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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 15th Dec 2016, 10:50
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Using his Course Setting Bomb Sight designed in 1916, a Battle bomber takes aim through sliding window in the belly. Sadly few of them reached this stage before they were shot down by flak and fighters.
Thanks Chugalug, plenty more posts to come, Rupert's story will keep us reading until next year.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 15th Dec 2016 at 16:04. Reason: Add sight description
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 11:36
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Bob Wyer, Buster11 and oxenos,

Thanks - you learn something new every day !

Danny.
 
Old 16th Dec 2016, 09:57
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THE PARKHOUSE MEMOIRS – Part 11

The memoirs of Sqn Ldr Rupert Parkhouse, recorded in 1995 – Part 11 . First post in this series is #9775 on page 489 of this thread.

NEXT DAY, Tuesday June 11, we stood by in the estaminet all day, the phone ringing occasionally and sending shivers through us. After afternoon tea and we began to hope we would not operate that day but about 5pm the phone rang and we were called to the ops room.

We were briefed to attack German tanks which were approaching Le Havre from 8000ft. I was supposed to fly No. 2 to a New Zealander called Hayden but after takeoff I could not find him so I flew off to Le Havre on a beautiful day. We had no trouble finding Le Havre, there was a great pall of smoke coming from the port. I didn't see any other Battle aircraft at all, nor a single thing on the road. I wondered vaguely whether I should go down and find something to strafe but I dissuaded myself from that rather foolhardy course of action and we landed back at Souge at about 7.30pm.

On the way back I was wondering whether I was the only one who had not dropped any bombs and that put me in a state because I thought I'm going to be the butt if I was the only one to bring my bombs back. The other aircraft had landed and it was with intense relief that I saw their bombs doors opening and their bomb racks coming down and every one had bombs on.

I've never forgotten the joy of the ground crews as we stopped at dispersal, they leapt up onto the wing and undid our straps for us. I must say there was an intense feeling of joy that one had got the first operation over, and one hoped that the trepidation before takeoff would not be quite so bad the next time.

At 10.30 that evening I was detailed as Flarepath Charlie so I went out and watched six Battles take off to bomb targets at night. At that time it was the flying pattern that the experienced crews would do the night sorties while we youngsters would fly by day. About midnight they all came back safely which was a great relief.

During this time I made a special friend of Davy who had survived the Maastricht raid. He was always quoting poetry, one of his great poems being Say not the Struggle Nought Availeth. He pulled my leg because I was Cranwell and he was short service, but we had the same background and we got on extremely well. It has always been a great sadness to me that he was killed later in the Battle of Britain.

Next day there were no operations, we hung around in the crewroom all day waiting for the phone to ring and having our meals, which were bully beef and potatoes with some kind of tinned vegetables.
NEXT POST: With only 218 hours in his log book, Rupert takes off on his second and final mission and finds himself trapped in his blazing aircraft.
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Old 16th Dec 2016, 20:41
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Geriaviator (pp Rupert Parkhouse RIP),
...German tanks which were approaching Le Havre from 8000ft...
Hope they were on Quadrantals !
...I thought I'm going to be the butt if I was the only one to bring my bombs back...
We worried about our Fusing Links. Again an excerpt from my earlier Posts:
...but it brings us to the point. If you return the bomb switches to "safe" after dropping your bombs, the solenoids withdraw, the links fall out and are lost. Why should that matter?
Because, if you come back with no links, there is at least a possibility (worse, even suspicion) that you have stupidly "bombed safe". With your links "all present and correct", you're in the clear. Also, you don't need new links for the next lot of bombs (there may even have been a shortage of links - it's exactly the sort of small, cheap, insignificant thing we would be short of), and it's one less job for the armourers. Leave the links in (and bomb switches "live")...
but that could have serious consequences......(another story, not relevant).
...I must say there was an intense feeling of joy that one had got the first operation over...
My thoughts ("Brevet" page 134 #2663):
...Climbing down, I felt a tinge of self-satisfaction. I'd done my first "op". I'd struck a blow for King and country in return for their two years' investment in my training. From now on it would be payback time...
Keep 'em coming, Geriaviator !

Danny.

PS: For those who have not seen it, and who want a good laugh, read Geriaviator's Post p.178 #3558:

"THE CHURCH PARADE: or the innocents wronged"
(Best to read: p.176 #3518 " With approval of our CO (and born survivor^^) Danny ... chocks away for Aden 1951! " - as a lead-in to the above).

and

on p.169 #3370, more pictures: 142 Sqn (Battles) in France, 1939.

D.
 
Old 17th Dec 2016, 11:30
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re post 9845
Another naive question, if I may be permitted:

Bomb links and solenoids, etc: how "exactly" were things connected? Or where can one look for such information?
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Old 17th Dec 2016, 19:21
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Further to the Fairey Battle pictures earlier, couple shows a partly enclosed middle section to the canopy and a scrapyard with a lot of Battle fuselages.

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Old 17th Dec 2016, 20:55
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Interesting pictures, Zetec. It would seem that what little daylight was available to the Nav in his subterranean office came through 4 apertures in the decking enclosed by the glazing connecting the pilot and air gunner canopies. Presumably he had to forego this when said glazing was overpainted as in the pic that you posted. Would it be a mod to cut down reflections from this veritable flying Kew Gardens that could attract some unwelcome attention?

The other pic is so sad. Is there anything more likely to depress someone who has flown a particular aircraft type (civil or military) than such a scene? All that ingenuity, all that danger, all those memories, and all ending up in an untidy heap awaiting final execution.

Geriaviator, your man is uncommonly self effacing. He loses his leader but nevertheless presses on to the target area. Problem is there are no targets so he returns full of angst as well as bombs. At least he has a crew to back up his claim. I've always wondered how a lone pilot (fighters usually, but other roles as well) could justify their lack of success in a similar situation. It must have been a common enough experience. The tales of wingmen losing their leader, section, flight, or squadron in the melee, indeed losing sight of all other aircraft entirely and emerging from the battle into clear blue sky are legendary. Were they consoled, lectured, or simply ignored by those who had learned how to hang on to both leader and to life?
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Old 18th Dec 2016, 06:15
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BernieC, a long time ago (1960 ish) I took a boat out onto the salt marshes and retrieved a bomb release from a crashed bomber, no idea
what it was , but it had some very convincing bullet holes through it's propellers. the hook was just a 'thing' 6*6" or so with a hook and an electric coil.
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Old 18th Dec 2016, 12:23
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The Arab's Farewell to his Steed.

Chugalug (#9848),
...The other pic is so sad. Is there anything more likely to depress someone who has flown a particular aircraft type (civil or military) than such a scene? All that ingenuity, all that danger, all those memories, and all ending up in an untidy heap awaiting final execution...
There are harrowing stories. Here is an extract (you may remember it) from my Page 160, #3200.
Predictably, nobody wanted a Vegeance. 225 Group took the last option and ordered me to burn my aircraft where they stood . I was appalled. It would be a disgusting thing to leave three piles of blackened scrap on the town maidan as a last memento of our occupancy.

And what would be the likely effect on my airmen's morale? They'd worked tirelessly on their aircraft for two years: we'd never had to cancel a single Trial for unservicability. Was I now supposed to order them to chop them up and put them to the torch ? These were the times of the large scale mutinies in the northern cities (among disaffected troops kicking their heels, waiting to get home). I didn't want a mutiny on my hands, and protested vigorously.

Group's first reaction was pig-headed. They ordered me to do as I was told or face Court Martial. Still I remained obdurate, and after further exchanges of acrimonious signals, wiser counsels prevailed and the SASO relented. I was allowed to fly my aircraft to a M.U. at Nagpur for scrapping. There the dark deed would be done, but at least by somebody else out of sight of my chaps.

The day came in March 1946 when FB986 and I had to part. We'd come to the end of the road. I had to move quickly before Group changed its mind. On March 4th I paid my last visit to Yelahanka "pour prendre congé" from the SASO, did airtests in the next few days and on the 12th my log reads simply "Hakimpet - Nagpur.......4hr 15min". It would be the last entry in it for more than three years.

A forlorn little armada set off. Hakimpet was of course a refuelling stop. I had faithful Sgt Williams in the back with all the paperwork, and the other two VVs with me. We were cruising around 10,000 ft and as Nagpur came over the horizon ahead I toyed for a few moments with the mad idea of doing a dive down on them as my swan song.

Of course I put it out of mind immediately; the Cholaveram reaction was reason enough, and neither of the other two pilots had ever done a dive; they were non-operational (on VVs, that is); we'd never dived at Cannanore - there was no reason to. I suppose I could have said: "just follow me down and do what I do", but that risked making a profound impression (or even two !) on Nagpur.

(As a matter of interest, Nagpur is reckoned to be in the exact mathematical centre of the Indian subcontinent - just thought you'd like to know).

We trailed in, parked, handed over the aircraft documents, patted the aircraft, lugged our parachutes over to the parachute section, left them there and that was that. It was the end of the Vultee Vengeance story (well, not quite yet)...
Ckeers, Danny.
 
Old 18th Dec 2016, 12:33
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BernieC (#9846),
Welcome aboard !

Can't quote you official chapter and verse, but this lengthy extract from my Post (Page No.134. #2680) may cast a little light on the subject.

I'm surprised that no one has already jumped in with an answer to this, as AFAIK, this was the standard safety mechanism for all medium sized H.E. bombs during the war. Never was in Bomber Command myself, but I understand that the 4,000 lb "cookie" was too fat for any safety device, so they were "live" from the moment the fuses were fitted until the armourers removed them after landing.

Any ex-armourer within earshot ?
...Hang-ups are rare, but can be very dangerous. If you have one, you try to get rid of it safely by chucking the aircraft about over water or open country. If it still refuses to budge, you have a difficult decision. In theory, if the switches are "safe", the thing should be harmless and you can land with it - or even crash with it, (as I proved the following year}. But it ain't necessarily so.

Shortly after I left Khumbirgram on posting to 8 Sqdn. a crew was killed there when a wing hang-up dropped on landing and exploded when it hit the runway. I think 8 Sqdn. were still "working up" far back in Bengal at the time, so details of the affair were sketchy and took some time to reach us.

It is difficult to imagine how this came to happen. Did the pilot not know he had a hang up? Impossible, you'd say, from what I've been telling you about the hang-up check a few posts ago.

Confession is good for the soul ! The whole of my tale about the jail sortie is perfectly true. But it's actually a composite of my first VV strikes (where in truth we just formed up and went home after bombing) and later ones when this mandatory check had been introduced. (It seemed neater for me to tell the two parts of story in one piece, as it were, as I didn't intend to tell it again - mea culpa!)

So in the early days, not only did we not do any checks, but a practice had sprung up whereby the bomb switches were left "live" after we'd bombed until landing and switch-off. There was some method in this madness.

When a bomb drops, a loop in a wire "fusing link" is held back in the rack by a solenoid bolt which closes when the rack is switched to "live". The other (two) ends of this wire "link" run through holes in a sort of "safety cap", and locks this onto the end of the bomb fuse on which it is loosely threaded. (Same way as a split-pin locks a nut).

This cap protects the detonator inside from accidental impact, (but not from idiots with hammers and chisels!). Incidentally, there are two fuses to a bomb, nose and tail.
It is amazing what blows this cap can survive and still do its job. If a bomb is dropped "safe", the solenoid bolt stays open, the fusing link goes off with the bomb, so the cap stays on the fuse, still held by the wire. It can now go down 20,000 ft into the ground and (should) not go off.

But if the bomb has gone "live", the wire is held back in the rack; the cap has lost its locking. "Windmill" vanes are machined round its circumference, it is loose on the thread, the airflow spins it off in a moment, away we go.

That is rather a cumbersome explanation, but it brings us to the point. If you return the switches to "safe" after dropping your bombs, the solenoids withdraw, the links fall out and are lost. Why should that matter?

Because, if you come back with no links, there is at least a possibility (worse, even suspicion) that you have stupidly "bombed safe". With your links "all present and correct", you're in the clear. Also, you don't need new links for the next lot of bombs (there may even have been a shortage of links - it's exactly the sort of small, cheap, insignificant thing we would be short of), and it's one less job for the armourers. Leave the links in (switches "live").

Good idea? So we thought. And now we can see what might happen. Suppose you have an unnoticed hang-up, it falls off as you land. That's it ! How could it come to be unnoticed on a wing when the pilot rejoined the formation? Only if he were the last man, and it was on an outside wing, it might be possible that no other pilot would notice it. But then, couldn't a gunner on an aircraft ahead, looking back, spot it?
Supposing he did know, he would certainly have done his best to get rid of it, failed and concluded that a landing was safe - it wasn't!

The switches would have gone back to safe, of course, but the trouble with a hang-up is that you never know just how things are in the rack. The bolt may have jammed in the closed position (rear door in my very old car jammed a few months ago, very similar mechanism; main agent estimate £500 [ouch!]; friendly auto-elec chap down road: 3hrs @ £20 = £60 - fixed). And how securely is the claw still holding your bomb? You don't know.

In this way we lost two good men. In fact, it was a risk too far (my log tells me I've done it myself on one occasion, I was lucky). Really, the only sensible thing to do was to bale out and let the aircraft go - there were plenty more where it came from, and a crew is worth more than an aircraft.

I believe that it was in consequence of this accident that hang-up checks became the rule.

One curious little thing: the front fuse cap spun off well clear of the aircraft and was lost (I can see some museum director in the future trying to puzzle out what this little round thing, dug up by a treasure-hunter, might be).

But the tail fuse safety device took the shape of a little sheet-metal butterfly-shaped thing (I've no idea how it worked). On quite a few occasions, an aircraft would come back with this thing embedded in a flap. It was too small to do any real damage, but the flap had to be patched after you pulled it out. It was a nuisance....
Cheers, Danny42C.
 
Old 18th Dec 2016, 13:58
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THE PARKHOUSE MEMOIRS – Part 12



Fairey Battle used for training in Australia, photo courtesy the RAAF. Four x 250lb bombs were loaded inside the wing on racks which were hydraulically lowered for loading and for dive-bombing. More could be carried on external racks, just visible. Armed with a single forward-firing Browning and a hand-held Vickers K-gun for the rear gunner, visible here with his canopy tilted as a windshield, the Battle was easy prey for the German Me109, at least 100 mph faster and armed with a 20mm cannon and two 50 cal machine-guns.

The memoirs of Sqn Ldr Rupert Parkhouse, recorded in 1995 – Part 12. The first post in this series is #9775 on page 489 of this thread. Note: when he took off in Battle L5580 on his second and final sortie, Rupert had only 218 flying hours in his log book.

THURSDAY, June 13, was another long day and it wasn't until 5.30 that we were called to the ops room and briefed to attack German tanks which were supposed to be laagered up in the Foret de Gault in the Ardennes near the town of Sezanne, NE of Paris.

Once again I could not find Hayden after takeoff but flew over quite easily to the target where I could not see any military activity on the ground at all. This rather mystified me because my father used to talk of seeing the line, but of course the two wars were completely different.

I saw the target ahead, it was an enormous wood, then we entered cloud and I thought I would pop out after three minutes and drop my bombs.

Unfortunately my airspeed indicator pitot head must have iced up and I saw my ASI unwinding at alarming speed. In my trepidation of the initial stages of attack I did not check my artificial horizon and I dived out at about 350mph, the aircraft's never-exceed speed in a dive, so I decided on a dive-bombing attack, which I did.

If only I had thought … what I should have done was to carry on low and returned at very low level. Unfortunately I was the last aircraft on the target and as I was climbing back up to the cloud at our 8000ft operating level my gunner, a little Scotsman called Duncan MacDonald, piped up with ENEMY FIGHTERS ASTAIRRRN, SIRRR! Calling me sir at a time like that … Just as he spoke there was a hell of a bang of cracking metal and I thought for a moment the engine had exploded, so loud was the noise.

I had always decided that immediately upon an attack I would turn to port and as my starboard wing came up I saw a great torch of flame coming from it. I levelled out and told the crew to bale out, but they did not reply and I waited for perhaps 10 seconds before starting to abandon the aircraft myself.

I had to get the hood back and I knew this would be difficult, though on operations I had decided I would never fly with the hood closed. Unfortunately on the runup to target my observer Sgt Morris had gone forward to use the bombsight and had asked me to close my hood because of the rush of air when he slid back his bomb-aiming panel. I immediately complied only to find 15 minutes later that I was in a burning aircraft and could not get the hood back however much I tried.
NEXT POST: Rupert describes his desperate struggle to open his canopy and escape from his burning Battle – but in vain. Then the deadly yellow-nosed Me109s of JG26 arrive to inspect their kill.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 11th Apr 2018 at 18:04. Reason: re-insert picture
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Old 18th Dec 2016, 14:27
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Danny42C

Thank you so much for honouring me with an understandable answer to my childish question. I am too young to have been anywhere near a bombed-up aircraft so as to see what the arrangements are, and have missed any previous detailed account.

But not too young to have been straddled by bombs in the London Blitz!

And my military service was in the Rape and Murder Corps. Interesting, but less so than aviation.
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Old 18th Dec 2016, 15:19
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To anyone who's interested:

Idly roaming around on Key Publishing Co., came across this Link put in by "jagan" (who is well knowh to us from BHARAT RAKSHAK):

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8RqlK1d1_k>

This is a string of YouTubes, the first showing the IAF and their VVs (I loved the shot of the little capuchin monkey vainly trying to get up the u/c leg to get up on the wing [pilots used the same way - right foot on wheel, left in the "stirrup", quick scramble, and you're on top], and later (the monkey, that is) gambolling all over the aircraft.

Third youtube is a history of the Vultee aircraft by Pat Macha (?): there's only a bit about the VVs from 25.00 to 27.20 (out of a whole hour !), but plenty about the BT-13, but let's just say that opinions vary about that aircraft !

Of course, the best bit of video about the VV is still the well known "Vlad" compendium of shots.

Danny42C.
 
Old 18th Dec 2016, 15:33
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Geriaviator (pp Rupert Parkhouse RIP).
...I was in a burning aircraft and could not get the hood back however much I tried...
Not an enviable position !

In the Spit we had a "jemmy" clipped inside the door, the idea was to smasn your way out through the perspex.
EDIT:
....Unfortunately my airspeed indicator pitot head must have iced up and I saw my ASI unwinding at alarming speed. In my trepidation of the initial stages of attack I did not check my artificial horizon and I dived out at about 350mph...
A similar chain of circumstaces were to lead to the loss of AF447 in the S. Atlantic with 300+ souls on board 70 plus years later.

Still think it a lovely aircraft.

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 18th Dec 2016 at 15:51. Reason: Add Text.
 
Old 19th Dec 2016, 12:07
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Danny: Rupert Parkhouse is still alive, we shall post his picture shortly, but he is no longer able to remember these events. He mentions his stammer in our first post #9775 when he recalls Cranwell entry:
“It was rather intimidating, and I stammered badly, but I passed”
and while transcribing the recordings I found it quite moving to hear his stammer returning when he recalls stressful events 45 years later, such as the terrifying experience of being trapped in a burning aircraft.

I too thought of AF447 when Rupert described his ASI icing up, until I remembered his photo of the Link Trainer and his later description of his “awful mistake” which seems to have blighted his flying career. The summer of 1940 was very warm as he will recall when he describes his escape attempts following his belly-landing, say at least 22 deg C. Given a lapse rate of 2deg per 1000ft, the temperature at 8000ft would have been around 6deg so icing was unlikely. Remember that he had only 218 hours' experience; in the stress of his first attack I think he became disorientated in cloud, failed to check his horizon and stalled his loaded aircraft.

For those who wish to hear the account of a very brave and honest man, his recordings can be heard at Parkhouse, Rupert Charles Langridge (Oral history) (15476)
More tomorrow.
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Old 19th Dec 2016, 16:42
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Geriaviator,

My profound apologies to Sqn Ldr Rupert Parkhouse ! It would seem that, like Mark Twain, "reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated".

Thanks for the link, but my meagre skills prevented me from hearing the spoken word.

No matter, we are all agog for the next instalment. How does our hero escape ?

Danny.
 
Old 19th Dec 2016, 20:44
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Geriaviator, many thanks for the link to the IWM recording of Sqn Ldr Parkhouse, telling his story as transcribed by you. What comes across most is the incredible modesty of this man. He is for ever describing other cadets, fellow officers, etc, with brief anecdotes of their deeds, their famous fathers or families, with his own story being one of downwind approaches, difficulties with instrument flying, and so on. The truth is he was one of a very select band of pre-war Cranwell Cadets, even gaining a scholarship there. Only occasionally do we get an insight into the self motivation and inner drive that lay behind his apparent self effacement. Everyone else throws away their slide rules on graduation, but not he! In fact he still has his to this day! That was the real man, very aware of his humble background with an anathema for waste, and a determination to succeed at his chosen career. Perhaps this also explains his feelings of failure, blaming himself for being shot down on his second daylight raid flying a Fairey Battle in the AASF. I suspect few others who suffered that fate in that one sided battle blamed themselves. Perhaps his real angst is the fact that he survived and so many of his colleagues did not. A well known syndrome, I believe.

PS, I intend to follow your written account before his spoken one; so holding at reel 3 for now.

PPS. Danny, if you click on Geriaviator's link, you should be taken to a page on the IWM site with a black square facing you. That black square should change to a grey one with a loud speaker icon in the centre. If you click on the red square on that with your mouse/ pad you should see the a whirring icon and then hear the sound track of Reel 1. Reel two, etc, can be selected in turn.

Last edited by Chugalug2; 19th Dec 2016 at 21:07. Reason: PPS
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Old 20th Dec 2016, 03:51
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Danny:
Re your 9851:
Yes you are right, the 4,000 pound cookies did not have any method of being dropped safe, as was illustrated by Dad's emergency jettison of the entire bomb load of their Lanc following the second engine failure. As he put it, once you dropped the thing, it was going to go bang. They dropped it from just under 5,000 feet, did a sharp turn away, yet the aircraft was severely shaken up by the detonation. It did give them pause to think what happened over the target.
As far as the pins/lanyards, if the bombs were dropped normally, they would return with a bomb bay full of them. However, reading several books on Bomber Command, it was not an uncommon practise for the Skipper to operate the jettison bar ( a lever in the cockpit of Lancasters) after the bomb aimer had called bombs gone, and they were waiting the dreaded 30 seconds for the much hated bomb picture. This to ensure that there were no hang ups, but would result in all the lanyards being dropped. I have no idea if that was something Dad's crew did, but in the books nobody seemed to call the practise into question
Jeff
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Old 20th Dec 2016, 06:59
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but would result in all the lanyards being dropped
Maybe they were hoping they would strangle the AA gunners.
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Old 20th Dec 2016, 13:35
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THE PARKHOUSE MEMOIRS – Part 13

The memoirs of Sqn Ldr Rupert Parkhouse, recorded in 1995 – Part 13
The first post in this series is #9775 on page 489 of this thread.

THE FAIREY Battle hood was badly designed in that it had two handles, so you had to use both hands, and there was also a clip beside the seat which you had to release before you could grasp the handles. Normally one would hold the stick between one's legs and pull the hood back as the speed decreased, but I was in considerable panic to be quite frank. I had the aircraft trimmed slightly nose high so I put the stick between my legs but as I tried to pull the nose kept rising and as I neared the stall I had to let go the hood and push the stick forward again.

After about 30 seconds of frantic pulling I concluded that I was not going to get the hood back. I was worried about the fire spreading so I decided to crash-land. I put the flaps down, went into fine pitch, found the largest field I could see and put the aircraft down with quite a heavy thump. The blades of the airscrew folded over in quick succession as we sliced across a tree-lined road with great efficiency and slithered to a halt.

Despite slight distortion to the airframe from the crash I was able to pull the hood back, to my intense relief, I undid my straps and nipped out very quickly before remembering that I hadn't got a map. I was about to get back into the cockpit when the front gun ammunition began exploding and the fire was taking hold, so I desisted. Strangely enough, I was so elated at surviving that I think I danced round the aircraft twice in a sort of mad war-dance.

Then I was quite disconcerted when a dozen Me109 fighters began circling around me. First I waved to them, thinking of the Biggles stories I suppose, the chivalry of air combat in World War One, then I wondered if they would shoot at me so I ran over and lay down in a ditch. After one circuit these superb looking aircraft flew off, it was really quite a sight to see them with their yellow noses and black crosses flying around me at about 50 feet.

NEXT POST: Having survived his terrifying experience, and worried for his crew, Rupert tries to make his way back to his base at Souge.
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