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Thread: Some useful personal RAF career photos for researchers etc

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    Default Some useful personal RAF career photos for researchers etc

    Hello all

    These are the career photos taken by my Grandfather - Alfred Blackburne - a career RAF officer through the 30's and 40's. His first ever experience of aircraft was at a very young age when he was exposed to all the flurry around the arrival of Alcock and Brown from Newfoundland as they landed on the West Coast of Ireland! Alfie appears to have moved around England, Scotland and Wales a lot with the RAF. I remember lots of stories he told me before his death in his 60's - I was a very keen WW2 aircraft modeller as a boy. On retirement he ran a successful garage near Larne, on the Antrim Coast of N Ireland and was a keen member of the local Legion. I can tell you that, for example, he took the Air Gunner tail role in the Wimpys for extra money and he recalled being on some of the very first raids over Germany as well as (which puzzled him also) dropping lots of leaflets over the same in other early missions. If you check the photos and need any info just ask. I have created an open Faebook group to get the pics up initially and will find a decent host for larger image versions. You don't need to join the group to see the photos. I hope the photos are helpful for your reseach and hope to have more in a few weeks. Oh, there is a crash pic in here. Alfie told me the mid gunner survived by climbing out of his turret which was a great surprise as he was quite large and it did not seem possible. There may have been a small fire and the other crew were casualties - it had returned from a mission and crashed near the airfield. V best, Nick

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ldv-Pilot-Repairs-Alterations/232650906774993#!/groups/199801603427533/

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    Thanks Nick

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    My pleasure. I hope to learn more about these aircraft and missions from your forum. It was by entering one of the aircraft reg's on my photos that I was led to this site.

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    Great photo's Nick.

    Will you be adding any pic's of Wellington aircraft your grandad flew in?

    Regards,
    Wayne.

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    Any other Christian names Nick?

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    I hope to have a wee bit more next week, and maybe some pics, when I speak to my Gran. Today I was told that Alfie was a flight engineer which appears to have been a natural progression for those who had served their time prior to the war and the standard of technical training in the 30's was very high apparently. The extra pay bit comes from Alfie's telling me of his volunteering to take the gunner role as an 'extra' in order to supplement his RAF income. I'm getting a service number with which I will hopefully be able to find ranks, postings etc. The engineer role would also explain why Alfie was such a good mechanic and electrician who tinkered with cars all through his life and retirement days. He gave me these photos in an album when I was 14, 30 years ago. If any of you can pin any of the aircraft in the pics to a unit that would be great. Also, can you tell me the name of the aircraft in the official group photo, which I presume is a training group passing out? Alfie is immediately below the very tall chap underneath the engine on the right of the photo. I might be wrong, but it looks like there is a young naval officer seated on the far left with Lieutenant or Lieutenant Commander flashes on his cuffs.
    Last edited by Nickireland; 15th November 2011 at 20:47. Reason: messed up text

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    I 've taken a quick look and think I can recognise the following aircraft:

    Hawker HARTS - 56 Squadron, chequered pattern on fuselage (red & white) place unknown.
    Hawker HART - possibly 12 Sqn, place unknown.
    Hawker AUDAX MkI K7427 - once belonged to 11 Flying Training School
    Miles MAGISTER - possibly Central Flying School
    Not sure but think the uniformed group are in front of an Avro ANSON with Cheetah Radial Engines, place unknown.
    DeHaviland DH89A, G-ACZE - possibly Heston
    Bristol BLENHEIM MkI 7089 - written off 11 Apr 1944 following undercarriage collapsing while taxying
    Handley-Page HARROW - place unknown.
    Supermarine SEAGULL or WARLRUS - place unknown.

    Have no idea where the hutted camp is, can see Guard of Honour, RAF Band, ViP car/s coming up the hill. Officer waiting to open door. Could be a training camp. As the guards are wearing collars and ties, it must be post war/late 40s. The 'tropical' pictures could be Aden (Khormaksar) Harts were used in Air Control (bombing fuzzy wuzzys who refused to pay taxes etc) I cannot identify the airfields/places the others were taken. Also, there are many aircraft I don't recognise, I've seen the gyro-copter before but dont know what its called. Some of the pictures are from 1935-1936 through to 1944 - 12 Pilots Advance Flying Unit (PAFU) Spittalgate was formed in 1944. If your Gran is the next of kin, she is entitled to his service records which could be helpful in identyfying his career path from enlisting to demob. You need to contact 'Disclosure Office' RAF Cranwell, Sleaford, Lincolnshire for the service records. The following URL provides further information and downloadable application forms.

    http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/raf.html

    Norman

    If there is a way of numbering the photos - it would make identifying/communication much easier for us to explain
    Last edited by namrondooh; 15th November 2011 at 22:17.

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    Great stuff - thanks. I'll number them all. Your detail is brilliant - am looking forward to telling the old man. The Walrus was possibly based in Wales. My dad was born on D-Day at 6am in a house near the barracks not far from the coast, and Alfie was flying over the Channel that day. I recall him talking about air sea rescue on D Day.

    One of the photos as you say appears to show a procession at a barracks with two flatbed RAF trucks of some sort with a single driver each (I have listed as 'PIC 31') Two RAF men with their hats removed are attending to something in the rear of the front truck. I scoured the supersize image. There are local civilians looking on at the rear in rural working clothes. From my research it features the Band Of The Royal Airforce College - this particular dress uniform existed between 1937 and 1946 if I am right? The camp is not long assembled with it's young planted saplings lining the main route and prefab wooden barracks. There are women watching from the brick built two story terrace quarters immediately adjacent to these. It's a spring morning, looking at the leaves on the trees and the recently cut grass. Some dignitaries and possibly a reporter are present between the staff offices beside the route. There are some guys in lab coats huddled at the far end of the road outside a hut. The local fields are small and undulating. The cables appear to have been removed from the telegraph poles, or not yet installed. There are new street lamps on the poles.

    So, I will get onto that application for service record.

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    To Namrondooh...

    My father tells me that the family were based at one point in a single story house on a base called Valley in Wales - it was here that he was born on D Day. Alfie was apparently away on active service. I note that 275 Air Rescue Sqn were based at Valley until April'44. 275 moved South to RAF Warmwell to support D Day operations and included the Walrus in their service aircraft. Perhaps the Walrus photgraphed was one of theirs?

    Some other info - Alfie did not have a grammar education, hence his taking of an engineer trade with the RAF rather than starting out as a pilot. My father tells me that up to 1938, Alfie was able to gain valuable flying experience by informally going on missions / routine flights with pilots who agreed to take him. Apparently the practise was common. Yes he was in Africa and he told my father the options to go and work with the RAF overseas were plentiful and easy to take. Around 1946 Alfie was asked if he wanted to go to Australia, but with the family of four at that stage he decided to return to N Ireland from Wales, having regularly returned home to visit relatives. Hope this helps.

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    Nick,
    thanks for sharing these wonderful photos. Regarding the Sopwith triplane?SE 5, the aircraft on the left is a General Aircraft Monospar.
    Just wish I could identify the aircaft he is sitting on on Photo 1.
    Dave

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