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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 18th Feb 2010, 07:58
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Roll of Honour

cliffnemo, Regle, johnfairr fredjhh and all: I have enjoyed this thread enormously and scan regularly for new posts. It reallly deserves a "permanent" record. I picked up the reference to Halton Brats and just thought I'd draw attention to the In Memoriam pages on the Apprentices Association website www.oldhaltonians.co.uk . If you select "Tribute" then "Roll of Honour" you will find the names and operational details of the some 1600 Trenchard Brats who never came back between '39 & '45. I was chilled reading the list. I thank God I only had to be a "Cold War Warrior".

Please keep up the posts.
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Old 18th Feb 2010, 10:34
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Fuel leaks in WW2 Bombers

Sorry to go a bit 'off-thread', but one of the very few stories my father told me about his war service was that he occisionally flew in Bombers (he was a single engine pilot mainly) as a passenger, and he said that there was one particlar type of aircraft (a 'Manchester' ? I think he said), which had a terribly leaky fuel system, so much so that the pilot had to occassionally open the bomb bay doors and let out the fumes and even a collection of fuel that had gathered in the bottom of the aircraft !!
This story seems a bit far-fetched to me but I can't believe my father made it up!
So can anyone confirm that this did indeed happen with a certain type of bomber?
Thanks, Andy
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Old 18th Feb 2010, 16:37
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AG25

This sound like a hoax. I cannot think any pilot would fly an aircraft with a known fuel leak. A friend flying Wellingtons told me that, when given Avro Manchester bombers to fly, the whole squadron petitioned the C.O. to have the Wellingtons back. The Manchester was deadly on one engine. After only a few weeks they were withdrawn and the Squadron was given Lancasters.
An Army Captain friend was sent on a course with the RAF and he was given a flight in the turret of a Defiant. He told me how worried he was, as the pilot emphasised that he must carefully count the rotations. If he exceeded six turns in one direction the turret would screw off! I told him the same applied to the dustbin under turret on Whitley 111s. fredjhh
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Old 18th Feb 2010, 17:31
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Some of the "perks" of an Airline Pilot.

What a wonderful experience that first taste of Africa was. We sat outside our Lodge in the plains below Kilimanjiro on Xmas morning 1967 with the majestic mountain sparkling with it's white cap of snow whilst we enjoyed the lovely morning sunshine. Later we saw game by the thousand: Zebra, Wildebeeste, Impala, Hippo, Giraffe, Buffalo, Gazelle all in countless numbers stretching across the plains. At Lake Manyara the Flamingoes, in their thousands, coloured the surface of the huge lake in clouds of pink. We stopped our "combi" under a tree in the Amboseli where a sleeping lion, sprawled high along the branches above , completely ignored us. Once our combi got stuck so, foolishly ignoring the strict laws, we got out to push it when one of the crew spotted a rhinoceros gravely watching about two hundred yards away. Never did a re-entry to a combi take less time.!
One time we were stopped by a group of Masai warriors, complete with long spears. They had obviously been drinking and were very curious. They kept pointing to a soft toy lion that my daughter, Feeka, was holding. They were very impressed and kept saying "Simba" and making ominous jabbing thrusts towards the toy. Our native driver was scared stiff and had gone a peculiar shade of grey. They wanted water so we operated the windscreen wipers and they greedily drank from the windscreen leaving red ochre stains all over it. We eventually got rid of it by promising better water from the second combi coming up behind which they also stopped, scaring the rest of the crew but without any harm coming to them.

Before crossing from Kenya into Tanzania we had stayed the night at one of the many lodges. We had arranged for an early start next morning but our driver did not turn up. The other driver volunteered the information that ours had gone to visit his sister at a nearby village so we took the other combi and with me driving ,went to find him. We would have gone without him but the local law insisted upon a native driver when crossing the frontier. We came to a collection of low mud huts and one of the Stewards went inside one of them. A little later one "sister" emerged followed by several others all clutching their clothes sheepishly about them. There must have been half a dozen of them. Eventually a native came out and explained that our driver was still inside but could not
find his trousers and was searching for them. He eventually staggered out, still blind drunk, clutching a pair of trousers miles too big around him. He slept in the back until we came to the frontier when we propped him up behind the wheel and I manoeuvred the combi from his side. We crossed the Tanzanian frontier waved on by the guards as though a sleeping driver slumped over the wheel was a normal sight.

We all loved Nairobi with it's beautiful climate and fascinating native shops and markets but we had to press on to Johannesburg where we visited the repulsive, but fascinating Snake Park where I was well and truly put in my place. We were given a demonstration of "milking"a Cobra of it's venom by one of the South African rangers and I asked him, as he was holding the snake along a stick and withdrawing the venom, had he ever been bitten . "Yes" he said "when some stupid B.....d asks a silly B.....y question in the middle of the ....... " I won't go on any further but my face was very red. The last show that was put on for us was the very early Sunday Mine dancing put on by the "Welly" Dancers who were huge Zulu miners who gave a terrific show wearing their impressive feathered outfits but clad in their mineing Wellington boots which they stamped in the red clay with perfect rhythm and wonderful effect shouting their fearsome war cry and brandishing their spears in perfect unison.

Just a little bit more of "diversion" in my next episode and then I promise you back to the D.C.7c and further adventures... I liked the comment about the saturday morning movie serials. my Father always had a cinema so I was brought up on those terrific "Cliffhangers" that always had you anxiously awaiting the next one and always being disgusted at how they changed the script around to enable the rescue of the heroine. Be patient. Regle
 
Old 18th Feb 2010, 17:45
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Fuel leak

I'm sure you are correct fredjhh, it seemed a bit unreal to me. I can only guess I misheard my father and maybe this was a one-off situation where the bomber developed a fuel leak during one specific flight. Thanks anyway, I have always been curious about the story.
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Old 18th Feb 2010, 17:51
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After the Arnold Scheme training

Is it true that after pilots qualified from the Arnold Scheme, that they had the choice of what to do afterwards? Just how much choice was there? For example, could a pilot choose where in the world they wanted to go, or could they also choose whether they wanted to serve in a combative role or not?
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Old 18th Feb 2010, 23:17
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AG25 Arnold scheme

I can tell you what happened with the first course, 42A, that trained in the Southeast Air Training Center, USA and graduated on Jan. 3rd. 1942.
First of all some of the chaps were commissioned straight away and the rest and majority were given the rank of Sgt.Pilots. Most of the commissioned stayed on in the States and were made Instructors. A few were posted back to England with all the N.C.O Pilots. At no time were we asked what type of Command we wished to be posted to. A majority were entrained when landing in Scotland straight down to Bournemouth where we stayed in comfort in the luxurious Bath Hill Court Flats for nearly two months before being posted all over the place. Some of us were posted overseas straight away before the two months were up and a few who did not go to Bournemouth were given various postings. I cannot remember ever being asked what type of aircraft I woulkd like to fly or which Command I would like. Note that I can only speak for the majority of the graduates who were not commissioned. I was posted to an Advanced Flying Unit at a small grass aerodrome called Brize Norton to convert on to multi-engined Oxfords. My Sgt. Instructor, also from Blackpool, asked me how many hours I had and when I told him 200, there was a silence then he said "Well I have 30 so we'll sort something out. " At the completion of my course, for the first time I was asked to complete a form stating which type of aircraft I wished to fly and I put down "Heavy Bombers". and was promptly posted to a Blenheim Operational training unit No 17 at Upwood belonging to 2 Group Light Bombers. They were equipped with Blnheims, Bostons and Venturas. I was posted to 105 who were a Blenheim Sqdn. but were just receiving the very first Mosquito's . I never operated on Blenheims, Thank God. From memory very few , if anyone, got what they desired and I can remember a lot of very disappointed N.C.O Pilots leaving Bournemoth. Although the Mossie was a wonderful aircraft and I was thrilled to take part in many low level daylight "Ops" on them ,I had always wanted to fly four engined types as I wanted a civil career in aviation and I eventually got my wish which I never regretted. Regle
 
Old 19th Feb 2010, 07:15
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small grass aerodrome called Brize Norton
Hmm. I think that one's changed a little in the ensuing years...

I had always wanted to fly four engined types as I wanted a civil career in aviation and I eventually got my wish which I never regretted.
This is an interesting comment as well. Phil Smith, pilot of the crew I am researching, preferred heavy bombers as well, considering that a licence to fly big aeroplanes would be a useful qualification to have post-war. While you, Reg, went on and did just that, once Phil returned to peacetime life he never flew as a pilot again. I remember him telling me, a few years before his death, that an Oxford was the last aeroplane he ever landed.
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Old 19th Feb 2010, 10:13
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AG25

Regle's reply to your question about choices under the Arnold scheme, was very similar to pilots courses in the UK. The only choice we were offered was to volunteer to be trained as instructors. This was an appeal from the CFI to the assembled course in a classroom. No one volunteered. Whether any one volunteered later I do not know, but most of the course went directly to Bomber Command OTUs. I did meet one man, aged about 30, who was posted to fly Ansons at a Navigation School, and another who went to Half Penny Green to train Army Glider Pilots on Hotspurs. The RAF pilots were given
Hawker Harts to keep up their power flying skills.
We could do with some reminiscences of those trained in Rhodesia.
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Old 19th Feb 2010, 11:23
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Ha Ha

For example, could a pilot choose where in the world they wanted to go, o
My first experience of 'choosing', was when at A.C.R.C (St John's Wood .) we were asked which I.T.W ( Initial Training Wing ) we wished to be posted to. I chose Scarboro (near home) , and was posted to Torquay (furthest away ).
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Old 19th Feb 2010, 11:44
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I knew a Ground Radar Fitter who didn't wish to go to Saxavord, so he put his positive choice as "Saxavord" and his negative choice as "Anywhere that isn't Saxavord".

He was posted to Saxavord, naturally...
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Old 21st Feb 2010, 12:12
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Herewith translation with the help of Yahoo translator.(my first reply).
I don't know yet, whether it helps, but will study the reply below..

I think the emails I have sent to Luftwaffe pilots may be going into their spam box. Has any one any ideas on how i could prevent this ? If no suggestions are forthcoming . I will send a letter to each one by 'snail' mail. A time consuming job, but 'Press on reward less'

Can't help singing that old song 'He's got high hopes, high apple pie in the sky hopes, and then think of 'that little old ram, thought he'd punch a hole in a dam.

TRANSLATION BY YAHOO TRANSLATOR.
Yahoo! My Yahoo! Mail Search the Web Yahoo! Babel Fish *Welcome, cliffordleach* Sign Out Babel Fish Home - Help In English
-------------------------------------------------------------
Very honoured Clifford Leach I received and with interest read their message regarding pilots of the WW II. Which concerns me, then I am gladly ready for information. Other addresses I cannot give you unfortunately, since all pilots are older than I and information are not ready to give. I maintain good contacts to the Doncaster air Gunners Ass.und am of the 10th - 12.July in Bridlington to a meeting. For this you can experience details over Jacqui Whitehead. With friendly grüsssen Horrido Theo Nau ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ( Enter up to 150 words ) Translate again Sehr geehrter Clifford Leach Ihre Nachricht hinsichtlich Piloten des WW II habe ich erhalten und mit Interesse gelesen. Was mich selbst betrifft,so bin ich gerne zu Auskünften bereit. Andere Anschriften kann ich Ihnen leider nicht geben,da alle Piloten älter sind als ich und nicht bereit sind Auskünfte zu geben. Ich pflege gute Kontakte zu der Doncaster Air Gunners Ass.und bin vom 10. - 12.July in Bridlington zu einem Treffen. Näheres hierzu können Sie über Jacqui Whitehead erfahren. Mit freundlichen grüsssen Horrido Theo Nau
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Old 21st Feb 2010, 14:55
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Cliff
You might find this human translation more useful.

Dear Clifford Leach,

I have received your message concerning WW II pilots and read it with interest. With regard to myself, I would be happy to provide information. I cannot, unfortunately, provide you with other addresses because all other pilots are older than me and are not willing to give information.

I maintain good relationships with the Doncaster Air Gunners Association (?) and will be at a meeting in Bridlington from 10th - 12th. of July. You can find out more about this via Jacqui Whitehead.

Yours sincerely,

Horrido Theo Nau
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Old 21st Feb 2010, 15:57
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Back to the Future...

When we came to the end of the Charter we were due to leave from Jan Smuts for Brussels. The German "Courier" who had stayed with his Group for the duration of the tour had gone back to Germany already and had left a Deputy behind. I was sitting in the cockpit awaiting embarkation of his group, having already installed my Wife and two of my teenage children behind the cockpit when this chap came in to the cockpit, bristling with indignation. Herr Commandant...he began and then almost shouted that there were free passengers aboard and that the aeroplane did not belong to Sabena but to his Company. I did not answer but unplugged my headphones and began putting papers in my crew bag. "What are you doing ?" he shouted. "I am just getting my things together and then I am going to take my Wife and children off your aircraft and then you may take command and fly it wherever you like . " I replied, quietly. Have you ever seen one of those cartoons where a lifesized airfilled doll collapses ? I swear that it happened to this chappie.! My crew could hardly keep their faces straight as he struggled for words, red in the face and then swept out and we never saw him again.
I will just tell you of one or two "Tales of aircrew in Africa" and then get back on course as I have jumped ahead and got on Jets before I had finished with the elastic driven prop age.
 
Old 21st Feb 2010, 16:49
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Episode at Entebbe

My eldest daughter, Linda , was flying with British Caledonian, later British United and I met up with her, once or twice, when stopping over at Entebbe. The crews of both companies stayed at the same Hotel, the famous,or quite often the infamous, Queen Vic. I was not there when she was amongst the British crew who found themselves within earshot of a Sabena crew on the lawn of the Hotel swimming pool. Linda went to school in Belgium and is fluent in Flemish and French so she understood every word of what the Sabena chaps were saying including quite graphic descriptions of what they would like to do with some of the British Stews.
She didn't say a word until she got up to leave and then stopped by their side and in the lowest Bruxelloise patois which consists of a weird mixture of both languages proceeded to tell the flabbergasted Romeos that they would'nt last five minutes with the weakest of her friends and told them why. When she stalked off she told me that they stood up and applauded her ! She was not so lucky when she was involved in a horrific accident in a Volkswagen Beetle returning to the Hotel after a crew night out in the nearby Kimpala. They crashed into one of the stone columns guarding the entrance to the Hotel. I don't know how many were in the Beetle but Linda was sitting on the knees of the First Officer and was thrown through the windscreen. The first officer broke both his legs and to my knowledge never flew again. She was taken to the only Hospital in Kampala where there were no sheets on the beds but, by a wonderful stroke of luck,was being visited by a visiting Bitish surgeon who so skilfully stitched up her face wounds that there are no scars to be seen to this day. She was not so lucky with the terrible damage to her legs which was left unattended for too long and shows the scars as proof. Once again she was lucky as the crew at the Hotel was captained by one of the original British Pilots Charles W...t . All of the original 30 British pilots and their wives were considered by the children to be the Uncles and Aunts that they had left behind in England and Uncle Charles was one of them. H went straight to Kampala when he heard the news and saw that Linda was looked after. It was in the middle of the night and a taxi driver refused to take him back to Entebbe when he saw his bloodstained shirt after he had visited Linda as he thought that he had been in a fight and did not want to get involved. The Caledonian manager wanted to send her straight back to Gatwick where she shared a flat with four other stewardesses in nearby Reigate but Charles and another "Uncle" Jack E...s ,who was taking the next Sabena plane back to Brussels made sure tha she was on the flight so that she could be looked after by us. The Sabena staff were marvellous and I never ceased to be so thankful that I worked for a Company who regarded each of it's employees as one of a very large family. My next episode will be with that same Captain Charles W...t as we were both told we were to be promoted from D.C7C's to 707's but that the course would take about six months and all studying would have to be done in our spare time as they could not spare us so we would have to take all our books with us on long stops away and really get down to it.
 
Old 21st Feb 2010, 19:31
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fredjhh

SFTS Lessons continued in the same way as at EFTS, with half a day in the classroom, and half a day flying. In addition to bombing theory, stripping of guns and fusing of bombs, there were theory lessons on engines and carburetors. The only shooting we did was clay pigeon shooting. Astro navigation, with spherical trigonometry and the use of the astro compass and the sextant, took up more of the classroom work as we got nearer to the Wings Exams. There were night vision tests, and aircraft recognition tests using slide projectors with a very fast shutter in a dark room.
After one flight my Instructor told me, We are recommending you for a commission. Do you wish to accept? Yes sir. Thank you sir.
Good. Report to the Flight Commander. He is expecting you. I saw the Flight Commander and he asked the same question, then told me the Group Captain and the CFI and the CGI would send for me later. They did, and I found I was on a list of 14 for commissions, subject to your examination marks! Later a man from Gieves measured us for uniforms, which would be ready at the end of the course.
Just a day or two before Christmas 1941, we were told at 8-00 am to be cleared of the station, and to be on the coaches for posting at 12-00. The runway contractors, who had started outside the airfield, had now reached the dispersal sites. In the early after-noon we found ourselves in the peacetime station of RAF Little Rissington, the home of No. 6 SFTS.
We assembled in a large hall where the Group Captain Welcomed us to Little Rissington. Our posting was as big a surprise to him as it had been to us! They had no accommodation, but airmen were still working to make two First War huts ready. They had no extra aircraft and no spare instructors, but they would see what could be done. Our Course Leader, Sgt, Lofty Reynolds, an ex-Boy Apprentice, handed in a sealed envelope from Lyneham which the Group Captain read then passed to the CGI, before he left the room.
The CGI told us that the letter gave the list of those for Commissions, You will only be here for about two to three weeks, but we cannot recommend for Commissions, people we do not know. He then went on to explain that 6 SFTS had two Awards, a Badge of Honour for the Best Pilot, and a Navigation Cup for the best Pilot/Navigator. They also had an Honours Board listing each course with their average examination mark. It could not be spoilt by our marks, so we would not appear on the board!
We would be designated 29a Course (Ex Lyneham.) And that was that!
I think at that point everyone decided that our average mark would beat any on the Rissington board.
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 22:48
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A day or two later we started flying. I had already the required hours but we needed night landings. We used goose necked flares for the landing strip on the grass field and, if the wind changed, the pupils and the night flying ground crews had to change the runway.
On the third day, the 14 commission candidates were told to parade at SHQ at 9-00 am.
The SWO marched us in, one at a time, for interview with the Group Captain, the CGI and the CFI. All 14 were interviewed in a total time of 30 minutes. My interview consisted only of, What school did you attend? I named my Grammar School. What games did you play? Cricket, Soccer and Tennis, Sir. If you got into debt as a officer, would your father pay your debts? No Sir. My father died when I was eleven. Would you mother pay your debts? No Sir. I would not get into debt. I was dismissed. The others were asked the same questions.
Next morning a Message was posted on the crew room board.

None of the members of 29a Course (Ex-Lyneham) will be commissioned.

Night Flying continued. A pupil on the senior course wore the ribbon of the George Medal. His aircraft had been attacked at night by a German fighter, and set on fire. His instructor was seriously wounded and the pupil, on his first night flight, had to land the aircraft and get the instructor clear. On an earlier course, a pupil had rammed a German aircraft in daylight, and his name is commemorated with a tablet on the Church yard wall in the village of Sherbourne, where he died.
Then we had the first snow. I took off on a bright January day and, at 300ft, I flew into a snow storm. I kept climbing ahead and came out in clear air. Circling the Rissington hill I could see a pillar of snow falling on the airfield. There was no way I could land there, so I flew to Brize Norton and booked in at the Watch Office, where they insisted I must be lost.
They did not believe my story until an ATA officer landed a Wellington and said he could not get into Rissington for heavy snow. I stayed the night and I was allowed to return next day. Then the snow got really severe, piling great drifts on the western edge of the hill, cutting us off from Bourton-on-the-Water and the outside world. After four days we were on hard rations, and we were set to work to dig a passage down the hill to join up with Army parties digging up the hill. A week later we started Night Flying again and we had our Wings Examination. The course average mark was the highest to date at 6 SFTS and I was very pleased to come 9th out of 54. The Course mark did not appear on the Honours Board!
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Old 24th Feb 2010, 09:02
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Dear Kookabat,

Which Phil Smith are you resarching please? I too am researching a chap of the same name who died in Milton Keynes last year and also flew Oxfords at some point. Could this be the same one?
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Old 24th Feb 2010, 10:06
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G'day Steve,
Negative, Phil was an Australian, full initials DPS Smith, but he went by Phil. He passed away in 2003.

It was worth a shot though, you never know who you will find here. I had a random private message almost a year ago from someone who had googled the name of my great uncle (a 467 Sqn navigator) - and found this thread (I posted a picture of him there some time back). Turned out the man who contacted me was also a great nephew, but on the other side of the family!. The two branches had lost touch some years ago. My grandfather was most excited to get in touch with him - all through the power of PPRuNe!
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Old 24th Feb 2010, 10:42
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Pilot Training in the UK, WW2

____________________________________________________________ ________
During the final sessions of flying I had to go into the Flight Commanders office to sign the Night Flying book. Another pupil was there, reading a Memo which was lying open on page. I read

MEMO

Because it has always been the custom to award the Pilots Badge of Honour and the Pilot/ Navigators Cup to pupils who are to be commissioned, in the case of 29a Course (Ex-Lyneham), the awards will be confined to the Army Officers attached to the course.

Signed............................... CGI


The Army Officers were as shocked as we were.
Our Wings Parade was held in a hangar as it was raining heavily. A contingent of ground staff and another of WAAFs formed two sides of a square with our parade in the centre. One of the Army officers was called forward and the Group Captain presented his wings and the Badge of Honour. A second officer was called to receive his wings and the Navigation Cup, then the remainder received their wings. Sgt Lofty Reynolds, the course leader then received his wings - On behalf of the rest of the course.
The Parade was dismissed and the pupils filed out of the hangar, receiving a Deficiency Chit from a sergeant at the door. These we took down to Stores where we exchanged them for pilots badges and sets of sergeants tapes, plus a webbing belt and holster with another Deficiency Chit in lieu of a Pistol!
War time economy in the UK, compared with the wings parades in the USA.
We left Little Rissington the next day, but we were forbidden to wear our Pilot's badges and stripes until the following day when we were at home on leave.
My total flying hours were 87 hours dual and 83 hours solo, onTiger Moths and Oxfords, with 26 hours on the Link trainer in six and half months, including two weeks leave.
Some members of my course at ITW had no interruption in their flying and were already flying Wellingtons, Whitleys, Hampdens and Blenheims. And some were dead.
That concludes my experience of Pilot Training in the UK in WW2. Fredjhh
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