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Thread: LAC Frank Mitchell 1432935 Raf Chakeri 322 MU

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    Default LAC Frank Mitchell 1432935 Raf Chakeri 322 MU

    Hi Everybody,

    I joined the site a couple of days ago hoping to find out some information on my Grandad Frank Mitchell who served in the RAF from May 1941 to April 1946. He enlisted at Number 2 Recruitment Centre Cardington. After tech training at No6 School in Staffordshire (he qualified as a Flight Mechanic in Airframes (FMA eventually his grade was F2A) He then moved onto no (P) Advanced Flying Unit previously no 11 FTS at RAF Ashton Wheaton, after this he was then assigned to 107 Squadron and was stationed at RAF Great Massingham and then Techinical Traning School again before being posted to 1651 Squadron a Heavy Conversion Unit for Sterling Bombers in Cambridge.
    He was transferred to India in August 1943. He left from Liverpool after being at No. 5 PDC at Padgate and went via the Suez Canal. He arrived in Bombay in the September. He got to RAF Chakeri in the October of 1943 and was put in 322 MU. He was there until 1946 when eventually he came back to England and was demobbed at PDC 101-RAF Kirkham. He was transferred to 307 MU in Lahore in the February of 1946 just before leaving India.

    I found all this out after getting his RAF records back from the RAF. I applied for them via the government website.It took a little while to decipher all the RAF jargon but eventually I got there. There’s lots of info I gleaned from his record but I still have loads of questions.

    From what my Nan said to me Grandad was a Flight Engineer (FE) but it doesn’t actually say that on his record. I have done some research and everything I read says he was when I compare it to his record and it fits in with what my Nan said but again it doesn’t officially say it on his record.

    Can anybody shed any light on this? Is that normal or are his records incomplete by the sounds of it.

    I realise I’m very lucky that I managed to find out all this info on his career from his record because he never talked about his career in the RAF to the family only my Nan who told me stories and a lot adds up when I research what she said with the stuff on his record.

    Obviously apart from maintenance stuff that they carried out on the planes at RAF Chakeri does anybody know what else they did on 322MU as Nan said he used to go into Burma and try and recover parts from crashed planes aswell as do air drops in the Dakotas for the British Army fighting the Japanese in the jungles. I can’t seem to find any info on their duties/what they did while in the unit. Is what my Nan said true? I’m sure it is as Grandad told her but officially it’s difficult to find anything out.

    I have some photos of his time in India and I will upload them when I get a chance. His best friend was a Scottish chap called Shad.

    Can any one can help shed some light on what his duties could have been at 322 MU please. The other thing I find strange is why would they post a Flight Engineer (if he indeed was) to Chakeri 322 MU unless he’d been disciplined. Apparently one of the stories my Nan told me was that he’d been on a raid in Germany and when it was time to fly back the crew (including the pilot) decided to go the short way home instead of the ‘approved’ long way home. They got disciplined for it and when my Grandad was asked to promise not to do that again or words to that effect he said he couldn’t promise. My Nan was adamant that was why he was removed from duties on 1651 and posted to India.

    Any info would be appreciated.

    Thankyou.
    Last edited by Mitch1432; 3rd November 2021 at 22:29.

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    Default Re: LAC Frank Mitchell 1432935 Raf Chakeri 322 MU

    Hello,

    Flight Engineers attended Schools of Technical Training so you should see "No. XX SoTT" on his records. A good guess would be he was St Athan. After graduating with his Flight Engineer brevet he would have been sent to a Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU), in this case No. 1651 HCU where he met both met his crew for the first time and flew for the first time.

    A gander of this site will tell you just how many times family lore has replaced documentation. Congrats on going about it the right way.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Default Re: LAC Frank Mitchell 1432935 Raf Chakeri 322 MU

    322 MU at Chakeri was a huge establishment. These MUs were used to overhaul, assemble and repair aircraft and they would have a Test and Despatch Flight operated by air crew. So a Flt engineer being posted to MU is possible. But i am not sure if LACs could be 'Flt Engineers'

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    Default Re: LAC Frank Mitchell 1432935 Raf Chakeri 322 MU

    Quote Originally Posted by alieneyes View Post
    Hello,

    Flight Engineers attended Schools of Technical Training so you should see "No. XX SoTT" on his records. A good guess would be he was St Athan. After graduating with his Flight Engineer brevet he would have been sent to a Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU), in this case No. 1651 HCU where he met both met his crew for the first time and flew for the first time.

    A gander of this site will tell you just how many times family lore has replaced documentation. Congrats on going about it the right way.

    Regards,

    Dave
    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the reply.

    He actually went to two schools of TT. Once in 1941 before being posted to 107 Squadron at RAF Great Massingham. And then again in 1943 before going to 1651 where he did 4 months before being sent to India. He once told my uncle that they can give you stripes but they can take them away! That was about all he said on the subject! Iím wondering if he was taken off 1651 and posted to India after coming home the wrong way! Guess Iíll never know. I plan on looking at the ORBS for squadrons and stations next from the national archive for 107,1651 and 322. Hopefully I might find him mentioned in those. Failing that maybe the PORs.

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    Default Re: LAC Frank Mitchell 1432935 Raf Chakeri 322 MU

    Quote Originally Posted by Jagan View Post
    322 MU at Chakeri was a huge establishment. These MUs were used to overhaul, assemble and repair aircraft and they would have a Test and Despatch Flight operated by air crew. So a Flt engineer being posted to MU is possible. But i am not sure if LACs could be 'Flt Engineers'
    Hi,thanks for replying.

    He was demoted when he went to India.From the research Iíve done they took Flight Mechanics, Engine or Airframes and temporarily promoted them while on air crew duties to Sgt. So itís possible he held a temporary tank while carrying out FE duties. There is so much conflicting info out there but the source I used was raffeaea.com and I compared it to his service record and everything matches. Here is the passage I read:-

    Training

    Initially all Flight Engineers would be drawn from Fitters and Flight Mechanics. This concept was soon abandoned and direct entrants accepted. Broadly speaking, both Fitters and Mechanics were divided into ĎEngineí and ĎAirframeí categories with the Fitter having the superior trade status to the Mechanic. For the latter, an additional course would be taken to convert this status to Fitter. There were two grades of skilled men ó Flight Mechanics E (engineers) and Flight Mechanics A (airframes).
    Advancement to Fitter was usually on promotion to LAC. At their pinnacle the fitters were either Fitter I or Fitter 2 both qualified in multiple trades. War time had resulted in increased specialisation denoted by Fitter 2(E) or Fitter 2(A) dependant on qualification on either engines or airframes.

    Grandad was a FM then an F2A. He would have some engine training aswell.

    Iím wondering if what my Nan said was true about flying home the short way and they got into trouble for it and he was then posted overseas.

    Regards.

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    Default Re: LAC Frank Mitchell 1432935 Raf Chakeri 322 MU

    Mitch1432.
    The Fitter I trade was rather special, as this "trade designation" meant the man concerned had qualified on both Engines AND Airframes (probably started as, say, a Flight Mechanic, then transferred to the Flight Rigger trade, and had also to complete the Fitter conversion courses in each, before being upgraded to the highest aircraft technical trade, Fitter I. Incidentally you can often see Roman ans Arabic numbers used for some of these trade designations, I think the Roman ones were from an earlier age, and the Arabic ones gradually took over, so Fitter IIA might become Fitter 2A. You can also come across AC1, AC2, as well as ACI, ACII.

    Fitter IIs were as you already know, either FIIA or FIIE. Fitter Is were fairly rare, and often you might find just one serving with a unit, who would often by the senior technical NCO, being senior to all other members in unit except the few officers also on strength. Permanent aircrew in the wartime RAF were generally of Sergeant rank or above from about June 1940 onwards; prior to this, most of the lower ranking airmen aboard larger (multi-crew) aircraft would be of the lowest RAF ranks, such as Corporal (cpl) or LAC, or even AC1 or AC2 (you cannot get any lower in the pecking order of the RAF than the last one mentioned).

    Others on this Board will correct me if I am wrong, but the RAF aircraft technical trades during most of WW2 were Flight Mechanic (for engines) and Flight Rigger (airframes), although there were other trades such as FMA (full version of this escapes me at the moment!), and prewar they also had tradesmen specifically trained for aircraft of largely wooden construction or those who specialised in aircraft of predominantly metal construction. There were also of course armourers (and the master trade of Fitter armourer), electricians, plus those airmen who looked after wireless equipment, and radar equipment, as well as safety equipment, fabric work, etc. There were also a rather confusing group of aircrew who manned the guns and wireless/radar equipment and some even more specialised in particular types of radar, etc., often found in the large aircraft in Coastal Command such as Sunderlands or Liberators. Many of these more specialised men were actually "ground" tradesmen, often of fairly low rank, who had volunteered for flying duty, which entitled them to be promoted to the minimum aircrew rank of Sergeant. When they had completed a tour of duty, these men usually surrendered their higher aircrew rank on reverting to their normal ground trade and duties.

    Others on this Board far wiser than me will jump on my neck if any of this advice is not up to the mark.

    David D
    Last edited by David Duxbury; 5th November 2021 at 07:36.

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