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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 6th Aug 2016, 10:08
  #9061 (permalink)  
 
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Walter:-
I'd hate to do it all again!
What a refreshingly honest comment! I'm always suspicious of those who had "a good war". Even if you'd had a comfortable one, it would take an enormous lack of imagination not to dwell on the prodigious waste of life and the massive destruction being suffered by friend and foe alike. Perhaps the path that you had chosen, of hard physical labour, put such thoughts to the back of your mind as you struggled with you colleagues to survive and to look for a chance to escape?

How fitting that the chance happens thanks to a bombing raid on "your railway"! Looking up Falkenberg on Google maps, we find you just west of the north/south line joining Dresden and Berlin and about one third the way up it. If the priority had not been given for the Red Army to take Berlin then the US Army might have already arrived. But Eisenhower is advancing slower and on a broad front, so the mountain must go to Muḥammad .

Already there is a suspicion that the German State is collapsing. You join in with civilians and other prisoners the looting of a bombed train, you persuade a guard that you stumble into that you are going back to your camp and he obligingly takes your word for it and lets you proceed. The end is near, but danger looms as ever. Stay safe, Walter, stay safe!
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 11:46
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Is this thread not outstanding?
Thank you, MPN, for your observations and, Walter, I sit back in my chair somewhat awestruck, each time I read one of your posts.

I once had a work colleague who had served with the Waffen SS.
He was a Czech who had been conscripted and found himself on the Eastern Front.
One freezing day, which had not gone too well, he'd taken shelter in a railway hut.
He's sitting there, taking stock of things, when in walked this huge Russian soldier - a woman.
Not only that, but she was equipped with a burp-gun and didn't look too happy.
Oh, dear.

Well, as it turned out, she was in much the same position as him.
But .. he, somehow, had managed to get hold of some bread and she had found a bottle of wine.
They sat together for about an hour, without a common language, and, after that, took their leave of each other and
left that shelter, wishing one another "bon chance".
That's true, as he told it to me - and I had no reason to think he was a bullsitter.
.

Last edited by Stanwell; 6th Aug 2016 at 12:12.
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 12:21
  #9063 (permalink)  
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No rest for the wicked !

Walter (#9061),
... Although I was condemned to working hard on the railways, It's likely that I kept in better health than I would have been in the Stalag. However, I'd hate to do it all again...
I have read that the population of Britain were in better general health in the wartime years of rationing and privation than ever they have been since (in particular, obesity was very rare !)

You have the gifted raconteur's art of always leaving your listeners wanting to hear "further and better particulars". Now I'm all agog to know - Did the Germans manage to recapture you and if so were you on the "Long March" ? Or did you reach Allied (which ones ?) troops - or did they find you first ? (Must be patient, I suppose !)

Chugalug (#9062),
...I'd hate to do it all again!
What a refreshingly honest comment! I'm always suspicious of those who had "a good war". Even if you'd had a comfortable one, it would take an enormous lack of imagination not to dwell on the prodigious waste of life and the massive destruction being suffered by friend and foe alike...
Peccavi (I have sinned !) Although you could rightly describe my war as a "comfortable" one, and it was certainly a safe one ("the greatest danger on our 'ops' was of spraining your ankle, jumping down from the wing when you got back", we said). But then, although sympathising with the less fortunate, and the relatives of the dead, I'm sorry to say that we put them out of mind, and got on with whatever war we'd been given. It was a case of "Much as my heart bleeds for you, * Jack, I am in the dinghy" (note *: this is sometimes expressed differently).

Mea Maxima Culpa ! - ♫ Lord, have mercy on such as we ♫

Cheers, both,

Danny.

PS: I've done my Penance already last night. Laboured for an hour on Notepad, putting names and other details to the pic on "Fly Past", polished it all up, nothing to do now but copy 'n paste onto PPRuNepad, eyesight not too good and very tired, did something, beastly gremlin struck, all vanished. Panic - so instead of hitting Ctrl+Z, tried to fix myself, no joy. Went to bed.

All to do again now.
D.
 
Old 6th Aug 2016, 14:04
  #9064 (permalink)  
 
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Danny, as has been so rightly said before on this thread any fool can be uncomfortable. You have told us of your own efforts to ameliorate the discomforts of campaigning, i.e. your patent air transportable charpoy. It was no intention of mine to suggest that war should be uncomfortable for the sake of it, quite the opposite. My gripe is with those who describe someone as having "a good war". Presumably they are implying promotion, perhaps awards, or being involved in successful operations. All very admirable, but if that is all summed up as good, it rather ignores the suffering of others.
I guess my real objection though is that any war, whether from a personal or general perspective, can be described as "good". In my book there are no good wars, just wars.

Sorry to here about the PPRuNe gremlin striking. His favourite time for striking is late at night. You are a stalwart though, and I'm sure will start all over in order that this thread will be the better informed. For such dedication we are forever grateful!
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 14:28
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You got me chuckling with your Church Latin, there, Danny.
If I may be so bold, it's 'mea MAXIMA (say it loudly) culpa' when kneeling before the Bishop.

We have stuff happening re the RAAF 'Wedgie' Eagle and the colour of our uniform.
I've queried everybody from AC2s to Wing Commanders and there's a beautiful lady from the RAAF Museum who's now on the case.
Stay tuned.
.
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 15:22
  #9066 (permalink)  
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Once more into the breach, dear friends !

Back to work...

Bear in mind:

The pic was taken in Madhaiganj, not Digri, in the first days of January, 1943. I'd joined just a few days before.

Not all the Flight aircrew are there.

All aircrew named are Sergeants, except where otherwise stated.

There are only two officers there - look for the caps.

Names and wings are L to R (looking at pic).

All pilots are standing on wings. All navs and AGs are sitting on wings. Standing on wheels are two ground NCOs.

Erks standing and sitting below. Many faces familiar; names familiar - but cannot put together. Sartorially mixed bag. Have not been out long, as not chucked "Bombay Bowlers" away yet
..........


On top of cowling is F/O R.C.Topley ("Topper") Flt Commander. His acting Flt Lt has not come through yet, signs as F/O in my log until end of May. Draped on prop boss is "Chiefy" - F/Sgt Darling.

Standing (L to R) Sgt "?", think (RAAF); Reg Duncan (RCAF); Self; across to W/O Doug McIlroy (RNZAF); George Davies (RAF); Bud Yates (Yeats ? RCAF).

Sitting Sgt ("?"); P/O Robertson (nav - not the one who nearly lost entire Flight en route Chittagong !), flew with me on first three (Akyab) ops in May; Duncan's dog "Spunky" *; another Sgt ("?"); across to hunched figure: Keith Stewart-Mobsby (we'd not "crewed-up" yet). Why was he not with me in May ? Dunno, malaria perhaps ?

Then three more ("?")s. Together with first two ("?")s, perm from Payne, Mills, Turner, Brown, Lewis, and Foster.

Two NCOs standing on wheels, Cpl/(Sgt) "?; Cpl Reavill. (one would have been a Fitter (1), t'other a Rigger (1).

Sad note *: "Spunky" got extensive and incurable (Doc Pete Latcham did his best) skin infection, fur coming off in lumps, animal was suffering, in March poor Reg had to take his pistol and do the last act of kindness to his (and the whole Squadron's) friend. Everybody broken-hearted.

More next time, must be careful now ! Avaunt, Gremlin !

Danny.
 
Old 6th Aug 2016, 15:52
  #9067 (permalink)  
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Chugalug (#9065),

"Having a good war" had a particular meaning (and in my experience it was never used in any other sense). It meant that the chap in question had come home more or less in one piece, and had served with distinction, with (usually) a gong or two.

As in: "Denis Healey was a lousy Chancellor of the Exchequer - but he'd had a good war ..... Major, Beach Master at Anzio, don'cher know......"

Danny.
 
Old 6th Aug 2016, 16:51
  #9068 (permalink)  
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When it's not necessary to change, it's necessary not to change !

Stanwell (#9066),
...it's 'mea MAXIMA (say it loudly) culpa' when kneeling before the Bishop...
Never knelt before any Bishop (except on my Confirmation). Altar Boys said " Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa" out loud, it was usually about the only Latin in the Confiteor they could remember apart from "Confiteor Dei" to kick-off with. The rest was muttered gobblygook.
...the colour of our uniform...
LEAVE IT ALONE ! The rich, dark Royal Blue made a nice change; the girls loved it; Aussies are sui generis, anyway - and you didn't have to polish any buttons ! The loyal New Zealanders, however, (of all the Dominion peoples, the closest resemblence to us: often mistaken for Britons), whereas no one could mistake an Aussie for anything else, stayed with our RAF Blues, and polished their buttons like us.
...and there's a beautiful lady from the RAAF Museum who's now on the case....
Not the Camden Museum one ? Made strenuous attempts to contact, without success, to sort out the identity of EZ999. But other PPRuners have managed to get in touch, report a charming and helpful lady - but from what I heard, not quite up to speed on the exhibits (could've been just me).

Danny.
 
Old 6th Aug 2016, 17:14
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Danny, all of what you say is how I understood the term to be used as well. In other words it is a judgement made by others of someone's war record. Did Denis Healey though ever admit to having a "Good War" I wonder? I doubt if he ever did, if only out of modesty.

I suspect that many who were said to have had a good war would have not felt that way themselves. Whatever their personal performance, whatever the recognition of that, whatever their lack of physical injury, what they had witnessed and the friends they had lost, all would have made the epitaph "a good war" nonsensical.

Consider Jack Hawkins's Captain Ericson in the Cruel Sea. He does his duty and depth-charges a U-Boat at the point of Instantaneous Echo. The trouble is there are survivors in the sea right there from the U-boat's last attack, who will now die. He is forever thereafter tortured by his action (which appears to have been unsuccessful anyway). He goes on doing his duty and no doubt would be said to have had a "Good War", but the phrase seems trite and shallow to my mind.

Is this is a generation thing (when I for a change represent the younger one ;-)? Yours got on with the job and didn't make a fuss. Four plus years of danger could be summed up as good if you ticked all the boxes in your list at the end of it all. I see the cost of it though, and have spoken to some who still carried the mental scars of it all. What you did (as a generation) was good, what that did to many of you was not.
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 17:29
  #9070 (permalink)  
 
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Excuse me if this sounds frivolous, but I had a 'good war' from 63-94. I missed all of the action that was going, despite offering my body to RAF PMC on several occasions.
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 17:46
  #9071 (permalink)  
 
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MPN11, The President of the Mess Committee could indeed be a formidable foe, especially after the 10th of the month if one had omitted paying his Dane Geld. If that happened to you on several occasions and you survived to tell the tale, then I for one am prepared to acknowledge your Good War!
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 18:04
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I missed all of the action that was going, despite offering my body to RAF PMC on several occasions. - MPN11

I assume that someone of MPN11's erudition is familiar with the word "ambiguous"....

Jack
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 18:25
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My gliding instructor as an ATC cadet, a RN Lt Cmdr, claimed to have had a good war, so much so, that he had a picture of Hitler above his bed. He said that he felt that he should recognise him in some way as he wouldn't be where he was today without him. He was a strange man who drove a huge Daimler which had belonged to Sir Bernard Docker.
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 19:47
  #9074 (permalink)  
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Chugalug (#9070),
...it is a judgement made by others of someone's war record. Did Denis Healey though ever admit to having a "Good War" I wonder? I doubt if he ever did, if only out of modesty...
No, it was only spoken of you by others.

Our general attitude was summed-up by a brother-in-law, also in RAF, two years younger than I, but now, sadly in last stages of Alzheimers:
"
War is a terrible thing - but I wouldn't have missed it for the world !
"
But I suspect that (for example) an ex-prisoner of the Japanese (or, like Walter, of the Germans) might well feel very differently !

As you say, it's a generational thing. It comes down to the old Jesuit quandary - is it lawful to do evil that good may come of it ? In Captain Erikson's case, he must consider all the other seamen who may die if he allows the U-boat to run free. It was Truman's quandary when he had to authorise the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Does he sentence a million Japanese, most of them non-combatants, to a painful death to avoid the death of several times that number, which was the sober estimate of the cost of a seaborne invasion of Japan ?

In each case, the right (dreadful) decision was made with a heavy heart. In war, there are usually no "good" answers - you just have to try to choose the least bad one. Do your best - and then try to forget it.

Danny.
 
Old 6th Aug 2016, 20:01
  #9075 (permalink)  
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MPN11 (#9071),

I thought failure to pay your Mess Bill put you in front of the Station Commander ! Issuing a dud cheque to a tradesman was a Court Martial offence - hence the sage advice: if you must bounce a cheque, bounce it on the Bank !

As to your relations with your PMC, the mind boggles. Was it in the course of the silly games we played on Mess Guest nights ?

Danny.
 
Old 6th Aug 2016, 20:19
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Sage words Danny, as ever. Your brother in law sums it up beautifully (or did rather, it isn't only war that is terrible...).

As to MPN's PMC, I doubt it has anything to do with the Officer's Mess or Cheques, but I am only guessing. The real frontier these days between Service generations is the acronym. They change with ever increasing frequency.

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
Not necessarily!
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 21:25
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As a re-entrant, and OC Accts at the last Lightning station, I had a deal with the FW Sqn cdrs. On 10th of the month I would give them a list of guys who had not paid their mess bill. they did not go on the flying programme until I rang the duty auth and "cleared" the names. Unpaid mess bills petered out, and the Staish (DC) never knew how.
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 23:04
  #9078 (permalink)  
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"A Good War"

Long story/ies, my Dad's comment on his WWII service was

"had a Good War, a) I survived and b) they made me an Officer and a Gentleman"

Not bad for a pattern makers apprentice from Burnley

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 23:51
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Slings and arrows of outragious Fortune.........

PZU.

Could say much the same myself. 19 yr old humble 30-bob-a-week clerk starts in the RAF 1941, goes to Florida to get his (US Army Air Corps) wings, in 1942 is Spitfire trained in UK, in 1943 is dive bomber pilot in Burma and commissioned. In 1945 is in command of own unit and A/Sqn Ldr.......(Thinks: if this is Life, it's pretty good, bring it on !)

In 1946 he is out, now £5/wk glorifed clerk again...... Any wonder he decides in 1948 to get back in, if he can ? Manages it in 1949, the rest you know !

Danny.
 
Old 7th Aug 2016, 01:34
  #9080 (permalink)  
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Danny
Dad beat you there!!! out July '46, back in end Oct '46 and then Watchfield Dec '46 to Jan '47 for ATCO raining
Out Nov'50 to Airwork at Usworth but also RAuxAF (608 Sqd) till Dec '53, then to DCA in East Africa Jan '54 - Apr'66 followed by the Colonial Gentlemans 'dream' - the Pub Trade!!!

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)
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