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Thread: Leslie Blacking

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    Default Leslie Blacking

    I wonder if anyone can have more success than I've had in tracing the service career of Leslie Blacking? Aged 19 he apparently joined 207 Squadron as a newly qualified pilot in June 1918, but returned to the UK shortly before the Armistice. I think he must have remustered during WW2, but the only other possble lead I have on him is at Lyneham in 1953 where he was attached to Movements for his annual reserve training.

    One would imagine that such an unusual name would be esy to trace, but I've been unable to find any record of him either in Flight or the LG

    Brian

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    Hi,

    Jan 1949 AFL has no listing.

    Oct 53 Air Force List has 205798 Blacking L R as a Pilot Officer, RAFVR with a gradation date of 6th Oct 1951.

    He is not in the April 1918 list.

    Put his service number and Blacking into the LG search engine and the post war info comes up 1951 to 1962 in the Secretarial Branch

    Regards
    Ross
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    Thank you very much Ross - I'm doubtful this is the same man who was supposed to have been with 207 Sqn in 1918 when he was 19.

    If I can explain - I became involved in a discussion about meteorology on another forum, my opponent arguing that the WW1 bomber squadrons flew met sorties immediately before operations, giving as his reference "Darkness shall be my cover" which is supposed to be the true story of Leslie Blacking between June 1918 and the Armistice.

    On reading the book the first thing that struck me was the frequent references to (weather) fronts - unfortunately 'fronts' didn't enter met vocabulary until sometime after WW1. The desciptions of airfield meteorologists is also in error and sound more like WW2 conditions.

    There are other concerns:

    1. The author writes "The Air Ministry sent me for a medical examination, which somehow I managed to pass, though it was pretty stiff, especially that thing they strap you in then roll and spin and loop it at alarming speed." That doesn't sound like WW1.

    2. There are frequent references to Lewis guns being fed by ammunition belts - Lewis guns used metal drums not belts.

    3. Describing flying a HP 0/400 he writes "The red and green identification lights glowed brightly in the rainy darkness." I've looked at many photos of the type and can see no evidence for such lights - indeed I've not seen any fitted to WW1 aircraft.

    The odd mistake is acceptable, but these are fundamental errors which lead me to wonder if the book is a hoax and if Blacking ever existed.

    Brian

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    There is a Lt L R Blacking listed in the 1919 Times amongst the names of RAF officers placed on the unemployed list. Brian I will email you the section

    A

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    The undermentioned Flight Cadets are granted temp, commns. as 2nd Lts. {A. &
    S.).:
    11th July 1918.
    Leslie Reed Blacking.

    http://beta.gazettes-online.co.uk/ViewPDF.aspx?pdf=30841&geotype=London&gpn=9467

    A

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    Sorry Brian

    But Leslie Reed Blacking was a RAFVR officer 1951 to 60s.

    He was also an officer, flight trained post armistice.

    He appears in the Flight archives,
    http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1918/1918%20-%200951.html

    The London Gazette and the Air Force List.

    It is the same man.

    Regards
    Ross
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    My thanks to everyone, both on and off-board, who have responded to this query. (I did try Flight - honest!)

    From the date of Blacking's commission, 11 July 1918, it would appear that he arrived in France that month. As he returned to England during October that suggests he was operational for about 3 months.

    The person who wrote his story, based on conversations and letters with Blacking, was a WW2 pilot - which might explain why the points I've hit on all have a WW2 feel.

    All the meteorology (including the weather flights) is WW2, ammunition belts are WW2, navigation lights are WW2, - not sure about the medical bit, but it sounds more WW2 than WW1. In other words the writer has contaminated the story-teller's tale with his own experience, not appreciating the different conditions.

    Thanks gents.

    Brian

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    Brian,

    "3. Describing flying a HP 0/400 he writes "The red and green identification lights glowed brightly in the rainy darkness." I've looked at many photos of the type and can see no evidence for such lights - indeed I've not seen any fitted to WW1 aircraft."

    The HP 0/400 was equipped with a navigation light in the tail, also on top of the lower wing just outboard of the outermost struts (and near/on the leading edge?). There was also a 'light' (but not a navigation light?) under the nose about 6 feet back.

    Sources: 'Handley Page Bombers of the First World War' by Chaz Bowyer (with drawings by A C Owers) and 'Handley Page 0/400' Vols One and Two (Windsock Datafiles 116 and 121, respectively) by C A Owers.

    Inspection of photos in these works confirm installment of these lights on o/100 and 0/400 aircraft serving during the war.

    Errol

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    Brian,

    Your man is mentioned in "Always Prepared".

    'Four nights later (19/9/1918), the squadron lost another O/400, this time B8804, which crashed and overturned on returning from a raid, luckily without serious injury to the crew, 2nd Lt. L.R.Blacking, Lt. R.J.Mesney and Sgt. J.S.Taylor'.

    See:
    Always Prepared:The Story of 207 Squadron Royal Air force.
    Hamlin,John.
    Tunbridge Wells:Air Britain(Historians),1999.
    pp.21 & 208.

    Regards,
    Col.

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    Thank you all for your responses, they are very much appreciated.

    The positions you give for the navigation lights probably explains why I didn't see them Errol as I was looking at the tip of the longer upper wing which seemed more logical.

    My thanks again for correcting my thinking - I'll stick to met!

    Brian

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