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Wg Cdr Arthur Gill, OBE, DFC

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Wg Cdr Arthur Gill, OBE, DFC

Old 12th Aug 2016, 20:46
  #321 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by MPN11 View Post
So ... sergeants got shaving water, but officers didn't?
MPN11

Ha! Clever observation...however! Undoubtedly the same ration of water for Sergeants and Officers, but different priorities. Unlike Sergeants, the Officers had their G&T glasses to wash up.

Last edited by NigG; 15th Aug 2016 at 10:55.
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Old 13th Aug 2016, 11:40
  #322 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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Recalls story of the lone Guardsman picked up somewhere in Western Desert. "Wa'er wa'er" ! he croaked.

So they gave him some water - and he started to Blanco his webbing !....
 
Old 13th Aug 2016, 12:08
  #323 (permalink)  
 
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" ... started to blanco his webbing".
Those not familiar with the routine should be aware that dry-polishing was a hanging offence.
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Old 13th Aug 2016, 12:09
  #324 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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NigG
...spent the rest of the war interred in Singapore....
So they exhumed him on VJ Day ?........(one hopes !)
Someone should compose an Anthology of Unfortunate Typos !

While, I'm on, might not be a good idea to allow honoured Mater unfettered access to the final Posts in "Malabar Coast", as I am (uncharacteristically) uncomplimentary about the Daughers of the Raj, saying "...spoilt rotten. It was not their fault, but that of the system which made them so..."

Might not go down too well !

Danny.
 
Old 13th Aug 2016, 13:41
  #325 (permalink)  
 
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Danny - it is a mistake frequently made - I have even heard the malapropism on the BBC
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Old 13th Aug 2016, 14:57
  #326 (permalink)  
 
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I think Flt Lt Wyllie was both 'interned' and 'interred' in Singapore. Let's face it, he was in a 'mire'.

The Blanco quip was a good'un, Danny! Nice workout for the laugh muscles. I remember Blanco from the school Cadet Force. A cake of green, that had to be swirled by a wet brush and then transferred onto one's (19)47-pattern webbing belt or gaiters, there to dry. The limitless joys of yester-year's bullshit!

Yes, Danny. You could be right about Mother not seeing your posted 'assessment of Memsahibs'. One mother-induced heart-seizure in a month is enough. Two, and my online presence may fall permanently and inexplicably silent.

(I know... 'if only')

Last edited by NigG; 14th Aug 2016 at 13:53.
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Old 13th Aug 2016, 16:31
  #327 (permalink)  
 
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Danny, I recall you saying Arthur (left) was lucky to get his own jeep. I daresay I was wrong and it was just one from the motor pool at Kumbhirgram. He did, however, have the occasion to use one 'in anger'. He wrote:

'Late one evening, during the Burma campaign, I was sitting in my office, finishing administrative chores, when the phone rang. It was the CO of the local RAF MFH (Mobile Field Hospital) who asked if I could help out. He'd had to send one of his Princess Mary's Nursing Service Sisters out to a tea planter's home to help manage a difficult birth. His staff were flat out, dealing with casualties, and he needed her back on duty. Could I get someone to pick her up? I promised to do what I could and phoned the MT Section. No reply. (The duty driver had, in fact, gone to collect his late supper.)

It was now past midnight, everyone was in bed, and I had been up since 0415... indeed I had flown two operations that day. Worse, there was another op. pending, scheduled for dawn take-off. Outside it was pouring torrentially, but the only option was to jump into the car outside and provide the taxi-service myself. I knew where the Planter's house was, having been there before. I duly arrived, car slewing through deep and sizable puddles, and the Sister jumped in. Because of the road conditions, I thought it better to try a different route back. One that should take me through the plantation and around the airfield perimeter. Five minutes later the car was well and truly embedded in thick, oozing mud. I'd driven straight into a rice paddy field! The wheels, of course, spun to no effect. I told the Sister to sit tight and I'd be back as soon as possible. There then followed a miserable and very wet walk back to camp, whereupon I picked up a jeep and returned to pick up Sister, who had been waiting anxiously for an hour.

By the time I crawled into bed, it was almost time to get up. Mercifully, the elements gave me a break and the morning's operation was cancelled due to the impossible conditions (though in the afternoon it cleared and we were able to get airborne).

After the war, I met the same Sister at the Burma Reunion, held in the Albert Hall. She touched me on the arm and proposed that I remove my shoes and socks. She wanted me to prove that, after that torrential night years before, I hadn't grown aquatic, webbed feet. I invited her to feel free, but of course, the occasion wouldn't allow.'

Last edited by NigG; 15th Aug 2016 at 10:58.
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Old 14th Aug 2016, 01:24
  #328 (permalink)  
 
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NigG,
I, too, as I'm sure quite a few others did, got a chuckle out of the 'Blanco' reference.
It was a hanging offence to dry-polish one's khaki webbing.
I mean, we can't have the enemy laughing at us, can we?
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Old 14th Aug 2016, 14:08
  #329 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Stanwell View Post
It was a hanging offence to dry-polish one's khaki webbing... can't have the enemy laughing at us...
'Dry-polish' meaning 'boot polish', Stanwell? We moved from using Blanco to boot black in the Cadet Force of the 1960s. But it looked quite neat.
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Old 14th Aug 2016, 16:17
  #330 (permalink)  
 
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NigG ... depends on your outfit. My CCF used Green, until I moved to the RAF side, where we used Blue. Not everyone was LI
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Old 14th Aug 2016, 20:24
  #331 (permalink)  
 
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In my CCF (Army) days, ('57-'60) we used "Webbing renovator", which was like a khaki boot polish. Put on with a brush, polished with another brush, and then buffed with a soft cloth., With care a belt could be worn a couple of times, but then it would start to flake and had to be redone. Didn't use blanco until I joined the R.A.F. Blue for regular wear, white for ceremonial parades.
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 08:05
  #332 (permalink)  
 
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ISTR webbing colour depended on parent unit. In my 5 years we changed 3 times, Middlesex Regt, 3/4 County of London Yeomanry then R Fusiliers
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 09:47
  #333 (permalink)  
 
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NigG,
'Dry polishing' one's webbing was simply a means of ensuring that its finish was a little more enduring.
After one had done the Blanco job, a clean boot-polish type brush was used to bring a smooth effect which didn't show wear marks - for a couple of days, at least.
It looked good and was very practical - but no, it wasn't what the foundations of the British Empire was built upon.
One had to go stand in the naughty corner when found out.
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 10:55
  #334 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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NigG (#327),

Nice pic of the Jeep - and the blokes look fine, too (your Dad's Driver, I suppose).
...I picked up a jeep and returned to pick up Sister, who had been waiting anxiously for an hour...
Should've taken the jeep in the first place, not the car. Marvellous little things. I've seen one haul a Vengeance (tail first) out of a soggy paddy-patch when nothing else could budge it.

Never had one of my own, but at Cannanore CDRE there was a RAF Liaison Officer, one Wing Commander Edmondes (the onlie begetter of the "Edmunds Trainer" [don't ask] Edmondes > Edmonds > Edmunds - geddit ?). Not my CO, as he was "outside the loop" and answerable only to AHQ, Delhi, where they fell over themselves to give CDRE (and, by extension, him) anything the heart desired. Well, I suppose CDRE had Porton Down behind them.

Nice chap: no end of help to me. Anyway, his heart desired a Jeep, and Lo - one appeared ! (the Colonel desired a nice Staff Car: top-of-range, brand-new, half-timbered, Canadian Ford V8 Estate delivered gift-wrapped. We'd like the loan of a P-47 Thunderbolt with a driver, and a Mosquito (ditto), plus servicing crew. Certainly sir, right away sir, would Sir like anything else ?

It was like having Aladdin's Lamp. There were limits. My heart desired an ASR launch to fish me (or someone else) out of the 'oggin' when a VV went off the end (40 foot cliff) of our runway. Paddling round in a pool of the Mustard gas we carried was not to be recommended. But the best I was offered was a surplus "Bomb Scow"; fortunately the war ended before that was delivered. No one ever had to swim for it, although I incautiously authorised the Wing Commander to have a go with the Thunderbolt, he shot off the end - and vanished ! Reappeared a second later with spray blowing off his wheels. Met him again in 1949, now a Sqn Ldr (Armaments) at Bomber Command. Nearly everyone who managed to stay in in '46 dropped a rank or two.

But I digress. I had the use of the Jeep. Often thought it would make a far better ATC runabout than our Landy, for you could just reach down and pick bits of metal and squashed hares off a runway, whereas in a Landy you have to get out and bend down. But the body is a sealed "bath", if the drain hole gets bunged-up with mud in a monsoon, you find it flooded a foot deep inside in the morning, as the canvas top is little use. Then you have to fish about with a bit of bamboo to find and unblock drain hole, all seats now soaking, muddy, cold and wet. There appears to be no limit to the number of chaps you can have in plus hanging onto a Jeep.

Think it was originally called a "Car, Ton, General Purpose" > "GP" > "Jeep".

Danny.
 
Old 15th Aug 2016, 11:09
  #335 (permalink)  
 
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When I was a teenager in Suburban Surrey, my best mate had one. Finished in a tasteful shade of olive drab and festooned with 'bull bars' and spare wheels/tyres [tires?] on the bonnet [hood?] and at the back, we rampaged around the neighbourhood enjoying the fresh air and exchanging approving looks with young ladies. I'm assuming they were interested in us, rather than the vehicle, although it was certainly eye-catching.

Sadly, and unsurprisingly given his driving style, my mate lost his licence within a few months of getting it, for a series of transgressions.
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 11:55
  #336 (permalink)  
 
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Ha! Didn't imagine there were so many ex-cadets! And now I can claim to be an authority on 'Webbing - belts and gaiters - procedures - for the cleaning of'! PPRuNe... the source of all knowledge, useful and otherwise!!

How weird, Stanwell, that 'dry polishing' was deemed to be unacceptable, presumably because it was a 'dodge' to having to do the prescribed blanco-ing every evening. It reminds me a little of the time, perhaps in about 1980, when I was rooting around on a disused RAF airfield (sadly I forget which one). One of the few remaining buildings was the Guardhouse. Of course, most of these remote ex-airfields have been largely turned-over to agriculture, and they're out of reach of those who might be inclined to vandalise or interfere with them.

Anyway, inside the Guardhouse were several items from when it was last used, which, judging by the flyer for the cinema, which featured 'The Man Who Never Was', must have been in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Also there, were a couple of Charge Sheets, identifying the miscreant and declaring his offence. One of them stayed in my memory. It was where a L/Cpl (The site must have been used by the Army before it closed), was charged with 'wearing weights'.

I couldn't imagine what this meant, so I later asked my father if he had any idea. He had no hesitation in explaining that this was the practice of wearing a string of lead weights in the bottom of the trousers, where they tucked into the gaiters. The effect of the weights was to pull the trousers tight from waist to ankle, thus showing the crease to advantage, there being no rucks along its length!

Thank goodness the Armed Forces moved on from those days of 'bull'. But I guess that was Conscription for you... the point where 'Discipline' stepped-in to banish any possible moment of idleness.

(A little like PPRuNe, of course! )
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 12:05
  #337 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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You can't win !

MPN11,
...I'm assuming they were interested in us, rather than the vehicle, although it was certainly eye-catching...
Large assumption ! Girl friend du jour told me in early '50s they all lusted after "A red MG, with Leslie Phillips driving". My clapped-out Bond "Minicar" didn't cut the mustard, and she rubbed it in by telling me that one of the well-heeled young men-about-town had just taken her for a ride in his new XK120. Furiously jealous - but she then thanked me for being so ......Women !!

Danny.
 
Old 15th Aug 2016, 12:06
  #338 (permalink)  
 
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A small and useless footnote for Danny and NigG, from a longtime devotee of this and the Brevet threads: the term Missy-Sahib was in use in Rangoon as late as 1978-79.
At least, it was still in use by my cookbearer, Samson, who had come from India to Burma in 1945 with a British Army Major, and who had later worked for a succession of British Defence Attaches until the DA post was chopped in 1978. (Which made it suddenly hard for a now civilian-staffed embassy to maintain channels to the military regime. But Whitehall knew that of course.)

Samson, a slight, wiry but intensely loyal fellow from somewhere around Darjeeling, used the term whenever he spoke to any unmarried female European visitor to my house under the age of about 25. And occasionally a married one if he was in doubt. Anglo Indian or Anglo Burmese young women were not so honoured!
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 12:27
  #339 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Danny42C View Post
NigG (#327)
Nearly everyone who managed to stay in in '46 dropped a rank or two.
Danny.
Ah! Bless you Danny. I'm currently reading and annotating a sheaf of letters sent to Arthur between 1944 and '47. They make interesting reading and give an intriguing insight into those days... of course, many of the writers were in the process of returning from the RAF to civilian life. My father, who had returned from India (just in time for VE Day) and was now commuting daily by train from his mother's house in North London to the Air Ministry, where he had a dull-ish admin job in postal services.

I think he was a bit depressed by his new circumstances, but this was, for a short while, exacerbated by being demoted from Acting Sqn Ldr back down to Flt Lt. Well, I was thinking 'Poor Dad... what's all this about... hardly an act of kindness'. But you've resolved the question... his demotion was common to many who stayed on in the RAF after the war.

There's one letter that stands out as being quite moving. I'll put it on screen as it gives an insight into some of the challenges of being on an operational squadron in the tropics during the war.

(I see, Danny, from KJ994, above, that you were correct about 'Miss Sahib' not implying 'Anglo Indian'. Though, maybe other stuff gave my mother reason for indignation (!) Best dropped, of course )
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 12:34
  #340 (permalink)  
 
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KJ994 reinstated a couple of years ago by part time basis from DA Singapore, first incumbent was my OC PMS from Wyton in 92-93, and a scribbly to boot
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