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Thread: From Wellington pilot to Spitfires

  1. #1
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    Default From Wellington pilot to Spitfires

    I have had a detailed look at the service history of this fellow, who was the subject of an earlier thread. From the chronology, can anyone shed anymore light on how he came to switch from Coastal Command flying Wellingtons, to Spits with 2TAF?

    I also curious about the path he followed, going from a fighter OTU and then to the PRC, probably for assignment.

    He spent a year in Canada as an instructor prior to this, so it is possible that some of this time was other than operational but I think not.

    12 Dec 1942 415 Sqn, RAF Thorney Island, West Sussex
    14 Jan 1943 407 Demon Sqn, RAF Docking, Norfolk (Wellingtons)
    24 Mar 1943 attached to 407 Sqn, RAF Dyce, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
    12 Jul 1943 1510 BABS Flight, RAF Leuchars
    10 Aug 1943 57 Operational Training Unit, RAF Eshott, Northumberland (Spitfires)
    2 Nov 1943 No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre to 10 Dec
    10 Dec 1943 No. 2 Tactical Exercise Unit, RAF Grangemouth, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
    13 Dec 1943 411 Sqn, RAF Biggin Hill (Spitfire IXs)
    David

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    Er, David - how about a name?

    Brian

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    I have a Dane shifting from Bostons to Spitfires.

    Mikkel
    Britain's Victory, Denmark's Freedom. Danish Volunteers in Allied Air Forces During the Second World War
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    danishww2pilots.dk - a resource on Danish aircrew during the Second World War

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    Sorry Brian, I could have said it was F/L Clifford Donald Cross, RCAF J/10826 but I didn't think it was necessary as I was more interested in the path.

    It looks like he started out on Hampdens with 415 Sqn then converted to Wellingtons with 407 squadron. He had some stays in hospital, including one at Glen Eagles Hospital in Aberdeenshire, immediately prior to heading off to 1510 flight.

    What I'm thinking is that, as a former flying instructor and, according to his file, quite confident in himself (overly so, said the interviewer) he decided to go for the solo glamour and requested a transfer to Spits.
    David

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    Hi David,
    Robert Lavack DFM RCAF who I correspond with started out as deck boy on freighter in merchant navy, rescued after vessel sunk by U Boat, joined RAF, on Hurricanes 1 tour then switched to Wellingtons did 2 tours flying them then went back to RN Fleet Air Arm as he found fighters much less dangerous than bombers.

    Regards,
    Rob Jerram.

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    Wow, three tours plus, that's quite a career!
    David

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    Most probably requested a transfer and was recommended by an understanding boss. Unfortunately, and knowing the contents of most Canadian service files, you are probably never going to prove otherwise.

    Happy New Year

    Jonny
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Hi David,

    I think you are correct about a self directed move after injury/illness. I would look a bit more carefully at the BABS period.

    I know of a few pilots that failed to make the grade intentionally on beam work to force a posting away from Coastal/Bomber Command to daylight ops with TAF.

    Looking at the sequence, his path was assisted rather than hindered.

    As an experienced pilot the first course would be conversion onto the new type then a rapid build up of air warfare experience on new tactics at the TEU (2 days only so he must have been good).

    If he had crossed the boss then it would have been a posting to a target towing flight/gunnery school.

    By the way having grown up in the shadow of the prewar hangars, with an airfield defence pillbox across the road and went to primary school on the runway intersection (largest tarmac playground ever!) of what was RAF Grangemouth I can confirm that the location was Grangemouth, Stirlingshire rather than Falkirk which is 8 miles away.

    Regards
    Ross
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    Thanks everyone for those comments which are very helpful.

    Ross, how long was the BABS training normally, was it similar to the BAT? He was there a month, so I would assume that was time enough to complete the course but, if your surmising is correct, unsuccessfully.

    I am also wondering about your comment about assignment to towing. I have another fellow who spent eight months doing that. Was this what happened to the less skillful?
    David

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    I've just been looking up this Chap.

    Wing Commander Ralph Erskine YOUNG, Lt., R.E. (44659) He was Major in Royal Engineers and volunteered for RAF only for the war. He was with 16 Squadron in June 1942 flying I presume Lysanders.
    Then he really moved about as far as I can gather with 7, 12, 156 Squadrons and by end of war was commanding 570 Squadron with Stirlings stationed at Rivenhal. He won the DFC and DSO
    The Gazette reports...
    Acting 'Wing Commander Ralph Erskine YOUNG, D.F.C. (44659), Royal Air Force, No. 7 Squadron. This officer has completed a very large number of sorties and has displayed great skill and determination, qualities which have earned him many successes. On a recent occasion, whilst over Berlin his aircraft was hit by shrapnel. One of the main tanks was pierced and much petrol was lost. Nevertheless, -Wing Commander Young displayed good judgment and much skill in using the engines to conserve the petrol available and thus succeeded in reaching England. He is a fearless captain whose example has inspired all.

    After the war he went back to the army.

    Cheers Motherbird

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