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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 16th May 2014, 08:14
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Do you know if "Wolverhampton" was Pendeford or Halfpenny Green?

[I should know - they're only just down the road! ]

Edited to add:


Thanks for the offer below, but Google - as ever - is your friend. It seems it was Pendeford, which is now an estate....

Halfpenny Green of course still functions. (and from your details, we probably know each other ........)

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Old 16th May 2014, 09:58
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I will ask him and post his reply.

As a comparison I did 158hrs (all day) in the Chipmunk over 4 years at University. This included about 60hrs solo as once you had reached PFB standard you tended to be given an aircraft and told to enjoy yourself doing an hours GH etc. At Cranwell I flew 160hrs on the JP5A.

It seems that flying hours on basic and advanced trainers haven't changed much over the years.

I then went to Ternhill to learn the magic art of flying helicopters doing 94hrs on the Whirlwind. Then followed 38hrs on the Wessex 2 before arriving on my 1st squadron in Germany the start of 34yrs of productive helicopter flying

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Old 16th May 2014, 13:52
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Night flying in the Stearman sounds rather frightening, but I suppose it was no worse than in the BT-13 which we started on in Basic School.

"I suppose that it obviated a slanging match in the air !" We had to throttle back so as to have our slanging match - and a set of (Instr) hand signals all of which I've forgotten (except when he patted himself on the head, it meant "I have Control"). Voice Tubes ? You had it good, mate !

There is a lot of talk about fearsome rattlesnakes in the cockpit, but I never saw a snake there (nor in three years plus in India and Burma - except the toothless ones in the snake-charmer's basket in the bazaar). I suppose they kept out of our way....D.

Ormeside28, 26er, Hummingfrog,

We seem to have the Total Hours figure for the later BFTS pretty firm now (200hrs) which would bring them into line with the Arnold figure. It seems that it was done by getting rid of the BT-13 (no loss !) and piling its time onto the AT6 (Harvard). It made sense...D.


If time hangs heavy on your hands, Google-up:

Purdue State University e-books. 9-15-2000 RAF Wings Over Florida: Memories of World WarII British Air Cadet Willard Largent.

Free Download. No end of good stuff. "Compare and Contrast", as they say, with my tales of Carlstrom (ca Page 117)...D.

Cheers, Danny.

EDIT: Hummingfrog, (your #5629), could you please ask your Dad if he remembers how many started on his Course, and how many "washouts" there were ?....D.

Last edited by Danny42C; 16th May 2014 at 19:36. Reason: Add Text,
Old 16th May 2014, 20:54
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Gaining An R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WW11

On 18 Course at Terrell we lost 20 R.A.F. Cadets (one killed) out of 80 starting and 4 American Cadets (one killed) out of 20 so the percentages were the same.
We were allowed off base on Wednesday evenings (if not flying ) until 9p.m. On Saturdays out until 9 p.m. but if not flying on Sunday then out overnight until 9 p.m. on Sunday. To get to the "main drag" it was necessary to pass through the suburb of Terrell on the "wrong side of the track" but there was never any trouble.
Pay for we cadets (LAC's) was 7/3, seven shillings and sixpence, per day.
Paid every two week it worked out at $25
At the end of Primary we were given a weeks leave. A friend and I decided to go to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Terrell was on Highway 80 which went through to Los Angeles. It was easy to hitch hike and good to meet the Texans who were kind and hospitable . One "hitch" was with an American Staff Sergeant Air Gunner who insisted on taking us to his base at Monahans - still on Highway 80. It was a B17 Fortress O.T.U. He introduced us to his Colonel (Only time I saluted without a hat. The Colonel arranged for us to sleep and eat in the Bachelor Officer Quarters - on the American Air Force - and to be shown around the base. I was allowed to sit in an Aerocobra, and to be shown over a Fortress and run up the engines! a great thrill.
On then to Pecos where we met the Sherriff who showed us his museum. Pecos had been the Wild West and his museum of villains and their weapons was fascinating. A side road took us to Carlsbad where we stayed and next day took an excursion to the Cavern. It was discovered early in the century by a cowboy who saw smoke, investigated, and found that the smoke was bats. The Caves were then explored and quite developed. When we were there there were miles still to be explored.
Hitch back to Terrell and the mighty AT6. I am away now for a week. Thank you.
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Old 16th May 2014, 22:37
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No, thank you Ormeside! That's just the job, and in giving us such interesting detail of life at, and away from, Terrell you enable a better grasp of your life then which sounds quite enviable!

Yet again you illustrate the kindness of strangers, and in particular American ones. I think that this is an experience that unites all generations of the RAF when they have encountered our cousins' hospitality. It certainly chimes with mine, as a Flt Cdt visiting their Military Colleges and major cities, and as an MRT pilot in the Far East. Whether at Colorado, New York, Tachikawa, Clark Field or Hickam, they only had to hear the accent and you were spoilt to a 'T', or a San Mig, or tickets to a ball game, or half a hundred other treats. Return matches were invariably along the lines of Formal Dinners and death defyng (in their eyes) trips along ridiculously narrow and winding country roads on a pub crawl, but of course I now thoroughly decry such irresponsible behavior!

This is more important than policy, or agreements, or understandings, because it is about the true feelings of a people, rather than the official and artificial posturings of governments. Never mind if you were in civvies or RAF uniform, or even US issue kit, you received that impromptu hospitality because you were British, young, and a long way from home. It cannot be overstated in its importance, because that is the true 'special relationship' that we have with this warm hearted and generous nation.
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Old 17th May 2014, 03:45
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Supplementary Questions.


(Your #5587)

"....Rattling over the prairie in the last car's open rear vestibule I watched the rails undulate into the distance...." Was it true that the rails were still just "spiked", as they had originally been laid, and not in "chairs" like ours ?

"....were issued did not fill me with confidence; in fact I only recall two, a bonnet-like cap with side flaps for ear and facial protection..." Did the RCAF officers then have those wonderful white-fur "Dr.Zhivago" jobs (with the badge on front) ?

"....we became accustomed to life lived in a perpetual frowst...." Quite right, too. Fug never killed any one yet, but people have been known to freeze to death !

"....to operate through a Canadian winter....". I believe they just rolled the snow flat , stuck in a few fir tops to mark the sides, and scattered ashes on top for some grip. True ?

"....our initial difficulties were compounded by the crude, pneumatically-operated braking system obviously designed by someone who had never flown in his life...." Be that as it may, we all had to learn to love 'em. In fact, I rather preferred them to toe brakes. What do other people think ?....D.


(Your #5588)

"....So 'S' stood for Service? Thanks for that, I was trying to work out S words that meant Advanced. Turns out they didn't. Curious nomenclature, as though EFTS's were not Service, but no doubt they reflected the format in use then. Were there none in the UK? Were they all overseas, with OTUs ready to take the strain back here?...."

AFAIK, "Service Flying Training Schools" went far back, at least to the beginning of the war. I think that the idea was that there you'd be trained on the aircraft on which you'd begin your productive "service". IIRC, the student did 60 hrs each on E(lementary)FTS and S(ervice) FTS in the UK up to Wings standard (C.R.P.Graves: "The Thin Blue Line").

They long predated the Empire Flying Training Schools; when these started up, they simply carried on the old UK syllabus in Canada or wherever, likewise the BFTS in the US. From all of these (plus the "Arnold" contingents) the P/Os and Sgt/Pilots returned (after a month's "UK Familiarisation" at AFS) to their Operational Training Units back home, and at last on to their Squadrons....D.

Cheers, both. Danny.
Old 17th May 2014, 08:13
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Paddy Lamb 110 Squadron

We are the family of the late Paddy Lamb who was a pilot in 110 Squadron during WW2. We would love to hear of any memories anyone may have of him and have some photos and his diaries which we would be happy to share, if that is appropriate. Many thanks
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Old 17th May 2014, 08:33
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Hours and Acronyms

Danny et al:

I now have my father's Pilot's Flying Log Sheet (Substitute for Form 414) from No. 3 E(lementary)FTS Shellingford Berkshire which shows that he did 12.20 total time before being dispatched to 5 BFTS by the now well-known Heaton Park - Moncton route.
His instructor was a F/O Meretinsky, the DH.82A was T6564 (this a/c now in NZ I hear) and he soloed (.10) at 8.55 TT on the 21st of June 1942.
That sheet is all I have of his time in training, because his first log book was lost on the "Passage to India". The log book that I do have is a canvas-covered "Air Forces in India" Pilot's Flying Log Book which starts with 317.45 hours carried forward. So, 12 hours approx for 3 EFTS, 200 hours approx for 5 BFTS as we have established from others on this thread. Which would mean that (from his record of service in the back of the log book) he would have done another 100 hours approx at 6(P) A.F.U. Little Rissington on Oxfords to have the 317.45 hours that the Air Force (India) Form 414 commences with. Does that seem about right for A.F.U. time everybody?

Danny, I am delighted to see that you too are enjoying Will Largent's book!

Ian BB
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Old 18th May 2014, 20:50
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As far as he can remember "Wolverhampton" was Halfpenny Green.


He recalls that nearly 50% of his course (12) at Terrell were chopped or killed (6?).

He also thinks that his course was the last to have some Americans on it.

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Old 19th May 2014, 22:14
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...And Talk of Many Schemes.....


(Your #5644),

"....Pay for we cadets (LAC's) was 7/3, seven shillings and sixpence (sic), per day...."

It sounds remarkably generous! When I went out at the beginning of 9/41, I'm positive I only got 5/6 as a LAC. Although you were much later behind me, I can't recall much of a rise of pay rates during (or indeed after the war). Was there perhaps some sort of Overseas Allowance for the US introduced later ? Your $ exchange rate ($4.06/£) is only a hairsbreadth away from the fixed official rate ($4.08/£) at the time. The RAF missed a trick there (at a time when dollars were very scarce) !

Reading your account of your exploration of the Southern states (and those of many other former BFTS cadets on this Thread, and in Will Largent's book), it seems as if you had a social life far superior to our spartan "Arnold" existence. Our situation at Carlstrom Field was as I described it in my early Posts of the place: "We were effectively confined to camp the whole time, as there was nowhere to go and no transport to get us there anyway". (One of Largent's many contributors says that the Greyhound buses had a service W.Palm Beach-Arcadia-Sarasota, with a stop at Carlstrom, but it was certainly not running when we were there). And we did not have all that much spare time. I flew on 19 consecutive days after I arrived, so "weekends" had gone out of the window.

A few minutes 'tot' in my Log shows that I flew 207 hours in 180 days there. Of these I flew on 136 days; 21 days were spent in travel and settling-in on first arrival and after the two changes of School during the Course; there were 11 days when we were "grounded" for hurricanes and other bad weather. That leaves 12 days unaccounted for, or 2 days a month. They worked us hard !

As I've reported, at Carlstrom our Instructor took us out to his home in Sarasota one day, and a bunch of six of us hired a car and went across to West Palm Beach on a '48' one weekend, but that was all I can remember in the way of free time.

Another drawback of the Arnold system was that, although I kept my one (civilian) Instructor for the whole of Primary (plus two "check" riders at 20hr and 40hr), at Basic I had four different Lieutenants, and at Advanced six of them (plus one RAF [a P/O MacMillan - he must have been one of the very first of the 556 "creamed off" from the Arnold Scheme]. So why didn't he go to a BFTS, which would be the natural place for him ?.... Don't know)....D.

In response to a PM enquiry, my authority for the early UK "120 hr-to-Wings" is the Graves "Thin Blue Line", and I believe that was what was adopted in the beginning of the BFTS and "Empire" schemes. As I've mentioned before, there seems to have been an early decision to extend the BFTS to 200 hrs (like the "Arnold"); in the later Courses they put that into effect, but exactly when I don't know. At the same time, the RCAF ("Empire" scheme - my #5594) were holding on to 140 hrs !

Ian BB,

Your Dad's 100 hours in UK between the States and India would (at a guess) have been 25 hrs AFU and 75 hrs OTU, or very near it....D.

This has got a bit long. Cheers, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 19th May 2014 at 22:29. Reason: Spacing and Extra Text.
Old 20th May 2014, 06:12
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Danny, the devil as ever is in the detail, and we are always indebted to you for your attention to it. It is the 'reverse engineering' that you apply to the apparent policy changes of hours allocation in your above post for example that gives us a glimpse of the higher direction of this massive training programme that fed the allied war machine.

Thank you for your explanation of the SFTS, something that predated the programme it would seem. Attention now moves towards our trainees home-coming, for it seems there is a further flying training course to attend, AFS. Why was this done in the crowded and dangerous skies of wartime UK? Was that part of the 'advanced' experience deemed necessary, or was it merely familiarisation with European rather than Continental US (or wherever) climate and weather? Of course, if one's ultimate posting was to the ME or FE such experience might be seen as somewhat superfluous, but that is being a bit too pedantic I suspect.

Operational training at the OTUs (and heavy conversion units, if required) obviously then tuned one into the final type and role one was destined for, but the many different schools/ units that spanned the journey from Tiger Moth to Stirling (say) made for a surprisingly long and varied learning experience up to that first (and sadly far too often last) operational sortie.
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Old 20th May 2014, 13:50
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Danny 42c

I can confirm that when I completed ITW in 1944 that my pay increased from 3 shillings per day to 7/6 per day although we were not given the rank of LAC.
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Old 20th May 2014, 21:30
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Home, Sweet Home.


In June'42 I did 18.40 by day and 2.20 by night in a Master at AFU. The idea was to familiarise us with the crowded countryside of the UK (far different from the miles of empty space in the S-Eastern States); UK weather; airfield procedures and lighting; British standard aircraft panels and brakes; and our very dark nights (no "light-lines" now). As the cherry on the cake, they let us have 2.30 each in one of two decrepit old Hurricanes, with dire warnings about what would happen to us if we broke them.

Then I went up to Hawarden (57 OTU), and had 75 hours on the Spitfire. Then they sent me out to India, and I never flew a Spitfire again for seven years. C'ést la vie....D.


The Air Ministry must have had a sudden burst of generosity in '44 (uncharacteristically directed to the lower orders - your 3/- as an AC was better than my 2/- !) I got 13/6 as a Sgt. in March'42, and was certainly getting no more when I was "elevated to the peerage" in November'43.

Then I went over to the Indian Govt. Pay Scale (Rs500 pm = £35/14/2 pm then). This was 23/5 pd (at a time when I think an A/P/O at home got only 11/10 pd to start - 23/5 would almost be F/Lt money ). Even when I came back in '49, I only got 19/10 as a F/O. There's no justice ! ...D.

Regards, both. Danny.
Old 20th May 2014, 23:07
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Rates of Pay

The 2/- basic rate was increased to 3/- in June 1943.

In addition, the progression for aircrew during training from AC2 to LAC was changed to a progression from AC2(a) to AC2(c), although only PNB could reach AC2(c).

Various other changes were also introduced at that time.


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Old 20th May 2014, 23:17
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Dad's arrival back in the UK.

POST TERRELL - 1943 - 1946 Back in UK.

Arriving back in the UK at the docks in Liverpool we moved by train to Harrogate in Yorkshire from where we were all dispersed in different directions depending on our future in the RAF.

In my case I started on the route to train as a fighter pilot. I spent a period of time in Perth, Scotland, on a familiarisation course for a few hours flying in the UK. I flew the Tiger Moth again for about 30 hours in June 1943 this was to prepare us for the different - ie worse weather conditions in Europe. Then on to much more powerful stuff even than the Harvard - the Miles Master 2 at Peterborough (50hrs day & 15hrs night) - the prelude to flying in a Spitfire, Hurricane or Mustang. This course lasted until the end of the first week in September prior to a posting to an AFU (Advanced Flying Unit) or O.T.U. (Operational Training Unit) on fighters.

At this point, September l943 at the very moment I might have got my hands on a ‘Spit’ or ‘Hurri’ my life again changed completely. During my leave I received a telegram from ‘those on high’ informing me that my posting was cancelled and I was to be reposted to No.2 FIS (Flying Instructors School) based at Montrose, Scotland. It was a little time before this news sank in. I could not believe this change in direction but my attempts to have this reversed met, as you would expect, with a ‘Do as you are told’ attitude! No longer were you master of your own fate. With hindsight this posting probably ensured that the odds of my surviving the war had lengthened considerably.

More bad news followed. When I reported for duty at 2FIS I was informed that my course would not be on the Harvard Flight for potential flying instructors but the Oxford, a twin-engined aeroplane. I had of course no experience of flying a twin. So there I was, up in Scotland, being trained to do something I did not want to do and surrounded by a group of colleagues who had already flown twins! I now had to do 2 things: learn to fly a twin and learn to teach a pupil to fly a twin both at the same time! But I have to say it added a little sugar to the spice and I quickly settled down to do both. They were interesting times.

Scotland is famous not only for its whisky but also for its salmon fishing. One day one of the CFI’s (Chief Flying Instructor) decided I was due for a check ride. After my check ride in Terrell with Ed Smith I was not at all concerned. Although I say so myself, I had adapted well to flying a twin-engined Oxford and, although I missed the aerobatics of the Harvard, the aircraft produced its own challenges. Off we went. Everything went well and towards the end of the check ride Smithy (S/L Smith) took the controls and we did a ‘little low flying’ over the nearby rivers. Smithy was a very keen fisherman and was looking for the best parts of the river to cast his fishing rod! Fresh almon at mess dinners provided by the ‘boss’ in wartime rationed Britain went down well - and who was I to complain about a bit of illicit low flying? I think we all did it at times, sometimes, though, with fatal results.

So came the day in mid-December 1943 I qualified as a Flying Instructor and was let loose on a group of young ‘wannabe’ pilots to teach them how to fly a twin-engined aeroplane at an airfield in Gloucestershire - 3(P)AFU at Southrop near Fairford.

I see that the RAF hadn't really changed when I went through training. I was the only one on my course who wanted to fly helicopters and I knew that there were 2 slots available at Ternhill - a shoe in I thought.

Just before the end of the course I met 2 of my course mates looking a little downcast - "what's up?" I asked - "we have been posted to helicopters" they said - "WHAT" I said and made off towards the Flt Cdr's office to ask why I wasn't selected as a volunteer. ( We graduates had no "fear" of the RAF system of do as you were told)

My Flt Cdr was a good egg and explained that I was provisionally selected for the Buccaneer which surprised me as I thought it was too early to tell what type one would be suitable for. I protested that a volunteer was better than pressed men and I had always shown an interest in helicopters despite ribbing from both staff and studes.

To cut a long story short I did end up on helicopters and my 2 course mates went on to Valley - one was chopped and the other became a Jaguar QFI so he and I got what we wanted So like Dad my training was going to take a route I didn't want but luckily the RAF let me change course - unlike Dad!!

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Old 21st May 2014, 09:24
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hummingrog, I've just got all my little ducks in a row, EFTS, SFTS, AFU, OTU, and obligingly you have provided an interesting example of the penultimate species. Interesting because though Southrop was just the other side of the A417 Fairford-Lechlade Road, I had never heard of it despite having once been stationed at RAF Fairford, and interesting because you say it was 3(P) AFU. The (P) I presume meant pilot, begging the question of what other types of AFU there might be...

Encouraged by Danny's ever helpful post, and intrigued by yours I turned up this:-

Flying Training Schools_P

So it seems that the original UK FTS's became SFTS's wef 3Sep1939 and then redesignated AFU's (P) in 1942, before completing the cycle post war of SFTS and then back to FTS. So your father's modest pied-a-terre at Southrop was one of many 3FTS locations in its various incarnations, starting in 1920 at Scopwick (Digby), then later Spitalgate, South Cerney, Stormy Down, Bibury, Long Newton, Wanborough, Feltwell, Leeming (JPs), Manby, and Cranwell (Tutor). A long and distinguished history of pilot training, and almost as old as the RAF itself. Achieve would seem to be a fitting and inspiring motto!
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Old 21st May 2014, 10:59
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Chugalug, the other AFU's were (O)AFU (observer). Despite the name they were for Navigators and Bomb Aimers. My grandfather trained at 10 (O)AFU at Dumfries in 1943.
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Old 21st May 2014, 12:03
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Thanks Hempy, another duck to join the row!

From my link, 10 FTS formed Dec 1935, presumably becoming 10 SFTS wef 3/9/39, but seemingly disbanded 1/11/40 and not reformed until 15/1/52! So not surprisingly the neat FTS/SFTS/AFU/SFTS/FTS cycle of 3FTS doesn't seem to apply to 10 (O)AFU. Given the paucity of detail for 10 FTS on my link though, I suspect that it might well be the same unit, and if so I love the 10 FTS motto for a Nav AFU; 'Anywhere Any Time'.

We know a song about that, don't we boys and girls?
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Old 21st May 2014, 14:35
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The chap whose log book I have a copy of qualified in 1941 as an 'Air Observer Armament' at No 5 B and G School Jurby. He had all of 100 hours exactly ! Of this 10.35 was on bombing and 7 hrs on gunnery practice. Then off to a Whitley OTU and then to a squadron. Total flight time 146 hours.
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Old 21st May 2014, 17:35
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Danny42C - re yrs of 17th:

To this day the rail spike remains the favoured US method of securing rail to tie (sleeper), though on the heaviest trafficked routes I believe the Pandrol clip is now preferred. Rail chairs as per past UK practice (also France) were never used.

Fur hats were worn by RAF as well as RCAF officers (causing much envy on our part!), although I don't recall any in white - they were black or brown, with the badge at front.

North American snow is usually quite different from ours, being soft and powdery, and was indeed normally rolled flat (if it did not blow away first, which on the open prairie it usually did).

Brakes: here I must beg to differ, always preferring toe brakes; a major advantage was that they left your hands free for other tasks, but the unreliability and general feebleness of the Brit system did nothing to endear itself to yours truly. It could also result in blistered fingers during prolonged use if the operating lever was stiff in action or of poor ergonomic shape (i.e. as per the York).

Part 2 of my SFTS story will follow soon.
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