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Thread: Time spent on an OTU

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    Default Time spent on an OTU

    Could any one tell me a guestimate for the amount of time that an Observer would have spent on an OTU after returning from Canada on the Empire Air Training Scheme, prior to joining a Hampden Squadron. I am guessing that this may have been a shorter time than later in the war when HCU's were involved.
    Any advice greatly appreciated
    Best wishes
    James

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    Hi James!

    Don't know if this is of any help but Flt/Sgt Bill O'Neill (the observer of Blenheim T2254) trained in Canada and arrived at No 3 Personnel Reception Centre in Bournemouth in July 41. On August 3rd 41 he was then posted to No 42 OTU where he crewed up and trained to be posted to 13 Sqdn on October 13th 41.

    No 42 OTU trained crews for Army Co-Op Command but I do not know if the length of that course would have been any different from an OTU for Bomber Command.

    Cheers,

    Walter

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    Dear Walter
    Good to hear from you again.
    Your information is probably more useful than you think.
    My Navigator, Bernard Basevi first flew an op on 7th Nov 41, I cannot find his name on the arrivals on the squadron ORB, but there are two of the chaps he trained with in Canada arriving on the Squadron on 23rd Oct 41 (which isn't that far away from your man).
    I hadn't thought about the Personnel Reception Centre. I don't think it would be out of the realms of possibility that they would have followed a similar time schedule.
    Do you know the names of the ships(s) that Bill O'Neill came back on? Do you have his training training bases in Canada? Who knows they may match...
    Best wishes
    James

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    James
    My RAAF father [Observer] left Australia in March 1943 to train in Britain via USA & Canada .From information from his training friend's diary in they spent a month in US [Massachusetts] then sailed to Bournemouth from Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia .They sailed on the troop ship "Pasteur" in April 1943 so much later than your man .

    Pier 21 is now a museum, mainly for immigrants to Canada

    Try asking question about the 1941 troop ships from --- http://www.pier21.ca/about/contact/

    Anne

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    Dear Anne
    Good to hear again from you too!
    That is very interesting news which I will follow up as my man did sail from Halifax to Iceland before the UK. Hopefully they will be able to help.
    Best wishes
    James

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    Hi again James,

    Here are the details of Bill O'Neill's training in Canada :

    23.01.1941 - posted to No 4 Air Observers' School, London, Ontario
    15.04.1941 - posted to No 4 Bombing & Gunnery School, Fingal, Ontario
    25.05.1941 - posted to No 1 Advanced Navigation School, Rivers, Manitoba
    30.06.1941 - proceeded to No 1 "M" Depot, Lebert, Nova Scotia for embarkation to the UK

    Bill kept a brief diary and on 30.06.1941 writes "Left Halifax for England", 01.07.1941 he writes " "Revenge" in Halifax" whatever that may mean!. 03.07.1941 "Convoy of 90 boats". And then on 14.07.1941 "Arrived Iceland on A.C. California". So obviously the California was the ship that took them to Iceland. Sadly the pages between then and September 15th are missing...

    Once arrived in the UK however he sent a letter to his mum in which he says they stayed for 12 days on the island and after that it took them another 3 days to get to England. They landed in Scotland and then took the train to the South of England and the reception depot.

    I wonder if "transhipment" at Iceland was standard procedure or if some of these airmen would have made the Halifax to UK trip on a single vessel.

    Let me know how far that matches with your man please!

    Cheers,

    Walter

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    Dear Walter
    Things are looking similar though not identical
    I will have to take some time to digest all your goodies..
    Sadly I do not have any dates... hence the thread but I do have places and ships.

    Bernard Basevi Training Establishments:Empire (British Commonwealth) Air Training Plan
    No 2 Training Command: Winnipeg, Manitoba
    No 5 Air Observer School: Winnipeg Manitoba

    No3 Bombing and Gunnery School: MacDonald, Manitoba

    No1 Air Navigation School: Rivers Manitoba
    Bernard was on course 15b 1ANS

    He left Canada from Halifax on HMS Maloja bound for Iceland where there was a period of stay before taking the SS Volendam bound for the UK, destination unknown

    I had previously whittled down my choice of convoys to
    Date convoy sailed Joined convoy as escort Convoy No.
    Left convoy Date convoy arrived
    08/06/41 08/06/41 BHX 132 13/06/41 13/06/41
    20/06/41 20/06/41 HX 134 04/07/41 09/07/41
    02/07/41 08/07/41 OB 341A 15/07/41 18/07/41
    01/08/41 01/08/41 SC 039 04/08/41 19/08/41
    10/08/41 10/08/41 HX 144 22/08/41 30/08/41
    30/08/41 04/09/41 ON 011 11/09/41 11/09/41

    but thanks to Anne suggesting I contact Pier 21 in Halifax it now looks as though it is down to either June 20, 1941 or August 10, 1941 departure I think it is more likely on HX134.

    Looking at your chaps dates, is it possible he was on OB 341A . The arrival date was UK, not a detour to Iceland which may be earlier.
    Let me know what you think and we can discuss sources.

    Thanks as always
    Best wishes
    James

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Castle View Post
    He left Canada from Halifax on HMS Maloja bound for Iceland where there was a period of stay before taking the SS Volendam bound for the UK, destination unknown

    I had previously whittled down my choice of convoys to
    Date convoy sailed Joined convoy as escort Convoy No.
    Left convoy Date convoy arrived
    08/06/41 08/06/41 BHX 132 13/06/41 13/06/41
    20/06/41 20/06/41 HX 134 04/07/41 09/07/41
    02/07/41 08/07/41 OB 341A 15/07/41 18/07/41
    01/08/41 01/08/41 SC 039 04/08/41 19/08/41
    10/08/41 10/08/41 HX 144 22/08/41 30/08/41
    30/08/41 04/09/41 ON 011 11/09/41 11/09/41

    but thanks to Anne suggesting I contact Pier 21 in Halifax it now looks as though it is down to either June 20, 1941 or August 10, 1941 departure I think it is more likely on HX134.
    James, if it is any help, I have a copy of a diary of an Australian airman on board the SS Sarpedon on convoy HX144 (the Sarpedon had left Sydney on 29.5.41 then to Halifax on 10.8.41 (departing the same day with HX144 after taking on fresh water) via Fremantle, Durban, Capetown, St Thomas, Puerto Rico).

    His description of the journey reads: "6th-29th - was all spent at sea and we never sighted land the whole time. We were doing watches every day and night at all times and we must have been very close to Greenland as we could see the glare off the ice all one night."

    So the Sarpedon didn't dock at Iceland.

    Regards

    Adrian
    Interests include Spitfires in Malta 1942 and 460 Sqdn 1943-44 (including Black Thursday)

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    Dear Adrian
    Thank you for your valuable input. Every snippet helps.
    Best wishes
    James

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    Hi All,
    This may be of interest to you.
    From my fathers diary (W/Op/Ag). January 11th 1942, outbreak mumps in Halifax so are now going to Debert embarkation Depot. 13th January morse test which had to pass before going overseas, 18 words per minute, I got it O.K. 18th January NZ Officer from Halifax gave us talk before leaving for England. 19th Medical parade mainly looking for mumps, must be getting near sailing. 20th January parade after lunch sorted us into eleven separate flights. That is the way we will be until reaching England. 24th January parade, packed our kit at last on our way for Halifax and the boat. Left 12-30pm arrived Halifax at 3-00pm. Marched straight on to the boat, which looked a dirty old thing about 15000 tons. Proved to be a Dutch merchant, name of Vollandin (I assume this will be the SS Volendam mentioned in an earlier reply by James Castle). Our cabin holds all the aussies and NZ, few English, about 200 all told. Sleeping in hammocks over the tables we eat on, terrible. Boys are talking of walking off, have to fetch our own meals and wash dishes. Had a restless night sleeping in a hammock, in a room full of draughts, everybody complaining in the morning, had a lousy breakfast, several of the eggs had chickens in them. By the time dinner came boys had decided to walk off boat, which was tied up at wharf. 300 of us walked off at 1-15pm, brought all the big wigs down to the wharf from their Sunday dinners. They listened to complaints, said things would be better, sold us the general line of baloney. The ship pulled out at 3-30pm and we are now anchored in stream waiting for rest of convoy. Tea tonight was an improvement, see how long it lasts. 27th January ship still anchored in stream, three more ships reported sunk, one was only 18 miles off coast, I think powers that be are a little doubtful about letting us sail. 30th January tug came out and at last we knew we were on our way. Lot of mucking about eventually got started accompanied by two destroyers and tanker, sea very rough, ship rolling and only two hours out boys started being sick (I refined the expression that was used) It was my 19th birthday today quietest I have ever had, just a coincidence that we sailed on it. 31st January out in middle of Atlantic now also in amongst the subs, have two destroyers escorting and an armed merchantman. We are the sole troop transport, at 8pm summoned to action stations and again at 10pm this time saw one of the destroyers gun flashes must have spotted something we don't know what, we just kept going troop ships stop for nothing. 1st February one of destroyers had left us during night, either that or it got sunk, apparently something to do with gun firing we saw. Weather very warm, we have been sailing south all the time. Alarm at 5pm didn't see anything, destroyer started doing circles around us. 3rd February (Tuesday) 6am action stations, destroyer dropped depth charges, day a little colder ship now heading north-east. 4th February ship doing a good 14 kts we should reach England about Sunday I won't be sorry, slept on deck all night. 5th February alarm 5pm destroyer dropped depth charge which shook our ship pretty heavily, didn't see anything.. 6th february alarm 1-30pm destroyer went around in circles for about an hour dropped several depth charges, we kept on going couldn't tell if they got anything. 7th February 11pm land claimed to be sighted part of Ireland but not confirmed. Sunday 8th February another destroyer and 2 or 3 merchantmen came out to meet us, balloon barrage put up by one of boats, hurricanes and spitfires flying round most of day. Think we are in Irish sea and we approached it from the south. 9th February (monday) woke to find we were on our way up the Clyde Estuary outside Glasgow, dropped anchor off Ganoch about 18 miles from Glasgow. Left ship at 3pm in one of two boats, straight onto waiting trains at Ganoch, didn't move off until after 6-30pm blackout on our way to Bournemouth in South England. 10th February arrived Bouremouth 3-30pm staying at the Baybrooke hotel. Dad trained further at Penrhos in Nth Wales and then assigned to Moreton in Marsh M.E.OTU,arrived at 21 OTU on 9th June 1942 and finished on 13th August 1942. 27th August started Ferry Flight and left for Middle East on 12th September. I hope this gives you a better appreciation of the journey they all took to reach UK from Canada.

    Regards,
    Rob Jerram.

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