wrong, I will investigate!
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Old 22nd Feb 2009, 15:41
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Harrogate Again!!!***!!!!

About three months after arriving at Carlisle and after the court martial, I was posted back to Harrogate, and as I had my motorbike at Carlisle I made arrangements with another cadet to take my kitbag back on the train. As my flying clothing was expensive, for security and warmth I decided to wear it. So clothed in flying helmet, goggles , silk inner suit , Sidcot suit , silk inner gloves , leather gauntlet gloves, suede flying boots I returned to Harrogate. Travelling down the A6 in convoy with hundreds of American, Tanks, Jeeps etc, I felt like staying with them all the way to Southampton, and France.

I can’t remember much about this period at Harrogate, but note I had three lessons on the Link trainer, and remember that I could travel home each weekend. Pressure was still put on me to transfer to the fleet air arm, despite my protests that I would not be able to operate efficiently when seasick under rough conditions. Strangely enough I was never air sick, even during two hours solid aerobatics.. After about a month or so I was then posted to Whitley bay, which I think was a months ‘unarmed combat’ course, where we learned a form of karate, and how to kill using knives, guns, with the usual P.T and swimming. The only highlight of my stay at Whitley Bay that I remember, is that one pub I visited, when I gave the landlord a shilling for a pint, he always gave me change for two shillings and wouldn’t change his mind. It was then back to Harrogate.

Wonder if you are as bored as I was.
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Old 22nd Feb 2009, 17:03
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Going for a Burton and on with the story

I think that, unwittingly, a telephone conversation with Andy may have revealed a very possible start to the "Gone for a Burton" story.
I recalled the story of Burtons , the Tailors. They had and may still have, a large store in Blackpool. It was in the prime position of the corner of North Promenade and Church St. (at that time the main shopping street in Blackpool.) It had a huge window which went around the natural curve on the corner of the two streets. To you technically minded you will have grasped that this formed the wide entrance to a natural venturi tube. The natural conclusion was that every time there was a gale , depending on the severity of the wind force, Burton's window blew in. As they were directly on the promenade facing west there were lots of these gales and even storms so the expression " Burton's window has gone again" was probably changed, over the years to "The window's gone for a Burton again ". That's my theory anyway.
We left the "saga" on Jan 28th.1944 when , after my trip to Berlin I was told by the C.O. "Wilky" that my ops were finished and I was given leave to go to St.Helens to see my Wife and newborn baby son , Peter. I had to return to Snaith although the whole of my Flight, C Flight were going to be transferred to nearby Burn to form the nucleus of a new Squadron, 578. On returning to Snaith, Wilky asked me to stay on at the station for a while and gave me the task of flying with several new crews who were arriving to replace the "C" Flight crews who were going to Burn in February. This I did for a week or so and then was asked, again by Wilky to do an Instructor's course to gain an Instructor's certificate and was posted to a charming little Instructors training school at Lulsgate Bottom, near Bristol. One May morning I opened one of the Mess newspapers and saw that I had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for "conduct during a long and arduous Operational tour". Due to failing health the King had been forced to give up the practice of investing Honours personally so my DFC came through the letter box many months later and the enclosed letter from the King still bears Peter's teethmarks where he tried to eat it when he got hold of it one day.
After a pleasant renewal of acquaintance with the good old Oxford, I received the requisite Instructor's rating and was posted back to 4 Group to 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit at Marston Moor. There I was entrusted with the task of converting "sprog" pilots to the beaten up ,barely airworthy old Halifaxes that were all that Bomber Command could spare for the crews about to be sent to the Squadrons, reeling from the dreadful losses that they were taking. Here I renewed acquaintance with one of the great characters of the RAF. Arthur Caygill was a fellow member of 51 Sqdn. and also a Blackpool Grammar Schoolmate. He was always known as "The Baron" and had finished his tour before I had finished mine. He was notorious for a series of school escapades but his best one and, also his last, was during the Master's temporary absence, Arthur looked out of the classroom window and saw a busload of girls from our Sister school awaiting their driver. He climbed out of the window and took them on a tour around Stanley Park. They probably had a better time than if their proper driver had been there. Trouble was it was the first time that he had ever driven in his life. Whilst at Snaith he had an old Austin seven and on the last trip of his tour, Arthur well and truly beat up the airfield. His Aircraft was seen to ,literally, jump fifty feet higher as he went over the Control Tower when he saw his Austin Seven perched there on the balcony where his Ground Crew had manhandled it with some valuable help from the Engineers' crane.
We were both made Flight Commanders of different Flights at Marston Moor and, as such, were given motor bikes for our personal transport. So Arthur organised a series of moto-cross races around the airfield with the finishing lap up the steps of the Officer's Mess around the ante room, finishing at the bar.
I had, by now, purchased my own very first car. It was a BSA three wheeler that I bought from one of the "erks" on the maintenance flight. It cost me £5 which was a fair amount those days. It was an open topped car that had seen better days but it was put in better shape by our good lads from maintenance who even "won" the perspex nose from a condemned Halifax and attached it to the car so that I had a convertible saloon when I pulled the perspex over me. To my everlasting regret, I never got a photograph of it. Trouble was the exhaust was none existent and when I drove over the Penines to see my new family in a nice little house that Dora's Grandmother (Called "Frosty" but never to her face !) owned, I pulled up outside and all the neighbours came running out to see what they thought sounded like a tank regiment arriving. I persuaded her to come for a ride and she did so but stuffed cotton wool in Peter's little ears. We proudly set off but it soon broke down and we all had to get the tram back. Once ,later, when the car was running comparatively well we went for a run taking Nell, our little dog. The perspex top had "gone for a Burton" by now, so we attached Nell within the car by fixing her lead to one of the hood supports. We had just set off from some traffic lights when we were stopped by shouts and waving of arms from pedestrians. Nell had jumped out of the car and was running like mad on her lead still attached to the car. Luckily she had not come to any harm. Probably because the old BSA could not go fast enough.
One day the Baron suggested that we should go and visit the nearby Tadcaster Brewery of Sam Smith and Sons. Petrol was very strictly rationed of course, but the problem was solved by the Baron who produced about three litres of M.T. Petrol (MT was the Motor Tranport section of the RAF). This petrol was always brightly coloured red so that it could easily be identified. The Directors of Samuel Smith warmly welcomed the two Officers of the RAF although their transport got some funny looks. They would not hear of us sampling the light ale for which the brewery was famous. No, the Director's Cabinet was ceremoniously opened and out came the single malt whisky. It was two rather fragile figures that staggered to the waiting BSA a few hours later. We managed to get it started....there was no self starter so it always had to be cranked.. and wound our way through country lanes in the general direction of Marston Moor. Then the engine began sputtering and I realised that we were running out of petrol. The Baron, as always, had a solution. Under the bonnet, the petrol tank was just in front of the dashboard and gravity fed the carburettor. There was no pump.. So by opening the bonnet then lying along the windscreen with his legs on the offside, the Baron could get his mouth over the tank filler opening and, by blowing hard, put enough pressure in the tank to feed the last remaining drops to the engine. It worked and we were weaving our way along when we heard the sound of a bell, a gong to be precise. All Police Cars "Gonged" you those days. A disbelieving policeman pulled his Wolseley in front of us and nearly collapsed laughing when the Baron, with all the dignity of a Country squire got off the bonnet and said "Is there something wrong, Officer ?". His dignity was somewhat marred by the circle of red around his mouth from the M.T.petrol . The nearly hysterical policeman went to his car, got out a can of petrol, poured it in to our tank, then said " Now, B....r off and for God's sake don't tell anyone you've seen me"
That's it for now but just for your interest there was a tune that was very popular around the thirties.. here's the chorus . No prizes if anyone can remember the verses. Think Harry Roy or Billy Cotton.
"I'm Gertie, the girl with a gong
and I saw your car speed along.
If you go over thirty,
then Gertie gets shirty
And tinkles a tune on her gong. Cheers, Reg

Last edited by regle; 27th Feb 2009 at 15:53. Reason: spelling
 
Old 25th Feb 2009, 18:03
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On with a little bit more...

England in 1943 was a veritable Island Aircraft Carrier. I always maintained that at an altitude of 5,000 feet, anywhere from Newcastle, down to Dover in a straight line , you could cut all your engines and make a dead stick landing on an aerodrome. I never tried it in case I was told to go round again as another aircraft was on the approach.
There was a very good RAF magazine , issued by Training Command , called TEE EMM (Training Manual.) It carried a monthly award of "The Most HIghly Derogatory Order of the Irremoveable Digit". It was awarded , each month, for the worst "Black". I should have been the recipient one month. 4 Group, to which I belonged, had three Heavy Conversion Units, Riccall, Rufforth and Marston Moor all quite close to each other. Our job as Instructors was to take the crews as they came to us, probably with a certain amount of time on aircraft such as Oxfords and convert them, as crews, on to Halifaxes prior to their postings to Operational Squadrons within the group. We had also to try and make sure that they were beginning to interact as crews as it was very unlikely that they had ever flown together before. After some satisfactory circuits and bumps had been performed they had to be checked for night flying. The procedure was that the Instructor went up and watched the Captain perform one or two satisfactory landings and then get out and let him do three or four landings on his own and with his crew for the first time. I watched, with approval, one night, as my pupil took off and landed perfectly for two landings. "O.K." I said "Taxi to the Control Tower, I'll get out and you can do do four more by yourself". When I got in the Control Tower I didn't recognise any of the personnel. We had taken off from Marston Moor and landed at Rufforth. Not only that but my pupil had taken off again and landed at Marston Moor. The Control Officer told me that it was happening all the time. When I telephoned Marston Moor and asked for transport I was told by the O.C. Flying to "Bloody well walk back !
The Station Commander of an R.A.F Station, usually with the rank of Group Captain, always had a Tiger Moth at his disposal for "communicating " with other Stations in the Group. The "Tee Emm" award was given, one month, to Group Captain X (They never gave names, happily ) for landing his Tiger Moth at an airfield and studiously avoiding all conversation until he had the chance to see D.R.O's (Daily Routine Orders) on the Mess notice board to find out where he was. The next month "Tee Emm" acknowledged receipt from four Group Captains asking them how the hell they had found out. That's my lot for now. I hope that you have'nt heard all the somewhat aged stories. Trouble is I am only able to remember the older things and can't remember all that I did yesterday. Anyway some of the things are so old most of you won't have known of them. As I said to Orville "You'll never get this thing off the ground ". Reg

Last edited by regle; 25th Feb 2009 at 21:22.
 
Old 27th Feb 2009, 16:00
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being bored

Cliff, I am never bored reading your so interesting "war". It is really interesting as I am pretty certain that everyone who served at that time has a completely different and just as interesting tale to tell It is a bit like the different stories told by several witnesses to a car accident. Your Belgian friend is so typical of the many Belgian pilots that I met and I bet that he would have a very different story of his war.
Seems very quiet on the Forum at the present...must be the recession that we are told so often we are in, Reg.
 
Old 27th Feb 2009, 17:07
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Gentlemen - Apologies for the interjection - I just wanted to say that my late father used the phrase "gone for a Burton". It was common parlance among his pals in their Royal Artillery unit, the 158 (Jungle) Regiment, in India and Burma during the war. Not just an RAF saying!

It's a privilege to read all your recollections. Long may they last. Thank you for them!
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Old 28th Feb 2009, 09:11
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This is easily one of the best threads ever on Pprune. There is no shortage of accounts as to what happened at the sharp end of WW2 air operations. I was weaned on 'Reach for the Sky, the 'Dambusters' and the 'Battle of Britian'. However, this individual detailed account of one man's journey through the training machine is really insightful. The story behind the story is a good one! I really like all the passing anecdotes that complete the picture of what life was like at the time and look forward to the next episode please!

More please Cliff!
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Old 28th Feb 2009, 10:45
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Thanks To Wig Wag

Thank you Wig Wag. Just working on the next one, but fingers a bit tired.
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Old 28th Feb 2009, 10:59
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Well, don’t I feel like a smug and very clever dick for suggesting Cliff start this thread? Cliff and others who were there and walked the walk, keep the tales coming please. I wish I’d been as accurate in predicting the current economic crisis as I was in saying this would surely be a successful thread.
Cliff, can I suggest you re-post your original post as a new thread with an appropriate title? Maybe 'GAINING AN RAF PILOT'S BREVET IN 194X'?
I think a lot of people here will be interested to read your recollections. I know I will.
http://www.pprune.org/military-aircr...s-wings-8.html (post #160)
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Old 28th Feb 2009, 15:46
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Battlestead Hill

With regard to executing a dead stick landing on any aerodrome from Newcastle to Dover, I remember thinking on a 1000 bomber raid, when crossing the coast it was almost possible to jump from wing tip to wing tip from Newcastle to the Wash, at least. With Halifaxs to the North of the Humber and Lancs to the South.

Another petrol story. When Francois and I used petrol drained from the Tiger Moth tanks. We had a lot of trouble, due to water in our motor bike carburettors. We eventually asked the flight mechs if they had any answers to the problem. It turned out that the drain tap on the bottom of the tank was solely for the purpose of draining off condensate each night , after which they filled the tank,. this then stopped any further condensation. After this we drained the water off first.

REGLE. Tee Em training magazine , and ‘The most highly derogatory order of the irremovable finger’. Think the offending airman was always given the name P/O Prune.

Burton’s venturi. I think Bernoulli of Bernoulli’s theorem fame, would have something to say about this, L.O.L.

After another month or so at Harrogate, I was posted to R.A.F Burnaston S.W of Derby. A few days elapsed and we were then ‘trucked to Battlestead Hill,16 E.F.T.S , Burton on Trent where we were again to ‘keep our hand in’ on Tiger Moths. On the way one, of our fellow travellers, told us the local draught Bass beer was twice as strong as anywhere else, and that it would be best to drink half pints, until we got used to it. Unfortunately nearly everyone ignored this advice (see later) . The camp composed of Nissen huts and outside ablutions, with a grass airfield but, was a very happy place. Most of the staff had done their thirty opps ranging from F/Sgts to F/Ls who I suspect, felt sorry for us sprogs, who still had to carry on where they had finished. The Sgts mess was the best we had ever experienced in the U.K, with white table cloths , and a bottle of H.P sauce on each table. A sauce I hadn’t seen for years. The food was even acceptable Another perk was that we were allowed to work in the brewery in our spare time , we earned a few ‘bob’ , and were allowed a certain amount of beer.

On our first Saturday night out, unfortunately some of our colleagues didn’t take the advice about drinking half pints. One of them decided to see if he could walk out with the ’Smoke room’ carpet. The operation was successful , and it set off a chain of events. Visiting other pubs, other comedians followed suit. I remember one of them struggling with a large wall mirror bearing the words, Inde Coup and Alsop’s Ales. They all finished up at the local town hall dance and stacked the loot in the foyer much to the surprise of the staff , who said nothing. Think they were used to it. Finally, as the items were picked up by the airman , one of them took a xmas tree, and they were then taken back to Battlestead Hill. ( Xmas tree ? We must now be in December 44) The following morning there were phone calls from various publicans. A parade was held, and the Adjutant said , that if all the items were taken to the guard room and loaded into a Q.L Bedford he and two Airmen , who new where each item came from , would return them to their rightful owners. Evidently at each pub, they were rewarded with a pint of strong bitter, and returned , including the Adjutant ‘somewhat the worse for wear’.

As for flying, we practised the usual, low flying, circuits and bumps etc, but some of us had more experience on the Tiger Moths then the instructors. We also ferried instructors to an airfield near their homes at weekend, a jolly bunch of flack happy vets.. It was at Burton on Trent we first came across , white nights, and black nights. The American blacks and whites had problems when both were in town together, so had separate nights. Even the ‘Snowdrops’ ( S.Ps, service police with helmets painted white ) were white on a white night etc. All in all a very enjoyable month but a waste of time?. With another forty five hours on Tiger Moths.

And what next? You’ve guessed it . HARROGATE.

P.S Why does a pilot always sit on the left or port side of an aircraft. Is it because most of us are right handed ?
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Old 1st Mar 2009, 10:30
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Reply To 7 X 7

Yes 7 X 7 it was an excellent idea of yours to change from Fg office Wales to 'Gaining an R.A.F pilots brevet in W.W 2 especially as I might have finished up in The Tower. So many thanks.

But please don't use horrible words like 'current economic crisis ' , we are very sensitive on this thread.
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Old 1st Mar 2009, 10:39
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Cliff, I am already in the Tower for suggesting William is not qualified to wear RAF wings!

Last edited by brakedwell; 1st Mar 2009 at 18:05.
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Old 1st Mar 2009, 10:47
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PeeTee (magazine named after the Boeing Steerman PT17)

I was just copying this illustrious publication (PeeTee the magazine for cadets at Albany) for another cadet I met on this course when I came across this (with apologies to Reg):-


Sorry about the quality. Bit I guess we better call Reg "Don" from now on?

Reg what were the wings on your right shoulder, as this was just after primary training so you would have not got your wings yet?

Cliff Did you have a similar publication at Pocono?

Last edited by andyl999; 1st Mar 2009 at 13:50. Reason: corect course
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Old 1st Mar 2009, 12:02
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"Reg what were the wings on your right shoulder, as this was just after basic training so you would have not got your wings yet?"

Not wings - this was covered way back. This shoulder badge is still worn by all below Warrant Officer rank, really an eagle, but universally known (with due reverence) as the sh*tehawk. Below that, the 2-bladed propellor is the rank badge for LAC (Leading Aircraftsman), also still in use.
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Old 1st Mar 2009, 12:15
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It's that man again

Thanks Andy. Who needs enemies with friends like you ! Remember that old adage about people living in Glasshouses ? I am looking for some big stones and when I find the biggest... Beware ! "Those wings" are the Albatross (or Eagle ?) and a propellor which indicates that I held the noble rank of L.A.C. Leading Aircraftsman in the R.A.F. I am puzzled as to where the uniform shirt or jacket came from as we were not yet in the war when those photographs were taken and I notice that there are several to be seen. It's a "puzzlement". As far as I can remember we did not have any RAF apparel to wear at that time . (August 1941).
CLIFF, thanks for the correction. I apologise . I dont know my Benouilli from my Venturi. I told you that I was hopeless in the Sciences. At least you don't live in a Glasshouse like some people that profess to be my friends. Come to think of it, didn't the word "Glassshouse" denote something rather sinister when we were serving ? Look it up in "Wiki" my supposed friend , Andy, because that Word, "Glasshouse", is where you should be!

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Old 1st Mar 2009, 12:30
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regle, did the helmet and goggles replace the cheesecutter?
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