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Thread: Parachute bill?

  1. #1
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    Default Parachute bill?

    Hi all,

    I am currently conversing with a relative of a Wop/Ag who was killed at the end of 1940 after the Blenheim he was in was shot down into the sea by Italian fighters. According to an eyewitnees account, namely the Navigator from another Blenheim in the formation, two parachutes were seen from the stricken aircraft however all 3 crew members were killed. In his report he does not stipulate or speculate as to which of the crew members had taken to their chutes.

    Now, I am being told by the relative that the Mother of the Wop/Ag killed was sent a bill for a parachute by the RAF! Obviously with the Mother no longer being with us and understanding that memories fade she has always thought that this seemed a little far fetched.

    Could this have happened? Did this ever happen? Would they be so insensitive as to do this? If this did happen how would they have known he was one of the crew that took to his chute?

    Regards,
    Simon

  2. #2
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    Simon,
    To the best of my understanding, the RAF provided aircrew with parachutes to give them a chance of escaping from crippled aircraft rather then "ride the beast down to earth". If such a member of aircrew did indeed avail himself of the advantages of being issued with one of His Majesty's fine parachutes, I can see no way that the RAF could bill him for it (unless he made no efforts to secure the parachute from further damage after landing, which would probably not apply in the case anyway), most particularly if enemies of the king were involved in the crippling of his aircraft. The again, perhaps the "bill for a parachute" could have been a bill for accidentally activating a 'chute on the ground (or in the air) previous to the final flight, and be an entirely separate incident from the one which resulted in his death. Such an event might be the result of activating the release by fiddling with it, or accidentally snaring it on something whilst boarding an aircraft. I would not be surprised if the Air Ministry thought it only fair that aircrew who committed such an act, after being briefed at some length on the responsibilities of caring for a newly issued parachute, should make some financial contribution (by deduction form pay) towards the cost of inspecting, cleaning, and repacking such a distressed 'chute. This of course would be after a review of the event and a decision on the alleged culprit's considered degree of negligence or otherwise. My opinion in all this is not from consulting any particular Manuel of RAF Law or a particular case, but from general observations of the imposing of penalties on officers and airmen who accidentally (or occasionally deliberately!) damaged government property. Not certain what the cost of a good serviceable parachute would have been in 1940, but it was a quite expensive piece of kit, requiring at least annual inspections, etc.
    David D

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    In 1940, a relative bailed out of his blazing Hurricane, badly burnt, and was taken into the East Grinstead Queen Victoria Hospital ‘Guinea Pig’ wards. Over the next few years, he had numerous operations and grafts, but stayed in the service doing useful work (station commander etc.). His treatment cost considerable sums, I am sure, but what did he do that caused him to be pursued diligently by the Paymasters? He had committed the sin, when free of the plummeting torch that had been his aircraft, of pulling the ‘D’ ring on his ‘chute and then DROPPING IT instead of placing it in his pocket for reuse. That’s right: he was charged the price of a replacement ‘D’ ring.

    True story.

    Bruce

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