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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 12th Aug 2010, 10:15
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As Reg's last Church Parade took place yesterday at Dover, I just wanted to say that I was thinking of him and his family especially. He has given both us and them quite the most marvellous tour d'horizon of a wonderful life well-lived and, as his family read and re-read the outstanding obituaries from around the world, it is quite extraordinary for them and us as yet another interesting snippet of previously unknown information comes forward to shed even more light on the career of this extraordinary, yet modest, man.

Incidentally, and with reference to the amazing obituaries and some of the comments about the subject of medal ribbons on other threads, I had to smile when I saw in the Daily Telegraph photograph of his retirement day in 1981 that Reg was clearly more than happy to wear his full set of medal ribbons on his Sabena uniform!

Bless you, Reg, and your family, and my very grateful thanks for everything you contributed to this wonderful thread, and for your very cheerful, amusing and enlightening PMs.

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Old 12th Aug 2010, 13:46
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RAF WW2 pilot training

Just joined this website located from Google.
I joined the RAF in Sept.1942 as a volunteer.
Training at Sywell on Tigers and later in Canada, finishing at 514 Sqdn. Waterbeach, Cambs. on Lancasters. 1945 extended my service for 18 moths. Joined 24 Reserve flying school at Rochester.
Later went back to RAF for 2 years on Lancasters and Lincolns.
Later volunteered for special 3 months to fly Spitfires and Vampires in spite of being a heavy bomber pilot - Korean War - but never required.
Joined the civil airlines. Skyways, Euravia, Britannia, Transglobe, Tradewinds, then retirement.

Those interested please mail me.
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Old 12th Aug 2010, 14:39
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Welcome to Rob. I for one look forward to reading your experiences.
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Old 12th Aug 2010, 14:55
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Welcome to PPRuNe Robsack. There are bound to be many threads (not only this military aircrew forum) to which your contibutions will be most welcome.

I'm not your vintage (my time in the RAF was '79-89) but my father went through 6 EFTS at Sywell in 1941, (the CFI was a Wg Cdr Mackenzie) and then was posted to 21 EFTS at Booker as the first step to becoming a QFI.

He then went to Canada to 39 SFTS at Swift Current in 1942 on Harvards, then did the CFS course at Trenton and then instructed at 37 SFTS Calgary on Harvards to December 1942. Which SFTS did you go through?

In 1943 he converted to Hudsons at Debert before being posted to Ringway as a staff pilot in 1944 and after the HCU at Tilstock finished up in 1945 flying Stirlings doing SOE drops, glider towing and finally after the war ended, repatriation flights of former POW's.

I am trying to get my father to recount some of his experiences and will post them here when I can piece them together in a sort of chronological order....Your own contributions would be most welcome!

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Old 12th Aug 2010, 22:37
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Welcome to the fold, robsack15! Contributions such as yours are always welcome and there's a whole host of people on this forum who are eager to read of your experiences, myself included!

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Old 12th Aug 2010, 23:09
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More of Peter Brett's Hawker Typhoon memories

Here, Peter tells of his exploits over northern France just before and after D- day ...

May 1944 ended with the squadron flying to Newchurch to do an operation. When the time came to start up for the show my Coffman starter failed to fire and I missed the operation. It took over half an hour to fix the starter so, when the engine did finally start, all I could do was return to Thorney island.

On 2nd June it was the radar station on Cap d'Antifer again and this time we were able to attack properly. There was a lot of light flak but once again nobody was hit. This particular radar station, as we subsequently found out, was the major station which covered the whole of the approaches to what was to become the invasion area. Apart from the attacks with which I was involved, the wing also attacked this station at least every few days and it was constantly a priority target. Several other radar stations much further up the coast towards Belgium were also the subject of repeated attacks so that the one on Cap d'Antifer did not appear to be suffering special attention. Although of course it was.

Then suddenly it was June 6th and D-Day! The only flying I did on this momentous day was to be spare on an operation which took off about 6 am. Since nobody turned back I turned back myself. This time however, I hung on for several miles across the channel to take in what was such an awesome sight.

The sky was a mass of aircraft at varying heights and of every imaginable type: Lancasters, Flying Fortresses, Dakotas towing gliders, Spitfires, Mustangs and of course Typhoons. The sea was just a layer of ships as far as the eye could see -all heading towards France. There was everything from fairly small transports carrying landing craft to the largest battleships. On the way back I saw, more or less bringing up the rear, the first elements of the 'Mulberry' harbour being towed by tugs and a weird sort of huge cotton reel which turned out to be the first stage of 'PLUTO' (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) which eventually supplied all the vast amounts of petrol which were used by the invading forces. These latter of course were only able to travel very slowly and did not arrive on the beacheads until later when they had been well secured.

June 7th was a busy day. Taking off at first light, I took part in an offensive R/P recco south-east of Le-Havre. We met no opposition, but attacked an MT convoy near Lisieux. We looked around for other targets but there did not seem to be much moving in this area and we had to return due to shortage of fuel. I landed at Ford for refuelling before returning to Thorney.

In the afternoon I set off once again for a long range sweep south of Caen. Just as I got airborne, the aircraft gave a lurch to port and I had difficulty keeping the port wing up. I carried on climbing to try and join up with the rest of the squadron but was called up by ground control and told 'RTB, RTB' (Return to Base). I peeled off port and looked back at the airfield to witness a most extraordinary sight. It seemed that the last half of the runway was on fire!. What had happened was just after I had got off the ground, my starboard long-range tank had fallen off. Since I was by the time doing well over 100mph the tank had hit the runway and the impact had split the tank and ignited the 45 gallons of petrol which was then spread along the runway like a 'Napalm' bomb. The two chaps who were taking off after me - we took off in pairs - had to fly through a wall of smoke and flame. I had to return and land since I obviously would not have had enough fuel to complete the mission and the 'spare man' took over.

I did not fly again until the morning of the 10th June when I was No.2 to Wing Commander J.M.Bryan on an armed recco south east of Caen. As we swung round south of the city the Wingco evidently saw something of interest below and peeled off in a steep dive to starboard. We went down to about 600 feet and the Wingco went into a steep starboard turn. I was flying about twenty feet above him in the turn. Suddenly there was a burst of flame and he turned over on his back and dived into the ground. I broke violently to port and pulled up. As I climbed away there was a stream of tracer just off my starboard wing. Why I did it I don't know, but I instinctively turned back starboard into the flak. The tracer disappeared and the number three, who was following me, told me that the tracer suddenly swung to port just as I swung to starboard, thus missing me by miles. I realised later that somebody at OTU had drummed into me "ALWAYS turn into the flak". This was obviously good advice since, when the gunner saw that he was off target he would try to correct his aim by swinging towards the aircraft. If the aircraft at the same time swung towards the flak he would over correct and miss again. This is what happened then, and by the time that the gunner realised what was happening I was out of range. Losing the Wing Commander so suddenly was a shattering experience and I, now the leader, decided that enough was enough and we headed back.

In the afternoon we were again near Caen but this time with a specific target. This was a convoy of AFV's (Armoured Fighting Vehicles). We attacked from low level and I scored a direct hit on a tank with my salvo of rockets. The salvo blew off the turret which was flung into the air. I did not realise it at the time but the chap following me said that it looked as if I had flown UNDER the turret as I went through the explosion and over the tank. I know I was pretty low and that I flew through the cloud of smoke from the explosion so I suppose it is just possible, although it sounds unlikely.

At this time we were being moved around continuously; flying to other airfields to do operations and then returning to ThorneyIsland in the evening. On the 15th June I led an attack on a ferry at Le Havre. Surprisingly there was little anti aircraft opposition and we all managed to hit the target which was left on fire. The next three operations in which I took part were all aborted due to either very thick haze or low cloud cover. On the last of these on July 5th the squadron was diverted to Ford on return.

The next day, July 6th I attempted to return to base but suffered an engine failure on take-off. I lined up with the runway and opened the throttle. Everything seemed normal at first but, as I opened the throttle further the power did not seem to increase. I opened up to emergency full boost but the power continued to fade and, just before I reached flying speed the engine quit completely. Luckily Ford had a fairly long runway and I had time to switch off the ignition and petrol before I had to jab at the brakes with full right rudder and 'ground-loop' off the runway. Finishing up on the grass pointing back in the opposite direction. I had shot off the runway about fifty yards from the end and left grooves in the grass within twenty feet of the boundary fence. Had the engine quit a bit later, or had I been going much faster I would have shot straight off the end of the runway and finished up ploughing into the WAAF quarters huts which were sited just the other side on the fence.

Investigation showed that the main drive to all the auxiliaries, petrol pumps, cooling pumps, magnetos, etc., had seized solid and the engine had ceased to produce any power at all! I was picked up by another pilot in an Auster and flown back to Thorney island.

More soon ==TOW
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Old 13th Aug 2010, 11:23
  #1967 (permalink)  
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PLEASE Robsack , help to keep this thread going. Any contributions would be most appreciated by all of us. There are historians , authors, museum authorities following this thread, as I know from various P.Ms received.
If you find typing a problem perhaps other ppruners will come up with suitable suggestions.

There are only a few contributions left for me to post, which will be rather dull reading.

Your are welcome to P.M me if you wish.

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Old 13th Aug 2010, 12:43
  #1968 (permalink)  
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which will be rather dull reading
I doubt it Cliff!!
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Old 13th Aug 2010, 17:13
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It's been a while since I made any contribution.....

So sad to hear of Reg's passing...we all think we're going to go on forever,but we also know that the Grim Reaper is no respecter of heroes,the good and the brave. Farewell, Reg. -you gave me a great deal of pleasure reading your reminiscences.

Re- PLUTO..... We used to sell little "rubber"capsules of cigarette-lighter "petrol"....they came in a square tin box of a gross,iirc, and sold at a penny,old money...the brand was PLUTO and the reason for the name was printed on the box.

Also remember Players "Airman" cigarettes,and "Turf" (which many a customer avowed was the filling of the fags)

For the youngsters! - cigarette-lighters had cotton-wool in the tank (body) which was soaked in the non-smelly "petrol" a flint and wheel was used to ignite a wick sticking out of the top and extinguished by replacing the cap or a hinged snuffer . Many exist, made from used cartridge-cases,large nuts and sundry other stuff liberated from wartime factories and the Military.
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Old 13th Aug 2010, 17:43
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Somewhere in these magnificent tales there's a blockbuster movie.

Or,at the very least,a compulsory reading school text book.
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Old 13th Aug 2010, 18:21
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Keeping the thread going

Yes we need more folks to come forward with their stories.

This is the end of Ch 9 of Peter Brett's original 13 chapters, so there is a fair bit of his stuff still to come.

Here is some more

Next day saw my first landing in France. We flew to ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) B8 near Bayeux. The main impression was of dust. It had been hot and dry for over two weeks and the flat Normandy land had dried out to a fine powder. Landing caused billows of dust to float away from under the wings, but take-offs were a nightmare for everybody except the first pair to get airborne. We were briefed to attack some AFV's south west of Caen. Taxiing out from the dispersal area was tricky enough with everybody having to swing violently from side to side in order to peer through the drifting dust blown up by the preceding aircraft. I was leading the second four so two pairs had taken off when it became my turn to get onto the runway. As I taxied across the runway to get into take-off position I realised that I couldn't see more than about twenty feet. I lined up as best I could, glanced across at my number two who gave me a thumbs-up to indicate that he was ready, and opened up. It only took a few seconds to see that the dust was getting thicker as I got further along the runway. I couldn't see anything ahead and not much to the side. I did the only thing possible and took off entirely on instruments. Mainly keeping as straight as possible with the gyro compass until I felt the aircraft start to lift. I just had to trust to luck that I was not running off the side of the tracking. My number two was having a slightly easier time since he was just formating on me and assuming that I knew where I was! Once we were airborne things improved greatly and at about 200 feet I came out of the dust to see the previous two just ahead of me in perfect position. However all this dangerous effort was to no avail since the target area was once again inaccessible due to cloud cover and we returned to England.

We flew over to France again on the 12th July to ALG B8. All the ALG's were given numbers A for American and B for British. Our first target briefing was to attack, once again, the Radar station on Cap d'Antifer. This was to be a four aircraft attack. The C.O., S/Ldr Felix Scarlett was leading and I was number three. After the briefing, which was very nominal since the wing had attacked this target several times before, we walked out to the aircraft. As we walked the C.O. said that he wanted to try something different. I was to lead the R/P attack in a 60 degree dive and he would go in solo at zero feet to try to hit the base of the antenna. I would climb up to 8000 feet and start a gentle turn just inland of the target. When he was in position for the run-in he would call me and I would commence the dive. The idea was that we would coordinate our attacks and, hopefully, the gunners would be so busy with the three of us diving that he would be able to get a clear run at the target. The timing worked out very well. Unfortunately for some unknown reason all the flak concentrated on Felix as he made his run-in. I was well into the dive and waiting for the flak to commence when I spotted him coming in from the south parallel to, and just inland of, the coast. Just as I saw him, the flak started up and almost immediately his aircraft burst into flame.

His aircraft carried on straight into the base of the aerial where there was an enormous explosion. By this time I was well into my dive and lined up on the target ready to fire my rockets. I had about two seconds to make up my mind whether to fire or not since the C.O. had crashed exactly at the base of the aerial which was the aiming point. Since his aircraft was on fire and travelling at some 350 mph when he hit the ground and the impact was followed by the explosion, it was obvious that he could not have survived. There were no ejection seats of course in those days and it would have been impossible for him to have baled out from that height and I therefore fired. My eight rockets as well as those of the other two all landed within the target area. We will never know what exactly happened in those last few moments. Whether Felix was killed by the flak and the aircraft just continued on the same course, or whether he realised that, with the aircraft on fire, there was no way he could get away and deliberately crashed into the target, will always remain an unanswered question. It was not until sometime later that somebody gave me a cutting from the 'Daily Sketch' which told me that he was The Honourable Felix Scarlett, the younger brother of Lord Abinger. He had never hinted that he was anything but plain Felix Scarlett and had been a most popular leader of the squadron.

We stayed overnight at B8 and next morning attacked the Le Havre Ferry once again, returning to Hurn in the afternoon. This proved to be my last operation of my first tour although I did not know it at the time.

Next day, 14th July, the squadron was posted to Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey in the Thames estuary to attend an R/P practice course. I did ten practice trips during the next ten days and found out that I seemed to have a natural aptitude for judging the flight of the rockets as well as being a very good shot at stationary targets where deflection shooting was not required!

Eastchurch was a quite small grass airfield with a not very good surface and two of our aircraft lost their tailwheels on landing and badly damaged their rudders. At this time the station was also a posting for pilots who for some reason had 'cracked up' and had been classified as LMF. This latter stood for 'Lack of Moral Fibre' and seemed to be indiscriminately applied to anyone who could not cope with the stress for whatever reason. Psychiatry was still looked on as somewhat of an odd science and there seemed to be little being done in the way of treatment. Consequently the officers’ mess had a somewhat weird atmosphere. The members, apart from our more 'normal' squadron pilots, were either those who kept strictly to themselves and sat brooding in corners, or those who were 'overstrung' and lived on a permanent binge. I did not realise at the time how near I was to becoming a 'case' myself since I had been living with the stress for nearly a year.

At the end of the course the squadron was posted back to France to ALG B7 at Martragny just west of Bayeux but I did not accompany them as I was posted on 'rest' to 84 Group GSU (Group Support Unit) at Thruxton near Andover. On the last night at Eastchurch the squadron threw a mess party for me and all the pilots signed my log book.

The next day I flew an Auster from Eastchurch to Thruxton with a stopovers at Shoreham and Lee-on-Solent where I dropped off F/O Pattison who was going on leave. Lee-on-Solent was a Fleet Air Arm Station where everything was navy fashion. Walls were bulkheads and floors were decks. Whilst I was in flying control, booking in and out again to go to Thruxton, F/O Pattison arranged to get a lift into Portsmouth and was offered a ride in the 'Captains Jolly Boat' which turned out to be a 15 cwt Bedford van! I bid him farewell and continued my flight to Thruxton. I reported in and was asked to see the station Adjutant next morning. I duly presented myself to his office next morning expecting to be posted somewhere in the U.K. for a few months quiet life only to be told that I was posted straight back to 123 Wing 2nd T.A.F. This time to 198 Squadron.

It was then that I found out how much stress I had been under without knowing it. I suppose I had started to relax as soon as I was posted away from 183 squadron and I my reaction to this news was as much a surprise to me as to anyone. I suddenly felt as if I wanted to cry and had difficulty in keeping my voice from breaking as I said something like "Very good sir but I would have preferred to go back to 183".
However I managed to salute and retire in good order.

Next day, July 26th, I was flown in an Anson to ALG B7 where I reported to the CO of 198 S/Ldr Paul Ezzanno. He seemed somewhat surprised to see me and took me to the Wing Commander, W/C Wally Dring, who had been my Squadron Leader earlier on 183 Squadron. His reaction was " Peter, what the hell are you doing here? I sent you on rest! Those idiots at A.D.G.B. don't know what they're doing. You are grounded until I can sort out what has gone wrong. Just make yourself useful in the ops room!"

It took a week before things were sorted out during which time I did odd jobs for the intelligence types such as marking up maps and setting up briefings for operations. It proved to be quite interesting but I was apprehensive that I would be grounded for a long time.

Eventually I was posted back to 84 Group GSU at Thruxton as a ferry pilot and was flown back in an Anson via ALG B3. I was immediately granted 14 days leave and had a good time celebrating my surviving my first tour.

My first job on returning from leave was an engine test after an engine change on aircraft JR141. Normally this would have been a short trip of 15 minutes or so just to check that all the engine instruments were registering the correct figures. However I was feeling relaxed and cheerful and decided to enjoy the flight. I took the aircraft up to 15000 ft to check the supercharger speed change-over and after this proved O.K. I started to have fun. I performed all the aerobatics in the book , except spinning of course!. The first thing was a vertical climbing roll for which I had to get up to about 450mph in the dive. This of course took me down to about 8000ft and from then on I carried on with rolls, loops, rolls off the top of loops, semi-stall turns and barrel rolls. I did not really notice where I was except to ensure that I kept above 2000ft. After about 30 minutes I felt I had had enough and decided to return to base. By now I was fairly adept at map reading and it did not take me long to realise that I had been aerobatting practically over the airfield. I called up for permission to join the circuit and do a 'combat' landing. This consisted of flying in low over the threshold of the runway and then executing a very steep climbing turn to port, at the same time cutting the throttle, going into fully fine pitch, opening the hood, selecting wheels down, then flaps down and coming out of the top of the climbing turn in full landing configuration at about 150 mph. The turn was continued to align with the runway on a very steep approach and the ideal situation was to carry out a three point landing as close to the start of the runway as possible.

Everything worked out fine and I greased onto the runway about 25 yards past the threshold. I taxied in and was guided to the dispersal point where the Sergeant fitter was waiting for my report. As I unstrapped he climbed up onto the wing and, before I could say anything, he said with a broad grin on his face. "I think we enjoyed that didn't we sir?". Apparently most of the work had stopped on the airfield to watch my display! I was expecting to get a 'rocket' for showing off, however the Wing commander flying did not send for me and at lunch time in the mess, when I apologised and explained that I was just enjoying the flying and not intending to show off, he said "Don't worry about it. You didn't violate any flying regulations and it provided a bit of light relief."

He then told me that I was to fly the same aircraft over to ALG B7 in France in the afternoon but I would have to wait until they had fitted some long range tanks. When I queried the fact that these were not necessary I was told that they were highly necessary since they would be filled with best bitter beer having been previously steam cleaned and had taps fitted at the rear! I was told that my very life depended on a smooth crossing and a safe landing at B7, since the airfield had been forewarned of my arrival and would be waiting for the beer!

I was briefed to climb up quickly to 10000ft and cross over at this height. I was then to let down quickly near the coast and land as soon as possible. This was to ensure that the beer arrived cold! It was a hot dusty day in Northern France and as I joined the circuit after being given permission to land I saw that queues were already forming at the dispersal point. I made a smooth landing and was waved into a dispersal bay. I cut the engine and, before I could unstrap and get out there was a sergeant rigger at each wing operating the semi-frozen taps and dispensing the “amber nectar”. It took a while to serve out the drink since I had brought over 90 gallons of best bitter, which at the rate of a pint per person would have served 720 !

I reported to the ops room and was told to expect an Anson to ferry me back during the afternoon. Unfortunately, when the Anson arrived, the pilot was taken ill. Either he was suffering from a very severe hangover or had acquired a 'continental tummy' in record time since he was completely incapacitated and spent most of his time in the toilets. Thus I was stranded at B7 for four days. During this time I again helped out in the ops room and also did a 20 minute air test after an engine repair for an oil leak.

Finally, on 21st August I was flown back to Thruxton and then posted on the No.3 Tactical Experience Unit at Aston Down in Gloucestershire and finally started my four months 'rest period' from operations.

Peter mentions his logbook in the text above. The original is in the RAF Museum at Hendon, and the excellent museum at Tangmere has a photocopy of it. I believe, if you put in a prior request you can inspect these and similar documents. If anyone knows the procedure, please let me know, because I would like to to do so myself.

I have since received a PM about this - all you have to do is ring up and ask a few days in advance. Thanks Michael.

Last edited by tow1709; 14th Aug 2010 at 17:27.
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 08:49
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I do hope Cliff and the rest of the crew keep this thread going. I notice it went a bit quiet with Regle's passing. I see that as a mark of respect for a member of a generation that we all truly cherish. There is so much to be learned by young people of the exploits of chaps back then.

When I was a kid we read 'Reach for the Sky', the Dambusters, , Wing Leader and many others. We used to hear regularly in the media from men like Douglas Bader and Leonard Cheshire and they were a great inspiration. It's terrific that there are still guys out there who are prepared to take on this new media and keep telling their stories which seem as fresh as if they were yesterday.

Keep it coming - I'm getting withdrawal symptoms!
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 09:46
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Oh no.

I'm just back from holiday to this awful news.

Sincere condolences to the Levy family on your loss.
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Old 17th Aug 2010, 18:46
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The BBC Today programme are doing a daily piece on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain this week:

BBC News - Today - A week in the Battle of Britain: Day one


BBC News - Today - Sir Douglas Bader's lost notebooks

Well worth a listen. Both of the chaps are about ninety and make the point that the present 'National Curriculum' generation know absolutely nothing about the Battle of Britain. I find that very sad.
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Old 19th Aug 2010, 15:55
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It is such a long time ago that I wrote about my stay at 150 Sqdn , there is a risk that I may repeat myself. So I hope you will forgive me if I do so. To go back and search for my last post would be too time consuming, so at the risk of being ‘shot down’ will ‘press on reward less.‘.

After V.E day you will remember we were flying to Pomigliano collecting and returning soldiers on Python leave. Our import/export business was booming, with us returning loaded with Cameo jewelery, wine , grapes, and peaches, but unfortunately most of the watches, cameras , binoculars had long since gone. . The soldiers had bought these, paying with the main currency , cigarettes.. Virtually any thing of use could be sold, in fact Paddy our Navigator sold his vest. We were visiting Salerno on our day off ,and had run out of lire, and Paddy asked an Italian if he could pay for two bottles of wine with his vest. The Italian agreed, resulting in three happy people. Below, hopefully. Paddy, Nav (minus vest ) and me in Salerno.

In between trips to Pomigliano, we jettisoned tons of high explosives, and incendiaries in the North Sea, but unfortunately this side of ‘the egg line’. I would imagine this concession would end on V.E day but I would be interested to hear if the boys on the Berlin airlift qualified.

Taffy mid upper. John bomb aimer, ?. Jock , W.O.P
?think? was our original bomb aimer (Australian) , replaced by Paddy (Dublin).

Rumours were rife that we would be soon flying out to the Far East, and it came as surprise when the crews were broken up and posted to different stations. I was posted to R.A.F Bruntingthorpe, but can’t remember why, what for, or what happened there, Wonder what sort of station that was at that time ? All I can remember is that I soon became friends with another pilot who came from Leicester, which we frequently visited, on my trusty Norton and stayed the night at his house We must have been there for some time as when some one dropped a bomb on Hiroshima the Japanese, capitulated and V.J day was announced. I don’t remember any one being upset at not earning an extra medal, in fact I detected a decided lack of enthusiasm about the whole prospect of visiting the Far East. The one thing I do remember is celebrating V.J day in Nottingham. It is hard to describe , euphoria, >? emotion ?ecstasy,? joy, excitement, ? Or relief , it was all there, Singing, and dancing with pianos in every street. Civilians thanking us , and offering drinks, Union Flags every where , Girls wearing soldiers , sailors and airmen’s hats. I have never seen so many happy people in one place since, and this was not only the servicemen who were happy. Practically all the civilians now knew there friends and relatives would now be coming home safely, but what they did not know was how long it would take. The Government decided quite rightly that they would use the ‘first in , first out policy’ and would only slowly demob the servicemen. This was for two reasons, one so as not to flood the labour market, and two , to have sufficient numbers to maintain law and order in the Axis countries. This meant some of the later recruits having to wait about a year for demob.

After recovering I was posted for a few days to R.A.F Catterick as I had been made ‘redundant’ ( a term I had never heard used in this way before, prior to that it was ‘sacked’). At Catterick I was told I had to choose a new trade, and given a list to choose three trades from. I chose, blacksmith and welder, M.T driver, and equipment assistant. The former as it could be useful in civvy street, and the other two as they were the best ‘skives’ I could think of, To my surprise, psychological tests indicated I was most suited to a clerical job. This was even though my life up to that time had always been connected with vehicles, plant, tools and engines. Well, those tests putting little round pegs in round holes and square pegs in square holes, being very scientific must have resulted in a correct decision. I was then told I was to train as an A/C 2 equipment assistant. So back to Bruntingthorpe.

Kevin (ICARE) Can you access my photobucket pictures on Face book ? Just thinking, if any one else is as silly as me ,that is posting to Facebook, they could possibly ask to become friends (with C.f Leach) and maybe access a few more R.A.F pics ( I can't delete the ref to FacePPRuNE it should read FACE BOOK.)
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Old 19th Aug 2010, 18:48
  #1976 (permalink)  
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Clifnemo. That must have been terrible, being banged down from aircrew to an SAC scribbler just because the Japs threw in the towel. It wouldn't happen now..
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Old 19th Aug 2010, 23:05
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The BBMF flew in to North Weald this evening for an overnight stop on their Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary Tour. One of our airfield friends, Squadron Leader William Pearce who flew Hurricanes and Thunderbolts in Burma, was on hand to greet the pilots. The big grin on his face sitting in a Spitfire sums up a great day. We salute you, whatever you flew...

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Old 20th Aug 2010, 11:21
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"Banged down"


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Clifnemo. That must have been terrible, being banged down from aircrew
Not that bad, mixed feelings ? Was promoted W/O whilst at Hemswell and then on £1-0-0 per day, and whisky only 7/6 a bottle. Still wore the the barathea uniform complete with'Tate and Lyles' all day, but was A.C 2 by day and W/O in the mess. We were treated well by the N.C.O instructors ( except for one. Later)
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Old 20th Aug 2010, 19:09
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I look forward to hearing how Cliff's demob and transition to civvy street went.

I remember meeting a pilot who started training late in WW2 and was livid when they kept him for two years driving a lorry. Apparently there was a station mutiny at one point as some guys were desperate to demob and get on with their lives. It must have been a very frustrating period for some.
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Old 21st Aug 2010, 20:49
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A Spitfire Pilot - addendum

The extract below is from post #1379.

The following day Owen Hardy and I were picked for the first aerodrome patrol and our first job was to get rid of the long range tanks. We’d had no instruction on this and although we tried pressing every button and switch and lever, there was no way we could get this damn tank off. Eventually one of us sat in the cockpit and pulled the lever and the other one gave the tank a mighty kick and it fell off. So we tried that with the other aircraft and managed to get all of them off without a great deal of further bother.

We’d been doing our usual patrol up and down the aerodrome, seeing if anything was coming our way, flying as usual about 200 yards apart and on the other side of Owen, who happened to be nearer the sea than I was, a 109 came in very, very low and shot across the aerodrome, shooting things up on the way, turned round and belted for home. Owen Hardy and I both turned in to chase the 109, but we hadn’t a great deal of height advantage and from what we could gather the 109 was a lot faster than we were.

Anyway, we chased this 109 on the deck for quite a way and I had visions of the thing getting away and I was shrieking at Owen to fire as soon as he could. He was quite calm about it, he lined up the 109, gave it a couple of good burst and the thing burst into flames and hit the deck. That was our first enemy aircraft in North Africa.

I had the great pleasure of sitting next to Owen Hardy DFC* AFC at my uncle and aunts' Diamond Wedding celebration lunch today. I had never met him before, but I had spoken to him in New Zealand 10 years ago, though only on the phone.

I mentioned my fathers' memoirs and his appearance in them, and especially their first Squadron success in North Africa. I was particularly interested in why my Old Man kept shouting at Owen to fire on the 109. "Ah," said Owen, "The reason I took so long was that I had just realised I was about to become a killer . . . "

A sobering thought, but one that did not spoil the occasion, A sprightly 90+year old, still as sharp as a knife, he has had self-published (lulu.com) his own memoirs under the title "Through my Eyes", his career from 1940-1969 in the RAF from which he retired as a Wing Commander. Needless to say I ordered it a few hours ago!!
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