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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 25th Jul 2017, 16:40
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Not to worry ! "Master Pilot" (WRAF ???) puzzled me. ATA - Respect !

Old 25th Jul 2017, 17:40
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All my roads lead to Facebook, I'm afraid.

Old 25th Jul 2017, 17:46
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Originally Posted by Danny42C
seafury45 (#11076),

Speaking as one who would not be seen dead on Facebook, and if it is not too long, and it is not too much trouble, could you please put it up here so we all can see it ?

This might help...

Mary Ellis - Master Pilot
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Old 25th Jul 2017, 17:57
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Lyneham Lad,

Bingo ! And 100 not out, too. A very happy birthday wish to a gallant lady !

But where did you get that hat ? ISTR we didn't have bonedomes in our day ?

Thanks a lot, LL, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 25th Jul 2017 at 18:00. Reason: Spell !
Old 25th Jul 2017, 19:15
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Not the video but written earlier in the year to mark the 100th birthday of Spitfire Girl Mary Ellis.
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Old 26th Jul 2017, 06:25
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George crosses into France:
It was in Brussels that I met Edward Bridge, a Canadian air gunner who had been shot down some weeks previously after a raid on Aachen.

(Sgt Edward A Bridge, RCAF, 428 Sqn)
After the trying times and the confinement I was glad to be able to talk to another flyer. I was destined to travel with him all the way down through France, through Spain to Gibraltar. We passed many hours discussing the glorious time we would have when we finally arrived in London. ''When we arrive in London'' - Oh; beautiful thought.

Then there was petite Lily (Dumont, now Michou Ugeux), a small good looking girl who quite regularly walked through the streets of Brussels guiding British and American aviators. There were many such as she, unselfish, brave, risking their homes, their very lives to help people who to them were utter strangers. Such a spirit was not acquired. I felt it must have been bred in them.

At night as I lay awake I could hear the murmur of high flying bombers, and the guns of Brussels opening up on those who were a little off course. Those were strange nights and sometimes I would wake up not knowing where I was and trying to make out the familiar objects of my own bedroom at home.

Soon the time came for Edward and I to move on. We were furnished with false identity cards and were to be accompanied by a guide (Lily Dumont) from Brussels to Tournai and from there by local train to the small frontier town of Rumes. It was a bleak dismal morning as we walked to the railway station in Brussels. There was a drizzle of rain and crowds of workers going to and fro. Two young healthy looking men cringing beneath the shelter of an umbrella may normally attract attention and an occasional comment, but as we stood outside the station waiting for the guide to purchase the tickets we attracted little attention.

Edward and I travelled in the same compartment. To see his serious looking face buried in an open newspaper (German controlled) and to see his eyes wander from left to right of the page and back again was amusing, for he had confessed to me that he could make neither head nor tail of any of it. Along the way the war was much in evidence. Bomb-craters beside the rails, a derelict locomotive bullet scarred and the continual stopping and starting of the train due to fighter intrusion.

There we were sitting there as large as life jogging along towards Tournai and reading German sponsored newspapers as if we had been doing it every day.

There was an hour or so to wait at Tournai for the local train to Rumes So we left the station and in the cool shade of a cafe, slaked our thirst. The absence of German soldiers surprised us and afforded us some relaxation. There had been a few about the station but they had taken little notice of us. The journey from Tournai to Rumes, just two miles from the frontier, was uneventful.
What would it be like crossing from Belgium into France? Would it be as easy and as simple as from Holland into Belgium?

We walked along the quiet sunlit lanes less than a mile from the border. We met a few farm labourers and passed them with a polite ''Bonjour''. ''Surely they must know'' I thought, for what else would three strangers be doing so near to the frontier. Perhaps it was a usual occurrence, but I thought not, for travelling without a permit was a serious offence. They must have known, I decided and obviously they said nothing.

A French customs official (Maurice Bricout) strongly pro-British and passionately anti-Vichy was to meet us on the Belgian side and escort us to his house just over on the other side. We were a little late, but he was there waiting at the appointed place, perspiring somewhat in his dark blue uniform. He was very friendly and greeted us warmly.

"'Follow me, my friends'' he said and led us along paths and across fields until we came to a large green field. He turned to us and said ''Gentlemen, on the other side of that field is France and soon you will be eating your first meal in France, prepared by my wife (Rachel Bricout) he added. ''Come follow me'' he said and we strode quickly across the field and arrived at the house of our friend the customs official.
More to follow..
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Old 26th Jul 2017, 11:07
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What I'm really appreciating in this account, sidevalve, is how the ordinary helpers are named throughout, where known. In a small way that reminds us that they were real people!
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Old 26th Jul 2017, 11:38
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That's fairly unusual Kookabat.. Most helpers adopted a "nom-de-guerre" for security reasons. We'll come back to this later on in George's story, but he (like a few others) came back after the war to look up those people who'd helped him.

George mentions Lily Dumont, now 'Michou' Ugeux*, in his account. Aline Lily Dumont, alias “Michou,” was one the most important agents in the Comète line from 1943 onwards. Due to her knowledge of, and connections with, the intelligence services such as “Marc,” “Clarence” and “Bayard,” she was able to gather evaders from several services to Brussels and help them escape to Spain.

"Nadine" and "Michou" Dumont (taken before Nadine's arrest when they were ~15 & 17 respectively)

Between December 1943 and May 1944 she led ten people in two trips to the south of France, crossing the Pyrenees twice. On May 10, 1944 she was forced to suspend her activities and arrived in London on June 22. She had by then assisted no fewer than 150 pilots. M.I.9 asked her to enter the “Retriever” secret services. Known as “Mrs. Hawkins,” and with “Mrs. Robson” (Mrs. Hanotte, MBE) they were the only Belgian women, to receive special SOE-retriever training** in Great Britain. They both achieved excellent results in their training, especially with the use of coded messages.

At the end of their course the Allies had already reached Brussels and SOE decided not to drop them in Belgium. Nevertheless, she was one of our most courageous female agents of World War II. Lily was at first recommended for gazetting as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), but after reconsidering her file, the Directorate of Military Intelligence decided to propose her for the George Medal, a similar procedure as used for the award presented to Mme. De Greef (aka 'Tante Go'), who ran Comet South from start to finish.

Michou lives in Provence and I was honoured to meet her 3 years ago.

* Michou's husband Pierre Ugeux was the president of the Formula One's governing body, the CSI, before it became the FIA.

** Does anyone know what SOE-retriever training was?

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Old 26th Jul 2017, 15:21
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A wonderful and heartwarming story from start to finish ! I'm glad George and others went back to see their brave helpers again when it was all over, as did Eric Newby ("Love and War in the Appenines" - "A short walk in the Hindu Kush").

He took it one stage further by marrying Wanda, his guardian angel when he was 'on the run' in Italy.

Old 26th Jul 2017, 15:41
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There's more to come Danny!

You mentioned Eric Newby - while I enjoyed his "Love and war in the Apennines", to me, his best book was his first: "The Last Grain Race". In it, he describes the deep sea voyage he made at the age of 18 in "Moshulu", a Finnish 4 masted barque, out to Australia for grain and back via Cape Horn.. He was the only Brit on board and he grew up fast in the School of Hard Knocks.. I made the mistake of lending it to someone..
I can't recommend it highly enough.
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Old 26th Jul 2017, 15:45
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Yes, I have read it - and no, you didn't lend it to me !

Old 26th Jul 2017, 15:50
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George in France..

Chapter 6 - France

It had all seemed so simple, so easily accomplished that one was left wondering whether the enemy knew anything at all of the smooth working organisation of the underground, of the many underground movements, from those helping Allied personnel, to those actively resisting the enemy. They knew alright, through the efficiency of the Gestapo and very many innocent lives were taken in reprisal.

The customs official was talking ''You will go to Paris'' he said. ''And there at the station somebody will be waiting for you, you must go with him''. Paris! I was to go to Paris. I had never been there before but had always wanted to go and see the boulevard cafes, the Champs Elysee and the Bastille. Strange that I should now get my wish when France was overrun by the Germans.

Edward and I had our first taste of red wine and both agreed that it was bitter but thought it would be impolite to refuse it. Having suitably eaten we bade our 'adieus' to the customs official and his wife and left them at the gate smiling and waving to us. These wonderful people who were risking their lives for me. I would never know their names or address. I met them and left them but I knew in my heart that I would never forget them. (Strictly forbidden to write down names and addresses)

Our companion, an Englishman who had lived in France for many years had helped to organize this part of the route down to Spain. As we strolled along the lane beneath the trees we spoke quietly in English telling him of England during the war, the London shows, the feeling of the people and joined with him in silent prayer for the success of the coming ''Second Front''. We arrived in the village and awaited the arrival of the 'bus that was to take us to Lille where we were to catch a train for Paris.

Identity cards were given to us and I found myself the possessor of a flowery French name, though it was easily pronounceable fortunately, and the profession of an architect. Berets had also been given to us by the customs official and as we waited there for the bus, we looked, I hoped, passable Frenchmen. The bus arrived. It was crowded and we were obliged to stand all the way on the long journey to Lille. On the bus was a continual hubbub of rapid French, much too rapid for my elementary grasp of the language, but I felt neither uncomfortable nor strange for I felt I was among friends. My beret was cocked at the correct angle and in my pocket was evidence of my French nationality and a permit to travel to my relatives in Paris.

At Lille station we were obliged to show our identity cards and hand our permits to a German official before being allowed onto the platform. The railway station scene was much the same as an English one. There were the crowds of people, the children looking at the engine, the hiss of steam, the soldiers struggling with their kit, only in this case they wore either field grey or green uniforms and not the familiar khaki; the porter hurrying along closing the carriage doors and the guard looking at his watch and holding a green flag. We managed to find seats and Edward and I once more fell into the routine of reading, looking out of the window and sleeping.

Our companion sat in the next compartment. The compartment on the other side of us was reserved for German soldiers going to Paris to spend their leave. All was ready and soon we were speeding away from Lille towards Paris. Paris in the late summer of 1943 under the heel of the invader - what would it be like? How had the Parisiennes reacted to the occupation, would there still be the gaiety that had been the magnet for tourists?

No - I found it to be as if a cloak had settled over its streets, casting shadows, shadows over people's minds, blank expressions on their faces and dullness in their eyes. I found an extensive thriving Black Market, where one could, if one had the money, live as luxuriously as in pre-war days. I found cafes full and streets crowded with German soldiers, their advances towards the women meeting with little success. I found a people passionately longing to be free, to enjoy life, to see their children adequately fed; to see their dull shadowed eyes light again with laughter. But there was no laughter, only a dull apathy, a longing for the Second Front, confident of it's success, and then revenge. Vengeance was in their hearts, but they must wait; except for those who actively resisted the Germans, members of the Underground, proud fearless men and women, ready to die for their beloved France. Perplexed, yes they were, by the surrender, but willing to carry the fight underground. Such people were Robert and his wife Georgette.

Edward and I had been introduced to them soon after our arrival in Paris. Robert had accompanied us from the dark station to his home, one of the many flats in a poor quarter of Paris. They already had one guest, an American pilot who had been shot down in the vicinity of Paris. He was from Georgia, big and friendly and very much at home. We stayed in Paris for ten days. Ten days of eating food off the Black Market at an exorbitant price. Days of listening to Robert playing his accordion with a dreamy look on his face and a cigarette drooping from his lips. There was a radio and during the day and in the evenings we sat huddled round it straining our ears to hear the news in English.
More to come..
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Old 26th Jul 2017, 21:33
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That brasserie hasn't changed much
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Old 27th Jul 2017, 10:10
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Well spotted!
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Old 27th Jul 2017, 16:19
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George in Paris - and then en route to the South West:

During some of the evenings Robert and I would walk the streets, saying nothing to each other, but conscious of the bond of friendship that had sprung between us. There were card games played and impromptu lessons in English and French. During the sixth day there was a daylight air raid. The sirens were sounded, people flocked to doors and windows, policemen ran about blowing whistles and soon American bombers appeared overhead, dodging the puffs of flak and beating off the fighter aircraft. People were ushered indoors, but that only increased the number of faces at the windows, and the volume of cheering when what was thought to be a German plane was shot down. Soon the sky was filled with noise, the confused pattern of vapour trails, the sound of cannon fire and the answering lighter note of machine-gun fire. Parachutes could be seen, and a crippled American bomber falling behind the main formation and being attacked by three Hun fighters.

It was soon over and people again flocked into the streets and collected in groups. The target, I found out later, was the aerodrome in the vicinity of Paris, factories and marshalling yards. Many Frenchmen had been killed and yet there we were sheltering beneath the roof of one of them, so that one day we could get back and help to fight.

When one is waiting, time always seems to pass at half its usual speed. Ten days seemed like ten weeks, Edward, Bob the American and I spent many hours talking over just what we were going to do when we did finally get back to England. We planned a celebration of our reunion in London and cut cards to see which one would pay for the food, the entertainment, the taxis and the incidentals! I was to pay for the food, Edward, the entertainment and Bob the taxis and incidentals.

I had travelled thus far with little trouble, but could it last? The people in the south of France we had heard, were less pro-British and more pro-Vichy - how would they treat us?

The next part of the journey can be described as luxurious. Edward and I were to travel with a middle-aged woman as our guide and were to catch the overnight train from Paris to Bordeaux, for which a special permit was necessary. Reservations on the train had already been made. During our stay in Paris we had memorized the details of our identity cards and business, just in case anything went wrong. We bade our farewells to Robert and his wife and Bob and said we would see them soon. We walked to the railway station in the gathering darkness.

Police were at the barrier and our identity cards were demanded for perusal. All was in order and we took our seats, which fortunately were corner seats. Our guide as usual was in the next compartment. The crowd in our compartment, rather like the English, sat in stolid silence. We tried to sleep but were afraid to, lest we talked in our sleep or on waking uttered something in English before our senses were fully alert. So we sat huddled in our corner seats, pretending to be asleep until the light of dawn showed in the sky. With the dawn came the conversation. An oldish fellow, red-faced and wearing a beret asked me if I had slept well. I said ''Oui, merci monsieur'' and then became very interested in the passing countryside.

Saint-Jean station, Bordeaux
At seven in the morning we arrived at Bordeaux. Another guide was waiting there for us. He had been described to us, but we were not to acknowledge recognition, but just follow him doing as he did. He was a young man* of about twenty-eight, bright eyed and alert looking and we found him waiting for us. He saw us and proceeded to change to another platform where a local train was waiting to take us further south to the small town of Dax, about twenty miles north of the Spanish frontier.

Smiling our goodbyes to our previous guide we followed the new one and soon we were seated in the train. All went very smoothly. The day was warm, the compartment crowded as we puffed slowly southwards through country-side little marked by war. We passed gangs of coloured P.O.Ws who were building a railway line and doing forestry work. The train stopped at many intermediate stations but no-one boarded or alighted from our compartment. Edward pretended to be asleep in the corner. The other occupants looked to me as though they might be farm labourers except for two young fellows in the other corner who seemed to eye me with some curiosity. There was something about them that made me decide that they were not Frenchmen, the tilt of their berets, their silence and their nervousness. Possibly Edward and I looked the same to them. I hadn't thought of that.

They left the train with us at Dax and waited about as we did, and walked outside the station as we did! They must be two more of the boys crossing into Spain and this guide was to accompany the four of us. From the bicycle shed outside the station we took bicycles that had been left there for us. We set off following the guide through the streets of Dax, the guide ahead then the other two and Edward and I bringing up the rear. The advent of five young strangers to the town brought few curious glances and soon we were cycling along the quiet country lanes, with golden corn in the fields either side.

We cycled for about an hour and a half with roughly a half mile distance between us and the other two and the guide a further half mile ahead. We came to a bridge by which stood a German sentry. He looked at the guide as he passed over the bridge, then looked at the other two. Surely he would stop us and we would be forced to use our elementary French. As we approached the bridge we kept our eyes on the road ahead, not daring to look at the sentry. As we passed him I could just see him out of the corner of my eye and though he looked surprised he did not stop us.
* This was Jean-François Nothomb, aka "Franco", a Belgian noble.

Away for a few days now - more to come when we return!

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Old 28th Jul 2017, 14:27
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As the Heathrow third runway debate enters yet another decade, I've been enjoying a virtual wander around Lincolnshire airfields. One of these was Ludford Magna, near my childhood home at Binbrook and the home of 101 Sqn. Admittedly they didn't have to worry about planning permission, land acquisition or the green gangs, but they didn't have dozers, diggers and telehandlers either. Yet the fields around Ludford Magna became a usable standard heavy bomber airfield with rudimentary if muddy Nissen accommodation in just 90 days.
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Old 30th Jul 2017, 08:50
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topgas, your "after" picture well illustrates how little Paris changed as a result of the war, thanks to having been an open city (though of course, Hitler had called for it to be laid waste as the liberating allied armies advanced towards it. An order that was defied by its resident Wehrmacht General). Contrast that with London and many other UK cities and towns, where the bombsites have long since given way to 50s infill, in stark contrast to the Victorian and Edwardian terraces or villas on either side. The same is true of course for German towns and cities. Indeed, it is more so for instance in West Berlin which now features much post war dreary architecture, in stark contrast to the more classical buildings still to be found in the east, where patch and mend was favoured if only on a purely economic basis.

Such reminders of the effect of war are salutary, and a constant reminder of its devastating effect. Younger generations need the memorials and other reminders of it to learn that simple lesson, be it a grand public monument or a simple house that just doesn't quite fit in with its neighbours.
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Old 31st Jul 2017, 12:09
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Feedback on the Biggin Hill chapel petition:

A big 'Thank you' to all of you who came to show support at the Council Meeting on 25th.
We understand there was a pre-meeting at which the attending Councillors were virtually 'whipped' into line to support the motion, so despite my three minute appeal, and courageous opposal from three Councillors, as expected the decision went against us.
Despite this we are committed to continuing the fight, and thanks to someone contacting the BBC, last Friday 28th we had a short spot on both BBC London and South East 6.30pm News, filmed at the Chapel. Since then the Petition figures have exceeded 9,000 and still rising, so please keep spreading the word, and use any contacts you may have and we could reach 10,000.
If you have a moment, please write to the national papers, as we have reached this point, moving towards 10,000, without a mention, which is remarkable in itself. With your help to get national coverage we will achieve a total that cannot be ignored!
Finally, I know that feelings surrounding this are running high, we are all passionate about the campaign, but please remember we need to maintain the dignity this matter demands.
Best wishes and thank you,
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Old 2nd Aug 2017, 01:45
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Originally Posted by Danny42C
Heads-up ! (only 4 yrs late !) Came across a BBC2 programme (Which I don't ever remember seeing before) by Griff Rhys Jones: "Burma, My Father, and The Forgotten Army", available on iPlayer and (maybe) on YouTube overseas. A very fair summary of "my" war. Well worth a tune-in, IMHO.

If you do see it, do not mind the odd pics of Us helmets supposed to be our troops. The Jap twins shown (brief glance) are "Bettys", I reckon. A thing the size of a Wellington, it was used as the Naval torpedo bomber which sank the P.O.W. and the Repulse off Malaya.

Danny (what did that little devil you write about do next ?)
Am reading the thread and am a few weeks behind, so I don't know if any one has posted this, but in any case, here's a copy of the same, via YouTube:

Thanks for mentioning it, Danny. I've been watching it and it has brought back memories of many of the things you've shared with us on this Greatest Of All Threads.
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Old 2nd Aug 2017, 11:19
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In late 1944, Major Hunter Reinburg led the Corsairs of 122 Squadron, US Marine Corps, onto the sweltering, jungle-covered South Pacific island of Peleliu, scene of the Marines' most bitter battle of WW2. The Japanese were deeply dug into the hills less than 1km from the airfield, so pilots did not bother to retract their gear before delivering their ordnance and continuing with a circuit to land again and reload.

The Marines took almost 10,000 casualties. So bitter was the fighting that a Japanese lieutenant with 26 soldiers and eight sailors held out in the caves until 1947, surrendering only after a Japanese admiral convinced them the war was over.

When the island was finally conquered Major Reinburg decided that the surviving troops sweltering in 40 deg temperatures deserved some home comforts. The Marine engineers produced two large tanks filled with reconstituted milk and mounted to the Corsair wing hard points, with a stirring shaft powered by a wind-driven propeller. A practice battle climb to 25,000 feet and -30 deg C would supply 100 servicemen with a helping of ice cream every day ... surely the world's most expensive ice-cream cart?
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