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Air Transport Auxiliary Casualty

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Air Transport Auxiliary Casualty

Old 25th Aug 2015, 08:19
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Air Transport Auxiliary Casualty

I was at the small cemetery on the border of Manchester Airport recently and found the Commonwealth War grave of Flight Captain Bernard Short of the ATA who was killed whilst flying into high ground in the Lake District on the 24th January 1944 whilst piloting a Handley Page Halifax bomber.

I wondered whether Flight Captain Short would have had additional crew members or would he have been expected to fly the Halifax solo on his final delivery flight?
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Old 25th Aug 2015, 08:44
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According to Halifax JP182 - Eel Crag.

and several other references, he was accompanied by a Flight Engineer.
Both from No 14 Ferry Pilots Pool.

Halifax JP182. Crashed on Eel Crag.

Pilot - F/Cpt Bernard Short ATA, aged 34? Of Hull. Buried Ringway Churchyard, Cheshire (Row 3, grave 4).


Flight Engineer - Snr F/Eng Arthur Bird ATA, aged 29, of Edenbridge, Kent. Buried Edenbridge Cemetery, Kent (Grave 292A)
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Old 25th Aug 2015, 09:03
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Lordflasheart.

Thank you for that rapid and comprehensive reply and it has certainly answered my question.

I think that as an experienced airman myself and who would have probably qualified for ATA service I shall make it my duty to pay homage to Bernard Shorts grave on the anniversary from now on.

He certainly was part of the "The Greatest Generation"
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Old 25th Aug 2015, 17:20
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I've recently made reference to Bomber by Len Deighton on another thread. In that book there is an incident where a solo female ATA pilot delivers a Lancaster to the fictional RAF Warley Fen. On the assumption that Deighton researched this aspect of the story as thoroughly as the rest of it, I assume that ATA pilots did deliver multi-engined bombers without assistance, on some occasions at least
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Old 26th Aug 2015, 09:52
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Copied from the Yorkshire-aircraft website above –

He was a very experienced pilot having learned to fly at the Hull Aero Club in 1937 and then took a job working for North Eastern Airways Ltd. [When the War begun he briefly served in the RAF but left to join the ATA and served in the ATA until his death in the Lake District.

North Eastern Airways operated DH Rapides and Airspeed Envoys.

I wonder why he did not stay in the RAF - was he considered 'too old' perhaps ? Or did they want him to start again from scratch ?

Some years ago I picked up a book called "We Flew Without Guns" being the wartime flying experiences of an American civil pilot named Genovese.

IIRC he held a commercial pilots licence and joined the US Army Air Corps with 700 odd hours but was 'washed out' (I think he wrote that they considered him somehow dangerous.)

However, he crossed the Atlantic and joined the ATA – ferrying all the stuff around the UK. He mentions flying mostly from Kirkbride, White Waltham and Ratcliffe – the private airfield of Sir Lindsay Everard, which became No 6 Ferry Pilots Pool.

Bored with that, he then volunteered to fly DC-3s on the Hump from Bengal/Assam to China. Above 20,000 ft over the mountains, watching out for Japanese fighters, with no oxygen for the pax and not much for the crew, 'Crew Resource Management' as it wasn't called then, consisted of the Co-Pilot having to surrender his oxygen supply to the Captain.

There is reference to Capt Short's young son in the above website.

At the end of the Key Publishing forum (second page) here –

Flight Captain Bernard Short. - Page 2

is a poignant post dated 2011 by Flight Engineer Arthur Bird's then equally young son.
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Old 26th Aug 2015, 11:41
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I'm sure I read sometime ago that 'air cadets' of about 16-17 were used as air engineers. They could reach the taps etc on the engine controls that the pilot couldn't reach. I don't remember how wide spread it was.
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Old 26th Aug 2015, 14:03
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You could certainly start up and taxi a Halifax on your own around Aldergrove airfield. My father would stick me in the nose during brake-bedding runs. Presumably there was little else to do when airborne than raising the flap and undercarriage; Varsitys would be flown solo without any trouble.

My rides stopped when there was a total brake failure on the northerly runway and he had to open up the starboard outer and ground loop it amongst the spectacles on the northwest corner of the airfield.
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Old 26th Aug 2015, 18:03
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It is also interesting to read about Air Cadets being used for other duties during the War including bombing up teams, Air Engineers, and other tasks.

A number of them lost their lives in such activities but there was a war on and such was the pace of operations that such loss of young lives was an accepted part of the RAF at War.
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Old 26th Aug 2015, 23:11
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Boy Scouts were used in the Boy Scout Messenger service, which assisted the the ARP by carrying messages (often by bike) during air raids, and in their aftermath. There was a special scout badge which was worn on the uniform, and boys* who took part were subsequently awarded the Defence Medal. Members of the Hitler Youth carried similar duties in Germany.

* Pretty sure in those pre-equality days that the Girl Guides weren't involved.
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Old 27th Aug 2015, 10:44
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I remember reading the memoirs of a Female ATA pilot during WWII (Don't recall her name at the moment).

She mentioned that the crewing was somewhat haphazard and depended on the experience of the Pilot, the route flown and availability of other crews. If there as an FE available then you could have one - if not, then you couldn't. She made mention of the fact that when flying Lancasters she was given an "assistant" because her very small stature meant that she was unable to reach a particular piece of equipment or control unaided (Don't remember what it was) This assistant was often a ground-crew or an air cadet and their sole function was to "push the doo-dah when I told them to".

On the subject of boy-scouts and girl guides. Extensive use was made of girl guides as office messengers for the intelligence and security services in London during the first world war (their offices were scattered across London) and also, I believe, during WWII. Apparently girls were chosen rather than boys as they were less inclined to mess around and gossip.

OH
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