Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Military Aviation
Reload this Page >

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 31st Dec 2018, 12:04
  #12581 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 88
Having just read Chugalug2's comments upon co-pilot solos in Hastings brought back memories of those challenging days! Chug and I, having navigated our course through Cranwell, and then Oakington in the bitterly cold and prolonged winter of 1962/63, found ourselves on No 103 Hastings course at RAF Thorney Island.

My pilots flying log book records that I, still a somewhat new Pilot Officer, set off on my first 'solo' in the left hand seat of Hastings 1A No 570 on the 3rd of April 1963 accompanied by another Pilot Officer co-pilot (also in co-pilot training although he had previously been a Second Pilot for a tour), a Squadron Leader navigator, and a Master Flight Engineer, Air Electronics Officer and Air Quartermaster. With all that expertise behind me, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, I flew the two take-offs and landings (with a taxi round after the first landing, never an easy exercise as the aircraft tended to expend pneumatic pressure rather too quickly) without losing control and ploughing through the long grass - much to my relief. Indeed, unlike many of my fellow co-pilots in training, whilst under training I didn't lose control on take-off or landing at all - until my final handling test when I managed to deviate from the runway (just a little - or maybe a tad more than just a little)!

But yes, anyone who could spare the time would transport wicker chairs out from the offices to observe co-pilot solos in the expectation that we would make a nonsense handling the heavy machine at some point. Which reminds me, when my instructor, a Welshman of some distinction, was taxying back to the dispersal, as we passed by a hangar we observed an RAF bus parked fairly close to the taxiway. I noticed that the driver appeared to be dozing, but suddenly he awoke and without taking his eyes off us for an instant, switched on the engine, engaged reverse gear and when straight back - into a car parked immediately behind him! At the subsequent Board of Inquiry that my instructor attended, the driver allegedly said, "I reversed - in order to avoid an accident"!

As far as I can recall, my patient instructor had at another time been Duty Officer one night when a non-pilot managed to get airborne in a Varsity (or some such). He telephoned the Air Ministry and spoke to their Duty Officer saying, "There's going to be an accident!" (Try saying that in Welsh dialect). And there was.
Nugget90 is offline  
Old 4th Jan 2019, 22:42
  #12582 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: over the rainbow
Age: 72
Posts: 562

Remarkable documentary About Tangmere produced in 1985.
roving is offline  
Old 5th Jan 2019, 17:47
  #12583 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: West Sussex, England
Posts: 465
Thank you Roving, for posting that Documentary it almost makes one cry seeing all those brave young lives (on both sides) lost in WWII.

I'm especially grateful, as in 1940 at three years old & living in London, I remained alive and later benefitted from the Brave New World of scholarships, free quality education and the NHS.

mike hallam (and still flying a very light two seat LAA ytpe a/c).

Remarkable documentary About Tangmere produced in 1985.[/QUOTE]
mikehallam is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2019, 08:36
  #12584 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Posts: 25,782
A very well-made documentary piece - thanks, roving!

In 1970 my first ULAS Summer Camp was at RAF Thorney Island. Those who hadn't already completed circuit consolidation would often go to RAF Tangmere for their sessions of circuits and bumps, whilst the rest of us flew GH and aeros over the Isle of Wight. So ULAS Chipmunks must have been some of the last users of this historic airfield; unfortunately as I'd already finished circuit consol., I wasn't able to include RAF Tangmere in my log book as it closed only a few months after we'd returned to White Waltham.

RAF Thorney Island lasted a little longer though; closed in 1976 it was squaddified a few years later.
BEagle is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2019, 08:53
  #12585 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: East Anglia
Posts: 720
Ahh, Tangmere … my very first trip to a BoB At Home Day, bliss! The 'fence' to keep the crowd away from the runway was a rope laid on the grass, even to a <8yr old child it seemed close - brilliant! When the Hunter did a fast low level pass down the runway from the opposite end to what the chap on the PA system said and made us all jump (especially Mother!) - well that was just the gilt on the gingerbread, magnificent!!
I remember a Squadron taxi adorned with all sorts of signs … "Passing side>, <Suicide" etc. etc.
Thank you for that Roving, it brightened my day!
FantomZorbin is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2019, 09:32
  #12586 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Surrey
Age: 63
Posts: 109
When I first went to live in Bognor Regis in 1976,I vaguely remember Andovers from Thorney Island doing air-drops at Tangmere,Some years later a friend and I were investigating the top speed of his new Morris Marina on the runway there,and at the end of it was parked a Russian T54 tank.Odd ! There are some interesting graves in the churchyard,including those of Neville Duke and Teddy Donaldson.
ex82watcher is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2019, 12:32
  #12587 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Posts: 25,782
...investigating the top speed of his new Morris Marina on the runway there, and at the end of it was parked a Russian T54 tank
No doubt the top speed of the latter was somewhat greater than that of the former?
BEagle is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2019, 14:17
  #12588 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Bishops Stortford, UK
Age: 79
Posts: 426
When the 242 OCU was at Thorney Island in the 1960s, Tangmere provided the drop zone for our equipment and heavy load drop training.

Like others, I was quite taken by that 1985 BBC documentary, above, and it's hardly a surprise that it would concentrate on the station's fighter history. Not mentioned was the crash on the night of 19 November 1943 when a badly damaged 10 Squadron Halifax attempted an emergency landing there whilst returning from a raid over Germany. (A landing at RAF Ford, further along the coast, had proved impossible.) The circumstances as regards possible crew injuries are not known, but the attempted approach was abandoned and, initiating a go-around, the aircraft veered away and hit a hangar. All 7 crewmen were killed, and 10 aircraft in the hangar were also destroyed. Checks with Air Historic Branch and the RAF Museum have established that no Board of Enquiry details have survived - but it's worth mentioning that the pilot had successfully landed a damaged, asymmetric aircraft some weeks beforehand. A relative of the Air Bomber on the crew is quite well-advanced in trying to have a memorial to all 7 men, all buried elsewhere in the UK, placed as near to the site of the crash as can now be established.
ICM is offline  
Old 7th Jan 2019, 14:18
  #12589 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2008
Location: East Sussex
Posts: 449
ICM: That'll be
Halifax II HX181: ZA-K Op: Leverkusen Took off 1622 Melbourne. Crashed 2135 onto a hangar at Tangmere airfield, Sussex.
1015613 F/Sgt (Pilot) Benjamin HOLDSWORTH RAFVR +
578363 Sgt (Flt. Eng.)Raymond James Harry STEEL RAF +
1390492 Sgt (Nav./B) Clive TELFER RAFVR +
1397140 Sgt (Air Bomb.) Albert James OUDINOT RAFVR +
1119224 Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Robert Vernon DOWNS RAFVR +
AUS421975 F/Sgt (Air Gnr.) John HARPER RAAF +
1338514 Sgt (Air Gnr.) Charles Edward SMITH RAFVR +
Typhoon EK141 - OV-X - No.197 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
Typhoon JP501 - SA-R - No.486 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
Typhoon JP680 - OV-S - No.197 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
Typhoon JP787 - OV-K - No.197 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
Typhoon JP853 - SA-K - No.486 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
Typhoon JP970 - OV-L - No.197 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
See: The Typhoon & Tempest Story. Thomas,Chris & Christopher Shores. London:Arms & Armour Press,1988. pp.200 & 218.
Note: These six Typhoons, plus three Spitfires and two Lysanders, were destroyed when a 10 Squadron Halifax II HX181, crashed into the servicing hangar while attempting to land at Tangmere. Despite valiant efforts by the station personnel, the crew perished.
culled from BCL and also relatives have added comments on this website: Halifax Accident, Tangmere, 19 November 1943 - Page 2

Question: Would an Op to Leverkusen have been completed in 5 hours? The eyewitness account of the crash seems to indicate that whoever was flying had great difficulty in lining up for landing, suggesting that the pilot was either wounded or someone else less skilled at the controls.

Presumably someone has also looked at the Australian files for Harper?
In Aly's photo on the 10 Sqdn website, the top row are the flight crew and ground crew kneeling. Holdsworth appears to be the middle, with "wings" whereas the others have just the one "trade" wing. it would make sense to accord the pilot the prestige of centre spot, too. https://www.10sqnass.co.uk/research-...ers-posts.html

Medal group for one of the crew described here Aircrew europe grouping
Icare9 is offline  
Old 8th Jan 2019, 13:51
  #12590 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Bishops Stortford, UK
Age: 79
Posts: 426
Icare: That is, indeed, the incident mentioned. The question of who was in control during those final minutes will almost certainly never be resolved but, from what is still available at AHB, there does not appear to have been any information available to the Board of Enquiry to suggest that it was not the pilot, FS Holdsworth - and he may indeed have been suffering from injuries sustained over the target area. Were I to speculate, I might suggest that there was an (additional?) engine failure at a height and speed on the overshoot that made regaining full directional control impossible before the impact with that hangar was inevitable.

The 5 hours 13 minutes that HX 181 was airborne that night sits comfortably alongside the range of flight times for those aircraft that recovered to base at Melbourne, east of York. These range from 6:15 to 6:50. (And whatever the case elsewhere in the UK, fog was not an issue at Melbourne that night, though it was throughout the following day.)
ICM is offline  
Old 21st Jan 2019, 12:48
  #12591 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
Posts: 573
Poignant story about a Naval aviator who trekked into the Norwegian mountains to visit the wreck of his grandfather's Hellcat, lost during a raid on the Tirpitz
Geriaviator is offline  
Old 21st Jan 2019, 21:55
  #12592 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: over the rainbow
Age: 72
Posts: 562
Flying out of Britain during WWII in a Merlin powered P51, Bud Anderson became a triple ace. In this long video he brilliantly recalls his distinguished career which includes vivid descriptions of some of his dog fights.

"Clarence Emil "Bud" Anderson (born January 13, 1922) is a retired officer in the United States Air Force and a triple ace of World War II. During the war he was the highest scoring flying ace in his P-51 Mustang squadron. This was the same squadron as well known test pilot (and first pilot to break the sound barrier) and ace Chuck Yeager, and they had remained close friends for many years until Yeager met his current wife who cut him off from all his friends.[1] Towards the end of Anderson's two combat tours in Europe in 1944 he was promoted to major at 22, a young age even for a highly effective officer in wartime. After the war Anderson became a well regarded fighter test pilot, and a fighter squadron and wing commander. He served his wing commander tour in combat in the Vietnam War. He retired as a full colonel in 1972, after which he worked in flight test management for McDonnell Douglas. A member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, Anderson has remained a sought after speaker at aviation and military events well into his 90s."



Chuck Yeager describes Bud Anderson as the best combat pilot he ever flew with.

10 minutes 54 seconds in to this recording.

In this talk by Bud Anderson -who is still in good health - he describes his childhood ambition to fly and his training in the USA and with the RAF in Britain.

(On a personal note, and hence my fascination with Bud Anderson, is that like my dad, Bud Anderson wanted to fly as a young boy, and like my dad learned to fly pre war and like my dad initially trained as a "mechanic", in dad's case as a fitter, before both trained and qualified as pilots and were commissioned in the USA at the same time albeit in different locations.Both were at the sharp end of the war in Europe in 1944/45. Both flying Merlin powered fighters. Bud Anderson flying the P51 my dad, the mark IX Spitfire)..

Last edited by roving; 22nd Jan 2019 at 13:30. Reason: added comment and links
roving is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2019, 17:19
  #12593 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 59°09N 002°38W (IATA: SOY, ICAO: EGER)
Age: 77
Posts: 811
There are still some good people out there
Tony Foulds saw the American B-17 bomber crash in Endcliffe Park in 1944 when he was eight years old.
ricardian is offline  
Old 23rd Jan 2019, 16:09
  #12594 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
Posts: 573
A moving story. In response to a couple of PMs I have received, I did send an obituary for our lately departed friend Danny42C to the Daily Telegraph, his lifelong choice, and to The Times. Sadly, neither could be bothered even to acknowledge it. Dennis did say he flew a forgotten aircraft in support of a forgotten Army in a forgotten campaign ... plus ca change.
Geriaviator is offline  
Old 23rd Jan 2019, 18:43
  #12595 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
Age: 76
Posts: 6,054
That, Geriaviator, is VERY sad.

Of course, Danny42C was not one of the Few ... he was one of the even Fewer!
MPN11 is online now  
Old 23rd Jan 2019, 23:27
  #12596 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 79
Posts: 4,449
"That, Geriaviator, is VERY sad"

But let's be honest, not totally unexpected. The media (print, online, broadcast) these days doesn't reflect the sense of gratitude expressed on this thread for Danny and his remarkable generation for our very freedoms. It's all just so much history, that much despised discipline that has to be constantly revised to suit ever changing sensibilities.

You have made the effort, Geriaviator, on Danny's (and might I suggest our?) behalf. Well done, Sir! That it has been so summarily ignored isn't a reflection upon you, or Danny, or us, but upon the Daily Telegraph, the Times, and I daresay half a hundred others if they had been similarly approached. We live in a Brave New World these days and must learn to conform or become irrelevant. Personally, I much prefer the latter status.
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 24th Jan 2019, 04:55
  #12597 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Lost, but often Indonesia
Posts: 613
Hi Geriaviator,
Would you be able to post the obituary for Danny you composed? I for one would be most interested to read it..
Octane is offline  
Old 24th Jan 2019, 10:30
  #12598 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: West Sussex, England
Posts: 465
Yes Please,

I too think that Danny's generation should be positively remembered.

They put up with our strapped & sometimes disorganised conduct of the war to do as well as humanly possible what they had to do 1939 -1945.
Fortunately their contribution - and many deaths too (& both sides' combatants suffered) - provided us with a hard won freedom which generations have enjoyed for the last 3/4 Century.

That's quite a giant legacy !

mike hallam
mikehallam is offline  
Old 25th Jan 2019, 15:18
  #12599 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
Posts: 573
First, we must thank MPN11 for his fitting obituary published on the morning of Dennis's death. Having been away on holiday, I produced the following when I returned. It has perhaps more detail, from experience the Press likes a selection of material from which to choose. This is the version offered to Times and DT, together with the pictures published in my Last Letter to Dennis.

Dennis O'Leary was the RAF's last dive-bomber pilot, piloting a forgotten aircraft in a forgotten Air Force in a forgotten campaign: supporting the 14th Army in the bitter Arakan campaign against the Japanese.

The son of a British Army sergeant who was himself the son of a British soldier, he left an Irish Christian Brothers school at 14 years to become a clerk, joining the RAF at the outbreak of war. Dennis began writing at the age of 90 for the world's leading aviators' website, PPRuNe. Beginning with his account of training in Florida, his Hibernian wit, modesty and vivid memories were an instant attraction. His dream came true when he returned to England to train on Spitfires and in 1943 was posted to join a new Spitfire Wing set up to combat the Japanese in India, and recalled reaching Maidaganj in NE India to join 110 Sqn after a journey lasting for weeks.

“From the truck we spotted some big ugly things on the flight line. What on earth is THAT?, we asked our driver — That's a Vultee Vengeance, Sarge, they're dive bombers!
We knew nothing about dive bombers and clung to our last faint hope.
What about the Spitfires we're supposed to be getting? — You've had it, Sarge, there aren't any out here!
Oh, Noooo … Oh, Yesss! Not for the first or last time in the RAF, we'd been sold a pup.”

Soon 1000 PPruners per day from all over the world were following his love-hate relationship with the Vengeance and his description of its two-mile vertical dive had them on the edge of their seats; in between came a witty and colourful mix of reflections on India and the life of its European exiles.

Reflecting later, Dennis said that the Vengeance was heavy, slow, cumbersome and virtually defenceless against enemy fighters. “it could be made to do aerobatics, in the way that an elephant could be taught to dance. Fortunately for us the Japanese never sent their Oscar fighters which would have made short work of us. After exercises with RAF Hurricanes their pilots told us that it was easy to keep their sights on us no matter what we tried. But they did say that our camouflage was excellent, once down against the jungle we were all but impossible to spot.” Dennis remembered this on the day his gunner spotted a Japanese fighter, descending to low level and staying almost beneath the Oscar for some 40 miles until it turned away.

The Vengeance, he said, was a one-trick pony, but it did that trick very well indeed. As they retreated through Burma the Japanese defenders dug deep bunkers which they defended to the death, at great cost to Allied lives. Hurricane and Beaufighter aircraft attacked in shallow dives but their cannon and rockets, being angled, had little effect on the deep trenches. “The Vengeance had zero wing incidence, so its dive was truly vertical. Once into the dive nothing could stop us, a yellow line along the nose was all we needed to aim, usually achieving a 30-yard circle. A section of Vengeances could deliver five tons of high explosive in a few minutes, obliterating bunker, gun emplacement and sometimes a complete hilltop. As a dive bomber I thought the Vengeance was very good indeed”.

Dennis was commissioned in 1943. In Feb 1944, on his 33rd sortie, his engine failed probably due to ground fire and he force landed in the jungle, he and his gunner being badly injured.

After recovery he was posted to command 1340 (Special Duty) Flight near Cannanore (now Kannur) in southern India. Working with scientists from Porton Down, its purpose, never publicised until now, was to spray live mustard gas over volunteer British troops to test the efficiency of gas protection equipment. It was expected that the Japanese would use gas in defence of their homeland.

“In return for some pain and discomfort, the volunteers were safe from real harm or so it was then believed. They had three meals a day, a bed and a little extra pay. It was better than being on the wrong end of a Japanese bayonet in Burma. If they wanted to go back there, they had only to ask. I never heard of any who did.”

Demobilised after four years’ service in India and Burma, Dennis joined the Civil Service for three years. “But the prospect of pushing paper around for the next 30 years did not appeal ... I decided to see if the RAF would have me back”. The RAF did, and once again he was back in a Spitfire and the RAF’s first jet fighters, the Vampire and Meteor. In 1954 Dennis was grounded following a long-standing lung problem, so he re-trained as an air traffic controller and became an instructor at the RAF’s central training school at Shawbury before his retirement in 1972, when he became a VAT inspector for the rest of his working life.

Dennis died at his home in Middlesborough on November 13 2018, three days after his 97th birthday. His obituary on PPRuNe reflected his heyday when it was read by 10,000 people in the subsequent 10 days, with scores of tributes from his followers and his ATC pupils. His wife Iris died in 2016 and he is survived by his daughter Mary, who cared for him in his final years.

Dennis O’Leary, RAF Vengeance dive-bomber pilot in Burma, November 10, 1921 - November 13, 2018.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 25th Jan 2019 at 17:46.
Geriaviator is offline  
Old 25th Jan 2019, 17:03
  #12600 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 79
Posts: 4,449
What a story, what a legacy, what a man! Thank you Geriaviator, a wonderful tribute to Danny and so succinctly told. It would have informed and amused a newspaper readership if published. It wasn't and they weren't. Very SAD indeed!
Chugalug2 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.