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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 9th Jul 2019, 01:09
  #12661 (permalink)  
 
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I assume this is your man
Indeed it is, and as someone else mentioned, the crew were Kaj Hoyer (Danish), Edward Martin, Ernest Shepard, James Alfred Knight. Would like to trace any of their families. The family of Charalambous I have visited in Cyprus. Longer ron , that Cyprus Weekly article of many years ago, I have it.
So much useful info from all of you, so many thanks.
That Acting Sergent Unpaid makes sense now, as it was only for a month or so.

Given his age when he died - it is possible he was a pre war pilot and he was employed as a Flying Instructor in 1941,which would explain his photo with 'Wings'
No, I don't think he was a pre war pilot, his family would have known and told me, according to them he was studying at Cambridge (not proven, vague information passed on from family members), before joining up. If he joined 9 EFTS (at Ansty near Coventry) on 15 July 1941, the courses would have been about 6 weeks, so makes sense that by 31 August 1941 he would have been awarded his wings. What doesn't make sense is why he went to Aircrew Dispatch Wing the following year in August 1942. What was he doing meanwhile for a year? If pilots are to be instructors, they have to go to SFTS first, I believe, not carry on at EFTS, I could be wrong.

Chugalug2, that ground units list is amazing, I visit the Archives and have pulled many AIR29 files but have to check against your list. Generally I have found that those AIR 29 units ORBS contain very little info. More to follow.....
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Old 9th Jul 2019, 07:00
  #12662 (permalink)  
 
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Is it possible that the entry "No 21 OTU 91 Grp 25.4.44 Ferry Trg : to c/a 311 Ferry Training Unit" is a move from which he and his crew (c/a = crew attachment, crew aircraft?) never return to 21 OTU? In other words they are now fully operationally trained and their next job is to ferry an aircraft (and hence themselves) to MAAF (Mediterranean Allied Air Forces). 311 FTU teach them to do just that and launch them accordingly, arriving 2 ARC 8.5.44.

Once in Theatre they are posted as "reinf" (reinforcements) to depleted units. Given the very high loss rate on the Milan raid this must have been an ever present need.

Just trying to see some woods rather than trees here, but perhaps not...

Last edited by Chugalug2; 9th Jul 2019 at 22:06. Reason: Oops! 2 ARC changed to 21 OTU, sorry!
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Old 13th Jul 2019, 00:09
  #12663 (permalink)  
 
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His Service number has also changed on commissioning...
Thanks, I wondered why two different service numbers.
Thank you to everyone who contributed , all very helpful, and I am still processing the information. I recently also got the service record of another Greek heritage Bomb Aimer who was KIA with Bomber Command, but this young man was a Canadian national and with the RCAAF. The RAF service record I posted earlier was basically 4 A3 pages with the limited information you saw, and costs 30 pounds a pop. The service record from the RCAAF, was about 200 pages, every detail from previous employment to medical records, to service records, even a recruitment photograph of the recruit, and it is a free download, no cost. Unbelievable the difference between the RAF and RCAAF service records.
I bought a book called 'Training for Triumph- A History of RAF Aircrew Training in WW2' which gives a wonderful insight of the said subject. I scanned the entire book onto my onedrive, and by way of thanks, if anyone would like to read that book, PM me and I will give the link which you can access and download the book to your pc. I don't want to put it on a public forum.
Regarding the other members of the crew:

Lt Kaj Hoyer (danish) SAAF - Navigator
F/O Edward Martin - Bomb Aimer
F/O Earnest Shepherd - wireless operator
Sgt James Alfred Knight - gunner

Would like to make contact with any family of those men. They may have a photo of the crew that is better quality than the one I have.
Not sure why he was an apparent celebrity, maybe because he was the only Cypriot origin Bomber Command pilot, apart from the newspaper clip, when he started on ops, apparently the BBC made a sound recording of him speaking in Greek, about his experience on ops, and it was broadcast and heard in his village in Cyprus at the time. Would those broadcasts be preserved, and where would one search for such a recording ?

Last edited by cyflyer; 13th Jul 2019 at 00:31.
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Old 13th Jul 2019, 18:28
  #12664 (permalink)  
 
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cflyer, I think it is for us, well me at least, to thank you for giving this very special thread such a boost. In doing so I suggest that you have opened up another possible topic that perhaps needs more attention, the coming to this country of volunteer aircrew from all over the world. No doubt they came with varying motives, but underneath all the bravado was a common belief that the tyranny that threatened not only Europe but the whole world had to be defeated. Whatever defines a World War as against any others might be open to debate, but this one factor says it all for me. They came here from every continent (well, OK, perhaps not Antarctica) often never to return. Without them we would have been the weaker, in a conflict that was always a close run thing.

Your list of crew members reminds me that the bomber crews were formed up at OTU. They chose each other without any official input. They were ushered into a hangar and told to organise themselves into crews. This crew would have done just that at 21 OTU, RAF Moreton-in-Marsh. Wikki tells us that two of the instructors there were one "Stinker" Richard Murdoch and Kenneth Horne. The BBC show Much Binding in the Marsh supposedly owes its name to that RAF station :-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Moreton-in-Marsh
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Old 25th Jul 2019, 00:27
  #12665 (permalink)  
 
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Ok, here we are again. Been digging deeper, and here's some answers to some of the questions, I think.
re: 2ARC
He's sent to 2 Aircrew Reception Centre (Rabat Sale, Morocco) Mediterranean Allied Air Forces wef 8/5/44, and the very next day he is at 1 BPD Hussein and Fort de l'Eau (Algeria). A quick turnaround indeed,
Whilst browsing the '1 BPD' files, I noticed the following page and reference, the opening of the 'Airmens Rest Camp' as part of the 1 BPD. Do you think this is '2ARC' ?



Re the why the reduction in rank in 1942, he was Court Marshalled in 28 January 1942, for 'low flying' , punishment 'severe reprimand', would it take until July for the busting in rank ? I found the general court listings but haven't found his actual charge sheet yet to see the details. His RAF offence code is given as 39A2B 40, but don't know what that means.

As to my wondering why he was at 9EFTS for almost a year, I can confirm that he was indeed there for that period because in May of 1942 , while at 9EFTS, there is reference to him having 'force landed' at B...... can anyone make out that location ?


EFTS would take approximately 6 weeks, and then they would be awarded their wings, true ? Is it possible that pilots would be retained to carry on teaching at the EFTS ? I thought they went through SFTS before being re-directed to instructing duties.
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Old 25th Jul 2019, 20:58
  #12666 (permalink)  
 
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cyflier, if the Airmen's Rest Camp was indeed at 1BSD (which your pic seems to confirm) then the initials are pure co-incidence. 2ARC was in Morocco and 1BPD was in Algeria. Airmen in this case suggests other ranks, though including SNCOs it seems. Aircrew suggests Officers, Commissioned and Warrant, and SNCOs (Sergeants and above).

As to the CM for Low Flying, was that when he was collecting Giant Mushrooms? Maybe it went to appeal? That would have slowed things up a bit.

The forced landing site seems to have given the person making the entry some trouble, let alone us! It could have been the name of a village, hamlet, or simply a farm! Intrigued about the White, and Black and White Flags. Don't remember those as part of the standard Signal Square. Is that where Black Flag comes from (ie no flying at all due wx)? An FTS thing?
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Old 25th Jul 2019, 22:18
  #12667 (permalink)  
 
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Could the forced landing have been at Bedworth, about 4 1/2 miles Northwest of RAF Ansty (ie 9EFTS)?
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Old 26th Jul 2019, 07:06
  #12668 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by cyflyer View Post
EFTS would take approximately 6 weeks, and then they would be awarded their wings, true ? Is it possible that pilots would be retained to carry on teaching at the EFTS ? I thought they went through SFTS before being re-directed to instructing duties.
Through reading many autobiographies it seemed to usually take somewhere between 6 to 12 months from 'Ab Initio' to being awarded 'wings',but there were always anomalies - there were a few military pilots who never actually did a flying training course but were awarded their wings on the basis of previous experience (early in both WW1 and WW2).

Glad you found out about the Court Martial - I suspected it was a Low Flying CM - anything more serious would probably have precluded eventual commissioning,the reason I suspected a CM was the amount of time he spent as an AC2 after demotion from Sgt.I also originally thought the same as Chugs that it might be related to the mushroom incident ?

edit - looking again at your posts - he was awarded a severe rep from the Jan 1942 CM - was he perhaps Court Martialled again for another flying misdemeanor ?

Last edited by longer ron; 26th Jul 2019 at 07:28.
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Old 26th Jul 2019, 08:02
  #12669 (permalink)  
 
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Just a thought Cyflyer
Was he a member of Cambridge University Air Sqn ?
Using that as a search term - I got this result on Google


Royal Air Force (Volunteer Reserve) Officers 1939-1945 -- C


www.unithistories.com/officers/RAFVR_officers_C01.html

Wireless Operator/Air gunner, 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF .... Son of Charalambous and Haji Maritsa Charalambous, of Nicosia, Cyprus. ...... Mechanical Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge(1938; joined University Air Squadron).



If he was a member of CUAS from 1938 - he could have already been a fairly experienced pilot by sept 1939.
Knowing how google search returns 'work' (in that they sometimes 'jumble' info) - the reference to Wop/AG on 75 NZ Sqn possibly does not refer to Chris,also the reference to Trinity and CUAS may or may not refer to Chris but it would perhaps fit in with his RAF career.Of course none of it is visible when you use the link to RAF Unit Histories so it must be information from a 'cached' page of unit histories.
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Old 27th Jul 2019, 00:11
  #12670 (permalink)  
 
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Could the forced landing have been at Bedworth, about 4 1/2 miles Northwest of RAF Ansty (ie 9EFTS)?
I do believe you may be correct, makes sense, thanks. Even though, they seem to have spelled it as Badworth.

Chugalug2 I'll accept your explanation, its logical. The fact that they wrote Airmens Rest Camp with capitals makes it look like a 'unit'.
As to the CM for Low Flying, was that when he was collecting Giant Mushrooms?
He joined 9EFTS on 15/7/41 and the newspaper clip was published 31/8/41 just 6 weeks later. So the mushroom picking must have happened during those 6 weeks. The court marshal happened on 28/1/42 and the demotion happened on 14/7/42, 6 months later. I thought RAF action was probably swifter than that. The charge would probably been 'unauthorised landing' rather than 'low flying', and would the powers that be, have permitted the newspaper clip if they were going to court marshal him for it ? I found the CM on a summary listing of day to day CM's but I need to find the actual charge sheet for the offence, unless anyone knows what is RAF offence code 39A2B 40.



I'll correct something I said earlier, about the pilots recieving their wings after 6 weeks/after EFTS, thats wrong. I believe it must be after graduating from SFTS that the RAF wings were awarded, and before going to the OTU's. Something that raises questions in the timeline of events. If joining EFTS on 15/7/41, and photographed 6 weeks later (newspaper/mushroom clip on 31/8/41 irrefutable evidence) already wearing his wings, and being at the EFTS more than a year later, what does that suggest ?
longer ron, my train of thought was also swirling around the notion that he may have had previous flying experience, and hence after initial EFTS, be awarded wings and retained to train other EFTS ab-initio students for the next year. That would explain many things.
Mechanical Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge(1938; joined University Air Squadron).
how did you get this connection to him ? Googling 'Cambridge University Air Sqn' doesn't seem to bring up that connection. Any connection there would help explain a few things. His family did mention to me that they 'believed' he was at Cambridge before the war, but I thought they were mistaken because was at 2 Initial Training Wing, which happens to have been at Cambridge.
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Old 27th Jul 2019, 06:09
  #12671 (permalink)  
 
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RAF WWII locations tended to be Stations, Bases, Centres, and Depots. I don't think the RAF used Camp as a location (though possibly the Army did). I think that this Airmen's Rest Camp was simply the proud creation of OC No1 Personnel Base Depot and no doubt maintained his Airmen's morale as indicated in the Unit Diary you illustrated.

Talking of morale, much the same can be said of the 'story' and picture of an RAF Sgt Pilot and his Giant Mushroom. This was straight out of the RAF PR Department, who probably provided the mushroom as well! It got the RAF into the newspapers, promoting both it and civilian morale. It also shows a volunteer from the Empire who has answered the call to arms. Tick! Tick! What it tells us is that at that date this was a fully qualified RAF pilot, witness Wings and Sergeant's Chevrons. If he was at an EFTS then he must have been an instructor there (unless of course his tunic was also part of the props, along with the mushroom). I rather doubt that. There were hundreds of thousands of fully qualified RAF pilots, why invent one?

If he started the war as a fully qualified RAFVR pilot, as suggested by Ron, would that account for it? Would he still have to go through basic training as an AC2/LAC? Don't know, Danny would have!
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Old 27th Jul 2019, 08:22
  #12672 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by cyflyer View Post
longer ron, my train of thought was also swirling around the notion that he may have had previous flying experience, and hence after initial EFTS, be awarded wings and retained to train other EFTS ab-initio students for the next year. That would explain many things.
how did you get this connection to him ? Googling 'Cambridge University Air Sqn' doesn't seem to bring up that connection. Any connection there would help explain a few things. His family did mention to me that they 'believed' he was at Cambridge before the war, but I thought they were mistaken because was at 2 Initial Training Wing, which happens to have been at Cambridge.
I just used this search term in google - Charalambous cambridge university air squadron

Which brought up this result (as in my previous post)

Wireless Operator/Air gunner, 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF .... Son of Charalambous and Haji Maritsa Charalambous, of Nicosia, Cyprus. ...... Mechanical Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge(1938; joined University Air Squadron).
The trouble is - the way google search works - the reference to 75Sqn and Trinity College are not necessarily related to Chris - they may or may not be as this sort of google result (especially with dotted lines in between sentences) can mix up different entries/cached data.
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Old 27th Jul 2019, 10:04
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Ok longer ron, found it., thanks. The web page on RAFVR pilots, the 'Mechanical Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge(1938; joined University Air Squadron).' refers to one of the other pilots on that page, .... unfortunately.
Chugalug2, so agree with everything you said. But, we need to join the dots, and show the logical progression on paper. I have to try and find the court marshal charge sheet to see the details of that CM. (PS how were those books ?)
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Old 27th Jul 2019, 20:44
  #12674 (permalink)  
 
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Indeed cyflyer, but quite a bit has been unravelled already, hasn't it? The trick is to try putting oneself back with Chris Charalambous in those hectic times. The more dangerous they were the more one lived each day to the full. I imagine that Courts Martial of the kind he faced were ten a penny, as the authorities frantically tried to keep the lid on a pot that was always on the verge of boiling over. At the end of the day if you faced the enemy and did your duty no-one on a low flying rap was going to suffer the effects for long. It is even possible that his sentence was carried out only after his flying training duties were completed in full. There is a war on you know!

The books are patiently awaiting my attention, thanks. Unfortunately so are our Grandchildren and a Wedding, which Mrs C says have priority.

Don't worry, the books are on the Kindle and next in line. Thanks again!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 27th Jul 2019 at 20:55.
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Old 27th Jul 2019, 23:37
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Well, after a day of pulling files and wading through much paperwork at the archives, some knowledge was achieved, progress ! The low flying happened on 30/11/41, court marshall on 28/1/42. Yes, he was an instructor ! He was charged with flying at 100ft over Rugby, with his student. The charge sheet suspected complicity between the instructor and the student, doesn't say what happened to the student. "whilst carrying out the duties of flying instructor to LAC Hughes in Tiger Moth XXXX, permitted the said LAC to fly at an altitude of 100ft". Punishment 'severe reprimand', and rank reduction 6 months later. I believe he retained his rank of Sgt, because he was an instructor, and technically you cannot have an LAC as a flying Instructor, and was busted in rank later on. Importantly, it confirms he was instructing and hence why at EFTS for a year, as per suspicions. It means he must have been flying before the war, probably, but not proven, at Cambridge University Air Squadron. The CUAS files do not list student flyers, and there's no way of confirming if someone did attend Cambridge University.

It was amusing reading through some of the other wartime courts marshals. There's enough material there for someone to write a book on wartime CM's, loads of low flying courts marshals, and the one that impressed me the most was five airmen from one OTU that were charged, two with flying their Spitfire under the Severn Railway bridge, and the other three for low flying their Magisters over Bornmouth Square ! That OTU had a decipline problem (they were all RAAF and RCAF).

Also, with regards to the crew he was killed with, they were not the original crew he started out with. The Danish/Sth African Hoyer was only on the crew that one time. Before him, for all the other missions it was F/O J Trigg and Sgt Knight was preceded by F/O D Bromwich. Would like to contact any family of any of those for possible photos of the crew.

Lt Kaj Hoyer (danish) SAAF - Navigator
F/O Edward Martin - Bomb Aimer
F/O Earnest Shepherd - wireless operator
Sgt James Alfred Knight - gunner

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Old 29th Jul 2019, 09:37
  #12676 (permalink)  
 
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I am slightly perplexed at the subject of this thread which started as a description of gaining a ww2 brevet some 600 + pages, and a few years, ago, but seems to be a general ww2 subject now,
Welcome to our virtual crewroom, Cyflyer! I read your post on return from holidays. This forum has taken so many twists and turns over the years that its theme became blurred as the original contributors carried their stories into the post-war years and as one of the Mods have said it became a living history of RAF aviation. Sadly our WW2 contributors have made their last takeoffs but their stories remain as a tribute to those who gave so much and a rich source of information, as you have seen. Good luck with the rest of your quest.

Our last much-loved contributor was the wonderful, witty and eloquent Danny 42C who passed away late last year. His tales of training in Florida, operating the Vultee Vengeance dive-bomber in Burma, and post-war RAF life as pilot and ATCO kept us spellbound for seven years. In fact they were so absorbing that they have been published as two e-books, In with a Vengeance and Danny and the Cold War. If you or anyone else would like copies send me your email address via PM -- PPRuNe does not handle attachments. All we and the late Danny ask in return is a contribution to the RAF Benevolent Fund.
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Old 30th Jul 2019, 12:21
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Air University Book Review



https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/ASP...training-at-m/
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Old 31st Jul 2019, 10:15
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cflyer, good sleuthing, well done! The known unknown here is when did he gain his wings, and where? Danny informed us that it was general practice for the best performing students to become instructors, having gained their own wings. I wonder if that was the case here? Having blotted his copybook and done his penance, he moves onto OTU (as deemed to be a bad influence on student pilots?), gets a crew, and goes to war...

I'm sure that most crews had individual members coming and going, due to medical, personal, or a hundred other reasons. The fact remains though that for better or worse having selected one another on the most spurious and random basis, Bomber Crews lived or died together thereafter. But just as others stepped in to fill the voids, so crew members could temporarily do the same for other crews, including the pilots.

Geriaviator, welcome back from the hols. Hope you enjoyed them! Educated as we all are now in the arcane practices of the wartime RAF thanks to Danny, it is fascinating to see it come to life in the unrolling story of this Greek Cypriot RAF pilot. The exceptions to rules are the most fascinating aspects to my mind. The essential dynamic was to recruit, train, and put into the fray ever more replacements for the toll among operational aircrews. At the same time discipline and morale (opposite sides of the same coin?) had to be maintained. All illustrated in cyflyer's informative posts.

Vzlet, thanks for the link. The vital part played by the USA in the training of Allied aircrew was front and centre of Danny42C's story on this very thread. Thank you for posting a link to one part of that enormous contribution. It paved a 'Special Relationship' between our respective Armed Forces that pertains to this day, no matter the vicissitudes of political comings and goings.
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Old 6th Aug 2019, 14:49
  #12679 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by cyflyer View Post
I believe he retained his rank of Sgt, because he was an instructor, and technically you cannot have an LAC as a flying Instructor, and was busted in rank later on. Importantly, it confirms he was instructing and hence why at EFTS for a year, as per suspicions. It means he must have been flying before the war, probably, but not proven, at Cambridge University Air Squadron. The CUAS files do not list student flyers, and there's no way of confirming if someone did attend Cambridge University.
Well done on confirming the Court Martial Cyflyer !
I would have thought it likely that any pre war service with either CUAS or RAFVR would have been noted on his service record (although I must admit that I do not know for sure ) but as I have alluded to in a previous post - there were less orthodox ways of getting 'Wings' in the early stages of both World Wars.One scenario might be that (say) if a prewar pilot was a civvy QFI then the RAF in 1939/early 1940 might well have given the civvy QFI his 'Wings' on the proviso that he was restricted to elementary flying instruction - any other/further role would then require SFTS etc.

If anybody thinks that is an unlikely scenario then I would mention R A Carter.

Carter went solo in june 1935 at Cambridge and I suspect by 1939 had still not amassed a huge number of hours (lack of money) - anyway he arrived at No2 CPF (Coastal Patrol Flight) Abbotsinch in Dec 1939 attired in Plus Fours and a Pork Pie Hat without uniform (so obviously had not even been through ITW or any other service training) and another pilot kindly sewed his wings and chevrons onto his brand new uniform for him.The CO (P/O Tillet) said ''Whatever have they sent me now - a pilot without wings ? ''.Nevertheless - one check flight and Carter was off on his own for some 'sector recces' and then onto 'Scarecrow Patrols' off the West Coast of scotland - the winter of 39/40 was quite severe so not a pleasant few months.
Carter survived the war and went to South Africa - there was a R A Carter commissioned into the RAF Regiment later in the war but not sure if the same gentleman.
(some details in The Tiger Moth Story by Bramson and Birch)

In WW1 - Frank T Courtney joined the RFC as an AM2 (Air Mechanic 2nd class - equivalent to A/C Plonk in the RAF) and volunteered to instruct (there was a critical shortage of instructors at that time) on the strength of his apprenticeship at the Grahame-White Aircraft Company in 1913 and attaining his civilian pilot's certificate in Aug. 1914 - he was eventually given his 'Wings' whilst still an AM2 (later - Corporal) - eventually he managed to get out to France and fly operationally even though Trenchard was against this idea (FTC wore spectacles),he finished the war as a Captain RFC and later became a well known freelance test pilot.
More details in his excellent autobio Flight Path - some great stories in there - including test flying Cierva Autogyros.
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Old 6th Aug 2019, 14:54
  #12680 (permalink)  
 
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I have just had a look at P/O Tillet and found this on the Battle of Britain Monument website - sadly he did not survive the war.

F/O J Tillett



James Tillett was the adopted son of Maud Reynolds of Courteenhall, Northamptonshire. He entered RAF Cranwell College as a Cadet in September 1937.

The College's list of graduates records that he was of St Lawrence's College, Ramsgate, and was a Flight Cadet Sergeant, his sports being athletics, cross country and hockey. He graduated from RAF Cranwell and was promoted to Pilot Officer with effect from 29th July 1939.

He joined 52 Squadron at Upwood on 4th August 1939, flying Fairey Battles. He was serving with 2 Coastal Patrol Flight from December 1939 to April 1940.

By August 1940 Tillett was serving with 12 Squadron at Eastchurch, again flying Battles. His first operational sortie was attacking shipping in Boulogne harbour at nightfall on 18th August. Tillett returned to base with a faulty aircraft.

His next sortie was on the night of 19th/20th August, again attacking shipping at Boulogne. Again his aircraft gave trouble and he returned with a faulty magneto and a leaking fuel tank.

Tillett’s third and last operation with 12 Squadron was an attack on ‘E’ Boats in Boulogne harbour at first light. It was a successful sortie.

He must have volunteered for Fighter Command as on the 7th September he was posted to 238 Squadron at St. Eval. He was shot down and killed, possibly by Major Helmut Wick, on 6th November 1940, his Hurricane V6814 coming down at Park Gate, Fareham.

Tillett is buried in Ann’s Hill Cemetery, Gosport.
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