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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 20th Jun 2014, 02:27
  #5821 (permalink)  
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A fewwords to add to recent Posts:


Yes, it's true that although we'd had years to work ourselves, as it were, into the war environment, the events of August'45 slung us out of it from one moment to the next. It was not surprising that everone was disoriented to some degree in consequence. Of course those serving overseas were naturally delighted to be going home (in most cases) much sooner than they'd expected....D.

Ian BB,

I'm sure that Sgt-Pilots like your Dad and I were at the bottom end of the pecking order when it came to air travel to India (what are troopships for if not for the likes of us?) But what interests me much more was what happened to him at Mauripur. What did "21 FC" stand for ? I think probably "Ferry Command" or "Ferry Centre" or "Ferry Control" or something like it, and for this reason.

The clue is the luxurious nature of his returns to Mauripur. To have the slightest chance of a ride in a BOAC Sunderland or Ensign, you would need at least one star, or to have a top priority Air Movement authority - and these were not handed out to the hoi polloi ! The sole exception (for obvious reasons) was the Ferry Pilot of any rank coming back to pick up his next delivery.

That was what your Dad was doing. He was a Ferry Pilot for the M.U.while he was there.

There were plenty of lakes and waterways in India which could take a Sunderland. At Cholaveram (Madras) we had them on Redhills Lake a few miles away, and most of the northern cities were on rivers....D.


RAF Hospital, Wroughton would have been another possibility - or would they consider that too far to travel ? And your: "Ormeside28 - Fascinating to read of your adventures as an RAF glider pilot on Varsity". had me puzzled at first, until I realised that it wasn't the aircraft, but an airborne operation, you had in mind. (Wouldn't that have been something, Ormeside, going to war in a Varsity "glider" [both feathered, I suppose] - and what would tow it ? The mind boggles !

Perhaps I should say that I was 5,000 miles away at the time and more concerned with my own spot of bother (and I would have been in dock getting patched up); it was only now that I've read Wiki's excellent blow-by-blow account of the largest airborne assault ever mounted that I took note of it (curiously, we'd heard all about Arnhem out there)....D.

Goodnight, everybody. Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Jun 2014 at 02:28. Reason: Spacing,
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Old 20th Jun 2014, 07:33
  #5822 (permalink)  
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Danny42C, herewith TMHDOOTIF:

Incidentally, many issues of Tee Emm may be read on-line here: RAF Training Memoranda 1940-50
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Old 20th Jun 2014, 12:20
  #5823 (permalink)  
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Some thanks are in order.

Again your erudition solves my miss-reading of the handwritten record cards, A means attached not admitted (in the medical sense):

"The (A) means that he was attached to the unit for a limited period, as opposed to being posted to that unit. One example of its usage would be if he was sent for a training course, but there are many others.

I also note that a detachment of 6 (P) AFU was based at Chedworth from 10th August 1943 to 18th October 1943 [Source: RAF Flying Training and Support Units by Ray Sturtivant] which suggests that he was "attached to Chedworth" from 15th September 1943 to 6th October 1943.

UPDATE: I have found an article which outlines the training at Little Rissington in 1943. It states "The other airfield that we worked from was Chedworth which had the runways and a lighting system for our 20 hours night flying"


This is an absolute gem of information for me, so it does seem that all Geoff's multi training (the whole four months) was with 6 (P) AFU starting 3/8/1943, A for "attached to Chedworth from 15/9/1943, then returning to 6 (P) AFU Little Rissington 6/10/1943 until reporting to 5 PDC on 4/12/1943 for dispatch to India. Perhaps there was an urgent need for pilots in India at that juncture and the crossing out of what (I think) says 1517 BAT Flight on the next line before 5 PDC means that it was planned, but cancelled, as there would be no 'Beams for him to approach" in India at that time!

Thanks for the link to the Flying Boat voyage - great account.

I take your point about travelling out by air not being a likely scenario for an NCO, but I am really curious as to how he came to log 43.20 pax hours by that stage of the game.

Thanks to all

Ian B-B

Last edited by Ian Burgess-Barber; 20th Jun 2014 at 15:07. Reason: Added date.
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Old 20th Jun 2014, 13:19
  #5824 (permalink)  
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Ian B-B

If you can provide the movement dates shown on his service record from 5PDC up to and including his first posting in India I may be able to provide a list of possible convoy(s) (although I think the Winston Specials had stopped by this time so it may not be easy, but I will give it a go).


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Old 20th Jun 2014, 13:53
  #5825 (permalink)  
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One thing that has always intrigued me is what the Glider Pilots were supposed to do after they had successfully put their charge down behind enemy lines? Were they 'infantry' trained, did they stay with the aircraft, did they follow any 'hq' element, or did they just e&e to friendly lines as best as possible?

It must have been strange having the job done before the rest of the job started, if you get my drift.
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Old 20th Jun 2014, 15:03
  #5826 (permalink)  
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Thanks for the offer, but I wouldn't bother if I were you, as I have no more details to give you - the green record card that I have has a central Heading "MUSTERING"

The "Unit To" column reads 5PDC The "Date of Movmnt" column 4/12/43
Next line reads, 21FC 15/1/44
Next, Admitted 1BGH Karachi 21/2/44

So no record of a departure port and no record of arrival at BRD Worli Bombay, although Geoff puts Worli in the record of service in the back of his log he did not record the date.

Ian B-B
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Old 20th Jun 2014, 15:08
  #5827 (permalink)  
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I once knew a glider pilot from WW2 and he was trained to fight as an infantryman until he was repatriated back to the UK to prepare for the next op.
He claimed that the US glider pilots were not so trained and so were of less use once they had arrived on the LZ.
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Old 20th Jun 2014, 18:07
  #5828 (permalink)  
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Flying boat travel, + AFU

Warmtoast, many thanks for pointing me towards that 1940 account of a journey in Caledonia, I shall enjoy reading it.

Danny42C & Ian BB - Neither myself nor my crew were remotely of VIP status when we did that Karachi- Calcutta trip in a C-boat, indeed we were 100% NCO. Why we were so privileged I don't know, but it certainly beat crossing India by train!

Below follows a description of my time at 21 AFU:

Following a further two weeks at Harrogate after return from pre-AFU near the end of June '44 came notification of posting to No.21 Advanced Flying Unit at Taten Hill, my only regret leaving behind many friends from Canadian days - never to meet again alas, as was the way of things at that time. A few miles north of Burton-on-Trent, my new unit was situated in pleasant Staffordshire countryside not all that far from Burnaston. Its location had one distinct plus, for by this stage of the war a considerable beer shortage had developed but with Burton being the centre of English brewing we were quite well placed. A further pleasure was meeting up once more with the Oxford, not the beaten-up old stagers remembered from transatlantic days, but relatively new specimens that performed and handled nicely although very little altered in detail. To my surprise radio was still conspicuous by its absence, although a few aircraft did in fact have the prehistoric TR9. It worked rarely, useful only for practising R/T procedures and quite unsuited for any form of ATC; so perforce, control by Aldis Lamp & Verey Pistol was yet again order of the day.

Aside from being refreshed with the niceties of twin-engined handling and proper instrument flying, there was really little new to learn except that UK navigation consisted of rather more than following an occasional railway line straggling into the distance. Radio beacons were non-existent, D/F (usually) required a wireless operator and new-fangled gadgets such as Gee were for bigger boys than us; ergo, map-reading assisted by drift sight and DR plus a spot of luck was order of the day. Being July/August there was little trouble with the dreaded UK weather despite 1944 being a somewhat indifferent summer, but with the English landscape so crowded with detail it was quite easy to get lost away from the familiar local area and especially so if visibility was below par. In those far-off, pre-motorway days the narrow winding roads were not easy to identify from the air, so one's map-reading progressed largely by reference to railways, rivers and large landmarks. Seventy-plus years on, it is difficult for those not around at that time to comprehend the extensive railway network that once interlaced the land; indeed in some areas the system was so complex and widespread that map reading became a confusing exercise in discrimination, the much-maligned Dr.Beeching thankfully unknown in the distant future.

Given reasonably clear weather, and with the black-out now a thing of the recent past, cross-country work was actually easier at night. A plethora of airfields lay everywhere, with nearly all having full "Drem" lighting systems plus a red beacon (Pundit) flashing the field ident in morse; said Drem system being a circle of upward-pointing lights round the 'drome that accorded with the "official" circuit, capable of being switched so that aircraft were "funnelled" towards the threshold of the runway in use. With perhaps half a dozen of these lighting systems plus many pundits visible either side of track, to become lost at night was an exercise in idiocy (in good weather, anyway).

On general handling details the Oxford's greater speed and range allowed more prolonged and detailed exploration of a wider area than had been the case with the Tiger, thus facilitating such pleasures as teaming up with a USAAF B17 Flying Fortress heading eastward through the area; almost flat out at about 160 mph indicated, the Oxford was hard pushed to keep up and after a while I peeled away, afraid of being led into unfamiliar territory. During my time at Taten Hill a great explosion occurred in a subterranean ammunition dump nearby, resulting in the appearance of a huge smoking depression in the local countryside; for some time after, the sky above was full of haphazardly circling aircraft, a considerable collision risk.

Taten Hill was my first encounter with a "dispersed aerodrome", the pattern to which all wartime-constructed airfields were built and which should have been applied to pre-war RAF ones as well; for while the conventional practice of grouping hangars, domestic offices and accommodation fairly close together may have made life convenient for the inmates it also greatly facilitated any enemy pilot's job. The dispersed system went to the other extreme; not only were (aircraft) parking pans and associated facilities dotted randomly off the perimeter taxyway, they sometimes even wandered off into surrounding fields and woods. Domestic accommodation was similarly scattered, and might occasionally infiltrate the back end of a local village. The various mess buildings, besides being well away from the airfield itself, were widely separated from each other while sleeping quarters would be in small groups of huts likewise dotted all around. Apart from an occasional small bus or 3-ton truck circling the taxyway no transport was provided, so bicycles were essential being issued on loan to all who asked; but many preferred to use their own, almost any old "grid" being superior to the ponderous and ill-maintained official article. All domestic buildings were bungaloid, usually either Nissen huts of various sizes or crude shacks with corrugated asbestos roofing, "heat" theoretically provided by dreadful coke stoves for which there was never enough fuel. Entirely devoid of insulation, too hot in summer and in winter offering gulag-like conditions to the unfortunate occupants, amazingly some of these jerry-built structures survived for years after the war as accommodation for farm animals or squatters.

Not only was one's trusty bike essential for life on camp, it also provided virtually the sole means of escape; private motoring was but a distant dream and bus services extremely meagre, so one pedalled everywhere. Normal off-duty destination was of course Burton, an unlovely place crammed with renowned breweries and their myriad associated pubs. A visit to Bass, the largest and best-known, found it a stronghold of tradition with many horses in evidence, its products put into barrels of its own manufacture (metal casks as yet unknown), while around town traffic was often held up by chubby, well-polished little engines towing trucks full of casks, hops or whatever around a complex network of private railways. Over everything was that pervasive and characteristic aroma of brewing, a whiff of which even now carries me back instantly to those far-off times, and is indeed probably the only feature of the town remaining unchanged today.

With only Sunday free, again the faithful bike was usually called upon to carry me to the station for a quick trip home the evening before. Normally taken along so as to provide transport the other end, alternatively it could be left in the station cloakroom and arrangements made for my brother to meet me with the family tandem at Oxford; however this required prior arrangement, so was not always possible. These short trips home were a most welcome break from the general discomfort and indifferent fare provided on camp, for I was no doubt disgracefully spoilt by my mother. In this context it must be remembered that all food was strictly rationed, and available only on coupon to which as an unofficial week-ender I was not entitled; so anything I consumed came out of the meagre household stocks plus whatever could be produced in the garden, i.e. eggs, the occasional old chicken plus fruit and vegetables in season. Although vaguely aware of this at the time, I doubt I was sufficiently appreciative other than retrospectively, and then only much later in life.

A variegated lot, my companions were mostly slightly older and included a high percentage of Australians plus a lesser number of New Zealanders and Canadians. Although the Aussies tended to stick together I got on well with most, often joining them in forays to local hostelries; however, a sad event midway through our course forged a closer bond. Detailed for a solo flight one dark evening, I waited in our dispersal crew room for an "engines-running change" with an Australian already airborne on the same exercise; but the appointed time came and went, and after a while the duty instructor told me to push off as it appeared my colleague had "gone in" somewhere. Next day our worst fears were confirmed, and some of us cycled out to the crash site a few miles off where pieces of Oxford were strewn liberally around near an isolated house; the inhabitants of which had apparently been much surprised on awakening to find themselves surrounded by wreckage, unbelievably hearing nothing of the accident. The whole affair was a complete mystery; no evidence of technical failure came to light, and since my colleague's demise occurred at an hour when I should have been airborne in his place there was cause for deep reflection. Oddly enough I was to have a similar experience eleven years later at Dishforth, when a Hastings and its crew met another unexplained and violent end while I was awaiting my turn to fly it.

The inevitable aftermath was my first experience of a funeral. About fifteen of us were flown up to an airfield in the Wirral, there to be taken in hand by a kindly Warrant Officer obviously experienced in his morbid task. Saluting the open grave at a bleak, windswept military cemetery I considered the pointless loss of a young man who had come halfway round the world only to be struck down before he could even begin the task for which he had left home; now laid to rest without benefit of family or relatives, only our small party plus the crew of a passing goods train witness to what was, after all, a fairly frequent ceremony at that time. Despite having attended many funerals since, the poignancy of that first one will always be with me as will the gratitude expressed for my attendance by the victim's fellow-countrymen; for shamingly, aside from the W/O, I was the only Brit present.

Later on a party of us were detached for a week of specialised training. Following a slow and overcrowded train journey typical of wartime we ended up at Shawbury, a permanent RAF airfield north of Shrewsbury and home of the grandly-named Empire Central Navigation School; but it was a more humble unit known as No.534 Beam Approach Training Flight that awaited us, this latter being devoted solely to interpretation and use of the Standard Beam Approach System. Primitive by present day standards, it provided the first accurate and dependable method of landing aircraft in conditions of very restricted visibility, being the forerunner of the modern ILS; but, being only aurally interpreted, it was demanding and difficult to use. A brief description follows, any readers not interested are advised to skip the following paragraphs.

A very narrow radio beam was transmitted along the runway centreline, out to about 15/20 miles back down the final approach path. No more than about one degree wide, it gave a steady signal in one's headphones when lined up dead central; inbound, if the aircraft tracked off-centre one heard dots for a leftward deviation with dashes if off to the right, these signals being of course reversed if proceeding outbound from the field. Fractional misalignment put the aircraft in one of the two "twilight zones"; here either dots or dashes were audible as appropriate with the accompaniment of a background note that became stronger as one regained centreline, until finally the steady signal was heard again. On the other hand, continued excursion into the twilight zone resulted eventually in hearing only clear dots or dashes with no sound in between and so, by correct interpretation of the audible signal, it was theoretically possible to fly down to deck level without sight of the ground.

Unfortunately, as is widely known, theory and practice are two entirely separate entities and so it proved once more in this instance. First the beam had to be located, and with the Oxford possessing nothing so modern as a radio compass the only means available was by making use of D/F bearings transmitted from the ground; which in itself was an advance on any previous experience, as were the two-way radios fitted to our BAT Flight Oxfords. Having been homed to an approximate overhead, one then flew outbound on the ‘back beam’ for a period timed according to the forecast wind (often inaccurate) and then carried out a procedure turn inbound for beam capture, imminence of which was hopefully announced by the steadily strengthening "twilight" signal. On receipt of a steady note heading was then adjusted accordingly, but as estimated drift seldom accorded with that prevailing in the real world one usually slid back outside the beam or shot straight through to the other side. Constant small heading adjustments were then required in order to maintain the equi-signal zone, an increasingly difficult task as the beam steadily narrowed with decreasing range.

The other problem was knowing one's distance from the runway, essential for maintenance of a correct descent profile; timing was a vague procedure at the best of times, the inherent errors thereof being magnified with each passing mile, but any form of distance measuring equipment or glide slope information lay in the future and there was no ground radar. Two fixed marker beacons were therefore provided along the beam, the outer one at 5 or 6 miles from touchdown and the inner close to the runway threshold; these radiated fan-shaped signals upwards, high-pitched dashes for the Outer Marker and similar dots for the Inner. Correct technique was to hold a prescribed altitude (usually 1500 ft QFE) while completing pre-landing checks inbound, then commence descent on crossing the Outer at a rate commensurate with estimated ground speed; hopefully one would then cross the Inner at the published height (exactly what I don't recall), achievement of which promised a safe landing provided that the ground was then visible. Arrival at the minimum height too soon necessitated flying level until reaching the marker, while being too high could mean missing the runway.

The prevalence of fog most mornings added realism, and provided tangible proof of SBA's usefulness. Whilst the navigators of ECNS preferred practicing their esoteric art in the safety of lecture rooms, daily we trudged out to our barely-visible Oxfords and flew off into the murk, re-emerging time after time to brush wheels onto a runway that usually became visible only during the last few seconds of flight. Pretty much as now, in "real" weather it was then probably illegal to descend below the Inner Marker crossing height without sight of ground, however I clearly recall flying blind right down until a brief, last-moment, sighting of the runway - not as dangerous as it sounds since all flights were dual, i.e. with an instructor. The sense of achievement was satisfying, but it was a highly demanding task to shoot several satisfactory approaches one after the other and fatigue could soon set in; flying an accurate course along the steadily narrowing beam, while simultaneously maintaining a correct descent rate based on close control of airspeed, grew progressively more demanding, the constant noise in one's ears so stupefying that mis-identification of dots v dashes became a very real hazard as the detail progressed.

Fortunately the instructors also could only take so much, and following burn-off of the fog some airborne exploration of the beautiful Shropshire countryside was usually in order. Relatively unspoilt even today, over half a century ago it was positively arcadian in the smiling August sunshine and especially so towards the Welsh Border and around the Wenlock area, while the north western part of the county appeared to contain a remarkable number of remote and attractive country houses. All a very pleasant way of passing time, in complete contrast to the horrors of attempting (for instance) the mastery of back-beam approaches, about which the less said the better.

Our week over it was back to Taten Hill for completion of the course, after which I was sent west once again to spend a few days at Perton, a now long-vanished satellite airfield just north of Wolverhampton while higher authority made up its mind as to our future – which was not long in coming. Apparently the RAF now had a sufficiency of QFIs, so instead I found myself destined for Bomber Harris's mincing machine,
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Old 20th Jun 2014, 20:50
  #5829 (permalink)  
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What's in a name?


Yet another evocative and detailed account - thank you. I am intrigued by your use of two words for Taten Hill. I did a little bit of flying myself (436 hours on my PPL) and my 'Pooleys Flight Guides' (the Bible for touring light aircraft drivers) always published it as EGBM Tatenhill (one Word). According to my log book I only visited there once, 29/06/1991, no idea why, with my friend Paul, in his PA 28-140 Cherokee. I was pilot (non-flying) on that day, in charge of navigation etc. I recall that we conversed with a gent who was sitting in his personal Harvard on the field and we were awed by his fuel consumption vis-a-vis our little 150 horse power Lycoming engine. As Tatenhill was only 4 or 5 miles from Burton-on-Trent , perhaps he owned a brewery!

Ian B-B

PS After reading your account of Beam Approach Training I think Geoff was lucky to have been spared this torture until the technology became more user friendly!
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Old 20th Jun 2014, 22:48
  #5830 (permalink)  
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Never have I seen such a masterful representation of one of the RAF's fondest memories - Thanks a lot ! Trying my hardest, I interpret the motto on the lower half as "Dieu et mon Doigt" ,and the top half should be "Faith et Blind Hope".

But it may have been fashioned out of some friable material (like our pastry specimen), the mice have been at it, and the lettering is no longer distinct....D.

Ian BB and harrym,

The idea that the RAF would pay (probably) ten or twenty times the rail warrant cost to move a bunch of SNCOs around (unless there was earth-shaking need for some war purpose) simply defies belief and all reason. The only Sunderlands I ever saw were the weekly ones up and down the W. coast between Bombay and Ceylon, carrying mail, Mountbatten and/or his Staff, at about 10,000 ft. I didn't even know of the existence of internal "C" boat and Ensign flights,

I must say that once I benefited from a high prioity; Palam put me on an Indian National Airways "Expeditor" for Rawalpindi when the RAF had nothing going that way....D.


Wonderful ! But if you think that SBA was hard in an aircraft, try it in a Link (and lose the will to live). And you keep us waiting with bated breath for your: "instead I found myself destined for Bomber Harris's mincing machine". Don't let it be too long !....D.

Cheers, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Jun 2014 at 22:53. Reason: Add Text.
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 09:05
  #5831 (permalink)  
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I was in the UK about five years ago as part of a wider 'pilgrimage' visiting places associated with my great uncle's Bomber Command crew. My PPL was still current at the time so one of the first things I did was look up a local flying school and instructor to hire an aeroplane and fly around some of the old airfields. Tatenhill was the airfield we flew from... I didn't realise until I got there that it was itself a wartime airfield. It was a great little flight, and being able to put names like Waddington, Bardney, East Kirkby, Winthorpe and Lichfield into my logbook (as turning points - not many are still active airfields!) was pretty special.
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 11:56
  #5832 (permalink)  
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Geoff's April Deliveries for 21 Ferry Control

April 2 1944 he takes Hurricane 563 from Drigh Road to Jodhpur 2.00. then Jodhpur - Palam 1.40. Finally Palam - Lahore 1.35
April 4, another Hurricane (974) Lahore - Chaklala 1.15. Then Chaklala - Peshawar 1.30.
There must have been a rail transfer back to Lahore as his next flight is:
April 7 Harvard 785, Lahore - Palam 2.15. Palam - Jodhpur 2.45. He is returned to Mauripur that same day by BOAC Ensign 3.00. (He must have been on first name terms with the check-in folk in Jodhpur by now)!
April 14 it's back up to the Khyber Pass, he passengers on Hudson 602, Mauripur - Peshawar 4.30. Peshawar - Kohat .30. Kohat - Lahore 1.35.
April 15 He takes Hurricane 696 from Lahore to Palam 1.35. Then Palam - Allahabad 2.25.
April 16 he is returned to Mauripur, passenger on Hudson 609 5.30.
April 22 he flies as second pilot with P/O Wetmore, on Dakota 640 Mauripur - Palam 5.10.
There must have been a rail transfer up to the north of Delhi as next is:
April 23 (with a Sgt Gilson in the back seat) he takes Harvard 422 Ambala - Palam 1.00. Palam - Allahabad 2.15 They nightstop there.
April 24 They continue, Allahabad - Gaya 1.30. Gaya - Baigachi 2.00.
April 27 He returns, from Calcutta, to Mauripur on a BOAC Ensign 10.30.

Summary for April: 12.00 hours Hurricane, 11.45 hours Harvard, 5.10 (2nd pilot) Dakota. 25.35 hours passenger, and six airframes delivered across the breadth of the sub- continent.

Ian B-B
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 14:36
  #5833 (permalink)  
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Reference flights on BOAC during the war years, I doubt if it operated much if at all as a conventional airline (ie carrying private fare paying pax) on any of its routes. It was essentially a nationalised civilianised Transport Command, carrying official (ie Govt sponsored) pax/cargo, but often to neutral countries where military flights were excluded. How the seats were sold I have no idea, but would suspect that the payload offered was chartered by HMG. There would thus be a system of 'offering space available' carriage by some form of Air Booking Centre. So if we had a crew etc to move from A to B with spare seats available then they would be boarded rather than let the flight go part full.

That's my theory anyway, but merely based on post war Transport/ Air Support Command practice only. Ready to be rigorously corrected as ever...
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 15:41
  #5834 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Chugalug2 View Post
Reference flights on BOAC during the war years, I doubt if it operated much if at all as a conventional airline (ie carrying private fare paying pax) on any of its routes. It was essentially a nationalised civilianised Transport Command, carrying official (ie Govt sponsored) pax/cargo, but often to neutral countries where military flights were excluded. How the seats were sold I have no idea, but would suspect that the payload offered was chartered by HMG. There would thus be a system of 'offering space available' carriage by some form of Air Booking Centre. So if we had a crew etc to move from A to B with spare seats available then they would be boarded rather than let the flight go part full.

That's my theory anyway, but merely based on post war Transport/ Air Support Command practice only. Ready to be rigorously corrected as ever...

When war broke out in Europe, the British Air Ministry prohibited private flying and most domestic air services. Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd, at the time in the process of being merged and nationalised as BOAC, were evacuated from Croydon and Heston to Whitchurch.

The government restricted all domestic and international flights, military and civilian, to diplomats, military personnel, VIPs, and anyone else with specific government approval or on government business.

The aircraft were generally flown by BOAC pilots although ex-BOAC aircrew from the Services were often 'seconded'.

I guess in todays parlance, BOAC ran a charter service on a government scheduled contract.
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 16:02
  #5835 (permalink)  
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Gaining An R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WW11

Danny, Thank you.
Inlate 1949 the RAFVR started again in Liverpool. Several of us from North Wales joined and we had lectures on Wednesday nights and weekends at Fizackerley. In March 1950 we had our two weeks flying Tiger Moths at Wolverhampton - where I had first flown at Grading School. In eight flyable days I managed 25 hours. Unfortunately we were only able to fly for those two weeks. However in the summer of that year, Lord Shinwell, the Minister of Defence inspected all the reserves in Merseyside in Birkenhead, RNVR, (They had a training ship HMS Mersey in Liverpool) The Territorials and the RAFVR. He asked various people how they liked the Reserves, and we told him that it would be better if we had our own aircraft. What did we want? Well Tiger Moths would be fine. Where would you fly them? Up the road at Hooton Park. In five weeks we had moved to Hooton Park and had a hangar full of Tiger Moths!
Later that year the Korean War started and we were told that the R.A.F. was going to expand and now was the time to come back. So I did. An interview at Air Ministry and I was back.
I was due at Cardington on the 8th February 1951 so the week before I went to Hooton Park for a final fling, and our Tigers had been replaced by Chipmunks, so anothe type and a few hours.
From Cardington where I met up with about a dozen "retreads" we were posted to Kirton in Lindsey for a months Link Instructors Course. After the finish of that one of the vacancies was Valley so I was back in North Wales again.

20 Squadron was in residence and I met the Squadron Commander. He checked my log book and said that I would be checked on the Harvard, and and if I could do three good back seat landings, then I could have a Spitfire.. I do not know if you were there Danny at the time, but I am sure that you remember the Polish pilots. I had one trip in the Harvard and it went unserviceable, not my fault Guv. No spares available so no Spitfire. I was able to fly in the right hand seat of the Oxford, and sit in the back of the Beaufighter, so I did get some air time. Then 202 A.F.S. arrived with their Meteor 7's and single seat Vampires. The Wing Commander said that he would put me through the course unofficially and I did 5 hours on the Meteor, just ready for solo in a Vampire when an Iranian pilot was killed and , as I was not supposed to be flying, the Wing Co stopped me flying, but got me on a Wings Refresher Course at Oakington on Harvards. I know that it is drifting from the war so should I go on?
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 16:56
  #5836 (permalink)  
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hempy, thanks for the confirmation that BOAC was entirely at the government's disposal 1940-45. Hence I see no reason why anyone traveling officially did not warrant some consideration to travel with them. The consideration would not have been their social status, even be they (God forbid!) NCO aircrew. The consideration would have been the urgency of their duties and whether there was room for them.

I imagine most of the time the answer to the latter would have been 'no', hence the perceived rarity of such an experience. As pointed out though, those in the know would probably have fared better than those that were not. I would guess therefore that ferry pilots, and those that administered their comings and goings, fared better than most.

I see that BOAC administered the ATA, for example, despite control moving from the RAF to the Ministry of Aircraft Production.
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 18:27
  #5837 (permalink)  
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Ian B-B - Taten Hill is entered as such in my log book so that was certainly the correct spelling at the time; has it now morphed into one word?

Chugalug2 - As you suggest, our cross-India flight courtesy BOAC may well have been down to seats being available. On the other hand we were still at war with Japan and, given the planned invasion of Malaya, there was probably a need for front line squadrons to be kept fully manned. Three and a half weeks elapsed between my crew's arrival at Karachi and ending up with 194 Sqdn at Akyab, not over rapid perhaps but a lot quicker than if we had crossed India by rail.

Danny42C - Yes we did SBA in the link too, not a pleasant experience I grant but then the Link never was! Life in this instance could be made easier by judicious use of the rudder alone without bothering with 'aileron', but was liable to incur the instructor's displeasure.

The next instalment will follow shortly!
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 20:36
  #5838 (permalink)  
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What's in a name? (Mark 2)

Esteemed harrym

Just google "Tatenhill RAF airfield"

Ian B-B

PS Geoff zoomed in and out of Akyab and Ramree Island, only recently vacated by the Japanese forces, on March 5th 1945, in his trusty Expediter with a Sqd Ldr Firth as pax, - possibly just checking out what was there?

PPS Your next missive is eagerly awaited!

Last edited by Ian Burgess-Barber; 21st Jun 2014 at 20:53.
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 21:35
  #5839 (permalink)  
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The only Sunderlands I ever saw were the weekly ones up and down the W. coast between Bombay and Ceylon, carrying mail,
The father of a close friend of ours flew Sunderlands out of Ceylon. He died when she was fifteen so she didn't really have chance to find out much about what he did in the war. What would the Ceylon Sunderlands do in the main?

Kookabat: you can still fly into East Kirkby and it's a marvelous place to visit should you ever return to these shores. Winthorpe only closed to air traffic around eight years ago but the Newark Air Museum is still there and well worth a visit. Obviously Waddo is still an RAF base.
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Old 21st Jun 2014, 21:38
  #5840 (permalink)  
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Your: "I know that it is drifting from the war so should I go on? " Most certainly you should !

Your experiences closely mirror mine. I, too, joined the RAFVR in'48 at Fazackerley, but they'd only just got started and there was no training programme of any kind up to the time I applied to rejoin the RAF in the autumn of that year (but the fact that I was in it as a F/O may have helped my application, as demonstrating keenness).

Why would they send you all the way to Wolverhampton to fly, when the flying (if civil) could have been done at Speke (or if military) at Woodvale, which only had an Auxiliary squadron of Spitfires on it ? It is grand to hear that "Manny" Shinwell got straight on the job and found you your TMs (we could do with some Ministers like that today !).

And there again, why Hooton Park (which would involve our going over the river and down through the Wirral, when there was Woodvale half an hour away on the Southport line from Exchange Station (trains about every 20 mins), and most of our people would be from Liverpool ? Doesn't make sense. (Sorry about you wild Welsh, but we had to think of the greatest good of the greatest number).

Now as regards 20 Sqdn. at Valley, I was there from 21.3.50. to 19.9.51. (Sqdn. disbandment). I reckon you would have got to Valley about April'51, so we were there together for that summer. Station Commander was W/Cdr J.E.T. Haile; 20 Sqdn. C.O. was S/Ldr A.R. Hindley, AFC; I was in "A" Flt (F/Lt W. Hewlett). The only Pole I remember on the Sqdn. was M/P "Joe" Halkiew, and we had a Czech M/P ("Zed-Zed" Zmitrowitz). They target-tugged with our (one and only) Beau. But apparently the AFS had moved in about that time, so they might have had some Polish QFIs, but I don't remember any.

Perhaps I should explain that we had little contact with the AFS people. They had their Flight Offices and Tech site on the SW side of the runway, we were on the NE. They must have had their Messes and accommodation apart from ours, for I don't remember them in ours (which in any case would have been far too small for both). Anyway, my weary tale of Valley is on p.168 et seq. of this Thread....D.


Your: "judicious use of the rudder alone without bothering with 'aileron'". True, but however "judicious" your use might be, it bore no relation to the change of heading which resulted ! As I've noted before, with the Link it was a case of "Shake the bottle - None'll come and then the lot'll !" Roll on your Next Instalment....D.

Cheers to you both. Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Jun 2014 at 22:28. Reason: Corrections,
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