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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 28th Mar 2017, 15:18
  #10401 (permalink)  
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Geriaviator (#10401),
,,,My father was posted to India in 1945 to join the Japanese offensive. My mother and I joined him at Poona in early 1946...
This has me puzzled. In August 1945 it was all over bar the shouting. You would be waiting for a troopship back to UK. Why would a family come out to join you (presumably at their own expense) in India at that point ? Doesn't make sense. Or was it some sort of "indulgence" passage (as you only arrived in '45, you'd be on the end of the queue for repatriation). How long did you have to wait in fact?
...I saw a monster aeroplane waddling in...
What a perfect description of a VV ! (it waddled in the air as on the ground) I still recall the shock when I saw the things for the first time at Madhaiganj - and the horror when they told me that i'd have to fly them, and not the Spitfires I expected !
...I remember thinking the pilot wasn't very good at steering...
As the owner of a R22 at Biggin would ruefully agree (Bird in a Biplane !). and you and your mother must've felt the heat that first year.

Cheers, Danny

Last edited by Danny42C; 28th Mar 2017 at 17:02. Reason: Typo.
Old 28th Mar 2017, 15:35
  #10402 (permalink)  
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Danny: my father was already there; my mother, myself and my baby sister were conveyed at His Majesty's expense aboard the good ship Strathnaver from Southampton to Bombay. Our fine cruise took three weeks and we enjoyed luxurious accommodation with three-decker bunks in near-empty dormitories. There was no problem shipping families out, the problem was going the other way and no doubt many thousands of Servicemen would have been delighted to sleep on the deck as long as they got passage home.

Presumably the prospect of Indian independence and ensuing Partition was still some distance away in British thinking, we expected our posting to last for a few years at least. Seventy years later I still treasure those memories.
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Old 29th Mar 2017, 21:27
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It ain't half hot, Mum !

Geriaviator (#10404),

Well, a three - tier bunk is not so bad (you would be in the [best] one on top, I take it).- What an adventure for a five -year old (did you put in at Aden ? - little did you know the fun you would have there seven years later).

I was on top of a seven - tier one going out, and could touch the ceiling of what had been the First-Class Dining Saloon . Of course, you would go through the Canal, whereas I had eight weeks at sea, with a stop in Brazil, and then round the Cape to another stop in Durban and then Bombay.
...the prospect of Indian independence and ensuing Partition was still some distance away in British thinking...
No, we had long been reconciled to its inevitability, the only problem was: when - and on what terms ? The best of all solutions would have been a brown Dominion, but the Hindu Congress had the bit between its teeth, and would not entertain the idea (although Jinnah might have been more favourable). But he would not trust the Congress as far as he could throw Nehru. So Partition it had to be, although both Wavell and Mountbatten had argued against it, knowing what would would be the likely result.

Their worst fears came true. In the communal massacres which followed Partition in 1947, it death roll was estimated at two million, and another 14 million were displaced. Even the "Daily Mirror" ran a leader under the heading: "THEY KNEW !" ... "Isn't it annoying when the wrong people turn out to have been right" ... "The Indians are behaving exactly as those Blimps and curry-Colonels said they would !"

...I didn't mind the heat on the footplate although the ironwork on the wagons was too hot to touch, especially if they had been parked in the afternoon sun. I still wonder if this was the extensive Wagholi Quarry which I can see on Google Earth.

How maintenance crews worked inside the aircraft in the tropics is hard to comprehend...
Extract from my Page 137, #2726:
...So now you get the picture. Your bush-jacketed, bush-hatted and khaki- slacked young man first tied this belt round his middle. Then he buckled himself into his webbing, ending with crossed shoulder straps, holster and pistol on his left hip, lanyard (on shoulder under epaulette flap, NOT round his neck), On his right hip lay the the kukri and side pack. (The webbing belt was buckled over the money belt).

Thus encumbered, he climbed up into the cockpit, scorching after hours in the tropic sun, sat down on his hot parachute seat cushion (hotter still if he hadn't folded the back over it when he last climbed out), fastened the shoulder and leg straps tight (or his chance of posterity might, after bale-out, be negligible), then clipped the four ends of the seat harness in the quick-release box and tightened that over all.

Thank Heavens, all our trips were over land, so we didn't have to wear "Mae Wests", or sit on the lumpy, abominably uncomfortable "K" dinghy pack.
By the time we'd donned flying helmet (tropical, cotton), and goggles over our fevered brows, we were damned glad to get the big fan in front working. That first long blast of air (hot as it was !) was pure bliss.

Our canopies were always left open, In the climb, temperature drops at the rate of three Fahrenheit per thousand feet, so at 10,000 it was 30 deg cooler and we shivered. But by then we'd be running in to our targets, closing our canopies, and would be down in the hot-air oven again very soon...
But it was a good life !

Tell us your experience of India (or at least Karachi and Poona) with a five-year old eyes !

What was it like coming home ?

Cheers, Danny.
Old 30th Mar 2017, 09:24
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How maintenance crews worked inside the aircraft in the tropics is hard to comprehend...
Was there ever an a/c worse for working in on the ground in tropical clime's, than the Canberra's with the B2 type canopy?

I know that 'sunshades' were invented for them, but those Canberra's were sauna's.
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Old 30th Mar 2017, 17:34
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Hot air

I once had to abort a compass swing in a Javelin T3 at Tengah. You couldn't taxy the T3 with the canopy closed and you couldn't have the AC on on the ground. We finally had to quit when the Nav complained the bit of paper he was using had dissolved due to the sweat from his chin,
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Old 1st Apr 2017, 16:56
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Tell us your experience of India (or at least Karachi and Poona) with a five-year old eyes !
Your wish is my command, O senior one. First, Kojak has kindly answered my Poona inquiry: the ambience in cantt Pune is the same.Af Stn would have changed, he says. But after 70 years RAF Poona is bound to have changed like everything else.

My earliest memory from 1946 is travelling from Portrush in Co Antrim to Belfast, an exciting train journey which became decidedly less enjoyable when we reached the hospital where I was introduced to inoculations: yellow fever which stung like a hornet, TABC/typhus which made us sick for a week, cholera ditto, smallpox a very sore arm. In a few weeks we were off, train to Belfast, overnight boat to Liverpool, trains with several changes via Waterloo to Southampton, at last embarkation on the Strathnaver. Other than three-tier bunks and the Suez Canal with its bumboatmen and the Giligili magician I remember little of the voyage until exotic spicy smells (and others less so) came wafting over the deck even five miles out of Bombay. There were several RAF families on board and their menfolk came out to the Strathnaver on a launch; my father was just one head visible amongst them, I and the other children could not understand why our mothers were excited about meeting someone we had never met. Such were the vicissitudes of Service life when its families were still spread around the Empire.

We travelled by train from Bombay to Poona, I see it's only 60 miles or so. Families were given a wooden-framed bungalow thatched with (?? palm leaves) a short gharri ride from the airfield, like most personnel my father used a pushbike. Our mothers walked us to the RAF school, I think there were two or three classes from civilian families as well. All the RAF families had a bearer, we called ours Pop and this kindly man was a treasure whom we treated as one of the family. He taught my father to make real curries and we brought a supply of spices when we returned to the UK as such things were unheard of in those days. Cooking was by two or three Primus stoves and an oil-fed cooker which was regulated by counting drops of oil through a glass sight. I found this most interesting but was banned from the tiny kitchen after my full-throttle experiment set fire to the thatched roof and nearly burned down the house. Otherwise the only dissonance arose when my mother swatted flies, and Pop would sadly shake his head and remonstrate 'memsahib, memsahib' because as a Hindu he revered all forms of life.

Other childhood memories include shopping trips with my parents in horse-drawn gharri but I much preferred the 15cwt Bedford truck, borrowed by the MT officer two doors away. On the journey we sometimes went past the burning ghats with their clouds of drifting smoke. My father took me to the airfield a few times but I don't remember details apart from the monstrous Vengeances and being spoiled rotten by the Indian officers who (if I remember correctly) were to take over the base from the RAF.

We were posted to Karachi and spent almost a week on the Deccan Queen express via Lahore, a journey of some 1500 miles. Each family was allocated half a coach, with lounge and sleeping accommodation, but we were horrified when told that Pop had to travel in the native carriage farther along the train. The adults were shattered by the heat and the slow journey but we kids would have been happy to stay aboard for a month.

Somehow we didn't like Karachi as much as Poona and I remember little about it. We went to school by gharri (usually Bedford QL) apart from the great day when the MT section ran out of trucks and we kids were packed into three Jeeps instead, with grave risks to health and safety but sheer bliss for those hanging over the sides of the swaying vehicles. My father took me across Drigh Road to see the Tempests, but these were thrown into insignificance when I encountered the magnificent white-painted Lancaster which came through twice a week. Dad said they were selling them for a few pounds at home. Ever the optimist, I began saving my pocket money... as I would save for another 21 years and even then my first aircraft was not a Lancaster, but hey, you can't have everything.

My excitement knew no bounds when Dad announced we were to fly from Karachi to Bombay, where we would board the Georgic for home. We boarded a Dakota with a line of canvas seats down each side and so began my lifelong love of flying. We returned home in February of the terrible 1947 winter, being allocated a couple of rooms at RAF North Coates which had closed in 1946. These were standard wartime blocks, with condensation running down the single-skin brickwork and asbestos roofs. The radiators were barely warm, augmented by two electric rings for cooking; when all the families switched on the fuses would blow, so heavier fuses were fitted, culminating in a very satisfying bang when the transformer at the Patch entrance exploded with a blue flash that was seen two miles away. I and a few other families from India had a terrible cough which was diagnosed as bronchitis and effectively treated with M+B tablets, the new-fangled penicillin. A year later, the new NHS mass radiography service came round the schools and revealed that we had contracted tuberculosis during our last days in India. In fairness the RAF kept a close eye on our family with annual X-rays for the rest of our service.

We were then moved to the North Coates married quarters, where we lived on what is now Marsh Way where the quarters are still in use. Even the (new) transformer still stands in its brick enclosure. My father was stationed with 9 Sqn at Binbrook 15 miles away, he and colleagues would cycle there on Monday and stay in the Sgts Mess until Friday. Given the grim winters on the Lincolnshire Wolds, the RAF eventually relented and supplied a truck until MQ at Binbrook became available. There we enjoyed three very happy years until being posted to Aden.

My parents are long gone but we agreed we did enjoy our travels in the days when the journey was part of the experience. Our one regret was that we never heard from Pop again and we feared he became victim of the massacres which followed Partition. As a family we still feel guilty that we took him so far from his home. Only when I became much older did I appreciate the burdens placed upon my mother and all Service wives, burdens only recognised by choirmaster Gareth Malone and his Military Wives' Choir. I was not surprised that Mr Malone took a well deserved six months' sabbatical to recover from his emotional experiences.
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Old 1st Apr 2017, 17:18
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Well done; I thoroughly enjoyed reading that.
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Old 1st Apr 2017, 18:46
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Originally Posted by JW411
Well done; I thoroughly enjoyed reading that.
Yes, well written and a fascinating glimpse into post-war military life for families
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Old 1st Apr 2017, 22:49
  #10409 (permalink)  
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What wonderful memories ! - and how clearly you remember them. Thanks for sharing them,

Old 2nd Apr 2017, 18:46
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The Hindi lesson

Fortified by your kind words, fellow pPruners, I push my luck as I have always done and offer a few more Poona memories from 1946:

HAVING joined my father at RAF Poona several months back, five-year-old Geriaviator is learning my way around this strange new world. I'm watching my new friend Lithard, so called because I'm still having trouble with my Zs; he's a big green lizard with an orange stripe down his back, he lives in the thatch above my bedroom and he has learned to come out when I tap the thatch with a stick so the bugs fall out to the great distress of my mother, especially when the big brown ones go scrunch as Lithard seizes them for his breakfast.

Mummy and Daddy are still in bed, I toddled in to see them a while back but Daddy growled something about five o'clock go back to bed. Suddenly I hear the welcome sound of a motorbike being kick started, or rather kicked and not starting. A motorbike launch is a major event. It's Sgt James next door, though I can call him Mr James as we don't stand on formality. After many kicks he says “yoo ********* ****” and pedals away on his pushbike.

Between times I have been learning Hindi from Pop, our kindly bearer, so I repeat “yoo ********* ****” several times to lodge it in memory. Now I know the Hindi word for motorcycle, and as Mummy and Daddy are up at last I proudly announce the latest addition to my vocabulary: Yoo ********* ****. Awed by her son's new command of Hindi, Mummy stands in stunned silence, Daddy starts coughing and looks the other way. I certainly didn't teach him that, he mutters.

I overheard Daddy saying that James had got the motorbike from the Pongos, and carefully note this for future reference. I have no idea what these Pongos might be, but they might have another bike which I could ride when I'm bigger. Indeed, the Pongos might find a spare Bedford truck I could take off their hands, and there's plenty of Vengeance aeroplanes lying about the airfield...

After breakfast I decide to help Mr James with his motorcycle, as he has thoughtfully left his tools alongside the recalcitrant machine. I have watched him changing the plug, an operation required on many occasions, so I place the plug spanner and give it a heave. I'm not strong enough to release the plug but I do manage to break the insulator as the spanner slews sideways despite my father's dash along the verandah.

Now see what you've done, says Daddy. Mr. James will find it very hard to get another spark plug, you will have to tell him you're very sorry. Yoo ********* ****, I reply. Daddy seems lost for words. A few days later Mr James repairs his bike but returns home with his leg in a big white boot, having fallen off the machine and broken his leg. Yes, he has a very sore leg, he confirms when I board his verandah to inspect his big boot.

Yoo ********* ****, I say. Something like that, replies Mr. James.
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Old 3rd Apr 2017, 08:38
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Dear Geriaviator, thank you so much! You've lifted my spirits on, what is promising to be, a really sh*t day!! Thank you.
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Old 3rd Apr 2017, 10:19
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Excellent yarn, Geriaviator. That has made my morning tea break an even happier occasion.

I did wonder what our own children made of our dragging them around the jungles of Borneo and Malaysia. "It was great fun" they all agreed - childhood makes fun of everything, does it not?
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Old 3rd Apr 2017, 15:47
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Blacksheep (#10414),
It was great fun" they all agreed - childhood makes fun of everything, does it not?...
Not only that, the "service brats" derived great benefit from the experience, at a time when their minds were most receptive. I bet the young Geriaviator, after chattering to "Pop" (their "Bearer") in Hindi for a few weeks, could confidently go shopping in the bazaar (and even translate for his parents - Mrs D. never forgot the occasion when a young American "service brat" of some 10 summers helped her out in a butcher's shop in Holland, where (exceptionally) no one spoke English).

And I always remember the priceless BBC newsreel scene where Joanna Lumley (as the daughter of a Ghurka officer a prize specimen of the breed) and a "Daughter of the Raj" to boot, made mincemeat of a hapless Government Minister over the question of Ghurka ex-servicemen's rights to residence here.

They came home more self-reliant and more self-confident than the generality of children (I saw that in my Mary), and when (as many would) they joined the Services themselves, it was not such an alien world as otherwise it may have been.



I would have been wary of tapping the palm thatch to flush out tasty mortals for "Lithard", for you might have brought down something a foot long and with fearsome jaws and a million legs quite capable of taking him on ! You say he came to your call, and no doubt you talked to him as you would later do to Abdul the Land-Crab in Aden. No worry about that, it's only when Lithard or Abdul started talking back to you that you realised that you had been out in the sun too long.

But they were happy days .........

Cheers both, Danny. s
Old 3rd Apr 2017, 21:49
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My brother, Older than me, was called up in 1942, and volunteered for RAF. The selection was at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton, convenient, we lived in Brighton. He did his basic train training in Rhodesia, and then to Scotland on Oxfords, which I did a lot of years later,
He spent most of the war in training command, but did a few ops in Wellingtons and Lancasters.
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Old 4th Apr 2017, 17:40
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Hi Walter,
I believe Rube Giles was a distant cousin to me. I understand he died in s plane crash in 1954 near Berlin. I would be interested to hear anything you remember about him.
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Old 4th Apr 2017, 17:45
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Originally Posted by Walter603
Here are some of the pics taken 75 years ago in Libya by Reuben (Reub) Giles, DFC, a great friend who was the only one I knew with a camera.
Hi Walter are you still in this forum?
I'd like to exchange info about Reuben Giles.
I think he was a distant cousin. I understand he died in a plane crash in 1954 near Berlin flying an Avro York.

Or if anybody else knows about him I would be interested
On 26 Jun 28 1954, a Skyways Ltd Avro York aircraft (Registration:G-AGNY) crashed near Kyritz in the Soviet zone, 50 Miles northwest of Berlin. The crew of three were killed. There was no cargo onboard. The Times newspaper named the three crew as: Capt B S Murphy, First Officer Rube Giles and Radio operator Z I Patterson


Last edited by Phil66; 4th Apr 2017 at 18:03. Reason: Picture
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Old 5th Apr 2017, 17:27
  #10417 (permalink)  
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To All and Sundry,

Danny`s Laptop has gone ape and will have to go to Friendly Neighbourhood IT Wizard to be sorted out. Some Notepad files (on Flash Drive) have been transferred to daughter`s Laptop.

So business as usual ? `Fraid not. Danny himself has gone u/s and is being bunged full of antibiotics and sleeps all the time.

"I may be away for some time". Nothing more from me TFN.

Old 5th Apr 2017, 17:38
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I wish Danny42C and his laptop a prompt recovery.
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Old 5th Apr 2017, 20:18
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Get well soon Danny42C
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Old 5th Apr 2017, 20:35
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Originally Posted by MPN11
I wish Danny42C and his laptop a prompt recovery.
And so say all of us...
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