Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

LAC aircrew WW2

Old 3rd Oct 2022, 07:13
  #21 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Somewhere flat
Age: 67
Posts: 5,093
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 2 Posts
Originally Posted by steamchicken View Post
Thinking about it, this was really strange in the light of the turret fighter concept. OK, so the main armament is in the turret and that's the whole point of the aircraft, so...the gunner is some guy who was available, rather than having specific training?
Yes. They would volunteer and train on the squadron.
Wensleydale is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2022, 08:53
  #22 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Gold Sector
Age: 69
Posts: 201
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think it was 'Acting Sergeant' for those VR chaps. I did hear that when the fighting stopped - they were no longer sergeants.
HAS59 is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2022, 10:18
  #23 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Westnoreastsouth
Posts: 1,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For anybody interested in early WW2 air gunners.
The Best Of Luck by Dennis Conroy covers his RAF service 1935 - 1946.
He was a pre war armourer,became a part time air gunner (bullet badge),eventually awarded the A/G badge and promoted Acting /Temp Sgt,but the route to being aircrew could be quite tortuous for experienced groundcrew.He was demoted back to Cpl and was (involuntarily) returned to ground duties for a while,but he eventually managed to return to aircrew - later he managed to get trained as pilot and ended up as a Typhoon Pilot.


Another interesting RAF life story was John (Ian) Blair another pre war armourer/Air Gunner - later volunteer Observer.
John Ian Blair. Corporal, Arm/AG / Acting Sgt while he was with the 113 squadron, approx 1939 to Sept 1940. Joined the RAF as a boy entrant and trained as an armourer. Trained & qualified in the UK as a A/G in 1936. Posted to 113 with rank of AC-1 Arm/AG from the date of embarkation from Grantham in April 1938. He was classified as aircrew and flew operationally as Acting Sgt (unpaid) Cpl Arm/AG.
In Sept 1940 113 Ground Crew (acting Observer) Corporal Ian Blair, a non-pilot safely landed the plane he was in after his pilot (P/O John Harry Reynolds) had been shot and killed. Ian was awarded the DFM for the incident and left the squadron to take pilot training. The following is S/Ldr Blair's detailed accounting of the events that day.

DERNA STORY
What follows is the true story of the incident over Derna, Libya which led to the Immediate Award of the DFM to Acting Sergeant John Blair, No. 550006 on 4th September 1940.
The Official Citation is as follows

“550006 Acting Sergeant John Blair ,No 113 Squadron, Middle East Command .

On 4th September, 1940, during operations over Derna , when the pilot of the aircraft was killed instantly by enemy action, Sergeant Blair, the observer, succeeded in getting the aircraft under control and taking evasive action while the air gunner fought off the enemy aircraft. Assisted by the air gunner, he then removed the dead pilot from his seat and, without previous flying experience, achieved a safe landing after a flight of 350 miles. By his courage, devotion to duty and determination he saved the lives of both himself and the air gunner as well as saving the aircraft.”
Blair did become a Pilot and ended up as a Sqn Ldr on 602 sqn
longer ron is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2022, 15:33
  #24 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 81
Posts: 4,652
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just to add to the preceding posts, we had an ex-LAC Fairey Battle A/G in 30 Sqn Assn. He had the same experience as others mentioned here. Against overwhelming opposition (both from the air and from the ground) his crew succeeded in bombing their target canal bridge in Belgium. The other two crew members, pilot and nav, and both commissioned officers, were decorated for their courage in pressing home the attack. He wasn't.

When he later complained that his gun barrel was overheating whilst returning fire against attacking Me109's, he was told, "Don't fire it so much then!".

He resented his treatment to his dying day.

Edited to say sorry, Geriaviator, I see you've already posted my dit!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 3rd Oct 2022 at 18:43. Reason: Scooped!
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2022, 13:30
  #25 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: QLD - where drivers are yet to realise that the left lane goes to their destination too.
Posts: 2,977
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 3 Posts
The Victoria Cross is awarded for Gallantry above and beyond. Garland and Gray were in a position to 'avoid' the heavy flak but chose not to...the gunner was indeed considered "part of the Aircraft" and had no say in the prosecution of the attack - he died carrying out his expected duty. Yes he was brave - heroic even, but they all were: it was the decision process that went above and beyond and not just being there.
Strange, Ken Cambell's navigator, James Scott, didn't get a VC as well when they torpedoed the Gneisenau. Considering they found Scott in the pilot's seat when they recovered the wreck, he could be said to be particularly hard done by. I imagine he too chose not to avoid the heavy flak just as much as Gray did not.
Traffic_Is_Er_Was is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2022, 17:48
  #26 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Station 42
Age: 67
Posts: 991
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I remember reading a WW2 bomber crew member's autobiography in the 1970s and he was very bitter about the shabby treatment the NCO aircrew were given once the fighting was over. Many men, some with a tour behind them, were put on menial duties and subjected to the whims of supervising disciplinary and admin staff. No campaign medal was struck for the crews, even Churchill barely mentioned Bomber Command's supreme efforts in his VE Day speech and it took nearly 70 years for a memorial to be erected to the 55,000 airmen lost. Shameful.
I wish I could remember the book's title.
stevef is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2022, 19:08
  #27 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
Age: 78
Posts: 7,420
Received 6 Likes on 2 Posts
On my first ATC tour I worked with a MPlt who had been an A/Sqn Ldr on Typhoons in the ‘late War’. DFM or DFC? Can’t remember. When it was all over, they said he wan’t really our sort of chap (robust Aussie) but he could stay as a Sgt Pilot. He really admired we direct entry plt offs! Harsh but fair was Black Jack!
MPN11 is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2022, 20:06
  #28 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Yeovil, England
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Quote: The Victoria Cross is awarded for Gallantry above and beyond. Garland and Gray were in a position to 'avoid' the heavy flak but chose not to...the gunner was indeed considered "part of the Aircraft" and had no say in the prosecution of the attack - he died carrying out his expected duty. Yes he was brave - heroic even, but they all were: it was the decision process that went above and beyond and not just being there.

I suppose the gunner could have elected to abandon the aircraft, the fact that he didn't probably means he was as gallant as the two "proper" aircrew Gods.

goffered again is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2022, 21:46
  #29 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Location: Location!
Posts: 2,212
Received 6 Likes on 5 Posts
Originally Posted by Wensleydale View Post
The Victoria Cross is awarded for Gallantry above and beyond. Garland and Gray were in a position to 'avoid' the heavy flak but chose not to...the gunner was indeed considered "part of the Aircraft" and had no say in the prosecution of the attack - he died carrying out his expected duty. Yes he was brave - heroic even, but they all were: it was the decision process that went above and beyond and not just being there.
Perhaps helping to keep the subject in context, it should be remembered that much the same principle applied to the award of Victoria Crosses to the crews of X-Class and XE-Class submarines in World War II, which had a four man crew. The only case I can recall in which anyone other than the commanding officer was awarded the VC was XE-3, when both Lieutenant Ian Fraser and his diver, Leading Seaman Jim Magennis were both awarded the VC for the attack on the Japanese cruiser TAKAO off Singapore.

Jack
Union Jack is offline  
Old 5th Oct 2022, 09:53
  #30 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: london
Posts: 681
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by stevef View Post
I remember reading a WW2 bomber crew member's autobiography in the 1970s and he was very bitter about the shabby treatment the NCO aircrew were given once the fighting was over. Many men, some with a tour behind them, were put on menial duties and subjected to the whims of supervising disciplinary and admin staff. No campaign medal was struck for the crews, even Churchill barely mentioned Bomber Command's supreme efforts in his VE Day speech and it took nearly 70 years for a memorial to be erected to the 55,000 airmen lost. Shameful.
I wish I could remember the book's title.
The Eighth Passenger- Miles Tripp, Chapter 8 'Mike'
rolling20 is offline  
Old 5th Oct 2022, 10:43
  #31 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Station 42
Age: 67
Posts: 991
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by rolling20 View Post
The Eighth Passenger- Miles Tripp, Chapter 8 'Mike'
Thanks for that, RT, I've got The Eighth Passenger on my bookshelf but it's not the one I had in mind. The final chapter in the book I read related how a group of non-commissioned superfluous aircrew were relegated to bumpering (tedious waxing and polishing) some floors and the fumes ignited due to a cigarette, causing a fire which killed several of them. Tragic, especially considering the unrelenting dangers they'd faced in the air.
stevef is offline  
Old 5th Oct 2022, 15:03
  #32 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Baston
Posts: 2,605
Received 20 Likes on 10 Posts
One day I might tell the true tale of a National Service Met. airman at RAF Nicosia, 1961, involving a bumpered floor, sleeping naked, a window to open, and a partly-open locker. And a rapid visit to sick quarters.

However.

Bumpering was still being done at RAF Linton in 1981 in which year I was made responsible for Met. at the Flying Training stations. I was horrified to find that Met. staff at Linton still slithered around, and indeed, at my first inspection visit, was invited to do likewise. Unwise, S Met O.

Bumpering ceased forthwith.

langleybaston is online now  
Old 5th Oct 2022, 16:42
  #33 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Did I read that promotion to at least Sgt for all aircrew, was to do with getting better treatment under the Geneva Convention if you ended up being a PoW?
Treble one is offline  
Old 5th Oct 2022, 18:17
  #34 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Dark Side of West Wales
Age: 83
Posts: 156
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When I was involved in the running of the 85 Squadron Association I had the privilege of meeting some of the guys who had been WOP/air gunners in the squadrons Lysanders, in France in 1939/40. Most initially had been trained as wireless mechanics' and were AC1's but got drafted into flying as the wirelesses in use were rather unreliable. After a short while on active service they were promoted to LAC and paid accordingly but no extra flying pay. Their accommodation was appalling, they lived, worked and slept in a barn. They slept on a ground sheet covered with straw filled paillasses and their greatcoats. It was so cold in January1940 that at night they all huddled together on the floor to keep warm. No bumpers for those guys. However their pilots (all commissioned of course) were living like kings in a local chateaus.

After withdrawal from France and return to England (Lymph then West Malling) in May 1940, the survivors were all promoted to Sergeants and at last got flying pay.

A book could have been written about these chaps but they have all past on now.

Last edited by DODGYOLDFART; 6th Oct 2022 at 11:01.
DODGYOLDFART is offline  
Old 5th Oct 2022, 20:21
  #35 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: S W France
Age: 78
Posts: 251
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For anybody wishing to read the background to the employment (misemployment?) of Air Gunners I can recommend Wg Cdr Jeff Jefford's excellent book
Observers and Navigators and other non-pilot aircrew in the RFC, RNAS, and RAF. It covers the whole history of that period.
Tengah Type is offline  
Old 5th Oct 2022, 22:44
  #36 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Somewhere flat
Age: 67
Posts: 5,093
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 2 Posts
Originally Posted by Tengah Type View Post
For anybody wishing to read the background to the employment (misemployment?) of Air Gunners I can recommend Wg Cdr Jeff Jefford's excellent book
Observers and Navigators and other non-pilot aircrew in the RFC, RNAS, and RAF. It covers the whole history of that period.
If I could add that you need to get the much expanded second edition (white cover) rather than the 1st edition (blue cover).
Wensleydale is offline  
Old 6th Oct 2022, 07:15
  #37 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: A very long way North
Posts: 443
Likes: 0
Received 5 Likes on 2 Posts
Originally Posted by rolling20 View Post
I believe most pre and early war air gunners were either riggers of fitters, but there were also junior NCO crew members who were wireless operator/ air gunners.I think the pay for volunteer air gunners was sixpence a day.
Those in ground trades who flew on missions , lasting several hours, would often be made to attend to their ground duties on landing by over zealous NCOs.
When the NCO aircrew rank was introduced, many ground NCOs resented their new found status.
When the shooting started, many who had volunteered for air gunner duty, quietly went back to their ground trades.
Apparently the ground crew NCOs became more sympathetic to the new air gunner NCOs when casualties started occuring.

All that above was from memory from reading Max Hastings 'Bomber Command', many decades ago.
Still persisted into the 90’s. The Sgts’ Mess at Aldergrove would organise “ex-Cpls nights” to exclude the direct entry Sgt aircrew.
PlasticCabDriver is offline  
Old 6th Oct 2022, 07:26
  #38 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Westnoreastsouth
Posts: 1,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by rolling20 View Post
When the shooting started, many who had volunteered for air gunner duty, quietly went back to their ground trades.
.
However - as I alluded to in an earlier post - there was much pressure to retain experienced ground crew in their trade role,the fast expanding RAF badly needed skilled tradesmen.
As I also mentioned earlier - the route to aircrew from being an experienced tradesman could be fairly long and tortuous.
(As with Dennis Conroy in my post #23 )
longer ron is offline  
Old 6th Oct 2022, 09:19
  #39 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: london
Posts: 681
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by PlasticCabDriver View Post
Still persisted into the 90’s. The Sgts’ Mess at Aldergrove would organise “ex-Cpls nights” to exclude the direct entry Sgt aircrew.
I seem to remember one of my instructors mentioning to me as we walked past the 'Corporals Club' one day, that they were very circumspect about who they let in
and that they worse than the Sergeants.
rolling20 is offline  
Old 6th Oct 2022, 09:23
  #40 (permalink)  

Nigerian In Law
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: The stool at the end of the bar
Posts: 1,092
Received 7 Likes on 4 Posts
Originally Posted by PlasticCabDriver View Post
Still persisted into the 90’s. The Sgts’ Mess at Aldergrove would organise “ex-Cpls nights” to exclude the direct entry Sgt aircrew.
Experienced this sort of (let's call it what it is) snobbery myself as an AAC Sgt Pilot in Hong Kong in the late 80s. There were a few joint mess and squadron bar functions for SNCO ground crews, but the Wessex pilots couldn't bear to grace us with their presence at any Squadron functions as it would mean mixing with NCOs doing the same job.

Ironically I recall being told of the withdrawal of Squadron colours from 28 Sqn aircrew for cowardice having abandoned their ground crew, so 28 Sqn was actually the ground crew.

NEO
Nigerian Expat Outlaw is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.