Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Military Aviation
Reload this Page >

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 18th Jul 2017, 18:50
  #11001 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
Age: 75
Posts: 5,383
Originally Posted by ricardian View Post
On Facebook Edna Hilditch said ...
Would that be "Ted" Hilditch? I never knew her first name!
MPN11 is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 01:11
  #11002 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: California
Posts: 344
From another thread;
http://www.pprune.org/pacific-genera...ml#post9834667
f
fleigle is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 09:30
  #11003 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Herefordshire
Posts: 1,006
Danny

I think you've had a 'senior moment'! You've just cracked the 11,000 mark - must be the muggy weather!
Brian 48nav is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 11:21
  #11004 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 78
Posts: 4,202
sidevalve:-
here's George Duffee's story in his own words about 22nd June 1943, the day that changed his life.
What an amazing and well written story! On the same day that he bids farewell to his mother having just completed his training on the Halifax, he travels by crowded and typically late running wartime train from London, reports to his new squadron, meets his new Flight Commander, and is detailed as "second dickie" on an operation that very night! Having successfully bombed the target, they are hit themselves, the aircraft goes into the most violent of death-throes that pins him to the floor (was he standing throughout this flight anyway? Where would a "second dickie" sit in a fully manned Halifax?). Somehow he bails out, lands in Germany, and starts his evasion; via Holland, Belgium, France, and Spain to Gibraltar and a return to Ops.

Highly reccomended reading, for there in one inexperienced 19 year old pilot's account is the 5 star feedback satisfied customer's recommendation of the Comet Line, and the varied and multi-national volunteers that manned it!

Thank you sidevalve, I cannot think of a better way of introduction to this inspiring lifeline than via your link.

http://www.conscript-heroes.com/esca...rge-Duffee.htm
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 15:15
  #11005 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: SW France
Posts: 577
If for any reason, you're unable to access the link to George Duffee's epic WWII evasion story via the Comet Line, here it is in George's own words:

Chapter 1 - Arrival on Squadron - 22 June 1943

I remember well the day - one always does when it is the day of return from leave. I had travelled standing in the corridor of an overcrowded train puffing its way from Kings Cross, London, to York and arriving an hour late. How glorious a week's leave really is and how despondent a soul can be when it is ended. But, this was going to be different, for instead of returning to a Training Unit, I was joining an Operational Bomber Squadron - 78 Squadron based at Breighton in Yorkshire.

After doing the many things one does on arrival at a new station, I approached the Flight Commanders office. To me, the new arrival, the Flight Commander was all I imagined an operational pilot to be - merry, wide-awake looking, brown eyes that spoke of friendliness - a rather roguish-looking moustache above a pair of half-smiling lips. He wore a greasy looking battledress decorated with the ribbons of the D.S.O. and the D.F.C. His dilapidated hat, which I espied thrown in the corner of the office, would have disgraced any parade.

''Well young man!'' he said, ''You will get the opportunity of seeing your first German target tonight!'' I stammered my thanks and retreated to my untidy Nissen hut, there to subdue my excitement and write a letter to my mother, assuring her that I had survived the journey north. Tonight I would see my first enemy target! Visions of bomb scarred London crowded into my mind - visions of my own damaged home, and in my boyish heart, a vehement savagery was born. ''They'' would come to know the suffering that ''They'' had inflicted upon London, Coventry, Rotterdam and Warsaw.

Many things were happening about the aerodrome - huge petrol bowsers were racing out to the aircraft dispersal points, followed by the slow moving tractors pulling miniature train loads of bombs. Air gunners were busily engaged cleaning their beloved guns and wiping the specks of oil from the perspex of their turrets. Armourers stood by supervising the loading of the bombs, while ground crews checked the engines, fuselage and undercarriage of their aircraft, their Halifax bomber. As I hurried to the Briefing Room, the sun was already setting in a cloudless sky.

The Briefing Room was a large Nissen hut in which there were many map covered tables and a huge map of Europe showing the enemy defences, his fighter zones and his searchlight belts occupied half of one of the walls. Soon the air-crews began to drift in - some happy - some gloomy, some visibly nervous and others outwardly calm. They separated themselves into crews and awaited the arrival of the Briefing Officers. Quickly they settled down and the room became full of cigarette smoke and snatches of conversation drifted to my ears - ''The one last night - she was a real popsy'' – etc.

I was to fly as second pilot to a Flight Lieutenant Knight who had completed I think sixteen operational trips. The dreary matter-of-fact voice of the Meteorological Officer came to me '' - very little cloud, slight industrial haze over the target area, moon rises soon after midnight''. The Tactics Officer ''You can expect fighter interception here, heavy flak here, and balloon barrage here'', and the Navigation Officer calling out the speeds and heights at which we were to fly followed by the Wing Commander's final ''Good luck chaps''. I stood by the table occupied by the crew with whom I was to fly and listened to their final preparations. All I was conscious of was the thin red line on the Navigators chart leading to Mulheim in the heart of the strongly defended Ruhr Valley.

In the locker room it was the same - I kept wondering what it was really going to be like - trying to anticipate everything. ''Dash it!'' I had forgotten to unpack my flying helmet. There was very little time to spare so I borrowed the first bicycle I could lay my hands on and peddled furiously back to my Nissen hut, returning just in tine to board the crew bus. In the locker room there had been much teasing, a little bickering and I confess a little swearing, but now everyone sat fairly quietly on the bus, swathed in their heavy flying suits and bedecked with many-coloured scarves. On our way out to the aircraft we waved a solemn mocking farewell to the Waafs on their way to their mess for supper.

Thirty tons of Halifax and bomb load raced along the runway and was carried gently upwards into the clear sky of a June night.

Last edited by sidevalve; 19th Jul 2017 at 20:08.
sidevalve is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 15:16
  #11006 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: SW France
Posts: 577
More of George's story..

Chapter 2 - Shot Down

And so we winged our way eastwards - eastwards to destroy the enemy's war potential, his marshalling yards and his oil refineries. In the gathering darkness I could make out the silhouettes of many other bombers forming a long stream, with their twinkling navigation lights and their dimly lit cockpits.

The first stars began to show in the northern sky as we crossed the east coast. Soon, one by one, those secure friendly navigation lights began to vanish as they were switched off and it seemed as though we were now alone in the night sky with the lights of England fading fast behind us. One did not feel the impulse to speak in an outbound bomber except for the odd perfunctory word. If one was possessed of any imagination foolish thoughts began to enter one's mind. Thoughts turned to the fast receding friendly coast, whilst eyes peered forth into the darkness of the North Sea, where beyond lay the enemy held coast.

Little was said, only the occasional comments of the navigator and the bomb-aimer discussing the accuracy of a radar fix and the cheery voice of the skipper enquiring after the comfort of the rear gunner. Apart from these few words all was silent. How very much alone a man felt at night above the North Sea. The darkness seemed all embracing and one had the feeling of being suspended in mid-air; for there was no sensation of speed.

I peeped across at the skipper, only his eyes were visible under his helmet and above his oxygen mask. He glanced alternately ahead and down to his many instruments. I began peering ahead again anxious and a little excited to see the first signs of the enemy reception. I saw nothing except the multitude of stars like bright jewels glittering in the dark sky - I felt at all times a sense of utter seclusion, imagining rather than feeling the other aircraft flying either side of us.

Occasionally we felt the comforting ''bump'' as another aircraft passed ahead of us; always a good sign. ''What was the time?" - ''What was the date?'' I uncovered my luminous watch and saw that it was 11.15 p.m. and of course the day of my return from leave the 22nd June 1943. ''Was it only this morning that I had kissed my mother - farewell?'' It must have been so - but how strange it was to be 14,000 feet over the North Sea so soon. That was a shocking journey I had had - standing in a smoke-filled corridor for several hours. Still there was a war on, someone had said. Yes there was a war on and we were roaring eastwards to add our small contribution to the Allied victory.

Nothing ahead, only darkness. Darkness and one's own thoughts are cold comfort, another hour passed, an hour that seemed like ten hours. ''Fifty miles to the coast'' - the navigator's voice came coolly over the intercom. I peered ahead again to see strong beams of light brightening the dark sky and small bursts of light showed momentarily below and above them. ''They'' are ready for us, I mused. Nearer and nearer to those searching fingers of light. Brighter and brighter the night sky became, until the whole sky was a panorama of different coloured bursts of light flak and the piercing white beams of the searchlights. There was no sense of seclusion now! - only the exhilarating thrill of being the hunted. Unhurriedly it seemed, those thin fingers of light waved below for ever searching. ''There will be a little activity as you cross the coast'' - I remembered the Wing Commander saying. ''But after that it will be fairly quiet.'"

There was no sense of impending danger as we twisted and weaved inland. As suddenly as we had entered the defended zone we found ourselves in the quiet sky above central Holland. Zero hour over the target was 1 a.m. - it was now 12.15 a.m.

The enemy had been well warned of our arrival and had put his fighters in the air between the coast and the target. This was evident from the many bursts of air to air tracer and an aircraft exploding way off to our port. There was little time to think of the fate of the poor devils, for at that moment we ourselves were subjected to an accurate burst of flak, delivered no doubt from a mobile battery – at least one we had not been forewarned about.

I had lost a little of my excitement and sat there rather in the nature of a pupil, trying to learn everything from the one experience. All was quiet again as we flew further inland. ''Hope some of those fellows managed to get out'' I thought to myself - my God - what an end, just to be snuffed out like that. It was then that it all impressed me as a huge game. I was young enough to believe that. A huge grim game with death to the vanquished! This was what I had enlisted for - just to have a crack at the Hun. Soon I would be over my first German target, dropping real bombs on real factories and real marshalling yards. That I may kill some civilians left me unmoved, for I was young and not squeamish. Whether it was morally right or wrong will always be the subject of controversy but speeding towards the target there was little time to think of it. What would it be like? The old excitement gripped me again for anticipation had got the better of me.

Another uneventful half-hour slipped by. There was a tenseness now in the crew made evident by the clipped speech of the navigator giving corrections to the course and the rather dramatic voice of the rear gunner.

And then at last I saw it. It was ahead of the aircraft about 20 miles away I estimated - the conflagration of the burning town casting a red glow seen from many miles away. That and the multitude of weaving searchlights combined to make it as bright as day. I could see the many bursts of flak forming a barrage over the target. Fighter flares added their brilliance to the scene and still it seemed like a game. ''They'' must try to keep you away and you must try to get there and of course back again. Nearer and nearer we flew and I began to pick out other aircraft converging on the target.

The Skipper thought it prudent to commence a slight weave for we were entering the outer defences. ''Everyone keep a good look out'' he said. The air was becoming turbulent with the slipstream of countless aircraft as we flew through the spent clouds of smoke left by the exploding shells. Nearer and nearer we flew until it seemed we were hovering over the target. Then we were in the thick of it. There was no excitement now - just the tenseness of determination and purpose. The air became rough with bursting shells and weaving aircraft. I could hear the quiet ''crup! crup!'' as the shells burst close. It was more brilliant than day and I could see the enemy fighters flying above ready to pounce on the unwary bomber.

Then dead ahead of us a bomber sustained a direct hit and exploded, showering our aircraft with fragments. Nearer and nearer we crawled to the bright green target indicators, burning 18,000 feet below us. Several large fires had taken hold in the industrial part of the town. It was an inferno of burning shells bursts in the sky, weaving aircraft and searchlight beams jerkily moving above a target already badly mauled. ''All set'' came the bomb-aimers voice from the nose of the aircraft. ''Right'' snapped back the skipper - ''soon be there''.

So this was it. Sitting up there, hardly seeming to move and looking out at the angry bursts of flak with their dirty red centres and the white beams of light trying to hold us to be shot at by the hovering squadrons of fighters, I became conscious of a feeling of fear which I angrily dismissed.

''Bomb doors open'' - the bomb-aimer's voice was friendly and comforting, imparting confidence in the crew. ''Bomb doors open'' repeated the pilot. ''The devils'' I thought - ''they know the direction of our approach and have plastered the whole area with a seemingly impenetrable barrage of bursting shells''. The aircraft rocked violently. ''Steady'' came the cool voice. ''Keep a good look out above'' - said the pilot. ''Left - left - left'' directed the bomb-aimer, followed by the drawn out ''s-t-e-a-d-y''. It was now too bright to look outside the aircraft. ''Blast those searchlights - why couldn't there have been a little cloud'' I said to myself! ''Steady'' came that voice again. ''Almost there''. Another minute that seemed to last an hour and then the relief of hearing ''Bombs gone - bomb doors closed''.

''They'' seemed determined that we shouldn't get away so easily and the barrage intensified. The aircraft rocked violently as we twisted and turned through the searchlights. The flak became more spasmodic and the searchlights fewer as we approached the boundary of the defences. Half the job was over - I thought as we turned for home. Little did I know - as we flew westwards with the friendly darkness embracing us. I hadn't noticed before but now I could see the full moon rising high in the night sky.

Ten minutes later it happened! The time was about 1.20 a.m. Suddenly - as suddenly as when an electric light is switched on in a room, three searchlights clamped their illuminating beams on to us. The pilot immediately executed a violent weaving manoeuvre, trying to shake off these menacing fingers - but they clung tenaciously to us, while we waited for the accompanying burst of flak. None came. No matter how swiftly we turned, those beams held us – but still no flak. Our chance came as they lost us momentarily and we did a violent turn into the apex of the beam, and were through in an instant into the darker sky. "Nice work skipper" congratulated the rear gunner.

Nothing more was said for at that instant a long burst of cannon and machine gun fire raked the starboard wing engines causing them to burst into flames. The position looked grim. The fire could not be subdued and we were spiraling earthwards. "Abandon aircraft" came the now tense voice of the pilot and we all hastened to obey. The aircraft seemed to plunge into a steeper dive and I was thrown violently into the nose. With clawing hands I managed to clip my parachute to my harness, but when I tried to get up I found I couldn't do it, for the force of gravity was pinning me to the floor of the aircraft, which was now plunging at a sickening speed earthwards. Down, down - I couldn't move - I tried but it was quite impossible. I looked up to the cockpit. The pilot was there with his parachute already clipped to his harness and vainly trying to control the sickening dive.

It was no use, I resigned myself to my fate and in an instant my mind was filled with thoughts of home, my mother, my childhood and of my old headmaster. In those fleeting moments I seemed to re-live my whole life - and then what after? Soon I would know. The roar had increased to a high pitched shriek as the whole aircraft vibrated and suddenly it shuddered terribly. Momentarily I had lost my senses and thought we had hit the ground and that I was still alive.

But no - I tried again to get up but couldn't. I waited - then thought - "Why should I wait to die - when I had only just begun to live?" "Why should I just sit there in resignation?" "Try man" - an inner voice said. "Try; try!" I puffed and strained and struggled to get my knees over the escape hatch and felt the cool blast of air blowing in from the outside. This must have revived me a little and I gathered all my strength and leaned and pushed forwards and downwards. Suddenly all was silent and I was tumbling earthwards ...

Last edited by sidevalve; 19th Jul 2017 at 20:13.
sidevalve is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 15:24
  #11007 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646
Fleigle (#11004) from California,

What a find ! ("another thread" ?) For a few glorious moments I thought that we might've found another real live Vultee Vengeance 'operational' pilot for me to natter to. But your link took me to:

Centaurus (Thread Starter, #1, PPRuNe Forums > PPRuNe Worldwide > The Pacific: General Aviation & Questions ) from Australia,

"Iced up with a Vengeance" (I take it this is the "another Thread" ?) from which I found a Wikipedia entry I never knew existed: "Vultee Vengeance in Australian Service". Much of this I would take issue with, but:
..."Vengeances were also used in trials of poison gas conducted by the 1st Australian Field Experimental Station, Royal Australian Engineers, near Proserpine, Queensland, during 1944.[55]"...
This had me sitting up bolt upright - for it is right up my street, for I was in the same business in India 1945-6. Followed up [55], a comprehensive official report on the unit and its work. It closely parallels our experience in Cannanore, but I know of no comparable British official publication. One would be very helpful, but I do not know where to look.

Centaurus continues with:
..."Here is the story as relayed to the editor of Aviation Safety Digest, who entitled it 'From one of our readers – a valid message from the past' "...
Is this "reader" still alive ? (he'd be my age) If so, is it possible to contact him ? Googled "Aviation Safety Digest - Australia", plenty about the mag, but no contact details for it. Could "Centaurus" (or anyone else "downunder") follow this up for me, please ?

As for the story itself (well worth a read, and I'll comment on it later), the chap was lucky ! I flew in three monsoons, and was chucked about a bit, but never met ice. So I didn't ever have to bother about the pitot head heater. I must admit, when first reading the AF447 story, I wondered ... but no, it's impossible !

Or is it ? ISTR that, in the case of the Air Florida (?) that ploughed into the Potomac river bridge (Washington) in 1982, the engine intakes temp sensor heater was checked as "off" on the pre take-off check list - well, you wouldn't need it often in Florida, would you ?), although everthing else was deep in snow. 78 died [Wiki].

Danny.
Danny42C is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 15:31
  #11008 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646
Brian 48nav,

Yes - never thought I'd live to see 11,000 ! - Roll on 12,000: hope Cliff (RIP) is watching his Thread going strong.

Danny.
Danny42C is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 16:32
  #11009 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: sussex
Posts: 1,589
sidevalve,
the Observer whose log book I have a copy of was on 78 Sqn at Middleton St George that time ! He was not on that raid. He and his crew were on the way back from Pocklington having diverted there after a trip to Emden. The a/c are recorded as Halifax Mk 2.
ancientaviator62 is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 16:42
  #11010 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: sussex
Posts: 1,589
I have just reread sidevale's account and Brieghton is mentioned as 78's home base. It usually was but at the top of the relevant page of the log book it distinctly says Middleton St George. Perhaps it was a very temporary detachment and the log book may not have been updated . The other entries just say 'base'.
An extraordinary story about being shot down on your first trip. I once met a Lancaster F/E who was 'shot down' on his first trip. They were bombed from above by another Lanc. Capricious fate in action.

Last edited by ancientaviator62; 19th Jul 2017 at 16:43. Reason: spelling
ancientaviator62 is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 17:04
  #11011 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: SW France
Posts: 577
Chapter 3 - First Contact
Tumbling - downwards! The silence! - fumbling for the rip-cord. Only the silence - no sensation - rip-cord - rip-cord. Then the slight jerk arresting my downward travel - smoothness; a feeling of floating, gently swaying; a feeling of relief. I breathed my thankfulness to God. The white canopy above me, the unknown below me. Was it all a bad dream? What was I doing hanging suspended in the air gently swaying? Still the silence, - then a ringing in my ears, and as if to break my dream, the violent explosion as the aircraft hit the ground not three miles away. My left glove slipped from my hand and fluttered down into the darkness. Then I consciously discarded the other one as being of no further use. It was all a bad dream and I would wake up in the comfort of my bed. Was it though? I insisted it was - I passionately wanted to believe it was - but with the first glimpse of the bluish moon bathed ground I knew that it wasn't a dream. Nearer and nearer, lower and lower - gently sinking. What was I to do when I hit? - ah yes – the quick release box.

I hit the ground heavily and crumpled, the white canopy settled about me. There I lay and again the feeling of being in a dream came to me. This was the soil of England and I was safe. I must do nothing, just lie awhile and think. Noise of aircraft flying high above. Aircraft? - yes that was it - I had been shot down and had baled out - but - it wasn't me, - I was secure in my bed - this was just a flight of my all too vivid imagination. The soil was real! and I could feel the hard lumps of potatoes. Real, real soil and real potatoes and a real parachute now stretched out startlingly white against the dark ground. Real! - ''understand man'' this was no dream, this was happening. What was I to do? "Where was I? What time was it? My watch - where was my watch - I clawed up earth covered potatoes but no watch. Thirty-eight dollars I had paid for it during my training in America. I must find my watch. I became obsessed with the idea - more potatoes but no watch; I must think - I must get away - The strong impulse to get up and run came to me. Slowly normality returned and I began to think more clearly. I heard the soft murmur of aircraft flying high above. I had the feeling that if I stood up, someone would shoot me. Slowly I began to pull on the silk cords of the parachute, bunching it up about me. Still no sudden ringing shot, that would end my life. I thought that I must bury the parachute so I began scooping out a hollow in the soft moist earth and pushed it down into the hole. I lay down again listening - nothing except the faint hum of the aircraft flying away in the distance.

Slowly, inch by inch I began crawling to the comparative safety of the shadowy hedge at the side of the field. It seemed as if many eyes were watching my every move - eyes that were laughing at my futile efforts to escape - eyes that were waiting to sight along a rifle. Reaching the comforting shadows I stood up and looked around me. My parachute and harness had effectively been buried. The dark blue reefer I was wearing I had put over my battledress - effecting a disguise. I felt for my emergency food box and felt the smooth surface of the celluloid casing in my pocket. Now I must walk to put as much distance between myself and the scene of the crash for in the morning I knew that a thorough search would be made covering a radius of ten to fifteen miles. I wondered which way to go and decided to walk westwards for a while and then north-westwards. According to my rough calculation, I was very close to the Dutch-German border, on the Dutch side, I couldn't be sure, hence my decision to strike out westwards.

The bright light of morning found me resting behind the hedge bordering a cornfield. I must have dropped off to sleep for a while, for the sun was fairly high in the sky. The happenings of the previous night came to me in startling clarity. The line of tracer and cannon fire, the aircraft burning and my fight to get out and then falling through space. I remembered the loss of my watch and the potatoes, how I had half-walked and half-run along the narrow dirt paths and across moon bathed fields incurring the displeasure of a farm dog as I skirted round a farm house. I continued to rest there with the bright blue sky above, the rich golden corn on one side and the thick green hedge on the other. ''Life could be much worse'' I mused. I wondered what happened to the rest of the crew - I had seen nothing of them.
All day I stayed there, watching the birds, the swaying corn, the timid field mice and the many ants drawing along pieces of straw. I thought of home and what my family were doing now and did they already know what happened to me. I thought of my friends on the squadron and whether they had missed me yet. I decided to eat nothing that first day and just recline in the sun, storing up my energy for further walking in the night.

I dozed and thought about the happy days I had spent in America during my training and wondered if it would all be wasted and I would soon be thrown into a prison camp. There was no point in thinking torturing thoughts so I just relaxed and waited for darkness. Darkness came and with it an urge to move further westwards. Silently and cautiously I made my way to the road. All was clear so I strode westwards, my flying boots making little noise on the loose earth. I passed sleepy isolated farmhouses through dark menacing woods, over trickling rivulets and across short turfed fields, always with the idea of putting as much distance between myself and any subsequent search party. Every so often I would stop and listen. It was impossible to estimate distance for I changed direction many times. A burning curiosity possessed me but I resisted the temptation to look through the crack of a heavily curtained window of a farmhouse.

Light was already beginning to show in the eastern sky and soon the sun would rise heralding another day. Before I went into hiding again I had to find water. I found a stream and dipped my rubber water bag into it. The water was dirty and stinking. I put in a double dose of purifying tablets and with this dripping treasure I sought my second hiding place. Why not another cornfield I thought - and searched for half an hour before I found a convenient spot between a high hedge and the tall corn. The sun rose, warming the earth and the early morning mist swirled around me as I sat down and thought that they would know at home now, there would have been the cold unemotional telegram ... and much crying. I was exhausted, aching in every limb, too tired to eat, so I sipped from my water bag - nauseated by the smell. Then I dropped off to sleep.
More to follow..

Last edited by sidevalve; 19th Jul 2017 at 19:20.
sidevalve is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 17:10
  #11012 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: SW France
Posts: 577
George on the ground in Holland:
I slept soundly and peacefully, undisturbed by dreams and awoke to an unusual sound I could not recognize. Sitting up I peeped through the tiniest part of the hedge and saw two cyclists coming along the road. I was attracted firstly by the fact that both cycles were without tyres - hence the unusual sound and secondly they wore wooden shoes.

Wooden shoes and windmills - that was about all I knew of Holland. That they were Dutch farm labourers I had no doubt and the fact that I was in Holland was extremely pleasant. Another gorgeous summer's day - I was quite enjoying it I decided. Feeling in my emergency food pack I extracted a few horlicks tablets and began to suck them, one at a time. They were very sustaining. Then another drink of the stinking water, followed by the 'sweet' of the meal, a bar of full milk chocolate. It was delicious after the many plain bars of chocolate I had eaten in the past. I then began to chew thoughtfully on a piece of gum. Lying back hands behind my head I began picking out the morning noises. Far away I could hear a train racing along the rails; a lorry changing gear; the mooing of a cow and the faint rush of the wind blowing through the corn. The mist cleared, morning gave way to the warmer noon, noon gave way to the cooler evening and 'ere long the sun glowed red in the west.

And the night came, and with it I must travel further westwards into central Holland. More isolated farmhouses, more barking dogs. Skirting villages and keeping to the shadows. Hiding like a common fugitive and always listening, walking and listening, walking and listening all night long. The bright stars above, the cold light of the moon lighting my way along the narrow footpaths, across the fields and parallel to the main road. The feeling of being followed obsessed me as I pushed on faster. Only the melancholy hoot of an owl and then silence. Hour followed hour, always walking. Exhaustion sent me in search of another hiding place and I found one in the form of a dried up ditch floored with weeds. I slept away the hour before daybreak.

In an instant I was fully awake, heart pounding as a rifle shot still echoed in the woods behind me. I lay very still hardly daring to breathe, my heart still pounding like a hammer. The search party had followed me and were even then searching the wood. behind where I lay, the more nervous one shooting at the least thing believing me to be armed. I peeped cautiously above the level of the road and there not twenty yards away was a German soldier armed with a rifle guarding a camouflaged lorry. One of the invincible ‘Master Race'. He didn't look it. Old, forty I would say; greying hair beneath his cap; gaunt face, a thin neck set upon round shoulders. I must wait quietly until they tired of the search. His comrades, there were five of them, continued their search of the wood and the surrounding countryside. There was another shot. I could hear the soft crunch of their boots as they strolled about. They shouted across to each other as all the time I lay there hardly daring to draw breath. I lay there so still and quiet that a field mouse ran on to my chest, stayed awhile looking at me and then ran down my leg and vanished into the ditch. It was towards six o'clock I estimated before the six of them gathered round the lorry. They had all passed the prime of their years and were not particularly happy looking. There was much nodding of heads and before long they boarded the lorry and made off westwards. I relaxed, my heartbeat returned to normal. I waited yet again for the night.

The first stars began appearing before I left that unforgettable ditch and walked stealthily parallel to the road and westwards. The walking, the lack of adequate food and the excitement of the day made me decide to seek help from one of the numerous farmhouses I passed. Approaching one without the inevitable barking dog I peeped behind the curtain. There in a sparsely furnished room sat a woman sewing and a man eating. No-one else. I would go in and announce my identify. Presuming it more polite if I knocked - I did so, I knocked three short and one long tap on the door. I tried to anticipate their startled look across at each other. Were they expecting visitors? The door was opened by the man. He said something I did not understand so I walked in closing the door behind me.

"I am a British pilot'' I said, remembering the phrase from my phrase card. Instantly he was nervous, suspicious. Raising my blue reefer I showed him my flying badge. He slowly uttered the letters R-A-F. He understood, went to his wife and said something. They continued to stare at me nervously. With much difficulty and by using my phrase card again I made known to them that I wanted civilian clothes and shoes, offering my battle dress and flying boots in return.

Rummaging in an outer room, the wife produced a pair of old brown trousers, a tattered coat and well worn wooden shoes. She placed these before me. Nothing was said. With no show of embarrassment I changed out of my uniform and boots which they accepted. Dressed once more in their old clothes and wooden shoes I uttered my warmest thanks, shook the man by the hand and as quickly as I had entered, departed leaving them to their surprise, their incredulity and their nervousness.

I decided to put a few miles between myself and that friendly farm-house before resting for the remainder of the night. I saw no-one and thought that a haystack would be as good a place to hide as any and there were plenty around. Finding one with a roof over the top, I climbed up, lay down and slept.

Last edited by sidevalve; 19th Jul 2017 at 19:21.
sidevalve is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 18:06
  #11013 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646
sidevalve,

What a gripping tale - and how well told ! You were lucky that it was in high summer though - in a freezing Continental January it would've been another story altogether.
Looking forward to the next chapter. But space them out a bit to allow for comment and questions to come in from the readership (whatever did happen to your watch btw ? - must've been ripped off your wrist when you baled out).

$38 for a watch in US in 194? You bloated plutocrat ! I got quite a decent one for $5 (and a pair of Ray-Bans for the same money). The Ray-Bans ploughed the bridge off my nose later, during an unsceduled "arrival". The watch flew with me on all my ops, but got nicked on Quetta railway station. Its replacement (Rs150 then, a Longines, say 600 now), still ticks, but loses time badly in spite of a recent servicing. Current quartz job (5 new) is a perfect timekeeper.

You can interpret my callsign: Danny42C (Arnold Scheme).
Danny42C is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 18:54
  #11014 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 78
Posts: 4,202
Danny, sidevalve is quoting from George Duffee's account of his bail out and journey to Gibraltar via the Comet Line. He originally posted the link to George's website, and I agree with you that the style is excellent. I told him by pm that some may have problems with links, so he is copying the story into this thread.

As you say though, little is more, so slowly does it indeed!
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 19:32
  #11015 (permalink)  
ICM
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Bishops Stortford, UK
Age: 78
Posts: 402
AA62: I offer a possible explanation of the Breighton/Middleton St George question regarding 78 Sqn. 10 Sqn, then also a 4 Gp Halifax unit, moved from Leeming to its own base at Melbourne, east of York, in August 1942. However, until runways capable of taking war loads were completed, crews were ferrying aircraft to Topcliffe and/or Pocklington for Ops until the first could be flown from Melbourne on 23 October that year. Might something similar have been happening at Breighton?
ICM is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 19:54
  #11016 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
Age: 75
Posts: 5,383
Superb narration by George ... I feel I'm there alongside him, pulse racing and every nerve tingling.

What the guys of that generation had to go through is beyond our modern imagination, unless told clearly and in detail [as Danny42C also does].
MPN11 is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 19:59
  #11017 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646
George - sorry, thought you and sdevalve were one. Mea Culpa ! (wiil go and stand in corner with Dunce's hat on !

Danny.
Danny42C is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 20:01
  #11018 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
Age: 75
Posts: 5,383
Originally Posted by Danny42C View Post
George - sorry, thought you and sdevalve were one. Mea Culpa ! (wiil go and stand in corner with Dunce's hat on !

Danny.
Pop the kettle on as you're passing, eh?
MPN11 is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 20:03
  #11019 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: SW France
Posts: 577
Originally Posted by Danny42C View Post
George - sorry, thought you and sdevalve were one. Mea Culpa ! (wiil go and stand in corner with Dunce's hat on !

Danny.
Don't worry about it Danny.. I've re-formatted the posts in question to make the distinction clearer between my words and George's.
sidevalve is offline  
Old 19th Jul 2017, 22:58
  #11020 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 78
Posts: 4,202
Don't bother with standing around in corners, Danny, we need you here. Though if you are putting on the kettle anyway for MPN11, mine's a tea, NATO standard? Thanks!
Chugalug2 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.