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Thread: 24 ACHU - 24 Air Crew Holding Unit

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    Default 24 ACHU - 24 Air Crew Holding Unit

    I've just received the service record of a pilot who arrived back in the UK from gaining his wings in S Rhodesia. He spent a lot of time coming and going and kicking his heels at 7 PRC Harrogate, but a couple of entries have me foxed.

    Firstly what appears to be 24 ACHU, he was there from just over three weeks in the spring of '44. Secondly whilst in the HCU phase some time at A/C Sch. Baldeston (sp)....could this be "battle school"? He also spent three weeks at what appears to be Stn Oakley, is this I wonder the Oakley which was a satellite to 11 OTU Westcott and getting some experience on Wellingtons? He trained as a pilot but on return to the UK ended up as a Flight Engineer on Lancs.

    Any thoughts or flashes of inspiration welcome.
    Regards
    Max
    Max Williams
    www.ordinarycrew.co.uk
    the story of Lancaster ME453

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    Default Re: 24 achu?

    Max

    24 ACHU is 24 Air Crew Holding Unit, I believe? It was at Whitley Bay between March and May 1944:

    https://www.rafweb.org/Stations/Stations-W.htm

    Regards

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

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    Default Re: 24 achu?

    Quote Originally Posted by wwrsimon View Post
    Max

    24 ACHU is 24 Air Crew Holding Unit, I believe? It was at Whitley Bay between March and May 1944:

    https://www.rafweb.org/Stations/Stations-W.htm

    Regards

    Simon
    Thanks Simon, that makes sense…..more hanging around I guess!
    Max Williams
    www.ordinarycrew.co.uk
    the story of Lancaster ME453

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    Default Re: 24 achu?

    Towards the end of the war there was a bit of a glut of pilots and quite a few pilots were misemployed as Flight Engineers.

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    Default Re: 24 achu?

    75 (NZ) Squadron was one of the BC squadrons tfd to Tiger Force, and was to be re-equipped with Lincolns, although after receiving 2 or 3 of these aircraft, reverted to Lancasters like the rest of Tiger Force after serious defects were found with the new aircraft. By this time the decision had been made to delete one air gunner from the crews, and most of the flight engineers required to make up the crews were obtained by requesting volunteers from among the hundreds of surplus pilots available, who had no chance of being posted to squadrons because of the surplus alluded to above. These pilots then passed through (I think) the TTS at Saint Athan, and those that graduated from these courses were then remustered as Flight Engineer (Pilot) and were then posted to 75 Sqdn. So far as I can recall, all these F/E (P)'s were members of the RNZAF, originally trained as pilots in New Zealand, or Canada. Those pilots who did not wish to undertake a Far East tour as a flight engineer were generally returned to New Zealand. It all depended on what the individual's thoughts were about their own future in the post-war World.

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    Default Re: 24 achu?

    A reply to my own question which may be of general interest. “Baldeston (sp)” is actually Balderton which was a base near Newark in Nottinghamshire, there is a Balderton Research Group which was able to provide me with some useful info.

    “14 October 1944 No.5 NCOs Training School under the command of S/Ldr. E. V. St. G. Taylor RAF Regiment arrived (from RAF Scampton)
    21 October W/Cdr. J. Simpson DSO DFC arrived to command No.5 Aircrew School.
    13 March 1945 Letter received from HQ BC that No.5 Aircrew School is no longer required for the reception of aircrews awaiting Heavy Conversion Unit training, and it has therefore been decided to disband this unit which is located on this Station as a ‘lodger’ unit from No.7 Group w.e.f. 23rd March 1945.

    As you can see from the last entry it appears it was a holding unit between the OTU/Training School and HCU. There does not appear to be any records for the unit (I have not found one in several years researching!). As a Flight Eng he would go to the HCU from training to be added to an established five man crew.

    I believe but cannot be certain that a certain amount of education in being an NCO was also part of the school....”

    and

    “From the Winthorpe ORB -
    3rd February No.60 Course arrived from RAF Aircrew School, Scampton - 128 personnel
    The (No.5) Aircrew School was formed in August 1943 to instruct newly commissioned aircrew on their duties and responsibilities, an NCOs course in drill and administration was also set up. In October the School transferred to Balderton and by the end of the year had a complement of 113 Officers, 422 SNCOs, 15 other ranks and 20 WAAF other ranks.

    From a (sadly) anonymous letter to the family from an airman at Balderton in 1944 -
    Just landed in last night and I must say that this must be the grimmest place in England. Dad says he slept up to the eyes in s--- in France, well we are living in it! The billets are corrugated iron Nissen huts, damp and cold, the lavatories are dry ones! which stink like blazes and to get a wash you have to walk across a couple of fields to the Sgts Mess (which is a fancy name for a wooden hut) and the food just about tops it all, the last place was supposed to be a Commando School but it was a paradise compared to this joint.”

    I think, hope, that Max Venton only spent three days in this hole before joining his crew at Swinderby when they arrived on 24 October.
    Max Williams
    www.ordinarycrew.co.uk
    the story of Lancaster ME453

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