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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 2nd Mar 2010, 08:35
  #1601 (permalink)  
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Reference public schoolboys and commissions: We had an ex-public schoolboy Electrical Fitter (Air) on Line Servicing Squadron; a son of a LLoyds name. His pristine Jaguar XK 150 was a source of wonderment to many of our superior officers, not least Wing Commander Engineering, in whose parking space it was often to be found. (The wingco rode a bike to work).
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Old 2nd Mar 2010, 09:16
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Blacksheep's secondary monniker, "Cunning Artificer", reminds me that, when I served with the Royal Australian Navy, the Naval College and the Artificer Training Establishment were in very fierce competition with each other on their interstate recruiting drives, precisely because so many young Australians viewed both methods of entry, and the prospective careers each offered, as having equal merit.

Jack
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Old 3rd Mar 2010, 17:26
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Pilot Training, WW2

My SFTS station commander was a rugby nut. At the end of course interview, he having noticed I had been schooled at a place with a strong connection to the wretched game, asked in what position I played; "none, if I can help it" was my rather incautious reply, with the inevitable result that I was passed out as a Sergeant Pilot.

No regrets on that score, for while hanging around at Harrogate awaiting further training I got an impression (rightly or wrongly) that Officers were more likely to become 'stuck in the system' than NCOs; so, as my last 14 months of service were happily occupied in flying Daks around SE Asia I think that, in the end, i was well served by the system.

On returning to the Service 2 1/2 years after demob I was lucky enough to gain a commission; fortunately, at no stage was I asked that dreaded question again!
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Old 3rd Mar 2010, 18:04
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Predannack which was right down on Lizard Point in Cornwall
And is now a satellite to RNAS Culdrose.
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Old 3rd Mar 2010, 21:43
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PILOT TRAINING in UK, WW2

There was still plenty of enemy activity over the UK at night, and very often on returning to Abingdon there were “Bandit” warnings. The airfield was blacked out and we waited for some time until it was clear for landing. On one trip back from the Isle of Man I allowed Peter Taylor, an “O” trained navigator but now my Bomb aimer, to fly the aircraft. He must have drifted off course, for suddenly we were over Birmingham at 10,000 ft in an air raid and getting our first experience of ‘Flak.’ I guide him away and changed seats just before the rear gunner reported a JU88 immediately behind, but we lost him in cloud.
On another night cross country, coming down from Hexham, we encountered a severe storm. The lightning was amazing and the rain torrential. The Whitley leaked like a sieve and the Navigator’s chart was soaked, not entirely by the rain but also from the contents of a little tin which I carried “for domestic purposes.” When I emptied the contents of the tin through the clear vision panel, they were blown in through the perished seals of the navigator’s window! The Rear Gunner asked if he could move forward from his turret; he was soaked and could see nothing, and his parachute pack was dripping. He came forward and sat by the Wireless-Operator whose set was dead, with sparks flying from it. “Does it often spark like that?” “All the time,” said Benny.
Brad decided that being a W/Op was too dangerous.
We could make no contact with Abingdon and we dare not drop below 500 ft because of Boar’s Hill. Flying around in a widening circle I eventually made intermittent TR 9 contact by “Darky” with Chipping Warden. They told me they were firing rockets, but we could not see them. I asked for Mortar shells and eventually we saw one and closed with it. Then we saw the rockets, so I asked for the Chance Light. The Chance light and all the Drem system were already fully on, and finally we saw the runway. I landed in a tremendous rainstorm and I was told the spray shot up like a Flying Boat landing.
We reported into the Watch Office, where the Duty Officer complimented me on my procedure; then he played back all our radio conversations on a vintage Edison Bell wax drum recorder. There were many OTU crashes that night. fredjhh
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Old 6th Mar 2010, 20:43
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Memoirs of as WW-II Typhoon pilot Part 18

Here is another extract from Peter Brett's memoirs. He is now operational with No 183 Typhoon squadron, carrying out ground attack raids over northern France.

On October 28th 1943 I flew Typhoon HF-B from Fairwood Common to Predannack. I flew part of the way in company with a Spitfire which was returning to Perranporth.The rest of the trip included a low level beat-up of some of the beaches along the North Cornish coast and round Lands End, across Mounts Bay to Lizard Point.

The next day I again flew this aircraft but this time on my first operation!
The target was the airfield at Guipavas near Brest (Now the Brest Airport). We were to dive-bomb using 500lb bombs. The method and approach to dive bombing changed several times during my tour but, at this time, we were starting from 12000 ft, diving down to about 4000 ft. The briefing just told us that the target was probably heavily defended by AA fire but that we should not expect any fighter opposition since the airfield was not then occupied by an operational squadron. It seems that we were to bomb the airfield to delay the deployment of a fighter wing which was due to be transferred there.

I freely admit to the 'butterflies in the stomach' feeling during the briefing, and it was not until we were airborne and well on our way that I began to settle down. The procedure was that we flew across the channel at nominally zero feet and then did a fast battle climb to 12,000 ft just before we reached the target. The climb was done at +4 boost and 185 mph which gave us the maximum rate of climb. As soon as we reached 12,000 ft we were ordered into echelon and then the leader would call the target position and tell us when he was about to dive.

As the 'new boy' I was No.2 in the second four which made me the sixth aircraft to dive. Crossing the Channel, I was very busy keeping station on my No.1 and ensuring that I did not inadvertently fly into the sea, since we were only some twenty feet above the waves! The fast climb up was relatively easy and uneventful. The C.O. called 'Echelon Port, Arm Bombs.... Go!' and I tripped the arming switches and slid across to the left of my leader as the squadron reformed. Almost immediately I realized that I was actually being fired at for the first time! Black puffs of smoke were appearing in the sky around us. Fortunately most of them were too high. The C.O. then called 'Target 3 o'clock below, diving now' and peeled off. Up to now I had not seen the target and I blindly followed my leader into a 135 degree bank and down into, what seemed at the time to be, a vertical dive. Looking ahead I then realized that I was looking down on a grass airfield with various hangars and other buildings.

I pointed the nose of the aircraft at the centre of the field, glanced at the altimeter, which was unwinding very fast, and, as it passed 4000ft I eased the nose up a trifle and pressed the bomb release button on the end of the throttle lever. Time to leave! I pulled back on the stick and came out of the dive, keeping the 'G' force such that I did not 'black out'. As the speed dropped I eased back into level flight and looked around for the rest of the squadron. Nobody in sight! I eventually saw them about 4000ft above me. I don't think I have ever felt so alone since! Nobody had told me that you pulled out using the maximum 'G' that you could stand, even if it meant 'blacking out' by losing the blood supply to the eyes. I later became adept at pulling just the amount of 'G' to lose my vision but keep conscious on the pullout from the dive. At this time however, I had to make up the difference. By slamming the throttle 'through the gate' to emergency boost and moving the propellor control to fine pitch I managed to catch up the rest of the squadron in short order. The C.O. later apologized for not briefing me properly. The operation was counted as a success and was reported with a short paragraph in the newspapers. I had a cutting from the 'Daily Sketch' pasted into my log book. The whole operation lasted one hour and ten minutes but I felt afterwards as if I had done a hard day's work!

I did not fly again for three days. The squadron was on 'stand down' for a couple of days and, of course we had an impromptu mess party as soon as we knew that we would not be flying operations for a while. Most of us used to drink a pint or two every night but on party nights it was almost obligatory to become legless! Apart from the singing of service type songs, most of which were very obscene, we also indulged in some pretty weird pranks.

One favourite was to get some poor lad to remove his shoes and socks, dip his feet in a mixture of beer and soot from the fireplace, and then the rest of the mess, sometimes as many as fifty people, would hoist him up and he would make black footprints up the wall and across the ceiling. Since in most messes the ceiling was fairly high the footprints could only be obtained by hoisting the performer up, head downwards, on top of a pyramid of supporters. Also, since everybody was somewhat drunk and tended to collapse laughing at the slightest excuse, it usually took a long time and many downfalls before anything was accomplished. I suppose it was because we were drunk that no major injuries occurred.
I also remember trying the business of having someone sit in a chair whilst two others pressed down on his head. At a given signal the two others would transfer their hands to place one under each armpit and one behind each knee. They would then lift the subject up as high as possible. It used to work too! I can clearly remember two of us fairly tall types hurling a smaller member right over a table and landing him in a settee a good ten feet away!
The songs we used to sing were the usual ones popular in every Service mess and in every rugby club too. They were always being added to, and the notable ones, such as 'Eskimo Nell', 'The good Ship Venus' and even the more venerable "Quartermaster's Store", must by now have reached epic proportions.

One quotable ditty that I remember was an RAF dig at the US Air Force. It was sung to the tune of 'John Brown's Body' and went as follows:
We're flying Flying Fortresses at Forty Thousand feet
We're flying Flying Fortresses and we know we can't be beat
With bags of ammunition and a tiny weeny bomb
And when we've dropped the bastard then we don't know where it's gone!

This was of course a gross libel on the incredibly brave crews of the Flying Fortresses. It was based on the fact that the B-17 had many more defensive guns than, for instance, the Lancaster, but carried a somewhat smaller bomb load. Also the technique used by the USAF for daylight raids was 'Pattern bombing' where all the bombers in a formation released their bombs together on a signal from the leader who was the one doing the bomb aiming. No doubt the USAF had some equally derogatory songs about the RAF!

The only times I every came into contact with the USAF I found them very similar to ourselves and very ready to help out in any situation. I certainly did not envy the Flying Fortress crews on their raids into Germany. In any case, we had every reason to be thankful to them since at this time the Luftwaffe was deployed defending Germany from their operations and consequently we were not very often attacked by German aircraft over Northern France.
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Old 7th Mar 2010, 09:34
  #1607 (permalink)  
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tow1709 Glad to hear that there were not too many German fighters in France when Peter Brett was there

I have just got hold of a combat report submitted by my father Flt Lt xx after a bombing raid on L'Orient in early 1943 in a Stirling .

Night. Stirling was over target at 13500 ft when a Me109 approached from starboard beam at 200 yards apparently diving to attack a Lancaster on port beam of our aircraft. M/U Gunner told Captain to turn starboard. Stirling executed a rate 2 1/2 turn and dived a 1000 ft and both gunners fired good bursts at E/A as it dived from starboard beam below to climb away from port quarter.

M/U gunner ( Sgt xx) reported attack broken off and told Captain to resume course. Bomb run was then made and bombs had just gone when E/A re-appeared dead astern below firing cannon shell,visibility was good, clear sky, searchlights, fires and flares. Rear Gunner (Sgt xx) told Captain to corkscrew and maintained a long burst at point blank range,when there was a blinding flash in E/A which was not seen any more. Rear gunner could not observe the results of his fire as he was temporarily blinded by explosion, but E/A is claimed as probably destroyed.

Seven nights later their luck ran out when a nightfighter shot them down over Belgium (Me 110)
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Old 8th Mar 2010, 15:43
  #1608 (permalink)  
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Scurrilous songs sung by alcoholic aircrew...

Just dreaming up a good title for an RAF songbook. Does it exist ? I remember years ago there was a Rugby Song book which went pretty near the mark. I am sure that there would be a pretty good demand for one. I remember that , rightly or wrongly,( apropos that last phrase ; why not wrightly if wrongly is wright ?) Noel Coward was supposed to have written some of the best ones. "Craven A" being one.

I am going back to the 60's
to continue my ramblings. I had joined Sabena in 1952 and had flown as a first officer for a couple of years before becoming a Freight captain on DC3's , From then on I had risen rapidly to becoming a Captain flying the European sector on Convairs, DC4's and DC6's and then progressing as a senior Captain flying DC4's, DC6's and then DC7C's on the "Long Courier" routes which comprised the Belgian Congo, New York, Montreal, Mexico , Johannesburg and one Tokyo per week (on DC4's). I had flown 3,850 hours on joining Sabena in May 1952 and in Jan. 1964 I had the total of 14,500 hrs. all on piston engined aircraft.
Around July/August of 1963 I was called in to the Chief Pilots Office and told that there would be the possibility of two or three Captains becoming neccessary for the farly new Boeing 707's that the Company had been flying for some time. I was in line for one of the vacancies and was told that I would have to study for the required examinations in my own time as the company could not spare time off . I would be given a definite date later but was I prepared to start the course there and then.? It was not an easy decision. I was then 41 years of age so could count on another 19 years of flying as long as I could pass the medicals. Sabena had no hard and fast "sell by date " but it was considered that 60 would be a good age to retire and qualify for the extremely generous "Golden Handsakes" and Pension. Certainly there was time to enjoy the challenge of a new career so I discussed the matter lengthily with my Wife and agreed to put my name down for the Jet age.
Another of the British Captains, Charles Wait, had been given the same chance and had accepted so as our two families were the best of friends we agreed that we would try and do our studying together. The transition from piston to jet aircraft was a huge step and Sabena, rightly, always laid great stress on a very sound theoretical background for it's pilots.. This standard was the highest that I had ever met in aviation and contrasted enormously from the American practical approach which was then the alternative answers form and was based on the theory that "If you can't do anything about it , then there was no need to know about it ." We were given brief day courses on various subjects when they could fit it in between trips but we had to spend most of the rtime studying in Hotels and at home to the dismay of our respective Wives. They took it in turns to prepare gigantic meals for us as we studied and so we put on many kilo's before the final, all Oral examinations took place.
Sabena were fortunate in possessing a Flight Engineer with one of the finest brains and teaching skills that I have ever encountered. Yves D. was a tower of strength in putting over formulae to two ignorant ex-Grammar School educated pilots who had only just discovered that a formula was more than what Americans gave to their babies.

Last edited by regle; 9th Mar 2010 at 18:26.
 
Old 8th Mar 2010, 18:03
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Songs, eh? I have a copy of the "Airman's Song Book" edited by C.H.Ward-Jackson and Leighton Lucas..published by William Blackwood & Sons Ltd. in 1967...I paid 24/- for it!! Runs from before the Great War up to 1967. There are lots of omissions, but it sets out to be a history of the RAF told by its own songs...and does it quite well. SBN 85158 00 5 x.
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Old 8th Mar 2010, 19:51
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Regle, it's so nice to hear what happened after the war, most wartime pilots end their stories with the end of the war and it sort of leaves one wondering well what did you do then? Keep it coming please it's fascinating.
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Old 8th Mar 2010, 22:49
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Just dreaming up a good title for an RAF songbook. Does it exist ? I remember years ago there was a Rugby Song book which went pretty near the mark. I am sure that there would be a pretty good demand for one. I remember that , rightly or wrongly,( apropos that last phrase ; why not wrightly if wrongly is wright ?) Noel Coward was supposed to have written some of the best ones. "Craven A" being one.

Well, the Fleet Air Arm Song Book certainly exists, and goes pretty near - if not past! - the mark, as evidenced by Regle's Craven A, found on page 136 in my copy. I shall now see "The Master" in a new light and no wonder the title page is inscribed "For Private Circulation only"!

Jack
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Old 11th Mar 2010, 13:40
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Green Granite

Thanks for the nice words. I think that there were a few reasons why people did'nt put down their post-war careers and experiences. For probably the majority the post war was a complete anti-climax and to many a vast disappointment. A lot of them had escaped from a mundane existence and found the war an exciting and wonderful change. I know that my Father, who was 39 when the war broke out and was commissioned as an RAF Signals Officer ,spent most of his career overseas and had the best time of his life. The other side of it was the terrible trauma experienced by those less fortunate who had been taken prisoner by ruthless enemies and subjected to inhuman treatment. The disfigured, the terribly wounded and the people who were simply traumatised by what was happening to them . None of these could be expected to put their thoughts on paper. Richard Hillary's "The Last Enemy" is a difficult to read but outstanding exception. As an example of what must have been going on on the minds of thousands was the response to one simple advertisement in "The Aeroplane" or "Flight" magazines by Sabena in the early part of 1952. They wanted 30 pilots and did not reqiure Civil licences . The response was overwhelming and numbered well over 1,200. Of the thirty that were taken on, I was the only one to have a current 'B' Licence as it was called then. Virtually all the others were ex-RAF pilots back in peace time jobs and seeking to get back to a more exciting life. The lack of the need to have the outstanding ticket to a civil airline career was too tempting to many of them "stuck" in soul destroying jobs. Another reason , I think, was the difficulty in getting any sort of memoir published as the demand to read about other peoples' experiences was low. The demand was to have to wait for about twenty years by which time another generation had grown and wanted to know what their Fathers had been doing. Now it is the Grandchildrens' turn and this has brought the further demand of the post-war experiences but the survivors are all around my age ,88 in two months time and, possibly the main reason : very few of us are interested or well enough to get down to putting it into words by this medium.

I thank God every day for my good luck in being able to do most of these things and pay homage to all those far worse off and those who are no longer here but did so much to make it possible. Regle
 
Old 11th Mar 2010, 14:19
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You could always employ a ghost writer regle! Off subject a bit, but I have just started reading the story of Horace Greasley, aged 92. It is a fascinating account of his time as a POW, written by a ghost writer called Ken Scott. Among other things it tells the story of his full blown love affair with a female translator (German) while incarcerated in a POW camp in Silesia. It was published in 2008 and is Titled: Do Birds Still Sing in Hell? ISBN 978-1-905988-80-8
A book to enjoy while drinking your Cocoa!

YouTube - Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell

Last edited by brakedwell; 11th Mar 2010 at 14:51.
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Old 11th Mar 2010, 16:13
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my best friends...my log books !

A bit further with my last thread. Another very important reason for there not being many "What happened next " stories after the war must be the frailty of the human memory. Unless one kept a diary there were very few ways that people could accurately recall where they were at a certain time, let alone what they were doing.. This is where all pilots score. Your log book , which it was mandatory to keep and have regularly certified as being a true record, will instantly tell you that and , hopefully , jog the memory especially as the long forgotten names of the people that flew with you are very often there as well. Trouble is that I have six of them and it is remembering roughly which date you want that is giving me trouble plus the fact that some inks keep better than others. I must sat that whatever ink I used in my early days keeps better than the later ball point days. I think that it was Quink and certainly not Stephens.... That was another bawdy song that comes back so readily when more important things get forgotten ! Regle
 
Old 11th Mar 2010, 18:39
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On the subject of logbooks... it's also interesting as a historian reconstructing the careers of a crew through their logbooks and letters, long after the fact. I have two logbooks belonging to members of my great uncle's crew - one for the nav and one for the pilot. I'm in touch with the families of two more (bomb aimer and now, as of yesterday in fact, the rear gunner too), neither have those logbooks sadly, but I live in hope.

One veteran has said to me, that if he knew there would be so much interest in his wartime logbook 65 years later he would have been more careful in filling it out!
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Old 11th Mar 2010, 18:58
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Hi,

what a great thread, very interesting!

I'd like to say to the vets not to be shy about posting any photos they have, all would be much appreciated!

cheers,

-John
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Old 11th Mar 2010, 23:47
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I think that it was Quink and certainly not Stephens.... That was another bawdy song that comes back so readily when more important things get forgotten!

Well, Regle, I don't believe that any of us who has followed this wonderful thread throughout thinks that you, or Cliff et al, have forgotten any of the "more important things".

Jack

PS And you clearly haven't forgotten that "They called the B*****d Stephens", and why!
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Old 12th Mar 2010, 09:46
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PILOT TRAINING in UK, WW2

My crew at 10 OTU, Abingdon, was established now as Sgt. Jack Roberts, Navigator; Sgt. Peter Taylor, Bomb-Aimer; Sgt “Benny” Goodman, Wireless-Operator; and Sgt. Bert Bradley ((RCAF) Rear-Gunner. Jack had been trained in Canada, and Peter had been trained as an Observer in South Africa. In night bombing using infra-red targets, Peter had difficulty with his night vision, but he later flew two tours, being killed in 1944, aged 19. He must have been only 17 when at OTU, by which time he had qualified in South Africa.
We all wondered about his age and he was heard to be discussing the faking of ages on birth certificates. His parents were working abroad and he had joined up straight from a boarding school. I can only guess that he had made 15 into 18; or 1925 into 1922 on his Birth Certificate.
Exactly one year after first stepping into a Tiger Moth I was briefed for a 1,000 bombing raid on Dusseldorf. Several OTU crews at Abingdon were ready for their final test, which was usually a “Nickel” (dropping leaflets) on France or Belgium. On entering the briefing room we found the route outlined to the Ruhr and we were told it would be a full Bomber Command operation. I cannot remember all the details, such as bomb load, but I know our bombing height was fixed at 10,000;- a height that would have made me shudder on the Squadron, but caused no worry in my innocence.
Fully laden, and taxying round the perimeter track in total darkness, I had my bomb aimer in the front turret with the Aldis light, trying to guide me round. There were no lights, and the “runway” had just the usual six goose necked flares, with a blue lighted “Christmas tree” at the holding point. Half-way round, the Bomb-Aimer told me to stop. The Flight Commander had flashed us down and, when he poked his head under the front hatch, he said the operation had been scrubbed. He added that he would guide me round onto the perimeter track to return to dispersal. He waved his torches, I followed them round. While we were stripping off in the locker room, the Flight Commander came in carrying his totally wrecked bicycle, which I had run over. He did not blame me! fredjhh.
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Old 13th Mar 2010, 10:20
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regle:
The other side of it was the terrible trauma experienced by those less fortunate who had been taken prisoner by ruthless enemies and subjected to inhuman treatment.
Thank you for that comment, Reg, as it truly encapsulates my father's fate surviving such treatment for over three years until succumbing to it a few months before VJ day.
fredjh:
Several OTU crews at Abingdon were ready for their final test, which was usually a “Nickel” (dropping leaflets) on France or Belgium.
I remember an instructor at the Hastings OCU who similarly as a student was sent with his OTU crew on a 1000 bomber raid on Cologne. They found the target, duly bombed it but were hit in one of their engines. None the less they made it back home and he found himself enjoying the "Flying Fryup" in the Officers Mess. An Instructor further up the table called down to him and said well done for getting back on one engine. "Now you know why the Wimpey is also nicknamed the "Pig" as that is what it is with one feathered!". He later found his own instructor and asked; "What does feathered mean, Sir?" He had returned with the failed engine windmilling, not knowing better!
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Old 16th Mar 2010, 21:54
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10 OTU Abingdon

It has been quite some time since I last wrote in and frankly am way behind in my reading – busy stage of life with kids still at home. Fredjhh I did read your story in Snaith Days – miracle you are here to tell it and looking forward to hearing more of the “details” when you get to it.

My uncle Doug (51 squadron rear gunner whom I have written about earlier in the forum) was stationed at 10 OTU Abingdon possibly around the same time you were (dec 8 ’42 to april 9 ’43). Next he was assigned to 10 OTU Detachment St. Eval (april 19 ’43 to May ’19 ’43) - from your writing it looks like you must have gone from 10 OTU to a CU then on to 51 Squadron at Snaith? Do you know anything about the 10 OTU detachment in St. Eval? According to Doug’s logbook while at St. Eval he had many 6 to 10 hr day time missions on Anti-Submarine patrol (looks like he was destine for coastal command at this point but obviously something changed). On several occasions they were engaged with enemy subs. Realizing it was an OTU it still mystifies me today that he did not get credit for these as an official ops?

PS a friend of my fathers was an RCAF lanc pilot and is one of the few remaining members of the Guinea Pig club (I think there are only 50 left). He is still “with it” and online so I will see if he can contribute to this fabulous forum.

Rodger
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