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Authors: Gill Griffin

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17–25 November
:
 
 
TOTAL HOURS
 
 
FLYING
SOLO
DUAL
 
25–05
22–10
Instrument flying
4–10
 
Proficiency as Pilot
Average
 
To be assessed
Exceptional
 
 
Above average
 
Ab initio as:-
Average
 
 
Below average
 

Any special faults in flying which must be watched:-nil

Signed by
J.W.A. Wardell
S/Ldr.
 
Chief Flying Instructor.
 
No.7 E.F.T.S. School
Date 17/11/40.
Desford

The one serious accident that I remember during the course involved a young man from Warwick or Leamington. He failed to recover from a spin and crashed into a wood near Leicester. I believe he was seriously injured and invalided out of the service. Bearing in mind that some days in October and November we had to contend with the early winter weather, it says a great deal for the quality of our instructors and the dedication of the members of our ground staff who serviced the aircraft, that we were able to complete the course in a little over six weeks.

On 30th November the Luftwaffe made their devastating bombing raid on Coventry, giving rise to the word ‘Coventrated’. We stood on the airfield only six miles from the city and watched it all happen. Two days later I was given a weekend pass and decided to hitchhike the forty or so miles to Redditch to see
my girlfriend Estelle Ludgate. There was very little chance of making the journey by public transport but I eventually got there, after many deviations for wrecked buildings and areas closed due to unexploded bombs. Searches were also continuing throughout the area for any inhabitants still alive but buried in the rubble.

Early in December I was posted to No. 9 SFTF (Service Flying Training School), Hullavington, Wiltshire, between the old towns of Malmesbury and Chippenham.

YEAR
1940
AIRCRAFT
Pilot or 1st Pilot
2nd Pilot, Pupil or Pass.
DUTY (Including Results and Remarks)
Flying Time
Passenger
MONTH
DATE
Type
No.
Dual
Solo
December
11th
Miles Master
8402
Sgt Barrett
Self
6A Gliding turns with and without flaps
−55
 
 
 
12th
Miles Master
8402
Sgt Barrett
Self
5, 6, 7 and 8
−50
 
 
 
14th
Miles Master
8402
Sgt Barrett
Self
6, 7 and 8
−30
 
 
 
 
Miles Master
8386
Sgt Barrett
Self
6, 7 and 8
−50
 
 
 
17th
Miles Master
8386
Sgt Barrett
Self
6, 7, 8 and 8A Action in the event of overshooting
−45
 
 
 
22nd
Miles Master
8386
Sgt Barrett
Self
SOLO TEST
−15
 
 
 
 
Miles Master
8386
Sgt Barrett
Self
FIRST SOLO
 
−25
 
 
23rd
Miles Master
8386
Sgt Barrett
Self
15 and 23, Navigation
1–00
 
 
 
27th
Miles Master
8386
Sgt Barrett
Self
6, 7 and 8
−35
 
 
 
28th
Miles Master
8386
Self
 
6, 7, 8 and 15
 
−50
 
 
 
Miles Master
8386
Self
 
5 and 6 Gliding turns with and without flaps 8 Action in the event of overshooting 15 Steep Turns
 
−50
 
 
 
Miles Master
8386
Sgt Barrett
Self
5, 6, 7 and 8
−40
 
 

22 December
: For the training of those lucky enough to be chosen to become fighter pilots (every boy’s ambition) our further training was on single-engine aircraft. The Miles Master was an all-wooden, low gull winged monoplane, powered by a Rolls-Royce Kestrel, liquid-cooled engine. Later versions were powered by the American Pratt and Whitney Wasp radial engine, as too were the American Harvard trainers which eventually took over the training role, particularly when the Empire training scheme came into being. The Master was a modern machine, a big step forward from the little Tiger Moth, with a retractable undercarriage, flaps and a
controllable pitch airscrew. It was now that certain initial letters were imprinted in my heart and mind, indelible for ever. Before take-off:

TMPFFF standing for T – trim, M – mixture, P – pitch, F-fuel, F – flaps, and F – friction nut; these may be briefly explained:

T
trimming controls set neutral for take-off
M
mixture set rich
P
airscrew pitch of propeller fully fine
F
fuel on
F
flaps in the take off position (the Master did not require flaps for takeoff)
F
friction nut tightened to ensure that the throttle and pitch control was firmly held

After take-off a slightly different set of letters applied, UMPFFF:

U
undercarriage up and locked
M
Mixture set for flight
P
pitch set for flight
F
flaps up
F
fuel as before
F
friction nut loosened as required

Before landing, the same acronym, different meaning:

U
undercarriage down and locked
M
mixture rich
P
pitch fully fine
F
fuel as before (except that on some aircraft a particular tank had to be selected)
F
flaps down
F
friction nut tight

These letters were our bible and applied in varying form to all aircraft. (Do they still apply to modern jets or does a computer do it all?)

23 December
: The two-day break for Christmas was very welcome and although there was not yet any snow, it was crisp and cold as Christmases used to be. I was invited to spend the holiday with my cousin Gladys Sawtell (née Fisher) and Geoff, her husband, at his family home in the country, near Bradford on Avon. He collected me at the main gate and I spent two very pleasant days with them. We had some excellent food and modest quantities of drinks but my main memory is of a very pretty young girl with the unusual name of ‘Saramae’. It must have been the
uniform and cadet flash that produced a real case of hero worship; she must have been all of 11 years old but it still made me feel good.

28 December
: We cadets were billeted in an ‘H’ complex of wooden huts on the south side of the main quarters, away from the central buildings. The two uprights formed the dormitory areas, ‘A’ flight on one side and ‘B’ the other. The connecting bar housed the toilets. We had to rise at 6 a.m. and go to a nearby building for ablutions; it paid to be early before all the hot water had been used up. In the huts the only source of heating was a pot-bellied coke-burning stove. 1940/41 proved to be a very cold winter and fuel was in very short supply. We used to sneak out in the night to raid the station fuel dumps and it paid to be extremely careful because if caught the punishment was severe.

Apart from an iron-frame bed, we each had an upright plywood cupboard in which to keep spare clothes and personal belongings. These often included food and sweets and attracted various scavenging rodents. It was not unusual to wake in the night and find a rat sitting on one’s chest, followed by a mad scramble of those nearby to catch and kill the offending creature; but they usually managed to escape.

We slept on ‘biscuits’, three square kapok (it used to be straw) filled mattresses. They were called palliasses. Each morning, before other duties, the sheets and blankets had to be folded in the exact manner laid down in regulations, placed on the three ‘biscuits’ laid at the head of the bed frame. Once a week there was an inspection by the duty officer and various service items, such as the ‘hussif’ (housewife) containing button and shoe cleaning items, etc. had to be placed exactly, ready to be checked. Woe betide any cadet who failed to meet the laid down standard or had anything missing.

Summary for:- December 1940
1 Miles Master
Unit:- No. 9 SFTS Hullavington
 
Date:- 1/1/41
 
Signature:-
G. Paul
F/Lt O/C ‘A’ Flight
 

We were given an occasional evening off, with an off-camp pass (we had to be back by 10 p.m., 22.00 hours). On one memorable evening, four of us went into Chippenham for a few drinks at one of the local pubs. Among our number was a very lively young Londoner, Benny Squires, a bit wild but great fun to be with. He was a talented mimic and leapt up on to one of the bar-room tables, with his hair brushed forward and a finger across his top lip. He gave a show of one of Adolf Hitler’s speeches, raving and throwing his arms about, to general, although not universal, amusement.

On one or two evenings, particularly after I had acquired my first car, we went into Malmesbury for a few beers at a pub called The Bell. Benny was one of our party and one of his ideas of fun was to collect lavatory chains and the plugs from washbasins. On one such visit, towards the end of our time at Hullavington, he
excelled himself. The pub sign was not one of the usual hanging shields but a handsome, highly polished, brass bell, about nine inches in diameter and quite heavy. On the way back to camp we were horrified when Benny pulled out the bell from under his tunic. Naturally, the people at The Bell were most upset and reported to the police that four cadets from Hullavington had stolen the bell. Our quarters were searched, so to prevent the SPs (Service Police) from finding it, Benny hid it in the roof space where the pot-bellied stove chimney went through the ceiling. It was not found then or later before we moved on. I wonder whether it was still there when the huts were demolished many years later. Benny completed the course and in April was awarded his wings but sadly, after joining a squadron, he was shot down and killed towards the end of 1941.

YEAR
1940
AIRCRAFT
Pilot or 1st Pilot
2nd Pilot, Pupil or Pass.
DUTY (Including Results and Remarks)
Flying Time
Passenger
MONTH
DATE
Type
No.
Dual
Solo
January
1st
Miles Master
T8387
Sgt Barrett
Self
9 and 13
−35
 
 
 
2nd
Miles Master
T8390
Sgt Barrett
Self
7, 8 and 16
−25
 
 
 
3rd
Miles Master
T8390
Sgt Barrett
Self
10, 17 and 22
−55
 
 
 
5th
Miles Master
T8385
Self
 
9, 13 and 15
 
1–10
 
 
9th
Miles Master
T8400
Sgt Barrett
Self
17, Forced landing
−35
 
 
 
11th
Miles Master
T8389
Self
 
9, 13 and 17
 
−45
 
 
 
Miles Master
T8390
Sgt Porter
Self
19, Instrument flying
−30
 
 
 
 
Miles Master
T8390
Self
 
6, 7, 8, 15 and 16
 
−30
 
 
12th
Miles Master
T8393
Self
 
8, 15 and 16 10, Spinning
 
−30
 
 
13th
Miles Master
T8389
Self
 
13, 15 and 16
 
−45
 
 
14th
Miles Master
T8483
Self
 
13, 15 and 16
 
1–10
 
 
16th
Miles Master
T8385
F/Sgt Roberts
Self
20A, Night flying 6, Landings
1–00
 
 

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