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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 2nd Aug 2017, 15:37
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Have to admire the ingenuity though, but then I love ice cream
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Old 3rd Aug 2017, 14:33
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Another tale from days of the Raj

Danny and others with affectionate memories of India will enjoy this lovely story from the Daily Mail, A corner of Wiltshire where the Raj never died: Enchanting tale of the Countess and the Indian who has devoted his life to her family for 60 years.

Countess June Badeni is the widow of a Polish RAF pilot and Muthukanna Shamugam serves as her loyal Indian 'houseman' at her home in Norton, Wiltshire.
Countess's Indian 'houseman' devoted life to family | Daily Mail Online
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Old 3rd Aug 2017, 16:10
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Geriaviator (#11103),

A hearwarming tale indeed ! I was going to quote the precedent set by Queen Victoria, but see it is in the text of the DM article. It is a charming reminder of the ethics of the 200 year old Raj - British India - to which the passage of 70 years has lent an almost mythological aspect. I saw its dying days, and it was, IMHO, the best thing that ever happened to the subcontinent.

The PR take on this is, of course, a horror story of Oppressor and Oppressed, but that is a superficial view. The loyalty of the household staff to their Sahib and Memsahib was legendary: it was rewarded by the deep respect they enjoyed in return. This is a shining example of an extreme case of that relationshipn (as a Tamil, "Muthu", would probably have spoken Malayalam).

I wrote a Post long since, ("Search this Thread" cannot find it), but it was of a youg "bearer" (personal servant) to an Army Captain who returned to UK, and did not come back to India for twenty years, then was posted back out as a Colonel to take command of his battalion.

Forewarned in some mysterious way, the now "old" bearer was waiting at the bottom of the gangplank in Bombay, to pick up "his" Sahib's kit and carry on where they left off !

A true story, I believe.

D.
 
Old 3rd Aug 2017, 18:53
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Not only India, Danny42C. Singapore, late 1960s. Mate in the Mess at Tengah entered his room to find his Mess Kit all laid out and freshly pressed and laundered - socks and underpinnings included. His Batman had seen an invitation to the Changi Ball on the desk, and assumed 'Organ-Sahib' would be attending. Sadly, Jeff was't going, so quietly hung his stuff up in the wardrobe and headed for the Bar.

I used to get puzzled when my Batman [I'm sure it was the same as Jeff's] used to rearrange my possessions around the sink. It took me a while to realise that he cleaned and washed my Mason Pearson hairbrush on a regular basis.

Some of those 'Servants of the Empire' were simply lovely people, doing a wonderful job ... they were probably proud of doing it, and we may not have appreciated them enough.
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Old 3rd Aug 2017, 20:34
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George's last few steps in France:
We were very warm and a little exhausted, having had little opportunity in the past for exercise and were relieved to see the two ahead turn onto a road leading to a wood. Hiding our bicycles we gathered together in a thick part of the wood. Sandwiches were produced and a bottle of tea and we sat down and got acquainted.

Harry was a navigator from London who had been shot down four weeks previously following a raid on Dortmund. Bill was a Canadian pilot who had run into a balloon barrage over Aachen six weeks previously.

The guide explained that we were to cycle to St Jean de Luz and stay there one night before crossing the Pyrenees into Spain. He also said that he would be coming with us. When we had rested we retrieved our hidden bicycles, made our way on to the road again and continued our journey, Edward and I in the rear as before.

Rounding a bend in the road we came to a small pretty village. The guide and the other two rode through and disappeared around another bend in the road. Edward and I were about to follow them when a gendarme came rushing out from the verge of the road and shouted "Halt!" We halted, whilst the others had passed safely through. He approached us, his hand conveniently near the holster containing: his revolver. Edward's face had paled, my heart sank and I silently cursed our ill-luck, having travelled thus far, to be caught almost at the end of the journey.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded. Edward looked to me to be spokesman and I answered "We are on a holiday". From the way he looked at me and following my elementary rendering of French I knew that he did not believe me. "Your identity cards" he demanded. We produced them and then he wanted to know what we were doing so far away from our address in the northern part of France.

"We are on a cycling holiday" I repeated patting my bicycle.

"Are you Germans?" he asked next for it was obvious that we were not Frenchmen. What was I to answer?

Should I say that we were Germans in the hope that he was pro-German and say that we were deserting to Spain, or should I risk telling him the truth?

"Yes we are Germans" I said "Deserting to Spain."

"You must come with me" he said in an authoritative voice.

We were sufficiently near him to stop him using his pistol and having travelled thus far, we were certainly not going with him. Edward and I silently agreed on this point. What could I lose if now I told him the truth! If he still insisted that we go with him then we must dispose of him.

I extended my arm to touch his shoulder and said in French, "We are English pilots" and I added an enthusiastic "Vive la France". I then offered him my hand. He took it and shook it warmly.

"Then you are crossing to Spain?" he asked and I said we were.

We wanted to leave him there and then, for the others must have been miles away and soon it would be dark. He was overjoyed and his dark face was wreathed in smiles.

"Come" he said "You must drink with me". We both made some show of protest, but allowed him to usher us to his home, the police house, and to be introduced to his friends. The wine was brought out and a hasty toast was made "To France - to England" and "To the success of the war".

Explaining that we could stay no longer and with a final "Vive la France" we left them and disappeared around the bend at the end of the village. What next? Surely the others must soon find out that we were not following them and would come back looking for us. We decided to go no further, but to wait by the roadside, in the hope that they would come back for us or failing that to wait for nightfall and then start climbing the Pyrenees, the dark silhouettes of which we could see about five miles away.



We waited, the sun was already sinking in the western sky. They must have missed us and we would have to go on alone. Then we saw the guide pedaling slowly back in the opposite direction searching for us.

Edward called to him quietly from the roadside. The guide stopped and then came over to us. ''I thought you two had been caught'' he said. We described our little experience to him and enquired of the other two. They had been hidden in an inn (the Larre restaurant in Anglet) about three miles further on where we were all to spend the night and in the early morning to cycle to St Jean de Luz. We found them at the inn, fed and refreshed and in a merry mood. They were overjoyed to see us and congratulated us on our good luck.


George left this note of thanks with Pierre Elhorga..

Before it was light next morning we were up and away along a quiet narrow road through St Jean de Luz to Ciboure arriving there to the safety of a friendly house before the town had awakened. From the window we could see the sea and the coastal defences and many German soldiers. At the house we met yet another pilot, a South African (James Allison) who had made a forced landing in Northern France, only three weeks previously.

It was not safe to have so many of us staying there so that night we were to cross the Pyrenees, with an expert guide who was to call for us as soon as it was dark. Most of that day we spent resting for we were tired after our cycle ride and wanted to store energy for the night's walk. The mountain guide (Florentino Goikoetxea) came and brought with him several pairs of canvas shoes (rope-soled espadrilles) that would make little noise whilst we were walking.

He asked us to empty our pockets of any French money that we might have, for if we were caught in Spain we could be legally charged with currency smuggling and it would be difficult for the British Consul to get us out of prison. All was ready and collecting in the doorway we bade our hostess (Kattalin Aguirre) goodbye and our previous guide (Jean-Francois Nothomb) who had travelled with us from Bordeaux, came with us to visit the British authorities in San Sebastian.
More to come..

Last edited by PPRuNeUser0139; 3rd Aug 2017 at 21:01.
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Old 3rd Aug 2017, 20:50
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By the way, if anyone would like to join us for our annual commemorative hike (the dates are 8-10 Sept) across the Pyrenees using the exact same route that George took, then PM me without delay and I'll send you the details. We do in 2 days what George did in one night.
There are a number of cost options - but most will choose the 115€ option (this includes meals and coach travel in and around the area for the 3 days). Accommodation is your own responsibility.

NB. Completed sign-up forms must be received by our treasurer nlt 25th August.
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Old 3rd Aug 2017, 21:22
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Welcome back sidevalve! What an amazing picture you post of the terrain that George and his comrades traversed, quite Turneresque! He seems to have had a facility for saying and doing the right thing and at the right time, thus making the difference between success and failure. If he hadn't used his wits and stuck instead to the German deserters story, our Anglophile Gendarme would no doubt have taken great pleasure in doing "his duty" and handing them over to the authorities for their inevitable fate. The Lord helps those who help themselves, and George was definitely in that favoured grouping.

Incidentally, his original home at 36 Park Grove is still there on Google Maps in Street Scene. Quite a few others aren't though, either having been replaced by later buildings or by open spaces. Evidence of Luftwaffe redevelopment no doubt, for which George and his colleagues were bent on returning the favours.
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Old 3rd Aug 2017, 21:49
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Thanks Chugalug,

Here's the man himself..!

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Old 4th Aug 2017, 08:29
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British Pathe has created a website with many, many hours of film.

Sadly much of it is behind a paywall, but there are some 'freebies' including an excellent account of 617 Sqn Dambusters and Tall Boy raids.

https://www.britishpathe.tv/#/catego...ry=history#top

Destroying the great dams of western Germany, using a very special weapon designed by scientific genius Barnes Wallis, made the RAF’s 617 squadron one of the most famous in the world. This film features rare archive film and photographs, fascinating Interviews (newly-filmed and from the IWM archives) and illustrative 3-D graphics.

Last edited by roving; 4th Aug 2017 at 08:36. Reason: added quote
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Old 4th Aug 2017, 08:48
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This is a better link.

https://www.britishpathe.tv/#/detail...=Us99dMKw4vrrv
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Old 4th Aug 2017, 12:22
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roving (#11111),

Thank you for the steer to a very impressive Pathé review of 617's exploits. Would recommend it to everbody with an hour to spare. Only snag which affected me, (probably my own fault, anyhow), was that I couldn't get it up on Internet Explorer, but Google Chrome did the business.

Danny.
 
Old 4th Aug 2017, 12:53
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Today please remember ATA pilot Flight Captain The Hon. Margaret Fairweather aged 42, the first woman to fly a Spitfire, who was killed on August 4th 1944 on active duty when her aircraft crashed during an attempted forced landing at Shocklach in Cheshire. Buried at Dunure cemetery alongside her husband Douglas who perished on ATA duty in April that year. Theirs is the only Commonwealth War grave with husband and wife.
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Old 4th Aug 2017, 16:44
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http://afleetingpeace.org/the-ata/in...et-fairweather
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Old 7th Aug 2017, 14:59
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George's crossing..

The night was dark and there was drizzle in the air. It became difficult to see the man in front of me. There were seven of us and we held hands, helping each other up the slopes of the foothills. For hours we struggled upwards, along narrow paths, known only to a few, across fast flowing streams that soaked us to the skin. Little was said as we struggled onwards hour after hour.

The drizzle ceased, the clouds rolled away and we were able to see the majestic silhouette of the mountains against the starry sky. There were both German and Spanish patrols in the mountains and it was common knowledge that if one was caught by the Spanish guards, even though on the Spanish side of the frontier, one would be handed back to the German guards. Up and up treading in the footstep of the man in front, not knowing what was on either side, except the all-embracing darkness. A stream we had to cross, which was normally shallow and sluggish had swollen to a fast flowing river (the Bidassoa) much too dangerous to walk across. There was nothing for it but to use the bridge which was guarded.

A light was showing in the hut at the end of the narrow suspension bridge spanning the river. At intervals of two minutes we crept silently across, very slowly so as not to start the bridge swaying. Those were anxious moments waiting until it was my turn to cross over. All were safely over and we proceeded on our way. Another heavy downpour of rain, again soaking our clothes which had dried through our exertions. At one point we seemed almost to climb vertically and only managed to keep going by clutching small bushes that cut our hands and scratched our legs and faces. Soon we were half-walking, half stumbling downwards and suddenly below us, miles below it seemed, shone the lights of Spain, that meant to us Freedom! A few more minutes and we had crossed from the territory of France into the territory of Spain. But we were not safe yet. There would be Spanish guards to dodge and already it was getting light.

Chapter 7 - Spain and Freedom

Our troubles were by no means over for the Spaniards had a nasty habit of clamping people into filthy, lice-ridden jails, there to rot until the formalities had been completed. We most certainly did not look like Spaniards, being predominantly fair. We supped and breakfasted in a house shown to us by our guide, washed our tortured feet and surveyed our many scratches. The Canadian pilot's feet were blistered and bleeding but he assured us it was worth it. The crossing had taken fourteen hours of continuous walking.

The British Consulate in San Sebastian had been forewarned of our arrival and arranged for an embassy car to take us direct to Madrid driving through the night. This proved to be the most dangerous part of our long journey for the Spanish driver lolled sleepily over the steering wheel and it was only by our constant prodding and unmelodious singing that we managed to keep his eyes from closing. As it was we narrowly missed several trees and quite a few cows in the road.

In Madrid there was a regular community of aviators who had either evaded or had escaped from prisoner-of-war camps. Our stay in the luxury of Madrid was however short and after a day we were driven down to the port of Seville in the south west part of Spain.

We were to pose as the drunken members of the crew of a Dutch ship bound for Gibraltar. The seaman who was to show us the way, we met in a disreputable bar, sipping whisky. Judging by the brightness of his eyes and the unsteadiness of his voice, he seemed to have carried the pose to extremes. We followed his example, imitating his roll and joining in singing lusty sea-shanties, passing; along the quayside, up the gangplank, past the Spanish dock police and onto the ship. Before being allowed to leave port the ship was subjected to a thorough search, but by then we were safely hidden in the hold. Food was plentiful, books were available and though we were on the ship for four days before it sailed the time passed fairly quickly. Course was set southwards and in a day we had sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar, could see ''The Rock'' and knew that at last we were safe.

After dropping anchor in Gibraltar harbour we were taken ashore and driven to the airport. In our tattered clothes and with our manly growth of beards we approached the Wing Commander in charge of flying and explained our position to him and our desire to get back to England. He arranged uniforms, toilet articles for us and seats on the aircraft leaving for England the following night. That gave us a day to go shopping and we bought as many bananas as we could carry and a few pairs of silk stockings from our advance of pay which we had received. The next night found us seated in the darkened fuselage of a Dakota, over the Bay of Biscay flying northwards to England and freedom.



I arrived home on 12th October 1943 having been away for nearly four months. It was with deep sorrow on my return I learned of the fate that had befallen the rest of the crew. Five members had been killed and two had been taken prisoner. After a short spell of leave I was asked to tour R.A.F. stations to talk to aircrews about escape and evasion and to assure them that if they had the misfortune to be shot down, there were many courageous members of the Resistance within Occupied Europe waiting to help them.

Subsequently I returned to my old Squadron and completed a further 39 operations, always remembering with gratitude those brave and wonderful people whose help had enabled me to return and to continue the fight.
Post Script:
In 1947, I returned to Brussels with my wife and again stayed with Professor and Mme Pirart and through them met Andrée de Jongh and her friend Germaine, a fellow survivor of Ravensbruck.

We continued to visit our Comete helpers in Brussels every year, together with other members of the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society, until it was disbanded in 1995.

In 1951, this time with our son Tim, we returned to St Jean de Luz and stayed at Kattalin Aguirre's house in Ciboure and in 1955, I was once again walking over the Pyrenees with Florentino. We still visit St Jean de Luz to this day and together with Lily Dumont's sister Nadine, lay wreaths on the graves of Kattalin and Florentino whilst the younger members of our families walk over the Pyrenees together.

In 1955, my young brother-in-law visited the Netherlands on a student exchange and called in to see Martin der Kinderen, my first contact in occupied Holland. He was treated to a ride on the same bicycle which had been lent to me and returned with a message that we should visit Martin. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship which culminated in Martin celebrating his 80th birthday with us in Spain. This year, his daughter Uus joined us for the Escape Lines Memorial Society annual reunion dinner in York.

Captain George Duffee - Aberaeron - 2013
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Old 7th Aug 2017, 16:17
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This has been a wonderful story, even more remarkable for the fact that George returned to ops and completed another tour. Thank you.
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Old 7th Aug 2017, 17:16
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sidevalve,

What a magnificent adventure story - well worth expanding into a book (in spite of my former "cold-water-pouring" on more War stories, on the grounds that that market is saturated, and in any case they're ancient history to anyone under sixty, in the same way as Omdurman was to us in our day).

Could you pass on to George and Janet (who I hope are enjoying their retirement in wild Wales) the heartfelt thanks of all PPRuNers who have read their story (thanks to you). I do hope that you've managed to point George in our direction and (dare I hope) get him aboard here ? He'd be more than welcome !

Again, thanks ! Danny.
 
Old 7th Aug 2017, 20:09
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Glad you enjoyed it..!
The story of the Comet Line was not widely known for some time - many of us were only aware of the broad outline of what happened.
As part of their debriefing process, Allied evaders had to sign that they agreed to remain bound by the provisions of the various Official Secrets Acts and that the details of their evasion - names, routes and places - were not to be discussed. The fear was, after 1945, that another European conflict was thought to be likely and hence the wartime Comet Line could be dusted off for re-use.
In talking to veterans and their family members it's clear that they took the vow of silence seriously. Many never revealed how they evaded, not even to their nearest and dearest.
Seventy plus years on, the emergence of the internet has enabled some of those who took part to write their piece of history. For that we should be very grateful.
George told me a few years ago that when he brought his young family down to SW France in those post war years to meet up with Kattalin Aguirre (whose house he'd stayed at in Ciboure) and Florentino Goikoetxea (who'd guided him over the mountains), that Florentino suggested to him that they go for a short walk in the hills for 'old times sake'. They set off with George thinking that they were going to stretch their legs for just a couple of hours - Florentino had other ideas! He took George back over the border into Francoist Spain where he picked up some contraband and set off back to France again.
Here's George pictured here with Kattalin at a post war function in the Pays Basque.

More to come..
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Old 7th Aug 2017, 20:57
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Whilst following George's story, I've been equally aware of that of FS John Evans, a pilot of 158 Sqn. Others may know of it via the short book "Airman Missing" by Greg Lewis. John's Halifax was brought down later on over Belgium, in May 1944 and, with two of his crew, they were looked after by the the Comete Line until they met advancing American forces in the Ardennes. He ended his war with one of the Ferry Units. Ironically, I heard through his brother, another Halifax pilot with 10 Sqn, that John died last week after an illness, peacefully and free from pain. Requiescat in pace.
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Old 7th Aug 2017, 21:05
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sidevalve, what an inspiring story of George Duffee's long walk home! Thank you for posting it. Despite his making light of the dangers and physical exertion of the journey it was clearly a challenge for all, escapers and guides alike. If anything it is the latter group that impresses most, for retribution would be visited not only upon them, but their families and acquaintances also, in that special inclusivity that was the hallmark of Nazi oppression.

The Dutch ship, of which he briefly posed as a drunken crew member, had me puzzled. Fair enough that it was bound for Gibraltar, but from Seville? 50 miles inland, shorley shome mistake? No, Wiki as ever set me right:-

Port
Seville is the only commercial river port of Spain, and the only inland city in the country where cruise ships can arrive in the historical centre. On 21 August 2012, the Muelle de las Delicias, controlled by the Port Authority of Seville, hosted the cruise ship Azamara Journey for two days, the largest ship ever to visit the town. This vessel belongs to the shipping company Royal Caribbean and can accommodate up to 700 passengers.
So much to learn, so little time...
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Old 7th Aug 2017, 22:56
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Like everybody else I'm sure, I've been avidly following George Duffee's travels and experiences. It's great to see it also resulted in some lifelong friendships.

One thing that's puzzled me since his continuing on Ops was first mentioned is I've always understood that successful evaders weren't allowed back on Ops over Germany or occupied Europe. I believe it was because they knew too much about the escape routes and the people that ran them.
As he completed another 39 operations it would seem the policy must have been changed.

He signed his postscript as Captain. Did I miss something earlier?
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