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Thread: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    Den

    You can apply for his R.A.F. Service Records, but as to when you'll get them in the current climate, I can't tell you. Others on here can tell what information they may or may not have in them.

    Details can be found here:

    https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military...-elses-records

    And thanks also to Hugh for the full citation.

    Regards

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    Thanks Simon: that was very useful.
    I have printed out the forms and I'll send them off with the cheque they need. Perhaps I should ask for my father's records at the same time: he was ground crew (an untrained electrician) with 84 Squadron in Egypt, Aden, Sumatra and India. I remember his service number without needing to look it up!
    Den

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    If he went to train under the Towers Scheme (USNAS did the pilot training in Pensacola) he will have entered Canada, probably via Monckton, before going to an initial pilot training at Gross Isle across the border; if he washed out of pilot training at some stage - as many did, the US training both at gross Isle and Pensacola had a ferocious reputation - he probably would have trained as a Navigator or Air Bomber, I believe. This training was often done in Canada. Just in case, when I get a chance I'll check the rosta for 148 Sqdn in 44/45 but it seems more likely he arrived with the Americans some other way.

    Cheers, Pat

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    If the place he attended in Canada was somewhat colder than Florida, then Rivers, Manitoba (between December and March) would certainly qualify - “frozen wasteland” would be an apt description. Manitobans take a perverse pride in the climate (the wiser ones, like myself, moved on). I have often said that the finest thing in Manitoba is the Trans-Canada Highway going either east or west - an adaptation of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s observation, "The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England !"

    Nos.1 Central Navigation School (formerly No.1 Air Navigation School) was, along with No.2 CNS, Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick, something of a finishing school for navigators. Yes, the courses were relatively short - five or six weeks on average, followed by posting overseas. By way of example, I cite the RCAF case F/O Walter Alexander Daniel. Course at No.1 CNS was 19 April to 28 May 1943. Anson aircraft (30 hours 50 minutes by day, 11 hours 30 minutes by night). Marked in Navigation, air work (70/100), Bombing, air work (73/100), Photography, air work (77/100), Elements of Navigation (42/50), Signals, Practical (52/75), Photography (40/50), Reconnaissance (38/50) and Aircraft Recognition (55/75). Under “Navigation” described as “Good log and air work - Armament, dependable, hard worker.” General assessment - “Hard worker, responsible and dependable.” Placed 16th in a class of 20.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    Thank you again - now Hugh and Pat.
    I have ordered Ronnie's service records and these should tell me where he was at various times, which I know will find interesting myself - and I'll put the details here too. Currently I have the impression that he spent some extended period in Pensecola, but it might just be that he took more photographs there - knowing nothing about either location I would guess that Florida looks better in a snapshot than Monitoba.
    Of course it will be a long time before these arrive (I live in France, so there's an additional delay on postage).
    Again, thanks to all of you.
    Den Childs

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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    My sister has a large-format photo album with "Naval Air Station, Pensecola, FLA" embossed on the cover.

    Before the Florida pictures there are some of his train journey from Detroit to Pensecola. Some of the photos of Florida have dates, in June and July 1942. Then there's a photo "en route from Trenton to Rivers", with later photos (some in snow) dated in December 1942.

    One photo after the journey to Rivers is a group with 27 names, labelled "Course 59AN". Would that be "Air Navigation"?

    Ronnie (or FO Harpin if you prefer) was obviously in Italy from some time in 1943: there is a page simply labelled Italy 1943-45", and there may be two other group photos taken in Italy (back in hot sun again).

    Does this site permit posting photos? Would anyone be interested? They wouldn't be available very soon, as my sister isn't in a position to scan them.

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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    Trenton, mentioned in the above post, as an interesting station. One of the resident units here during much of WW2 was the KTS (and I think originally the CTS, for, I THINK, Central Training School, a very misleading name). KTS was where aircrew students who had failed to complete their original choice of flying trade were posted, and were to be re-assessed and asked what other flying trade they might like to attempt, so as not to waste the large fund of specialised flying information they had already acquired. Needless to say, the "terminated" trainee pilots were the ones who suffered the greatest psychological shock on being removed from flying training, so they had to be handled gently, and most managed to master their "second choice" trade and go on with the rest of their wartime flying career.
    David D

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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    Personally, I'd be very interested to see any photos, particularly of Pensacola and Italy; some of the experts here might notice a telling detail, too, of course. As to his RAF records, they'd be invaluable, though they might or might not give much info about his training (it's kind of pot luck, I think: my uncle Don's movement record was stamped with the number of his Towers Scheme draft, then noted Moncton, but nothing else about e.g. Pensacola, etc.).

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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    Pat - I'll see what I can do, but don't hold your breath.
    I believe some of the pictures may be of interest too, though I don't recall seeing them myself.
    The pictures are glued into the album which is rather bulky to send from England to France (where I live). Although usually I go to the UK at least once a year, with the Covid-19 trouble this year is likely to be an exception.
    My sister - with the album - hasn't got a scanner.
    Den

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Ronald HARPIN DFC 138474 - unit?

    Re post 17 and the anomaly of No.1 KTS (Central Training School). The reason was that when created, the letter "C" had already been assigned to things like Central Navigation School. Another peculiar use of letters was with the embarkation depot at Halifax - "ED" was already assigned to Equipment Depots, so the Halifax unit became "Y Depot".

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