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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 6th Aug 2019, 18:21
  #12681 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
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I've just checked my course photo when I started training on Provost T1s at Tern Hill.

One of our number was a National Service pilot inasmuch as he was trained to 'wings' standard and then continued with a reserve squadron after his two years. Despite that he was not able to wear wings, possibly on the basis of having to serve six months on a squadron. I had reason to look at his log book and it had a few entries on Harvards after his training.

He had to do Basic and Advanced before he got his wings back again.
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Old 7th Aug 2019, 09:19
  #12682 (permalink)  
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That is strange. When I was a UAS student at the end of the 50s, we had a former National Service pilot and a former National Service navigator as students on the sqn. Both wore their respective flying badges throughout their time as UAS students - and kept their commissions, while we plebs were Cadet Pilots.
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Old 11th Aug 2019, 11:22
  #12683 (permalink)  
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This was posted to Facebook today by Pierre Seillier. It seems this place is where the story belongs.

On this day in 1944, my beloved mate Denis Vaughan "Ned" Kelly celebrated his 21st birthday with his mates of the crew of the Avro Lancaster PO-F, N°467 Squadron RAAF, in occupied France, hidden by French resistants. He is my hero, my Aussie Grand Pa, I love him. Today Denis turn 96,

Denis Vaughan « Ned » Kelly’s story
Denis Kelly was already married with an infant son when he joined the Air Force at 19, wanting to be a fighter pilot. A lack of depth perception discovered at Initial Training School in Victor Harbour saw him chosen instead for wireless training, which he completed at Ballarat. He sailed to war via the USA (including an unauthorised couple of days in New York), did some more flying at Llandwrog in north-west Wales and crewed up at RAF Lichfield with an Australian pilot named Tom Davis.
Posted to 467 Squadron at Waddington, Denis and his crew began flying operations in late April 1944. They were on many of the same trips as the crew of B for Baker, including Mailly-le-Camp on 3 May (though not the fateful Lille raid a week later), two missions over the village of Saint-Pierre-du-Mont, in Normandy ( the famous Pointe du Hoc) were the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions of Lieutenant Colonel James Earl Rudder lande). Life on operations was a continual strain, broken only by wild parties in the Mess or short periods of leave. Denis was convinced that with each trip, his supply of luck was steadily being used up. “Every op you completed brought you one closer to the one that would get you.”
On 18 July 1944 the crew attacked Revigny, in France. Close to the end of their tour, this one would indeed turn out to be the one that got them. “We had dropped our bombs,” Denis recalled, “and we’d just turned round and [were] making for home and then BANG, we were hit.” His radios exploded as the aircraft started to burn. The pilot yelled to bale out. Denis immediately clipped on his parachute and went down to the door at the back of the aircraft, pulling on the mid-upper gunner’s legs as he went past to signal that he was about to go. He opened the doors to the rear turret to help the 19-year-old gunner inside to escape, to be confronted by a shocking sight.
“His head was… well, he was dead.”
Denis’ parachute pack and battledress was beginning to smoulder by this time, and the pilot was still yelling to get out.
“So I went to step out – and then I remembered, never step out of a Lanc, you gotta dive.”
Denis dived.
“Next thing I know, I was falling, I was smoking, so I pulled the ripcord at the exact second I hit the ground.”
The impact caused him severe injuries: he later discovered that it had compacted his legs and spine so much that he was a full three inches shorter afterwards. “I thought I broke my spine,” he said. More immediately, his legs simply refused to work.
Denis dragged himself painfully over to a nearby tree. “I thought, ‘my wife’s not going to know I’m here, she’ll think I’m dead. She’ll get the telegram, I can’t do anything about it…’”
Two other members of his crew had landed nearby, and all three held a council of war to decide what to do next. Unable to walk, Denis decided he would be a liability and convinced the others to go on without him. They left – and Denis began a courageous attempt to crawl his way across France. “It was marshy ground, fortunately,” he said.
For the next two days, Denis dragged himself laboriously along on his elbows, moving about “50 yards every three hours.” At one point he slithered into a canal and swam, until he came to a bridge that had German guards on it. In the water he beat a cautious retreat. Getting out of the canal was difficult without the use of his legs, but after several attempts he managed and continued on his slow, determined but excruciating way. He came to a road, started crawling across it – and mercifully passed out.
Evidently deciding he was safe enough, Denis’ mind simply shut his body down. “The Harley St people said it was mind over matter, [my] mind said ‘you’re safe there,’ so…” The next thing he knew, he was being prodded by the boot of a curious French civilian. Lying there, Denis croaked the only French he knew: “Je suis Anglais parachutist – soif.” – “I am an English parachutist – thirsty.” The Frenchman produced a full bottle of beer, and Denis gulped the lot. Then the Frenchman rolled Denis into the ditch at the side of the road – and left him there.
“I thought, I’m done, I can’t get out of this ditch, I’m gunna die here. And that was frightening.”
After Denis spent a terrible day in the ditch thinking the worst, that night the Frenchman returned. He brought with him two others, some spare civilian clothes and a bicycle. Dressing Denis in the clothes, they propped him up on the bicycle, legs hanging below, and took him just a little further downstream from where Denis had scrabbled out of the canal to the house of a lock-keeper named Victor.
Denis stayed here for several weeks while his immediate injuries healed and while he figured out how to walk again. At one point he was taken to see two other members of his crew, in another safe house nearby. This happened to be on Denis’ 21st birthday. Unbelievably, when Denis informed one of the Frenchmen of that fact he produced a bottle of Moet champagne, and all present enjoyed a glass.
After leaving Victor’s care, Denis was hidden, guarded by a gigantic and fierce dog, in the locked room of an unknown house, and later in the attic of a hospital. A little later Denis was picked up again, by a pair of Resistance fighters driving a car fuelled by a charcoal-burning contraption bolted to the back of it. They informed him that a British aeroplane was coming to pick him up that night, and that they were taking him to the landing ground. But on the way there, they saw an identical little car being towed by some German soldiers. The Frenchmen, recognising the car as belonging to one of their comrades, panicked. Clearly the operation had been compromised. The car stopped, the Frenchmen jumped out and urgently knocked on the door of the nearest house, and Denis was unceremoniously pushed inside. (Denis was later told that a British aircraft did indeed land to pick up a whole bunch of evaders, and that the Germans waited until it was loaded and had taken off before shooting it down in cold blood.)
Denis’ new host was not enamoured with the idea of involuntarily sheltering an Allied airman, and by the third day, despite not sharing a common language, he made it clear that he was not welcome. So Denis left.
He was now alone in occupied France.
For the next little while (he isn’t certain how long), Denis wandered between farmhouses scrounging for food. It was at one of these places that he met an American airman, a Thunderbolt pilot who he knew only as ‘Tex’ who had been shot down some nine months previously. They decided to join forces. For a while all was ok, but scrounging sufficient food for two was even harder than it had been when they were on their own. As they got hungrier they started to take more risks, and one day it all came unstuck.
They were in a café and the plan was for Tex to cause a distraction at the counter while Denis pinched a loaf of bread. Unfortunately, two German soldiers walked in at the exact moment that Tex began talking, in his broad Texan accent, to the girl behind the counter. The game was up. The two unfortunate airmen were handcuffed and taken away.
Interrogated half-heartedly by an elderly German soldier who reminded him of a nice old school teacher, Denis was informed that as they had been caught in civilian clothes it was being presumed that they were spies. They were to be taken to Berlin for further interrogation by the Gestapo. “I’d visions of my fingernails being pulled out,” Denis said with a shudder. Sure enough, the next night Denis and Tex were taken to the station, handcuffed together, and were on the point of being bundled onto the train when one of their two guards ducked around the corner to answer a call of nature.
“Tex looked at me,” Denis recalled. “He didn’t say anything but I knew he was going to [do something].” Denis watched wide-eyed as Tex kicked the remaining guard in the groin, stole his gun and shot him in the head. Predictably the other guard then stuck his head around the corner to see what the fuss was about, and Tex shot him too. And then, still handcuffed together, the two airmen ran. Amazingly they were not chased. They spent the next few nights in several barns until they managed to convince one of the farmers to remove their handcuffs with a cold chisel.
Despite their shared perils, however, Denis and Tex went their separate ways shortly afterwards. And here’s where Denis’ story gets truly bizarre. He was just outside a forest one day, foraging for food, when he heard some tanks approaching. So he high-tailed it into the forest and up a tree – then watched in horror as the tanks, which were German, stopped and proceeded to set up their own camp directly underneath his tree.
They stayed there for four days.
For all of that time, Denis remained in the tree, having used a piece of his parachute which he had been carrying to tie himself to the branch so he could sleep. He sucked the dew off the leaves to survive. The hardest part, he told me, was smelling the aromas when the troops were cooking their rations. The tanks eventually packed up camp and left – and not once had anyone looked up.
Denis crawled down from his tree, very stiff, very sore, very hungry and very thirsty. He had a drink from a nearby stream and, stumbling across a calf, hacked a piece of flesh out of the unfortunate beast’s side. Suddenly beset by terrible stomach cramps from the unaccustomed nutrition, he drifted into an uneasy sleep just outside the forest. He awoke the next night to the sound of a big aeroplane circling very low nearby.
It was a lone Shorts Stirling bomber, and it dropped something big on the end of a parachute. Denis watched as the parachute descended and was making his way over to investigate when suddenly he heard a deep, threatening and unmistakably British voice. “You German bastard,” it growled, “you stop where you are!” Denis turned around, very slowly, to find a mean-looking soldier levelling an equally mean-looking submachine gun in his direction.
“I’m not a German,” Denis squeaked. “I’m an Aussie!”
It turned out that he had blundered into a small platoon of SAS commandos, operating from a well-hidden base behind the lines. The Stirling had been dropping them a Jeep. Denis would stay with the commandos for several days. At one point while they were out on an operation he snuck into their camp, found their radio and tapped out a desperate message to England. “They never answered and I never knew if it had been received,” he told me, “but I found out later from my wife that the federal police came to her [at home] and told her that I was safe at that time, but still behind enemy lines.”
Some time afterwards the commandos handed Denis back to the Resistance who placed him in yet another safe house – where he found Tex and several of his own crew waiting. Knowing that the fighting front was getting closer, the French were collecting their fugitive airmen in one place to wait for liberation.
It was not long coming. “We heard guns,” Denis recalled, “and thought, that’s real firing. So we went up the road, and it was General Patton’s mob, so we waved them down.”
Once they had convinced the Americans that they were Allied airmen who had been in hiding, the Yanks invited them into their tanks, and Denis had the surreal experience of standing in the gun turret, being handed bottles of wine from the grateful inhabitants of several villages as they were liberated.
Denis was sent back to Paris and eventually flown back to England in early September 1944. He had been on the run behind enemy lines for nearly three months. He eventually returned to Australia and his family.
Perhaps unsurprisingly after his experiences, Denis is still coping with the effects of his war. He still occasionally suffers nightmares – “it’s horrifying how realistic it is” – and he said he’d told me things during the interview that he never told his wife (who died about fifteen years ago). It’s clearly hard for him to talk about. But a decade or so ago, his son sat him down and said, “look Dad, you’ve got grandchildren and great grandchildren now – you should leave your story.”
And so Denis wrote. Only ten copies of the resulting manuscript were ever printed. The book includes his whole story, from enlistment to demob and beyond, and it’s uncompromising in its detail. It’s in need of a good edit but its raw honesty, and the astonishing story it tells, makes it one of the more remarkable aircrew memoirs that I’ve read.
As well as setting the incredible tale onto paper, the act of writing the book, I suspect, helped Denis to in some way cope with the demons he’s carried for so long. But something else helped too. There’s a photo on Denis’ wall of him with his son at the Bomber Command memorial in London. It was taken in 2014 when they went on a pilgrimage to Europe.
As well as England, they went across the Channel to France. They visited the lock keeper’s house where Denis had been hidden. They attended receptions in town halls with ceremonies and local dignitaries. They even found a woman who, as a young girl, had been present at the impromptu party when Denis celebrated his 21st birthday behind enemy lines. But most important of all, they visited two lone war graves in two separate churchyards: those of rear gunner Sgt Col Allen and pilot P/O Tom Davis, the two members of Denis’ crew who did not survive the crash.
Standing next to the grave of his brave pilot, Denis broke down in tears. “I bless all of you for coming here today in memory of my comrade,” he told the gathering of local townsfolk. “But also a very important agenda on my plate today is to say thank you, thank you, thank you.”
During Denis'pilgrimage in 2014 I was during all the week with him and his son Dennis Junior, followed by a team of ABC Australia;


In 2015 Denis was awarded French Legion d'Honneur by French Government for his contribution in the liberation of France during WW2.
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Old 11th Aug 2019, 16:29
  #12684 (permalink)  
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Awesome personal courage ... and luck! Thanks for posting that ... another unsung true hero.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 09:51
  #12685 (permalink)  
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Flt Lt Elwyn David Bell ; 6 FTS/110 Squadron/1 FTS , RIP 2 March 1971

I am posting here on the suggestion of Geriaviator and would like to draw PPRuNer's to a thread about Elwyn already running in the 'Where are They Now' section , see here ;
Flt Lt Elwyn David Bell .
If anyone can help or as ever know someone who can then please get in touch .
Thank you
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 10:43
  #12686 (permalink)  
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A dust-producing video there, Ricardian
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 16:47
  #12687 (permalink)  
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Not a pilot’s story but very deserving of a wider audience - Wally’s War.


The story of Wally Layne during WWII. The blog details his training as a WOP/AG, his operations on Hampdens and Lancasters and his time as a POW. I found his experiences as a POW fascinating, particularly the stories of forced marches, as camps were evacuated ahead of the advancing Russians.

Posted with permission from his son, David.
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Old 12th Aug 2019, 17:39
  #12688 (permalink)  
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Many thanks for posting my blog India Four Two. I would appreciate any suggestions, corrections and hopefully more information.
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Old 9th Sep 2019, 14:43
  #12689 (permalink)  
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Me thinks it's a shame if this forum subject falters when, inevitably, the very old initiators pass on, because I believe there's stuff out there that their children, grandchildren or other relations have knowledge about which they could write.
It would be a tribute - if ephemeral - to all those grand fellows,
This 'thread' now needs your contributions.

For my part all I can offer is that last week at 82 and thanks to them all clearing the way 1939/45, I flew solo unmolested by enemy fighters or flack from a grass strip in UK Sussex to mid Chauvigny France and a few days later back at a sedate 78 1/2 mph.

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Old 11th Sep 2019, 16:57
  #12690 (permalink)  
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Another great story on the way!

Congratulations on your epic journey, Mike! Your four years' seniority makes your achievement all the more commendable. It's a long time since I flew my favourite Tiger Moth, it was just like riding a bike after 25 years but the traffic and the vast expansion of controlled airspace was something else. Alas my over-enthusiastic pull into a loop led to hydraulic failure. For the youngsters, the Tiger Moth does not have a hydraulic system; the exact problem you will understand in another 30/40 years when we're long gone!

This thread has indeed run its course, as we always expected, for very few of that wonderful generation remain. It was our privilege to hear their stories in these pages. However, as you suggest there are still stories out there, and I have come across one of these in the course of family research. So here goes:

What's the connection between the Emperor Napoleon imprisoned on St Helena, South Australia, and Operation Jericho, the Mosquito attack on Amiens Prison? Watch this space!
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 10:24
  #12691 (permalink)  
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With bated pen !
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 07:58
  #12692 (permalink)  
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Leaving school at 13, a young Australian learns to fly

OPERATION Jericho was one of the most spectacular operations of the war. Three squadrons of Mosquito bombers carried out a low-level attack on Amiens prison, blowing down the walls and enabling Resistance prisoners to escape. This is the inspiring story of one of the pilots, Sqn Ldr Ian McRitchie, DFC, Royal Australian Air Force, as told to me by his daughter Anne in Australia.

Around 1800 a young Scotsman called Thomas McRitchie left his wine business in Leith, the port of Edinburgh, to become a merchant in St. Helena, the island in the South Atlantic. Today it is isolated but it was then a very busy supply stop for sailing ships which would follow the trade winds around the world, the journey from London taking a year or more.

Its best-known if unwilling resident was Napoleon Bonaparte, exiled there after the battle of Waterloo, and Thomas’s name appears on a list of those suspected of smuggling letters for Napoleon during his exile. A century later the McRitchies had emigrated to Australia, where Alexander Ian McRitchie was born in Melbourne on 16 June 1915.

Ian, as he was known, was educated at St Kilda College and South Melbourne Technical School. When his father, a stonemason, died in 1926 at the age of 62, the 13-year-old boy had to start work to help support his widowed mother and brother. He continued his studies at night school and in 1935 he gained an engineering cadetship with BHP. Between 1935 and 1940 he worked as a metallurgist at Newcastle (New South Wales) and Whyalla in South Australia.

In 1936 he was placed in charge of the Heat Treatment Plant at Whyalla, supervising the controlled heating and cooling operations used to change the physical properties of a metal to improve its structural and physical properties for some particular use.

It was in Whyalla, a remote part of Australia blessed with clear blue skies day after day, that Ian began what was to become his lifetime hobby – flying. He was so determined to fly that he purchased a second hand book on flying for one shilling and after studying it he entered a competition and won free flying lessons! He was the first person to obtain a pilot’s licence with the Spencer Gulf Aero Club in 1937 and by 1939 he was chief flying instructor of the Club.

But meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the clouds were gathering ...
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 09:25
  #12693 (permalink)  
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Given that Operation names were not supposed to give any hint of their intended purpose, I have always wondered about Jericho. Could not German Intelligence have put two and two together and looked around their estate for walls that might be possible targets? Of course it might have been a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick that the last thing they should worry about were walls, given the deviousness of the Brits!

Looking forward to your tale, Geriaviator. The Empire and Dominion volunteers that flew with the RAF were an essential part of the hard fought victories over European Fascism and Japanese Nationalism.
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 18:00
  #12694 (permalink)  
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This is beginning well !

Thanks for entering the start of an apposite WW II exploit here.
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 22:16
  #12695 (permalink)  
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As a “newly winged “ RAF pilot expecting to fly Spitfires or Mustangs, because of the casualties suffered by the Glider Pilot Regiment on the 17th September 1945 and the following week, I became a voluntary conscript in the Glider Pilot Regiment. On the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden I would like to acknowledge those who died. at Arnhem and the survivors who trained us for the Rhine Crossing on the 24th March 1945.

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Old 17th Sep 2019, 08:34
  #12696 (permalink)  
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Thank you for the reminder - such brave men.
We had an ex-Glider Pilot regiment man in the control tower at Boscombe in the mid 80s, John Leatherbarrow ( now sadly RIP ) who had previously been at Pershore until it closed. I saw him again after he retired when he was in a group ( Aircrew Association? ) who visited the tower at Heathrow in the 90s.Top man.
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Old 17th Sep 2019, 09:49
  #12697 (permalink)  
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My Valiant captain, Fred Jones, started his flying career with the Glider Pilot Regiment at the end of the War. After his demob in1947 he joined the RAF and became a powered pilot.

He departed this world earlier this year.
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Old 19th Sep 2019, 19:02
  #12698 (permalink)  
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From engineroom greaser to Defiant night fighter pilot

WHEN World War II began Ian McRitchie expected to be called up for the RAAF but the authorities had other plans – they wanted Ian, a skilled metallurgist, for the vital tasks of steel-making and heat treatment. As the Germans raced across Europe he made repeated requests to go to England to join the RAF but as he was in a reserved occupation in Australia his requests were refused.

Thanks to his friend Captain J Maitland Thompson, harbour master for Port Lincoln south of Whyalla, he boarded a ship for England as a greaser in the engine room, paid threepence a week plus his keep, that’s 1.5p in today’s money if we still had halfpennies. He arrived in Bristol in October 1940 after a ten-week voyage which earned him 30p (or 12.5p today) and as an illegal immigrant he was promptly detained at His Majesty’s pleasure. Subsequently and fortunately for Ian, the RAAF’s Directorate of Air Force Recruiting gave approval.

But the Battle of Britain was on, the blitz on London was fierce and anyone arriving in the country with instruction experience and a commercial pilot’s licence would be welcome. In November Ian was granted a pilot officer’s commission in the RAF and was posted to 151 Squadron, operating Hurricanes and Defiants in the night fighter role from Wittering.

The Merlin-engined Boulton Paul Defiant has a mixed reputation because of its terrible losses when used as a day fighter earlier in 1940, though most accounts say it was pleasant to fly albeit no great performer due to the weight of the turret. It was designed to Air Ministry requirements as a bomber destroyer with a four-gun turret behind the pilot but no forward-firing armament. The gunner could turn his turret so that the guns could fire along each side of the pilot while the enemy presumably refrained from attacking round the back.

The Defiant resembled the hump-backed Hurricane and some Luftwaffe pilots made the mistake of attacking what appeared to be a novice pilot stooging along straight and level, or of passing alongside to be hit broadside by the gunner. But they soon discovered the Defiant’s weakness and attacked head-on; over Dunkirk the German Me110 pilots were overheard saying “Easy meat” as the luckless Defiants were blown out of the sky. With losses up to 80% the Defiants were withdrawn from day operations.

Ian was given a few months of advanced training before he began operations in June 1941, by which time the night Blitz had reached its heights. Airborne radar was still being developed and had a very short range so the fighters were given steers by ground stations, one method involving a radar-equipped Douglas Havoc using its Turbinlite searchlight to illuminate the target so the accompanying fighter could attack.

On the evening of October 31 Ian and his gunner, F/Officer Sammy Sampson, attacked four Ju88 bombers east of Great Yarmouth. Sammy shot one down while the others jettisoned their bombs and turned for Holland, pursued by the Defiant. They managed to catch up with one and and began a 15-minute battle in which Sammy scored numerous hits before his guns jammed. The Ju88 pilot obviously knew the Defiant’s weakness, for he turned to make a head-on attack which Ian successfully evaded by diving to sea level while Sammy struggled to clear his guns.

With the turret in operation again, Ian chased the bomber almost to the Dutch coast before they could make another attack, Sammy’s four-second burst being seen to strike all over the Junkers. Only then did Ian break away and return to Wittering to claim one destroyed and one damaged.

Luftwaffe activity decreased as winter drew in and weather deteriorated, but Ian and gunner Sgt Albert Beale destroyed another Ju88 which was trying to attack a convoy off Great Yarmouth. This was 151 Sqn’s only kill for November, but at long last airborne radar was improving and even better, so were the aircraft. As a New Year dawned, 151 Sqn was told they were to re-equip with Mosquitos.
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Old 23rd Sep 2019, 06:00
  #12699 (permalink)  
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On Friday, one of the last living Czech RAF pilots Kurt Taussig passed away in the age of 96 years.

In fact he was of German/Jewish origin from Sudetenland who was arrested in 1939, escaped as a one of Nicholas Winton's children and fought in RAF against Hitler. Served in 224th Squadron and wanted to join Czechoslovak unit but wasn't admitted due his German nationality.

Rest in peace, sir.

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Old 23rd Sep 2019, 06:37
  #12700 (permalink)  
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As I once wrote:

A couple of years after the Velvet Revolution, we took a VC10K to Hradec Kralove in the Czech Republic for a static display. On the first public day, we noticed a number of elderly gents in rather ancient RAF uniforms sitting in a VIP enclosure. They waved us over and we found out that they were survivors of WW2 who'd escaped to Britain to fly against the Nazis. Fascinating old chaps; whilst we were chatting a youngish fellow in a civilian suit asked us if we'd like a drink from the amply stocked bar. Of course we did, then asked one of the old chaps who he was "Him? Top Boss of Czech Air Force. Good guy!" he told us. The old chaps had many interesting tales to tell, but we had to say our thanks and get back to our aircraft.

There was an amazing hangar party afterwards - the invitation card from the Commander-in-Chief of the Czech Air Force stated that there would be food and drink, folk dancing, a beauty competition...and a striptease show! All of which happened, although some Victor groundcrew idiot insisted on using a squadron patch to demonstrate the velcro effect... The girl smiled sweetly though.

I can just see The Sun headlines if the same thing had happened in the UK and Air Chief Marshal Sir Hardly-Worthitt had issued visiting aircrew and groundcrew with an invite to a strip show....
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