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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 Sep 2017, 15:47
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Conquest of the Air is a 1936 documentary film on the history of aviation, until the early stages of World War II. The film features historical footage, and dramatic re-creations, of the developments of commercial and military aviation; including the early stages of technology developments in design, propulsion, and air navigation aids. The film was a London Films production, commissioned by the Air Ministry of the British Government.

The film was initially commissioned by Alexander Korda prior to the advent of World War II, and the Air Ministry saw the value in promoting Britain's contribution and leadership in aviation during this period. Some notable footage is featured of the early phases of automated flight, navigational equipment, and the transitions between civil and military developments, including heavy bombers; fast fighter aircraft; and the advent of naval aviation (aircraft carrier), plus the initial experiments with vertical rotary flight (helicopters).

An updated version was released in 1940 and released in the United States on 20 May 1940.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCPt8e1WG4A

The film editor, who also wrote the script for the commentary, was Peter Maurice Bezencenet, a British film editor born in 1914.

He subsequently joined the Royal Air Force: the London Gazette records that in 1942 P. M. Bezencenet (115617) was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer.

Two years later in September 1944, he was an Acting Squadron Leader and a Spitfire Recce Pilot with 208 Squadron in Italy.

Towards the end of that month he was leading another member of the Squadron during a tactical reconnaissance sortie on completion of which he told his number one to land and he then returned over the enemy area, it was thought, to strafe a train that had been seen. He did not return and no news was heard of his fate The Squadron assumed that he had been killed. *

Happily not, as his subsequent citation for his DFC records …

Distinguished Flying Cross. Acting Squadron Leader Peter Maurice BEZENCENET (115617), R.A.F.V.R., 208 Sqn. This officer has completed a very large number of sorties, including numerous successful reconnaissances over the forward battle area during these operations, Squadron Leader Bezencenet has faced heavy enemy fire with complete disregard for his own safety. Nevertheless, he has executed his missions with great skill. On one occasion, in September, 1944, whilst over the Bologna area, his aircraft sustained such damage that he was forced to abandon it Although he was badly wounded when fired upon by an enemy patrol, Squadron Leader Bezencenet succeeded in reaching the British lines. This officer has displayed outstanding keenness and has set a fine example of bravery and devotion to duty.

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/.../1069/data.pdf

He demobbed after the war but did not forget to make an appearance for the 30th anniversary celebration of 208 Squadron in 1946 when he was one of those who addressed former squadron members.

https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarch...=%20BEZENCENET

And what of his movie career and life post war?

He continued to edit and direct movies, married an American heiress, her sister had married an English Count, and in 1975 he sold his country home in Buckinghamshire to the actor Sir John Mills, and moved to France with his American wife.

He died in 2003 at the age of 89.

[* sourced from the 208 Squadron Association website].
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Old 25th Sep 2017, 16:11
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Since I issued my "cri-de-coeur" (#11242),

Chugalug (#11244 and #11261); Brian 48nav (#11245); roving (#11250) - (btw, is that Garland any relation of the F/O Garland who, with his Nav, Sgt Gray, won the RAF's first two VCs of the war in 1940 ?) Geriaviator (#11251), and Warmtoast (#11260) Lovely pics !

Yes, you are right, Chugalug, in saying:..."I have always felt that its true CofG lies, as per the OP, in those desperate and dangerous years 1939-45"... But the old boys of those days are all dead now, or so nearly dead that no more can be expected of them. Now it's down to their "heirs 'n successors", and that well is running dry, too. roving is doing a sterling job (take a bow, roving!), keeping the old flame burning, but it cannot last for ever.

Another possible solution: lay "Pilot's Brevet in WWII" to rest, and someone (NOT a greybeard !) open "Gaining a R.A.F. Pilot's Brevet Post-War" new Thread? ....... Who'll open the bowling" ? Chugalug - you flew Hastings into Gatow in the Airlift, there must be "Funny things that happened on your way to the Theatre". Think on, revered old Mentor of mine !

Also, ..."So I join with you in encouraging roving to tell us everything he can of those years and in particular of the very hazardous job of low level photo recce"... Can't think of the name, but a PR pilot was one of the most highly decorated RAF pilots of the war (Alec Guinness played the part in "Malta Story"). Disappeared on a LL trip to S. Germany in the end, they only found him and dug him up a year or two since.

And, long ago on this Thread (?) a US Colonel Baynes - Baines (?) wrote a gripping account of spending half-an-hour in broad daylight with a PR Spitfire over Berlin at 40,000 ft in 1944, to make sure he got all the photos they needed. (earned him an American DFC). Among other things, he said: "Every pilot should have the chance to fly a Spitfire once in his life" (or words to that effect). So say I.

Remembering my Middlesbrough lasses (some large and formidable), Fighter Plotters and Radar Operators (we had 70 of them on the Auxiliary FCU where I was Adj), the thought of them coming after me with hockey sticks would induce abject terror !

..."My two-penneth is that it should be aviation related and principally centred on WWII"..... Mmmn, not sure for reasons stated above. I think we've squeezed the pips out of the WWII lemon, and the youngsters just don't want to know. Too Long Ago amd Far Away, now . I suppose it was inevitable. When I was 20, the American Civil War was being fought 77 years earlier. To a young man of 20 today, the Battle of Britain was fought 77 years ago.... Time flies !

Danny.
 
Old 25th Sep 2017, 16:27
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Originally Posted by Danny42C
Can't think of the name, but a PR pilot was one of the most highly decorated RAF pilots of the war (Alec Guinness played the part in "Malta Story"). Disappeared on a LL trip to S. Germany in the end, they only found him and dug him up a year or two since.
W/Cdr Adrian Warburton. His story is told in 'Warburton's War' by Tony Spooner.

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Old 25th Sep 2017, 16:31
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I think you mean Tony Spooner.
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Old 25th Sep 2017, 16:34
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I have deleted my post because it duplicates those above.
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Old 25th Sep 2017, 18:00
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JW411

You're right of course. My memory let me down; post amended.
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Old 25th Sep 2017, 21:50
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and the youngsters just don't want to know.
In recent years in Oz, the ANZAC legend has been increasing its recognition among the younger generations. This has certainly been kicked along by the commemoration of the Centenary of Gallipoli and subsequent Western Front battles.

Kokoda also resonates, with school groups regularly attempting to walk the Track.

Closer to home, CoodaKid 3, who showed no interest as a child in my library of military aviation histories and surprised us all by becoming an F/A18 pilot, has discovered a latent interest in matters historical.

This started when I lent him a book and he found he could relate to Geoffrey Wellham's emotional experiences as a student pilot as described in First Light. It was reinforced by his meeting WW2 veterans at various RAAF functions.

The contributors to this Prince of Threads have brought alive this period of history in a way that no historian could hope to achieve. And the thread will be available to all as long as the internet endures.

I'll go out on a limb and predict the thread will go viral when the period of history that it describes approaches its Centenary.
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Old 26th Sep 2017, 07:30
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CS, good post, Sir! I completely agree that interest in WWII in particular will grow rather than wane. The example you give is excellent, that your son could relate on a personal basis to the experience of a BoB fighter pilot's training. That has been the secret of this thread, and in particular Danny's detailed and inspiring tale. We have all sat with him in his cockpit, fearful that the Oscar will spot us!

As he ruefully reminds us, further first hand testimony from his generation is becoming ever more unlikely. However, sons and daughters have already stepped to the fore, and from all around the world too. Others have posted accounts because of their particular research and attachment to certain aspects of the War in the Air (witness sidevalve's revelations of the Comet Line. I hope that even now there might be more about that?).

Danny, this thread has reached a cross roads, one direction being to a dead-end and its demise, the other to a different style, yet hopefully as inclusive and as informative as ever. WWII was a high water mark in this country's history. We really did make an enormous difference to the fate of the world, and the subsequent victory was a vindication of the years of suffering and sacrifice. It also hastened our demise to the much smaller player that we are today. With respect, I am not particularly keen to describe my part in that demise. I would much rather celebrate our finest hour, for which we later generations owe so much to the so many of yours.
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Old 26th Sep 2017, 08:38
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Chugalug - I notice you were far too polite to mention to Danny that you were still in short trousers during the Airlift!
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Old 26th Sep 2017, 11:17
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olympus (#11264),

Thank you, Sir ! - an inspiring story.

CoodaShooda (#11268),

..." he found he could relate to Geoffrey Wellham's emotional experiences as a student pilot"... I don't quite know what those might have been, but I've often thought that flyng training is to some degree a spiritual exercise - but have been too bashful to put my thoughts into print. Now it doesn't matter any more - so I've said it. Have others had experiences of this kind ?

Now CoodaKid 3 is exactly what we need ! Get him aboard here (it would do fine as his callsign) - unless, of course, he's here already, and he can be the Onlie Begetter of "Gaining a R.A.A.F. Pilot's Brevet in Oz" (or "In the Cold War", or whatever takes his fancy). And we can pass the baton to him; we can sit back, and he can have the best seat near the stove in our ancient Cybercrewroom. .... CoodaDad, it's up to you ! (Show him this).

btw, is there any movement on the put-together-another-Vengeance-bitsa front ? Thought there were a couple of groups out there scouring the land for scraps D.


Brian 48nav (#11270), and Chugalug,

What can I say ? - I am so sorry. Got the calculator out - oh, dear ! So I'm losing my marbles at last. There was nearly an Airlift II in summer 1961, when the Wall sprang up overnight in Berlin, and it looked as if Khruschev was going to "have another go", and Danny was hastily dragged to Gatow as one of the few people who remembered how to work the old MPN-1 "Bendix" they had there (the "Stephenson's Rocket" of GCAs), and, stupidly, had not timely replaced with a CPN-4 in the fond belief that it was "Peace in Our Time"). Chugalug, you and your Hastings would've been in nice time for that. Perhaps that was on my mind (the Past keeps getting telescoped) Mea Maxima Culpa!

Danny.
 
Old 26th Sep 2017, 14:44
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Danny - yr.no.11271

..." he found he could relate to Geoffrey Wellham's emotional experiences as a student pilot"... I don't quite know what those might have been, but I've often thought that flyng training is to some degree a spiritual exercise - but have been too bashful to put my thoughts into print. Now it doesn't matter any more - so I've said it. Have others had experiences of this kind ?

Geoffrey (Boy) Wellum became very depressed because he could not get the hang of flying for the first 10 or so hours of his training and he feared he would be "Bowler Hatted" any minute. An astute instructor told him that this was not uncommon in Ab Initio training (Stanford Tuck IIRC took 13 hours dual before Solo) and that all he had to do was RELAX - flying does not need any great physical effort - the actual movements should be entirely sub-conscious.

Once Wellum 'got' this he was fine. He wrote;

"The sheer joy of flight infiltrates the very soul and from above the earth, alone, where the mere thought in one's mind seems to transmit itself to the aeroplane, there is no longer any doubt that some omniscient force understands what life is all about. There are times when the feeling of being near to an unknown presence is strong and real and comforting. It is far beyond human comprehension. We only know that it is beautiful".

I took 12.20 dual before solo (possibly because I had to adapt to the methods of four different instructors in the first 10.45 of dual), so I would echo Wellum's instructor in advising him to not get het up about "ten-hour-itis".

I think anyone who has been alone in the sky with an aeroplane will know just what Wellum articulated so well in the quote I give above.

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Old 26th Sep 2017, 17:05
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I cannot agree more with Ian B-B's post above. "Ten-hour-itis" probably got rid of more potentially promising pilots in the RAF than the Luftwaffe ever did. I suppose that wartime conditions demanded some sort of financial restraint but I'm sure that in many many cases it was a false economy.

I personally manged first solo after 8 hours 15 minutes but that was really quite an arbitrary figure for although I was immensely proud of myself I didn't know whether my backside was bored or countersunk.

I went on to have a long flying career of over half a century and I taught pilots to fly aircraft from gliders to DC-10s. I have to say that the "slow starters" often turned out to be the best operators.
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Old 26th Sep 2017, 19:42
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JW411 Thanks.This reminds me of a statement by an RAF cadet in Florida (Danny did not agree).

"Not a single letter (presumably read by the censors) from former RAF Arnold Plan cadets had a word of approval for the hazing system". "It eliminated more potential British and American pilots accidentally than the German Air Force did on purpose," one cadet said. "There was no reason for it at all."

Your statement:

Ten-hour-itis" probably got rid of more potentially promising pilots in the RAF than the Luftwaffe ever did.

Danny
I reread the interviews with the Carlstrom cadets in Will Largents book last night, 42 E,F,G,H courses all represented. I am sorry to report that West Point Hazing was still a problem, a Lt. Kloppenstein being mentioned more than once, perhaps you recall him? It wasn't the cadets who were "Hazing " it was the U.S. officers still on-site, I think you were lucky, in fact like anyone who has followed your story I know you were. (Ah, sure the luck of the Irish - as yer know yerself).


IanBB

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Old 27th Sep 2017, 07:43
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10 hour 'itis.

I would add one more element to this phenomenon. The fear of failure was often enhanced by the other members of the course who went solo in the early initial stage which must have added to the concerns of those lagging in the 'solo stakes'. From later service as a QFI, it was clear that those who reached solo early often had the benefit of previous flight experience (PPL etc). That was not always common knowledge among the student course members
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Old 27th Sep 2017, 11:56
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Too many people to thank individually, would not like to leave anybody out, so thank you all good people who have commented on my offerings, or helped me with answers recently, on this, or on "The Battle of Britain" Thread, on which I would suppose most of us are keeping an eye.

Yes, Warburton, of course - and the "Malta Story" film (oh, how long ago !) is well worth YouTubing if you can get it. Essentially true, and a charming love interest to boot, which should bring in your WAGs And I've now got enough of the gist of what Stanford-Tuck wrote about the BoB pilots for my purpose.

It would seem that, like Mark Twain's: "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated", this old Thread has arisen once more, Phoenix-like, from the ashes. Will keep my lip buttoned on the subject of its demise for a while......

Now the hoary old topic of "how many hours to solo ?" has been raised. This Extract from my p.118, #2347 shows me at odds with some of the recent Posts - but then, it'd be a dull world if we all thought alike, wouldn't it ?.

"The first ten hours of military flying instruction are critical. This is where the sheep are sorted from the goats. In civil life, a flying club will keep on taking your money till the cows come home, irrespective of whether you're ever going to make a pilot. The Army can't afford to do this, it's working to a timetable.

An average pupil will go solo after eight hours. Nine hours is stretching it. Ten, and your instructor will hand you over to a check pilot, who will take you up and assess your performance, and who may give you a second chance, with a different instructor. But this rarely happens. You're "washed out".

It sounds hard-hearted, and we think of late developers and helping lame dogs over stiles. But, as is pointed out, your dog is still lame after you've got him over the stile, and there are more stiles ahead. Better to chop him now.

Once the decision is taken, the bitterly disappointed pupil was always whizzed away quickly. Back in Canada, most retrained as Navigators or Wireless Operators/Air Gunners, so all was not lost. But never a second chance as a pilot! (Or so we were led to believe at the time; I have subsequently heard that there were second chances - particularly when these were disciplinary cases, and the pupil's flying ability was not in question). Obviously, this information was hidden from us then: otherwise it would offer a sort of "soft option" to the Arnold scheme for those who wished to take it.

The majority of these losses took place in the first ten days. After that they became progressively fewer. One of my room mates disappeared after a month, having absent-mindedly blundered through the circuit at our Relief Landing Ground. "Dangerous tendencies", they said, and he was out. Two others had fallen at the first hurdle, so now I had the room to myself

The Arnold Scheme had a "washout" rate of around 50%, I believe. [40%, actually]. Whether this was due to the impossibly high standards, or whether simple arithmetic had more to do with it, I have often wondered. My Course at Carlstrom started out some fifty strong. When we went on to Basic School, there were about twenty-five of us left. But we didn't find any "vacant chairs" when we got there. I think Carlstrom simply had to get rid of half of their intakes.

As for the later "Arnold Scheme Hazing" by American Officers, I can only say that the ones we had in 42C were few, harmless, and kept out of sight most of the time. A Guess: the US top brass thought that Hazing was a Good Idea of Itself ("never did me any harm, Sir"), but they could not induce RAF Cadets to do anything so stupid to their own comrades, and therefore had to import their own officers to do the dirty work. My opinion was that the oft voiced opinion that Hazing played a serious part in our "Chop Rate" is a red herring, it was just a nuisance, that's all (says he, never having suffered any).

Plenty more to say, but it can wait. - " 'Ware incoming !"

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 27th Sep 2017 at 12:05. Reason: Preamble Left Out !
 
Old 27th Sep 2017, 12:45
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Talking of the first solo flight, someone decided it would be better to get a last photo of my Dad before his first in Texas ... 'just in case'



Actually although it was its first solo flight in Texas it not his first solo flight, that was pre-war at Barton Aerodrome under the auspices of the Civil Air Guard which cost him the princely sum of two shillings and six pence an hour.
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Old 27th Sep 2017, 18:28
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The BoB thread (of interest to all here) makes many references to Robert Roland Stanford Tuck -one of my boyhood heroes. If the "one size fits all" policy had been adhered to he would have been "bowler -hatted" at 10 hours and that would have been a terrible loss to Fighter Command in the coming conflict, as would "Boy" Wellum who later flew with him as the youngest fighter pilot in the BoB.
So, as a member of the luckiest generation (ever) I am grateful to his instructor F/O A P S Wills, and above him, F/L Tatnall and F/L Lywood and the CFI S/L W A B Savile who collectively had the insight, patience, vision (and balls) to "buck the system" and let A. P. O. Stanford Tuck receive 13 hours dual before solo. If this flexibility had not happened to these two gents, (and Gawd knows how many others we may never know of) I suspect that we might be speaking German as our first language in these islands.
Rigid rules are for the maintenance of the lowest common denominater.
Intelligent perception of potential talent is always worth a punt (IMHO).

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Old 28th Sep 2017, 07:44
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Ian B-B to reinforce the point you make ...
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Old 28th Sep 2017, 08:42
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Thanks roving - interesting last line!
When Geoffrey Wellum was despairing that he would ever get the hang of flying, his instructor, Mr Hayne, said to him, "Things will iron themselves out, you'll see. You're a bit highly strung and temperamental, susceptible to atmosphere; you could possibly make a fighter pilot".

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Old 28th Sep 2017, 09:36
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IBG:-
Thanks roving - interesting last line!
Indeed! Justification at last for all we straight and level types fed with tea on the hour every hour.
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