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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 16th Sep 2018, 15:55
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Chugalug
We were used during the communist period that the media lie, and it did not change. Like Trump or not, but fake news is reality. Whenever I see an article about Poland in British media, I wonder if I live in the same country.
As to sources, well, those who were there, I mean No 303, are all gone. They left a diary, filed in those hot days of September 1940, but it does not say everything. Very few of the surviving airmen had written memories, so I am afraid we could never learn the truth. Anyway, there is no evidence of Frantisek separating from a formation and going for a kill alone, unless the squadron formation broke. He and several pilots when left some ammunition after combat were going in the Channel direction, to finish any German still flying, and there is some evidence it was called Zumbach's Way or Method.
There is one thing that is usually not noticed in regard of No 303 and Polish and Czech or rather Czechoslovak pilots in general. At the end of August RAF started to suffer dangerous shortages of pilots, the replacements being too unexperienced to be put into combat. Right at the moment, No 303 went into action, and according to British and German witnesses, did it in unforgettable style, fiercely attacking and firing from extremelly short range. The effect was, that Fighter Command fully realised, that the exile airmen are no worse, and even better than the RAF ones. They also knew, that with two more Polish Squadrons, No 306 and No 308 being almost ready to combat, and with reserves which allowed to form further three complete squadrons with groundcrew (there were shortages of those as well) and other auxillary services, there is a necessary reserve to survive until winter, when the weather is poor. So, they could send all the RAF squadrons available into combat, knowing that they could be replaced.

Re Cadix, this is the name appearing in all Polish books. The French WWII history was for several years a touchy political subject, and there was a lot of bias in the research for the past 70 years. Also Anglo-American policy took its tall. There are lots of mysteries and unanswered questions, but hopefully more balanced view will emerge with time.
In regard of TORCH, try to obtain the book of this man. I have read the Polish version, and it is absolutely fascinating, and the man was not bragging, his role being confirmed in other sources.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mieczy...C5%82owikowski
The Cadix team was breaking Axis codes, no foul play on Allies, but some testing of Polish codes in use. At least that is what is known.
The Polish code breakers in Manchuria is virtually unknown story. It was an effect of very long Polish-Japanese cooperation starting before WWI, which went into full swing in 1920s, and aiming Soviet Union. This did not stop after break up of WWII, but the full story was never told. The problem is that the period of communism in Poland virtally stopped historical research for two basic reasons. Commies did not want to portray activities of the pre-war and wartime legal Polish governemnt in positive way, and in turn, nobody wanted to provide commies with any information that they could use. Hence there is plenty of stories and a number of larger than life characters that remain unknown even to experts.
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Old 16th Sep 2018, 16:49
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Geriaviator (#12281),

Well do I remember "Tannoy" ("Stand by for Broadcast !") Two memories ...

I forget where, but some routine message had to be Tannoyed from the Guardroom. The Corporal was busy, and told a defaulter to do it. "Stand by for Broadcast", this lad started - and then dried up. At max volume round the Station then rang out: "What the F*** do I say now ?"

Leeming, shades of night are falling. From top Tower I make a welcome announcement: "Night Flying for tonight is Cancelled, I say again ..."

The Station's roar of delight was strong enough to be heard through the triple-glazing of the octagon !
 
Old 16th Sep 2018, 17:27
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Ah, the thrill of being Local Controller and broadcasting to the whole Station! I did it rarely, have no idea what or why, but it gave one a feeling of omnipresence!!
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Old 16th Sep 2018, 18:10
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With Franek's posts very much in mind, I found this fine photo while searching for pictures of a Tannoy. It shows Squadron Leader S. Pietraszjewicz of 315 (Deblinski) Squadron with his Hurricane shortly after the squadron was founded at RAF Acklington, January 1941. In March they moved to Speke to provide fighter cover over Merseyside, and in July they moved south to Northolt and converted to Spitfires to carry out offensive sweeps over northern France. The squadron was disbanded in 1947.
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Old 16th Sep 2018, 20:10
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Petro! I knew a number of pilots of the Squadron from the later period. All gone.
And here is another well known airman.


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Old 16th Sep 2018, 23:00
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Geriaviator, a fine picture indeed and a reminder that the Royal Air Force then was a very cosmopolitan mix of British, Commonwealth/Empire, USA, European, plus other aviators and engineers. It is difficult sometimes for we, the hosts of that eclectic mix , to understand fully the experiences and motivations that brought them all to the UK, but come they did. We need to remember that the final victory was theirs as much as it was ours. In many of those countries the passage was ordained by official process whereby volunteers and drafted alike were trained and transported in vast numbers from the four corners of the world.

For the occupied nations of Europe though it was very much up to each individual as to the stance, let alone the action, to take. It is a tribute to them that so many took the decision to re-join the fight in order to defeat the Axis and thus liberate their own country. Of all those countries the greatest contribution was made by Poland, and the Royal Air Force owes them in particular a great debt of gratitude. That they and the other Eastern Europe countries were plunged from Nazi domination into Communist domination is the tragic irony of their service and sacrifice for freedom. The civil population may herald them as skilled plumbers, builders, dentists, whatever, but anyone who was privileged as I was to serve alongside them in the Cold War views them with respect and affection. We should always remember that debt, that sacrifice, and as a Service celebrate it, especially at this time of year.


Franek, thanks again for your observations re 303 etc stepping in to let UK squadrons go all out as Autumn 1940 became winter. It was very much a case of being in the right place at the right time with the right people. It was, as the good Duke almost observed, a damn close run thing! Your mention of Major Mieczysław "Rygor" Słowikowski and the link to his story reminds us the Polish contribution to the Allied War Effort was not restricted to aviators by any means. The fighting Poles all punched above their weight, but Rygor was even by their standards a very special case. Respect!

The poster of Franciszek Grabowski says it all. A determined man set upon a mission. As you say, it is sad that politics and policy have got in the way of learning more about such men behind the official versions and statistics. All the more reason to garner as much as we can. Time is of the essence!
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 09:32
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Chugalug2. Your eloquent post perfectly encapsulates our debt to these people … as you say, "Respect"
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 20:46
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Whilst clearing out some 'stuff'' I came across a document given to me by a friend of a friend; it is an informal record of the flights of Mosquito DZ589 serving on 105 Sqn between July '43 and January '44. It details date, crew, 'duty' and time up, time down and brief details of the mission. There are some interesting points: Flt Lt Muirhead DFM, awarded I imagine before commission; WO Gordon DFC, not DFM. The targets are self explanatory: bomb dump at map ref, Emden, Duisburg etc. I have no idea who drew up the list but there is a hand written note: Please give this to Cliff. It's 'his' mozzie's record. An interesting piece of history that illustrates a very small part of those days.

On another note, the picture of the Tannoy speaker reminded me of the time we passed through Habbaniya after GW1. We were taken to what appeared to be the OM, it was just like the 60s RAF. Eau de nil paint, Crittall window frames and steel conduit to the old metal light switches. A few shabby sofas completed the scene. I doubt if the place had been touched since the RAF left. My uncle served there in the '30s, I'm sure he would recognize the place.
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 20:51
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Ha! My late Nearly-Father-in-Law (late 70s) ran the Riding Club at Habbaniya pre-WW2 as a WOp/AG

There's a lot of RAF history still lurking out there.
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 23:07
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Chugalug
I would say that the problem is with lack of knowledge. People, who spend their lives in normal countries and make decisions by their choice do not realise, what it is like to loose your home country, being not able to return, to live with fear about relatives, having no information from them. They also cannot realise what communism is, and where it leads. Of course, politicians are to blame, I recall some descriptions of reaction of RAF airmen on hearing on Yalta.
That said, we have in both countries lots of forgotten and unknown heroes, that is without doubt. Nonetheless I think that the Polish experience and tragedy caused people to act and live in most unusual circumstances, making their lives most fascinating. For an average British hero there was a relatively short period of fight and glory, and then he could settle down, and sip ayle in a pub, remembering the past. For several Poles, there was no such end, but continuous fight.
If you have not read it yet, you can have a look on my book on Skalski. I hope it shall be interesting for you.
And if we divert to some nostalgia, how about that? Anyone recognises the place?
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Old 19th Sep 2018, 08:53
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Franek, I responded to your post but my work was eaten by the PPRuNe dog, so I'll try again! What you say about those who didn't experience occupation not being able to understand those who did, particularly those who couldn't return even after the 'liberation' of their homeland, has to be true but at least we can try! A sense of empathy is perhaps easier when one lives and works alongside such people. That was the case in the post-war RAF of course. The national squadrons and units were disbanded and those who chose 'remain' were integrated into the RAF proper. In that way they ceased to be separate and different but fellow colleagues, albeit with accents varying from better than My Fair Lady standard to almost incomprehensible.

As to the picture it is nowhere that I recognise but the structure and the style is reminiscent of some buildings in Malta. Could it be at Luqa or Hal Far? As to its purpose I can only guess. Was it a squadron HQ or an Officers Mess? The only one I stayed in was the Luqa Transit Mess, which it certainly isn't!

Is the sign above the entrance a clue? Is it a Maltese Falcon?

Sorry!
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Old 19th Sep 2018, 23:18
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Chugalug
Well, I mean the more general audience, but I have noted many times, that western people simply could not believe German and Soviet terror, and total absurdity of the communist system. I must note, that RAF behaved well at the time, up to the standard, and not like some politicians or organisations.
The picture is PAF Faisal, formerly RAF Drigh Road, I think it is living quarters for unmarried officers, some villas being to the right of it. Officers' Mess is just to the left.
Do you feel the ghost of Lawrence of Arabia?
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Old 20th Sep 2018, 10:23
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Well I was close, just the odd 4000 miles out, plus or minus

RAF Architecture is a subject in its own right, whether domestic or overseas. It would be interesting if Drigh Road was unique, or of a regional style, or even of a standard style. As I previously posted, it is reminiscent of Maltese RAF buildings of that era. Here for example, trolled from Google, copyright R E Flagg, is one at RAF Halfar :-




OK, even I can see the style is rather different but is it possible that a local style was applied to otherwise standard layouts? If these worldwide RAF Stations were built at UK taxpayers expense then one can assume they were standardised for cost effectiveness purposes alone. Of course if they were paid for by others (the Indian Government as was, for example?) then that would not necessarily apply. The period of construction would have a great effect of course. Early UK RAF stations are of a different style to the ones of the 30s expansion period for example. When Halfar, or for that matter Drigh Road were laid down, and/or expanded, would be interesting in that regard.

The point of your picture being that Polish pilots served at PAF Faisal post war and your picture shows their accommodation there, I assume Franek?
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Old 20th Sep 2018, 11:06
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Hal Far was, of course, built as an RN flying station, so may have used a different set of plans provided by the Admiralty.

However, thinking of the Barrack Blocks and Officers Mess at Tengah, there is a general 'tropical' style involving external corridors.
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Old 20th Sep 2018, 13:16
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Good point about Halfar starting out as FAA rather than RAF, MPN11. Also take your point about there being a generic tropical style of verandas, etc. Here is an aerial view of Changi, which was built for the Royal Artillery by the Royal Engineers:-

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Old 20th Sep 2018, 13:36
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Not to be confused with RAF Takali (Ta’ Qali) ... there the station was mainly Nissen huts, now used by the Ta’ Qali Craft Village! An odd place from which to be operating jet aircraft!!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ta%27_Qali



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Old 20th Sep 2018, 16:06
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As Takili became an RAF Station in 1940, I imagine Nissen Huts would be quite a luxury. Ask Danny!

I see your link mentions 249 Squadron, whose Wiki link has them flying in with Hurricanes (courtesy of the Royal Navy) and doing much good work with them as well as with Spitfires later. They included one Buzz Beurling, who did excellent work it is rumoured! :-

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._249_Squadron_RAF



Bomb cratered RAF Takili

Last edited by Chugalug2; 20th Sep 2018 at 16:11. Reason: Add picture
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Old 20th Sep 2018, 18:31
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Chugalug,
They included one Buzz Beurling, who did excellent work it is rumoured! :-
He did indeed ! Google "George ("Screwball") Beurling". Very successful Canadian fighter pilot in the defence of Malta: his advice to others was: "Estimate the deflection you need - then double it !"

Worked for him, 31 kills, (DSO, DFC, DFM and Bar). Later killed in an accident, I believe.
 
Old 20th Sep 2018, 20:02
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Having wandered on a couple of occasions in recent years around the Ta’ Qali Craft Village, and the Malta Air Museum, it was really weird to try to visualise what it must have been like to be stationed there. One got so attuned to the Gaydon Scheme RAF stations in the UK, it was quite a jolt to realise it wasn’t all like that. RAF Takali was BLEAK!!

At least RAF Sopley (Southern Radar and Joint Area Radar School) had SeCo huts, and was green! Of course, Danny42C missed that luxury experience

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Old 20th Sep 2018, 20:38
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This is an IWM pictures of Drigh Road.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ra...=1537471855503
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