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Thread: New Forum Member - Intro/Interests

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    Default New Forum Member - Intro/Interests

    Greetings All:

    Although I've been on several related fora for years, I just stumbled across RAF Commands Forum, and look forward to participating in discussions. As my signature line suggests, my interest is primary in the organisational history and operations of the various Commonwealth air forces in South and South-East Asia from the start of flight up to about 1960 -- with a particular interest in activities in-and-around Ceylon during the 10 years or so bracketing WWII.

    I actually lived in that part of the world (India, Sri Lanka/Ceylon, Afghanistan) for many years over the past decade, and visited just about every other country in the region -- with the exception (alas!) of Burma and Bhutan. I'm currently researching a book on the military history of Ceylon during the (British) colonial period, having a particular interest in the events surrounding the Japanese attack on Ceylon (Colombo and Trincomalee) in April 1942; and a particular soft spot for RCAF 413 Squadron, (after having had the honour -- and pleasure -- of meeting Air Commodore Len Birchall, the "Saviour of Ceylon", on many occasions).

    I regularly frequent the (British) National Archives at Kew; the Canadian National Library and Archives in Ottawa, and various national archives in South Asia, when circumstances permit.

    Always happy to share what (little) I know (thus far)... and, as I said, look forward to joining in to any conversations, as appropriate.

    Cheers,
    Glen,

    In Our Dominion of the North
    Researching Commonwealth Air Forces (and activities) in South and South-East Asia (especially Ceylon) up to about 1960.

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    Welcome Glen,

    so from my different scope I would be able only to provide you account of Catalina pilot who spotted the Japanese fleet when approaching Colombo if I am right.
    Other information for this area I have from the 60s I think when a Shackleton squadron took part in training there. I have some info from the unit ORB.

    Good luck with your research.


    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Welcome to the forum Glen. I'm sure, like me, you'll find everyone on here very welcoming and helpful.

    Simon

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    Glen,

    Good to see you on here too!

    Rgds

    Jonny
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Welcome to the forum Glen.

    As one of your interests lies with Ceylon 1942 you will probably be aware that 30 Sqn, who were heavily involved in the defence against the Japanese air raids, are still an active Sqn. They are in the process of moving from Lyneham to Brize Norton and once they get settled in their new home they will have the history room back up and running. Obviously the Sqn holds a good deal of information regarding their time in Ceylon.

    If you are interested I can arrange access to the Sqn history room for you.

    Regards,
    Simon

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    Thank you to every one for the warm words of welcome.

    Simon, thank you for the kind offer regarding 30 Squadron. It is something I definitely will want to follow-up on. Do you know what the time-line is for 30 Squadron's history room to be back up-and-running?

    If I were to go to via London, is there a train to Brize Norton?

    30 Squadron, of course, played a critical role in fending off the Japanese attack on Ceylon on Easter Sunday '42 -- as well as in bolstering the morale of the local people. They arrived at a critical moment (as it turned out, about 6 days before the first attack) and immediately began to do patrols over the city: these patrols, it is said, were more for reasons of morale than operational necessity. The authorities wanted the local people on the ground to see regular flights of RAF fighters over the city, seemingly ready to pounce on any attacker. Probably not a very good idea in terms of pilot fatigue and aircraft wear and tear -- but priceless in terms of building the confidence of the local citizenry, upon whom much of the war effort in the region relied for labour and commercial support -- the problem was that the rumour mill was running rampant (ie., about what was about to happen) with the result that many locals were decamping the city in fear; (recall that Rangoon had fallen just a few weeks earlier). One must also remember that although we now speak of the "raid" or "attacks" on Ceylon (Sri Lanka), at the time one spoke of the possibility of "invasion" and "occupation". Well done to all who played a role in preventing the later! As Churchill later wrote:

    "The most dangerous moment of the War, and the one which caused me the greatest alarm, was when the Japanese Fleet was heading for Ceylon and the naval base there. The capture of Ceylon, the consequent control of the Indian Ocean, and the possibility at the same time of a German conquest of Egypt would have closed the ring and the future would have been black."

    Cheers,
    Glen
    Last edited by Northern Dominion; 26th August 2011 at 12:07.
    Researching Commonwealth Air Forces (and activities) in South and South-East Asia (especially Ceylon) up to about 1960.

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    Hi Glen,

    The Sqn move will no doubt take a while so you are probably better off waiting for the Sqn reunion next April. That way they are sure to have the history room up and running (it is probably low on their list of priorities to sort).

    The reunion is a great day out and usually involves a flight in one of the Sqn Hercules. Also you could meet the 30 Sqn Ceylon expert Wg Cd John Barrass.

    With regard trains, going back many years to my RAF days, I believe the nearest train station was Carterton but you may have to change trains once or twice from London.

    Simon

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    Default Ceylon April 1942

    Hi Glen

    Should you have not already seen BLOODY SHAMBLES Volume 2, may I recommend this since one chapter covers the April 1942 action over Ceylon.

    Should you have difficulty in finding a copy, I will be able to photocopy the pages for you.

    Cheers
    Brian

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    I've read (re-read) "The Most Dangerous Moment", the story of the attacks.... but not "Bloody Shambles". I've seen the latter advertised on eBay (or wherever) but had the impression the book was about the fall of Malaya and Singapore.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    Cheers,
    Glen
    Researching Commonwealth Air Forces (and activities) in South and South-East Asia (especially Ceylon) up to about 1960.

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