Discussion in 'Royal Air Force' started by MoD_RSS, Aug 12, 2011.
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and i bet the pilot scattering them claimed his 1000 flying hours
Have some respect!
"and i bet the pilot scattering them claimed his 1000 flying hours"
You ******* arse. I suppose the old guy was "walting" as well was he?
A memorial at one of our local ex-bomber bases lists the number of aircrew lost over a 2 year period. It was 3 times the total of it's held strength. You work it out dick!
It has to be said that the WW2 Aircrew were ******* nails. As were all other servicemen and women who were on the frontline be it in the air, on the ground or at sea.
There's always one dyslexic nobber who thinks everything is NAAFI. You can bet your ass his grandad was a spiv !
My old man was aircrew during WWII and didn't mention it until I'd got an op tour under my belt, when he obviously felt I'd gained some understanding of what the game was about. (I have to confess that even a moderately "robust" Ardoyne tour in the mid seventies was a very cheap entry to the war stories club.) He described being in the Nav area of a Lancaster, trying to do "nav" stuff and was getting distracted by all the hullabaloo from the cockpit over the intercom. Sticking his head through the curtain that divided off the cockpit from him, the old fellah was just in time to see the Lanc in front take a direct hit from flak, and for the tail wheel to gently arc over the top of the cockpit, missing it by not very much.
This was on about war flight three of the tour. The old man went on to explain that as the tour went on, and they'd seen virtually all the squadron killed, he and his crew used to stop by the plane, just before take off and not just pee, but - more as the tour progressed - puke before getting on board. People used to extract the urine about aircrew - coming home for breakfast eggs and bacon - but the cold courage of all these guys is worth remembering.
There was a drama based on a true story called 'Letters from a Bomber Pilot' a few years ago starring Hugh Laurie when he was just kicking off as an actor (I've never seen it repeated). The crew were doing a transfer course on Lancasters and got on very well with another crew. When they finished their course, they found that they were posted to the same squadron. They got there two weeks after the other crew and they were already posted as missing.
You are Mike Tierney and I claim my £5. If we do meet up you better be ready to apologise for this particularly bone comment.
Respect. I've met a few of these blokes through work and I love hearing their stories. Nails indeed.
I've had the honour of meeting several, one of my old bosses was an Air gunner late in the war & did about 30 trips, another business colleague was a Pilot, who did 3 tours before being transferred to a training post, his nickname was lucky as at the end of each tour his old aircraft & crew had been shot down on the very next trip! The latest guy I met was a former Sgt Pilot, who became a "Pathfinder" dropping flare markers on targets & continuing to circle over the target to drop more flares when the originals extinguished! He told me his biggest worry was the flak, not nightfighters, he told me that sometimes it felt as if you could walk on the flak it was that thick!
The RAF lost over 55,000 bomber command aircrew killed or MIA on top of the nearly 20,000 wounded or captured after being shot down in WW2, one of the highest casualty rates of any service group in the war! They won 19 Victoria crosses, quite a "nails" bunch IMHO!
Just a quick plug:
Bomber Command Memorial Appeal - the guys never got their own memorial (politics... Mayor of Dresden still opposes it) and there is still another £400,000 or so to go. Mega cause if you ask me, don't let it detract from H4H or whatever but I feel this is something which really needs to happen to honour a very honourable bunch of guys.
My grandfather was a rear gunner in the Lancs. Flew 78 missions in his job before handing his kit in. Flew the majority of his time in the 'pathfinders', as mentioned dropping flares on the targets to mark them for the main bombers. You had a life expectancy of 13 missions and could retire at 26 so 78 makes you a bit weird. Nobody would fly with him on his 11th - 15th missions, 16th onwards they figured he was immortal and he was quite popular. Got the nickname 'Lucky' when his aircraft got shot up over the channel, they crash landed it on an airfield, aircraft snapped in half in between the front and rear wings, front half exploded with all his crew, his little rear gun bit just rolled around and broke a few of his bones.
He never really got round to the principle that he spent a few years of his life shooting other airmen up in metal-and-glass boxes just like his. Also never quite got over spending that time dropping explosives on civillians houses. Seldom mentioned it in his entire life from 1945 to 2009. Did get awarded with a Distinguished Flying Medal (OR's equivalent of DFC) and Bar and a British Empire Medal (OR's equivalent of OBE) for his efforts, but never did speak about them.
I think it's fair to say that until the end he was immensely proud of his work in the RAF (particularly in the pathfinders) but equally fair to say that the majority of what he did and saw accompanied him to the grave and will never be known. At the wake I spoke to a few of his buddies, and got the impression that is the case pretty much across the board, for all the guys who spent such a portion of their life over Germany blowing the **** out of people's homes. Absolute legends the lot of 'em in my book, surrounded by death and destruction every night and just coming back, having a beer and a sleep and doing it all over again until further notice.
Some might find it amusing to know that (as an Irish airman), until the day he died he maintained that he lived through the war (and lived through cancer for a number of years til it finally got him), from a pint of Guinness a day.
For this reason and those above, I do urge everyone to try and give something to the Bomber Command Memorial fund, the 55,000 guys who died in their job, and those who have died since, throughly deserve a piece to permanently mark their sacrifice and educate others. It also gives us a good opportunity to stick 2 fingers up at that **** the Mayor of Dresden who seems to have conveniently forgotten who it was that saved her country from the Nazis.
Having banged on about my old man in an earlier post I suddenly remembered something that happened when he was staying with me when I was living near Camberley. We'd had an extremely liquid Sunday lunch and repaired to the garden to snooze the afternoon away. The old fellah sudden sat bolt upright in his chair and barked out "Lancaster!" Frankly, I thought he'd lost it but after a good few seconds I felt, rather more than heard, a low rumbling sound which grew louder and louder until, at virtually zero feet, a Lanc came barrelling over our house. I turned round to say something to see my stoic, old school, Victorian-type father with tears rolling down his cheeks as he watched his youth fly past above his head.
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