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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 30th Mar 2010, 11:30
  #1701 (permalink)  
 
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St Eval Ops

RMVENTURI
The whole object was to keep U-boats submerged when going out or coming in. Hours they were kept under meant days off their patrols.
Very often they were so short of Diesel fuel they had to be re-fuelled on the surface in day light, making them vulnerable to attacks.
Our Whitleys were still in Bomber Command black, making us very easily seen. Most regular Costal Command units were white or light blue.
A Wellington Squadron at St Eval flew by night using Leigh Lights, and there was a Halifax Strike Force ready to attack any sighted U-boats. USA Liberators patrolled further out in the Atlantic, and there was a Met Flight using Bostons.

For 10 OTU Detachment
The usual sequence of events at St Eval were based on a three day cycle.
On Day One we did air tests and exercises, e.g. Low level bombing runs over a target rock, or Fighter Affiliation with Seafires or Grumman Martlets from St Merryn. Then crews were taken by coach to their billets in hotels at the coast and got to bed early. At an unearthly hour we were wakened and took the coach back to the airfield for breakfast at something like 03-00 hours.
We also handed in our requests for the days rations. Each crew member had a large Thermos flask in which he could have coffee, tea, or milk (hot or cold). The crew had several quart sized Thermos flasks, wide necked, in which we had soup and extra coffee or milk Each crew member had a tin box, about 12”x 10” x 5“, with sandwiches, tins of orange juice, an apple, chocolate and chewing gum.
Then came Briefing in the Ops Room, which was presided over by an RAF S/Ldr and an RN L/Cmdr. The patrols were laid out on a huge wall display of the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic, south and west of the Southern Irish Coast. The whole area was overlaid with a grid pattern marked with a letter and a number. For example, we would be told we could attack anything in areas G8, H7. In areas C4, D7, H4, we could only attack U-boats on the surface or showing a periscope, not if completely submerged. In other areas we were NOT to attack submarines on the surface. The navigator marked these on his chart. Additional information might be on areas where there was a strong possibility of subs being seen. (Enigma?) The coding machine and the codes for the day were given to the navigators. All pockets had to be emptied and the contents went into sealed bags which were placed in a safe by a Wren Officer. Watches were synchronised with a Naval chronometer. Only the navigator had an RAF issue watch, usually an Omega, Longines or Rolex.
The Wireless operator collected the two pigeons and helped the Gunner and the Bomb Aimer to pick up the rations and take them out to the aircraft.
Our Point of Departure was usually from Bishop’s Rock Lighthouse in the Isles of Scilly, and always in the dark. Spitfires flew over the Lighthouse for a few minutes to keep off any enemy fighters. From Bishop’s Rock the routes fanned out over the Bay of Biscay covering the area down to the Spanish Coast.
It was Wing Commander Peveller’s determination to have 8 to 10 aircraft on patrol every day, no matter what the weather. I remember being guided round to the runway by an airman using a goose necked flare in thick fog. Then lining up on the runway and taking off using the just the gyro compass. “What about fog conditions on return, Sir?”
“We’ll deal with that when you get back!” On the worst day, six Whitleys had to be abandoned or crashed, unable to land, or without fuel to travel further inland.
We carried six 250 lb depth charges fitted with immersion switches set to explode at 30 feet. They had to be dropped from below 50 feet at less than 150 mph, otherwise they broke up on impact. The Connell Box (Mickey Mouse) distributor, spaced the stick out so that a good attack could crush the sub. All bombing was done by the pilot, with no bomb sight, hence the need for practice.
The four Browning guns in the tail turret were for air defence and would only be otherwise used to fire at the Conning tower of a U-boat after an attack. The single Vickers K gun (the Pea Shooter) in the nose turret might be used by the Bomb Aimer in the attack.
The optimum height for searching for subs was 800 feet but in the wintry conditions many operations did not reach this height. All the crew, with the exception of the Navigator, had to keep a constant sea search and the Bomb aimers had Binoculars issued. Crude Polaroid glasses were also available to cut the glare from the sea.
On returning we were given a hot meal and went to bed. The next day was free and we usually went into Newquay. Then the cycle started again as Day One. fredhh
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Old 30th Mar 2010, 20:34
  #1702 (permalink)  
 
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St Eval Ops

Fred, great post! Much appreciated. I remember my Dad describing how they dropped the torpedo from a Hampden - also very low and slow to prevent it from tumbling and/or breaking up from impact. Often took heavy fire as they could not take evasive action while lining up the attack.

Why would you they instruct you NOT to attack a sited U-boat?
For example, we would be told we could attack anything in areas G8, H7. In areas C4, D7, H4, we could only attack U-boats on the surface or showing a periscope, not if completely submerged. In other areas we were NOT to attack submarines on the surface
Rodger
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Old 30th Mar 2010, 20:35
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C Flight, No. 3 Squadron, 3 I.T.W., January 1941

Does the above mentioned introduction ring any bells with anyone out there? I am still trying to track down someone who might have a recollection of Acting Flying Officer Derek Olver. I am aware that there were approximately 50 men with whom he was in training at this time.

I would appreciate any help that you might be able to offer me that might assist me to find out more about him.

Thank you.
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Old 30th Mar 2010, 22:02
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St Eval Ops

RMVENTURI
A sub on the surface might be Allied, perhaps damaged. Recognition was difficult and many whales were depth charged by crews who could just see the shape below the surface. Most attacks were on subs sighted on the surface re-charging batteries. Under the low cloud an aircraft usually spotted the sub too close to attack, and had to turn a full circle, giving the sub time to dive. The rear gunner would fire continuously at the Conning Tower to try to prevent the deck crew to get below. fredjhh
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Old 30th Mar 2010, 22:05
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RaguoC: I assume you already know this:-
Name: OLVER, DEREK REGINALD
Initials: D R
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Flying Officer (Pilot)
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Age: 30
Date of Death: 15/03/1942
Service No: 101091
Additional information: Son of William Reginald and Grace Lydia Olver; husband of Kathleen Emma Olver, of West Kensington, London.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. P.C. Grave 63.
Cemetery: NORTH SHEEN CEMETERY
He seems a lot older than I expected.
His wife had an address in West Kensington when she returned the Form to the CWGC, yet he is buried at North Sheen. Is that where his parents lived?

There is a website PIPL which might help locate further avenues to explore.
Did he mention a brother?
Wing Commander Peter Olver, DFC, 611 Squadron, Cambridgeshire, Spitfires.
(BoB veteran)
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Old 30th Mar 2010, 22:23
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C Flight, No. 3 Squadron, 3 I.T.W., January 1941

ICARE9

You have just taken my breath away. I knew some of the details but not all. I need time to take this in. Thank you very much for responding so quickly. Obviously, time is against me as I too have only just realized how old Derek would have been had he survived WW11.

I am amazed that you were able to supply this information so swiftly. You can tell I am a novice.

Your news about Peter has left me non-plussed. I do not recall mention of his name however I have a cousin who might be able to offer some more information in this vein.

Once again, thank you. You guys are definitely providing me with a great deal of help in my quest.

P.S. Late last night I sent an e-mail winging its way to the above mentioned cousin in Australia who is also endeavouring to track down information about the family for the next generations. His mother was Derek's sister.

Last edited by raguoC; 31st Mar 2010 at 06:16. Reason: Correction and additional information.
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Old 31st Mar 2010, 11:49
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RaguoC: I haven't any evidence that Peter was related to Derek, just asking if a brother had been mentioned. Sounds like you'll soon have confirmation either way.
Further research turned up an old thread on another forum:

OLVER, DEREK REGINALD Fg Off 101091
WYATT, JULIUS LEE Sgt R/83471

were flying Oxford II, AP465 or AB641 of 12 SFTS, which collided with each other over Grantham. Both registerd in Grantham. It might actually be 12 FTS, not 12 SFTS, which I think was at Brandon, Canada. I have asked on RAFCommands for any further info.

Name: WYATT, JULIUS LEE
Initials: J L
Nationality: Canadian
Rank: Sergeant (Pilot)
Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force
Age: 27
Date of Death: 15/03/1942
Service No: R/83471
Additional information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Homer Wyatt; husband of Mary Evelyn Wyatt, of Jacksonville, Texas, U.S.A.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. 19. Row A. Grave 19.
Cemetery: GRANTHAM CEMETERY

It's not clear whether they were both in one of the Oxfords, but I would assume that both were in one which lost control and went straight in, and the other made a landing but badly damaged.... Others may know more, now we have a unit identity.

With regard to W/C P Olver, he seems to have had an exciting time, he managed to damage his Hurricane in Nov 1942 by hitting a telegraph pole, (see: 'Fighters over the Desert' by Shores & Ring p.208, confirms that: (13 November, 1942) POs Waite and Campbell of 213 Squadron were shot down by flak, and Sqn. Ldr. Olver hit a telegraph pole with the tail of his aircraft, returning safely however.
but was shot down and captured:
OLVER, P/O. P. 84963 British. 611 & 603 Squadrons. Shot down, captured and made POW June 11th 1943. (earlier reference above presume was "Acting" rank)
He obviously resumed his career in the RAF post war to make Wing Commander. Obviously, if he is not related, then of little actual interest to this thread and my apologies to all.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 11:06
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Icare9

Thank you once again. Stupidly, I have chosen, during my coffee break, to check in to the forum while I am work. Currently I am sitting here trying to take in all that you have imparted. I am amazed that you have managed to uncover so much information in such a short space of time. I am exceedingly curious as to how you managed to do so.

My home computer was down last night due to a national problem that effected the internet therefore I was unable to access anything other than my e-mail by circumnavigating the usual channels.

I will log in again tonight to read and thoroughly digest the information that you have given me and mine.

Grateful thanks.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 13:09
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It's not me, but my friend "Google". I maybe know a few ways to make it more efficient, is all. I try to do is help people where I can. Sometimes I dig up something which triggers a lot more information. Thank the internet, not me - and a forum which has international like minded friends!
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 02:07
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Val St Leon on converting to the B707

Hello all,
It's taken me a while, I'm sorry for that, but I have posted on the Aviation History forum the start of an account by Captain Val St Leon on his experiences converting to the B707 in 1959. Val was not wartime aircrew (though he was a fitter with No 3 Sqn RAAF) so I took Icare9's advice to put it on the other forum.

For those interested, link is here:

Endorsement on the 707 in 1959 - PPRuNe Forums

Will be updated every couple of days until I run out of the words that Val gave me!

Adam
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Old 13th Apr 2010, 10:31
  #1711 (permalink)  
 
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C Flight, No. 3 Squadron, 3 I.T.W., January 1941

Icare9
I have been up to my eyes in work for almost a fortnight therefore was unable to follow up on the information that you gave me. However, I am back in the saddle again and ready to continue my research. Further to your mention of Wing Commander Peter Olver: he was not as far as I can tell closely related to Derek Olver. I checked out some of the other branches of the family tree, courtesy of my cousin in Australia but there appears to me no direct male line that might have netted a link i.e. cousin.
Today I am off to London to lend my daughter a hand and can see the opportunity arising to seek out Derek Olver's grave. I am armed with my documentation and Johnfairr's father's account of his memories of RAF service during WW11, which I intend to continue reading on the train.
Have your had any response from the queries that you made on my behalf to the RAF?
Awaiting your response with much gratitude.
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Old 13th Apr 2010, 14:56
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Respects duly paid at North Sheen. He has a nice plot, easy to see on RHS as you go towards the chapel in the middle. His wife Kathleen and son Derek are mentioned on the headstone. It may be possible to locate them?

No further news - only that the other Instructor appeared to have been from Jersey.
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Old 13th Apr 2010, 16:56
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regle
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Early birds on 707's Regle

I see that my latest posting on this ( In reply to Icare9!) is on the "endorsement on the 707 in 1959" thread. Regle

Last edited by regle; 13th Apr 2010 at 17:13.
 
Old 14th Apr 2010, 21:17
  #1714 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Icare9
I am grateful for you taking the time to look in at North Sheen. Are you located in or near London? I was there today assisting my daughter but sadly we had insufficient time to visit Derek Olver's grave although we had looked up the location courtesy of the internet the night before.
Derek's widow Kathleen was my mother. She remarried in 1945 and died in 1999, which was three years after my father passed away. My brother, Derek Olver's son lives in Canada with his wife and son, two daughters and their spouses and his grandchildren. It is on their behalf that I am doing this research, which I want to make available to all of Derek Olver's offspring. The fact that I am the one currently living in the U.K. is a strange twist of fate that enables to pursue this goal.
While searching the internet this morning, I discovered "RAF Commands" and will in due course widen my net to include that website too. I dare say that this is where you made your queries on my behalf under another guise for which I am, as previously stated grateful. Thank you yet again.
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Old 15th Apr 2010, 10:15
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Join Date: May 2008
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Aw shucks!
No need for thanks - it's the least I could do, he's just across the river...
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Old 16th Apr 2010, 10:41
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I have a complaint.

About five weeks ago I was a normal lad, going out, loads of mates and so on. Then I decided to have a look at this thread. Now I'd seen this thread years ago but with a title like 'Gaining an RAF Pilot's Brevet' it somehow didn't appeal - I wasn't really sure what a brevet was anyway. However that fateful day, whilst waiting for my mates to come round so we could go out to play, I noticed that the 'Brevet' thread had grown to some eighty pages so I thought it's about time I looked to see what the fuss was about.

Well, here I am, some five weeks and many hours reading later. I don't have any mates now, I hardly go out, and I have spent considerable money on a pile of books on the RAF in WW2, many still waiting to be read (including the best I've seen, Keith Ford's 'Snaith Days'). I've now travelled all over the world, the U.S., Canada, Australia, India, Africa and over Europe. I've flown in Harvards, Hurricanes, Spitfires, Sunderlands, Halifaxes and others. I've been shot at, had prangs and other lucky escapes. I've even been on the Berlin Airlift and flown with Sabena and in a Carvair (actually I have flown in a Carvair in the early sixties from Southend to Holland. Indeed I read around that time that one of the Carvair's had an incident in snowy conditions and there was a photo of it upside down).

I was advised to visit the doctors as it was all getting a bit much and he told me I had an addiction. There was no cure - it would sort itself out in time but I had to continue to feed this addiction until then.

I'M HUNGRY.......
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Old 16th Apr 2010, 15:17
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Join Date: May 2008
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Hipper: So sorry about your condition, but there is a cure - a daily application of PPRuNe juice!!!

Ah, the Carvair!!! noisy DC4 "jumbos" They used to fly over on approach at Southend, almost demolishing the TV aerials....

Now you've only got to read the "Sunderland" thread in AH&N to be swept back in time all over again.... and another Amazon lot of books!!

Welcome aboard, and fasten seat belt!!
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Old 16th Apr 2010, 15:48
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Oh no, not another thread. I already have links to four other sites to investigate.

Have mercy.
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Old 16th Apr 2010, 15:58
  #1719 (permalink)  
regle
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Hip Hip Hipperray.

So glad that you have found us...this happy breed to paraphrase the Bard ! I , personally, think that Keith Ford's "Snaith days" should be in everyone's library as it contains the detailed and vey easy to read descriptions of life and activity on a Bomber station during the terrible years of 1943 & 44 that one can possibly imagine and answers most of the technical questions that have been put to us from the Drem system to the number of toilet rolls required per station. It is certainly unique in Aviation literature. It is extremely gratifying to read, Hipper, that you have vicariously lived those stirring times and I hope that you will continue to contribute your own experiences for us to enjoy. Don't forget to look at the interesting news going on the "Endorsement on 707" link on PPRuNe Aviation History and Nostalgia" All the best, Regle
Sorry about this as I have just seen your thread above...Yes, even one more. Per Ardua ad Astra !

Last edited by regle; 16th Apr 2010 at 16:02. Reason: Addition.
 
Old 17th Apr 2010, 11:39
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the north starts
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Peter Brett's Typhoon pilot memoirs part 21

Beautiful weather, I was supposed to do my first solo navex this afternoon, but the Icelandic ash has put paid to that. Never mind, here are some more of Peter Brett's memoirs. TOW


Settling down to Squadron life


It was during this leave [Christmas 1943] that I met two people, one of whom made sure that all my future home leaves were enjoyable, and another who figured in my service life at a later time. The first was an Army Captain who I never knew other than as 'Johnny'. He was the C.O. of an Italian Prisoner of War camp which was situated only about a quarter of a mile from my home on what had been waste ground behind our local 'Gaumont' Cinema in Rayners Lane, in the north west London suburbs. He invited me to dinner at the camp. There were only four officers on the camp so the Officers’ Mess was not large. It was in a Nissen hut exactly the same as those in which all the prisoners were accommodated. The security was extremely lax since none of the prisoners had any desire to escape! They were mostly employed locally doing odd jobs or being 'let-out' to farmers further outside London. Those that remained on camp were the ones whose skills could contribute most to the comfort of the camp staff!

The Officer's Mess was staffed by ex waiters, some of whom had been with large hotels in Italy; there were also three top flight chefs and experienced kitchen staff. The Catering Officer, an elderly, to my eyes at the time, pre-war hotelier had co-opted the services of several English speaking prisoners who had been barmen and had made suitable arrangements with several local pubs and hotels to provide staff in exchange for certain 'perks'. Thus it was that, in the middle of war-rationed Britain I was treated to a superb four-course Italian dinner which included wine and liqueurs!

The evening even included a short concert of operatic arias by ten of the prisoners who had formed a choir. This was the first of many visits I paid to this POW camp and it was still in existence at the end of the war. In fact quite a lot of the prisoners opted to stay in Britain and carry on with their war-time jobs. At least two of them later obtained licences and became pub landlords in their own right!

The other person that I met on this leave was a mysterious Wing Commander "Bill" Brown, DFC and Bar, AFC. I did not find out much about him until a lot later. On this first meeting I only found out that he was flying Spitfires and was attached to a special operations unit - all very 'Hush-Hush'. We met up a few times and, since it appeared that he was based at home and 'living out', he was usually around whenever I obtained leave. During the early part of 1944 his decorations were added to by a DSO and shortly after 'D' Day a bar was added to this. More about him in a later installment!

However, to get back to the story, after a most enjoyable leave I returned to Predannack on January 3rd 1944. I should remark here that, at no time when I was UK-based on operations did I have to travel home on leave or return by public transport. The C.O. always arranged things so that the pilots going on leave would fly an aircraft to a station near their destination which would then be picked up and flown back by a pilot returning from leave. A 'spare' parachute was kept available so that these pilots had something to sit on and most of us kept our helmets and goggles with us when going on leave. I lived at Rayners Lane which was relatively near Northolt [just north of what is now Heathrow] and since most of the chaps wanted to spend their leaves in London - Northolt being the most convenient airfield for London - I never had any difficulty arranging to fly home for leave. The journey from Predannack to Rayners Lane by train would have taken anything from 8 to 12 hours. Flying a Typhoon at about 400mph - I was always in a hurry going home and economy of fuel was not a consideration - the journey took just over the hour!

On returning to the squadron I found that 'my' aircraft 'HF-B' was in for a major service and that I was allocated 'HF-A'. I flew this aircraft to Harrowbeer on the 6th January where we did two dive bombing operations, both against 'Noball' targets - Buzz Bomb launching sites again. On the first one I noted in my log book that it was a 'Wizard show'; slang for a good operation; and also noted that there were many direct hits in the target area. On the second operation in the afternoon there was little flak, it seemed that the site was still under construction and had not yet been fully protected by AA guns. From this operation we returned direct to Predannack.

The next day I again flew aircraft 'A' on two operations. First, a fighter sweep around the Cherbourg area in the morning which produced no result, and a dive bombing operation once again against a 'Noball' target in the afternoon. On this latter show there was a good deal of flak and Flight Sergeant Grant, who was diving just before me, was hit in his starboard leading edge petrol tank whilst in the dive. I saw the burst of flame from the aircraft in front of me in the dive and expected to see an explosion or for the aircraft to disintegrate. However, after the initial burst of flame, nothing further seemed to happen and he pulled out O.K. What had happened was that the tank was nearly empty and the fuel remaining was burnt very quickly and the flames blown out by the speed of the dive. The net result was a fairly large hole in the wing and a noisy and vibrating journey home but fortunately no other damage.

Next day saw me again in aircraft 'A', this time without bomb racks but with long range tanks, carrying out a fighter sweep round south of Lorient and across the Brest peninsular. There was not much doing on this trip, the weather was lousy with a low cloud base. F/O MacLennan had a go at a small ship just before we turned south of Lorient but with no obvious result. As we turned to come in towards Lorient from the south I had a very weird experience. The sea was grey and like glass with no whitecaps. The sky was a uniform grey with absolutely flat low cloud at about 500 feet. As we turned I suddenly realised that there was no horizon at all. I had no sense of orientation and felt as if I were flying inside a completely grey sphere! For a few seconds I panicked and was sure I was going to fly directly into the sea! I jerked back and right on the stick to come out of what I was sure was a spiral dive into the sea. Fortunately the C.O., Squadron Leader Dring, must have seen that something was wrong for he called up on the R.T. He ignored all proper RT procedure and said "Hey! Relax Pete! Formate on the aircraft on your right". I looked right, and there was another Typhoon. Trying to ignore my weird feelings I kicked rudder and slid up beside him. Another few seconds and my sense of orientation returned as I spotted the coastline. I feel that had the C.O. not intervened at that moment, I might surely have dived into the sea. There had not been much time for him to react since, at the low altitude and high speed at which we were flying, a couple of seconds made all the difference.

There were no operations for the next few days and I note that on the 9th I did a cannon test. This merely involved taking off and heading out to sea, checking that there was nothing ahead and then firing the four wing mounted 20mm cannon. Since the Officers Mess at Predannack was an ex-hotel sited on the cliff-top it had previously become a favourite trick to fly very low over the mess and to open up with the cannon just as you passed over the roof. The idea being to wake up all the 'ground types' who were assumed to be snoozing in the armchairs! This was fine as long as you judged the moment of opening fire correctly. Too late and the impact was lost, too early and damage to the roof of the mess was likely. The reason for this was that, when the four cannon were fired the empty shell cases and the connecting links between the rounds were ejected from the undersides of the wings. Since each cannon fired some 180 rounds per minute and each round ejected the cartridge case and a belt link there was a total of some 24 pieces of metal being ejected every second. These metal bits, since they were travelling at over 300mph as they were released, were quite capable of smashing roofing tiles. This had occurred twice in the previous month and consequently the Station Commander had expressly forbidden the firing of cannon within 300 yards of the coastline. This effectively stopped the practice of 'shooting up' the mess and we had to be content with annoying the local fishermen by firing the cannon whilst passing over their boats! We were a most inconsiderate lot at that age!.

However, "pride goeth etc." and a few days later, on January 14th I disgraced myself. We were due to operate from Harrowbeer once again and I flew aircraft 'HF-G' there. On arrival, I completely misjudged the wind speed and floated much too far down the runway. Of course I should have opened up and gone round again, but being cocky I tried to get down, ran out of runway, and finished up with a bent propeller against a pile of rocks just inside the airfield boundary past the end of the runway!

My next flight was being ferried back to Predannack in a Tiger Moth by Flight Sergeant Jack Bridges, whereupon I was grounded for seven days as a punishment. I met Jack again many years after the war, and he remembered the incident. He, by then, highly outranked me! In 1944 he was a Flight Sergeant and I was a Flying Officer – equivalent to an army lieutenant, but after the war he could not settle to civilian life and re-enlisted in the army as a career. He eventually retired as a Brigadier, equivalent to an Air Commodore! The highest rank I attained was Acting Squadron Leader, three ranks lower!

Thinking back now it seems odd that my 'punishment' was seven days being denied the opportunity of being killed, although of course, at the time, I did not take that view!
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