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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 31st Jan 2010, 14:05
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Andy's apology.

andyl999



German Forum
Apologies to Cliff, been a bit busy and haven't even read my PM's
Andy, no need to apologise. We all know how time consuming , collecting , collating and typing can be. I am just copying all the suggestions , re The Luftwaffe connections to Word pad, obtain a print out , then email the translation.
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Old 31st Jan 2010, 20:29
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Cliff and Regle

Many thanks for your kind comments. I am now up to post #283 in this excellent thread.

Reg I can relate some more, but as mentioned my dad never spoke very much about his experiences, so it may be a little sketchy and lacking in detail. I will happily post more later if interested. He sadly departed us in 1990.

Reg it was amazing to read that the troop ship you departed on, the Britannic, was the very ship you watched depart from Liverpool on it's maiden voyage as a boy. As you say, 'who would have thought' just eight years later, you would be on it, going to train for war?

Little tingle on the spine reading that bit

Here's a handy link to the Britannic on Wikipedia btw:

RMS Britannic (1929) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

so we know where you were on 28 June 1930!

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Old 31st Jan 2010, 21:52
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By Regle:

"I was on the vital bombing of Peenemunde in a Halifax of 51 Sqdn. We were in the first wave. Mosquitos had made a preliminary raid on Berlin and the German fighters were sent there as it looked as though the main stream were Berlin bound. It was a bright moonlit night and we went to Peenemunde, dropped our bombs on the aiming point, saw a lot more Halifaxes doing the same thing, we went back without seeing a fighter or flak and learned, next day that we had lost 42 aircraft ! The luck was being in that first wave and the skill was there to get the hell out whilst the going was good. Thank you for your kind remarks. It makes the single finger pecking away worthwhile when you see that someone is taking note."

Taking note? You bet! I read a book a year or two ago titled 'Bomber Boys' by Kevin Wilson. I think the raid you were on above is mentioned in it. As excellent as it is, the first hand accounts delivered by yourselves and others in this thread are fantastic. Better than any book. And what's more, you can't ask any questions of a book, as you can in a forum such as this. For example: 'Shrage Musik' - did it become the real terror as I read in that book?

Apologies if I insert replies like this as I work my way through this thread, but it is so fascinating.

Thanks again
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Old 31st Jan 2010, 23:21
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There was a reputed "Capture" of a small island in the Med by a Spitfire Sgt. Pilot who accepted the surrender of all the German forces on behalf of the Allies when he landed there short of fuel

Regle - What a recollection! You were not far out and you will really like this one I hope - the island was Lampedusa, the aircraft was a Stringbag and the pilot was Syd Cohen. Have a look at Hollywood hails King Syd - Telegraph
and Syd Cohen, King of Lampedusa eastlondonhistory.com

Kind regards

Jack
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Old 1st Feb 2010, 01:41
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Latin

Yes I had to do Latin in the 70s in my Grammar school in St Helens. Not so much quotes but many mentions of farmers (agricolae) meeting Legionnaires. And many declensions: Mensa, Mensa, Mensam, Mensamus, Mensantis.. well you get the idea?

The best one I found in later life was Parabellum, which is of course the standard Nato 9mm cartridge.

"si vis pacem, para bellum", translates as "If you wish for peace, prepare for war"

Sorry if a little OT.

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Old 1st Feb 2010, 17:23
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O Table ad nauseum !

I too, had Latin at the Liverpool Institute and hated it. I was very interested in the "Britannic" episode and saw that I would have been eight years old and so in the prep school for the "Inny" when I saw her set off on her maiden voyage so it would be just ten years later when I set sail in her in 1941 from Greenock in company with the "Rodney" and three or four Destroyers to help us evade the "Bismarck". in which the "Rodney", who had left us to administer the "coup de grace", in that epic Sea Battle and we were ,unwittingly, involved.
The use of the "Schrage Music" , four upward firing, fixed angle guns mounted on the top front of the fuselage of the night fighter ME110, became one of the most lethal weapons of the Luftwaffe and almost impossible to evade as the 110 would "stalk" the unfortunate victim from many miles back at a much lower altitude and then keep pace but climb steadily always underneath and well nigh impossible to see until it was near enough to unleash the lethal fusillade that would invariably hit the main mid section fuel tank. It is true that we had an aircraft proximity device (Monica) that "squeaked" when picking up an aircraft close to you but as we were six or seven hundred in a small stream the darned thing would be going from start to finish of the operation so it was usually switched off. I had already adopted the dreadfully tiring but invaluable practice of a constant "Corkscrew" of the Halifax that I was flying from the moment that we crossed the enemy coast until we recrossed it on the way out. This left us the vulnerability of the "straight and level" neccessity of the bombing run over the target and was , probaly the most dangerous few minutes of the whole seven to nine hours of the normal raids. It was then that your gunners could and , in my case, did save all our lives by their vigilance and tactics of turret rotation in semi synchronisation with each other as they searched the skies below and behind us as we crossed the target like "sitting ducks". In a sense the success of "Window " was a double edged weapon that rebounded upon Bomber Command and saw the adoption , by the Luftwaffe, of a completely new means of combating the Night Bomber. I was in the attack on Hamburg on the night of July 23rd. 1943 that saw the first use of "window". The dropping of thousands of tinfoil strips by each Bomber as it approached the target completely swamped the German Radar as each strip gave the same "blip" as an aeroplane. Fighters were being guided to "hundreds of" Englanders"
and reporting none to be seen and even, in some extreme cases, being ordered to land back to their bases and report to the Commanding Officer, suspected of being Cowards. Our losses were much lower from then on but the Luftwaffe soon adopted the tactics of flooding the targets with searchlights , focussing them so that they made a carpet of light at a medium altitude. They then threw in all their day fighter force who patrolled at an altitude above the Bombing Force and then tore into them with devastating results as the bombers were silhouetted against the searchlights and fires blazing below. The ME110 night fighters would have been engaging the "stream" before and after the target with their tactics as described before and the combined efforts soon brought the losses back to the pre-Window level.
I was fascinated with the Lampedusa episode and knew nothing of the "Musical" that was made. It must have made the headlines of the Press if it had been allowed in those days. Thanks for all the "Gen", Speke and Union .... It is , as you so rightly say, what is so good about the Forum. You can ask and , in my case, certainly learn so much that you did'nt know before. Keep it up. Keep those bits of "useless information", comments and questions rolling in. Apropos this. What do you think about the proposal that all Doctors will have to pass a five yearly examination on their knowledge in order to keep on practising. ? When I was Airline flying I always used to gripe about the difference in the two professions inasmuch as I had to pass a six monthly medical with the Airline (Sabena's normal practice) , a yearly National medical , a yearly proficiency Check and at least one yearly "line" check. Once a Dr. has his initial "licence" to practice.......! We don't say that we "practice" flying, we assume that we know how without practising. Think about it ! Regle
 
Old 2nd Feb 2010, 00:18
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Regle

Thank you so much for the detailed reply. I hung on almost every word. As mentioned, despite the books, there is nothing like the 'horses mouth', and that is what makes this thread, with you and other contributors like Cliff, so special. It's a thread I can never see deleted, because it's such a personal account of real history.

I noticed my copy of 'Bomber Boys' seems to be a different author from the one you encountered, as I read later into this thread. No matter. It essentially seems to cover the same stuff. And as for the 'Schrage Musik', well, what a nasty prospect? Sneaking up from behind and below, with no way to see, and a potential lethal outcome?

Yes you were incredibly brave, all of you, no question. And yes I do appreciate a lot and do feel very proud. After all, you were there, you did it, and you bloody well deserve the accolade!

I will read the 'Bomber Boys' book again. Might come back with more daft questions - sorry

Regarding the fact that as an airline pilot you needed med checks and proficiency checks on a regular basis. Well as an airline pilot you are responsible for a number of souls in your care. A doctor, or GP, is also responsible for a number of souls, and possibly more directly. So you make a very good point.

Take care. Thanks for the very good post. Beware further questions

Oh, and here's one right now: given that you wore oxygen masks and the aircraft were not pressurised in WW2, was it bloody freezing doing a 7 hour round trip on a bombing sortie at altitude?


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Old 2nd Feb 2010, 21:28
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Continuing on and just read post #378.

Blimey!!

And still 55 or so pages to go What a thread, read nothing like it
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Old 2nd Feb 2010, 22:11
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Press on regardless and I hope that you are enjoying it.. 7hrs would be regarded as a short trip...the Ruhr (Happy Valley as it was derisively called. Even so the heating was usually either too hot or non existent and was notorious for it's unreliability. There was no doubt that the two Gunners and particularly the tail Gunner suffered from the cold and were usuall padded up with all sorts of clothing. The forward compartment (W/Op. Navigator and Bomb aimer) was not too bad whilst the Cockpit with the Pilot and the F/E would differ from plane to plane and from altitude. There was one constant though. The Pilot would eventually suffer for many years to come from the fact that his left side was only a few inches from the side of the aircraft and the port window and the temperatures of the 20 or more degrees below zero that reigned outside. (No double glazing in the Halifax...or the Lancaster for that matter.) Despite all that we survived but we were not always very happy .! Regle
 
Old 3rd Feb 2010, 00:26
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Back on pp 66-69 (posts 1301 to 1366) I posted the story of Sqn Ldr Peter Jensen, a WOP/AG on Sunderlands with 461 Squadron RAAF. One of the points that he raised in his narrative, the way Coastal Command considered one hour as the maximum time a gunner should man his turret without relief, drew someone to ask how this could be so when Bomber Command gunners would man their turrets without relief for up to seven hours.

I spoke to Peter today regarding this point and he said the difference was that the Bomber Command aircraft usually operated at night, while the Coastal Command Sunderlands conducted the majority of their patrols in daylight. (Before someone leaps in to correct me, I know the 'Leigh Light' Catalinas and Wellingtons were very much creatures of the night, but I'm just repeating here what Peter said to me.),

(Probably not a whole lot different to the Bomber Command crews), the Sunderland crews, operating alone, relied totally upon seeing an enemy first, which meant from as far away as possible, (and running, or hopefully making for cloud a.s.a.p.) as their only means of survival. This meant their gunners had to be always totally on the alert rather than just gazing out into the distance, so they switched over after an hour when possible. As well armed as the Sunderlands were, as Peter's story shows, they were usually no match for six Ju88s conducting a properly co-ordinated attack.

It's probably also a case that they did so because they could, because, unlike the Bomber Command aircraft, they had the extra crew to do so.

Please note also that after receiving a list of hand written corrections and a few additions to his story from Peter, I've amended all the posts to reflect his amendments and additions.


Through a friend, I've managed to find the addresses below for Luftwaffe Associations. If there is someone out there who can write in German who is willing to contact these associations, perhaps they'd like to establish the contact and ask them if they'd like to add their contributions to this wonderful thread.

GEMEINSCHAFT DER FLIEGER DEUTSCHER STREITKRÄFTE E.V.
Gemeinschaft der Flieger deutscher Streitkräfte e.V.
Präsident: Peter Vogler
• Vizepräsidenten:
• Walter Jertz
Gaustr. 27
55276 Oppenheim
Tel. 0 61 33 / 49 11 97
Fax 0 61 33 / 49 11 98
E-Mail: [email protected]

• Friedrich Busch
Loherstr. 8
29348 Eschede-Dalle
Tel. 0 51 42 / 17 42
Fax 0 51 42 / 41 67 66
E-Mail: [email protected]
• Gunter Fichte
Dorfstr. 22d
01774 Höckendorf-Obercunnersdorf
Tel. 03 50 55 / 6 12 06
E-Mail: [email protected]

• Ehrenvorsitzende: Anton Weiler, Jörg Kuebart
Geschäftsführung und JÄGERBLATT-Vertrieb:
• Rolf Chur
Südstr. 66a
53797 Lohmar
Tel. 0 22 46 / 18 36 4
E-Mail: [email protected]
Schatzmeister:
• Jörg Böttcher
Rothusener Weg 2
50374 Erftstadt
Tel./Fax 0 22 35 / 69 00 30
E-Mail: [email protected]
Referent „Geschichte/Tradition – Suchdienstzentrale – Historisches Archiv“:
• Wilhelm Göbel
Krahwinkeler Straße 34 A
53797 Lohmar
Tel. 0 22 47 / 30 03 96
Fax 0 22 47 / 30 03 98
E-Mail: [email protected]
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Old 3rd Feb 2010, 14:05
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Flogging A Dead Oss ????

Through a friend, I've managed to find the addresses below for Luftwaffe Associations. If there is someone out there who can write in German who is willing to contact these associations, perhaps they'd like to establish the contact and ask them if they'd like to add their contributions to this wonderful thread.
WILEY.
That is very useful info and much appreciated.
I spent yesterday afternoon Googling, and searching sites etc, with only limited success. I did manage to register with Feldgrau, but am awaiting approval,/ I posted the letter below on Axis History/, and 12 o/c high,/
One of these emailed me this A.M and said he had opened a separate thread for me.Also I am awaiting a reply from The Berlin Luftwaffe Museum
However your suggestions are most helpful, and I will make a print out of the addresses , explore the possibilities. and do my best to follow them up. Hope 'I am not flogging a dead oss'
Could I suggest that any Pruners who have any addresses or contacts, that they copy and paste the interpretation below, and either email or better still register with an Ex Luftwaffe association. The latter will allow them to post the full letter on a thread ? I am quite happy for the interpretation to be offered to any site ,under my name, or that of the sender.
----------------------------------------------------------------
To:
[email protected]
HI.

Please find below a request, first in English and then German.

Any help, suggestions , or contacts would be much appreciated.
CLIFF.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I write on behalf of contributors to the thread on PPRuNe (professional pilots rumour network , military section) which can be found on the internet by Googling either PPRuNe or cliffnemo. This is a thread that has now developed into various wartime pilots from all over the world describing their experiences during world war 11. The thread is called ‘ Gaining an R.A.F pilots brevet in W.W 11.’

Although we have tried to make contact with our opposite numbers in Germany , we have had no success and wonder if you could help us to contact either ex Luftwaffe aircrew or near relatives who would be good enough to share information with us. I would assure you that this is a very friendly site, and any ex Luftwaffe aircrew or airmen would be warmly welcomed, and any information appreciated.

I have been frequently informed that many historians obtain information from this thread, and have been asked by certain aircraft museums for permission to use extracts from the thread. Also I have been told that the thread contains a lot of information that does not appear in ,novels, biographies , or other records. I would , therefore, appeal to your organisation for help, and thank you in anticipation.

I would also point out that it may be of interest to current members of the Luftwaffe re the training of aircrew in England and America during the war, as this is described in detail.
-------TRANSLATION-------

Ich schreibe im Namen des Web der PPRuNe (professional pilots rumor network, military section), welches im Internet bei Google oder cliffnemo unter PPRuNe gefunden werden kann. Das ist ein Forum, dass entwickelt wurde von verschiedenen Kriegspiloten aus aller Welt, um ihre Erlebnisse während des 2. Weltkrieges zu beschreiben. Die web Seite heißt "Gaining an R.A.F pilots brevet )in W.W.II"
(BREVET + FLUGEL ? )

Auch haben wir versucht mit gleichgesinnten aus Deutschland Kontakt aufzunehmen. Wir hatten keinen Erfolg und bitten Sie uns zu helfen entweder ex Besatzungsmitglieder der Luftwaffe oder andere Beteiligte zu kontaktieren, die bereit sind, Informationen mit uns auszutauschen. Ich kann Ihnen versichern, dass wir eine sehr freundliche Seite sind und jedes ehemalige Mitglied einer Luftwaffen Manschaft (Pilot, Besatzung, Ingenieure)wird herzlich aufgenommen und jede Information wird geschätzt.

Ich werde regelmäßig darüber informiert, dass viele Historiker Informationen durch unsere web Seite erlangen und wurde von verschiedenen Flugzeugmusen um die Erlaubnis gebeten, Ausschnitte aus der web Seite zu benutzen zu dürfen. Mir wurde auch mitgeteilt, dass in der web Seite viele Informationen enthalten sind, die nicht in Romanen, Biographien oder anderen Aufzeichnungen enthalten sind. Ich würde hierfür gerne auf Ihre Organisation für Hilfe verweisen und bedanke mich hierfür im Voraus.

Ich möchte hervorheben, dass es vielleicht interressant sein kann von den Mitgliedern der Luftwaffe, betreffend des gängigen Trainings der Besatzungen in England und Amerika während des Krieges eine detalierte Beschreibung zu erhalten.

VIELEN DANK. CLIFF.
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Old 3rd Feb 2010, 15:46
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Luftwaffe

WILEY. Have just spent the afternoon sending a copy to the addresses you gave, and my brain is more 'addled' than usual
Impossible . (Mrs Nemo')
One was returned as I inserted a - instead of a . , so corrected and sent O.K. One replied 'out of office' will reply soon. It's all good fun
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Old 3rd Feb 2010, 17:52
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As the topic has returned to Schrage Musik, perhaps the attached clip will be of interest in how the attacks were carried out. It may be possible to contact Peter Spoden who may be able to convey Cliffs message to useful people....

YouTube - WaldoPepper62's Channel

All the best to cliff, reg and all, Kevin
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Old 3rd Feb 2010, 20:02
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Memoirs of a WW-II Typhoon pilot part 12

Peter Brett's story continues: he gets a bit lost in a Hurricane and learns the effects of a bird strike...

The course at Peterborough was only five weeks, plus another couple of weeks leave, and the total flying time was only some 30 hours. It was soon over and we were then posted on to our next stage which was Operational Training. This took place at No.55 O.T.U at Annan in Dumfrieshire in Scotland. At last we were going to fly real operational aircraft, in this case the Hawker Hurricane.

My first impression of this aircraft was that the cockpit was rather cramped. It was much narrower than either the 'Harvard' or the 'Master', and the sliding hood, which was of 'Greenhouse' construction, with small panes of perspex in a metal framework, felt rather claustrophobic at first.

Due to my height I found that, if I closed the hood by the recommended method of reaching back over my right shoulder with my left hand in order to reach the unlocking lever, I hit myself in the back of the head with the flange at the front of the hood. I eventually solved the problem by releasing the lock as recommended and then sliding down in the seat and reaching back over my head for the flange on the front of the hood to pull it closed. This was only one of the things I had to get used to. Another thing was the fact that raising the undercarriage after take off necessitated changing hands on the control column since the operating lever was on the right hand side of the cockpit. Until you got used to this, or else took off using the control column left handed, the aircraft would perform a series of rapid undulations before climbing away. Using either method it was very important to ensure that the throttle friction nut was sufficiently tight to keep the throttle from closing back if you took your hand away! It was easy to pick out the 'new boys' by watching the take off. Either the aircraft would porpoise just after the wheels left the ground until the undercarriage came up, or, just after takeoff, the engine note would start to die away, immediately recover and the aircraft would climb away with the wheels still down as the frustrated pilot tried to tighten up the throttle friction nut at the same time as holding the throttle open and keeping control of the machine.

Although the 'Hurricane' was not the most advanced aircraft at the time, it was still more than twice as powerful as anything I had flown before and was much faster and more maneuverable. Really the 'Operation Training' was more of a conversion course onto the 'Hurricane'. My first flight in the new aircraft was on 6th March 1943. Circuits and bumps for nearly an hour. The second flight was a sector reconnaissance. I was obviously not yet used to the speed of my new mount and on my third flight, coincidentally on the 13th of the month, which was a triangular cross country flight I got myself completely lost! On studying the map afterwards I realized that I had either misread the compass or neglected the magnetic variation. On the last leg of the flight, from Portpatrick back to Annan, I mistook the Solway Firth for Wigtown Bay and headed gaily off into Cumberland. After flying for about ten minutes I realized that I was lost and tried to get a homing vector from Annan flying control. Since we only had H.F. sets with a limited range, and I was probably flying too low anyway at 2000ft, I could not get an intelligible reply. I therefore did the recommended thing in the circumstances, at least in a fairly highly populated country like Britain, which was to continue flying on the same course and land at the first aerodrome you came to.

It seemed to take a long while to reach anything but mountains and, when I did finally see an aerodrome ahead of me, I was getting quite worried about my fuel situation. I immediately did a circuit of this aerodrome and landed. I had been airborne for over 2 1/2 hours. I was waved to a parking space and then reported to the Flying Control tower. I shamefacedly explained my predicament. The duty pilot grinned a bit and said "Have you any idea where you are?" My reply was that I must be South of the Solway Firth. He took me over to the map which completely covered one wall. Pointing to near the top of the wall he said "There is Annan" and then, pointing to a spot about waist height he said " And here you are, Dishforth in Yorkshire!" Looking at this large map I could see exactly what had happened. I had been very carefully flying down the middle of the Pennine Chain!

The duty pilot then phoned Annan, where they were just about to file a lost aircraft report, and I spoke to the Chief Flying Instructor. I expected a rocket but all he said was "Well you seem to have done the right thing anyway but I think perhaps you had better wait there for a return flight and I'll send somebody else down to collect you". Thus I returned ignominiously as a rear seat passenger in a Miles Master.

This escapade did not seem to delay my training at all because I notice from my logbook that the very next day I did my first high altitude climb in a Hurricane, to 28000 ft, using oxygen. The course then continued mostly concentrating on formation flying, cine-gun dogfights, low flying and aerobatics. On the 6th April I did my first spin in a Hurricane and found it not nearly as bad as I had expected. The wing did drop sharply at the stall but the recovery was quite smooth and rapid.

I had one rather frightening experience when low flying. I had dived down very low over the Solway Firth and, as I approached the shore I pulled up in a steep climbing turn to the left. When I came to level off I found that the control column only moved a short distance to the right and then stuck! Fortunately it stuck just past the centre and I very slowly regained level flight. I was the in a quandary. Should I keep the control column against this 'stop' or should I try to move it left and then back right again in the hope that it would become free again. I kept it over to the right until I was in A fairly steep right hand turn and then tried a rapid left-right movement to see if it would unjam. It stuck again but this time it seemed to move a bit further. I repeated this maneuver six or seven times, each time getting a bit more movement from the ailerons. As soon as I felt that things were getting back to normal I returned to base and landed. We discovered that I had hit a fairly large bird, probably a black gull, just as I had full aileron on in the climbing turn. The bird had jammed into the gap between the aileron and the wing under surface and had effectively locked the control. My repeated manoeuvres had eventually crushed the bird, which must have died instantly anyway, until the controls could move again. I hate to think what would have happened had the controls locked before the midpoint. I would obviously continued to roll to the left and, at that height, would certainly have crashed, probably upside down.

The course lasted until mid-April and then, for some reason only known to RAF Training Command, the rest of my course was posted and my posting was as a Staff Pilot with 55 OTU! I then spent another month at Annan and also at Longtown, the Satellite field, doing tailchases, aerobatics and camera gun exercises. I was I remember a bit fed-up that I was stuck up in Scotland whilst my contemporaries had been posted to operations and I did all sorts of silly things to relieve the monotony.

It was at this time that I received my most serious wartime injury! I broke my wrist falling off a bicycle! Because Annan was a fairly well spread out station we were issued with bicycles for personal transport. A favourite sport was being towed along by a motorcycle. Whilst I was doing this the motorcyclist, who was somewhat inexperienced, decided to change gear suddenly, he missed the gear on the first try, by which time the towrope had gone slack, and then accelerated away violently. Result - the bicycle handlebars were swung violently to one side and I carried on straight over the handlebars. I had enough sense to land on the grass verge and do a forward roll but my momentum was such that I carried on rotating for several yards. During this no doubt spectacular display I managed to break my left wrist. I did not realize it at the time but, after a very painful and sleepless night I went sick the next day and was sent off to Hospital at Carlisle for X-ray.

I return to camp again with my wrist in plaster and was consequently effectively grounded for about seven weeks. My first duty on returning was to make out an accident report. This was a remarkable fictional effort on my part blaming a loose half-brick in the road, bad visibility, and ineffective brakes for my injury, which was fortunately accepted by the powers that be. This meant that I was even more stuck in Scotland, although I did get a fortnight's sick leave at the beginning. During this period of enforced semi-idleness I did duty as Flying Control Officer and also a few turns at Runway Control when I had signal the aircraft taking off that it was clear for them to do so, and to keep an eye on the aircraft coming in to land to ensure that nobody was trying to land 'wheels up'.

I remember one occasion when I 'went along for the ride' in a de Havilland Dragon Rapide – known in the RAF as the Dominie - to collect five pilots who had been invited to lunch with the Navy at Lossiemouth. This was towards the end of my convalescence and my wrist was strong enough for me to fly the aircraft. Incidentally this was the only time I have ever flow a twin engined aircraft! Another chap flew the outbound trip, with me looking over his shoulder since there was only one seat in the pilots cabin. We duly picked up five rather drunken pilots and I flew us on the return leg. They did not know it was my first time flying this type, and they decided to have some fun. The first thing I noticed was that the aircraft was tail heavy. I adjusted the elevator trim. Suddenly the aircraft was nose heavy! I looked back through the cabin door window just in time to see the five pilots running back down the fuselage to upset the trim once again giggling like mad! When they saw that I had tumbled to their game they resumed their seats. A little later the aircraft swung sideways, this time they were not deliberately trying to upset my flying, but, having drunk quite a lot of beer, they were in dire need of a leak. Since the 'Dominie' did not have any toilet facilities they had decided that two of them would open the side door whilst the others relieved themselves through the opening. Fortunately nobody fell out and, after this they all fell asleep for the remainder of the trip.

On July 13th (13 again) I finally resumed full time flying and, after one dual circuit in a Master and an hour's solo practice I was once again let loose on a Hurricane. A few more flights and then I was at last posted to a Squadron, leaving Annan on 22nd July 1943.
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Old 3rd Feb 2010, 20:25
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Memoirs of a WW-II Typhoon pilot Part 13

Onto Typhoons at last...

With typical service efficiency I was posted to 164 Hurricane squadron at Warmwell. The aircraft were Mk.IV 'Tank busters' fitted with 2 x 40mm cannons, and they had their full complement of pilots. Thus, I never did get to fly one of these machines, which I was led to believe was really something to be experienced -especially when you fired the cannon, which caused a sudden drop in airspeed due to the recoil! After just one day with this squadron I was posted on to 183 squadron at Harrowbeer on Exmoor. At the time of course I had no means of knowing that much later I was to become a Flight Commander (and for a short time Acting Squadron Leader) on 164.

I arrived at Harrowbeer on 28th July 1943. Then for two days I did nothing but read the pilots' notes on the Typhoon and undergo the oral and written examination on that aircraft. During these two days I spent as much time as I could climbing all over the Typhoon and watching the takeoffs and landings. The first thing I noticed was the noise! The Typhoon had an engine which was more than twice as powerful as the Hurricane and this drove an enormous propeller 14ft in diameter. The terrific noise on take off has been variously described as "tearing calico" and a cross between a roar and a scream. To hear a formation of four taking off together was really an ear shattering experience!

On the 30th July I was told to take up the station Hurricane and do some local flying around the airfield under the watchful eye of the Squadron Commander. By this time I had had over 60 hours flying in a Hurricane, more than most ex OTU pilots, and I must admit that I did a bit of vulgar showing off. I took off in a very steep climbing turn, did one circuit climbing and then dived down and did a runway 'beat-up" followed by pulling up into a roll. I then went round the circuit and came in high so that I could do a sideslipping approach and then landed. It was one of my better landings, and, as soon as I touched down, I opened up and went round again. A couple more circuits and then I landed properly.

The C.O. didn't mention my showing off but just said "O.K. it's Typhoon time tomorrow!" Thus on 31st July 1943 I made my first flight in a Hawker Typhoon. Having read and been examined on the pilots' notes, and having been taught engine starting I knew theoretically what to do but the practice was something different again. Firstly the size of the aircraft was daunting. The wingspan was some 42ft, the cockpit was eight feet off the ground. The total weight was around seven tons! Sitting in the cockpit, which was entered by opening a car-type door and raising up the roof flap, the first impression was of space. There was ample room for me to sit upright without having the seat on the lowest setting and my shoulders were at least six inches away from each side. The instrument panel seemed to be further away and the consoles each side of my knees gave a further impression of space. Looking forward, with the aircraft sitting on the ground with the tail down, all you could see was this enormously long nose stretching away for some six or seven feet in front. It gave the impression of driving a steam locomotive from the foot plate! Taxiing was impossible in a straight line and you had to swing a long way from side to side in order to be able to see what was ahead. Even on takeoff it was not possible to see very far ahead since it was inadvisable to raise the tail too far on the takeoff run. With the aircraft in full flying attitude the clearance under the propeller was less than six inches, and therefore we were advised to take off in a tail-down attitude, especially from grass airfields!

The engine starter on the Napier 'Sabre' engine, with which the Typhoon was fitted, was unusual in that it was operated by a cartridge. This cartridge, when fired, generated high pressure gas which was used to force a cylinder along a barrel. The horizontal travel of the cylinder was converted to rotary motion by a worm thread and this turned the engine over. Providing the pilot had carried out the correct priming procedure the engine nearly always started first firing. Under-priming caused a false start and then a backfire. Over-priming either caused a fire in the air intake (a ground crew member always had to stand by with a fire extinguisher when starting), or, more likely, sheets of flame from the exhausts which washed down each side of the cockpit. It was a favourite trick of the engineering staff, when teaching a new pilot how to start the engine, to have the pilot standing on the wing leaning into the cockpit. They would then slightly over-prime the cylinders and the unfortunate pilot would find himself knee-deep in flames. This was not as serious as it sounds, since the flames were immediately blown back and away by the propeller wash before they could do more than feel slightly warm. If by any chance the engine did fail to start, you had four more attempts available before having to have the ground staff come and reload the cartridge magazine. In normal squadron operation it was very unusual for the engine to fail to start since the standard of maintenance was, in my experience, unfailingly high. The fitters, riggers, armourers and all the ground crews took a fierce pride in their work and most of them looked on the aircraft as if it were their own. They kindly lent it to the pilots to fly but woe betide any pilot who damaged the aircraft through carelessness or bad flying. Damage by the enemy however was a different matter, and was treated as an honourable battle scar.
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Old 3rd Feb 2010, 20:50
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Memoirs of a WW-II Typhoon Pilot part 14

Although I had by now started the Typhoon engine several times I had not before done the complete preflight cockpit check. This included setting the oxygen flow to about 10,000ft, since it had been found that the cockpit invariably became contaminated with exhaust fumes. It was never found out how this could be avoided, and consequently you had to use oxygen at all times when flying, or even when taxiing a long way. The preflight check also included an engine run-up to check the magnetos and therefore, for the first time I had to open up the engine to zero boost which gave over 3000rpm. The vibration and noise were terrific and I was glad to be wearing my helmet.
Taxiing I found quite easy since, due to the wide undercarriage track, a slight touch on one brake would swing the nose to allow me to see ahead. The Typhoon, in common with the Hurricane, had wheels which retracted inwards towards the fuselage. This meant that, when down, the undercarriage track was quite wide - even more so on the Typhoon than on the Hurricane. This made the aircraft very stable when taxiing even over fairly rough grass fields. When later I came to taxi a Spitfire, which had an undercarriage which retracted outwards and consequently had a quite narrow track, I was somewhat disconcerted by the way the aircraft tended to wallow sideways over even slightly rough grass.

On reaching the end of the runway and whilst waiting for the 'all clear' light from the Airfield Control Pilot, I completed my pre takeoff checks reciting the litany TMPFFSR. TRIM (Elevator neutral, Rudder fully port), MIXTURE (Rich),PROPELLOR (Fully fine pitch),FUEL (Check contents and select tanks which are more than half full, pressurising off, drop tank cock off), FLAPS (10-15 degrees down, valve shut),SUPERCHARGER (Moderate), RADIATOR (Flap open).

Right, takeoff check completed, wait for the green light from the ACP. There it is. Release the brakes, open up a little, roll forward on to the runway. Left rudder and a touch on the brakes and the nose swings round to line up with the runway. Brakes off, let her roll and open up smoothly to plus 4 boost. There seems to be plenty of throttle quadrant left but the acceleration is terrific. A touch of left rudder to keep her straight - it doesn't need as much as I expected. The acceleration is still pushing me in the back and the airspeed indicator is beginning to register. Eighty, ninety, and the tail is lifting. Don't let it come up too high. The controls are responding now. Keep her steady and let her fly herself off. Here she comes, lifting off, keep everything as is and wait for the speed to build up. One hundred and ten, one twenty, one thirty. Select wheels up. There is the double thump as the wheels retract into their housings. Climbing away nicely, 250 feet, select flaps up. Oops! it feels as if someone has pulled the rug out from under me for a few seconds as the aircraft sinks down. At the same time the airspeed builds rapidly. One hundred and fifty mph. Ease up into the climb, throttle back to zero boost and pull back the revs with the pitch control to 2850 rpm. Radiator flap up. Well I have made my first takeoff in a Typhoon. Now to look around and see where I am. I look at the altimeter! I am at nearly 5000ft and still on the same heading away from the airfield.

Two things struck me about the takeoff. Firstly how very simple was the retraction of the undercarriage where the operating lever was on the left hand side below the throttle quadrant. The lever was unlocked by turning the large knob on the top of the lever clockwise a quarter of a turn and moving the lever up. Releasing the lever then allowed the knob to spring back and relock the lever. Lowering the undercarriage was the reverse operation, turn clockwise, move down, release and the lever was locked in the down position. It was simple and foolproof and unfortunately I got so used to it that, much later, when I was flying a different aircraft, it got me into trouble. But that is a later story. The second thing was the way the aircraft sank down on pulling up the flaps. As I became more experienced on the aircraft I found that I could raise the flaps bit by bit very quickly and not lose any height at all.
On this first flight I had intended to do a circuit and bump but obviously I had been too preoccupied to realize that this aircraft flew much faster and climbed much faster than the Hurricane. I levelled off and did a left turn. Oops again! I had lost the airfield! A few seconds later I realized that I could see it but it was much further away than I expected. I put the nose down to get back to 1000ft to do a circuit. The result of this was that the airspeed built up until I was doing nearly 400mph and it was not until I throttled back and went into fine pitch that I managed to get down to a reasonable 250mph to join the circuit, by which time of course I had gone miles past the aerodrome in the opposite direction! I eventually managed to sort everything out and started a proper circuit to land. The pilots notes were very specific about not turning at under 130-140mph airspeed. Therefore, having got the undercarriage down I went well past the downwind end of the runway and then turned base, reduced the speed to 150mph and turned to line up with the runway. I did a long flat approach with the flaps down at 145 mph, closed the throttle as I passed the end of the runway and proceeded to float more than half way down the runway before I touched down. I had no idea how much runway was left but was convinced that I was about to shoot off the end at any second. I applied the brakes heavily and the ground speed dropped rapidly but then the brakes faded as they got too hot and I rolled along at about 40 mph with brakes which seemed to be useless. Fortunately they were still having some effect and I eventually found I was going slow enough to turn off as I saw a taxi track appear. As I turned off to the left I looked right to see how much runway was left and found that I only had had only about another fifty yards to go before I would have run out of tarmac. All in all I must say that my first experience of the Typhoon was somewhat awesome. It flew me, more than I flew it! Later on, I became much more familiar with the idiosyncrasies of this aircraft and, by the time I ceased flying them, had also developed a great affection for its sterling qualities.

Last edited by tow1709; 3rd Feb 2010 at 20:57. Reason: forgot title
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Old 3rd Feb 2010, 21:43
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Regle

Again thanks for the reply. It must have been no fun sitting with frozen left side of the body for 7 hours? And poor old 'tail end Charlie'. My dad told me that expression in the 60s.

Another question, if I may?

Obviously when on Ops, the first fear would be being, well, blown to smithereens and not coming home? Especially as you were living with the constant loss of others that had 'gone for a Burton'. Given that a 'lucky' close flak shot by the Germans, or you being 'chosen' by an ME110 as his unfortunate target to 'stalk' that night, was in some ways a random possibility.

What I would like to ask, is was there much concern over what might happen should you have to bail out and land over enemy territory? Were you aware of the way some downed aircrew were (sometimes, not always) seized upon by vengeful locals?

Another quick question. It's been reported, in this forum and elsewhere, that Guy Gibsons Mossie went down due to his unfamiliarity with the fuel tank valve switching arrangements. Being an ex Mossie pilot, what's your take on that? Was it a complex affair in the Mossie? And if so, was it unfamiliarity, or perhaps (as some of your posts indicate on the aircraft of the day, eg all the problems on the before-ops 'test flights') more likely a fault with the fuel valves?

Also from an earlier post of yours I can now figure why Dora got pregnant so easily - you were hiding pounds of streaky bacon in the back cupboard - you rascal

Please keep posting. More pointless questions and a little more background on the time from my dad and my mum (mum grew up and lived in St Helens in WW2 btw - she is now 83) from me later.

Take care
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Old 3rd Feb 2010, 22:07
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Regle - St helens

Just noticed your Father in Law worked in mining/glass in St Helens.

It's a small world indeed. As mentioned my mum is from St Helens. Her grandfather and father worked in the 'pit', as it was called. Her brother also worked in the coal mines, until he got silicosis (miner's dust on the lungs) in the 50s and had to move to nearby Pilkingtons to work in the glass industry. My mum tells me the two main pits in St Helens in the 30s and 40s were called King pit and Queen pit.

I wouldn't be surprised if your Father in Law knew my Grandad.

As you say, the coincidences just keep coming..

Apologies if this veers a little OT from the brilliant main thread

Last edited by speke2me; 3rd Feb 2010 at 22:37.
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Old 4th Feb 2010, 08:25
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Memoirs of a WW-II Typhoon Pilot part 14

Wow!
That's all I can say - love the Typhoon take-off detail..
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Old 4th Feb 2010, 09:51
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A REPLY

A REPLY THIS A.M
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Dear Mr. Leach.

thank you very much for your mail. I forwarder your request as you can see to our point of contact regarding history and tradition. If anyone from us, he would be one to get in touch with.

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