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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 30th Dec 2016, 11:04
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Whilst I am on the subject of Army officers flying with 53 Squadron, I would like to finish off by telling you about my all-time favourite. Lt W S G "Dick" Maydwell (Somerset Light Infantry) was posted in to fly Hawker Hectors in 1937. He was a very keen photographer and owned one of the very first Contax 35mm cameras and rapidly built up a large collection of beautiful air-to-air photographs, not just of squadron aircraft, but also flights of Hawker Furies, early Spitfires and Hurricanes, the prototype Wellington and God knows what else.

He converted on to the Blenheim and went off to France with everyone else in 1939. It so happened that he and his crew were on leave in UK when the Germans invaded the Low Countries on 10 May 1940. On his way back to join the squadron, he was commandeered in the resulting chaos to run a refuelling and rearming unit near Rouen which looked after Hurricane squadrons being sent over from UK on a daily basis. They fell back through Dreux, Dinard and St Malo to Jersey. There it was when Flt Lt Ian Bartlett found him when he landed during a sortie on 18 June and took him back to Gatwick. On arrival, Dick was immediately promoted to Flt Lt and became OC "A" Flight.

He served with 53 (now part of Coastal Command) through a particularly dangerous period attacking the Dutch coast and the Channel ports until he was promoted to Sqn Ldr at the end of 1940. He found himself in Egypt in charge of a small photo reconnaisance unit equipped with Martin Marylands. However, he very soon became OC 14 Squadron equipped originally with Blenheims but then the new Martin Marauder came on the scene. It came with a bit of a reputation but Dick reckoned that they soon got the measure of it. He was the sort of boss who believed in leading from the front and he and his crew managed to shoot down an Italian SM82 (3-engine transport), a Junkers 90 (4-engine transport) and then they encountered a Me 323 Gigant (6-engine transport) off Corsica. The Me 323 pilot threw it on to a beach. Dick landed at an airfield nearby and went to inspect his enormous prize. He sawed the three propeller tips off one engine.

He was promoted out of his job and became a Gp Capt in charge of 325 Wing at Trapani. He did not like being on the ground and after a while he went to HQ (now in Naples) to try and negotiate a return to flying. He was returning in the dark from the meeting driving a Jeep over a level crossing when he was struck by several railway wagons which had not been secured properly. This resulted in him losing his right leg. It took him a long time to recover but he did manage to fly the Meteor and the Vampire after the war.

He finally retired to a cottage out in the countryside not a million miles from Wincanton. I always used to call in on my way down to Cornwall. He was a bit of a country squire and sported a full-set beard. He used a large wooden staff with a fork at the top to help him walk and he looked for all the world like a smaller version of Moses.

Dick was a very keen sportsman and he was an excellent shot. In his gun room he had hundreds of deer skulls mounted on the wall, all with a caption of "what, where, when etc" in beautiful copperplate writing. In the middle was a large tiger's head ("Simla, old boy, not Somerset"). When I last saw him he was 85 years old and he was still shooting (he used the fork on the top of his wooden staff to balance his rifle) but he did admit that he was finding it a bit of a struggle, what with his wooden leg and all that, dragging the deer out of the forest!

In pride of place on the mantelpiece in the lounge was a mounted propeller tip from his Me 323. In 1982 he made contact with the captain of the Me 323 and went over to stay with him in Germany and to reunite him with one of the other propeller tips. They started a friendship which was to last for over 20 years.

My favourite memory was our first visit to his local pub. I naturally called him "Sir" but after about half an hour he said "You may call me Dick". It was like getting a medal! Gp Capt "Dick" Maydwell DSO DFC died in 2006 aged 92. I shall never forget him.
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Old 30th Dec 2016, 12:28
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JW411 (#9922),
...Whilst I am on the subject of Army officers flying with 53 Squadron, I would like to finish off by telling you about my all-time favourite. Lt W S G "Dick" Maydwell (Somerset Light Infantry)......
What a man ! They don't make 'em like that any more, more's the pity (but maybe they do).
...("Simla, old boy, not Somerset").. .
At last ! When did that interloper "Shimla" creep in ? Same time as "Calcutta" became "Kolkata", I suppose.

Salaam, Burra-Sahib Maydwell !

Danny.
 
Old 30th Dec 2016, 15:26
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Danny, Rupert Parkhouse has dementia and his memory has almost disappeared, at long last taking away the ghosts that seem to have trailed him for so many years. His son told me that his father is now happier than he had been for a long time, and is very content.

The story so far is sad enough, but there is worse to come as Rupert struggles to return to flying. We think that our WW2 warriors were iron men who simply rolled up their sleeves and got on with it, but I wonder how many suffered to conceal the dark experiences of the past for the rest of their lives.

JW411, great stories of those Army officers who grew wings, thank you!
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Old 30th Dec 2016, 15:46
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Danny:

I'm still trying to work out how you get Chennai out of Madras!
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Old 30th Dec 2016, 16:10
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I lived in the same village as Dick Maydwell for a number of years and it was quite some time before I found that our bearded fairly scruffy man people turned to for deer culling was in fact a retired RAF pilot, a Group Captain in fact. He was affectionately known, not to his face of course, as 'peg leg'.

An acquaintance of mine, being a keen birdwatcher, was often out and about at dawn near Stourhead Forest and one morning he heard a cry for help. Climbing over a gate and into a field he found Dick lying on the ground which in fact was really slippery grass. His wooden leg had come off because the strap had unfastened and Dick was unable to find his balance sufficiently well enough to pull his leg back on and refasten it. David was instructed to pull Dick up and then he was able to hold on to him while the leg was put back in its rightful place!

Dick then continued dragging his dead quarry back to the gate and his car.

Something about the area must have attracted these WW2 heroes. In addition to Dick we had Sqn Ldr Gerry Fray who as a Fg Off PR Spitfire pilot took the before and after photographs of the dams targeted by Gibson's 617 Sqn - sadly by the time we got to meet his wife, Gerry was suffering from dementia.

We also had Mike Vlasto who as a Fg Off Dakota pilot with 31 Sqn did the first jungle take off in Burma with wounded Chindits. Sadly he died a week or two after we bought our cottage at the top of his lane.

Another one was Peter Lilywhite who had flown Spitfires, just too late for the BofB, and then Hurricanes in the Battle of Malta.

Both Vlasto and Lillywhite, IIRC, returned to their civilian occupations at the end of WW2.

I believe Dick's wife died a couple of years after him and their 'colonial' style bungalow was sold on and modernised. A little while ago it was on Prime Location for sale and not 'flying out of the door', I guess because of its proximity to the noisy A303.

Last edited by Brian 48nav; 30th Dec 2016 at 16:17. Reason: Addition
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Old 30th Dec 2016, 16:18
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Apologies for dragging on about the Fairey Battle but come up with another.
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Old 31st Dec 2016, 10:55
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Brian48nav:

Dick's wife Sylvia was quite a character in her own right. It is my understanding that she was a Sqn Off nursing sister in the WAAF and it was she who was largely responsible for rebuilding Dick after his accident. The pair of them were pretty adept at recycling dead deer. Dick disposed of the insides and Sylvia made things out of the hides. I can remember one day being offered a haunch of venison but, sadly, I was headed in the wrong direction!
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Old 31st Dec 2016, 13:08
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110 (H) Squadron.

Hello Danny et al,


Not sure if this will work, but here are the aircrew of 110 (H) Squadron in front of a Vengeance on the 15th of September 1944 at Kalyan. Unfortunately the photo is very small and even scanned and blown up I cant recognise anyone in it. Presumably there would have been a larger print for the Squadron archive and the smaller ones handed out to the crews?


Happy New Year!


Jerry.


Scan.jpg
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Old 31st Dec 2016, 13:38
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zetec2 (#9927),

Not at all - seems the "Battle" is the background to the present story on "Pilot's Brevet", just another example of the wonderful tales which have been told (and remain to be told) on this matchless Thread.

Blew your picture up, got out magnifying glass. Questions and Remarks:

What are the strange structures hanging down behind the wheels ? For scraping off mud or snow before they retract up into the u/c bay ?

How come they're mounting from the wrong side of the horse ? Could the pic by any chance be reversed ?

Never knew they had a drop-down cockpit flap (same as the Spit) - but no "jemmy" (if Rupert's canopy had been still stuck when he crash-landed, burning, one might've saved his life).

What is the bright thing on the collar of the officer helping the pilot in ? Whistle ? (I like the cap - Mr "Bates" ?)

Thing has had a hard life by the look of it ! Could do with a respray.

Why didn't they put a spinner over the prop boss to make an already elegant aircraft even more so ?

Sadly, there is probably no living soul (#9924, thank you, Geriaviator) left to answer some of these.

Happy New Year to all, Danny.
 
Old 31st Dec 2016, 13:42
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zetec2 (#9927),

Not at all - seems the "Battle" is the background to the present story on "Pilot's Brevet", just another example of the wonderful tales which have been told (and remain to be told) on this matchless Thread.

Blew your picture up, got out magnifying glass. Questions and Remarks:

What are the strange structures hanging down behind the wheels ? For scraping off mud or snow before they retract up into the u/c bay ?

How come they're mounting from the wrong side of the horse ? Could the pic by any chance be reversed ?

Never knew they had a drop-down cockpit flap (same as the Spit) - but no "jemmy" (if Rupert's canopy had been still stuck when he crash-landed, burning, one might've saved his life).

What is the bright thing on the collar of the officer helping the pilot in ? Whistle ? (I like the cap - "Bates" ?)

Thing has had a hard life by the look of it ! Could do with a respray.

Why didn't they put a spinner over the prop boss to make an altready elegant aircraft even more so ?

Sadly, there is probably no living soul (#9924, thank you, Geriaviator) left to answer some of these.

Happy New Year to all, Danny.
 
Old 31st Dec 2016, 13:58
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Good afternoon Danny, re the Battle picture I am investigating , will advise more when I get some answers, but I am intrigued by the flag/pennant flying from the rear cockpit, looks almost Germanic in style, will try and advise later, rgds, PH.
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Old 31st Dec 2016, 14:51
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JW411 (#9925),

As I said long since: "The good folk of Bombay can call it what they like in Marathi, and we don't mind. Why should it bother them what we call it in English ?"

Same goes for Madras (Wiki says language is Tamil, would've thought it too far north for that. But at Cannanore (sorry, "Kannur" now), I suppose Tamil was the "official" language, but they all spoke Malayalee. Some Portugese. Some English.

All part of Throwing Off the Last Vestiges of Colonial Rule, of course. Yet the Park Lane of Calcutta/Kolkata, formerly "Chowringhee" (which you would have thought good enough for them) is now "Sir Jawaharlal Nehru Road" (or was the last time I looked) - they may have ditched the "Sir" by now.

(Between Chowringhee and the Hooghli river, and parallel to it through the Maidan [riverside park], runs "Indira Gandhi Sarari". We called it "Red Road", and they flew Hurricanes off it).

Far as I'm concerned, it'll always be "Bombay", "Calcutta", "Madras" and "Cannanore" for me. Too old to change now !

Danny.
 
Old 31st Dec 2016, 15:19
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THE PARKHOUSE MEMOIRS Part 20 FREEDOM AT LAST!

The memoirs of Sqn Ldr Rupert Parkhouse, recorded in 1995 – Part 20. First post in this series is #9775 on page 489 of this thread.

IN JANUARY 1945 we began to hear the sound of Russian guns to the east and we were told that we were going to march west the next day. We spent the whole of that night preparing food and making sledges and trekked in the snow for about four days until we reached a place called Muscau where we lodged in a glass factory and became warm for the first time.

On one occasion we had slept in a German church and I can vividly remember the priest rushing in to remove the Cross and candles and one of our chaps lay down on the altar. We had no hesitation in demolishing the graveyard fence for a fire outside to keep ourselves warm, while we slept together in bunches like lemmings in the pews and on the floor.

When we got to Muscau we were split up, some people going north to Lubeck where they were liberated by the Germans, while my party went to Luckenwilde camp occupied by the Norwegians and some French. We stayed there in primitive conditions until Russian tanks and armoured cars arrived on April 22. They kept us as hostages until about May 10 when they took us to the Elbe in 6x6 trucks supplied by the Americans.

We crossed over an American pontoon bridge and I don't think I have ever been so relieved as to walk into the American lines where of course they gave us a good meal. Eventually we were flown to Brussels, where we stayed about six hours and on May 28 we flew from Brussels to Dunsfold, continuing by train to Cosford where we arrived very late.

The POW reception unit was extremely efficient and in the morning they gave us battledress, sewed on our insignia and our medals, and sent us by train to arrive about 5pm at Paddington. I travelled with an ex-Hampden pilot called Roger Tench whose wife was meeting him on the platform, we gave them time before we got out.

I was with a chap called Elvin Pennington, we both lived in Dulwich and the taxi driver wouldn't accept any fare which was nice, and soon I was reunited with my family. My father had taken the day off and we had a joyful tea to end my POW days. Except that I went to the POW centre for medical tests and I was sent to what we used to call the Umdeecha Hospital, [laughing] which was the round-the-bend hospital at Cleveleys [Hotel] in Blackpool for chaps who were mentally disturbed. We didn't have any psychiatric help there, we were just fed well and left to fend for ourselves and I saw VE Day in at Blackpool.

NEXT POST: Rupert asks to return to flying: “I realised that if I did not do so then I would never lay the ghost of that awful mistake, which I think engendered a basic underlying fear of flying.” But he experiences a shattering introduction on arrival for his refresher course.
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Old 31st Dec 2016, 15:49
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jerryh99 (#9929),

Nor can I identify anybody; I left in November '43, they would have been pulled off 'ops' at the outbreak of the '44 monsoon (along with all the others), God knows where to at first. Kalyan is right over on W.Coast.

This is little more than a Flight, certainly not a Squadron. Strange thing, I can see (or think I see) far more of the underside of the wings than in other VV pics from this angle.

Wild Guess: these are Mk.IVs (with a 4 AoI), and a Detachment of the Squadron (only ones to get the IVs), which were going to go over to Takoradi to do anti-malaria spray trials, this may be it. Know nowt about it. ORB would have all the details.

Curiously, about November, '45, we were similarly tasked at Cannanore (by CDRE). We cleaned out the mustard gas spray tanks and started spraying DDT (think in kerosene solution). Memory a bit hazy at this point, I was pleasantly distracted in a big way (another story, it's on here, but you'll have to dig for it).

Happy New Year,

Danny.
 
Old 31st Dec 2016, 16:10
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zetec2 (#9932),

If you can trace the Squadron Number, look up the badge. Might match the pennant.

Danny.
 
Old 31st Dec 2016, 17:12
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zetec2, the same pennant I think features in a Wikki pic on its Battle page:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:V..._K_cockpit.jpg

which claims it was 103 Sqn and taken in France, May 1940.

JWW411, Dick Maydwell appears to have been well named, despite the loss of one leg! The joie de vivre that he exuded, and it seems shared by his wife, no doubt was enhanced by his varied and glittering Services career, both Army and RAF. In a world where individuality was cherished he obviously blossomed. The climate, or the water, of the South West seems to have prolonged the effect, and done so for those others mentioned by Brian48Nav. Such "Characters" were the lifeblood of the Air Force I joined in 1959, but seemed to be fast disappearing by the time I left in 1973. Little room now for their ilk in these more po-faced days I fear...
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Old 31st Dec 2016, 18:54
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Does this help?

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Old 31st Dec 2016, 20:01
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ian16th,

Nice pic, but no, I'm afraid. Anybody ?

Danny.
 
Old 1st Jan 2017, 06:19
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Vengeance etc.

Hello Danny,
now I am back home & reunited with my fathers records I
have taken a look at them. I can see that he 'qualified' on Vultee Vengeance & Cyclone in 1943.
The records I have are more or less unreadable as to dates, but I can see that he was at 301 MU on 24/7/42 - renamed 'SE Asia' 16/11/43.
Then BHQ Calcutta in 1944 and 82 SQDN same year.
The Burma Star is mentioned in his records, but difficult to decode when he was there or squadron.
I no longer have, but am sure he wrote some stuff for the Burma Star magazine.
On a different note, looking at this stuff, I recall a story of his about dropping leaflets over Germany
whilst serving at Leuchars at the end of the mission they landed wheels up.
That part was somehow covered up, and the aircraft repaired without consequences.

I do recall him telling me that they assembled the Vengeance
without proper documentation, and had to adjust the Cyclone
engines without the test equipment which he had just trained
on in USA.

Best wishes, John
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Old 1st Jan 2017, 09:38
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Re: The Fairey Battle photo ... that pennant appears to me to be a Polish design.

A Google of Polish Fairy Battle Squadrons, and then a click in "Images" turned up this photo. Also in the Wiki for "Fairey Battle"

Annoyingly, I can't correlate that pennant with any of the Sqn insignia for Nos. 300, 301, 304 or 305.

Over to you guys!!
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