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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 15th Nov 2015, 08:33
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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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Old 15th Nov 2015, 09:24
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Originally Posted by Geriaviator
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.
The pilot had his own hatch, just aft of his seat. We were standing on it when looking at the office, but didn't use it because a) it would have been more difficult for Dad, and b) we couldn't find the key for the padlock!

Dad also commented that he had never used the rear (observer's) hatch before
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Old 19th Nov 2015, 16:21
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ANOTHER TRAINING TALE FROM WW2

Danny wrote: 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".

Following Danny's comment, I would be honoured to relay the story of Tempest pilot Flt Lt Jack Stafford, DFC, RNZAF, who died in Auckland this year at the age of 92. I have retyped it from a printout given to me some years back; its source may be an early Flight Simulator game for which Mr Stafford was a consultant. I can find no record of copyright, so if it exists my sincere apologies and I shall withdraw this post. For me, these memoirs put Mr Stafford among the top flying authors and I am sure they will be greatly enjoyed by readers of this thread. If no objection, I shall post them as a serial for all to enjoy over the next month or so in tribute to Mr Stafford and so many of his fellow Kiwis who hesitated not in this country's hour of greatest need.

The Memoirs of Flt Lt Jack Stafford, DFC, RNZAF, 1923-2015


I was 19 years old, I was flying a Harvard, and I was flying it well. Just imagine a 19-year-old boy given a machine that cost the equivalent of several top racing cars, with a performance that would leave those cars in its dust. The boy is taught to fly and, when he is capable, he is told to take this beautiful thing up into the air and have fun. Built only for war, it was just a magnificent, expensive, uneconomic, performance-inspired, young man's dream. So I was up into that unlimited space, with no restrictive roads, just the bright blue sky.

“Go and practise some aerobatics”, said my instructor. “I'll catch you later”. No music could have been sweeter to my ear, it was like when I was a child and my mother said I could go out and play.

I hung high in that crystal-clear Marlborough sky. I could see the magnificent and impassive Southern Alps shining white, standing like fangs in some prehistoric skull. I watched the vast and restless Pacific as it rolled in, crashing and curling against the coastal headlands. I saw the Canterbury Plains stretching south, it seemed to infinity, while to the north the dark shadow that was New Zealand, my homeland, stretched to the horizon. My contentment was total; I loved every minute in the air and I was totally confident in my ability to handle this elegant and sophisticated craft.

I played with the controls. I pulled the nose up, I pushed the nose down, I rolled each way and I skidded each way, I stood her on her tail, held her up until she stalled, then recovered quickly as she dropped. I dived a short distance, pulled the nose up again and rolled onto her back. A little pressure on the stick and down we went towards the earth beneath. As she fell through the sky and the speed increased, she quickly reached vertical.

I maintained back pressure and she moved into the transition to reach the circular arch at the bottom of that sweet curve and the G-force took over, brutally crushing me down onto my seat. The controls gently overcame the G and the machine rose, soaring towards the sun like a demented rocket. Oh God, it was just so good! I rolled vertically upwards, a victory roll, yelling with joy, exhilarated beyond belief. The speed lessened and I hung upside down in a sloppy half roll during which I lost 100 feet, putting me in almost the same position from which I had started.

I was so filled with joy, so excited that I sang, I yelled, I even tried to yodel, I was so inspired. Like a lark rising high in this cloudless heaven I chirped my pleasure to the world. Overcome by the happiness I was experiencing, I prayed: “Please God, let me spend my life playing in this heaven, let this last and last forever”.
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Old 20th Nov 2015, 03:33
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ANOTHER TRAINING TALE FROM WWII

Geriaviator,

What can I say - what can anyone say after that ? Jack Stafford lives in prose as John Gillespie Magee in verse (Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth.....). It expresses beautifully the feelings that every pilot, powered or not, must have felt at some point in his career - if he has a soul in his body. I wish I could write like that !

Now I have to thank you for rescuing this prince of Threads from the doldrums once again, but as you might say: "Old soldiers never die, never die, never die/Old soldiers never die - they only fade away". And this will be its fate unless the next generation picks up the "torch" that "from failing hands we throw".

There must be many gems like this hidden away in drawers and bookcases. I call on all here present to find them if you can, and share them with us and for posterity.

In a word: "Good Show !" Danny.

EDIT: And we're all waiting for the next Instalment !

Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Nov 2015 at 03:37. Reason: Addn.
 
Old 20th Nov 2015, 09:54
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Eacott

Thanks Danny for your kind comments. I still have a vivid recollection of my final Beaufighter op on 10/11/43, especially the swift dive under the Aegean Sea after when my successful ditching run stopped. I popped out of the opened hatch as soon as I remembered to pull out the safety pin on my seat belt, and moved upwards swiftly from darkness into light.
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Old 20th Nov 2015, 13:20
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Welcome aboard !

Walter603,

So now we have the 'gen' straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak ! Welcome aboard this best of all Threads in the best of all Forums (Fora ?), where naught but good fellowship prevails and all are welcome, even more so if they have something to add to the feast.

I opened my bowling with: "Let's start at the very beginning - a very good place to start". Respectfully, could I urge you to start there, and we can all settle down for a good read ?

And now your good son is "off the hook" ! My regards and grateful thanks to him for firing you up (he's a good lad !).

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 20th Nov 2015, 19:29
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Walter 603,

As Danny says, welcome indeed sir, pull up a chair and tell us how it was for you, from the beginning if you please. If this thread is to maintain its status as "the finest" contributers must do their best to extend their experiences to the likes of myself, who have much to learn of the impressions people who were there have of their experiences. I'm damn sure there will come a day when my minor input to GW1 will fit in to the timeline, meanwhile, your own is of absolute interest to those of us who follow such reminiscence. Its important Walter, and the lads all await your story, I'm sure.

Smudge
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Old 20th Nov 2015, 20:11
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I can't agree with smujsmith more ... this Thread deserves to be lodged with the RAF Museum. This IS what was, and will be lost forever unless people who 'were there' say their piece, however trivial it might seem.

And, yes, we will get round to the rest of the bloody wars eventually.
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Old 20th Nov 2015, 21:24
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I still have a vivid recollection of my final Beaufighter op on 10/11/43, especially the swift dive under the Aegean Sea after when my successful ditching run stopped. I popped out of the opened hatch as soon as I remembered to pull out the safety pin on my seat belt, and moved upwards swiftly from darkness into light.
Your first post, and already we're hooked! Welcome Walter, we look forward to hearing about your service from your training onwards. Did you really go from dainty Airspeed Oxford to monster Beaufighter? Over to you, sir.
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 05:25
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Walter603

Hallo Danny, Back again to answer part of your questions. It would have been quite impossible for a Navigator to reach pilot's cockpit and sit on or over the pilot. One glance at an occupied cockpit would show you why. He sat up straight in his armour-plated seat, head near the escape hatch. No way past him or over him from behind, no space to get around him. Another point I would clarify; the Beau never would fly straight and level. 2-hour flights from the N.African desert over the Med on Rover patrols, and 2 hours return, flying close to the waves (less than 50 feet to keep below enemy RDF), were very tiring because of the a/c tendency to "hunt", with constant correction on the control column. Dihedral tail planes on Marks 6 and 10 cured much of the fault, but it was always present.
Son John made a small mistake when describing my Stalag IVB (4VB in English). "Luft" indicated a purely Air Force prison camp, as in Luft 3. A Stalag accommodated all sorts of military prisoners and many foreign civilians, e.g. Russian peasants. 4B contained somewhere around 10,000 to 15,000 total.
I was determined to get out of the place, and about May 1944 I and a befriended Bomber Command Noavigator (George Lloyd) swapped identities with 2 soldiers due to be sent out on a working party. So we exchanged ID bracelets dpuring the day, occupied their beds for one night, and formed up the next day to march off out of camp. Fortunately the Goons (Germans) didn't check our photos that were available in the camp HQ. So began several months of working on the German railways as maintenance gangs.
I became Fusilier James Leslie of the Irish Fusiliers and George became Gunner Sydney Oliver.
This is quite a long story, contained in 52 pages of PoW memoirs, so I won't test the PPrune system any further. Pester me if you want to hear more!
Walter.
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 07:47
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This is quite a long story, contained in 52 pages of PoW memoirs, so I won't test the PPRuNe system any further. Pester me if you want to hear more! - Walter603

"D'you hear there! PPRuNe Pesterers, muster on the Flight Deck immediately!"

Presumably 603, as in my native city's squadron, which did operate from at least one aircraft carrier, albeit American!

Jack
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 09:07
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Yes please Walter, from the beginning if you would sir!
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 09:43
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Walter, we are all agog with anticipation!!! Just what this thread has been needing...another worthy contributor.
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 09:55
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Walter603,
no pestering but a very humble request, cap in hand for your story from the very beginning.
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 11:58
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From school to the RNZAF boot camp
Post no. 2 from the memoirs of Tempest pilot Flt Lt Jack Stafford, DFC, RNZAF


I had spent the vital days during the Battle of Britain in 1940 at school in Auckland. Old boys, who only a year or two before had stood where I was now standing, died daily in the ferocious conflict being played out in the indifferent European sky. To experience this period in history filled me with a determination and forged in me a resolve to get into the air and into combat. With hundreds of other hopeful youngsters I volunteered to fly with the Royal New Zealand Air Force. I was certain that I would be chosen and certain that I would eventually become a fighter pilot. I would, I must, wear those wings.

I entered the RNZAF in 1941 but did not start my training until March 1942 when with some 150 other bewildered boys I stoically suffered the wrath of numerous NCOs who marched, ran and bullied us for hours every day. The object of their performance was to “make men out of us”, they said. One particularly brutal Flt Sgt marched and ran us, on one occasion, to almost total exhaustion. He was built like a gorilla, with short black bristles atop his flat skull. With his neanderthal brows, his half hidden cold blue eyes, and his murderous mouth, he presented a formidable sight. He marched us, he taunted us and then dressed us down, telling us what we were and what our mothers probably were. He gave a short character description of the fathers that we obviously would never have known, then he called us to attention, yelling at us to stand like men.

“Look proud!” he screamed.”Don't look at me you idiots! Look above me, look at the sky. That's where you are going. Don't look at the ground, that's where I'm staying”. His last words were quieter, a softness came into his voice, almost compassionate. I looked at him with interest. Had he at one time dreamed of being a pilot? Had he wished for a life in the air? How many boys had he marched, frightened and bullied? Did he read the casualty lists daily, and recognise with sorrow many of the names? Did he perhaps weep? For an instant he looked almost human but the moment was short-lived. He barked, obviously embarrassed at the humanity he had shown, and quickly returned to his revolting disposition, returning us to the barracks at a fast trot.

The days passed. We continued to run, march and study for hours each day. It was two or three days before we finished the physical part of our ground training course when 'Neanderthal' marched us round the town and into the Government Gardens, where he halted us and adopted his most truculent position. I suddenly realised that we were halted in front of the Ward Baths, between the baths and a large ornamental pool. I felt uneasy.

“Now”, said this unpleasant man, “word has reached me that someone among you has decided to throw me into this pool. Would that person please step forward and throw me into the water?” There were a few mumblings and shuffling of feet but nobody took up the invitation. The sergeant removed his shirt, displaying a gross and hairy body that made him look like his cave-dwelling ancestors. “No sergeant's stripes, no rank difference, we are all the same. Now's your chance”, he bellowed. Still nobody moved. “Right! Any two of you?” he screamed, reaching a killing frenzy. Still we stood in silence. “Right!” he screeched, almost apoplectic. “Attention! Right turn! Quick march, double march, left right left right, move it!”

It was a subdued group that was dismissed at the billets. I felt that he hid his pleasure in this little victory rather well, but I noticed creases of amusement round his eyes. What a pitiful man! Give him a gun and his opponent a gun and see who was the tougher then. Make it even, take away all physical advantage. Doing him over had been considered, but it would have been at time and place of our choosing. He bluffed us, he had total control, and that made him feel good. But it didn't make him popular.
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 16:34
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Geriaviator,
Thank you for the tantalising tasters from Flight Lieutenant John Stafford DFC. Lots about him on the web, but many may wish to let him tell his own story through you before looking elsewhere. So I'll resist jumping the gun and merely say that we are once again to be treated to the story of a remarkable man from a remarkable generation (and country, come to that!).

Walter603,
I join all those who have already enjoined you to do as Danny has suggested. Let us indeed start at the very beginning, for it is the mundane, the inconsequential, the "by the way...", that sets the scene and takes us all back to those bleak years when no-one could say for sure what was going to happen to the world, one's country, oneself. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but what is more wonderful is when those that are not blessed with it make it happen for others. You, and the millions like you, did just that. Thank you, Sir!
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 18:45
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What a great thread this is, and how lucky we all are to be favoured with the recollections and first hand experiences of those who we all revere. Geriaviator and Walter 603 offer us yet another insight into a time when it was "all hands to the pump" and I for one look forward to this forthcoming Christmas treat. Meanwhile, I see Danny looking for a corner to lurk in, no chance our Dan, if nothing else your opinion and wry wit help us all enjoy such posts. I am seriously looking forward to the next few weeks and months, I doubt I can contribute, but may, if acceptable have a question or two to pose. Post away gentlemen, we are all ears. Finally, thank goodness I hear you say. I'm just reading a book called "Fighter Boys: Saving Britain 1940" by Patrick Bishop. I would recommend it to anyone who follows this thread, it has all the attributes of a serialised post on this most venerable of platforms.

Smudge
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 23:32
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Matters arising from......

pulse1 (your #7644),

Best of luck with your attempts to lure your old-timer out of his lair, perhaps he could be encouraged by the wealth of new contributors which has just cropped-up !

------------

MPN11 (your #7651),

<And, yes, we will get round to the rest of the bloody wars eventually.>
As with Smudge, no time like the present ! (any one of us could stumble under a bus at any time).

-----------

Geriaviator (your #7652),

< Did you really go from dainty Airspeed Oxford to monster Beaufighter? >
In 1954 they were still going from Oxfords straight onto the Meteor (the Typhoon of its time). Most survived.

(On the PM front, things have gone haywire, will leave it a day two to settle down, D.)

Now your #7658,

The first paragraph of Jack Stafford's memoir tells it exactly as it was in Britain (and all over the Empire, I would think) at the victorious end of the Battle of Britain. Just about every red-blooded fit young man in the land with School Cert and in the age limits (17 to 23) rushed to volunteer for RAF aircrew.

After that he seems to have had a very hard time. Surely the training given in NZ would have been on the same lines as in the UK: a fortnight in a Reception Centre, where admittedly we were kicked around from pillar to post, and then onto an ITW for six weeks of what I remember as the best-run Course of any of the many I went through in later years. I remember nothing like the brutal treatment they got from that sadistic Flt.Sgt. (what were the officers doing ? Were they blind ?)

There is a possible partial explanation: I would suppose that their training organisation was swamped by the numbers of volunteers as was ours; we smoothed the intakes out by sending home on (unpaid) "Deferred Service" all who wished, recalling them only when the Reception Centres were ready for them. But there were others with no home to go to (eg those from overseas who had paid for their own passages to the UK to volunteer): these had to be taken in at once and were worked to death as dogsbodies until a Reception Centre vacancy cropped up. Perhaps the same was true in NZ, and he was one of the unfortunates. But nothing can justify the experiences he described.

----------

Walter (your #7653),

Here you couldn't have a better example of one of the most useful purposes of this Thread - the correction of errors (all put in in good faith). So the Burma Beaufighter story given to us by our Beaufighter neighbours was an impossibility ? Both the crew were killed in the failed landing attempt, so the only way the story could have any basis was on radio messages from the Nav after his pilot was hit somewhere round Rangoon.

If he then went forward to give what help he could, he would've been out out of R/T contact, maybe his pilot regained sufficient consciousness to get the thing home, but not enough to get it down. We shall never know.

Then someone put in the heroic navigator bit, first as a wild guess, but you know how these stories gain momentum. The worst instance of these I remember was the Death that never Was in Burma. A 110 Sqdn VV landed at Khumbirgram with a hang-up on the wing, it fell off and exploded (both killed, of course). The story, which was widely disseminated, named F/Sgt Duncan (RCAF), whom I knew well from my time on the Sqdn, as the pilot when we got to hear of it in W.Bengal.

Even Peter c. Scott, in his "Vengeance !" (which is pretty well the bible for the VV) carried a reported version naming Duncan as the pilot. Turns out all were wrong, it was another name, Reg Duncan lived to a ripe old age in Canada.

Now to business. Pester us all you like, young fella ! That's what we're here for. Clearly your plan was to disappear from the rail gang, and we're all on tenterhooks to hear how you proposed to set about it.

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Jack (your #7654),

"Aye, aye, Sir " (on the double !)

603 (City of Edinburgh) were an Auxiliary Fighter Squadron before and after WWII.

Now, Jack and Walter: "If you have tears, prepare to shed them now":

<The MOD announced that 603 Sqn would re-role to become a reserve RAF Police unit from 1 April 2013.> [Wiki].

Cheers to all, Danny.
 
Old 22nd Nov 2015, 08:27
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Walter603

The Burma Beaufighter story as described in your original post is clearly quite impossible, Danny. A second person of any sort would find it so. No way into the pilot's position or around him to operate the controls. I stand firmly by my assessment.
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Old 22nd Nov 2015, 08:47
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Danny 42C

OK then Danny, to business it is. I have a 52-page memoir of my final days in 603 Squadron, after a year of flying in the N.African desert, and going on to PoW existence in Stalag 4B in Germany. Prepared for my children, grandchildren & co, it has gone the rounds of friends. So I'll post sections on this forum until you plead for mercy!
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