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Thread: Young pilots flying bombers from Canada

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    Default Young pilots flying bombers from Canada

    I have just read the obituary of Lionel Lee-Davey , wartime squadron leader, in the Daily Telegraph Sat.22/3.He trained in Canada and returned flying a Lockheed Ventura from Canada to Iceland .
    A partial quote " Newly commissioned pilots helped the war effort by flying a bomber home ,which was considered a safer delivery option than by sea ---It was a hazardous assignment.Apart from the inexperience of the 19 year old pilots,the flight was largely over water,out of radio contact and required a notoriously difficult landfall in Iceland"

    I know that WW2 bombers were regularly flown to the Middle East from Britain by newly qualified pilots and crew, to join their squadrons.

    Was it a regular occurrence for very young pilots, having trained in Canada, to fly Canadian or American made bombers across the Atlantic ?

    How did the American made Liberators get to England, Italy and the Far East ? By ship or being flown by the USAAF or by RCAF and other Commonwealth pilots who had been training in Canada.

    Anne

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    Default Ferry Pilots

    G'day Anne

    No. 313 Ferry Training and Conversion Unit formed here in North Bay, Ontario on the 1st of March 1944. Its role was to tran crews to ferry American and Canadian-built aircraft across the pond. The unit was re-designated No. 313 Ferry Taining Unit on the 5th of July 1944. It was disbanded on the 18th of October 1945.

    The unit used Lockheed Hudsons along with a variety of other aircraft types including the Lancaster, Mitchell, Mosquito.

    Primary North Atlantic routes:

    Dorval (Montreal), Quebec to Seven Islands, Quebec
    Seven Islands, Quebec to Goose Bay, Labrador
    Goose Bay, Labrador to Bluie West One (Narsarrsuak), Greenland
    Bluie West One (Narsarrsuak), Greenland to Reykjavik, Iceland
    Reykjavik, Iceland to Prestwick, Scotland

    Dorval, Quebec to Gander, Newfoundland
    Gander, Newfoundland to Prestwick, Scotland (*just over 2,000 miles)

    Cheers..Chris

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    Default Ferry pilots

    Chris
    Thank you. The pilots must have become experienced in landing & taking off on the way to Britain ! Were Liberators flown the same way -or sent by ship ? I wonder at the logistics of the movement of these wartime planes.

    My RAAF Observer father trained in Australia then in Britain. Travelling to England by sea to San Francisco, by train across America to somewhere in Massachusetts then sailing on a troop ship "Pasteur" from Pier 21, Halifax NS to Bournemouth, England March -April 1943 .
    I presume the Suez canal route was too dangerous ?

    Anne

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    Hi Anne, Liberators were also flown the same way.
    There were also few Czechoslovak airmen with the Ferry Command in 1942. From their memories is clear that the plane was assigned to the captain (RAF, RCAF, civilian) and it was his problem to find a suitable crew. As there were only pilots and WOPs among Czechoslovak airmen they need to find the 2nd pilot + navigator. They mentioned that the navigators were in most cases "fresh material" from schools in Canada posted overseas to UK.
    In one case when they sucessfully landed in Prestwick youg navigator came to the Czech WOP who was doing most of the navigating job during the whole flight and apologize for his part in this flight that he was so unhelpful...

    Pavel

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    Default Young pilots flying bombers from Canada

    Pavel
    Thank you also.

    I expect many of these young boys who made up the new crews were very "green" and frightened.

    Anne

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    Anne,

    An excellent book on this subject is Carl A. Christie's 'Ocean Bridge - the history of RAF Ferry Command'.

    Errol

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    Hi Anne, no problem.
    Yes I fully agree with Errol - this book is very good and gives global overview of Transatlantic flights and history of ATFERO, Ferry Command and Transport Command with complete listing of all losses - interesting fact: from approx. 11 000 planes transported only approx. 150 of them were lost.

    Pavel

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    Errol & Pavel

    I have ordered the book -a secondhand version but that is good.I like to get secondhand as much as possible as long as they are readable & aren't too yellow with age .

    It amazes me that there seems to be a book written for every sphere of airforce interest & someone on raf commands comes up with a title.

    Thank you
    Anne

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    You may find reference to the early days of Ferry Command in biographies of Air marshal Donald Bennet. I believe that a Canadian pilot - Doug McVicar? - wrote a book describing his own experiences - possible called Ferry Command but memory fails. Description of flying the North Atlantic in wartime can also be found in Ernest K.Gann's masterpiece Fate Is the Hunter.

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    Graham

    Thanks for your recommendations.

    Anne

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