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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 17th Oct 2009, 08:07
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Talking of Lancasters and fog.

On 16/17th Dec 1943 21 Lancs set off from 97 Squadron RAF Bourn to bomb Berlin. One was lost without trace over the target but after one of the longest and I guess most dangerous of all targets EIGHT Lancasters crashed in the vicinity of RAF Bourn because of FOG on their return.

I wonder what kind of fuel reserves they usually had? No doubt this was one of their longest range of targets so probably none was available.

How tragic to survive getting to Berlin and back only to crash because of fog.

Last edited by thegypsy; 17th Oct 2009 at 08:33.
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Old 17th Oct 2009, 11:18
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I was brought up near RAF Wattisham. An old man who had been in the Home Guard told me about the night that a Lancaster force landed in a field after running out of fuel in the 'stack'. He told me how the aircraft landed intact but that the fuselage snapped in two as it crossed a ditch. The Home Guard ran to the rescue. I can still remember his incredulous comment in a broad Suffolk accent:

"Eight of they buggers we found in there bor !"

They all survived apparently.
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Old 17th Oct 2009, 15:29
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Wings Presentation

In contrast to your 'Wings' presentation?? ours was a wonderful affair. I was at 3BFTS Miami Oklahoma and the Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Roxburgh sent invitations to attend the Wings presentation far and wide. Some 18 Americans and 80 RAF lads had their Wings pinned on by an American Army General in the afternoon followed by a grand dance in the evening.



One of my proudest moments.

Several of us had made friends with an American family who lived some 200 miles from Miami. These friends received an invitation to attend the presentation and drove all the way from Independence, Missouri to Miami. They watched us receive our wings and enjoyed the dance in the evening. They overnighted in Miami and drove back to Missouri the next day.

The evening dance was attended by us pilots, friends, 3BFTS staff, our flying instructors and girls from the local High School. It was customary to present each of our instructors with a parting gift to show appreciation of their work. Most instructors were friendly guys but my instructor was not quite so friendly! His favourite expression was "Davis, my ******* grandmother can fly this ******* aircraft better than you". Nevertheless we decided to give him a box of his favourite cigars. We gave him his present and tears came to his eyes. He exclaimed that it was the first present he had been given. He shook our hands, told us to be careful when we returned to England and to shoot down one of the b******s for him!

Gordon Davis
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Old 17th Oct 2009, 16:34
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Sorry Gordon, think my post about wings presentation was intended for Johnfairr.(See post 1206 Johnfairr) I get muxed ip easily these days.
Keep up the good work, it brings back many memories to me. Reminds me of when I devised a new method of flying 'under the hood' (previously mentioned), and decided to use it the following day. The idea was to use the rate of climb indicator to fly straight and level, not knowing that there was a delay of about four seconds before the needle moved. This resulted in a large up and down movement of the aircraft which didn't cease until my not very patient instructor shouted "Sh one dot T son, I have a lil ol sister who can fly better than you" He never tried to find out the cause, which I think a good instructor would have done. I am sure I would have done so if our positions had been reversed.

Last edited by cliffnemo; 17th Oct 2009 at 16:45.
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Old 18th Oct 2009, 03:26
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And now an Australian perspective...

While people are talking about wings presentations, may I add a photo from the Australian perspective?



The airman receiving his wings in this photo is P/O DPS (Phil) Smith, the date is 28 May 1941 and the location is No 3 Service Flying Training School at Amberley, Queensland. Phil's parents were invited to the ceremony, as evidenced by a small card from the Commanding Officer.

Phil would go on to become a Squadron Leader and complete two tours, one on Wellingtons then one on Lancasters. He survived at least two crash landings in Wellingtons and was shot down on his 51st operation over Lille in France, 10 May 1944. He was the only survivor of 12 aircraft shot down that night, evaded capture and returned to the UK in September 1944. My great uncle was his navigator which is where my connection lies.

Thank you all. Carry on!
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Old 18th Oct 2009, 10:17
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He wore a pair of silver wings.....old song circa 1942

I think that the very interesting spate of wings memories makes my previous point that the achievement of "wings" should always be made a moment that would stay with you for all your life.
I have often wondered what, apart from the obvious effect of wartime flying, has been the impact of those hard won wings on one's life ?
I can answer that, in my case, having spent nearly three years of my life in the air , that it gave me, literally, a completely new dimension and made me realise that, when faced with hard decisions or even smaller problems, you were not "earthbound" and could look at a problem from other angles....possibly I am now discussing "lateral" thinking ?

I just thought that I would throw this thought into the Arena. What difference, if any, have those wings made to you ? Reg.
For Cricketers. I have just noticed "Post"222. A Double Nelson. Where did that come from, Horatio ?
 
Old 18th Oct 2009, 10:56
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Wings

congratulating us on becoming pilots and then told us wed collect our wings from the stores,
Nuff said.
Vide JOHNNFAIRR post 1206
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Old 18th Oct 2009, 11:42
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The Good and the Bad

My pal, Harry Cowdrey, at 3 BFTS had a good instructor named Ted Yachachak, a Miami Indian. One day Harry asked his instructor what yachachak meant. He replied "Big Indian chief who fly in sky". My instructor was a right S oh D.

One day I was landing an AT6. Things were going all wrong, all I could do was fly with rudder full left and control column hard right to maintain a straight course. My instructor yelled out "Davis you are flying this ******* aircraft cross controlled. I ignored him and landed successfuly. On the ground we noticed that the right flap was up but the left flap down. I waited for congratulations on making a good landing with one flap up, the other down, but not a word!

Gordon
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Old 18th Oct 2009, 17:31
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A Spitfire Pilot. Part 10.

It wasn’t all hard work at Hawarden, we managed to get the odd afternoon off and used to go into Chester, go to Blossoms and have a meal, visit the pubs. It was all quite pleasant. And the people were nice, even though we used to scare the daylights out of them, I think, sometimes, with our flying.

We had a few Australian pilots on the course with us and they were a nice bunch, and I kept in touch with one of them, Roy (?) for quite some time during the war. An invitation to join him for a few quiet drinks was not to be taken lightly. They always seemed to be the same sort of round whoever the bar-tender used to be.

We still had the odd ground lecture and on one occasion we were told that we’d have a talk on how to bale out of an aircraft and that was given by a Flying Officer Jim Bill Oliver, who became a flight commander with 111 Sqn in North Africa. He was a nice chap, but although he’d been in the B of B, he wasn’t operational, so he hadn’t done anything, and neither, as he pointed out, had he ever baled out of an aircraft. Consequently, we were as much in the dark after the lecture had finished, as we had been before it started.

We got to the end of the course and the postings came up and we found out that none of us were being posted to 11 Group, but four of us were being kept back to go with the next flight and be used as sort of semi-instructors, to get more time in. Now of the top four in our course, I’m pleased to say that each one had trained on Oxfords not Masters, so we felt quite chuffed over that. The best pilot we had was an Irishman by the name of Pat Lust and he was absolutely terrific in a Spitfire. Even the instructors were quite staggered when he went up and dog-fought them. After we left Hawarden I never saw Lust again, but when I went up to have an interview for my commission in 1942, I was speaking to one of the chaps in the squadron he’d joined, 222, and heard that a wing had come off a Spit when he was diving and the thing had gone straight into the ground and he had been killed, which seemed a great pity. Had he managed to get out I’m sure he would have made quite a score.

Whilst on the extended part of the course at Hawarden, we did a lot more aerobatics and formation flying and on one occasion I was teaching one of the Australians formation flying. We’d been going round for some time, the weather wasn’t too good, but he wasn’t awfully good himself. If I asked him to come in close, he’d either come tearing up behind me or slide in and put his wing through my cockpit. On one occasion were doing a turn in formation and he came in far too close, so I pulled up to get away from him and disappeared into cloud. Not wishing to come back and collide with him, I carried on up and out the other side and all I could see was 10/10ths cloud all over the place. So I came down rather gingerly, got through the cloud, or most of it and I couldn’t see very much. Suddenly it seemed as though the grass was running vertically from top to bottom instead of alongside, so I gave the stick a hell of a yank and there was a crunch and I continued on. I wasn’t very happy about it, but eventually the cloud cleared and the engine still ran smoothly, the aircraft seemed to be alright, so I trundled on down and found myself off the coast. So I just turned right and followed the coast at nought feet all the way round, got up to the Dee, came along the canal, which was a good pointer and the visibility by this time had become a lot better, so I climbed up to about 10,000’, slowed down and tried the wheels and flaps. Everything seemed to work alright, so I took the wheels and flaps up, flew back to Hawarden, still very high, and called up dispersal and told them I’d hit a hill, and I’d tried everything and everything seemed to work and what should I do? Come in with the wheels down and hope for the best or come in on a belly-landing?

There was some deliberation down below and eventually xxxx, who was one of the instructors there at the time, said, well if everything works, come in and try a normal landing. So I came down lower and by this time they’d got an ambulance out and a fire-engine and they were all sitting on the runway as I came in very gingerly. Of course there were quite a number of people standing around watching, because they’d all heard what had happened. Anyway, I landed alright and taxied back to the dispersal and got out very relieved. When we inspected the aircraft, we found that the radiator had been smashed and flattened into the underside of the starboard wing, although the prop wasn’t damaged and there was no other damage to the aircraft at all. Everyone reckoned I’d been fairly lucky and I had to agree, but nothing more was said.

Ginger Lacey was the Flight Commander at the time and he thought it was quite a joke, but a number of people didn’t believe that I’d hit the top of a hill, but the evidence was there and I was all in one piece and so again, I was quite happy.
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Old 18th Oct 2009, 22:56
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Bl**dy Hell!!
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Old 19th Oct 2009, 09:03
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Jonfairr

John, son of "Fairrly " lucky.I, literally, gasped when I read your Father's typical understatement. Fairly lucky,,, words fail me ! Talk about "smelling of violets' ! Keep them coming but I fail to see how you can top that. Reg
 
Old 19th Oct 2009, 09:38
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A Spitfire Pilot. Part 11.

First operational posting – 111 Sqn, North Weald – October 1941

The postings came through and I found that I’d been posted to 111 Sqn at North Weald, which was absolutely ideal for me, being not far from Woodford, where Mum was living.

During the leave we did our usual trip or two up to London and on one occasion we went up to the Queen’s Brasserie with several Australian chaps who were in the flight I had just left at Hawarden and had a very pleasant evening. A few beers here and there and tipping the waiter each time he brought a round and finally, when we were just going, one of the Australians tipped the waiter who, for some reason or another, turned round and said,

“Do you think that is sufficient, sir?”

Now as we had been tipping him all evening, the Australians took a pretty dim view of this, so one of the chaps said to the waiter,

“Well how much did we give you?”

So the waiter held his hand out with the money in it, so the Australian took the money back, picked him up and shook him and mentioned quietly that he was very lucky to be in one piece, and with that we left.

At the end of the leave, I got my gear together and said goodbye to Mum, as I didn’t know how long it would be before I would see her again, and went off to North Weald. Now when I arrived there, they were a nice bunch and flying had finished for the day so they took me into the Mess, had a nice meal and a couple of beers and chatted for a while and then as I wasn’t operational, they said, well you don’t have to stay the night if you don’t want to. So I said, right, jumped out of North Weald aerodrome, hitch-hiked back to Woodford, spent the night with Mum, got up at crack of dawn, walked up to the top of the road, by the church in the High Road (All Saints Church, Woodford Green, where my mother and father eventually married in June 1943)and hitch-hiked a lift with a builders lorry, which took me as far as Epping and I hitch-hiked again to North Weald, got there about half past eight and all was well. No one worried whether I was there or not.

I was taken down to the dispersal that morning and met the CO, a Squadron Leader Brotches, a little tiny man, but very, very pleasant; he’d been in the B of B and a very good leader, so I’d heard. We chatted, he asked me what I’d done on Spits and said,

“Ah, we’ve got a funeral tomorrow morning, you can be part of the funerals escort.”

Apparently some chap had been shot up, landed badly, and killed himself at North Weald, so he was being buried not too far from North Weald, but quite where I don’t know and that was my first experience of being on an operational station.

I was put in an aircraft and told to fully acquaint myself with the local area. Now I would have thought that someone would have come with me on the first trip and showed me the various points, but no, they just said take the aircraft up, have a look round and find out where you are, which I did. I flew all round Essex, up and down, looked at the coast, saw the Blackwater, tootled round, came back and then sat!

My first operational trip with 111 was a convoy patrol just off the East Coast. Before that I’d done about ten hours flying, a couple of cannon tests and formation flying and on this convoy patrol, I felt quite big, sitting in the aircraft, knowing that the guns were fully loaded and I was in charge. But in fact nothing happened at all, I just followed my No.1, ambled up and down the convoy, thinking any minute now we were going to be attacked by hundreds of 109s, and swivelling round and round and looking everywhere. In fact nothing happened at all, so for an hour and a quarter we stooged up and down the North Sea and then got called back. But a least I felt I was getting somewhere and it was quite a nice sensation.

Now the first time I went across to France it was October 20th and I’d been with 111 a fortnight then. We had to do a sweep to Dunkirk, which I see took and hour and fifty minutes, which seems an awful lot. There were a number of Czech pilots on 111 and I was flying behind one, whose name I must admit I’ve forgotten and I was on this sweep. I was told to just stick with him and to do everything he did and to keep an eye out for enemy aircraft. Well they could have flown up and down and across me for all I knew, I had my work cut out trying to hang on to this Czech pilot, but I just hoped that he knew more about it than I did, and if anything came up he’d look after me. But I must admit I felt somewhat vulnerable being the other side of Dunkirk and actually being over France. It’s not so bad when you’re over the Channel, because you think, well, if you’re shot down you‘ve got a very fair chance of being picked up and brought back, but over France it wasn’t so funny. Now as it happens, I’ve got a note in my log book, which says “No flak, no 109s.” It doesn’t alter the fact that your stomach still turns over and your nerves are still twitching just flying over there.

Out of circulation for a few days, more excerpts at the end of the week. JF
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Old 19th Oct 2009, 17:38
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Back to the Future...

My appointment as a Senior First Officer was confirmed and Dora, with the three children, flew out to join me in August 1952. She was very happy with the house and furniture. The children loved their separate rooms and were very impressed by the downstairs toilet ,next to the front door.

In 1952 Sabena were operating with D.C.3's and Convair 240's on the European routes and with D.C.4's and '6's on the African and N.American lines (Long Courier as they called it ). The Belgian Congo was the absolute "bread and butter" for the Company and Sabena also operated all the internal Congo lines. The pilots employed in the Congo were on totally different contracts and had no place on the Parent Company's seniority list.

As a Senior First officer I was placed straight away on the "long courier sector". In addition to our basic salary we were paid on number of flying hours flown and long courier was definitely the highest paid of the sectors. At that time we flew as crews and my Captain was a charming man called Serge Tabutaut and I was made very welcome by the whole crew. The only snag was that, contrary to modern practice, the First Officer never touched the controls for take-off and landings and was the general factotum, making out the flight plans, checking the load sheet, meteorology and taking the controls whilst the Captain socialised with the passengers during the long and arduous flights. A typical D.C.4 flight between Brussels and Leopoldville (Leo) ,as Kinshasa was then called, would take at least eighteen hours.

We were settling down in Belgium very well. We threw the children straight in at the deep end and sent them straight to a French speaking school in Evere where they were made very welcome.
The first day ,Anthony aged three, came home and said "They're all mad. They can speak but they don't know what they are saying". Soon after he told us "We had "lait" today; tasted just like milk ". In a very short time, well under three months ,they were all chattering happily away with their newly made friends and arguing furiously in fluent French. In fact it became mandatory that they spoke English at home as, very soon , French took over and they preferred to speak it as that was where they were obtaining their vocabulary. The speed at which the children picked up French was exemplified ,one day ,when I was sitting in the toilet which was next to the front door. The doorbell rang and little Anthony answered. To my horror I heard him say "Peter et Linda jouent, Mama fait les courses et mon Papa faire Ka-Ka" !

We were living at 87, Rue Jan van Ruisbeck in Evere and there was a small general shop nearby on the Ave. Henri Coscience. The owner, M. Leon, like everyone in Belgium, including the Postman and all the Tram Conductors, spoke English. He took us under his wing and would give full culinary details on everything that we purchased. The first joint of "Rosbif" that Dora bought weighed barely 200 grammes but M.Leon told her to cook it for six minutes each side as beef must be rare. To us Heathens, meat had to be cooked forever but we soon became converts and were then , in September, introduced to the National dish, Moules et Frites. 1 kg.of Mussels per person and the frites had to be dipped in home made mayonnaise, never Ketchup ! I must confess that it is still my favourite dish and I made myself some last night but have to make do with Calve Mayonnaise which is the nearest thing to homemade.

One day there was a ring at the bell and a very nice lady introduced herelf to Dora in a broad Yorkshire accent. She was Madge Dubois, living nearby and she and her family were to become lifelong friends. Marcel, her husband, was an Insurance agent and I am eternally indebted to him for his kindness and help in smoothing our path through the initial difficulties iof settling down in Belgium. He made sure that we were insured against all possibillities and had us in stitches with the list of things that we had to guard against. "If your house burned down ,your neighbours will have have to go to a Hotel whilst it is being rebuilt and if they are bitten by your dog etc. etc. " Nevertheless , he gave me sound advice and I never regretted any insurance that I took out with Marcel. tragically, Madge was killed in a car accident in the U.S. and Marcel was badly injured. They were on holiday celebrating their 25th. Wedding Anniversary when a drunken driver smashed into their car.

Anthony came in crying one day because the Belgian kids were calling him "a Puppy ". "I'm not a puppy" he sobbed. Turned out that they were calling him "Petit poupee" as he was so cuddly (Little Doll). Linda's best friend was called "Toc-toc" because she was, (with a finger placed to the forehead ), quite crazy !" Another British neighbour was Pat Hemblenne, the wife of the Sabena Navigation Leader, Albert. She had steel false teeth which were all the mode in Belgium at that time and it was like going alongside a battleship when they were flashed at you. She would come round for tea in the mornings and Dora would get the teapot out and Pat would say "Sure and put a wee drop o' gin in it".

I had made one or two trips on the European sector in order to familiarise myself with the aerodromes around and with general flying procedures. My first trip was in the jump seat of a D.C.4 taking passengers to Frankfurt. The First Officer suddenly started waving in his
right window. I looked over and nearly jumped out of my seat. There was another Sabena D.C.4 tucked in, in tight formation on our starboard wing with the passengers all waving at one another. "That's De C......t " he said naming one of the Sabena Senior Captains. Truly the R.A.F. spirit still existed in 1952 in Sabena. Regle
 
Old 20th Oct 2009, 08:10
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Back again. Dad's memoirs have not been transcribed yet so I'll be doing them. I'll pop them up as I do them, although I doubt I will be as efficient at doing so as the laudable Mr Fairr (enjoy Liverpool old boy, give my love to the Adelphi and the KFC opposite).

This thread has also reminded me that I must get Dad's Burma Star blazer mounted, along with his medals.

Thanks.
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Old 20th Oct 2009, 10:55
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Angel, Don't worry about 'efficiency' just ' ger it down in the book' ( P.C Dixon of Dock Green) We don't have any pedants on here like the example below, entitled 'Awards for poor journalism on PPRuNe.'
I feel a bit guilty as there were no more posts after I claimed the award.
Actually, that's the correct way of spelling Stanstead.
No, it's Stansted, as in Stansted Mountfichet, the local town.
Actually, that's the correct way of spelling Stanstead.
That's how you spell Stanstead. There can only be one way of spelling Stanstead.
However, if it's Stansted you mean, then that's different.



-----------------------FINAL POST BY --------------------------
cliffnemo



I claim the award. My blog must contain the most inaccuracies ever. I don't care any more.
CLIFFNEMO.
So don't worry about efficiency Angel, get weaving.

[QUOTE]
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Old 20th Oct 2009, 12:22
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Angel

Chaps, don't keep "harping" on Angel. He's showing plenty of "pluck" ! Reg.
 
Old 20th Oct 2009, 13:21
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regle

How long did it take when you were in Sabena before you were allowed to do a take off and landing? Was it company policy?

Must have been really frustrating for someone of your experience! Perhaps you got your command quickly?
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Old 20th Oct 2009, 16:14
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Everything comes to he who waits.

Gypsy, I flew on "Long Courier" from August of 1952 until June of 1954 as a First officer and made about four landings in that time and, as far as I can remember, never made a take-off. I was lucky, as many of the others never even touched the controls. I am not grumbling because it was the same treatment as all the others were getting and it was deemed normal. I am certainly not grumbling at the speed at which I was given a Command , just under two years, as no other Airline could match Sabena for the speed of promotion due to the importance of the Company in relation to the size and population of the Country which was only nine million strong that was the population of London, alone ,at that time. Plus the Belgian Congo was of vital importance to the Country and strong links had to be maintained I am also grateful for the fact that I learned an enormous amount by performing all the duties of a First Officer so knew what to expect when I eventually got my command. Above all it taught me a lot about patience and curbing my natural instincts to "take over" and use a quiet word of advice, put in a tactful manner instead. But there were one or two times.........! Regle.
 
Old 20th Oct 2009, 16:26
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Regle - what had all the existing Sabena Captains done during the war?
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Old 20th Oct 2009, 22:08
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The adventures of the majority of existing Sabena Captains when I joined them in 1952 could fill a book. Most of them had become Spitfire Pilots but one of the Directors had been on Lancasters. There were many D.F.C.'s amongst them. Two of them, one a mere Sgt. and the other a Group Captain had stolen an old biplane, I do not know the make, and had successfully out manoeuvred a ME109 and reached England safely. The hardships endured by some in the long and dangerous escapes to England in tiny boats were almost beyond description. Their contribution to the R.A.F. was tremendous and and their reaction to the welcome that we gave them was shown in their treatment of the 30 British pilots that were taken on by Sabena in 1952 of which, nearly all, finished long and happy careers in Belgium. I never stopped admiring their courage. Reg.
 

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