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Thread: rituals before take-off

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    Default rituals before take-off

    Hi,

    in a couple of books rituals before take-off are mentioned. One I have read a few times is "bladders were emptied in a ritual dampening of the rear tire".

    Does anyone of you know a publication in which this topic is a bit more detailed dealt with?

    Thanks.

    Best wishes.

    Marcel

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    Marcel

    I have come across this and other rituals in my interviews with veterans. The tradition/ritual of the crew urinating on the tail wheel is often mentioned; although I believe it wasn't popular with the ground crews and engineers as the urine would corrode the metal and obviously had a particular odour. Other rituals included entering the aircraft in the same order and 'high fiving' the fuselage above the door, another crew had a Flight Engineer who always chewed gum and stuck a piece over each engine gauge. Another had a particular song they would sing.

    Regards
    Daz

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    Hi Marcel,

    A lot of crews also carried small items like a stuffed animal, in face one local lad who was killed on one of the Hamburg raids in July 1943, was able to identified by the small kangaroo he always carried in his breast pocket.

    Regards,

    John.

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    Hi both of you,

    thanks for your replies. It is very interesting to read, what kind of rituals some crew members had.

    Regards

    Marcel
    Last edited by Marcel L.; 17th October 2019 at 08:04.

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    A friend who was a Halifax pilot in 1943/44 always took a photo of his fiancee and placed it aboard within his sight on every Op he flew.
    A member of 630 Squadron always wore the same roll neck jumper on every Op he flew
    and another carried a small coin in his right breast pocket - his father had brought back from Ypres in 1918.
    Many spoke of urinating on the rear tyre.
    PeteS
    https://630squadron.wordpress.com/

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    Thanks Pete for these examples.
    Marcel

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    Hi Marcel, there were so many of them that you can write a thick book about them!
    - not to exchnage a shirt before sortie,
    - not to get photographeed before sorties,
    - pilots often has some kind of talisman on the instrument panel and were not ready to take-off if it was missing,
    - each member of crew may have a private talisman like a photo of his girl/wife pinned at his working place,
    - navigator Jaroslav Novak of 311 Sq was famous for his knitted rabitt toy called "Bobby" which flown all his sorties with the Coastal Command. Few times he has forgotten him at barracks and when his captain learned about it he send navigator back in the staff car with request to pick up "forgotten navigational instruments".
    - once there was found a talisman in crashed Wellington of 311 Sq which not belong to anyone from the crew - later one member of the ground staff servicing this aircraft has admitted he was putting his own talisman into the aircraft to be sure it would return safely
    etc. etc.

    HTH

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

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    Marcel
    Another veteran I interviewed always carried a coin which his girlfriend gave him on their first date. This coin amazingly survived him becoming a POW when he was shot down on an operation to Berlin in December 1943 and he still had it when he died 74 years later.

    Regards
    Daz

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    Hi

    Don Charlwood in his book ‘No moon tonight’ (2000 ed, p 170-172) mentions a couple of instances of superstitions. Don was the Navigator for ‘B’ for Beer in 103 Squadron during 1942/1943. Geoff Maddern (Don's Pilot) and Doug Richards (Flight Engineer) had a toy rabbit they called ‘Nunc Nunc’ that was hung above the instrument panel during operations. When the op was over, they used to kiss its rear before putting it away.

    When their own aircraft ‘B’ had troubles for one op, they ‘borrowed’ another crew’s aircraft ‘T’ for Tommy. ‘T’s crew had two superstitions and told Don’s ‘B’ crew to: 1/ rub the belly three times of the painted gremlin ‘Yohodi’ located on the fuselage near the rear turret – this was to stop the guns from freezing up, and 2/ rub the horseshoe over the navigator’s table to prevent getting lost. Don accidentally caused a ruckus with T’s crew when got back as Don thought he had to unwire the horseshoe to rub it on the table rather than just rub the horseshoe located above the table! T’s crew were not happy!

    Cheers

    Andrew

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    RCAF Press Release No.8615 dated 5 February 1945 reads:

    WITH RCAF IN BRITAIN: -- A pair of “flak pants” are responsible for his surviving a tour of operations, claims F/O Paul Florence, DFM, of Montreal, P.Q. (1418 Viau Street).

    It all started in fun but soon became a very serious business, reports the young airman who flew with the Tiger squadron of the Canadian Bomber Group. Just before their first takeoff, F/O Florence obtained from equipment stores a new battle dress tunic and pants. But the pants were much too large and too long in the legs. Before he could change them the crew were scheduled for their first operational trip. He was forced to wear them in flight.

    That first time was a very shaky do for the green crew. When they finally returned safely to base after being hit by flak, fighters and coned by searchlights, they all decided that Florence’s oversized trousers were their lucky piece. He was instructed by the crew to wear these “flak” pants on every trip.

    “Yes, I wore those trousers on every op until they were just about falling to pieces,” said Florence, now at an RCAF repatriation depot in Britain. “They were the dirtiest, oiliest, and most faded pair of trousers you ever did see. But the crew refused to fly anywhere unless I wore that particular pair for good luck.”

    The Canadian gunner has one German night-fighter to his credit. He shot down a Me.410 during a raid one night. Before enlisting he worked for the Robert Mitchell Company in Montreal but hopes to join the staff of the Customs Building at the Port of Montreal when discharged. His is married to the former Eileen Fitzpatrick, champion high diver of Montreal, who represented Canada at the British Empire games.

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