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Thread: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

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    Default Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    Iím researching a book about Gordon Cummins, the RAF cadet who was hanged for murder in 1942.


    I donít know if anyone could give me a steer on this, but I am wondering how close he was to actually becoming a pilot. He claimed he had 1,000 hours of flying experience when he entered the Air Crew Receiving Centre in Regentís Park in London.


    At this point he was a Leading Aircraftman. Iím interested to know what the process of training would be for someone in his position. What tests he might have ahead of him, how it was decided whether someone was suitable to pilot a bomber or fighter, be a navigator, or ground crew?


    Where were cadets sent for training from here? Were cadets often sent abroad for training?


    I would appreciate any context to being a cadet at ACRC at this time.


    Many thanks in advance!

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    Default Re: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    A broad brush response to give you a start point:

    ACRC was the first stage in the normal training programme for a cadet who had been recommended for training as Aircrew.

    At the ACRC, he would be kitted out, inoculated and introduced to the rigours of service life. The cadet would then be posted to an Initial Training Wing for Basic Training.

    Having completed his Basic Training, he would start his Technical Training in his designated aircrew trade (Pilot / Navigator / Bomber, Wireless Operator, Air Gunner or Flight Engineer). It was during this process that Pilots would be split into Single or Multi Engine aircraft role

    Once trade training had been completed, qualified airmen would be posted to an Operational Training Unit to learn operational techniques and, in the case of multi engine aircraft, to crew up and to learn to work together as an operational crew.

    Once this process was complete, the airman / crew would be posted to an operational squadron
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Default Re: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    I'd add that pilots were very commonly trained overseas (better weather, safe from enemy aircraft), in e.g. Canada, the US (even before they entered the war; US training was delivered via the Arnold Scheme and the Towers Scheme), southern Africa, etc. They then returned to the UK to join an OTU. I believe the same was true of Navigators (and Air Bombers? not so sure).

    As another broad-brush example of the training programme: my uncle joined up in January 1940 aged 17, was deferred until the end of December 1941 when he went to ACRC at Regent's Park. Late January saw him at No4 ITW and in the summer of 1942 he was sent to Canada and then first Gross Isle and finally Pensacola, Florida, for flying training with the USN Air Service (Towers Scheme). He passed out with his RAF pilot's wings (and his USN wings) and was back in the UK by June 1943. Thence to (P)AFU and then an OTU where he crewed-up. The crew then went to a Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) to learn to fly 4-engined aircraft, and finally on to active service in July 1944.

    Also worth remembering that the various stages, syllabuses, etc., of aircrew training changed and developed over the course of the war so what was true of, say, 1941 might be different in, say, 1943. For example, at some point Observers became differentiated by trade into Navigators and Air Bombers (or Bomb Aimers).

    Good luck with your research. Hope this helps.

    Pat.

    Edit: you may have seen this, but there's an interesting blog here regarding the ACRC, ITW, etc. experience. Also this website about St John's Wood ACRC
    Last edited by Pat; 15th April 2020 at 17:55.

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    Default Re: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    Gordon Frederick Cummins does show in the AIR78 cards. It is a bit difficult to read but looks to like 525987. There are people on here who could tell you when he likely joined. If he was an LAC and joined prewar, then it is likely he was on the staff of the ACRC. It seems unlikely that he did have 1000 hours even as aircrew but certainly not as a pilot. His rank would have been higher. I maybe talking nonsense but someone else will likely know.

    Chris

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    Default Re: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    You can be sure 525987 was his number. If he hadn't dropped his gas mask respirator with that number on it he may have gotten away a bit longer.

    Interesting background as far as his RAF career goes: http://thetruecrimedatabase.com/case...lackout-ripper

    Chris, this old post may be of interest to you. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/sho...ervice-Numbers

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Default Re: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    Many thanks for these insights Ė they are hugely valuable. I find the whole training/selection process fascinating during the war.

    I am intrigued by Cummins' prospects because he was an habitual liar, so I have been wondering whether he had 1,000 hours of flying experience or made that up.

    What rank would a prospective pilot have?

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    Default Re: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    My grandfather was a Leading Aircraftman when he was awarded his 'wings' in 1942, after completing his flight training. He then went almost straight to an operational squadron with the rank of Sergeant.

    I suspect that Cummins was almost certainly a pathological liar, as you are no doubt aware many murderers are.

    Chris

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    Default Re: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    Pilots U/T were LACs during their initial flying training until passing as Sgt, F/Sgt or officer pilots. The rank was, in theory, a reflection of their competence in training; there was some scepticism about that at the time, I believe, as the RAF was seen as quite class-conscious in many respects.

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    Default Re: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    Hi Pat
    The RAF was actually very pragmatic about Rank,it is cheaper to have your cadet pilots paid as an LAC than as a Sgt or Pilot Officer.
    Right from the start the RFC had NCO pilots,the first one was a Cpl in 1912 I believe (from memory).
    The Luftwaffe was far more 'class conscious' and it was much slower commissioning NCO Aircrew if they were not from a 'military' or correct Family.
    One of my favourite autobios was written by a very experienced pre WW2 Lufthansa pilot - when he went into the Luftwaffe they made him a Cpl JU88 pilot because he was not from a military family - he did get commissioned eventually but it was a fairly involved and lengthy process,the problem was not at unit level but a higher up 'ethos'.

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    Default Re: Prospects for cadets at ACRC Regent's Park, London

    Interesting about the Luftwaffe, I wasn't aware of that, thanks - although now I think of it there are a lot of references to relatively low ranking aircrew e.g. Gefreiter pilot, etc. Re RAF rank, I was referring to commissioning on passing out as a pilot. I read in someone's (whose? Bill Leckie, maybe?) memoirs that it was felt, in his class at least, that a university background was a determiner.

    Cheers, Pat

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