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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 17th Jun 2009, 14:17
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This is a wonderful thread. I only found it yesterday and, like a good book, I have not been able to put it down.

I was second generation ATC - part of the mass intake in the late 1960's needed to replace the huge number of ex WW2 controllers coming up for retirement. The majority were ex aircrew but few ever spoke of their wartime experiences and we respected them too much to press them with our silly questions.

Only rarely did a comment get thrown our way. I remember a rambling discussion about spinning coming to a halt after one venerable quietly said that, "It wasn't funny being in an inverted spin in a Lancaster at night". Of course we always wanted to know more but the curtain had already shut.

I can understand why my mentors did not wish to dwell on their past but it is also a pity because such stories are worth knowing. The factual information here is fascinating and may be valueable data for historians but the underlying tale is of humanity and of the elations and fears of incredibly young people as they were drawn into the war. Just as valeable as the descriptions of the flying are the comments about families, wives and landladies - all trying in their own way to struggle through those hard times.

I remember Ted saying that he was a rather naive and sheltered 19 years old when he got his papers to report for flying training. Like Reg he couldn't drive so had never ventured much beyond the local village and admitted the warrant to travel to Liverpool for onward processing was equally exciting and daunting.

He said matters took a severe downhill turn upon arriving at Liverpool and having to dash to the conveniences to relieve a nervous bladder. The state of the place was bad enough but he admitted the thing that nearly made him turn and run was the slogan painted on the wall:

It's no use standing on the seat,
Liverpool crabs can jump six feet.


18 months later he was flying Spitfires with 41 Sqn..

Gentlemen - please continue with your excellent articles. To me they are a tribute to all those respected gentlemen I worked with who said so little about their experiences (my father included) - and to the 55,000 (just in Bomber Command alone) who never had the chance to.
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Old 17th Jun 2009, 22:16
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The Berlin Air Lift

We were a very short time at RAF Wunstorf. We were initiated into the mechanics of the Air Lift and then moved to Hamburg. From Fuhlsbuttel, the main airfield of Hamburg we would fly three sorties to Berlin (Tegel) and back in twenty four hours. We would fly, without days off, for three weeks, alternating the eight hour shifts three times then we would take our aircraft back to Tarrant Rushton for servicing whilst we had one weeks leave in the U.K. Pay was generous. The whole of the Hotel Baslerhof in the centre of the flattened city was taken over by Flight Refuelling. All our meals were paid for and we were given a daily allowance of "Scrip" BAF ( British Armed Forces) money to pay for our incidental expenses. Spirits at the Hotel Bar were sixpence per generous tot and bottles were six shillings ! Our travel to anywhere in the U.K. was paid each month during our leave and our extremely generous salary was paid every month in to our banks in the U.K.

During the sixteen hours per day that we had free we would sleep and then enjoy the various sessions that would be going on in the bar and the billiard room where an Airlift game called "Bongo" was was always in action. There was an extra white ball worth 10 points and you could pot a colour without playing a red but if you missed it you lost your break points and if you missed the Bongo which had to be played after the Black then you wiped out your entire score. Huge amounts of Scrip would change hands on this and the permanent Poker sessions that were always going on. You would leave to fly your three sorties delivering fuel to Berlin and return to find the party going on but with different people.

The Barman was a monocled ex U boat man named Fritz, needless to say, Once whilst a game of "High Cockalorum" which conisted of a sort of Rugby scrum with bodies piled up on top of one another until the goal of either the ceiling or the complete collapse of everyone was achieved, I found Fritz, regarding the scene and watching one of our Captains, Joe Viatkin, who had broken his neck in a crash but had recovered and was flying on the Airlift. Joe had retained muscular control but after a few drinks this would weaken and his head would roll, horribly for an alarming number of degrees around his neck. Fritz was leaning on the bar with his head in his hands , weeping uncontrollably. "What's up, Fritz ?" I said sympathetically, " How did you B......rds win the war ?" was his tearful reply. Discipline was poor and the near proximity of the Reeperbahn in St. Pauli didn't help. Flight Refuelling brought in a real Dragon of a Station master but even he could not stop one of the wildest coups which was when a crew returning from St.Pauli one night, came across an unattended workers hut near the tramlines and got hold of the oxyacetyline welding equipment inside and spot welded as many tramline points as they could find resulting in the complete stoppage of the tramways system as trams were stranded all over Hamburg.
I found myself renewing acquaintance with many old friends including Ralph Hollis from my class in the USA and whom I had met again in India. He replaced the useless First Officer I had started with. I had just touched down back at Hamburg when I found myself airborne again. THe F/O had pulled all the flaps up as I touched the ground. "What the hell did you do that for ?" I yelled. "I just wanted to see what would happen " he said. He soon found out but only on his way back, in a boat , to England.
Ralph got his own Command very shortly.
 
Old 18th Jun 2009, 10:41
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regle,
how strange it must have seemed taking relief to Berlin instead of bombs.
On my last squadron our Luftwaffe exchange officer he knew how we won the war. 'You practice chaos in peacetime ' Who said they don't have a sense of humour.
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Old 18th Jun 2009, 11:21
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ancient aviator62

It was a very good feeling and the gratitude of the Berliners was made apparent every time we landed there . We had to wait a couple of hours each time while they defuelled every plane and they made it abundantly clear that the Allies were saving them from the absolutely dreaded complete occupation from the Russians. The action of a certain US Pilot who devised the idea of dropping hundreds of tiny parachuted packets of sweets as he approached the runway was soon eagerly anticipated by the German children and they congregated in their thousands to scoop them up. I think that he was called Carl Halvesen or something like it but he got the nickname of "The Candy Bomber". I met him at a reunion of surviving Air Lift Personnel when the City of Berlin invited us to a week's celebration. He told me that so many US sweet manufacturers caught on with the idea and sent thousands of ready made up parachute packets that it became impossible to take them all. The Berliners lined the streets in pouring rain when we marched to the memorial that they have erected to the many people who lost their lives during the Air Lift and they were crying and shaking our hands so that it became impossible to march and we were almost carried to the site. Berlin put on a magnificent week with wonderful Concerts and Dinners and the atmosphere was electric. I had so many mixed feelings that it became impossible to think straight but I
still got a terrible feeling of dread when, on the last night , there was a big show at Tempelhof Airport and we were seated in the standlike structure . It was completely dark and then, in the distance, we heard the sound of military songs and heard the "stomp, stomp stomp" of marching men in the distance then, with torches blazing they came in front of us to welcome a Douglas Skymaster which had landed in the darkness to symbolise the Airlift. I am afraid that the sheer martial efficiency and the torchlight parade spoiled the whole event for me and many others as I had , literally , goosepimples breaking out and many of my friends had experienced the same feeling. Nothing had changed. Reg.

Last edited by regle; 18th Jun 2009 at 17:56. Reason: name found
 
Old 18th Jun 2009, 11:26
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Discipline was poor and the near proximity of the Reeperbahn in St. Pauli didn't help.
I think I have mastered the art of highlighting quotes at long last, thanks to Fareasterndriver. So just practicing.

Ah,Regle. The Reeperbahn, and San Puali. Could never understand why those ladies wrestled in mud with no clothes on. Surely they would have been more comfortable in dry suits.
Sorry about that, but as I said just practicing.
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Old 18th Jun 2009, 16:47
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Ref 827 Permalink

Goosequill RE PERMALINK 827 and your question about form 700. I searched my records for a sketch of form 700, but could only find one of Form 700 A. which is a 'traveling 7O0 . As I think it will be very similar to Form 700 I have reproduced it below,and note, that not only as Regle says , it was finally signed by the skipper, but ,only after signatures by the F/E, WOP,and bombaimer It must have been signed as the crew entered the aircraft as I remember checking tyres for creep, and such things as pitot head cover removal after arrival at the dispersal .One ambiguous, onerous?, unfair ?instruction, was to check the general aspect of the aircraft, which covers a multitude of sins,this is an all embracing rule. Similar to safety, health and welfare rules 'ladders shall be of suitable construction'. Ask what this means, and you will be told, "if it is of suitable construction it will not fail, if it fails it is of unsuitable construction

And cor blimey, the poor F/E has even signed that the airframe has been inspected. COMMENTS ?
Wish I still had a shorthand typist.

Last edited by cliffnemo; 18th Jun 2009 at 20:21. Reason: This engineer missed out an H
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Old 18th Jun 2009, 17:35
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How do you?

1) Do quotes?

2) Let's hear some of your Reeperbahn stories then cliff :0)

Regards Andy
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Old 19th Jun 2009, 07:31
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Form 700 et al

Hi Cliff,

Thanks once again for yet another fascinating piece of contemporary documentation - these really bring the subject to life and provide rare and valuable detail for those with the historian instinct. Very much appreciated! One small treasure I picked up along the way is a FAA Form 700 for a Vampire, but of course only one set of initials goes on that. Most intriguing, but logical, that the other major trades had to sign for their own areas of responsibility in a Lanc.

Yes - that airframe check does seem to be a nasty catch-all. I have an external checklist for the Lanc which was used at LFS and it is pretty detailed (check static vents clear, check fuel jettison washers concentric - huh, wassat?) but the 'overall aspect' is a beaut.

"Chiefy, I'm not too sure about that line of rivets - the heads look a bit distorted. Any chance of drilling them out and re-popping them while we clean the tailwheel?" (Chiefy remembers some French from thirty years before...)

I see you had a MkIII with Merlins 28s. LFS Feltwell actually considered retaining a number of Mk1 machines for rookie crews as these did not overhead while in the circuit; something that had to be watched in the MkIII. (Ring a bell?) And apparently, at starting, you were not to pump the throttle of the Merlin 28 - presumably BAD THINGS could happen if you did. (The Napier Sabre could have a carburetta fire if its throttle was pumped during start.)

That excellent film 'Night Bombers' remarks that the crew had to get to their aircraft one hour before take off, so they could get through all the checks for an operational detail. I can believe it! (But any longer and the Elsan might have to have been emptied...)

Cheers,

Dave
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Old 19th Jun 2009, 08:46
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Andyl999:
1) Do quotes?
When you reply, above the blank text space are a series of icions. The 3rd from the right on the bottom row is shaped like a speech box with rows of lines.
In the post you wish to quote, click just before the text you want to quote then highlight it for the length of text required and then right click on Copy.
Then start your reply, pasting the copied text where appropriate. Then highlight that copied text again and then click on the icon. If you pass the mouse over the icon it will show the text Wrap [QUOTE] tags around selected text.
Simples Tchh!!
Check out what the other icons do! I also think that there are clear guides already posted as "Stickies" on the forum covering just about every possible thing you need.
PS: I'm no gnarly (!) smart@ss, I've still got to be brave enough to post pictures, yet Reg and cliff are now wizzes themselves!! You're never too old unless you say so!!
Cheers!!
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Old 19th Jun 2009, 12:33
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Quotes

Just messing, Trying to produce a new instruction method.



Does it work?. Could refine it.

EDIT
paste at flashing cursor between quotes

Last edited by cliffnemo; 19th Jun 2009 at 12:36. Reason: ADDITION
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Old 19th Jun 2009, 17:38
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WOT NO CLIFFNEMO.
(A drawing often seen on walls etc.The Gentleman was variously known as Kilroy.Chad or Clem ) and was always
followed by 'wot no ?


I will be away for two or three days, going to the East Riding. Hope to be having a home made steak and kidney pie at lunch time tomorrow. In a pub in Millington .
From R.A.F Pocklington Steer 045 degrees for three miles, pop in, and I will buy you a Glenmorgie

Last edited by cliffnemo; 19th Jun 2009 at 17:39. Reason: added Clem
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Old 21st Jun 2009, 04:49
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They still remember

Apart from the large UK contingent just up the road here in Wichita, you may be pleased to know that the RAF Training unit is still remembered each year in Ponca City

Interesting links to the DARR School are here PONCA CITY and here Ponca City and the surrounding area WW II Aeronautically involved Veterans.

Last edited by ICT_SLB; 21st Jun 2009 at 05:03.
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Old 21st Jun 2009, 18:44
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More tales of the Airlift 1948

The flying was demanding and tough. You were given the call signs of the aircraft ahead of you and the aircraft behind you and it was up to you to keep three minutes separation from these two aircraft relying on their reporting times over the various radio beacons on your defined corridor. As the corridor was very narrow you had to rely on decreasing or increasing speed to enable you to arrive over the beacon with the required three minute separation. At Berlin you were taken over by GCA for the landing, irrespective of the weather conditions. If you had to overshoot, for any reason, it was rare that GCA could fit you in and you had to carry your load back to Fuhlsbuttel.

We were using Tegel in the French Zone. The Sunderlands were using one of the big lakes in Berlin. For some days an old York was always the aircraft ahead of me on takeoff at Hamburg. It would open up all four engines on the brakes before takeoff and then release them and , ever so slowly, gather speed. Each day it seemed to take a few yards more to get airborne and , sure enough one day it disappeared in a huge cloud of white smoke through the far fence. From out of the dense cloud of white appeared the running figures of what appeared to be snowmen. It was the crew, completely unhurt but covered in the flour that was the origin of the smoke and the load that they were carrying. At least they had not been in the Hastings which were carrying up to 9 tonnes of coal !

Our second son, Anthony was born in March 1949 whilst I was out in Germany. He was completely spoiled by the many children that we had as our neighbours in out flat in Spencer House , Albion Ave. SW8. Toys and other so called luxuries were still unobtainable in the U.K. but many things were on sale in the N.A.A.F.I. shops scattered throughout the B.A.O.R. or British Army of Occupation of the Rhine and we had full access to them as we could pay in the requisite "Scrip" that was being issued to us. Few people realise how austere the U.K. was at that time so many years after the end of hostilities. The meat ration pp was about two small chops per week. Through the NAAFI I was able to buy some toys for our new son and even a real pedal Jeep for my eldest son, Peter. Things like lovely bone china tea services were obtainable that could not be seen in British shops and I still have an absolutely perfect replica of Guy Gibson's Logbook, published by His Majesty's Stationery Office and sold at the NAAFI for a very short while for seven and sixpence.

Things were even tougher in Germany, itself. Things as banal as Cigarettes, Coffee and Cocoa replaced the Mark as currency. These were eagerly sought after by the German crews who became our friends as they did such a splendid job of defuelling our planes so rapidly and we would bring back what we could when we returned from the UK every three weeks. Once, about ten o'clock at night I was walking to catch a tram to Waterloo Station where I would catch my train to return to Tarrant Rushton. I was stopped by two policemen in a police car. They asked me what I was carrying in my suitcase. I showed them that it ws full of cigarettes and Bournville Cocoa and explained that I was on my way back to Germany. "Hop in" they said and took me all the way to Waterloo Station.

The aircraft that we were flying were known as Lancastrians but they were in fact Lancaster bombers with the turrets removed and a streamlined nose cone fitted. It was used for a while on the England - Australia route carrying some eight passengers in doubtful comfort. As we were carrying all the petrol and oil to Berlin it was fitted with a huge internal tank down the centre of the fuselage from the centre of the main spar, which always had to be climbed over , almost to where the Elsan and the rear turret were located in the Lancaster. I think that they removed both for the airlift. As it was only a short flight from Hamburg to Berlin some of the wing tanks were also used to carry motor fuel. A total of about 2,500 gallons of motor fuel were carried this way by each aircraft.
The result was a flying petrol tanker and was the reason that we were so well paid. In actual fact, through careful selection of flying and ground personnel and the insistence of a comprehensive three weekly check of the aircraft at Tarrant Rushton, Flight Refuelling never had a fatal accident on the actual Airlift although one was lost when it flew into a hilltop in fog on a return flight to Tarrant with the loss of six crew members , Some of them including my Irish friend from India , Mick Cusack , were returning as passengers on leave. Many other Companies and Air Forces lost planes and lives but the show of strength in the air almost certainly prevented the Third World War and invaluable experience was gained in the the controlling of large numbers of concentrated aircraft and Instrument Flying and controlled spacing of aircraft.
On the 17th, July 1949 I made my last flight to Berlin; It was my 118th. sortie and then flew back to England in a Dakota to a world that was suddenly flooded with redundant Pilots all looking for jobs in an austere economy that had not yet geared itself to Air travel.

Last edited by regle; 21st Jun 2009 at 19:10.
 
Old 21st Jun 2009, 22:51
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regle,

Thanks for more fascinating insights into those days.

In my FR days, when they flew Meteors and Canberras at Tarrant, I was told many stories about the Berlin airlift days, In particular, I was told, that when the Lancasters came back to Tarrant for servicing, the residues of petrol in the tanks were quickly drained and shared out amongst the staff. A new security chief tried to stop this practice and got the sack.

Your reference to the accident reminded me of one of my visits to Tarrant, during very poor weather with drizzle, low cloud and poor vis, I was amazed to see a Canberra coming into land. As far as I recall, there were no navaids there at all.
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Old 21st Jun 2009, 23:04
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They would have to be very quick. Customs and Excise had their own VHF set and were always first to greet the incoming plane with their cars ....and their Jerrycans. But they were always very lenient with the crews ! Cameras were very popular and even a BMW Motor bike or two ! I thought about putting it in my original thread but was too discreet and then I saw what you had written ! Is it Pulse as in beans etc ? Just wondered, Reg.
 
Old 22nd Jun 2009, 09:32
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Is it Pulse as in beans etc ?
No. More to do with short bursts of electric current, like 3200 amps for 10 milliseconds.
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 09:09
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Pigeons

Quote I've never heard of a "Crash Signal" before. What does it mean (assuming that as it didn't happen to either of you, you might still have known about it.) Did each aircraft have a continuous tone that, when it crashed cut off, or was a signal somehow sent automatically?

Kevin,
The answer to our question (#857) seems to be pigeons - so was the technology thru to '43. I'm reading Snaith Days - Life with Squadron 51 1942-45. Quoting

When the time came the aircrew proceeded to the locker room to be kitted out and collect parachutes. In addition, during 1943, the Wireless Operator collected the aircraft pigeons in their containers. The purpose of these pigeons was for release with a message on their legs if the aircraft ditched in the sea.

I can imagine in most cases this did not work too well

Cheers
Rodger
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 16:07
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rmventuri: I did wonder about pigeons, however the Form 700 is printed as Crash Signal Received dated (not timed) 4/12 which I would interpret as a "positive" in that a "Crash Signal" HAD been received........
It's waaaaay before my time so we'd need an "oldster" to clarify if the NON-RETURN of their pigeon(s) would be taken to be definite proof of a crash, inasmuch as no member of the crew had been able to release the pigeons.
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 17:25
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Crash Signal

[QUOTE]
Crash Signal Received (4/12)
[/QUOTE

Rmventuri, The only crash signal I ever heard was when the skipper shouted emergency, emergency , jump, jump, but no one could move. Details later.

As you are now aware, I am back home. An excellent weekend , with terrific hospitality.

Will try to catch up, and remark/reply on previous topics tomorrow onwards.
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Old 24th Jun 2009, 09:37
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51 Squadron

Reg just reading "Uncommon Valour" written by a 51 pilot A.G Goulding, destined to be sent onto you but here are some of the names to jerk those memory cells:-

WC Pickard
Willie Tait
WC Wikerson
WC Tom Sawyer
Vic Scott
There was a crew called "The Flying Circus"?
Pubs Kings Head & The Four Horseshoes
Flt Lt M McCreanor

etc etc
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