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HughAHalliday
1st January 2016, 18:12
The following is extracted from the service file of F/O Robert Muir Gallen (J26811), DFC - No.420 Squadron - He had arrived in UK, 1 December 1943 and after further training was attached to No.1664 Conversion Unit, 17 May to 15 June 1944 when he was posted to No.420 Squadron. The record of training at the Conversion Unit is very detailed and may interest those who have wondered about the curriculum at such units:

30 May 1944 - Exercise 1 - Familiarization (2.45, day).
30 May 1944 - Exercise 2 - Dual, circuits and landings (2.00, day). Instructor comments, “Taxies fairly well. Take-offs good. Circuit generally pretty fair - no trouble with landings.”
31 May 1944 - Exercises 3 and 4 - Dual, circuits and landings overshoot procedure; Dual, three engine flying, including one demonstration landing and at least one landing by pupil at controls before going solo (2.00, day - a lot of work in that time). Instructor comments, “Showed steady improvement. 3-engine procedure and landing good. Could use less brake in taxying.”
1 June 1944 - Exercises 4 and five - Dual, three engine flying, including one demonstration landing and at least one landing by pupil at controls before going solo; solo, circuits and landing (30 minutes dual, 50 minutes solo). Instructor comments, “Good 3-engine landing and overshoots. Good crew cooperation.”
2 June 1944 - Exercises 6, 7 and 8 - Dual check including overshoot procedure; solo, circuits and landings, three-engine flying; solo, circuits and landings, Central flying and SBA practice (50 minutes dual, 3.35 solo, all by day)..
3 June 1944 - Exercises 9 and 10 - Dual, three-engine landings, and overshoots, two-engine flying; solo with complete crew, bombing and W/T practice, Gee and map reading (1.15 dual, 2.20 solo, all by day). Instructor comments, “No trouble with three-engine flying or overshoots.”
5 June 1944 - Exercise 11 - Solo with complete crew, air-to-air firing, general flying (2.15 solo, day).
6 June 1944 - Exercise 14 - solo with complete crew, bombing, SBA practice (2.55 solo, day).
6 June 1944 - Exercise 15 - Dual, night circuits and landings, to be completed in two nights with a check dual the second night prior to solo (25 minutes, night)
7 June 1944 - Exercises 12 and 13 - Dual complete crew, fighter affiliation; solo, complete crew, fighter affiliation; three engine flying, SBA (1.15 dual, 1.05 solo, all by day). Instructor comments, “Had a bit of trouble at first in finding the correct position to start checking. Improved after a few circuits. Sent solo.”
7 June 1944 - Exercises 15 and 16 - Dual, night circuits and landings, to be completed in two nights with a check dual the second night prior to solo; solo, circuits and landings (2.25 dual, 1.20 solo at night).
11 June 1944 - Exercise 17 - Solo, complete crew, night cross-country (6.30 night solo)
12 June 1944 - Exercise 18 - Solo, complete crew, night cross-country, night bombing (5.55 night solo).
13 June 1944 - Exercise 19 - Solo, complete crew, night cross-country (6.05, night).

Further assessed as follows: “High average pilot. Has excellent crew control. Very keen and can be depended on to carry out any detail.” Final assessment after 43 hours 45 minutes was “High average pilot - not afraid of work and can be depended on. Had no trouble converting to Halifax aircraft.” (S/L N. Smith, “A” Flight Commander).

Such reports usually dealt with other crew members, though in less detail. By way of example, Gallen's crew included P/O W. Downey as Navigator - later awarded DFC. Summary of course at No.1664 Conversion Unit included the following on Downey " “Good average. A good navigator. Neat and accurate plotter. Timing and track keeping good. Works hard throughout his trips.” (F/L J.K. Bell, Navigation Officer).

Another example was the WOP, Flying Officer H.M. Wylie who scored 87 percent on written test and demonstrated 18 words per minute in Morse. “Has a good knowledge of his equipment. Keeps a neat log. Average. Eight hours Gee."