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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 8th Dec 2009, 14:59
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Your Dad will be referring to the green phosphorescent glow in the ferry's wake. Quite stunning between Penang and Butterworth. I've got the T Shirt
A fantastic sight. I saw the same thing when 'steaming' out of the River Ribble one very dark night . 'Me mate' said the organism was called Noctiluca.
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Old 8th Dec 2009, 19:49
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WOP/AG Peter Jensen. Instalment 17

It was sad experience to leave the squadron which had been my home for only 20 months, but which had delivered such experiences as I would never have thought possible, to still be alive when so many others had not been so lucky - (some on their first patrol!) – seemed somehow unfair. But you closed your mind and wondered if you would be next. My recollections of the long lonely patrols gradually faded, to be replaced by the photographic-like memories of sudden unexpected events, like once, we came upon a windjammer in full sail! We went down for a good look – it was obviously old and in poor condition. The sails were yellow and patched and it had an air of sadness about it. We took photos, and when we reported it, the Intelligence people were surprised and intrigued. Nobody else had seen it!

I often wondered who it was. Where from? Where to? Could it have been the Flying Dutchman - or Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner? (Pull yourself together!!)

Another time, on the infamous T3 patrol, we were doing a coast crawl up the coast of Spain. We were three miles out from the coast in accordance with international law. I was in the nose turret doing my search for U-boats and aircraft, (knowing that the Spaniards would be reporting everything to the Germans), and I noticed that ahead was a neck of land sticking out from the coast perhaps half a mile or so. Naturally, I expected us to follow the coastline out to sea, but to my surprise, we kept course and cut across the invisible line, putting us within the three mile limit. When we had progressed for a short distance, I heard the first pilot (then Jimmy Leigh), who had been scanning the coast with binoculars, say over the intercom to Dudley: “There’s a great big gun on that point – and it’s pointed at us.”

How funny. What a joke, pointing a coastal gun at an aircraft!

I swung my turret over to starboard to look in that direction just in time to see a puff of white smoke emanate from the gun’s position, then, to my horror, I saw in the middle of the smoke, a small black dot, and as I watched, the dot gradually became larger and faster as it headed in our direction, then it suddenly flashed past only a few feet ahead and slightly above us. I don’t know if it was my imagination, or did I really hear the ‘swish’ as it passed us?

I had been mesmerised as I watched the shell coming at us, but then, as it passed, I came to life. (I didn’t have my helmet on at the time, but was wearing ear phones with a mouthpiece dangling in front of me.) I frantically groped for the mouthpiece, finally found it, switched it on and yelled: “They’re shooting at us!”

This woke everyone up and the skipper turned out to sea as fast as he could.

I often thought what good shooting that was. Fancy hitting an aircraft with a coastal gun – and how disappointed the gun crew must have been that they had missed.

We continued our patrol, and a few miles north, we passed a Halifax flying south well within the three mile limit. I wonder if they had a shot at him too?

The flight to Alness was uneventful, except that while we were airborne, the weather closed in and we were diverted to Oban, where we were stuck for four days until the weather cleared at Alness. My main recollection of Oban was a notice on the Officers Mess noticeboard which read: ‘The meteorology officer would like to advise all those persons who have inquired that the large yellow object seen in the sky last Tuesday was a natural phenomenon known as ‘the sun’.

We left Oban on 23rd March 1944 and flew up the Caledonian Canal (strictly forbidden, but a lovely scenic flight) and after a 45 minute flight, landed at Alness.

Last edited by Wiley; 1st Feb 2010 at 01:00. Reason: Typos, new info from PJ
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Old 9th Dec 2009, 11:02
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6 B.F.T.S

FROM TODAY'S FACEBOOK ON PAULA'S PAGE. We are still remembered in Ponca City,

Paula K. Denson
Friends of Marland's Grand Home, Ponca City, Oklahoma
Organizations - Non-Profit Organizations
This is a 501-c-3 not for profit group dedicated to the restoration and maintenance of the 1916 home of Ernest Whitworth Marland, also known as E.W. Marland. This oil baron was responsible for finding oil in northern Oklahoma and brought beauty and culture to the prairies of Oklahoma.
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Paula K. Denson
Paula K. Denson Here is my official website for No 6 British Flying Training School. Many men from the UK and other areas trained in my hometown during World War II so if you are interested in military history, you gotta see this site! There is also information there about Ernest Whitworth Marland, tenth governor of Oklahoma, and the... estate he owned in Ponca City during the 20s, 30s, and 40s. It is very entertaining reading. I am proud to say I am the publisher of this book. If you have questions - just ask!
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Paula K. Denson | Ponca Prairie Press
Paula K. Denson | Ponca Prairie Press
The Royal Air Force in Oklahoma: Lives, Loves, and Courage of the British Air Crews Trained in Oklahoma During World War II
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Paula K. Denson
Paula K. Denson
I give credit for the web design to my nephew, Kevin Carmack. Really great at designing! Thanks, Kevin
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And I give credit to Paula for a factual. accurate, and informative description of our life at the Darr School of Aeronautics
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Old 9th Dec 2009, 19:03
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A Spitfire Pilot - continued - Part 21

72 Sqn – May 1942 and a trip to Bentley Priory

In May, the weather got better and better and we were kept quite busy. We did a number of sweeps, here, there and everywhere and after I’d landed from one, feeling a bit shakey, I was told to go and see the doc for a medical, prior to my going up for my commission. So I got on my bike, went across to the hospital, saw the doc and I found that I couldn’t hold my breath long enough to keep the mercury stuck up the tube. So Doc White, who was an awfully nice chap told me that if I put my hand over the tube and held my cheeks in while I was blowing, I could hold the mercury up there for weeks on end. So I did that, and he passed me as absolutely fit and all was well. I could never understand why, if I was flying as a Sergeant Pilot and coping alright, I had to have a medical to prove that I could do the same thing as a Pilot Officer!

I was told to report to Bentley Priory, where Leigh-Mallory would interview me. (Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, was, at that time, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group, Fighter Command, having previously, during the Battle of Britain, commanded 12 Group. He was promoted to Air Chief Marshal and later killed in an air crash in the French Alps in 1944 whilst en route to take up his appointment as Air Officer Commander in Chief. South East Asia Command). I was put in an interview room where I met two or three other chaps that I’d seen before and where I learnt how Pat Lust had been killed when the wing came off his Spitfire. I was shown in to see Leigh-Mallory and stood in front of his desk. He had all the details of my career in front of him and he said,

“Ah, I see you’ve had to use your parachute. Did you come out alright?”

And I said, “Yes, thank you very much”

“And you’ve done 22 sweeps, but haven’t been lucky enough to destroy any German aircraft?”

So I said, “No, so far I’ve done 46 sweeps, got one destroyed, one probable and one damaged”

Anyway, he seemed to think that was alright and I was shown out and went back to Biggin Hill.

Early in May we were given a job of top cover to a wing that was escorting a squadron of bombers to Caen. Now top cover is not a bad job, you’re not as restricted as you are if you are giving close escort where you have to stick with the bombers and make sure nothing comes through. But with top cover, the idea, obviously, is to keep anything off that is likely to come down and there’s normally far more chance of having a shot at something. ‘B’ Flight were a man short and so I was flying with them and being led by Flight Lieutenant Hugo Armstrong, an Australian, and it was always his section that got bounced, wherever we went and this day was no exception. We got jumped by four 190s, somewhere near Le Havre, and they did their usual trick of two coming down followed by a further two and we were going round and round and having shots here and there and it got a bit hairy and eventually I finished up very close to the deck. Having got there the only thing to do was to belt home as fast as possible as there was no future in trying to climb up from the deck to get height again, you were a sitting duck. I could hear Hugo calling out,

“Keep turning ‘B’ Flight, keep turning ‘B’ Flight”

and I was weaving like a so-and-so, right down on the deck and suddenly I found I was being chased to by two 109Fs and we went round and round in the Channel at nought feet. Eventually one of them cleared off, I presume he got fed up with the roundabout, and left me with one, still going round and round and eventually I managed to get a shot at him, mainly because the Spit can outturn anything and the next thing, there was a great splash and he’d gone for a Burton, so I continued on and eventually got to Tangmere, running very short of fuel, just as the wing was lined up ready to take off. I explained that I was a little short of petrol so they kindly gave me permission to drop in first before the others took off.

It was whilst I was there, getting refuelled, I was chatting to a few Sergeant Pilots who were loitering about that I learnt that Jack Ranger, who had been with me at Kidlington, and been posted on Beaufighters, had been killed in action.

Towards the end of May, the squadron was doing a sweep over Dieppe and Faixcombe (?) and Tommy Wright was flying as my number 2. We spotted a couple of 190s about 1000’ below us, in a beautiful position for us to bounce them, but unfortunately, at that particular moment my engine was hurling out oil all over the place and smothering the windscreen. I couldn’t see forward at all and could only just see out the side so I had to call up Tommy and say,

“Forget the bounce, get me home”.

So I flew home as gently as possible, with Tommy weaving behind me, cursing the fact that we’d missed this lovely chance to bounce. Anyway, we got back to Biggin Hill and I had to formate as well as I could on Tommy Wright and he led me down to the runway and I managed to land all right, though I wasn’t at all popular with my groundcrew because the aircraft was literally smothered from front to back in black, horrible oil. There was only one good thing about it and that was that at that particular time, we had some ATC (Air Training Corps) cadets on the aerodrome and they were delighted to do any little job and consequently they got the job of washing down my aircraft, which saved a lot of hard work for my groundcrew.

On 31st May we did a sweep to Dieppe, which normally wasn’t too much hassle, but on this occasion we met umpteen enemy aircraft and the squadron had a fair old time. I managed to get one 190 destroyed and one damaged, but our squadron really had a very good day. I think a lot of it was due to the fact that the Jerries were slightly upset over the fact that the night before they’d had a “Thousand Bomber Raid” over Cologne and they were doing their best to see what damage they could do us in return.
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Old 9th Dec 2009, 21:05
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WOP/AG Peter Jensen. (final) Instalment 18

Alness was a large, busy station and (naturally) conditions were rough compared with an operational squadron. I was billeted in a fibro building called ‘the Annex’. There was a bathroom, but with about a dozen other residents, it was usually more convenient to go to an ablutions block nearby. When we arrived, they had run out of wood for the hot water system, so I dispensed with the unnecessary convention of a shower for a couple of days, but finally, had to do something, so I had a cold shower. Even though it was Spring, it was still quite cold – (snow was still on the ground) – and a bitter wind blew through the shower block. It was not the most comfortable shower I have ever had.

However, my old roommate Smithy had also finished his tour and arrived, so we again shared a room and he managed to scrounge a small electric heater. So we used it to warm up a bucket of water and had a ‘bath in a bucket’ on alternate days until the hot water system started up again.

The Officer in Charge of Signals Training was a Squadron Leader Osborne, and because of my rank, (now a Flight Lieutenant), he saw a way of cutting down on his work by splitting his department into two and creating a ‘Signals Flying Training’ and putting me in charge. I was given a pokey little office near the slipway and a staff that varied between six and twelve. My job was to allocate signals instructors for the aircraft that were flying each day.

To make life a bit difficult, I was also put in charge of distributing to the Australians on the station, goodies sent by the Australian Red Cross. (This didn’t entail much work, as we didn’t get many goodies, usually just cigarettes and tobacco.) I was also put in charge of a group of huts holding trainee NCOs. I had to inspect them regularly. However, life wasn’t bad.

It was a rule at the station that when an instructor flew, he had to have 12 hours off before he could be detailed again to fly. Sometimes, if the weather was good, I had trouble finding someone who hadn’t had the required 12 hours off since he’d last flown, so quite often, I had to allocate myself for flying.

One day, I started to allocate two instructors for an early morning takeoff the next day, but no one was available. I put it to the staff for someone to volunteer, but no one wanted to go, and after a bit of cajoling, a Canadian volunteered. He had just been advised that he was about to fly back to Canada in a few days and was waiting for the posting. I said to him that one aircraft would take off just ahead of the other and which one would he like? I would take the other one. He said he didn’t care, so I allocated him No 1 and I took No 2.

Next morning, still dark, the two aircraft taxied to the flare path, No 1 requested permission for takeoff, which they received. I heard them report they were airborne, then I requested permission for takeoff and we were down the flare path and into the air. I hear the pilot report that there was a fire ahead. I went to the bridge and saw a bright fire on the ground.

We completed our exercise, and on return, learned what we had feared – the No 1 aircraft had pranged, with all on board killed.

I often think of that poor family. Their son had finished his operational flying and would be home in a few days, then to get the dreaded news. Again, my luck had held. Why hadn’t I allocated myself to the No 1 aircraft?

The summer came to Scotland. Smithy and I used spend one day a week off (usually Sunday) riding our push bikes around the countryside admiring the scenery. Then one day, we thought up a scheme to improve our rations. (The food in the Mess was very poor, and portions very small.) We peddalled out of town and called in on a number of farm houses, asking if they could sell us some eggs. We ended the day with a couple of dozen eggs and were the envy of the Officers Mess. We gave a few away and used the others by having them cooked in the Mess and added to our normal breakfast.

Next Sunday, we set off again, but decided to be more selective. The previous Sunday, we’d had a very good reception at one of the farms called ‘Achnaclough’, Gaelic for ‘Valley of the Stone’ – (it was set in a valley that had a monstrous rock in the middle of it). So we decided to make it our first port of call. To our delight, we were greeted like old friends and invited into the house for tea which included piklets – (which they called Scotch pancakes) – with butter and jam. When we left, they gave us a box containing four dozen eggs! We insisted on paying for them, which we managed to do after much protesting.

From then on, we visited them on most of our free days. They were a very friendly and generous family, consisting of an old couple – the man was crippled by rheumatism and sat by the fuel stove all day – and a son Duncan and daughter Flora, both in their mid thirties. They had a few black-faced sheep, some poultry, and grew a few acres of wheat.

We enjoyed going there; it was a home away from home. We sometimes did a bit of work – chopping wood, fixing broken doors etc., and one day, helped stacking the stooks, but mostly, we would borrow their shotgun and tramp around the area shooting at anything that moved – ducks, wood pigeons, pheasants, but mostly rabbits. One day, when we returned with a couple of rabbits, they made us a rabbit pie. Scrumptious!

Knowing these people made life liveable and there was little we could do in return. Sometimes we would secrete a small bottle on our person and go to the bar in the Officers Mess and order double whiskeys each, then surreptitiously pour the whisky into the bottle and order more until the bottle was filled and take it to them. (This was strictly against mess rules.)

Once we invited Flora and Duncan to a Mess function – can’t remember what it was for, but it was a happy affair. Duncan eagerly got stuck into the whisky and later in the evening, he declared to all and sundry that he was going to rise for Bonnie Prince Charlie: “Light the fiery beacon on the hill,” he called, “and throw the Sassenachs back over the border!”

I can’t remember how we got them back to the farm, but next morning, we cycled to the farm wondering what sort of reception we would get from the old lady. However, she was friendly as ever – but she didn’t know where Duncan was. We finally found him sleeping it off in a hayloft above one of the outbuildings.

Time passed; winter approached; the temperature dropped. The winter of 1944/5 turned out to be a particularly cold one. We obtained more blankets for our beds. I had five blankets under me, seven on top, then my dressing gown, rain coat, greatcoat and bedspread. I would wake up in the morning aching with the weight of the bedclothes. Riding a pushbike on the frozen roads was difficult. Even trying to steer could start a wheel-slip, which invariably led to an ignominious spill.

One day, I said to myself: “What the hell am I doing here?” So I applied to return to Australia.

With my job was the authority to allow my staff 24 hours leave – but no more. One of the English chaps, a Londoner, was always at me to let him go to London for a couple of days, but I wouldn’t let him. Finally, as the weather was so bad that there was very little flying, I said OK, but arranged it so that after a couple of days, I would send a telegram “Extension of leave granted”, which might (or might not) fool the Military Police.

Unexpectedly, my posting home came only a week or so after my application, so with great glee, I started packing up my gear and made arrangements to travel to Brighton, the embarkation depot. Before I could leave the station, I had to visit every department and have them sign that I had handed back every piece of equipment that I had on loan.

I was doing the rounds of the station getting all the signatures when I came across someone I knew slightly and he said: “They’ve been calling you on the Tannoy to go to the Guard House.”

I said: “Do you know why?”

He said: “No, but there was a mention about a bloke that the MPs have picked up in London without a leave pass.”

I said: “Did they, by golly!”

I then raced around, got the final signatures, raced back to my room, collected my gear, raced to the railway station, hopped on the train and kept all my fingers crossed until I reached Brighton. I never did hear why I was wanted at the Guard House, and what’s more, I don’t want to know.

I arrived in Brighton, found my hotel and was there about a week before embarking on the ‘RMS Rangitiki’ for the voyage home. The ship was crowded and conditions were bad, but apart from being quarantined at Colon (Panama Canal) because some children on board had measles – (we had some wives and children on board) – the trip was uneventful.

We were allowed ashore in Wellington NZ, our first time ashore since leaving England, and arrived in Sydney Harbour on 25th March 1945, to find that during the trip, I had been promoted to Squadron Leader.

We went first to Bradfield Park and then were sent on indefinite leave – all we had to do was go to Bradfield Park once a week to pick up a ration of beer and cigarettes or tobacco. The latter I gave to Dad and my brother.

After a few weeks, so many airmen had returned to Sydney, they had to get rid of some of us and I was posted to Ballarat for a so-called ‘refresher course’ – re-labelled by the cynics a ‘refreshment course’, which was not wrong. The base was full of ex-operational aircrew with nothing to do except party all night and nurse hangovers all day. I was there only two or three weeks and returned to Sydney for discharge.

My four years overseas was perhaps the most memorable and dramatic period of my life. Many memories come back so clearly it’s as if they happened yesterday, like the heart-clogging fear as tracer and 20mm puffballs come arcing towards you, or when the ground comes rushing at you and you know there is no flying speed left in the old kite to avoid a prang.

On the other hand, a lot of memories seem so unimportant, but somehow have impressed themselves on your brain forever, like a first light takeoff, still dark when we board a Fairmile to take us out to Angle Bay where our boat is moored. Another crew is with us, the two aircraft to take off one after the other; it is summer time, the weather quite balmy, and we all stayed on deck. As we left the wharf, the first golden finger of sunlight peeped over the horizon. One of the other crew was lying back on a hatch cover and quietly, in a soft, pleasant voice, he started singing:

Beyond the blue horizon
Waits a beautiful day.
Goodbye to things that bore me
Joy is waiting for me.
I see a new horizon
My life has only begun.
Beyond the blue horizon
Lies a rising sun.

We all listened to the song, accompanied by the muted throb of the engine, in silence. The whole scene seemed to fit the circumstances and our mood. At Angle Bay, we transferred to dinghies, then on to the aircraft, and as we prepared the boat for takeoff, and during the patrol, the tune kept running around in my head.

Four years. Not much out of a lifetime, but as someone said at a reunion: “I couldn’t do it again, but I wouldn’t have missed it for quids.”

Last edited by Wiley; 1st Feb 2010 at 01:04. Reason: Typos, new info from PJ
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Old 10th Dec 2009, 10:39
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Thanks To Wiley

WOP/AG Peter Jensen. (final) Instalment 18

Thank you for an excellent story, and all your hard work .
Much appreciated by all of us..
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Old 10th Dec 2009, 11:48
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And ditto from me Wiley

Hope you don't mind, but I'm putting in Dad's experiences post the war as well. Don't worry, he gets de-mobbed in 1947! Also, there are various OCR troubles as well, apologies.

Singapore and Ceylon

The first posting on Singapore Island was to Seletar. This was a permanent station with white concrete dormitories and a parade ground. It was primarily a flying boat station. It was on the north coast, to the east of
(???) .... would take off and land in the sheltered waters between the Island and the mainland.

I cannot remember what work I did there, though my letters home said that I cut up metal frames with an oxy-acetylene torch. My memory is of standing in the bathroom on the top floor of the residential (??) and watching the (??). They came right overhead and cleared the roof of the building by about twenty feet.

By now the war had been over for five months and people were anticipating returning to the U.K. There was political unrest in Malaya, with the rise of the Communists, The British Government decided that the the most effective way to maintain a presence was to keep the RAF in place, thus the soldiers were demobbed but RAF personnel were kept on.

There was some unrest. because of this and I believe that later there was a riot at Seletar, with the airmen refusing to take orders. I have photos of the crowd on the square (unscanned I'm afraid).

It was all hushed up and order was restored. Someone told me that the ringleader was court-martialied. This incident, of course, has now become quite famous, The ringleader was shot IIRC.

It was decreed that airmen would be trained for civilian life and as I was already a trained teacher, I applied to go on a course to become an Educational arid Vocational Instructor. It was a three-week course held at

I flew there in a Sunderiand. We took off early in the morning and flew to Penang, where we landed and refuelled. We took off again and crossed the Indian Ocean to Ceylon and arrived there in the evening. We landed at Koggala, on the southern tip of the island. It was a fourteen-hour flight.

There were several of us in the rear part of the fuselage, there were no seats, we were just sat about in the framework. There was an open section in the middle of the aircraft where depth-charges were pushed out when in action. There was a bench awl. On it were two Primus stoves and some frying-pans. I helped to cook sausages for the crew and passengers.

During the evening we were transported by lorry up to Colombo. The RAF station was at Ratmalana. We stayed there for a few days and then went up to Kandy by train. It was about ninety miles and after crossing the small coastal plain, it climbed all the way.

We went up valleys with rice fields cut into the contours of the hills, We left the contoured paddy (??) ....

When the wind blew, the coconuts would fall off the trees with a great thump, so walking from the billet to the classrooms required judicious detours, or risk getting hit on the head.

We had to prepare lessons and give them to the other students. My final assessment on 10th. April 1946 was, ‘A thoroughly experienced teacher, with a humorous and pleasant approach.' That’s me folks!

Whilst there, I met another Shoreditch Training College student who had been in my year - Baumgarten. We would walk to Kandy and go down the main street, past the Temple of the Tooth (Buddha’s), to the lake. There were turtles swimming about, just below the surface of the clear water and there were nice gardens, where we took photographs.

Baumgarten was a keen photographer also. I bought some jewels in one of the shops as well as some silver spoons, decorated with palm-tree ends. The box of huge butterfly specimens that I had sent home, disintegrated many years later.

Our three-week course ended and we returned to Colombo. I had to wait at Ratmalana for transport to Singapore. The camp was just inland from Mount Lavinia, a famous tourist resort, I would walk through the rubber plantation and across the railway line and there was this beautiful palm- lined beach.

I used to swim in the surf, but had to be alert to the catamaran fishing boats that swept in on to the sandy beach and were quite dangerous. In the late afternoon I would go into the Mount Lavinia Hotel for tea. It was by there that I bought the pair of wooden elephants, made of coconut wood that have given so much pleasure to my children (I still have them! They are one of my most treasured pocessions. and grandchildren.

After a while I was put onto an aircraft carrier that was going to Singapore, it was H.M.S. Venerable. It was the carrier that was ultimately sold to Argentina, renamed, ‘Veinticinco de Mayo’, (25th.May) and it was involved in the Falklands War (or rather it wasn't as such!!).

We sailed fom Colombo in the afternoon and as soon as we were at sea, all the aircraft were flown off. I remember the deafening noise that the Supermarine Walrus made. The Walrus was an interesting amphibian and was used for picking up ditched airmen from their rescue-dinghies. It was designed by RJ Mitchell, the genius who designed the Spitfire.

During the night, we sailed round the south of Ceylon. The sea was rough and the Venerable pitched and rolled, so that the deck almost touched the sea, side to side. We slept on camp-beds that were put in the now vacated aircraft hangar deck.

The next day we put into Trincomalee, this was a great natural harbour on the east side of the Island, Poles with ropes dangling from them were pushed out from the sides of the ship and on the Tannoy it said, ‘Hands to bathe on the starboard side'.

All the crew piled out on to the poles and went down the ropes into the sea and after a swim, climbed up the ropes to get back.

The voyage back to Singapore was quite peaceful. The food on board was particularly good. I was peeved to discover that engine fitters in the Fleet Air Arm had the rank of Petty Officer, that was equivalent to a sergeant.

The carrier stopped off Singapore and we were put down in a motorboat to land at Colyer Quay.
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Old 10th Dec 2009, 15:19
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Angels-- E.V.T ( Educational vocational training) brings back happy memories of my posting to R.A.F Celle near Brunswick and Hanover for an E.V.T course on advanced maths and physics. I had excellent tuition by a German professor ,one to one, at the Celle Technische Hock schule (sorry phonetic), but hopefully more later.
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Old 10th Dec 2009, 18:47
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Thank you Wiley.

A wonderful tale and very moving at times. I am very grateful, Regle.
Old 10th Dec 2009, 20:39
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Exclamation RAF Strikes of 1946 - Not just Seletar


Fascinating first-person account of the RAF strikes of 1946:

Mutiny in the RAF: the air force strikes of 1946 - David Duncan

Seemingly minor details in each of these wonderful memoirs can point towards terrific side trips into detailed aspects of RAF history. I am locked into each and every one of these accounts and gaining incredible insight into the lives of those who served before me.

Please don't stop!

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Old 10th Dec 2009, 23:26
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Thank you

I have never been in the forces but I feel I have to say something.

Thank you.

I say that for a number of reasons. In no particular order:

Firstly, what a read, look forward to every installment.

Secondly, never forget how much we appreciate what you did for us.

Thirdly, If the "yoof" of today could see through your eyes I think the world may just be a better place.

I don't want to be sycophantic butonce again thank you.

With much respect,

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Old 11th Dec 2009, 11:40
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I returned to Seletar and lived in a tent for a few days and then I was posted to No.7 Motor Transport Base Repair Depot.

This unit was down on the coast very near to Singapore and just below Kallang Airport runway. The runway has now been made into a dual carriageway leading to Changi Airport and it is called Westway.

No.7 M.T.B.R.D, was on Fort Road and it was a very large garage, as big as a hangar, right on the edge of the beach (It was then, not now!) and very near to the Chinese Swimming Pool (that is still there!).

We lived at 28 Fort Road, a rather nice modern house, facing the sea. I have some recent photos of Fort Road (I took them passing through Singapore) and the new properties are rather splendid.

I was put in charge of the carpentry shop. There were two Chinese woodworkers there who repaired the vehicles. When work was light we used to make trick joints for each other, just to show off our skills; they thought it was great fun.

I had a very nice relationship with them and I was invited to a family party at one of their homes. This was a very nice gesture and I felt that I ought to go, although it was out of bounds, in the Chinese quarter. We sat round in a circle on the floor and ate the Chinese meal. It was a new experience for me.

Because I was now an E.V.T. Instructor, I used to teach at Singapore Central School for two afternoons a week. I taught Geography to a very mixed class, comprising officers, N.C.O.s. and airmen and I was still only a Leading Aircraftsman, as my sergeant’s stripes had not come through!

Dad later told me that the two Chinese refused to believe that when he went to town, he was going there to teach officers. Apparently they would shout, "You go Singapore ****in'!! You go Singapore ****in'!!

Our C.O. told us that we were to stay on and suggested that we found things to do that would be interesting and useful.

We built a stage in the corner of the hangar and in this little theatre we produced a play called,’The Silent Witness’. I was the prompter. It was well received and we had good audiences from other units when we took it round the island. It was tiring.

I found a wrecked Japanese motorboat and decided to rebuild it. It had had a Ford V8 engine in it. It would have used a great amount of petrol and was designed to be used as a high-speed suicide boat. It would have been filled with explosives and crashed into a ship to sink it.

Obviously my boat had never been used, so I put a Morris 12 engine in it that I took out of an abandoned Post Office van. Although the boat would only do about twelve knots, it did use a lot less petrol.

We were only supposed to use Japanese petrol in our boats, there was some in a fuel pump on the forecourt, but ultimately it ran out.

Our boats were inspected to check that we had adequate flotation gear arid that we only had Japanese petrol in the tank. This became a problem, so when I was on guard duty I would siphon half a pint of fuel from each vehicle and then put some blue paint in it. Everyone thought it was Japanese petrol.

I became quite friendly with the Engineering Officer. I used to take him and his wife over to an uninhabited island on Saturdays. Early in the morning a Jerrican full of petrol would be left on the back doorstep of the house where I lived; no one ever said a word.

When we arrived on the island, he would light a fire, roast potatoes and they would provide a picnic for me. His wife would sunbathe on the boat, it was mind-bending!

Every morning at eleven o’clock, we would walk a hundred yards along the path at the top of the beach, to the restaurant at the Chinese Swimming Pool. There we would have a coffee and a sandwich.

One day a crate containing the parts of two hundred bicycles arrived from England. We were asked to assemble them, so that they could be sold to the troops through the N.A.A.F.I. I used to build the wheels, it required a fair degree of skill to make them run true.

Unfortunately, we discovered that some of the parts were being stolen and we had to build a cage around the area where we worked. I think that only one hundred and sixty five cycles were actually completed.

My colleague and I made a canoe, by cutting two holes in a large Japanese petrol tank that had come out of the wing of an aircraft. We made two paddles and one lunch time we decided to paddle out to one of the sunken ships in the Strait

We got along very well and went around the wreck, but when we started to paddle back to the beach we made no headway at all. We had not realised that the tide was running out. We had to paddle frantically for half an hour, to get back. We collapsed on the beach, utterly exhausted, We had no idea of the danger that we had put ourselves in.

I made a photographic darkroom in the kitchen of our house. We would go into Singapore, take photographs, process them and sell them to the other airmen. I made an enlarger from old Japanese aircraft parts, I still have it and have used it for many years. Dad's workshop resembled Heath Robinson at his best. I had no idea that his enlarger was made from old bits from a Japanese plane!! Typical Dad that.

One evening when I was working in the darkroom with just the red safelight, I had not noticed that someone had left the top off the lamp-box; I put my hand onto it and received a tremendous electric shock; it was because I was standing on a damp quarry tiled floor.

I remember going to the Cathedral on Christmas night for the midnight service, It must have been 1945. There was an enormous congregation, people were sitting on the steps and floor. I was appalled that many of the officers were the worse for drink.

I also went to an orchestral concert one evening. Again, it was very well attended. I cannot remember which orchestra it was, but I recall that the concert opened with the overture to RussIan and Ludmilla by Glinka.

Although it was hot during the day, the nights were cool and Singapore became alive, There were three fun-palaces, the Happy World, the New World and the Great World. In each there were stalls, with vendors selling watches and jewellery, stalls with hot stir-fried food and others selling large pineapple slices.

The main attraction in each, was a Chinese theatre. The traditional, historical plays went on for hours, the musical instrumentalists sat on each side of the stage, banging cymbals and scraping away on stringed instruments, making a dreadful noise.

The only tall building in Singapore in those days was the Cathay building. It had a large modern cinema on the ground floor. There was also the famous Raffles Hotel that had traveller palm-trees in the front garden.

I cannot end without mentioning Changi Prison, where the prisoners of war were held. It was a gruesome white building, so many died there.

In the mid 90s I was transferred to Singapore from Hong Kong. I'd visited a few times and taken a few photos for Dad, but when I lived there I took loads more. He was amazed the Bailey Bridge was still being used, years after it's 'best before' date'!! The Chinese Swimming Club was essentially unchanged apart from not being on the beach any more!

Sadly, Dad's health meant he was unable to visit me there.
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Old 13th Dec 2009, 21:00
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A Spitfire Plot - Part 22

72 Sqn – June 1942, Channel rescues, stripes and boat-bashing

In June we carried on doing sweeps over France, sometimes taking bombers and sometimes a straightforward fighter sweep in the hope that some of the enemy aircraft would come up and have a go at us. The flak was still pretty vicious and over Abbeville we were jumped by a stack of 190s and although we flew round and round, I didn’t get a decent chance to squirt so I came back with my guns unfired. There really wasn’t any point in banging away like mad at anything that came in view, unless you were right on top of the 190 it was pointless spraying anything for to begin with we only had 13 seconds fire. We had a drum of 60 cannon shells and 250 rounds of .303 for the machine guns, which gave us 6 seconds fire for the cannon and about 12 ½ or 13 seconds on the machine gun. Consequently you weren’t really in a position to spray everything within sight.

On 6th June we were sent down to Manston for an Air Sea rescue job. Apparently a bomber had been shot down just off the Dutch coast or the Belgian coast, somewhere, they weren’t sure and we were supposed to be looking for some chaps in a dinghy. Well we took off and scoured the North Sea as far as we could, couldn’t find anything, and then we came back, landed, ‘B’ Flight took off and searched again and they were just about to return when P/O Kitchen spotted five bomber chaps in a dinghy just off Ostende. So he reported that and we immediately took off to give them cover and at the same time an Air Sea rescue launch shot out from Dover or somewhere to pick up these bomber boys. So we covered the launch until it picked up these bomber boys and it really was exciting to watch them. I don’t know how fast the launch was going but it left a wash about half a mile long, it really was moving. Anyway, it got out to the dinghy, swung round, hooked up the dinghy, grabbed the chaps aboard, all without stopping and then belted for home. Now by this time we thought as we were obviously visible from Ostende we’d be surrounded by 190s and we’d probably have a decent little fight. In actual fact nothing came over to have a bang at us, so we escorted the launch back, landed at Manston, refuelled and went back to Biggin.

Some time later we received a letter from the bomber boys, enclosing £1, and saying please have a drink on us, they were more than pleased at being picked up.

Now on 16th June I took a new chap to have a look round the sector and we landed at Lympne, had a look round, then flew back to Biggin and as soon as I landed and started walking back to the dispersal, Tommy Wright and George came rushing out and grabbed my sergeants stripes and ripped them off. Apparently my commission had come through. I was taken into the Officers’ Mess at lunchtime, where I had to buy a beer for Group Captain Barwell, the station commander, and Jamie Rankin who both insisted that the first drink I paid for must be theirs, which pleased me no end. After that I was told to go up to London and organise my new gear. So I went up to Burberrys and all I could actually come away with was an officers-type hat, gloves and two little bits of P/O tape which I managed to stick on my battledress and then went up to see Mum, who was obviously quite chuffed.

I moved my gear from the sergeants billet to a very nice room in a little house not very far from the Officers’ Mess. It was very nice having batmen look after you and do all the little cleaning jobs that we had to do ourselves as sergeants and I must admit I felt seven feet tall.

Well naturally, the sergeants expected a little bit of a beer-up on the occasion of my commission and consequently that night we repaired to The Jail pub. We all cycled down there and had a very pleasant evening, lots of beer went to and fro, but very late on I managed to get on my bicycle and get as far as my little room without falling over and breaking anything. Jack Hilton and Jim Norton, the two old sweats I’d shared a room with when I first joined 72, quite enjoyed themselves that night, but it wasn’t until the following day we heard how they got home. Apparently, Jack, who was a little chap, would try and get on his bike, put his foot on the pedal, run the bike along, fling his other leg over the bike and immediately collapse in a heap. Well having done this three times and finished up in a ditch they decided the best bet would be to walk back to the sergeants billet, which they did. They managed to get as far as the front lawn and their room was on the ground floor, first on the left as you went through the door. Well, as I say, they got as far as the lawn and decided, that was as far as they could go and they both collapsed on the lawn, stayed there all night and were called up in the morning. But from what I gather it was quite a splendid evening!

The following day four of us went down to the Le Harve basin, to see if we could shoot up some shipping. “Timber” Woods was leading with Sergeant Fosse, a Norwegian, as his number 2 and George and I who was flying as my number 2. Well we spread out and started looking for these boats and I passed over a couple of little boats that I didn’t think were worth hitting, but “Timber” was shouting at me to have a go at them, so I came back and said OK and did a half-hearted attack on one of them and eventually after the others had finished shooting holes in the boats, we climbed up and came back. Well naturally all our r/t chat had been recorded at Biggin and when we got back to dispersal, there was the station commander, Group Captain Barwell, the Intelligence Officer, Squadron Leader de la Tour, waiting for us to come in and chat to them. They were very worried that we might have shot up two little tiny boats that were really French and were not French-cum-German and we might have upset the feelings of the French. Now “Timber” was most upset about this and by the time he’d finished explaining to the two senior characters what we’d been doing you would have thought we’d have shot up a destroyer, but they seemed fairly happy about it, so long as we hadn’t upset the French, so they turned and walked away from dispersal and just as they went through the door, “Timber” turned to me and said,

“Robbie, next time we’ll break both their bloody oars!” and that was that.

Having decided that we were very good at shooting up shipping, the powers that be decided we’d go out and have another go, so out we went to the Le Harve basin again and this time we came across a fairly large coaster which started firing at me before I got within range and consequently we had no compunction about letting fly and the four of us left it, as they say, in a sinking condition.

That night there was a party in the Officers’ Mess, to which the Sergeant Pilots were invited and we made it another cause for celebration of my commission. I still hadn’t got a uniform, so I borrowed a spare one from P/O Jones, who’d just joined us and entered into the spirit of the festivities with great vim and vigour. We went on drinking till after 3 in the morning but four of us were on dawn readiness, and by the time we left the mess to go to our rooms, we decided it was hardly worthwhile going to our rooms to be called early and consequently we walked up to dispersal and lay on the beds there, hoping that no one would call us because it was very rare for anyone to get up and do anything at dawn, the Germans were very late risers. We’d scarcely got our heads down when were told to scramble.

So at half past four in the morning, we were up and belting over the Channel. Apparently we’d been told that some of our MGBs had shot up a German E-Boat and we were supposed to finish it off. Well we shot across the Channel at nought feet, got as far as Calais, couldn’t see anything and edged round the coast, still at nought feet, to within sight of Ostende, where they started hurling these great shells at us. Now none of us were feeling particularly bright and we thought it was a bit of a stupid thing to do, to be sitting where we were, in sight of Ostende and letting everything fly at us. They were shooting up, as I said, these great shells and great gouts of water were shooting up all over the place. I looked round for my number 2, who happened to be the same P/O Jones whose uniform I borrowed and I saw him fly straight through a great pile of water and I thought he’d bought it, but he emerged from the other side, unscathed. So after another five or ten minutes looking round the scene, we never came across the E-Boat, so we tootled back. When we landed the only thing that Jonesy was worried about was the fact that I was still wearing his uniform and he was afraid I might have got it damaged.
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Old 14th Dec 2009, 10:37
  #1374 (permalink)  

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Kuala Lumpur
Early in August 1946 1 was posted to 28 Squadron at Kuala Lumpur. It was a Spitfire squadron and they had very advanced aircraft.

There were only two fitters for the whole squadron and I was concerned that I would not know enough to cope. They must have been Mark 19 or 21. Actually I did not have a problem and I do remember changing a five-bladed propellor.

In our hut we had a gramophone. and I also built a small darkroom. I used to teach in the afternoons in the Education Centre.

Suddenly my ‘tapes’ came through and I was a sergeant. The sergeant in the hangar said ‘Well done, you can buy me a pint’ At lunchtme we went to the Sergeant’s Mess; it was a dreary place and some of the old sergeants were not very happy about my meteoric rise, however they had to lump it.

There was a small bedroom in the Education Block, so I slept there for a while. I was then invited to go and live with some sergeants who had a bungalow, out of the camp. It was on the top of a little hill at about half-way to town and it was at a junction of five roads, one road went to Pudu Gaol.

(To my amazement, when passing through KL in the 90s, I called Dad and he was able to direct me from Pudu Gaol to the little estate he lived. It was still there. An old gardener there had worked on the estate since the end of WW2. He said he would have known my Dad, but when I optimistically described Dad to him he said all 'ang mo' looked the same to him!! It was quite spooky to be chatting to someone who had seen my father 50 years earlier.)

We had staff to run the house and bar, my room was very light and airy. It was easy to walk to town, Kuala Lumpur is very elegant. The Government buildings and the- railway station were built in a Moorish style, with minarets, There was a very nice park with a lake and a cricket ‘Padang’ with a fine pavilion. There were several tail buildings, one near the station was the Education Office, Now, of course, there are many skyscrapers. There was plenty of night-life, dance-halls and restaurants.

In the mornings we would prepare lessons for the afternoon classes and play classical records. I also made posters to decorate the walls, using old magazine cuttings. The Education Officer was a pleasant man and we all got on reasonably well together. We also had an office boy, Addle, he was an intelligent fourteen-year old Malay lad. At 1100 we would send him to get coffee and cakes for the four of us.

One afternoon I hired a taxi and went to Raw Caves. These are about eight miles north of KL, there are two caves at the top of a long flight of steps. The first cave Is completely dark and is full of bats; the guano is collected and sold as fertilizer.

The other cavern is huge and lit by a chimney. It is as large as a church and has altars where people worship.

At the week-ends there were excursions for the airmen to go to Port Dickson. This was a small coastal village about sixty miles to the west. I was the N.C.O. in charge of the outings. When we were ready to return at seven o’clock on Sunday night, some of the airmen were so drunk that they were almost unconscious. I had them loaded onto the floor of the lorry and it bounced along the road and they were duly delivered back to camp.

Last chapter tomorrow.
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 11:59
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Homeward Bound

In December, 1946 my demobilisation papers came through. I was group 47. (??)

In many ways this was just in time for rne. Educational and Vocational Training was due to finish at the end of the year and I would then have reverted to being a Leading Aircraftsman.

However, 28 Squadron was about to move to Singapore and it was suggested that I could teach at the family school there and be made up to a Flying Officer. Apparently I was the only person in the area quailified to teach junior school children!

However, because I came home, none of this was relevant.

The last few weeks at Kuala Lumpur were very memorable. The food in our mess was very pleasant but on Friday lunch-times they served fish and chips in the Airmen's Mess. This was absolutely unmissable, so we used to roll-up our sleeves to cover our stripes and queue with everyone else (Cheeky buggers!!).

Also on Fridays there was a morning parade. Luckily, the day that I was supposed to take it, it rained and so it was cancelled.

We had a splendid Christmas and on the 28th of December I had to catch the night-train to Singapore.. Half 28 Squadron came onto the platform to see me off, they even brought a propellor (two bladed!). For me it was an experience that I shall never forget.

I arrived at Singapore and spent several days at the Transit Camp at Tengah; then we embarked on the Queen of Bermuda.

The journey home took four weeks, we stopped at Bombay for several days and I had another lookat the city.

As I have said, when I cane out on the Stratheden I was on 'U' deck and Officers and N.C.O.s were in cabins. This time I thought that I would be in a cabin but the whole ship was full of NCOs, so we were back to the hammock bit again!

I knew the projectionist in the cinema; in fact we spent much of our day in the projection room. We had a pair of braces fixed to the wall so that we could see how much the ship was rolllng. I decided to sleep on the seats in the cinema. It was quite warm and comfortable (and much nearer the toilets when the weather turned colder!).

Coming back towards Gibraltar one could see the white peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains in southern Spain, but we were experiencing the worst storm in the Med for eIghteen years.

There was a small convoy of vessels on either side pitching up and plunging nearly vertically so that one could see the propellers going round. We were doing the same.

We arrived at Liverpool at about four o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. It was dusk and the whole area was covered in two inches of newly fallen snow. There was no one in sight; we were back in England.

We went to RAF. Wharton, where we were given civilian suits and overcoats. We were paid off and given Travel Vouchers to return home.

It was February, 1947. It was very cold, but I was a free man after four and a half years.

Hope you enjoyed Dad's RAF memoirs. He was actually classified as 10 percent disabled later due to his ulcerated ankles, which as I've said before, gave him gyp for the rest of his life.

He was an ordinary bloke, but like many others at this time he did an extraordinary job.

When I was about 15, I had read Spike Milligan's book 'Adolf Hitler, His Part in My Downfall.' In it Milligan said that despite the fact the war years cost him his mental health, it was the happiest time of life. I asked Dad if the war his time in the RAF had been his happiest. To my mum's amazement, he said, "Yes."

I remain so proud of him.
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 14:12
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Bravo. Terrific stuff. Thanks for sharing it with us.
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 14:56
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Yes thanks indeed Angels. (and everyone else as well)
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 15:15
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Ditto. This is the thread where established Ppruner's are keeping quiet and reading with awe!

Please keep going.

Last edited by Caractacus; 15th Dec 2009 at 16:35.
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 15:20
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Another superb story. What a brilliant thread this is.

Thanks to all, and keep the tales coming!
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 16:39
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I remain so proud of him

I am sure that he was every bit as proud of you, Angels, as we are grateful to you.

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