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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 19th Apr 2009, 20:46
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regle
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Life in India '48

It was inevitable that we should have to move away from our lovely Bungalow as there was too much hassle with the village life of Juhu. It was a great pity as we had found a wonderful Montessorri School for the children . They were taught practical things , like tieing their shoe laces, as well as picking up the language so quickly and they loved it but ,sadly, we moved to Bombay.
We soon found a boarding house in Woodhouse Rd. right in the centre of the city. We had a large,ground floor room . The big block was run by an ex-army Major Grey and his Anglo-Indian friend, Miss Woods. Life there was certainly entertaining. The children were spoiled completely by the staff who, like all Indians, love all children. If I scolded Peter for something, one of the servants would get between me and him, saying "Don't beat him, Sahib; beat me instead" ; I would come back from the airport to find the pair of them squatting, Indian fashion, outside the building, on the pavement with the "Paperwallah" with his comics spread all over, reading to their heart's content.
There was a lift shaft running up the centre of the building and one day, entering the place, I saw what looked like a leg of lamb going up on a piece of rope. I ran up the stairs and found one of the bearers, on the third floor, pulling away. The explanation was that meat had to be purchased direct from the abattoirs at Bandra so each family would send their bearer who would get together with the others and purchase one good cut and the others , inferior ones. The one good cut was going the rounds of the apartments ,to be shown to the Memsahib and the cook would get the blame for the result of cooking the inferior ones,
We found evidence of rats in our larder,so I purchgased a trap. The only type that you could purchase was the cage type. One day I heard the trap go and called the bearer to take it outside and kill the rat. I found him in the garden with the trap open and the rat gone. "But Sahib, it could be my Ancestor" he protested. I told him what I would do to his Ancestor if I found him in the larder again. I was not popular !
I had bought a car very cheaply. It was a lovely 1939 Packard Convertible, a real Hollywood film star's car. It was a beautiful green and
had white side wall tyres, unfortunately not all four. Petrol was still strictly rationed and we had to rely on the surreptitious siphoning from the underwing drain valves of the Air India Dakotas. With our two children waving happily at everyone from the back seat we would drive, like royalty, to Breach Kandy, which even though the Brirish had left India for good, earlier in the year, was still very exclusive. There we would sit on the lush lawns and have our tea and sandwiches, being very careful as the kitehawks would swoop and snatch them from out of your hand as you were putting them in your mouth.. It was there that I bumped in to one of my old friends, Ralph Hollis and his wife, Pam. He had trained with me in the States in 1941 and I had not met him since. He was flying for Decca Airlines who were based at Hyderabad which was trying to maintain it's independence from the new India.
Several notorious people were involved with supplying arms to Hyderabad, gun running in fact. I met one of the pilots involved, at one of the bars in Bombay. He was an ex Aer Lingus, giant of a man, and told me that he had called in at Karachi to refuel a converted Lancaster on his way to Hyderabad with "medical supplies". Karachi was, of course, the Capital of the new state of Pakistan and was violently opposed to the breakaway state of Hyderabad. On takeoff, he told me, the Lancaster was so heavily loaded that it failed to get off the ground and slid on it's belly, crashing through the perimeter fence. In his own words "The trouble was all those medical supplies burst loose and there we were , the three of us, sitting among machine guns and rifles." They scrambled free and stopped a bus that was coming along, and made their way to Karachi docks and were on an England bound freigher less than three hours after crashing their aeroplane. I met the same chap later when I was on the Berlin Air Lift. He was flying for the same firm as me, Flight Refuelling ,and told me that he had qualified as a Dentist on getting back to Ireland. Tragically he was killed when returning to Tarrant Rushton, as a passenger in the only accident that the firm had when the aircraft hit a hillside in the vicinity of Tarrant.
 
Old 20th Apr 2009, 00:02
  #662 (permalink)  
regle
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JRD Tata

Icare9., As you will see later, I got to know JRD very well and he was always the same. Dynamic, charming and very, very likeable. It was the way of life that I had never encountered before and he was so totally different from any other Chief of an Airline, not only that but the man who had made it possible. As I found out quickly, India was so different. and what would have been furtive and clandestine in the U.K. of the Thirties and Forties , was taken for granted, and even expected, in the India of 1948....Don't forget that we, the British, had been the virtual rulers and lawmakers for time immemorial...Clive of India etc. I am not condoning the practices; I am just telling it as it was to a young man , 26 years old, married, two children and just out of the RAF, who had never been in business of any sort and had never...and still does not...want to. I think that there are many ex-servicemen and still more ex and current Airline Pilots who think exactly the same way, notwithstanding the exceptional exceptions. So I hope that you, and others, who read these threads will try and go back with me to times that were very different from now. I think that we all lost our innocence in those dreadful but stirring days.
I know that my contemporaries, like Cliff, will understand. Reg.
 
Old 20th Apr 2009, 10:23
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regle,
worry not what others may think in respect of your time in India or elsewhere. You have earned the right to tell it as it was . There is an unfortunate tendency for the past to be judged by todays so called 'standards'. I think I can speak for the others when I say how much we enjoy yours and cliffnemo's stories. Please keep them coming exactly the way they are. There are many of us of the 'gentlemen in England now abed' mind !
Best wishes
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Old 20th Apr 2009, 17:29
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Flying Don't Affect Me, Affect Me, Affect Me.

I am bit annoyed, there is Reg lounging on his veranda with his punkawallah in attendance, while I am working my fingers to the bone. I shouldn’t have joined.

Reg, I am not sure the word humble is the correct one to use, Would mutual respect ;be more apt ?
I think that’s how it was in the war, regardless of rank or trade. ? I was very impressed by, and respected, our navigator, Paddy from Dublin. With his knowledge of H2S, Gee. Fishpond , bubble sextants etc, and remember one night returning to Hemswell, on the approach, we were advised there was a ‘clamp on’. We were told due to thick fog we should divert. We were at a thousand feet, and Paddy said to keep on course for the centre of the field when he would give a new course. As you know it is easier to look down through fog as distinct from looking horizontally. Paddy sitting in his cubicle called out “we are over the airfield --------------------now, and sure enough I looked down , and there was the airfield marker flashing H.W. Would he be using H.2 S or Gee, can’t remember.. Just thought what a cosmopolitan crew. Paddy from Dublin. Jock from Edinburgh, Speedy from Kent ,John a cockney. Taffy from Wales, Fred from Bristol, and me. Enough of this rambling ,Before I go onto the serious matter of I.C.O.s. Reg, please describe the duties of a punkawallah, they wouldn’t believe me. Just thought didn’t we have an astro dome, did any one ever use the sextant, seem to remember clockwork averaging device, artificial horizon, a few of the stars, that’s all. Also just wondering if you experienced the same problem with the Dakota as we did draining petrol form a Tiger Moth, as the main purpose of the pipe was to remove condensate. Another question Reg, Was the flying life of a rear gunner only fourteen hours at one point during the war, or am I dreaming again.?

COCKNEY STEVE, yes you are right I.C.Os on Merlins only control the the slow running jet, as on later vehicle engines. If a Merlin was running , say above eight hundred R.P.M it would still run with the slow running jets off, and would draw fuel from the progression jets and main jet. . Didn’t want to get too technical, as the S.U and Stromberg carbs were quite complicated. Whilst I am happy to discuss such things with any one interested, I had hoped my question re engine shut down would encourage at least one flight engineer to contribute. Wouldn’t it be great if we had an ex bomb aimer, navigator etc on here. Better still a full crew. Will wait a few more days , and then explain how a Merlin can refuse to shut down
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Old 20th Apr 2009, 19:28
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Punkawallah

Cliff, As you well know, the Punkawallah was the poor man who used to sit or lie with a cord attached to one of his big toes , the other end to a large sheet of some sort of material, possibly bamboo, and pull on it so that it would sweep to and fro thus setting up a hopeful cooling breeze . More probably just moving the warm air around.!
No problem with the petrol from the DC3.. The Petrolwallah used to do it for me.
I have no idea on the life of an air gunner. Sounds very much on the low side to me. I forgot to mention that the Punkawallah was called that ,as that was what a fan was in Hindi or Urdu, a "Punka". Also, if it was after September 1943, it was possibly H2S. I finished my Ops at the end of Jan. 44 and had never used ,or had H2S on board but I am sure that the Lancs got it before the Hallybags.
P.S. My Welsh Navigator, Phil, used the astrodome as he always took shots when he could. Could match you with the cosmopolitan crew, Cliff, Bomb Aimer,Jackie, Epsom, Me ,Lancashire, F/E, Bill, Yorkshire,W/Op. Paddy,Belfast, Mid Upper A/G, Roy, Canada and Tail end Charlie, Tommy, Geordie, and all of them the salt of the Earth.

Last edited by regle; 20th Apr 2009 at 22:49.
 
Old 21st Apr 2009, 07:25
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AncientAviator62

Do you really feel accursed that you were not there ? India I mean, not Agincourt. It was good of you to reassure me and I took good note of your kind words. Oct 25th ? Reg.
 
Old 21st Apr 2009, 08:20
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To this day, flight deck ventilation air outlets are known as 'punkah louvres'!
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Old 21st Apr 2009, 10:18
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To this day, flight deck ventilation air outlets are known as 'punkah louvres'!

Not to mention those in countless warships, merchant ships, and railway carriages - and who can forget Rumzan, the punkah wallah in the TV series "It Ain't Half Hot Mum"!

My salaams and please keep it coming Regle and Cliff.

Jack
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Old 21st Apr 2009, 13:20
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Regle,
I meant in my oblique way that many of a later generation will envy you your varied and interesting life having survived WW 2. I was lucky to serve when we still had far flung bases but the chaps serving today have only the delights of Iraq and Afganistan to look forward to.
Best wishes
Bill
PS It surprises many people when they realise how many Indian words have penetrated and enriched the English language.
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Old 21st Apr 2009, 14:33
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Reg's India car

Reg has asked me to post this, it's a 39 Packard (not Panhard as I keep saying to Reg). He notes on the back of the picture that "The best car I ever had" and "Sold for £50 when I left India!"


Looks like a RH steering, I thought American cars were LH steering?
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Old 21st Apr 2009, 22:40
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Andy, A chap who lived quite close to me in Sussex at about the same time that photo was taken owned the same model Packard, and it was right hand drive.
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Old 21st Apr 2009, 23:17
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Regle...far from being humbled,you should be proud that you have such an extensive and eclectic knowledge that has survived all these years.

You forget, perhaps, that I earned a living as a motor-mechanic (i liked to think I was a proper engineer, as opposed to a parts-changer )...I'd venture to suggest that your knowledge of things mechanical ,is vastly superior to mine ,on Aviation, met. nav. etc.
I find it quite amazing , just how much you had to absorb, in a very short space of time and then got slung in at the deep end....Indeed, I always said i would never volunteer for war-service an any sort of front-line role.

I have always abhored violence and always told those intent on joining the military, "remember, you are being employed to KILL...OR BE KILLED.

Sorry, I couldn't put my life in the hands of the incompetent people who were in charge.......it says a lot for your courage that you did and in spite of them you survived.

Andy, I think that several American motor-manufacturers made RHD versions for export, I have a full set of 1930's "Newnes" Motor-repair manuals, several USA and Continental makes were listed, together with the special procedures for each vehicles' non-standard design parameters......I astounded one vintage owner with , I think, a Buick, which ahd a starter that reverted to a generator...he didn't expect I'd have heard of such a device and was floored when I produced the book........the blighter still has it, 20-odd years later!

I really love the tales of India, their laid-back attitude to life and their (by western standards) eccentric behaviour.. the thought of a rat being an ancestor!...but what about chickens,fish ,goats and other meat that they'd happily eat?...



Cliff- Thanks for that explanation....It was the same in the motor-job,re-Strombergs and SU's....the constant-velocity SU was a very simple and elegant design, though the later ones had a biased needle which, being spring-loaded to one side of the jet, rapidly wore itself and the jet oval, lousing-up the mixture strength(but it was consistently rich -unintended consequence of trying to cure mixture-variation due to needle-flutter. the Stromberg diaphragm used to get sloppy with damper-oil and wear through,causing air-leaks and no acceleration. easy job, once you knew the symptoms and cure.

I daresay your Merlin carbs would dwarf them in size and complexity.
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Old 22nd Apr 2009, 12:04
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SU's

Ah, I spent many (happy) hours trying to synchronise those little B**tards. I started with the brass topped ones and even remembered the later plastic top ones! There was something exciting (or even evocative) about opening my Morris Minor bonnet and seeing those two milk bottles!

Back to the forum though, you may have read that Reg sold his Packard for £50 when he left India?

Now look at this:-

carfarm : packard 2door clubman opera coupe1938

Makes your eyes water :0)

Last edited by andyl999; 22nd Apr 2009 at 12:06. Reason: oh just adding to it
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Old 22nd Apr 2009, 15:09
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A large proportion of American cars were built in the States and overseas as RHD before about 1960 They were built in South Africa, Australia and assembled in Canada when I was young. It is surprising how many countries drove on the left hand side of the road before the WW II, Sweden, China, to name a couple.
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Old 22nd Apr 2009, 16:22
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Fareast Driver

I have an idea that they still do in China. In Sweden they changed overnight as they found hundreds of them were practising on the right hand side weeks before. Tongue in cheek, Regle.
 
Old 23rd Apr 2009, 09:48
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Having spent a great portion of the last 30 years reading books on the RAF pre 1976 (when I joined), I have found both the RAF and social history elements of this thread fascinating. As someone who has always wished that I had been able to join 40 years earlier than I did the accounts of life portrayed on here have done nothing to dispel the desire.

Regle, Cliff and others of the same vintage. It is you and yours that set the level by which we who are still serving should be measured. I doubt that we shall see the need for such dedication, stoicism and good humour over such a long period ever again, but if we do I hope that I, and my fellow "erks" can live up to the legacy you have given us.

Thank you so much for sharing your memories, and keep it up.

My very best regards
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Old 23rd Apr 2009, 12:04
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Nufc 1892

Thank you for those encouraging words, It is when you realise that some of you are enjoying hearing of days gone by that ,perhaps , someone is listening to what we are saying and, dare I say it, even learning something from it, I.even at my advanced years, have learned a lot just reading Cliff's terrific threads and I am grateful for Andy,s constant helpfulness. I take it that you are still serving ? Lots of luck and thank you. Reg.
 
Old 24th Apr 2009, 17:09
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Probably Boring For Some.

THE MYSTERY OF THE UNSTOPPABLE MERLIN.

It seems as if there are no flight engineers or flight mechs out there to answer my question so will now explain why the Merlin engines on a Lanc can refuse to stop. The answer lies in the fact that wherever possible all services were designed to ‘fail safe’. Where a service was operated ,hydraulically, electrically or pneumatically. then when that source of supply failed , the service would automatically revert to the ‘landing’ position. For instance, the super charger had two speeds , M gear, and S gear. The engineer selected S gear above a certain height, if its electro/pneumatic power supply was interrupted it reverted automatically to M gear , ready for landing ( I hope I have got it right) . To finally stop the engines an Idle cut of switch (I.C.O) was switched off (see previous reference to preignition, or running on). However when shut down was required, the fuel was shut off by an electrical current, so, if the electrics were damaged then the I.C.O would remain open and still idle/run.. All the D.C circuits in a Lanc were supplied by four twelve volt batteries in series parallel , which gave an output of twenty four volts D.C ,and could be isolated by a ‘ground to flight switch. We had been told that in an emergency, if we had to lighten the aircraft as much as possible, the batteries and Elsan were the first things to go., and that the starboard inner engine would supply the twenty four volts through the automatic voltage and current controls. This was the knowledge required to answer the question, that was previously asked.

The answer is, that the ground to flight switch (the main electric switch) was accidentally in the off position, but the starboard inner, still running was supplying enough electricity to keep the I.C.Os closed. As the engine slowed down the voltage from the generator dropped at which point the automatic voltage regulator cut out opened . cutting off the electricity . With the electricity off, the I.C.Os opened again , the engine fired up, and then repeated the cycle , until some one switched on the ground to flight switch . I answered this one during my finals, with some difficulty, but got it right in the end. As Cockney Steve will know, on a vehicle the equivalent of an I.C.O is held open by electricity and if the supply is cut , the engine will not tick over.

Probably boring to some , but I wanted to demonstrate the flight engineers did have excellent training as did all other members of the crew. It again shows how efficient the R.A.F education system was, and I hope still is. Pity there are no education types on this site, to explain how they did it.

Just a pic of the Merlin S.U carb, not too complicated , until you consider it has to compensate for altitude, boost, a constant speed propeller., climbing , diving, and varying atmospheric pressure, etc.


I was amused by Cockney Steve’s reference to the word ‘employed’ . He used the word correctly, but somehow I never felt employed, just a member of a very excellent club or association. I would appreciate the views of any other old aviators, on this one.





[
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Old 25th Apr 2009, 00:09
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Cliff, - Thanks for yet another wonderfully clear and comprehensive discourse. The illustration is a real bonus.

As in any "team " situation, you all pull together to get the job done,as one would not like to let down the other members of one's team. -unfortunately, politicians will ruthlessly exploit this honourable trait, for their own ends.

once two nations (or more) are sucked into war by their political masters, there's no turning back until a great deal of death and misery has ensued.

Further to the life of a tail-gunner....I was told that the average life of a Recce pilot was 1 1/2 missions

Although unarmed, I was assured that they would outrun any fighter and my informant had the greatest respect for the bomber crews, whom he considered were sitting ducks, being not only slow, but lacking the element of surprise that a single, fast, low-flying aircraft was blessed with.
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Old 27th Apr 2009, 10:31
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Thank you for those encouraging words, It is when you realise that some of you are enjoying hearing of days gone by that ,perhaps , someone is listening to what we are saying and, dare I say it, even learning something from it, I.even at my advanced years, have learned a lot just reading Cliff's terrific threads and I am grateful for Andy,s constant helpfulness. I take it that you are still serving ? Lots of luck and thank you. Reg.
Yes, still serving Reg, 33 years done and exactly 5 left from today. Fortunate enough to currently be on a tour in the RAFs last sunny (non-warlike) outpost and counting my blessings every day.
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