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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 29th Nov 2015, 22:16
  #7741 (permalink)  
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I think this is the one you requested.
My Dad was a Flight Sergeant in 61 Sqn post-war at Waddington.
Best regards
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Old 29th Nov 2015, 22:45
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What a magnificent service record ! I have always been humbled by the thought of Bomber Command operations. To do just one such 'op' meant hand-flying a lumbering, heavy, four engined unheated aircraft (with no power assistance), non-stop (apart from the help your f/e could give), for seven or eight hours or more through a freezing night. You would be dodging searchlights and flak and all the time at risk of being raked by the fire of a night fighter who had sudddenly appeared out of the darkness.

Added to this was cloud, rain and ice, maybe fog when (if) you got back.You dare not fly straight and level for any length of time (apart from when you must, say, to allow your Nav to make a star sight), as that would make you an easy target. You knew the odds against you.

Having done all that, and got home to enjoy your breakfast egg, in my book it was worth a medal. But you knew that in two or three days, you'd be called on to do it all again. And again and again, thirty times, before a rest. You knew that your chances of surviving one tour were 42%, to survive two 17%, after that virtually nil.

It needs a special kind of man not to break under a strain like that, and I salute your Dad and all the brave men of the Command. My 'ops' in Burma were child's play in comparison, and I've often wondered how I would have behaved in his position. I hope I'd have been up to it - but you can never be sure.

There are a few questions and comments on your excellent Posts, but this is not the place for them. They can wait. Thank you for telling your Dad's story.

Cheers, Danny.
Old 30th Nov 2015, 03:17
  #7743 (permalink)  
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Danny, I find it hard to understand that officer pay rate chart. I couldn't see a date stamp anywhere but it looks pre-war. Like you, I remember my Sgt and F/Sgt salaries gave me approx 5 pounds 18 a week as Sgt and 7 punds plus as a F/Sgt. (Sorry I don't have sterling abbreviations on my Aussie Mac). It isn't feasible that the commissioned ranks would take a pay cut on promotion.
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Old 30th Nov 2015, 05:14
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Old Comrades

We four, being “aircrew types", were sent to RAF Station Abingdon, in Berkshire, to fill in time as airfield defenders, whilst awaiting our turn for flying training. I had no contact with the others during the day, except casually, as I was rostered to serve in a small squad for Ground Defence. On 24-hours shifts, we occupied dug-outs and tents on the perimeter of the aerodrome. The circular dug-out contained a Lewis machine gun, and three of us took two-hour turns at manning the gun, keeping a sharp lookout for enemy aircraft that might be raiding by day or night.

In between times, we filled sandbags, made new dug-outs and gun-pits, and occasionally spent time in the N.A.A.F.I. (“Naffy” was the Services canteen, run by the Navy Army and Air Force Institute) or visiting the local shops trying to buy elusive cigarettes.

After about eight weeks of this routine, I was sent to Stanton Harcourt, a village not far from Abingdon, where there was a satellite airfield. I met several new trainees, all potential aircrew, and together we started the huge task of putting up barbed wire around the miles-long perimeter of the airfield.

We were billetted in an unused dance hall next to a public house, by the side of a very pretty stretch of river about a mile and a half from the village. The publican’s name was Ecott but we were not related.
On 9th May 1941, I received the welcome news that I was posted for the beginning of my aircrew training to No. 8 I.T.W. (Initial Training Wing) at Newquay, Cornwall, but first to Air Crew Receiving Centre ("Arsy-Tarsy") for some more of that “bull” welcoming all recruits.

At Newquay on 24th May I was to spend another six fascinating weeks, being taught elementary navigation, meteorology, airmanship (as applied to flying) and other facets of pilot expertise. As well, we were brought up to an absolute peak of physical fitness by the constant attention of Corporal Jeff Allway, Physical Training Instructor. I remember him telling me that before the war he had had a small part as an actor in the early film "White Horse Inn", about smugglers in the west of England.
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Old 30th Nov 2015, 07:00
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Note that I found the name of the PTI; Cpl Jeff Allway. I spotted him somehwere in the UK before I went overseas. He had been accepted for aircrew training at last, he said, and was very happy about it.
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Old 30th Nov 2015, 07:39
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Sorry I don't have sterling abbreviations on my Aussie Mac
I had the same problem with a Chinese laptop. I don't know what a Mac has but in Office you go to Insert-Symbol and you will find pages of everything in this world.
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Old 30th Nov 2015, 07:40
  #7747 (permalink)  
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Marktime Pay on Commissioning from the ranks.

I cannot confirm the policy of pay changes during the war but I did experience the effect later. I was commissioned in 1964 after 6 years service as an NCO Radio Observer and subsequently Pilot. On appointment to Plt Off my basic Sgt pay (which was higher than a Plt Off) was retained until promotion to Fq Off. My flying pay immediately increased as did my marriage allowance on moving to the officer's mess.

The system was termed "marktime pay rates" and gave those who experienced the result a considerable increase in pay when compared to the normal rates earned by officers with Direct Commissions.

I suspect that other pruners of that period will have a similar story.
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Old 30th Nov 2015, 09:08
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You dare not fly straight and level for any length of time
It is worth emphasising that crews were required to fly straight and level for approx. 30 seconds after the bombs had been released so that the target photograph could be taken .... that must have been the worst time to have to complete this manoeuvre.


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Old 30th Nov 2015, 22:06
  #7749 (permalink)  
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Sandisondaughter (your #7709),

He shared his first room with the Headboy of Eton and the Headboy of Harrow, but he himself was the son of a postmaster from the Shetland Isles and his operational crew consisted of Australians and a Canadian
"Cook's son – Duke's son – son of a belted Earl,
Son of a Lambeth publican – it's all the same to-day!
Each of 'em doing his country's work" [Kipling]

We were all thrown into into the melting pot together and found we were "brothers under the skin" [sorry, Kipling !] In India, the two IAF Vengeance Squadrons were a mix of Indians, British and all the Dominions. The RAF ones the same less Indian. We were an ad-hoc lot.

(your #7729)

After gaining his wings on 3rd Jan 1942 Dad stayed on to train as a flying instructor - completed in Feb 1942. His instructor came from Chicago. Dad then went on to instruct at Darr Aerotech in Albany. His logbook lists all his trainees. I wonder how many survived the war.
In my logbook is a puzzle. On 27th January, 1942, I had as instructor at Craig Field,Selma, a P/O I.D.Macmillan. He could not have been an Arnold student (too early). So where had he come from (Canada ?). And how did he come to be instructing at an Arnold School ? (I thought the idea was that the creamed-off Arnold people were supposed to instruct only at the BFTS [eg Darr Aerotech] - the Air Corps would bristle at the idea of a RAF officer instructing at one of their Schools).

Didn't they have enough "creamies" of their own ? IIRC, the Arnold Schools graduated 4493 pilots and kept 526 (11.7%) out there for (we now know) 12 months before returning to UK. Of course, the Arnold Scheme ended in May (?) '43, as they wanted all their training capacity for themselves, but the six BFTS kept going to the end. The 500 odd creamed off Arnold graduates must have supplied almost all their instructors.

(your #7734)
...at Turner Field, Albany from early November 1941 to end of December 1941 flying North Americans.
The AT-6A, aka Harvard

He qualified as a pilot on 3rd January 1942 and then went on to Instructors School <at Gunter Field, Montgomery, Alabama flying Vultees from 21.1.42 to 6.2.42.
I was there as a stude from 4.11.41. to 4.1.42. I don't know what your Dad thought of the Vultee BT-13 "Valiant" (and you had to be valiant to fly it !), but in my book it was the worst handling thing I ever flew, the thing should never have been put into production. The Empire FTS and the BFTS did without a Basic stage (and the BT-13 !) altogether, and felt no pain.
Then there was a period of consolidation at Cochran Field again from Feb to April 1942. He then instructed at Turner Field from June 1942 to December 1942.
Same problem: wasn't Turner Field Army Air Corps ? (not one of the six BFTS).
He was posted to No 1660 Conversion Unit, Swinderby in May, flying Manchester and then on 1st June 1943 his first flight in a Lancaster I.
I bet he was glad to see the back of the Manchester ! Is there another man alive who flew them ? What were they really like ? (the Lancaster must have made him feel as if all his Birthdays had come at once !)

This is all questions, I admit, but that is what this Thread is all about. Please continue your Dad's wonderful story, we know the outline, now we want the juicy stuff in between. The Devil (and the interest) is in the detail.

Regards, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 2nd Dec 2015 at 22:18. Reason: Tidy up loose ends, and a Typo.
Old 1st Dec 2015, 00:49
  #7750 (permalink)  
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Worldly Wealth.

Walter603 (your #7714),

.....a RAF iron-framed bed with springs, the standard timber locker and a small rug.
Timber locker and a rug ! We had only our kitbags and the sprung bed. Had to buy our own mirror.
....You reminded me of the 4 Yorkshiremen story that was popular many years ago. "Floorboards in the annex? Aaaaah! i'd 'ave given me soul for them. An 'ole in the ground was what I 'ad for a bed" etc. etc. Next Yorkie, "Wot...'ole in the ground? I 'ad to sleep in a pond!" and so on.
At Babbacombe we were on bare boards with a straw palliasse ! (you were probably the same).

(your #7744)
Danny, I find it hard to understand that officer pay rate chart. I couldn't see a date stamp anywhere but it looks pre-war. Like you, I remember my Sgt and F/Sgt salaries gave me approx £5/18 a week as Sgt and £7 plus as a F/Sgt.
Our 13/6 a day as a Sgt-Pilot would be £4/14/6 in '42, and a F/Sgt-Pilot on 15/6 would get £5/8/6. Unless you got some extras, I'm afraid your past has picked up a rosy glow ! And £sd went out 43 years ago, so there is some excuse ! Yet, "all found" (except for 6d a day Sgts Mess Bill), it was good money. As one of my contemporaries put it: "it was the last time that you could have a good night out on a day's pay".
It isn't feasible that the commissioned ranks would take a pay cut on promotion.
No, and for that reason a Warrant Officer (and some F/Sgts ?) were commissioned as F/Os. But our problem here is the case where an NCO is commissioned, and there is a long delay in it coming through, in which time he has continued to be paid as an NCO. That pay has to be recouped, he may well have been promoted in the interval, in which case the amount to be repaid might exceed his arrears of pay as a P/O.

When I went back into the RAF in '49, it was as an F/O on 19/10 a day (nil seniority !). or about £355 pa. It was £50 less than I'd been getting as an Executive Officer in the Civil Service, but it was worth it to get back in. And of course, Marriage Allowance would have about doubled it, and you don't get that in the CS. Comparison with the rate chart shows a figure of £274 pre-war. Prices had about doubled in the interval, so my pay should have been £550 to keep in step. No such luck !

It woz an 'ard life !

{your #7745),

"Old Comrades"

Ah, those first bewildering weeks at "arsy-tarcy" and then ITW ! As I've said, you "immediate service" chaps had this advantage over us "deferred service types, in that you'd learned all the survival skills necessary for an erk in the wartime RAF before you started training. For me, who'd already done nine years "hard" in boarding school, and for one or two ex public-schoolboys, it was bad enough, but for the majority who'd never been away from Mummy, it must've been the culture shock of their lives !

You seem to have done pretty well eveything bar painting the coal white.

Happy Days !


Last edited by Danny42C; 1st Dec 2015 at 18:37. Reason: Addn,
Old 1st Dec 2015, 01:50
  #7751 (permalink)  
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The euphoria of completing one's First Solo.

Warmtoast (your #7730).
I was as happy as could be. I taxied up, stopped and braked. Try as I did, I couldn’t restrain the broad grin which gripped me
There are few days in life about which you can confidently say: "I'll remember that day as long as I live". Every pilot can recall exactly the detail of his first solo, which of course must always come as a surprise (even as a shock), although you'd been hoping and praying for it.

The realisation that your instructor has so much faith in you, that he will stake his reputation on your ability to do this, buoys you up. You can't let him down, no time to feel nervous, you know what to do, now get on with it.

In a minute or two it's all over, you've done it ! You're a pilot now, nothing can take that away from you. Of all the flights (perhaps thousands of them) that you will fly in the years to come, nothing can equal this. Have you forgotten the name of the instructor who turned you loose that day ? No, I thought not, and you never will ! (Mine was Bob Greer).

Old 1st Dec 2015, 02:08
  #7752 (permalink)  
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Sad Sight.

Geriaviator (your #7735),
...early Oxfords had fixed pitch wooden props, but had a pitch control knob which had to be moved into 'fine pitch' for takeoff and landing. The control didn't do anything except to embed 'pitch' as a vital item of cockpit drill
Now I've heard everything !! A control with NO Function ! Just to give the poor pilot something extra to do - as if he didn't have enough already !

Rates with a "Pub with No Beer". This was not uncommon in the immediate postwar years. The barmaid would drape a teacloth over the pumps, so the thirsty customer only had to poke his head round the door, read the dread signal, and try further down the street.

But it was a good life.

Old 1st Dec 2015, 10:03
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A slight detour to ACDC, Heaton Park

I have just been reading through a pamphlet which was issued to airmen who were "on hold" at ACDC, Heaton Park, Manchester and I came across this section which I thought I would share, as I love the manner in which it is written:

"Mugs are issued to you against your signature when you arrive at this station and returned by you when you leave us. If your mug is damaged on return you will have to pay the cost of a new one (about 7d.) so look after it.

Crockery is not easy to get these days (as witness the things they get you to eat out of when you go home on leave). If you want to take away a souvenir of Heaton Park, take a piece of mud ... there is plenty of that, but don't take it all, because we like to do a bit of mud-slinging amongst ourselves sometimes."

Last edited by Petet; 1st Dec 2015 at 13:49.
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Old 1st Dec 2015, 10:18
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Now I've heard everything !! A control with NO Function !
IIRC there was an Australian fixed undercarriage training aircraft, possibly the Wackett, that had an mock undercarriage handle in the cockpit so as to instill the operation of as a habit for u/t pilots.
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Old 1st Dec 2015, 11:02
  #7755 (permalink)  
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On returning from my Det in FI, I was deficient qty one, mug, plastic, for which I was duly billed something like £1.07.

Apparently Supply Sqn at RAF Uxbridge had no powers to write off items issued by RAF Innsworth
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Old 1st Dec 2015, 15:50
  #7756 (permalink)  
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Our debt to the airmen of Bomber Command

Seventy-five years on, the commemorations for the Battle of Britain have been deservedly welcomed. Nobody could not have been thrilled by the mass formation of Spitfires, the re-running of stirring film clips, the magnificent oratory of Winston Churchill both before and after the decisive contest to control the air.

But as usual there has been hardly a mention of Bomber Command, whose crews fought so many battles night after night for five years. So here's a figure to ponder: more bomber airmen died on the night of March 30/31, 1944, than were lost by Fighter Command during the four months of the Battle of Britain in 1940. Those who survived told of the route to and from Nuremberg being marked by burning aircraft.

Am I the only one to notice that the rare mentions on BBC in particular will refer to the RAF's 'controversial' bombing campaign? I remember some TV poser, hands waving furiously, spouting from a Hamburg street and telling us that the workers' houses had been devastated and thousands had been killed. Too bad he didn't go a couple of miles north and show us the U-boat facilities which Bomber Command had also devastated. According to Speer, the raid had cost Germany two months of U-boat production at a time when submarine warfare posed the biggest threat to Britain.

In no way would I wish to detract from the achievements and sacrifice of Fighter Command. But stories such as those on this thread are important to those who believe that every item of information concerning Bomber Command needs to be preserved, indeed treasured. The 55,573 airmen who gave their lives deserve no less.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 1st Dec 2015 at 21:58.
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Old 1st Dec 2015, 18:57
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Pete, and MPN11,
Crockery is not easy to get these days

The solution was an enamel mug. I was issued with one, it clattered a bit when carried with your "irons", but it was virtually indescructible.

Old 1st Dec 2015, 21:28
  #7758 (permalink)  
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....I remember some TV poser, hands waving furiously, spouting from a Hamburg street and telling us that the workers' houses had been devastated and thousands had been killed.
Spot on ! As an old uncle of mine (trenches WWI) used to say: "when the scrap-iron starts flying about, everybody's likely to get hurt".

In a quiet little church in Falaise, N. France, (2008 pop; 8300), is a wall tablet commemorating the death of 300 civilians in the 1944 battles.

As I recall, thousands were killed in the London 'Blitz' in 1941. In 1942, "They have sown the wind", declared Harris, "they will reap the whirlwind"....And they did !

War is War, it is not nice, the innocent suffer with the guilty. It was ever so, and ever will be.


Last edited by Danny42C; 29th Apr 2016 at 22:35. Reason: Correction.
Old 1st Dec 2015, 21:37
  #7759 (permalink)  
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Marktime Pay.

Fixed Cross,

This sounds like a thundering good idea ! After my time,sadly

Old 1st Dec 2015, 22:53
  #7760 (permalink)  
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Danny 42C:-
The solution was an enamel mug. I was issued with one, it clattered a bit when carried with your "irons", but it was virtually indescructible.
I too, as a CCF cadet at summer camp, was so equipped. Being keen to do everything according to the book, we marched to the airmen's mess holding it and the irons in the left hand held in the small of the back, while swinging the right arm as per normal.

When we had consumed our vittles, the plates were scraped off into the swill bins and stacked for the staff to feed into the dishwasher, while our personal implements were rinsed off in a trough of superheated water (well so it seemed), shaken, returned to the left hand and small of the back for the return march to the billet. Oh how proud of us our Mums would have been!
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