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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 1st Jul 2009, 12:55
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Kookabat

Wait and see ! Regle
 
Old 1st Jul 2009, 13:18
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tow1709, here's your photo:

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Old 1st Jul 2009, 17:39
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After Rmventuri’s question re W/O versus W/O 2 I located my pay book to remind me of term used (T W/O) , and as it is still on my desk decided to scan it as below. Warts and all.
It surprised me I didn’t fill in the last will and testament section, and can only assume I thought ‘It can’t happen to me ‘ ,like every one else at that time.
Or could it be , I had now’t to leave ?
Page one shows I was attested on 8/3/42 , working back this means I attended Padgate for ‘entrance exams’ about six months earlier and the recruiting office approximately ?/8/41.







INSPECOR CLUELESS. Did your uncle (pilot) live in Hull during the May blitz. If so was the blitz the reason he volunteered for aircrew training ? Could you ask him and let us know the results. The reason I ask , is that Hull was heavily bombed during the war but for some unknown reason only referred to as a N.E town. The score was. Most heavily bombed London, Liverpool, Hull. Most deaths per square mile, London , Hull, Liverpool. This bombing made us youngsters very annoyed , causing many to volunteer and take the King’s shilling. During the May 1941 blitz, for three nights, a lot of people walked out of the town with their bedding. They had to exit before the army stopped movement, in or out until dawn. On one of these nights, the rescue services were ordered to remain in shelters until the ‘all clear’.
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 22:22
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This bombing made us youngsters very annoyed , causing many to volunteer and take the King’s shilling.
This raises an interesting point. English aircrew like yourself certainly might have had this type of 'motivational' experience to encourage enlistment - but the men who came from Australia and New Zealand and South Africa and Canada and all of those places likely wouldn't have had any direct experience of being under bombing. They were of course all volunteers as well - so why did they join up?
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 23:32
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The story goes on........

I shall never forget the first time that I sat before a microphone and the red light went on and I realised that I was about to speak to millions of people across the world. Although it was a wonderful feeling it was very frightening and I am sure that my voice quavered through those first few minutes. Then I thought of my Auntie Muriel, my Father's sister, who was a pioneer of Radio before the war. The BBC was called 2LO and she was Auntie Muriel of "The Chidren's Hour" and used to broadcast every day at 5.15 from a small studio that, I think, was over the Kardomah cafe in Liverpool. There were several "Aunties" and "Uncle Mac" and they became very famous. "Voyages with Romany" was another of her programmes and she had her own page on a Saturday in the "Liverpool Echo ", "Auntie Muriel's Treasure Chest " with "Wafer the Cat ". So I used to think that I was following in her footsteps a little. It was Wimbledon time and I dealt with such tongue twisters as Jaroslav Drobny and others that I could not even spell let alone pronounce.
I am still amazed to recall that I carried on with my free lancing flying during the day, always getting back in good time for my evening broadcast and never missing a single one, which considering the English weather and the fact that I was flying pre-war planes, many of them single engined, was pretty amazing. I was taking well known jockeys such as "Scobie" Breasley to race meetings all over the country and would ask them if they had any tips. I always got the same answer "You don't think I am coming here for ####### nothing do you ?" And nothing was what I usually ended up with.
One day, I was told by Captain Bebb that I was to take a gentleman from Croydon to Yeadon, now Leeds Airport and that I was lucky to take him and that I was to scrupuously comply with every request that the client woud make.; The gentleman ,in question, looked harmless enough, in his sixties, somewhat old fashioned but impeccably dressed and extremely courteous. We were in a Rapide and he seated himself just behind me. We had the aircraft to ourselves and after about fifteen minutes he said "That's a nice looking cloud over there. Would you go round it, please ?" So we did and he was making contented little noises to himself. That was to be the pattern during the next part of the flight then he suddenly announced that it was "time for a spot of lunch, don't you think ?"
There was no catering on board so I had to find a civil aerodrome nearby, not an easy task those days. I eventually found Anstey, near Coventry where we landed and had a nice lunch for which he paid, leaving
a tip that was nearly the cost of the meal. When we eventually landed at Yeadon I saw a beautiful old chauffeur driven Daimler driving out over the grass airfield to meet us. It was bottle green with highly polished brass headlights. The Chauffeur, also in bottle green livery, opened the door of the Rapide, helped my passenger into the Daimler then came to me with a silver tray on which were two recently laundered huge white five pound notes. I protested that the payment for the flight was not to be made to me but was told, gravely, in a broad Yorkshire accent "This, Captain, is thy pourboire and my employer wishes to thank thee for a right pleasant journey". I have to admit, shamefully, that I have forgotten his name but not the memory of courteous and graceful living and an age of transport that has gone for ever. Ten pounds was a lot of money and together with the six or seven pounds for the flight was more than the BBC was paying me for a weeks broadcasting.
The DH Rapide, like all De Havilland aeroplanes, not only looked good but flew well also. It was the maid of all work for the Charter Companies.
If I remember rightly it took nine passengers and was used extensively on the Scottish Isles service by BEA as they were then known. The Pilot occupied a single seat in the nose and the passengers sat behind him with no dividing door. A well known character of a Captain, who shall be nameless, used sometimes to sit, whilst the aircraft was still loading, in one of the rear seats dressed in a shabby old raincoat while the handful of passengers boarded. He would sit there, muttering away and looking at his watch . "Where's the Pilot ? If he's not here in two minutes then I'm going to do something about it ! Right. That's it" and would stride up to the nose, start the engines and take off with his paralysed , startled passengers. The same Captain, when the new Viking came in to service would board the plane after the passengers were all aboard, walk up the aisle to the cockpit, ostentatiously carrying a book with "How to Fly in Six Easy Lessons" emblazoned on it's cover in huge letters. During the flight he would come back into the cabin and search around the legs of one of the passengers, usually a pretty girl, saying "Excuse me, but have you seen a loose page anywhere about ? You see it's the landing...."
One of the freelance pilots at Croydon, later to be a colleague on the Berlin Air Lift, made a forced landing just short of the "Runway" that was a very short piece of concrete of some hundred yards length leaving you to finish your landing run on grass. He landed on a football field on the other side of Purley Way scattering the players who ran for their lives. When the Rapide came to a stop he stuck his head out of the side window "Phwats the score then ? he asked amiably. Needless to say he was one of the many Irish pilots freelancing at the time.
My A.T.C. course was due to start and I reluctantly, said goodbye to the B.B.C. It was impossible to break into the very tight circle of permanently engaged staff no matter how hard I tried. For years afterwards small cheques would keep coming in from the B.B.C when some of my news bulletins had been used in a programme of some sorts. It had been a wonderful experience and I met some fascinating people. One of the most interesting was a lady to whom you referred any problem with pronunciation, no matter what language. She would give you the correct pronunciation immediately without referring to any of the thousands of books with which she was surrounded. Mistakes were rare those days although one famous Sports Commentator is reputed to have made a "spoonerism" of the "Royal Hunt Cup" ! The most famous one was a broadcast in 1937 of the Naval Review at Spithead. I was fifteen at the time and was listening to the Commentary. What had happened was the Comentator was an ex naval Lt. Commander "Tommy" Woodroofe and the commentary was to be on the evening Royal Review but, unfortunately the commentary was being made from his old ship H.M.S Nelson and his
former friends had right royally entertained him in the Wardroom prior to the broadcast. The result was "The Fleets lit up. Hundredshes of little ffairy lights ..but theyve all gone out... The fleets ddisapp..gone " In those days there was no producer watching every second . The engineers were the only ones and they let him go on for about four drunken minutes before they had "a technical hitch " . I called my Father to come and listen and we were helpless. Next day the headlines in every Newspaper was "The FLeets Lit Up" and to be "Lit Up" passed in to the language as an euphemism for being drunk. In these days of Jonathan Ross etc. it is hard to imagine how an inebriated announcer could make such an effect but the BBC was sacrosanct. Sir John Reith, the Director General was an absolute martinet. Announcers had to wear "suitable apparel" even though it was Radio. Local accents were unknown and Mr Ross would have been beheaded. The B.B.C. "apologised" for the "unfortunate occurence" saying that The Lt.Cdr. was "tired and emotional". Get a full
version of the whole speech by putting "The fleets lit up get on clip in fall off" on Google ( I think but don't promise !).

Last edited by regle; 1st Jul 2009 at 23:45.
 
Old 2nd Jul 2009, 03:49
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Ahh De Havilland! I had a quick trip in a Rapide a couple of months back - the Classic Wings machine out of Duxford:



From the age of the Rapide to the age of the Constellation and the Comet and the B707... the Golden Age of aviation.

And what do we have today? The A380.

As impressive as that particular aeroplane is, somehow it's not quite the same, is it???
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 11:49
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Experiment

Sorry about this folks, but experimenting, improving previous scan. If successful will reproduce the other pages.
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 13:46
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Reg. Thanks for another cracking post
So atmospheric, I can just see the Daimler (many readers will not know that it was the Royal car of choice,in those days )

You paint a wonderful image of the chauffeur, with his wonderfully arcane language, "pourboire", indeed,............. I can just remember the white Fivers-we had a sweet-shop/tobacconists and the only customers who got that much in their pay-packet,were the local police-sergeant and the foreman at the local garage/filling station. He would have had about 15 men under his charge.

Cliff. That book has certainly had a beating, hasn't it! your reposted picture is excellent. thank you .

After 64 years of carrying it about, it's not surprising it's dog-eared.

Yes, I noted "youwill always carry.......

Perhaps they never anticipated you retiring from the Service.
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 16:52
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Strange but true.

Cliff. I cannot remember ever having a pay book or any other sort of document after we came back to to England from the States. I wonder whether we were really ever re-mobilised as I know that we were told that we were no longer in rhe RAF but were civilians when we left England. I wonder what would have happened if we had just walked out ! I think that I can guess ! All the same , all these documents that you show so well are completely new to me. I know that I never had any problems with my pay. Funny, eh ? Regle.
 
Old 3rd Jul 2009, 11:54
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Cracked It

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Old 3rd Jul 2009, 16:09
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Cliff. I cannot remember ever having a pay book or any other sort of document after we came back to to England from the States. I wonder whether we were
I wonder if this is because you trained initially under the Arnold scheme, whereas I trained later under the Empire Air Training scheme. As far as I remember we carried our paybook, and 1250 (identity card) at all times during our stay in Canada and the U.S of A. I don't remember ever being discharged from the R.A.F, demobbed yes, but at the time was told I was still on reserve, and never received any further communication. Perhaps we are still 'in' ?
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Old 3rd Jul 2009, 16:29
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Australian volunteers

They were of course all volunteers as well - so why did they join up?
Good question Kookabat, but don't know the answer Think many Australians and New Zealanders had antecedents from Europe and still felt some loyalty, or annoyed at the treatment of Jews and Poles. An Uncle of mine Captain Fred Emmett M.C emigrated to N.Z after 1919, think he would be a bit annoyed but too old to volunteer in W.W.2. Are there any aircrew associations near you who you could email and ask to contribute to this thread. Maybe they would explain to us why. We still have vacancies for bomb aimers, mid upper gunners, rear gunners , navigators. and wireless ops
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Old 4th Jul 2009, 02:09
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This has prompted me to go and pull out a few papers and things... the following was written post-war by Phil Smith, the pilot of my great uncle's crew. Phil passed away in 2003 but I have kept in touch with his widow, who has provided a whole heap of letters and documents that I'm slowly going through:

My motives for joining the forces were mixed.
a) the call of adventure
b) A feeling of duty
c) The need to be 'in it' with the mob
d) A question of patriotism
e) At 22 years I was the right age, and had no responsibilities.

I chose the RAAF as I felt that qualification as a pilot might be of value in a post-war world.
As it happened Phil never flew as a pilot again after he returned to Australia but I think he covers a lot of the common reasons. It's also interesting to note that for many Australians they were called up and sent to Europe (most via Canada of course) and many questioned why they were being sent to fight in 'someone else's' war at around the time that the Japanese were seriously threatening Australia itself.

I do have fairly regular contact with a number of veterans but I don't think many are 'online'. I'll see what I can do; might be able to pull a wireless op or two out of the woodwork...
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Old 4th Jul 2009, 10:43
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Australian Input.

I do have fairly regular contact with a number of veterans but I don't think many are 'online'. I'll see what I can do; might be able to pull a wireless op or two out of the woodwork...
Many thanks KOOKABAT. Would be marvelous to have more Australian input.
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Old 7th Jul 2009, 17:25
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Back to the classroom

I had now purchased a second hand motor bike. It was called a "Bitsa"...bits of this and bits of that but it went very well. It was a hybrid of various British bikes and there were no Japanese bikes on the market in 1949. I went down to Hurn, near Bournemouth to start my six weeks A.T.C. course. I would stay the week at Hurn and then travel back to Clapham on my bike for the weekend. The course was good fun and not very difficult as the Airways system was just starting up and traffic was not heavy.
I made some good friends amongst my fellow trainees and often spoke to them twenty or so years later from the cockpit of a D.C.10 or 747 when flying over their area. One of them was an out and out Cockney and became one of the best known characters at London Airport. It was still the era of the rather stilted B.B.C. accent where "Daddy" became "Deddy" and "Nobby" as I shall call him had a no nonsense good old London twang that you could cut with a knife. Once, whilst on Taxi Control, Nobby asked a BEA aircraft that had just cleared the runway and was waiting for a Terminal stand number ,"BEA, did I give you a stand ?" Back came a very Oxford accented reply " Not with a voice like thet, Old Boy"
At last, Kookabat, I was successful in obtaining my preliminary watchkeeping certificate and was very happy to be posted to Croydon , of all places. This meant much more time with Dora and the children and I could easily get to work on my motor bike. As still, officially a "trainee" I was not allowed to stand watch on my own and this turned out to become a little goldmine as word got around the Charter companies and soon the Tower telephone was ringing with requests for me to pop over to Le Touquet or Deauville during my watch hours. The odd bottle of wine, brandy and a nice steak kept my brother controllers happy and I was always assured of a speedy ATC clearance when I came back to land. Can you imagine it happening today ?
One of the Charter companies had the sad job of bringing back from France the body of an Englishman who had died there. The aircraft was actually in the circuit when another aircraft, a Dove flown by a great Croydon character called Tommy Gunn called up and asked for an emergency landing as he had trouble with one of the engines. This I gave him and had the Fire engine and the Ambulance standing by the tiny strip of runway leading to the grass. Unfortunately the hearse awaiting the body of the Englishman was standing next to them and I saw the Dove go up about six feet in the air before touching down "Blimey, but you cover everything !" was Tommy's remark as he touched down.
I enjoyed my A.T.C. duties but the pay was abysmal and we were, as usual. struggling very hard to bring up our three children. I had always kept my Pilot's licence valid at considerable expense as all medicals and training flights had to be paid for. One day, a pilot who had just landed came up to the Control room. His name was Tom Chambers and he was the Chief Pilot to Short Bros., the aircraft constructors who ran various flying schools at Rochester in Kent.
He told me that he had a contract with the Fleet Air Arm to ferry their various fighter aircraft around the country and was looking for pilots. He offered me a job there and then which I accepted, resigned from the A.T.C. and presented myself at Rochester. There I was interviewed by their Chief Flying Instructor, Frank Holt who was very impressed with my Instructional qualifications. I held an A2 category and a Master green card for Instrument Flying from my Empire Flying School days. He offered me the much better job as an Instructor to the Fleet Air Arm pilots who came to Rochester for a three week course to get the "green card" necessary to obtain an Instrument Flight Rating (IFR) clearance which was mandatory for anyone wishing to fly around the country on the new airways system. The aircraft that we flew were Oxfords fitted with the two stage amber system that I had used so extensively with the BEA check flight at Aldermaston.
One of the great advantages of the job was that it was a Monday to Friday one, leaving me free to freelance at Croydon and even at London Airport where a firm had started "joyrides" around London. They even paid thirty five shillings an hour to their freelance pilots and charged the passengers 10 shillings each for a fifteen minute trip. I had changed my "Bitsa" for a two stroke BSA Bantam which was very reliable and very economic. The Instrument training course at Rochester included comprehensive ground school and each Flying instructor had his own subject to lecture the naval pilots who came in all ranks from the lowest to extermely high ones. My subject was Instruments and Shorts sent me to Sperry's , the instrument makers, factory in London for a week in order to get a solid background to my lectures. This was a bonus as I was able to have a nice easy run to Clapham each evening instead of the hour and a half each way trip to Rochester each day.
Our lectures took place from 9a.m. until 10. Flying started soon after until 12.15. Lunch was served in the excellent Staff Mess and was subsidised by the company. We then flew again until 1600 hr. and that was a very pleasant day. As you only lectured once a week you didn't have to report until just before 10 each day unless you were lecturing.
Rochester was a tiny grass aerodrome set in a triangle on the top of the lovely named, Bluebell Hill. The surrounding countryside is beautiful and as commuting from London became more and more of a chore, we began looking for a house nearby. Motorbikes are fine when the weather is good but I was arriving at work and coming home soaked to the skin as often as not. We eventually bought a house in the tiny village of Walderslade at the bottom of Bluebell Hill. We were so happ to move to the first house that we could really call our own. It had a huge long garden at the back where we grew vegetables to help with still rationed England and Dora was able to indulge in her dearest wish to keep chickens. They were the best fed hens in Kent if not England and the smell of chicken food cooking, instantly takes me back to Erin House, Victoria Rd. Walderslade. We had no telephone but our next door neighbour, Mrs. Foreman, had and was nice about letting us use it as I was still able to continue with the freelancing at weekends that helped so much with our finances. I had progressed from the Bantam to a little Morris Minor and we had lovely times exploring the lovely countryside and the seaside resorts of the East Kent coast.
Another of the "perks" at Rochester was the flying a Rapide around the London skies at night for "Searchlight cooperation " with the Army. It brought back rather bad memories but was a welcome addition to the family finances as , also , was the pleasant week that we passed with the RAFVR either at Redhill or even at Rochester flying Chipmunks, Tiger Moths and even the ubiquitous Rapides for which we received something like £85 a year. I remember, one day, hanging in my straps, upside down over the Thames in a Tiggy and thinking what a silly position for an old married man with three children it was to be in......but it was a nice feeling all the same !

Last edited by regle; 15th Jul 2009 at 18:53. Reason: correctio of VR pay
 
Old 7th Jul 2009, 22:04
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Regie - wonderful post as usual - but I'm going to have to take you task.

You used 'BSA Bantam' and 'reliable' in the same sentence. You then compound this preposterous statement by mentioning that you got wet riding it. But you did not mention that a light shower would find it's way into the magneto and remove Volts from it's memory bank.
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Old 7th Jul 2009, 22:53
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Bantam was very reliable

It never let me down. I got wet but the mags stayed dry. The only thing that it did was to shoot me over the handlebars when I was standing at the traffic lights in Doncaster and I kick started it and it went in to reverse stroke . I landed opposite the Danum and the bike shot into Macfisheries hurling wet fish in every direction. It was like a Marx Bros. Film.
 
Old 8th Jul 2009, 09:13
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Another cracking post Reg.
flying a Rapide around the London skies at night for "Searchlight cooperation " with the Army. It brought back rather bad memories
I rather think it would bring back some nasty memories, but I suppose this time they weren't shooting at you...

<tongue in cheek>Could the Rapide corkscrew as well as a Lancaster?? <tongue out of cheek>
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Old 8th Jul 2009, 10:47
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Could a Rapide" corkscrew" as well as a Lanc...?

As far as I remember, Kookabat, we weren't encouraged to evade with the Rapides but were told to stay in the beam in order to give the gunners "sighting" practice..."pour encourager les autres !". I only had to "corkscrew" on Halifaxes and they were a brute to fly ,straight and level, let alone corkscrew, but you would be surprised at the physical strength that you suddenly acqure when you are trapped in the beams of searchlights with flak all round you or, worse, none, signifying that a German fighter was just about lining you up. You got your head down and flung the plane around like a Tiger moth....Moth is a good analogy..Transfixed !
 
Old 8th Jul 2009, 11:01
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Ahh...the Beezer Batman... The Wipac Magneto could be made more reliable with the aid of plastiscene (No WD40 back then!)...I did eventually get one, as everyone in my age-group did.....our sailing club had one that passed round the club with an ever-increasing pile of spares,for about £15.......I remember the current owner sliding it ,speedway-style on a dirt-"croft"....it lay there some minutes, panting , popping and twitching,until he dragged it upright,leapt aboard and shot off in a trail of blue smoke....remember the Telegraph boys?

Rumour had it, that if you managed to go round the block twice, they passed you for a full license.

lovely ,evocative post,Reg, It's odd to think back to the huge Bakelite phone
( Clacton 4376 !) Then we got one with a DIAL! and the ability to bypass the operator!...and, yes, we had a regular trickle of locals wishing to use it.

Here we are, 50-odd years later, there's no plaited cotton-braided cables and the thing is smaller than a packet of 10 fags and virtually everyone carries one on their person.
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