Thursday, 24 April 2014

I didn't help in the slightest... Well, not much anyway.

If you were reading the Blog this time last year, you may have read a post about a project that the MicroDandy had to do for school, all about Britain in the Second World War.

The post was pretty much a list of all the stories that my Dad told us that weren't completely 'appropriate' for a seven year old's school project.  I thought at least a couple of you would be interested in reading what actually did make it into the project.

Or not...

Either way...

Here it is.


My Grandad in the RAF

In 1947 my Grandad Fred, who was 18 years old and training to be an electrician was conscripted into the Royal Air Force.

This meant that he had to leave his job and travel to RAF Innsworth in Gloucestershire to receive Basic Training in being a member of the armed forces.

After eight weeks of training where he learned, amongst other things, how to fire different types of gun and throw hand grenades.  He was one of four men in his group chosen to go to Northern Europe.

He sailed from Harwich to The Hook of Holland on the HMT SS Vienna (Picture below).

He then travelled, by train, up through Holland and Germany, to Hamburg and then to Flensburg, the most northern town in Germany and its Capital at the end of the Second World War, to complete his aircrew training, which meant that he was qualified to be a member of the crew of an aeroplane.

After completing his training he was made a Sergeant (Signals) and assigned to a part of the RAF called Headquarters 46 Group - Transport Command.

Signaller Brevet (Badge)

Sergeant's Stripes (or 'Tapes')

During the next four years he crewed transport aircraft all over the world, visiting places such as Cyprus, Hong Kong, Iraq, Libya, Malaysia and Malta.

One of the largest operations that he took part in was the Berlin Airlift.  Between 1948 and 1949 the Russian army blockaded the city of Berlin in Germany.  This meant that food and fuel could not get in to the people there. So the RAF and the United States Air Force used hundreds of aeroplanes to deliver thousands of tons of supplies every day.

At the busiest times, around 1,500 aeroplanes were landing every day in Berlin, that’s one every minute! The pilots of these aeroplanes had a very difficult job, flying at 150 Miles per Hour, sometimes only 150 meters apart.  Sometimes an aeroplane would crash onto the runway, if this happened it had to be pushed out of the way very quickly by a bulldozer so that the next one could land.

My Grandad remembers that there were times he had to work for 36 hours in a row flying in Avro Yorks and Douglas Dakotas loaded with Coal, Oil, Food and Mail to make sure that the supplies got delivered in time.  Sometimes, on the return trip, his aeroplane was loaded with some of the 11,000 children who were being evacuated out of Berlin to live with families in the West.

Whilst stationed at RAF Jurby on the Isle of Man he was one of the crew that flew training aircraft that were used to train new Navigators, these are the people who tell the Pilot where the aeroplane is and how to get to where he needs to go.

And one of his jobs when stationed at RAF Wunstorf  in Germany was to help fly Mosquito Fighter/Bombers back to RAF Broughton in Wales.  These Mosquitoes had been sold to the Post Office (now Royal Mail) and had been converted to carry mail.

I am really proud of my Grandad and the things he did in the RAF.


On the next few pages are some facts about the aeroplanes that my Grandad flew in and what he thought about them.

Handley Page HP67 Hastings

The HP67 Hastings was a transport aircraft used by the RAF between 1948 and 1977.

At the time it was introduced, it was the largest transport aircraft designed specifically for the RAF.

Its first and most famous job was to transport coal and other cargo into Berlin in Germany during the Berlin Airlift.

My Grandad Says:

‘The lights that told you whether the wheels were down properly when you were landing often didn’t come on… Usually because the bulb had popped, we used to keep a bag of spare bulbs, just in case’


Avro Type 685 York C1

The Avro York was a transport aircraft used by the RAF between 1944 and 1964.

The York was often kitted out as the personal aircraft of VIPs

Famous York included:

‘Ascalon’ The personal aircraft and flying conference room of Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain.

‘Endeavour’ belonging to HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

‘MW102’ Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Viceroy of India had his York specially painted light, duck egg green to try and keep it cool in the Indian sun.

My Grandad Says:

‘Once, when we were landing a York at an airfield in Germany, one of the tyres burst… It was pretty scary!’


Douglas C47 Skytrain (Dakota)

The C47 was called the Dakota by the RAF.  It got its name from the acronym "DACoTA" for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft.

It was used by over 100 Air Forces all around the world including the RAF and the German Luftwaffe at the same time!

The Dakota first flew in 1941, but the RAF still uses the Dakota now, 70 years later, as a training aircraft for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

My Grandad Says:

‘The Dakota was really noisy and uncomfortable, there was a big pipe around the doorway of the cockpit that carried air to the engines, and it made some very strange noises!’


Airspeed AS10 Oxford

The Oxford was mainly used for training aircrew (Bombardiers, Gunners, Navigators and Wireless and Camera Operators).  It was also used as an Air Ambulance.

They were first produced in 1937 and more than 8,500 were made.

On the 5th January 1941, the famous aviatrix Amy Johnson disappeared in an Oxford, never to be seen again!

My Grandad Says:

‘We used the Oxfords as flying taxis.  If someone was stuck at an airbase and needed to be somewhere else quickly, they’d usually go in an Oxford’


Avro Anson

The Anson was mostly used as a training aircraft by the RAF between 1936 and 1968.

In June 1940, a flight of three Coastal Command Anson were attacked by nine Messerschmitt Bf 109s of the German Luftwaffe.  The Anson shot down two and damaged a third before the dogfight ended with no British losses.

In September 1940, two training Anson of the Royal Australian Air Force collided in mid-air and got stuck together.  The two aircraft landed safely, still stuck together!

My Grandad Says:

‘If I could own any of the aeroplanes that I used to fly in, it would be an Anson’


de Havilland DH98 Mosquito

The Mosquito was a Fast Fighter/Bomber made almost completely of wood!

The engines used in the Mosquito were designed in Derby by Rolls-Royce.

It could fly at over 400 Miles per Hour!

My Grandad Says:

‘When we were flying Mosquitos back to Britain over the English Channel we would sometimes fly really low over the waves and try to scare the captains of fishing boats, but don’t tell anybody!’


All the MicroDandy's own work... Gawd's honest truth.  I'm not one of those parents that does their kids' homework for them so as they look more impressive.

Cross my heart, hope to... to... Erm, suddenly I don't feel so good...

*Expires theatrically, stage left*

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