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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 20th May 2017, 16:43
  #10661 (permalink)  
 
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THE MONSOON ARRIVES

The weather has changed over recent weeks, the air feels heavy, the sky is leaden and Pop our bearer says that something called the monsoon is due. One evening the sky turns black, the kitehawks picket themselves down in the palm trees, the heavens open, and even I can tell that the monsoon has arrived.

I watch from the verandah as rivulets coursing between the stilts supporting our bungalow merge into streams, while the strange flickering and deep rumblings around the horizon come closer and closer. Suddenly the sky is torn in two by a colossal flash, my ears ring from the thunderous explosion, torrential rain streams through the palm leaves which form our verandah roof. First awed, then revelling in nature's fireworks display, I dance around the verandah, heedless of the leaks and yelling with joy even though I can't hear myself above the thunderclaps which have become almost continuous.

Mummy and Daddy come out just in time for the climax, a bluish-white pillar which momentarily links earth to seething sky before projecting a wall of thunder. “Yoo ********* ****” I yell in exhilaration before Daddy seizes me by the scruff of the neck and carries me off to bed.

As the bedroom door closes I hear them both laughing. Grown-ups are hard to fathom at times, I tell myself as I fall sound asleep, heedless of the cacophony outside.

Next instalment: Geriaviator (5) continues his memories of RAF Poona 1946 and meets a new friend in Arthat the mongoose.
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Old 20th May 2017, 17:33
  #10662 (permalink)  
 
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Danny42C ... no, not snake! looking at the furniture, that looks like we (that's my first wife on the right) are eating Chili Crab at a waterside establishment whose name eludes me just now. (The Seaside Hotel?)
So does the identity of the other couple, sadly, although her face is familiar.
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Old 21st May 2017, 10:29
  #10663 (permalink)  
 
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I recall my mother had a device called a "soap saver" - wire cage about 2"x3"x3" on a wire handle. Odd ends of bars of soap go in the cage that had a wire "lid" that clipped shut, then shake the thing in water to get soapy water
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Old 21st May 2017, 14:22
  #10664 (permalink)  
 
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Geriaviator (#10663),

How can anyone, who has not had the experience, possibly imagine the ferocity of an Asian Monsoon ? My first was the 1943 one in Chittagong (in present Bangladesh), and I well remember the last few weeks of gradually increasing heat, tension and growing humidity; the black clouds massing, evermore menacing - then "Crash" as the Monsoon "breaks", the rain comes down in a solid wall for a week or so, and there is a blessed coolness as the temperature drops .....

All our "kutcha" strips are flooded and put out of action immediately, but we are on tarmac where we are. 110 has flown its last (and my third) sortie (of the "dry season") on the 14th May (to Bume Radio Stn, Akyab). I see that we flew across the Bay of Bengal to Digri (W.Bengal) on June 4th. Digri was another paved airfield, (I think the Liberators (159) operated from there), to sit out the Monsoon.

I cannot recall the exact date ours "broke", but it would be a day or two later than in Calcutta: there it would've started (promptly, every year, so they said) on May 15th. It is the SW Monsoon, guess 17th would be about right for it to cross the Bay to us.

What an excitement for a small boy ! Snag is, it stirs up all sorts of other things: snakes come out of their holes (not that I saw any); all manner of nasty looking invertrebrates start running around ..... Worst of all, there is standing water all over the place: anopheles (the malaria mossie) has a field day.

We think we had it bad ? How would we like it as a 14th Army lad , fighting in the jungle with no cover, night or day ? Count your blessings !

More, more, chota Sahib !

Danny.
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Old 21st May 2017, 17:14
  #10665 (permalink)  
 
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Geri,

Interesting bits on RAF KHORMKSAR here - but after your (youthful) time, I'm afraid !

Danny.
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Old 21st May 2017, 19:44
  #10666 (permalink)  
 
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IIRC we never had 'monsoon' in Singapore. It just rained a lot in (October? Or was that Jamaica?).
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Old 21st May 2017, 20:56
  #10667 (permalink)  
 
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During the building boom in China in the nineties the biggest problem during the typhoon season wasn't the wind or the rain; it was sheets of corrugated iron flying down the street at head height.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 07:48
  #10668 (permalink)  
 
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On the 'remote tower' thing (on the last page I think), Airservices was looking at such a system for some of their more remote towers a couple of years ago. There's a bit about it here. They actually trialed it for a few months, with the 'tower on a stick' located at Alice Springs and controllers in a room in Adelaide, 1500km away, shadowing the on-site controllers in Alice Tower.

The technology exists and it works, but I seem to recall hearing that the results weren't up to the same standard as having controllers on-site (surprise!) and it was abandoned.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 08:47
  #10669 (permalink)  
 
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Geriaviator, once again you succeed in turning the clock back for us. Back to the post war years and in a part of the world that we may not be familiar with, but also back to a time that we have all experienced when we were young children. You capture perfectly that period when the only reserve is that discovered when we break boundaries imposed by grown ups (usually parents and teachers) or by our own ability to scare ourselves witless.

I only experienced the ITCZ as it passed through Singapore, as regular as clockwork, when Changi changed runway from 02 to 20 or vice-versa and the CBs, towering sometimes to some 50,000 feet, produced the fireworks that impress 5 year olds but convince pilots to become old rather than bold. Traversing the ITCZ over the Indian Ocean at night in a Hastings (at approx. 10,000 feet) required turning down all cockpit lighting, peering out ahead over the coaming to spot where the lightning displayed the cell centres and the outline of their respective Cb's, and looking for a way through between them. That could require going some 50 nm's out of your way and shows the respect that this wall of weather evoked in us.

All this of course preceded the technology that later pinned down the exact position and extent of the zone. It was then the job of the co-pilot to record weather data en route (W/V, OAT, etc) on one side of an AIREP (the other recording the prescribed routine position reporting data for ATC by HF radio) in which his artistic talents could flourish. In columns that matched those of the position reports on the reverse side, he drew the extent and nature of clouds below, at, or above the aircraft's level. On arrival at destination (especially island ones such as Gan) this was duly handed in at debrief to the Met Office.

I remember well when this all became somewhat surplus to requirements. It was at Gan when the forecaster politely thanked us, but laid the form aside without the usual questioning to fill out his appreciation of what we had seen and he had not. "Don't you want to know some more?", we asked, suspecting that a preceding crew had stolen our thunder (sorry, just seen what I did there!). "We've got these now", he responded, pushing some A4 size photographic prints towards us. They were the first satellite photos I had ever seen. It was the mid 60's...

Last edited by Chugalug2; 22nd May 2017 at 08:59. Reason: apology
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Old 22nd May 2017, 10:16
  #10670 (permalink)  
 
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Thanks Chugalug, I can imagine you peering over the coaming and I'm very glad it was you and not me! Another childhood memory was being shown a 617 Sqn Lincoln at Binbrook in 1950 after return from the annual Shalluffa exercises with my father's 9 Sqn. The port fuselage side was corrugated like a Ju52 after encountering a Cb near the Pyrenees, another 617 machine was lost around that period.

Thirty-two years later my fiance and I were on our way to the Algarve in our Arrow, night-stopping at San Sebastien as usual. The met man was quite animated, I learned the apt Spanish word for Cb is tormenta, and there were tormenta aplenta all the way across Spain. Immediately the Lincoln writeoff came to mind. We nipped back to Biarritz for a sunny day on the beach, booked another night in the comfy Hotel Alcazar (dbb £21 for two), and enjoyed a smooth trip to Faro next day with nary a wrinkle on airframe or driver. Mind you, driver has made up his wrinkle stock since ...
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Old 22nd May 2017, 13:14
  #10671 (permalink)  
 
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kookabat (#10670),

I reckon that the Mark I Eyeball on the spot will always do a better job !

Danny.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 13:55
  #10672 (permalink)  
 
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Chugalug (#10671),

Your "Actions in the Event of Getting Into a CumuloNimblyBumbly" differed from ours. We were taught to:

1. Turn up Cockpit Lights to Max (to reduce possibility of being temporarily blinded by the flash). [no use to us as we had no lights].

2. Reduce to penetration speed (What was it ? - suppose as slow as poss, without approaching stall).

3. Lower seat to the bottom, tighten straps (to avoid being thrown up against canopy rails and knocking yourself out).

4. On no account attempt to turn round to get back out of it: you will be 99% certain of losing control and becoming disoriented.

5. Make sure Canopy is fully closed (or you will get wet).

6. Prayer helps.

We found that, however hard it is belting down, there is usually a 500 ft gap between cloud base and ground you can use (but your pax might not like that). Trouble was that vis was about as far as the prop (luckily India is mostly flat !)

But they were great days !

Cheers, Danny.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 16:49
  #10673 (permalink)  
 
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Geriaviator (#10672),
...The port fuselage side was corrugated like a Ju52 after encountering a Cb...
The Cb that would corrugate a VV ain't been hatched yet ! You need the human element - I managed to reduce one to bite-sized lumps - and even then we were dragged out alive !
...Thirty-two years later my fiancée and I were on our way to the Algarve in our Arrow...
Is it possible for a man to be luckier than that ?
...the Spanish word for a Cb is "tormenta"...
Olè - they can say that again !

Standing by for next instalment of juvenile delinquency !

Danny.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 17:17
  #10674 (permalink)  
 
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ARTHAT THE MONGOOSE

NEXT day we hear a great commotion outside where the bearers are running around with lathi sticks. Pop our bearer explains that the monsoon floods have driven the snakes from their burrows, and RAF Poona's mongoose-wallah has been sent for.

I'm captivated when Arthat the mongoose arrives, he's the 747 version of the meerkat, he's three feet long like myself and we take to one another at once as the owner drapes him round my shoulders. Staggering under his weight, I take him in to meet Mummy but she turns pale and shouts 'Get that damn thing out of here, put it back where you found it!'

Apologising to the mongoose for Mummy's bad manners, we sit down on the verandah steps while Pop makes chai for the owner. As I stroke my new friend he closes his beady eyes in pleasure while I consider ways to smuggle him into my bedroom. Inspecting his wicked fangs, I tell him he musn't eat my other friend Lithard, the green and orange lizard who lives in the thatch above my bed.

But Arthat has work to do, and his owner lifts him gently away and sends him under the spaces beneath our bungalows. He drives out a snake which is battered by the bearers, to the dismay of Pop who as a Hindu will not harm any living creature. They also pull out a dead snake, and I'm impressed to see that Arthat has bitten through its neck.

Job done, the owner gives Arthat back to me while Pop brews another pot of chai. The mongoose follows me around like a dog and delights in being stroked, but all too soon it's time to go. I don't want to part from my new friend and yell the place down as the owner takes Arthat away in a bag over his shoulder. But I have a plan to get him back.

Next instalment: Geriaviator (aged 5) has the closest escape he will ever have in his life.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 18:03
  #10675 (permalink)  
 
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awww

When I was at boarding school in Jamaica, one of my close friends had (somehow) a pet mongoose. On the downside, he also had a Black Widow spider with loads of spiderlings. As he was from a circus family in Florida, I guess he didn't find it strange at all
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Old 22nd May 2017, 18:27
  #10676 (permalink)  
 
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Hail - not always visible!

Geriaviator, ref your #10672 a hazard of hail is its invisibility unless falling fairly heavily, while the size of the stones is not necessarily related to the intensity of the fall; this was brought home to me many years ago dodging storms over Cyrenaica while en route Fayid-Malta.

Flying in clear air beneath a cb's overhanging anvil we were startled by a sound similar to intermittent (and loud) pistol shots, followed in short order by a couple of star-shaped cracks appearing on my windscreen. Fingering one of them, I was somewhat alarmed to find I could push the glass outwards and then feel it come back again as I released it. Given that the York's windscreen frame was of wood construction and thus unlikely to cope with the panel's complete disintegration, I decided to head at reduced speed towards Benina (airfield for Benghazi) that fortunately was close by, where we passed a few days waiting for a spare.

We were lucky to suffer no other damage, for only a few months before another squadron aircraft had a much more serious hail encounter over the Nile delta. In this case the actual hail was visible but still possible to see through, so that the pilot mistook it for rain - result being his windscreen was so severely damaged he had to switch to the right seat for landing (no trained co-pilot in those days, only an unqualified '2nd dicky'). Additionally the centre tail fin was completely carried away, and all four engines had their radiators so badly bashed in that they started to overheat – indeed their temperature readings were off the clock by the time they got back to Fayid.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 18:28
  #10677 (permalink)  
 
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Is it possible for a man to be luckier than that ?
Don't think so, Danny, and I include the cobra incident coming next. Just to rub it in we had one wet day out of 14 on our folding bikes with a different malt to try every night

Harrym, you have scared the daylights out of me even though I don't fly P1 any more!


Last edited by Geriaviator; 22nd May 2017 at 18:31. Reason: Reply to harrym
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Old 22nd May 2017, 18:28
  #10678 (permalink)  
 
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Geri (#10676),

"Who hath been our saviour - let us know his name ...."
(sang the birds)
"It is Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, with the eyes of flame !" (Kipling)

So Arthat enters the lists against your snakes. The only animal who can beat a King Cobra to the draw. They make very affectionate pets (I'm told), and their value in places like India and Aden is obvious. I'm told they all have red eyes (did Arthat ?)
Never knew there was a profession of itinerant Mongoose Snake Killer, but it makes sense. How was he paid (per visit or "on piecework" - so much per snake killed ?) do you know ?

Would Lithard been in any danger ? 'Fraid so. According to Wiki: "...Mongooses mostly feed on insects, crabs, earthworms, lizards, birds, and rodents..." You would've done well to keep him out of Arthat's way - I don't think he'd have listened to you ! They specialise in cobras. As Kipling writes:

"Ha, the hooded death has missed. Woe to thee, Nag !"

Pity your Mother greeted him so inhospitably - she might've hurt his feelings !

Danny.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 18:35
  #10679 (permalink)  
 
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Geriaviator:

I love the mongoose story. Keep them coming please.

MPN 11:

You have raised the subject of gully-gully men. In 1976 I was happily ensconced in the left seat of Mrs Windsor's Belfasts when the AOC (who was a fighter boy) decided that he he didn't need us any more so I was suddenly out of a job as a result of the Defence Cuts. A lot of us were suddenly out of work.

A couple of weeks later, I was found in our favourite pub in Bampton village by a very nice Wg Cdr (Ops) at Upavon at 1600 on a Friday afternoon. He "asked" me if I could go out to Colombo (Sri Lanka as it is now) immediately, if not sooner, to be the RAF Liaison Officer for a couple of weeks because the incumbent had gone "long-term sick". I had nothing better to do, so off I went.

Gan had closed but although Sri Lanka was officially a "non-aligned country" arrangements had been made to allow the Queen's Hair Dryer (VC-10) to transit between Bahrain and Singapore every day.

So, getting back to gully-gully men; I and the two Ch Tech Engineers lived in the Pegasus Reef Hotel on the beach near Negombo. Every Thursday night we were entertained in the hotel by the local gully-gully man. He came with the usual baskets of cobras etc but his big trick was the mango bush trick.

He had a carpet bag from which two pieces of cloth (about 3 foot square) appeared. One was laid on the wooden floor. He then dug out some handfulls of soil from the bag and made a cone about 6 inches tall. He then produced a mango bean which was passed round the audience for all to see and inspect.

The bean was duly planted in the top of the cone, some water was poured and the other piece of cloth was placed over the top while said gully-gully man put his hands underneath and a great deal of magical muttering ensued.

After a few moments, he took the top cloth off and there for all to see, was the shoot of a mango plant! This process went on until he had a perfect two foot tall growing mango bush!

Every Thursday the three of us sat in different parts of the room trying to see how he could manage to disguise a mango bush but we never cracked it. Do any of you out there know how it is done?
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Old 22nd May 2017, 19:03
  #10680 (permalink)  
 
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harrym (#10679),

So that's that made all the row ! I snuggled happily behind my inch-thick panel of armoured glass (it'd bounce off the angled side panels). Engine not bothered - cowlings paintwork battered a bit.

A frightening experience in your York ! Similar thing happened to me in a car: out of the blue came a loud crack and the screen crazed. Crawled to nearest Halfords, got celluloid sheet (then in demand for sport car and sidecar windows), about 9x7 in, pushed big hole in screen outwards easily, covered it with the clear sheet and secured with Sellotape. Drove over the Pennines to York on a snowy Christmas night ('62, I think). Luckily it didn't snow any more, as I couldn't use the wipers. Traffic almost nil.

Got in all right !

Glad to see you back - now how about some York stories ?
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