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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 11th Nov 2015, 02:11
  #7621 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
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That's it for (hopefully) another 12 months. 94 ! Never thought I'd get so far - my card must've dropped down the back of some celestial filing cabinet !

My renewed, sincere thanks to all of you well-wishers who have helped to make my day, and who have been so complimentary about my scribblings over these last three years.

I raise my night-cap glass to you in salutation,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 11th Nov 2015 at 02:12. Reason: Addn.
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Old 11th Nov 2015, 09:49
  #7622 (permalink)  
 
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Cool

Bloody good show, Danny

If I could mention a personal 'special' associated with the 10th November, it was that day in 1943 that Dad last flew a Beaufighter. He came off second best to a pack of 109s and finished up in the Aegean Sea, after which he was interred in Stalag Luft IVb. A couple of escapes later he got to the US Army who promptly locked him up again!

Anyway, the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport have a very open policy with their exhibits and we arranged for him to clamber into their Beaufighter; it was only when we were both in the cockpit chatting to someone outside that we realised it was the 72nd anniversary of his last time there! His memory of what was where was great, and it was quite touching to be there with him. Like Danny he has managed a great life in his 93 years



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Old 11th Nov 2015, 10:58
  #7623 (permalink)  
 
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John,
thank you for sharing that wonderful memory with us. Huge respect nd best wishes to you father on this Remembrance Day.
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Old 12th Nov 2015, 21:08
  #7624 (permalink)  
 
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John, I second AA62s felicitations to your dad, I'm sure that all followers of the thread would welcome any exploits of his that can be shared with us. He must have many memories,must as Danny does.

Smudge
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Old 12th Nov 2015, 21:11
  #7625 (permalink)  
 
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John,

Thank you for the kind words and the wonderful pictures of your Dad. What a tough old beast the Beau must have been ! - the "Whispering Death" certainly looks the part (it got its name from the quiet sleeve-valve Hercules engines, one such is in the foreground). And I like the stable-mate they've chosen (a Link Trainer ! - "Dignity and Impudence ?")

I had little to do with them, but on 20 Sqdn in Valley ('50/'51) we had a TT version. I am sorry to say I never even climbed aboard to have a look, being content with our Spitfires and Vampires. Which is a pity because then I would not have to trouble your Dad with a question arising from a tale told in one of my earlier Posts.

A Beau from a nearby strip in Burma got shot-up: the pilot dead or incapacitated, but the aircraft still straight and level. The Nav managed to wriggle forward into the front cockpit, and, lying on top of his unconscious pilot, managed to fly it back home. Tried to belly-land it, unsuccessfully, both killed.

Question: is that really possible (the crawling forward, that is ?)

Now to business: your "....interred in Stalag Luft IVb. A couple of escapes later...." What a story is here from that throwaway remark ! Please get your Dad talking, and get it down here while there is yet time. Remember Fred (RIP), who "spent six weeks dodging the Gestapo", but who left us with the story untold.

My kind regards to your father, and Cheers to you both,

Danny.
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Old 13th Nov 2015, 02:06
  #7626 (permalink)  
 
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Danny,

Dad is registered here, but whether I can induce him to post is yet another story

Briefly, he and his observer (Bob Pritchard) were picked up after bobbing around for 24 hours and greeted with the stock saying: "For you, the war is over".

Taken by train through Italy to Mulhberg where he joined the other RAF prisoners in Stalag Luft IVb. He wanted to escape and changed places with a fusilier in order to get out on work parties, which gave him the opportunity. He was recaptured the first time, then a later escape saw him and many others walk through Germany to the American front line troops. They were far too busy to look after dodgy escapees such as Dad who had a soldier's ID!

After many years as a Met copper (Inspector) he took a chance and joined the RAAF, starting on the same day that I joined the RN at BRNC.

Re your query about crawling forward, yes. There is plenty of room to move forward from the observer's area and stand behind the pilot's seat, but access to the front is very limited as you must climb over the back of the pilot's seat to get into the cockpit. Whilst we managed to get Dad up to the front hatch, it was beyond him to actually get into the seat. As he mentioned at the time the Beau was much larger than he remembered, and at 20 years old it was so much easier to leap up the first step than using a step ladder last Tuesday!
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Old 13th Nov 2015, 04:02
  #7627 (permalink)  
 
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John,

No sweat ! Dad just talks (we old-timers are quite good at that), you have a recorder and do all the heavy work. I had a room mate at Spitfire OTU in '42 who had been a constable in the Met; a Reserved Occupation if ever there was; the only way they would let him out was if he volunteered as aircrew.

Seems the Burma Beau story fits the facts: the nav would have had to climb over the back of his pilot's seat and the pilot to get at the yoke.

No, we're not a nimble on our pins as we were then, but it looks as if you've shoehorned your Dad into some sort of cockpit: what was it ? And how did you get him in and out (block 'n tackle ?)

Happy days, Danny.
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Old 13th Nov 2015, 04:54
  #7628 (permalink)  
 
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Shoehorned? Well, I did find a deadlift of ToM up the steps was...challenging. The rear hatch is in the on the right of this photo, you can see the one and only kick-in step that the youthful crew would nonchalantly leap into on their way into the machine: we used the step ladder, and still had a 2-3 foot 'next step' into the cabin!



Inside we spent a while getting Dad past the observer's seat, a very basic metal seat on a 360 swivel. But the floor is quite unergonomic for traversing, plus the radios aft of the hatch and odd wiring tended to create an obstacle course. Dad took a breather before making it over the spar to the forward hatch where we stood and surveyed ToM's old workplace:





Dad's resting his hand on the fixed back of the pilot's seat; you can see how agile they were to get into the cockpit!



About now we realised the significance of the date, when talking to some visitors out of the window



Really, really proud to have stood in Dad's old kite with him

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Old 13th Nov 2015, 09:46
  #7629 (permalink)  
 
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Lovely set of photos, John, and a wonderful story to go with them.

If it's that hard to get *in* to a Beau, imagine trying to get *out* in a hurry!
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Old 13th Nov 2015, 10:20
  #7630 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by kookabat View Post
If it's that hard to get *in* to a Beau, imagine trying to get *out* in a hurry!
Interestingly enough, Dad had no problem finding the release handle for the overhead escape hatch in the cockpit, much as happened 72 years ago.

Only back then, after releasing the hatch, he thought he was a goner as he went down with the rapidly sinking Beau. Until he remembered to undo his seat belt, after which he popped to the surface like a cork out of a bottle

To flesh out some more of the episode, Dad had downed two Arados but suffered a nicked aileron cable in a 'head to head' encounter the day before (9th November). This put his beloved Z-Zombie out of action and he took a new Beau fresh from a delivery flight. When the patrol was bounced by a flock of Me109s the SOP was to outrun them but Dad was unable to keep up in the new machine and became the target for a shooting gallery.

The 109s took turns to line up for potshots and eventually the starboard engine caught fire. The extinguisher took care of it temporarily but it lit up again and Dad had no option but to ditch.

When he surfaced the (only) fortuitous result of it being a new aircraft was that there was an automatic dinghy release in the port engine nacelle and their doughnut was waiting for them. Unfortunately it was only partially inflated so Bob, being a better swimmer, puffed into the oral inflation tube enough to get some shape into the thing. Then they had to turn it the right way up, but that took ages as it kept folding in half being only partially inflated. Dad gave Bob a boost into the dinghy once it was the right way up, only to be confronted by a yellow face as Bob went into the marker dye in the bottom of the dinghy!




Then there was his earlier life ostensibly as a night fighter pilot, and flying the IIf with Merlins which he thought was much better. Not least because he could see out to each side instead of two socking great Hercules radials filling his vision!
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Old 13th Nov 2015, 20:39
  #7631 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by JENKINS View Post
Which Beau squadron during the Aegean interlude?
603 (City of Edinburgh) out of North Africa.
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Old 14th Nov 2015, 01:25
  #7632 (permalink)  
 
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John, yours is exactly the kind of Post that has made this (IMHO) the best and most popular Thread in the Forum. Now that we have to face the fact that we can expect no more from the wartime generation, it falls to their children and grandchildren to fill the gaps from the tales told, and the logbooks, diaries and notebooks left to them. I would hope that this entire Thread (and others like it) might be archived one day and find a home in the I.W.M.

If it is not too much to ask, could you coax from your Dad the whole story from the day he signed on the dotted line, took the Oath (and got two bob to seal the deal !) and embarked on what was probably to be (as it was for so many of us) the greatest adventure of his life ?

I am sure that I speak for many besides myself in making this plea.

Danny.
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Old 14th Nov 2015, 06:39
  #7633 (permalink)  
 
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Interesting article in the Guardian this week concerning now departed thread poster Regle (aka Reginald Levy):
Four hijackers and three Israeli PMs: the incredible story of Sabena flight 571 | World news | The Guardian
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Old 14th Nov 2015, 10:45
  #7634 (permalink)  
 
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Excellent spot, interesting read, outstanding pilot.

Jack
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Old 14th Nov 2015, 12:07
  #7635 (permalink)  
 
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I am using this thread to try and motivate my neighbour to tell us his story. He is very reluctant.

He was a Beaufighter observer and was shot down in the Med. He was captured and taken to an Italian prison camp where he remained until Italy surrendered. Although they were ordered to stay in the camp he escaped and tried to make his way to Switzerland but was captured by the Germans and taken to POW camp in East Germany. When the Russians "liberated" them he witnessed some awful sights as soldiers raped women who had come into the camp seeking protection. It was this that made him realise that this was "real war" and made him reluctant to talk about it.

I particularly want to record his story as a record of how ordinary people, a Durham miner in his case, trained and operated as aircrew, and then went on to totally different lives. In his case he became a schoolteacher in Dorset. It probably wont be long before we lose his story for good.
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Old 14th Nov 2015, 12:19
  #7636 (permalink)  
 
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Originally posted by Danny42C
and got two bob to seal the deal !
Two bob!, two bob! ... 'cor I was done!! I only got one bob and that was palmed-off into a 'squadron fund'!!!
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Old 14th Nov 2015, 14:24
  #7637 (permalink)  
 
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pulse1:-
I particularly want to record his story as a record of how ordinary people...trained and operated as aircrew
With respect they were not ordinary people, they were and are very special people (sorry, Danny, I know that you will disagree with me) from an extraordinary generation. The tenacity and grit to confront a monstrous tyranny, as theirs was faced with, cannot be taken for granted. Others have been so challenged and crumbled before the onslaught. We all of us wonder how we would have conducted ourselves under such ever present mortal danger.

Reg Levy's awesome hijack story as linked by ion_berkley links in turn to his obituary:-

Reginald Levy obituary | World news | The Guardian

the word humbling comes to mind...

John Eacott, thank you for the lovely pics of you sharing your dad's reuniting with his old steed. What a shame he couldn't take his rightful place in it, but like all such equipment it was designed for the job in hand, and not for 21C accessibility requirements. Well done though for getting him inside! As Danny says, now is the time for his generation to speak out, not on their own behalf but on behalf of the entire generation. For it is not only their own story that is important, but the very culture that drove it, of duty and obligation. We rubbish such concepts at our peril, for they are the difference between resistance and capitulation. They have much to teach us and there is much that we need to learn from them.
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Old 15th Nov 2015, 06:17
  #7638 (permalink)  
 
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ion berkley (your #7637),

The news of the Israeli film of Reg Levy and the Lod hijack is interesting indeed: one would hope that an English language version might appear in due course (or has one appeared already ?) I've got the Kindle version of his book: "Night Flak to High-Jack", a very good read, but of course those of us who'd followed this Thread at the time knew the whole story well. I hope that the book has been a commercial success.

Now wouldn't it be a good idea if some of our PMs had a background in the SAS ?


pulse1,

Your #7639: ".... He is very reluctant...". This is a very common experience: there has to be an underlying reason and it might be worth while to explore it. Perhaps your neighbour is not 'on line' (few of us nonagarians are), have you tried to tempt him by reading him some of our 'back numbers' ? (that's the way they got me in). And many more than I must have been struck by the coincidences with John Eacott's father's story. He couldn't possibly be a "Bob", by any chance ?

Your: "....a Durham miner....how ordinary people" (pace: Chugalug !) " .... trained and operated as aircrew....and then went on to totally different lives....". It was so in my case. My five years of war, I like to think, took the place of the University to which I could then never have aspired, and pointed me to the career in the RAF which followed after I'd ditched the Civil Service which had seemed so desirable a future in the hungry Thirties.

As you say, the clock is ticking.


FantomZorbin (your #7640),

This puzzles me. It was certainly a "florin" I got on attestation in December, 1940, a day's pay then (roughly the equivalent value of the traditional "King's Shilling"). When did you enlist ? I believe it went up to 3/- later in the war, so you were well and truly "done" all right ! (I smell a rat).


Chugalug,

As ever, we remain in friendly disagreement over our supposedly "special" qualities. Probably we all have reserves of courage and detemination in us which are not called upon in normal civilised lives and so remain dormant and unsuspected. But when and if the call comes (and we must pray that it does not), I hope that the people of this country would respond in the way in which they have always done in the past.

Perhaps I expressed myself badly: but my point to John Eacott was that my generation has already "spoken out" as far as it can; it is now dying out and we must pass on whatever we leave behind in memory or in writing to the next to "take up the baton".

My regards to you all,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 15th Nov 2015 at 06:22. Reason: Typo.
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Old 15th Nov 2015, 08:50
  #7639 (permalink)  
 
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Pulse1
Please do try to coax/help your neighbour's story. I have a book by a former Beau observer and I would have been terrified to have been stuck under that dome halfway back, never mind the glasshouse effect under Med sun.
Re the story of the observer taking control, I think my old friend Maurice told me the seat back folded down. The pilot entered via the hatch, walked forward, then swung himself into his seat via the red handrails in the fine pictures on the previous page. Getting out in a hurry ... never thought about it, said Maurice. "We loved the Beau, once used to it we felt pretty safe as it was built like a brick s--thouse and it carried a mighty punch".
I'm away on yet another hol and have been unable to log in from abroad, so may I belatedly congratulate you, Danny, on your recent milestone
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Old 15th Nov 2015, 09:33
  #7640 (permalink)  
 
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have you tried to tempt him by reading him some of our 'back numbers' ? (that's the way they got me in)
I do have an accomplice who is much closer to him than I am and we are making sure that he at least reads the posts from John Eacott.
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