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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 14th Jul 2016, 17:03
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The advent of pre-soldered joints, a British invention by the Yorkshire Copper works in 1934 led to copper tubes in Imperial sizes replacing iron and lead pipes.
Ah! The much missed Yorkshire Fitting, unheard of in this southern colony.

A rub with steel wool, a smear of flux and then wave a blowlamp at it. Fixed.
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Old 14th Jul 2016, 18:34
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Walter,

Don't want to pre-empt your gripping tale, but (supposing your escape attempt to have failed), did you go on the Long March at the very end ? I had a fellow ATC instructor at Shawbury, an ex-nav who did, and he told a harrowing tale.

Seems the Germans wanted to hold on to their prisoners as bargaining counters or hostages, when it would have been much easier for them to leave them behind to be liberated by the advancing Allies. In my friend's case, a squadron of Russian tanks reached them first, the Camp guards had already fled in terror, the tank commander detached a tank which drove round the barbed wire perimeter two or three times to smash all the fence posts and grind the wire into the ground.

Then the Russian tank crew said (in Russian barrack-room language, I imagine), "Off you go, if you don't mind, chaps !", left them to it, and roared off in headlong pursuit to the West.

Danny.
 
Old 15th Jul 2016, 11:34
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Originally Posted by Danny42C
Walter,

Don't want to pre-empt your gripping tale, but (supposing your escape attempt to have failed), did you go on the Long March at the very end ?
Danny, you are jumping way too far ahead!

I'll ask Dad to update the story but you may have to be patient
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Old 15th Jul 2016, 12:27
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John,

"Mea maxima culpa" Duly chastened ! Will possess soul in patience.

Danny.
 
Old 15th Jul 2016, 14:58
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FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH

Today is St. Swithin's Day. It is belting down here !

Danny.
 
Old 17th Jul 2016, 09:24
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Old Comrades

There were one or two concert parties formed, which were allowed to tour around and visit the huts until "lights out", which was about 8pm each night. There was also a clever system of play-reading, called Radio Plays, that were put on by erecting a hessian screen "box" in the middle of a hut, behind which the readers would recite their parts, providing much the same effect as we would have had with a real radio play.

A camp "Wall Newspaper" was produced at regular intervals by some inspired colleagues from another part of the Stalag. Using Red Cross wrapping paper, and any other material they could scrounge, the newspaper was laboriously and beautifully handwritten, and illustrated with great talent. It was pinned or pasted onto plywood boards - again from the Red Cross packing cases in which our parcels were delivered - and taken round in sequence to the huts of the English speaking prisoners. It would remain for a day or two in each hut, before being carried on to the next. Of course, the "news" was carefully prepared, to avoid any wrathful censoring by the Germans. Much of it was very innocuous, consisting of information concerning various prisoners, usually just arrived, their home towns, how they had been shot down, etc. Care was also exercised not to give away any military secrets or information that could be useful to the enemy.

Shortly after arrival at Muhlberg, I struck up a close friendship with George Lloyd, previously mentioned, who had been a navigator in Bomber Command. Shot down over Holland in about August 1943, he had been hidden away by Dutch patriots for 3 months. On the very eve of the day he was to be smuggled across the Channel back to England, his hosts had been betrayed, and were no doubt later executed. George went through the usual routine of being threatened with death as a spy, before being sent to the interrogation centre where we first met. George's home was 23 Aquinas Street, Waterloo - an inner suburb of London. Recently married, his wife was expecting their first child when he was shot down. He had much to think about during his captivity.

Early on he proposed that we two escape as soon as possible. He made a jacket from an old, grey blanket he had acquired, I think, from an Italian prisoner by swapping some of his Red Cross food for it. This, together with a few tins of food we were able to save from our parcels and a rudimentary map, were stored through a hole in the ceiling just above our bunks.

Air Force prisoners were rather more stringently guarded than others. The Germans rightly reckoned that we were more likely to escape, or to cause trouble, than other prisoners - and this was correct! Although our hut full of Air Force personnel of various categories was well mixed with the Army, and not far from the Russian prisoners. This was mainly because the camp had become so full. Most of the Air Force, and particularly the Australian Air Crew, were billeted in a "camp within a camp". Their compound was well inside the main camp, and was itself surrounded by additional barbed wire fencing.

The Air Force boys were regularly harassed by the German guards. At short notice, they were often turned out of their huts, which were thoroughly searched and often vandalised by the spiteful "goons" as we called the guards. One or two gifted lads made a radio, most ingeniously, from scrounged parts and various bits of scrap. We had news regularly from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). The news broadcasts were listened to very stealthily and carefully, for a few minutes every evening at 9pm, and the set returned to its hiding place - a hole in the ground in front of the main door of one of the huts. Attempts were made by the Goons to find the radio. They knew darned well that it existed, and on one occasion they came very close to finding it, but their attempts always ended in failure.

Captured soldiers below officer rank were made to work and working parties were always being formed within the camp, to be sent out at regular intervals wherever the Germans required some slave labour. For obvious reasons, as stated, the airmen aircrew were never allowed out of the main camp. From time to time, a few airmen managed to swap places with the soldiers detailed to be sent out. It was easier to escape from a small working party, with working commitments during the day, than to get out of the main prison camp, surrounded as it was by elaborate barbed wire fences, patrolled by guards and illuminated at night with roving searchlights.

In March 1944, George and I made contact with a British Army Warrant Officer, given the task of forming up the working parties from the names of soldiers selected by the Germans. We were introduced to two soldiers who felt they would rather stagnate in Stalag IVB than be made to work for the rest of the war. During the day, we briefed each other on our personal histories, names, ranks and numbers, etc. Before "lights out", George and I went to the soldiers' huts, having assumed their identities, and they went to ours.

George Lloyd became Gunner Sydney Oliver, and I became Fusilier James Leslie, an Irish soldier, of 74 Great William O'Brien Street, Cork, in the Irish Free State!

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Old 17th Jul 2016, 10:53
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Brian48nay.
That's sad Brian. Your Dad certainly was entitled to a war injury pension for his suffering. What a pity that he wasn't counselled to make the claim.

Chugalug.
Sorry but I've made other arrangements for my hair. A couple of elderly ladies have decided they will share it!
Walter.
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Old 17th Jul 2016, 12:06
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Lemme out of here !

Walter,

Yet another feast of details, each one begging for comment ! First out of the trap:
...providing much the same effect as we would have had with a real radio play..
Truly: "Necessity is the mother of Invention !"
...One or two gifted lads made a radio, most ingeniously, from scrounged parts and various bits of scrap...
As one whose technical knowledge here begins and ends with the on-off knob (remember them ?), this fills me with wonder and admiration.
...he proposed that we two escape as soon as possible. He made a jacket from an old, grey blanket he had acquired...
What a range of skills there seems to have been in the camps ! (tailors, skilled forgers and many other trades used them to assist the escapees).

Never having been in the position, it seems to me that escaping from the camp would be the easy part. The hard bit would be the getting out of Germany to a neutral border, or to an occupied country, where there were brave people willing to risk their lives to help you.
...I became Fusilier James Leslie, an Irish soldier, of 74 Great William O'Brien Street, Cork...
Congratulations on your change of nationality ! My ancestral home: the O'###### come from County Cork.
...in the Irish Free State!...
I believe is is a matter of record (although I cannot quote one) that in WWII there were more volunteers per head from the Republic than from Northern Ireland (although there were naturally far more conscipts per head from there).

They did not receive a hero's welcome when they came home after the war was won....

Cannot resist retelling this little story (from Readers Digest) which explains the paradox: The ferries ran Holyhead-Dublin throughout the war. In late 1940, R.D. correspondent chats over taffrail with an athletic young man in tweed jacket and grey flannels: "Why don't you Irish give the British the use of your Channel ports ?"......"We hate the British !"...."So do you want Hitler to win this war ?"...."Of course not !"....."So what are you doing about it ?"......"I fly a Hurricane !"

"Collapse of stout Party" as Victorian "Punch" used to say.

More, more !

Danny.
 
Old 17th Jul 2016, 12:19
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Walter (#8888),

Me first ! (#8873). Chugalug, might be a bit left for you (sorry, old man).

D.
 
Old 18th Jul 2016, 10:40
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My father, who flew DH 6s, RE 8s and DH 9As in WW1, was a codes and ciphers officer in WW2 and ended up in Stalag Luft III after being captured in Crete. I have some of his notes on the Cretan invasion and on the ‘Long March’ in early 1945. Would these, and an account of his activities, be appropriate on this thread, though he wasn’t WW2 aircrew?
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Old 18th Jul 2016, 13:56
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Would these, and an account of his activities, be appropriate on this thread, though he wasn’t WW2 aircrew?
Of course they would! My old squadron was involved in Crete. Go ahead.
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Old 18th Jul 2016, 14:30
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Buster11,

By all means they would ! And welcome ! As we old boys are dying out, many of their sons (and grandsons) are telling their stories posthumously from old notes and logbooks (cf "Wg Cdr Arthur Gill, OBE, DFC" on this Forum at present).

Danny42C.
 
Old 18th Jul 2016, 14:38
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whenever the subject of Crete's role in the Second World War comes up I immediately think of this great poem by Kenneth Slessor. He was an Australian war correspondent reporting in Greece and reporting from Crete before going to North Africa to cover Tobruk and El Alamein. In this poem he describes the washed up casualties of a torpedoed war ship.. 'Purple ' refers to the indelible pencil used to inscribe the hastily tacked together crosses making each grave.

Beach Burial – Kenneth Slessor

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs
The convoys of dead sailors come;
At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,
But morning rolls them in the foam.

Between the sob and clubbing of the gunfire
Someone, it seems, has time for this,
To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows
And tread the sand upon their nakedness;

And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood,
Bears the last signature of men,
Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity,
The words choke as they begin –

"Unknown seaman" –the ghostly pencil
Wavers and fades, the purple drips,
The breath of the wet season has washed their inscriptions
As blue as drowned men's lips,

Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,
Whether as enemies they fought,
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,
Enlisted on the other front.

El Alamein

(if this resonates then make sure to read his equally moving 'Five Bells' about his friend Joe Lynch who disappeared one night from a ferry in Sydney Harbour, during the war. . the pockets of his overcoat weighed down with a couple of long-necks. Obviously Beach Burial was finished after he got to El Alamein.)
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Old 18th Jul 2016, 19:44
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Walter, many thanks for yet another detailed and revealing post. What a grand edifice was the Gate House of M.Stammlager IVB. Was the Camp Commandant a Berliner perhaps? If you replaced the Watchtower with 4 Gee-Gees, a Go-Cart, and a woman driver, it would be a dead ringer for the Brandenburg Gate. Perhaps he should have spent more time counting them all out through said gate, counting them all in, and checking on who exactly them was rather than building his matchstick marvel!

Good to know that the RAF and the RAAF boys were a constant irritant, for that was surely their purpose, to constantly stretch the internal security resources of the Reich so that none could be released to the front, indeed the very opposite was required at times. Similarly with the Bomber Offensive from which many of them had come. Fighters, Anti Aircraft Guns, their supporting Radar and Searchlight Units, Control Centres, and a Million Men all held within the Reich rather than fighting for it on the many foreign fronts. I rather suspect yet another irritant is about to be added to their other many worries, but like Danny I must be patient!

Danny, thank you for your kind offer but I must defer to you as Senior Officer present to get first dibs at any excess follicles divvied out by Walter. Just don't do a Boris or a Trump with it, please!
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Old 18th Jul 2016, 22:26
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Walter603

Your post #8887 above.
George went through the usual routine of being threatened with death as a spy, before being sent to the interrogation centre where we first met. George's home was 23 Aquinas Street, Waterloo - an inner suburb of London. Recently married, his wife was expecting their first child when he was shot down.
Here's how 23 Aquinas Street, adjacent to Waterloo Station, looked last year when photographed by Google (the right of the two black doors opposite). Probably in the 1940's a very working class area, nowadays relatively upmarket being very near to the centre of London.


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Old 19th Jul 2016, 08:20
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Fantome,

Thank you for the very moving verses (Slessor was a poet, for sure). One way and another, the Mediterranean must have been awash with corpses during the war. Mercifully they would sink to the bottom after a few days hovering between night and day. Few, I imagine, would be beached to receive even a hurried burial. "Davy Jones' Locker" for he rest.

Warmtoast,
...nowadays relatively upmarket being very near to the centre of London...
Ah, hindsight, hindsight ! If only you'd had a bit of spare capital at the time of the blitz, I suppose you could have bought these places for a song and made a killing after the war.

Nearly as good as buying up war-surplus new Spitfires for £25 a throw and storing them in an old barn for 70 years !

Chugalug,

Yes, it was rather an Arc de Triomphe, wasn't it ? "Stammlager" puzzled me a bit; omniscient Wiki tells me it is "Stalag" written out in full. You live and learn.

Irritants: note that all the prisoners are out of step with the guard !

Flowing Locks: there won't be much left after I've been re-thatched !

Cheers, both, Danny.
 
Old 19th Jul 2016, 12:35
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Nearly as good as buying up war-surplus new Spitfires for £25 a throw
I lived on the airfield at Aldergrove in 1948-50. The MU there was frantically disposing of aircraft left, right and centre. The father told me that the first thing the did before the scrappies came along was to saw through the main spars so they wouldn't find their way to other air forces.
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Old 19th Jul 2016, 13:33
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I had mentioned, in passing, on the 'Wg Cdr Gill' thread, a silly old fart at my local airport who, back then, was considered by the 'Cessna Crowd'
to be a bit of an eccentric junk collector.

Amongst his collection of 'junk' was a complete and original Me109G as well as a similarly original Nakajima Ki-43 'Oscar', a brace of Spitfire Mk.VIIIs,
two DC2s, a Lockheed 10A, a couple Ansons and, so the list went on.
He was continually being hassled to move his junk and make room for more useful stuff.
Both Spits (for example) are currently flying (one in UK and the other in Oz) and the Messerschmitt and Oscar are in our national museum, considered too valuable
to be let out from under cover, let alone fly.

As is so often the case, he died close to penniless but, thankfully, solely due to that 'silly old fart', those machines are still with us today.
.

Last edited by Stanwell; 19th Jul 2016 at 13:48.
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Old 19th Jul 2016, 15:54
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Sorry,Danny, re.#8889,but I think you will find that Conscription was not introduced in N. Ireland during WW2. Thus, all were volunteers, and not Conscripts from the province of Northern Ireland.
Of course, I stand to be corrected, but that is my understanding of the situation.
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Old 19th Jul 2016, 18:46
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SMOKEON (your #8900),

Checked with Google/Wiki - seems you're right. Mea Culpa !

Turned up:
Ireland Republic Population [from] 1841.PNG
Eire population ca 3m in 1939 (interpolation from graph)

Demography of Northern Ireland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demogr...rthern_Ireland
N. Ireland Population 1939 1.295m.

Now:

Voluntary enlistment
In Northern Ireland, approximately 38,000 people volunteered for service in the British armed forces between 1939 and 1945 - including 7,000 women. There were in fact more volunteers from neutral Éire with approximately 43,000 men and women enlisting in the British armed forces during the war.[5] Some evidence suggests that the numbers of volunteers from Northern Ireland in the Second World War was considered disappointing by contemporary standards. [Wiki]

But pro capita, the numbers from N. Ireland appear as 3.4%, from Eire 1.4%. - so you're still right !

Danny 42C.
 

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