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Thread: "Towers Scheme" - RAF Pilot training

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    Default "Towers Scheme" - RAF Pilot training

    Can anyone please point me towards information regarding RAF pilots trained in the USA (at Naval Air Stations Grosse Ille and Pensacola) under the Towers Scheme?

    According to his service record, in June 1942, my Grandfather was sent to Canada (31 PD at Moncton) and thence posted to Detroit / "Draft No 4496 Towers". The next entry is in March 1943 when he returns to 31 PD prior to being posted to 31 GRS (RAF Charlottetown) and then back to Britain. There is no record of what he did in the USA.

    From his photo album, I have worked out that "Detroit" was in fact NAS Grosse Ille where he did some intitial flying training and then he went to NAS Pensacola in Florida for more advanced training. He seems to have travelled with both RAF and RN pilot trainees.

    I would love to find a list of Towers Scheme courses and members, but I have tried approaching NAS Pensacola Museum without any real response.

    Thanks

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    Hi

    Not directly connected with the Towers scheme but you may like to look at 5bfts.org.uk where there is a lot of information about training in the US and help with records at Kew.
    regards Peter

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    Navig8er.
    A good account of the of the Towers Scheme is the "British Naval Aviation in World War II" by Gilbert S. Quinn and G.H. Bennett. It is a small volume for it's original price (200 A5 size pages - 60+) but I can see there are s/h copies available at a much lower price. Despite the generalization suggested by the title the book is devoted to the training of British and Commonwealth airmen by the U.S. Navy.

    Unlike Quinn's later and larger volume on the Arnold Scheme (RAF training via the USAAF) his naval account does not include details of individual courses, which is a great pity. The appendices include a substantial list of the sources and documents he accessed at Kew and in Washington and elsewhere that might include the records you seek.

    Bearing in mind both RAF and FAA airmen were trained under the Towers Scheme it is possible that the archives of the RAF Museum or the FAA Museum may include course lists.

    There was the British Pensacola Veterans Association. I do not know if it is still active but an Internet search will reveal the address, etc.

    Hope this will help, Tony Broadhurst

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    Small world, Navig8er - my late uncle Don Atkins was in Draft No 4496 of the Towers Scheme too.

    Alas, I don't have any useful specific info to add, though. There's a thread on here which touches on it via a discussion of the Arnold Scheme (the airforce version). http://http://www.rafcommands.com/fo...ight=pensacola

    The USN training at Pensacola seems to have been very rigorous, and I've read somewhere that it was considered harder than RAF training (although the standard of living was considerably better!). The training appears to have included types like the Catalina, and presumably originally most RAF personnel were destined for Coastal Command; Don flew with a Special Duties squadron, however - maybe priorities had shifted a little perhaps by their return in 1943. What did your grandfather do after Pensacola? Charlottetown, was it a navigation school of some sort (I may well be wrong, mind you)? I realise belatedly - your forum name might be a clue.

    If you haven't already, you might have a look on Amazon for Bernard Young's "Pensacola Pilot", Persimmon Publications, which is full of anecdotes from a Towers pilot. Also worth trying to track down the online reminiscences of Bill Leckie, also a Special Duties pilot trained on the Towers Scheme (same squadron - 148 - as Don, in fact; they operated in the Balkans mainly), though I'm scuppered if I can find them. Finally, there's a reminiscence about the training in the early days of the Towers Scheme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peop...a5276351.shtml

    Anyway, sorry to have nothing concrete for you - all the best in your researches. Cheers, Pat

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    Hi Pat, I think I may have a couple of photos of the course with your Uncle in them. There is definitely one name Aitken (sic) which appears and a few uncaptioned photos taken at a Graduation/Wings Ceremony.

    They aren't in great condition, but I am happy to scan and send them if you give me an email address. Just give me a couple of weeks to respond as I am going away for work soon.

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    Hi Tony, Thanks for the advice. There is still such an association listed on the internet, but they seem a bit old school - no actual internet site etc, so I may have to send them an old fashioned email.

    Cheers N

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    Thanks Peter, I will look into that as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Navig8er View Post
    Can anyone please point me towards information regarding RAF pilots trained in the USA (at Naval Air Stations Grosse Ille and Pensacola) under the Towers Scheme?

    According to his service record, in June 1942, my Grandfather was sent to Canada (31 PD at Moncton) and thence posted to Detroit / "Draft No 4496 Towers". The next entry is in March 1943 when he returns to 31 PD prior to being posted to 31 GRS (RAF Charlottetown) and then back to Britain. There is no record of what he did in the USA.

    From his photo album, I have worked out that "Detroit" was in fact NAS Grosse Ille where he did some intitial flying training and then he went to NAS Pensacola in Florida for more advanced training. He seems to have travelled with both RAF and RN pilot trainees.

    I would love to find a list of Towers Scheme courses and members, but I have tried approaching NAS Pensacola Museum without any real response.

    Thanks
    Hi Nagiv8er - my father went to US in WWII and did the Towers scheme training at Pensacola and after exactly two years entered active service flying Sunderlands at Pembroke Dock - he was a journalist and wrote a piece about the episode of going to US for a local aviation group in Pembrokeshire where he retired - I am currently getting it published in a magazine but if you would like a copy I can email it but would not put it up on this site for fear it may be used un-credited - but you can have a copy by email - just send me you address and email to davidsgraves@aol.com

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    Thanks BuckGray, Just emailed you.

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