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Thread: Which brevet?

  1. #1
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    Default Which brevet?

    While researching a 101 Sqn Lancaster (PD268), lost without trace on ops to Dessau, 7 March 1945 I have come in contact with the extended family of the flight engineer.

    They were kind enough to send me a photograph of him and in the photo he is in uniform. But instead of an F/E brevet he has the full pilot's brevet.

    Until the family can get his service record we won't know how all this came to be but my question is which one would he wear while he was on operational duties? Would he have been allowed to wear the pilot's one?

    Many thanks in advance.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Hi Dave, I do not think so...
    I suppose the photo with pilot brevet was taken later when he possibly passed pilot training?

    You can never trust to what you see on the photo!:)
    I have got a very nice colored photo of AG but in the uniform with pilot brevet. Years later when I met him he told me that this photo was taken on a party when he simply exchanged his battledress top with his skipper...

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

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    Not wishing to agonise as to why a flight engineer was wearing a pilot's flying badge, I shall confine myself to summarising the RAF regulations. That said, it seems unusual for a flight engineer to have been previously mustered as a pilot, although there are plenty of cases which are the other way round. As suggested, the possibility that the photograph is a 'spoof' should not be ignored until the Record of Service proves otherwise or confirms the spoof.

    A member of aircrew wears the flying badge for the aircrew category in which he is employed. When he ceases to be employed permanently on aircrew duties he may wear any of the flying badges for which he has qualified. If he is being retrained from one aircrew category to another, he wears the badge of the trade for which he is currently qualified, until he is formally 'badged' in the new category.

    There are some special cases, such as personnel from other countries and services who are serving in the RAF but we won't go there because I can't remember what they all are - I do know, however, that a Glider Pilot Regiment/Army Air Corps flying badge looks especially 'fetching' when worn on an RAF best blue uniform.

    Colin Cummings

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    Hi Dave
    In Bomber Command Losses Vol 6, W R Chorley makes a number of comments In addition to mentioning the above average age of the 2 a/gs he points out that the pilot,S/Ldr M V Gibbon AFC had served since the late 20's early 30's and this suggests that he may also been "elderly" for operational aircrew. It raises the possibly that the F/E that chorley mentions may in fact have been the regular pilot of this crew but was flying as F/E for this flight as well as providing cover for an out -of- practice older pilot very late in the war,the normal F/E having perhaps been stood down. Just a thought!
    Regards
    Dick

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    Dave.
    Is it possible he was just wearing the skippers jacket !

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    Many thanks, gents.

    Unfortunately, Dick, the 101 ORB does not contain the PORs from May 1944 onwards so don't know when the crew even arrived at RAF Ludford Magna. I have the complete RCAF service file of the ABC man, Sgt Rudy Mahr, but he was assigned to the crew at LM, not having met them before this, so no help there.

    As mentioned we won't know for sure until his service records are obtained.

    For what it's worth the photograph is a studio portrait rather than a contemporary "hanging about the Station" shot.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Re your statement at Post 6, it may be a studio portrait but if - for example - the crew went into Grimsby on a stand down, they could have all trooped into the local photographers for 'a bit of a laugh'.

    The important thing is does the portrait offer any other evidence - badges of rank, medal ribbons, name of photographer/studio location/date on the back of the photo. Is the family able to identify the person in the photo as being 'your man'. If there is no firm evidence from someone who knew him, could it be that the photo just happened to be amongst a quantity of memorabilia attributed to the man?

    However, this is all conjecture and the Record of Service will reveal all - well almost all!!

    Colin Cummings

    An afterthought. What about the ORB - does it show this crew flying together previously and are the same eight (?) men together in any other documented evidence?
    Last edited by Oldduffer; 21st November 2012 at 06:14. Reason: After thought!!

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    All excellent points, Colin, and one may be correct.

    The copy I have is not the original photo so there is nothing on the back. The photo was scanned and printed and then mailed to me. The family connection is interesting in that the F/E's father married my correspondent's mother in the late 50s, making him a step brother, had he lived. I am trying to avoid suppositions until the records arrive but any of the scenarios you offer may be correct. It has even occurred to me that the photograph may be of the pilot. I just don't know.

    The crew of seven, all RAF, first appear in the ORB for Chemnitz, 5-6 March, 1945. ABC operator RCAF Sgt Mahr flies same op with a different crew. Mahr had arrived on station 26 November, 1944, so had been on several operations. Some ABC operators did their entire tour with the same crew, others, like Mahr, went wherever they were needed or ordered.

    The crew, with Mahr, are lost without trace the next night on ops to Dessau.

    The only reason I know anything about the crew at all is the extraordinary detail in Mahr's file. 1945 addresses of all crew next of kin, letters between families and RCAF and RAF casualty officers etc.

    Time will tell.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    RAF regulations in WW2 era (and possibly since) called for qualified members of aircrew who were qualified in more than one trade to choose which badge to wear and stick with it. Thus one who was an A/G and later qualified as pilot could choose to wear one or the other, but he could NOT wear both. Naturally if you were acting in the role of pilot you could and would not wear a previous A/G badge, even though you had originally qualified to do so.

    Another instance I know of which might expalin your predicament was the oversupply of qualified pilots washing around in the UK in 1945 awaiting advanced training courses. They were told that if they were hanging out for these advanced training courses then they should forget it, as there were just too many of them clogging up the training units and holding units. However if they were pepared to cross train as flight engineers at No. 4 Techncial Training School at St Athans (about a 2 or 3 month course) they could then be posted directly to a Bomber Command unit and still retain the right to wear their pilot badge, although their new aircrew category was officiallyt Pilot/Flight Engineer. Quite a number of RNZAF qualified multi-engine pilots who were kicking their heels in the UK at this time decided to complete the F/E course, and many of them soon ended up serving with 75 (NZ) Squadron and most soon transferred to Tiger Force (if they chose to do so) for operations against Japan. The war in the east folded up before Tiger Force could deploy of course, but at least these pilots did get to do some flying before the whole concept was abandoned.
    David D

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    Thank you for that, David. I am hearing the same thing with respect to RAAF personnel. I have also been sent a few photographs of 550 Sqn crews with the F/Es ID'd as "P/F/E"s.

    Colin, I have again spoken to the gent who sent me the photograph. On it is "Chandler Southampton" and "3010B". I suspect this is referring to Southampton photographers S.A. Chandler and Son:

    http://www.photoarchivenews.com/searching-for-photographers-s-a-chandler-son/

    None of the crew have a connection to Southampton with respect to their hometowns. CWGC lists next of kin and towns for all but Pilot Gibbon and Navigator Gawthorp. Gibbon's wife was living Hatch End, Middlesex and he had a brother in Pinner, Middlesex. Gawthorp's parents from Sanderstead, S. Croydon. That comes from a telegram sent from 101 to the AM, Kingsway the day after PD268's non return.

    With respect to Gibbon's age as mentioned by Dick, he wasn't that ancient. Born Lewisham, March quarter, 1912, making him 32.

    More to come, I am sure.

    Regards,

    Dave
    Last edited by alieneyes; 24th November 2012 at 12:10. Reason: info about 550 Sqn

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