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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 25th Nov 2016, 16:51
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Danny & Fareastdriver

Re Confiscated cigarettes free for the troops.
I was in Rhodesia (5 FTS RAF Thornhill) 1951 - 1953 and certainly remember the free issue of customs confiscated cigarettes at Christmas. I wasn't a smoker at the time, but a DF Operator colleague did and he laid claim to as many Balkan Sobranie (Black Russian) cigarettes as he could get. Quite an exotic smell ISTR, not bad, but not good. Certainly in the confines of the VHF/DF Homer I assume the smoke and smell killed many pests lurking in the woodwork.
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Old 25th Nov 2016, 17:57
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oxenos (#9761),

Google gives me:
In Falmouth fishing was a major industry. Fish Strand Quay was built in 1790. Another important industry in Cornwall in the 18th century and early 19th century was smuggling! The Kings Pipe is a brick chimney, which was used to burn tobacco taken from smugglers.
Danny.
 
Old 25th Nov 2016, 18:13
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I seem to remember getting freebie ciggies in Muharraq in the late 60's, mainly Camel if memory serves. Customs seizures we were told (don't know from whence they came).
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Old 25th Nov 2016, 18:14
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Warmtoast (#9762),

In my pipe-smoking days, was very partial to "Balkan Sobranie" tobacco. Very rich and aromatic. I smoked it cut 50% with a light Virginian tobacco called "Robin Hood" (Red and black pound tin), Dm4 (say 7/6 in old money) from nearest US PX.

Smokers of the (exotic) black and gold ciggies tended to be looked at askance, particularly if on the end of an elegant ivory holder (can't imagine why).

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Old 25th Nov 2016, 18:22
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I have not dared to use my carved ivory/bone cigarette holder for MANY years
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Old 25th Nov 2016, 20:06
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In my pipe-smoking days, was very partial to "Balkan Sobranie" tobacco. Very rich and aromatic. I smoked it cut 50% with a light Virginian tobacco called "Robin Hood" (Red and black pound tin), Dm4 (say 7/6 in old money) from nearest US PX. - Danny

In my lifelong non-smoking days, was very partial to carrying a pigskin cigarette case with gold corners with Balkan Sobranie Black Russian cigarettes on one side and Sobranie Cocktail cigarettes on the other, complemented by a gold Dunhill lighter. Very embarrassing on mature reflection, but altogether a very successful "run ashore" kit, perhaps unlike MPN11's cigarette holder.....

Jack
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Old 25th Nov 2016, 20:18
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I confess to using many cigarette cases at various times over the decades, as one could carry them whilst wearing No, 1 HD without spoiling the line of the jacket. Indeed, I still do! Still loyal to Zippo lighters, though

My pipe mix was conjured up by a traditional tobacconist in Norwich, containing a variety of blends and including an aromatic Dutch one [whose name I forget].


(How on Earth did we get here on this Thread? Ah, yes, burning/not burning impounded tobacco.)
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Old 25th Nov 2016, 20:20
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Back on Tack.

One of the biggest problems the Army has in jungle conditions is communications. Travel and living in that environment tends to be in the valleys alongside rivers. This creates difficulty in radio communications because VHF, the preferred system, tends to be line of sight. So it was with the Ghurkha company at Pensiangan, a village where they were based some thirty miles south west of Sepulot. Between the two there was a prominent hill called Lumatan, where from the top of one had a good view of the surrounding countryside. The summit and been loosely cleared and it was only an Ghurkha’s afternoon’s hike from Pensiangan to the top. The Ghurkhas established a rebro station there and everybody was happy.

The 51 Brigade of Ghurkhas decided to move their Battalion HQ to Sepulot. This involved a massive, for Borneo, amount of construction work for admin, barracks etc, all made out of saplings, baseboards and wrinkly tin. The area had to be cleared and this is where the Battalion Engineering Officer stepped in.

He was a South African, an ex mining engineer and what he didn’t know about explosives wasn’t worth knowing. None of this sawing trees down lark; two turns of Cordex and down it came. Thick heavy Teak trees took a bit more effort. They augured a few holes, filled them with plastic and then the two turns of Cordex. With the increase in personnel and effort came a sympathetic increase in radio traffic.

The rebro station couldn’t cope with both sites so the decision was made to enlarge it and send out in more personnel and bigger equipment. The equipment was too big to carry so it would have to be delivered by helicopter. The cleared area was suitable for winching but not for lifting in generators and suchlike. It was obvious that there had to be a helipad so the plan was put into effect.

The top of the hill was domed with a few rocks scattered about and one could almost see horizontally from the top. It would need to be levelled before a helipad could be built and this is where our man with the biltong came in. Being used to blowing rocks around underground he soon calculated how much OOMPH would be required to leave a nice flat top to the hill. Approval from Batt. HQ was sought and granted and the project went into gear.

We weren’t particularly enthusiastic about winching plastic explosive down to them so we were let off that bit. The trusty Twin Pins shuttled it out to us and we ferried it to Pensiangan. From there it was going to be carried up the hill. All we were required to do was to winch him out after he had lit the blue touch paper. Noting our reluctance this was changed to him leaving with the rest and having a longer fuse. It took a couple of days to position the copious amounts of explosive and fuses and then the great day came.

We wanted to fly around and watch it but we were warned that bits of rock etc. Could travel anywhere within visual range of Ground Zero. To this end we stayed put sheltered by a substantial ridge. We felt, and a lot later, heard the crump as it went off. A helicopter departed to Pensiangan to await him and fly him around his handiwork having a quick butchers at it before they arrived.

It was beautiful! It was as if somebody had cut of the top of an egg. There was, as far as one could see, a circle of rock about twenty feet across. Around it was a perfect fan of trees pointing outwards from the centre.. Landing on at Pensiangan before he arrived conversation with those who had shinned up an opposite hill to see the bang described it as like a volcano blowing its top. The great man arrived, we showed him his results which he seemed more than happy with and within a couple of days the helipad was fully operational.

The normal routine carried on and a couple on months later we had a warning that a detachment of the Royal Engineers were coming out to do a job. We had a general chat and it appeared that they from they from Field Survey. What they wanted to do was to go to the top of Lumatan to do some measurements.
“You will have to winch us down; that’s what they did the last time.”
“No problem; they’ve flattened the top and built a helipad there.”

???

??????


??????????


?????????????????

“They’ve done WHAAAT????????????”

Apparently Lumatan was their main trigonometrical reference point for the whole of Southern Sabah. What had been done was to lower the whole of Sabah by about as many feet as that had been blown off the top.

The next day we took them up there. They built a new marker out of the previous rocks that had been kicked around, resurveyed it and established its new height from the surrounding hills and then we dutifully amended our spot height by four feet.

Next Medivac to Jellystone.
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Old 26th Nov 2016, 06:28
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Fascinating, FED.
Please keep them coming.


Just as a BTW to our earlier diversion..
A gent was asked why he had taken to using a twelve-inch long cigarette holder.
"My Doctor told me to stay away from cigarettes", was the reply.
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Old 26th Nov 2016, 07:54
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I have not dared to use my carved ivory/bone cigarette holder for MANY years - MPN11

A gent was asked why he had taken to using a twelve-inch long cigarette holder. "My Doctor told me to stay away from cigarettes", was the reply. - Stanwell

Nice one, Stanwell - Looks like MPN11 now has clearance to start using his cigarette holder again....

Jack
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Old 26th Nov 2016, 17:16
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My Doctor told me to cut down on wine.



I have actually got a wine glass that can take a half-bottle; I'm allowed to use it occasionally.
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Old 26th Nov 2016, 18:59
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FED (#9769),

Was a spot height (Pt. 161 from memory), a hill in Arakan. Jap well dug-in on top. We removed all vegetaion, bunker and Jap with liberal doses of H.E. applied by Vengeance.

Hill now Pt. 155, bald as a coot on top, well known navigational landmarrk thereafter.

Danny.
 
Old 26th Nov 2016, 21:41
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I was off with my ex- Colonial Office friend to have a chat at a Longhouse about 500 yards short of the Indonesian border on the main North/South river. The sides were very steep and the longhouse was built one third of the way up the hill. The land was cleared for the helipad in the shape of a U. The two arms pointed towards the river and the pad was built on a bit of flattened ground in the middle. You approached the pad by flying between the trees at the hill, turned right and landed. Departure was straight ahead, right again an out.

They didn’t have many visits, primarily because we didn’t want to bring too much attention to them from the Indons who, if they were around, were in visual range. As a result the helipad was a bit tatty and I had to bounce the aeroplane a couple of times to make sure the ground was firm underwheels. I had a wander around (up and down actually) and my attention was brought to a young boy who had the most Godawful infection on his leg. It was blistered and swollen from his ankle to the knee and he was hobbling along on a primitive crutch.

I brought this to the attention of our Intelligence bod who had not seen it before. We thought about taking him to Pensiangan but the chief wasn’t happy with that. I then suggested that I fly to Pensiangan and see if I could persuade a doctor to come out there. He agreed with this so I climbed in, fired it up and flew off to Pensiangan.

On arrival I left the helicopter under the capable guard of the Ghurkhas and went into the village. Halfway down there was a big sign that said WHO (World Health Organisation). In I went and there was a Taiwanese doctor; this was when Taiwan was the official China in the United Nations. I explained what I had seen and to my surprise he jumped at the chance to go and have a look. We flew back to the longhouse; he didn’t comment about the thumping landing and had a look around.

Apart from a helicopter that strongest magnet for Borneo villagers is a doctor. Whilst he was looking at the boy there was a line forming outside all nursing some sickness or other. He diagnose was fairly rapid; he had Yaws, similar family to syphilis and infectious though not at this stage. He needed a concentrated course of penicillin and that could not be monitored in the longhouse. He asked whether it was possible to get him to hospital in Jessleton. It was up to me so I said I would. As the doctor had recommended it the chief was agreeable as long as he had somebody with him. An uncle was selected so both of them plus the tasked passengers got in and we flew to Pensiangan to drop the doctor off. Our man went up to the radio room whilst we were there and when we arrived at Sepulot everything was in hand.

Another pilot joined me who had the map and airfield information for Jessleton. There was no system of sending flight plans so when we called up Jessleton ATC we were surprised when they told us they were expecting us. They directed us to a corner of the apron where an ambulance was awaiting. We shutdown and led the now goggle eyed passengers to the ambulance parked there with open doors.

They wouldn’t get in!!! You could see them looking at the ambulance and then back to my helicopter. Suddenly it hit me. The ambulance didn’t have a rotor on top. The only forms of mechanical transportation they had ever known were helicopters. This vehicle cannot be any good because either it doesn’t work or it’s broken.

A combination of my and the ambulance crew reassured them and they were transported off to hospital. We had enough fuel to get back to Sepulot and we left. I filled in and SOR form when I got back to try and imprint some form of legality but there was no action taken.

It was all part of ‘Hearts and Minds’, a policy of being as friendly and helpful to the locals as possible without interfering with the task in hand. To this end if there was spare payload and any locals wanted a lift than they would be waved on board. A fifteen minute flight was worth a day’s walk. As I mentioned before we used to herd the empty fuel drums into the river and they would be picked up. Sometimes when a longhouse not on the barrel route did us a favour we would respond by loading four empty barrels, packets of salt, sugar and the favourite, chocolate and dropping them off for them. The doctor suggested that on these trips to the longhouses it would be a good idea if he came too. I didn’t give an answer because I thought that having UN personnel flying on what was effectively an operational intelligence flight could be a bit iffy.

I was told the result of the treatment. He was discharged after two weeks on the way to a full recovery. They were flown in a Twin Pin of Sabah Air to Sepulot and there they met up with their relatives. After that they had a two-day walk back to their longhouse. Not all in one go; there were a few longhouses en route to eat and to sleep.

Next: Back to Tawau

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 26th Nov 2016 at 22:05.
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Old 27th Nov 2016, 15:49
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THE PARKHOUSE MEMOIRS – Part 1

Trained at RAF Cranwell in 1939, off to war in a Fairey Battle in 1940, shot down on his second sortie by German fighters and put into POW camp for five years, released to become one of the RAF’s youngest squadron leaders, taking command of 201 Squadron at RAF Pembroke Dock, then the world's biggest flying-boat base.

This is the story of Sqn Ldr Rupert Parkhouse, who flew Short Sunderland flying-boats on the Berlin Airlift, later becoming a military attaché in Washington DC and in Libya. Now 95 years old, he lives in a Bournemouth nursing home with his wife Rosemary, whom he married 70 years ago. In June 1995 he recorded his memoirs for the Imperial War Museum and these have been transcribed in November 2016.

Rupert Parkhouse served his country as did millions of others, and like so many brave men his wartime experiences would haunt him until they faded away into the mists of his memory. His son Richard, who has provided much information and the photographs for this account, told me his father regarded his flying career as a failure, but now that the memories have slipped away he has never been happier.

This is how a 19-year-old with only 218 flying hours in his log book went to war in an obsolete aircraft, was trapped in his cockpit after German fighters set it ablaze, and survived to spend perhaps the best days of his youth in a POW camp, constantly reproaching himself that he should have done more. His honest and brutally self-critical account is one of the most moving stories I have read.


Rupert Charles Langridge Parkhouse was born in Dulwich in 1921, the son of a trainee accountant who had joined Kitchener's Army in 1914 and served with the South Staffordshire Regiment on the front line in 1916.

Rupert recalled that when his father heard that there was an extra five shillings (25p) per day in flying pay, he joined the Royal Flying Corps and learned to fly at Netheravon. In 1917 he joined 5 Squadron, equipped with RE8 two-seat reconnaissance aircraft, and flew 30 sorties up to spring of the following year. After being shot up three times he transferred back to the infantry again, leaving the Service in 1920 and qualifying as an accountant in 1926.

Rupert said that from his father's experiences he formed an ambition to be a pilot. "A school friend's family took me to an RAF display in 1930, and I was greatly impressed. Seeing the pilots in their white overalls go out and climb into their cockpits gave me a romantic feeling, I suppose. And when I went to the Hendon display and saw two officers showing their rather glamorous girl friends along the line of beautiful silver biplanes, helping them up on the wing to see into the cockpit, I thought perhaps this was one way of getting your girl”.

Rupert entered the Army classes at Dulwich College with the aim of doing the RAF Cranwell entrance exams and in March 1939 he went before a board of 14 civil servants and RAF officers. “It was rather intimidating, and I stammered badly, but I passed 17th out of 20 candidates. The neighbours were very surprised and one even sent her daughter round to our house to ask if it was true.”

But true it was, and 18-year-old Rupert entered the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell on April 29, 1939. Just over a year later he would struggle to escape from his blazing Fairey Battle above the fields of northern France. From here on, Rupert will tell his story in his own words, recorded in 1995.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 30th Nov 2016 at 13:48.
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Old 27th Nov 2016, 16:45
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Great intro to what promises to be a great story, Geriaviator. What is it about that generation? Were they force fed humble pie? How can anyone fated to fly a Fairey Battle consider his flying career a failure (because he was shot down on his second sortie)? The only failure was to have such an obsolete aircraft in front line service, which it rapidly left either by courtesy of the Luftwaffe or by pennies finally dropping in the Air Ministry.

I'm sure they would have realised they were vastly outclassed from the start yet still pressed on with their attacks. One can only imagine the cold courage that called for and respect it fervently. The pace was frenetic in 1939, phoney war or no, and he had completed his Service training, his flying training, and is operational for the Battle of France in the following year. That it all ended in a POW camp must have been a bitter pill for him, though a sweet one for his loved ones.

I can't help wondering if a third of a million men would have escaped the Dunkirk mayhem to fight again if those suicidal Battle missions against the bridges on the Albert Canal and the Meuse had not been flown. They didn't delay the Wehrmacht much, but they did affect the momentum of the German advance at least. We tend now to view it as a glorious but ineffective campaign. Perhaps one day it will be given some credit at least for the Dunkirk "miracle".
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Old 27th Nov 2016, 17:20
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Geriaviator,

Let me second Chugalug's remarks. Rupert has nothing to reproach himself with: he did his best with what they gave him - and no man can do more. That what they gave him was nowhere good enough was no fault of his - but that of a country that had ignored for years Churchill's warnings and would not spend the money needed to equip itself properly for its own defence.

Of course, we wouldn't be so stupid today, would we ?

I think Garland and Gray's two VCs should stand for all who went out in their "Battles" in the face of (as they well knew) the much superior Me109. They "knew the score", they knew there was always a tiny chance that they might be able to destroy (say) a vital canal bridge or lock, but the near certainty that they would be shot down doing it.

I can understand his chagrin at being an unwilling non-combatant for the next five years, but "The Fortunes of War"..............old chap !

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Old 27th Nov 2016, 17:27
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A great story indeed, Danny and Chug, but Rupert's flying career did not end with his narrow escape in France. He will tell how he felt he should have done more to escape from POW camp, and post-war he was to be bitten by the Mosquito and have his moments with the Sunderland, as he will recall with ruthless honesty.
He and his comrades could have had no doubt about the dangers they faced. His adjutant did not want him to go because he was so young, and his own navigator had this to say:
Later Sgt Morris my navigator on 12 Sqn told me what a shaker it was when on May 14 he had entered the crew room and of the 22 navigators and gunners who had come out to France, only he and another man remained.
Watch this space ...
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Old 27th Nov 2016, 21:02
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I was on 105 Sqn on Argosies in the 60s and the squadron motto was Fortis in Proeliis. "Strong in Battles" The Fairey Battle was hopelessly underpowered and the mission to bomb the Dortmund Ems canal was a disaster from the start. The two posthumous V.C.s were earned by flyers who knew it was a suicide mission. So there I was on Argosies another underpowered aircraft where you had to squirt water methanol into the engines to get take off power in the heat.
As another link, there was an ex Sunderland siggy who would relate stories of the far east when the mighty Flying Boat would alight on estuaries in Borneo to visit Dyak communities by motoring up the rivers. The machine was moored and they headed off inland. On their return the beast was fired up and allowed to drift downriver using differential power till the water was suitably wide and straight to effect a take off. On one occasion after a storm whilst still moored on the swirling waters a tree trunk was spotted rounding the bend and heading toward the aircraft. The captain started up the starboard engines and with full rudder opened up the power and the wing rose sufficient to lift the starboard float above the tree as it went past. It was worth a few beers just to watch the graphic arm movements accompanying the story.
Guys who were there and can relate their experiences are few and must be cherished.
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Old 28th Nov 2016, 12:33
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Geriaviator (#9778),
...Quote:
Later Sgt Morris my navigator on 12 Sqn told me what a shaker it was when on May 14 he had entered the crew room and of the 22 navigators and gunners who had come out to France, only he and another man remained....
I had a similar experience (Post in 2012):
...The more we are together, the happier we shall be.
The next stage was to get myself a crewman. Actually, it wasn't quite like that. I was told that at home, the drill was (on bomber crews) that the new nav was supposed to wait, like a wallflower at a dance, until a twin-wing prince came over and popped the question. If the deal was done, the pair then went round selecting the rest of their crew.
But that presupposed similar levels of experience all round. In our case, the ex-Blenheim navs and wop/ags were all battle-hardened veterans from shipping strikes over the Channel and the like, and the squadron had taken a fair hammering. They were not going to be picked over by this intake of sprogs fresh out of training !

So it was that Sgt Keith Stewart-Mobsby (Wop/Ag - and hereinafter "Stew") came over and said "You're my Pilot - any objection ?" It seemed that the deciding factor had been that he wanted a British pilot this time - being fed up with the Wild Colonial Boys he'd had before, As I was the only new one in town, it had been Hobson's choice for him. It worked out fine, and we stayed together, off and on, till the end...
Danny.
 
Old 28th Nov 2016, 15:59
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Sunderland in the Pool of London

The mighty Flying Boat would alight on estuaries in Borneo to visit Dyak communities by motoring up the rivers.... On their return the beast was fired up and allowed to drift downriver using differential power till the water was suitably wide and straight for take-off.
In his post #9779 Dougie M paints a lovely picture of the Sunderland moving downstream using bursts of power to steer a zig-zag course. Gives a new meaning to the term “outboard motor” doesn't it?

In fact the Sunderland seems to have been a popular mode of transport when visiting primitive tribes in remote locations. In these fine photos from the Parkhouse collection, on September 14 1949 the majestic machine has alighted on the River Thames, taxied upstream and negotiated Tower Bridge on its outboard engines and is being secured to a buoy before visiting the Parliamentary tribe in their Great Longhouse farther up the river. I wouldn't fancy the bowman's job!


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