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Thread: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

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    Default Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    I know from speaking to ex-aircrew at Air Gunners Association meetings in the 1970's & 80's, fresh from training they crewed up in the usual manner in a large hall at OTU and pretty much sorted themselves out into crews.

    Presumably the majority of chaps who'd completed their first tour, completed their "rest period" as an Instructor at Trade schools/OTU/HCU etc and were going back for a Second tour - Main Force - would not be crewing up at OTU for a second time around. How did these experienced bods end up joining freshmen crews ? It seems that some of them somehow landed up at squadrons and were grabbed by flight commanders or squadron commanders for their own crews (if they did not already have a regular crew) but others seem to just appear on F541's as a part of a rookie crew and to stay with them. Surely these crews would have been a 7 chap crew already, before being posted to an operational squadron ?

    Any thoughts appreciated.

    PeteS
    https://630squadron.wordpress.com/

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    Default Re: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    My wife's uncle having completed his first tour had it seemed crewed up with his second pilot at 29 OTU. They then went to 1660 HCU where at least the rear gunner who had previously completed one tour joined the crew and they all proceeded to 467 Squadron. So in this case at least the gunner had crewed up at HCU.

    Clarification - further checking reveals that the gunner in question was also at 29 OTU but in D Flight whereas my wife's uncle and the pilot were in A Flight. The gunner had not flown with our pilot whilst at 29 OTU but may well have known him.

    HTH

    Mike
    Last edited by lancasterlm342; 19th September 2020 at 20:25. Reason: clarification

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    Default Re: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    Thanks Mike, so it sounds as if they did have to "re-do" OTU.

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    Default Re: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    Maybe after having been away from ops for several months or more they had to go through OTU / HCU again to make sure they were up to date with current tactics, developments and dangers? Ops in say mid-'44 were probably rather different from those in late '43?

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    Default Re: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    Don't forget that OTU/HCU was about crew training so even second tourists would need to crew-up again and then train as a unit before joining an operational unit.

    A second tourist pilot may end up with a crew of first tourists or other second tourists that hadn't worked together previously.

    Even experienced personnel would need to learn to work together as a tem.

    Malcolm

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    Default Re: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    Hi Pete, I would say they have to "re-do" OTU/HCU again.
    I have researched an interesting example of a RCAF crew flying Halifaxes with 429 Sq RCAF in summer 1944. When the pilot was grounded - just after 2 sorties(!) and navigator transferred to another crew, the other 5 members went back to No. 61 Base and underwent 3 month training again with new captain and navigator to return to operations.

    HTH

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

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    Default Re: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    Good point there, Malcolm.

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    Default Re: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    Thank you Gents !

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    Default Re: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    Hello

    My two pence Worth.

    Most crewmembers I've researched had to go again through OTU stage because they were flying with new crewmates, so had to learn again to work as a team. I remember a pilot of "heavy" going for his second tour, having asked and obtained to do it on Mosquitos, he took with him the navigator or bomb aimer, and they obviously had to go through OTU to master the Mosquito.

    Another case was a pilot on his second tour, but the balance of the crew were fresh from training, so they did the full OTU course then HCU and LFS. This pilot's first tour was on Wellingtons, second tour was on Lancasters.

    On the contrary I have the core of a crew from 405 Squadron who flew together in 1942-1943 on Halifaxes, then got rested as instructors, then they re-crewed together with new crewmates (some on their second tour, some fresh from training) in 1944. The core of that crew transitioned from main force to PFF when 405 was moved to No. 8 Group, but I don't know if that changed the way they re-crewed.

    Joss

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    Default Re: Second tour bods - crewing up for the second time

    Hi again

    Just going into a little more detail regarding the gunner from my wife's uncle's crew, Sgt Francis Garrett.

    Having commenced training in late 1940 he spent until August 1941 training ending up at 11 OTU.

    From there he went with a crew to 103 Squadron on Wellingtons completing his thirty including Cologne and Essen in June 1942 - this had taken ten months.

    He then went to 29 OTU where most of his log book entries stated that he was flying as a gunnery instructor. It does not seem that he was re-doing OTU. He stayed there for nine months.

    At the end of March 1942 he had crewed up with my wife's uncle wireless operator Sgt Derrick Fielden and pilot Flight Lieutenant Alfred Sydney Raphael et al and headed to 1660 HCU for a month.

    On 22nd April 1943 they arrived at Bottesford with 467Squadron. The seven crew stayed together. Raphael became O/C A Flight.

    On 15th August 1943 the O/C 467 Squadron was killed returning from a raid in Italy. Raphael took over the Squadron.

    On the 17th August 1943 the crew took off for Peenemünde. Lancaster LM342 did not return. All the crew were killed. Sgt Garrett was on his 47th mission.

    Mike

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