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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 2009, 22:33
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regle
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All aboard for Ajaccio

Mr. Orsi asked us to give him an hour whilst he made "certain preparations ". We ,jokingly , said amongst ourselves, that his tearful Wife had insisted upon him making his will, then off we went to the aerodrome but this time in his car with his red eyed wife and followed by three more black Citroens, traction avant, filled with relatives, following behind. We had warned him that there was not much comfort in the Oxford but he had brought a large wicker basket on which he perched himself behind me with the mechanic sitting in the right hand seat. Our Radio Officer had a canvas chair with the radio on a small bench in front.
The Oxford hadn't the performance or the equipment to overfly the Alps so I flew all the way down the Rhone Valley and then along the coast to Nice before setting course to Ajaccio. We had lost all radio contact wirh anyone so I flew low in front of the Control Tower to show them our registration , waggled the wings and set course towards Corsica.
As we flew, very low, over the Mediterranean there was a loud bang and I nearly jumped out of my skin. Mr.Orsi had opened his wicker basket and had popped one of the bottles of Champagne that he had brought, together with the roast chicken, pate de foie gras, truffles, crisp baguettes with farm butter.. you name it. It was there. We sat there with the sun shining, the sea sparkling, having a feast fit for Royalty.
When the coast of Corsica came into sight, Mr. Orsi's eyes filled with tears and I fully expected him to kiss the ground when we landed there on a lovely afternoon with the scent of mimosa everywhere.
Mr.Orsi was very quickly on the telephone and in no time at all there were cars all around filled with the fiercest looking Brigands you would wish to meet. They proceeded to hug and kiss him and then, after explanations it was our turn to be embraced. He explained that there were no longer any Brigands on the Island but they had been replaced by Hoteliers and we were staying at his Brother in Law's Hotel and would be treated like that other well known Corsican, Napoleon. And we were.
The repairs went very speedily, too speedily for our passenger and we were ready to leave the very next day. That night we were regally wined and dined and introduced to the deadly drink, absinthe, which had long been banned in France but was the local tipple in Corsica
At breakfast, next morning, the whole fish with glassy eye staring at me proved too much and I beat a hasty retreat to my room (and bathroom) where I stayed untl it was time to leave. Once again a large entourage of black Citroens accompanied us to the aerodrome where the relatives literally filled the plane with huge sacks of tangerines, thousands of bunches of mimosa and cases of liqueures of various sorts. Mr, Orsi now beaming from ear to ear , was carried on board by about fifty of his relatives and off we went.
There was no question of doing anything but staying the night at Lyons. The Restaurant was declared closed to the public but was full with relatives, friends and also his now smiling ,much relieved and a little surprised Madame Orsi smothered me with kisses and led us to the places of honour next to her husband at a table surrounded by at least ten more tables where the rest of his guests where seated. The ambience was fantastic ! Mr. Orsi was beaming all the time and kept patting me on the shoulder "Mon Commandant" he would say proudly.
Moules Mariniere as an h'ors d'oeuvres followed by Steak
Lyonnaise , of course and then course after course followed accompanied by some of the finest wine I have ever tasted and then the awful coffee but the lovely Cognacs with the cheeses.
The flight back to England was rather an anti climax but the mimosa and the tangerines were gratefully received by the Customs at Croydon and the staff at Rochester. Years afterwards and now speaking better French I tried to find the Restaurant whilst on holiday with the family in the south of France but Mr. Orsi had gone and nobody knew where but I shall never forget that trip as long as I live.
 
Old 15th Jul 2009, 00:40
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That is a fantastic story Reg!! Things were a little different now - these days you can't get a jumpseat unless you are company personnel, even if you know the pilot. Just not the same, is it?

On this subject:
ex-RAF flyers were extremely popular in France.
I'm happy to report nothing has changed there. On my recent trip I was able to see how much the locals are thankful for the part played by the Allied air forces in WWII - the graves of my great uncle and his crew are beautifully tended and the lads certainly won't be forgotten in the little part of the world where they died. It was very heartwarming and not a little humbling to see.
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Old 15th Jul 2009, 08:12
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I believe that the RAF uniform shirt collars were actually responsible for some deaths when crews ditched and the material shrank, effectively choking them. It also chafed, which is where the silk scarf of the fighter boys and roll neck sweaters for gunners was adopted, allowing for continual movement to pick up any approaching aircraft before being seen themselves.
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Old 15th Jul 2009, 17:53
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Icare9 and RAF clothing

Hi Icare9,

I think you may have touched on a question that only cliffnemo and regle may be able to answer fully - I did hear some years ago that while the separate collar was worn by all ranks on the ground, shirts with permanent collars were made available for aircrew as they were deemed to be safer.

Over to you, gentlemen!

Cheers,

Dave
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Old 15th Jul 2009, 21:26
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Goosequill and shirts

I definitely only wore the separate collar version of the blue shirt when I was operating as an NCO and I don't remember there being any alternative available. ( I always carried a spare collar as well...You never knew when it might come in handy ! ). As an Officer it was definitely the Van Heusen with separate collar for Dances, etc. and the fixed version for Ops. Don't ask me why ! Incidentally, silk scarves and other items in similar material were not confined to Fighter Boys. There were plenty to be found amongst the Bomber Crews as well. Reg.
 
Old 15th Jul 2009, 22:07
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Hi, I must have missed the latest page, I thought my post was following on immediately from yours about roll neck sweaters.

Where do you get that knack of telling such great stories from? How can the repair of an U/S aircraft be so redolent with interest? I couldn't help laughing out loud at several points, wonderful stuff, just like being there!!
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Old 15th Jul 2009, 23:37
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regle collars and service pistols

Hi Regle,

So, the mighty collar studs reigned supreme! Glad to hear it - none of these wimpy sewn-ons...

I do remember the separate collars from my time in the ATC in the '60s. My front collar stud, the long one, rubbed my Adam's apple raw until I got used to it. When I joined, the ATC was cutting over from the old 1920s dog collar tunics, and we had one lanky out-of-measure lad who had to wear one for a good few months until a BD was found for him. He looked like Aircraftman Lawrence...

Cliff has not yet reported back on whether he fired his S&W .380 revolver, so I will report on my own experiences with it. Years ago, I fired one on a number of occassions using both old service ammo (nice whiff of cordite)and modern stuff. Both were unimpressive. The recoil was slight, and the bullets actually bounced back from the target - a retired tenpin bowling pin - and landed at my feet. I think that shooting at a Storm Trooper might have had the effect of annoying him, but little else...

Cheers,

Dave
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Old 16th Jul 2009, 09:33
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Fast forward to Borneo in 1966. We were issued the mighty Smith & Wesson 380 revolver with twelve rounds of 1940s ammunition. You could see the bullet if you fired it into wind, in the middle of a hangar you couldn’t hit anything because it wouldn’t reach and on the range I had one bullet stick in the barrel and another one expire trying to push it out.
When I went up country into the then jungle I was told how to use 9mm. ammunition. Using blade tape, a type of thick insulation tape, torn into thin strips one could wind this around the indent of the 9mm. cartridge so it would act like a rim to hold it in the chamber when the hammer hit it. The only drawback was that the extractor wouldn’t work so you had to poke the empties out with a screwdriver.
I scrounged a handful of rounds off the Ghurkas we were staying with and tried it out. Fantastic! The bore being more or less the same, the double charge, (a 9mm. has to reload an automatic as well), it fired with a good solid crack and I could put six rounds into an oil drum at twenty yards.
They didn’t have any more ammo to spare but they arranged for the unit in the next valley to give me some the next day. I arrived and a Ghurka came out carrying a big box. Crump! He had swung 5,000 rounds into the back of my helicopter. I taped up 100 rounds and gave the rest back. I didn’t think the barrel could cope with much more.
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Old 16th Jul 2009, 10:23
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Aden 1964 - same problem Fareastdriver. S&W plus 5 rounds of 1940's ammo to guard our block of flats in the Maalla straight. When fired on the range the bullets just managed to make the end of the barrel. Answer - bought my own Colt Automatic in Nairobi!
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Old 16th Jul 2009, 10:33
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Borneo and the .380

9mm in a .380? A daring move, sir! Mind you, the S&W was probably okay with it. The .380 I fired was actually a Webley, and the mild steel chamber would probably not have taken as much punishment as the slightly more robust S&W.

Believe it or not, the .380 once had a reputation as a man-stopper. When it first came out it used a 200 grain blunt-nosed lead bullet. Then someone murmured something about Britain having recently signed the Geneva Convention, and so the lighter jacketed bullet had to be adopted.

No surprise about the bullet getting stuck in the barrel. Lots of amusing stories on that one...

Cheers,

Dave
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Old 16th Jul 2009, 10:59
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Hi Dave ( Goosequill). Sorry some things I am positive about , other things I am not sure about. I remember I did have surplus , one flying helmet and goggles, and one Sidcot suit,which was rubberised and waterproof, (ideal for motor cycling) one battledress and trousers, one barathea uniform. The mystery is no items are struck off in my flying clothing card . When I was demobbed I was told I was still in the R.A.F.V.R until further notice, and quite sure I never received the ‘further notice’ Maybe I retained some kit legally ? I should point out most Sidcot suits were not waterproof.
A W.W2 flying helmet was withdrawn recently on Ebay, with a reserve of £500. Sadly my helmet , like me has almost disintegrated.


With regard to the revolver, I still possessed it ,and ammunition when in Germany after V.J Day, and initially I kept it loaded in my inside pocket as I expected to be very unpopular in Germany. However I soon found out the most of the Germans were very friendly. We could walk around Hanover , and Brunswick in uniform quite safely , and surprisingly we were treated with respect.

As for cleaning rods Dave. Not as bad a joke as the erk who indented for Hangers , Coat ,
and received Hangars Aircraft. (Sorry , a corny stores joke)


Reg, I never fired the revolver in anger , but do remember skiving one organized sports afternoon, opting for firing practice on the ’butts’ ( very strenuous) and later doing a bit of game shooting near Diedelsdorf., Hares and rabbits fetched a good price in town.

With regard to the collar controversy ,I wore a detached collar and shirt all the time, with the exception of when I was flying, I then wore a polo jersey without collar and tie. (See scan of letter below.), We were issued with ‘Caps , comforter’ These were in the form of a knitted tube, which could be worn as a scarf, or one half tucked inside the other , then rolled up to form a hat. Think they may have been intended for use under a ‘tin lid’ (steel helmet) Sorry about the description, can any one do better ? Regle F/SGT Keller/ Couler collected our spare collars weekly, and took them to a Torquay Chinese laundry for washing/ironing/ starching. Always thought he would have his laundry expertly laundered free gratis.






Any one know the correct term for the item above. Microgram? Micro film.?
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Old 16th Jul 2009, 13:05
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wartime letters and tonight's ITV

Cliff, I am not sure but I think that the letters were "micrograph". If they weren't then they should have been. I have never written or even seen one but know that they existed.
A little reminder that at 1930 this evening on ITV the "Countrywise" programme is screening the Dover programme in which they ,briefly, interviewed me a few weeks ago. As I haven't seen the result I shall reserve comment. Reg.
 
Old 16th Jul 2009, 18:44
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regle
Just seen you on TV talking to Paul Heiney.I guess a lot more was filmed but a lot edited out as usual in these programmes. Short but sweet.Hope I look like that at your age assuming I even make it!!

Must come along and see the Bleriot spot.

Last edited by thegypsy; 16th Jul 2009 at 19:04.
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Old 16th Jul 2009, 21:18
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the gypsy

Thanks for the compliment. I wish that I felt as good though.... They have kept back a lot for a DVD that the Dover Council are producing for the Bleriot weekend..the 24th.and 25th. of July, ..At least that was their excuse ! It was quite enjoyable and the ITV people were very friendly and, as you might expect, very professional. All the best ,Reg.
 
Old 17th Jul 2009, 06:08
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Dover

Hi Reg,

I can only echo the previous comment. Congrats are due for making it to such an age - but to look so distinguished sets the bar a bit high for the rest of us...

Cheers,

Dave
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Old 17th Jul 2009, 06:28
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cliffnemo and uniforms and kit

Hi Cliff,

Thanks for the lowdown on the acquisition of the kit - a fascinating tale in itself. So you kept your mum knitting for victory? I'm sure she was delighted to do it.

The stores bods seem to have many legends surrounding them. I was told of one huge item that was lost (forget what) and would have resulted in a court martial for someone, but was solved by the stores magician putting in a loss report for a minor accessory associated with the item. Then, after that had been accepted, he put in an innocent-looking amendment slip with the code for the item itself. It worked.

£500 is a weeny bit high for a WWII helmet - unless in perfect condition and with all the electrics. After years of looking I did eventually find one the right size for my own noddle for open cockpit flying, and Headsets at Shoreham dragged out their crate of WWII acessories to provide me with a brand-new loom, converters for NATO jack and two-lead, and a pre-amp - but that DID cost - but at least it also came with a cert as fit for use.

Is you own helmet retrievable with a spot of leather conditioner? It is wonderful stuff...

Cheers,

Dave
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Old 17th Jul 2009, 16:04
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For Dave Goosequils AMUSEMENT ONLY.
Have scanned my helmet.

Leather conditioner ? The lighter patches are the chamois leather lining showing through. As I have already said, it is as decrepit as it's owner.
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Old 17th Jul 2009, 16:36
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That looks spooky cliffmo
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Old 17th Jul 2009, 17:47
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There may well be some people who watched 'Allo Allo' who remember the somewhat dubious use of 'ze leather flying helmet unt de wet zelery'!
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Old 17th Jul 2009, 21:39
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Cliff and the spooky helmet

Cliff , that is the most disgusting spooky thing I have seen on the Internet. It is a pity that Hammer Films are defunct as they would have paid a lot of money for such a gruesome object. I could almost see the original contents of the helmet seeping through the obvious knife slashes in the outer skin. Please give it decent burial although I doubt whether any Priest would ever sanctify it !
Sailor Vee ! Where have you been ? I used to watch 'Allo, 'Allo but don't recall that episode ! The mind boggles ! Can you elaborate.? By the way when I was flying with Sabena I had a very good First Officer who was the son of a very highly born Belgian Aristocrat. He told me that his Father would not allow anyone to watch such programmes as he had seen too many friends and dear relations betrayed and tortured before being executed to find anything to laugh at. I found myself trying to explain that we had a very different sense of humour and his reply still makes me feel ashamed. " Commandant" he said " You were never occupied by the Nazis". I am not trying to preach, just giving a different point of view. Reg
 

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