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Flyby PC

What did you do in the War Dad?

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My Dad died in 1977, but he's still surprising me in 2011.

 

This is him in the 1933 RAF Physical Training Display Party at the Royal Tournament in 1933.

 

I never even knew it.

 

He joined up in 1932 aged 19 and wasn't de-mobbed til after the War. Thats only 14 years after the end of WW1. It's funny how tiny bits of knowledge can change the way you see things....

post-45899-0-54068600-1311144996.jpg

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Wow UKW. Awesome. You must be immensely proud of him. I recently watched a series on Yesterday Channel about the SOE, and what a murkey world it was, and not just over the channel...

 

I've just recently started to find out a lot more about my old man. He died when I was young, (He was 52 when I was born), and there's loads of things I love to have asked him. He signed up in 1932, but wasn't flight crew until 1938 as a wireless operator in Swordfish. He flew from Hal Far on Malta, but for a few months in 1938, he was flying in float Swordfish from Gibraltar. I've already shown folks the picture of the British Fleet at anchor on Gib with the neutrality turrets. But dig a little deeper, April to July in 1938 was a very bad time for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. The Nationalists had split the Republican Forces in two and were expanding along the Med coast. Obviously the show of strength by the Royal Navy wasn't a co-incidence, but I wonder whether my dads squadron moving to Gibraltar was also part of that same strategy.

 

He went back to Malta and stayed there with the 3rd Anti Aircraft Co-Operation Unit until 1939. Most of his time was helping anti aircraft batteries practice firing, at one time towing a drogue for 802 squadron, the Gladiators from HMS Glorious. He also flew Queen Bee shoots, that is a remote control Tiger Moth used for targetting. I don't suppose he'd know then just how heavily Malta would rely on it's air defence, but I'm sure he'd be glad he did his bit.

 

After 1939, it gets more sketchy. He was in Iraq, Egypt, India and Burma, but I don't even know what unit he was with. (The Swordfish left the Air Force and moved onto carriers as Naval personel. He stayed in the RAF as a W/T operator on the ground. I have a few photgraphs of places and people, but nothing as cohesive as his time on Malta. There was one grim picture in his collection, quite horrific really, actually as horrific as I've seen. There are 7 people in the photograph, and my father took the picture. We don't know anything more, but speculate these are Burmese who were mistreated by the Japanese, because we don't know of any wider famines occurring at the time. The Japs were hard enough on Western prisoners, but complete animals to coloured populations.

post-45899-0-80080700-1311151134.jpg

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My Word Flypc, what an amazing tale!....it's incredible to think about the sort of lives the past generations lived (and died)

 

I often felt sorry for my old Dad....after the War he worked in MI-6....but, although we often travelled the Globe, due to his work (my School life suffered terribly because of it)...he always longed to be back in the War...he spent the last 50 years of his life bored sh*tless...and the last time I saw him really happy, was on his 75th Birthday, when he did another Parachute Jump, which myself and my brother paid for him to do...he even skydived for a while, which was unusual, but he was allowed because of his experience in the field.

 

His landing was perfect (although he said afterwards how clever the New Parachutes were, as he didn't have to roll on landing!!

 

He died six months later...and I still miss him.

 

The most moving moment of my life, was at his funeral...when I was looking at the wreaths after the service, I noticed one very special looking wreath.

 

It just said "To Albert, a Comrade and a Brother..your friends from 'F' Section"

Edited by UK_Widowmaker

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All pictures from my dad are at my sister's place in my hometown unfortunately, Flyby.

My dad used to be a wireless radio operator on a cargo ship in WW2.

They went the same route up and down to Kiruna in Norway.

Way up, they carried supplies for the German troops there, and on the way back they

carried Norwegian iron ore to Germany for steel production.

During the last weeks of the war, he was in the Corps of Signals on the Eastern Front.

They layed out all the wires for front line telephone connections. The front line then

was already close to Berlin, where his parents lived.

When he left hospital after a pneumonia, the doctor told him to go home - everything

collapsed anyway. They gave him private clothes, and he went to Berlin.

He had to walk by night. Had the SS caught him, they would have shot or hanged him

for desertation. He was 24 then.

From Berlin, he managed to get through the Russian ring closing on the capital.

He met Russian soldiers three times and was again in danger to get shot. The Russians

sometimes shot civilians without any reason. He pretended to have Tuberculosis, and

also to be mad - he even tried to fumble the cigarettes out of a Russian's chest pocket

pretending madness. It must have been quite convincing - the guy chased him away

with his gun. He was incredibly lucky then, when he got caught by a German army unit.

They locked him in, and he was about to get shot, when the officer returned. It was an

Oberst (Colonel) Jeschonnek, and believe it or not - we are far away relatives familywise.

My dad could give them valuable informations about where he had seen the Russians,

and Jeschonnek let him go.

My father really managed to get through all the way to Ostfriesland somehow, where

he had relatives. He was imprisoned a bit later by the British, who handed him over to

the Americans. There he was in a big PoW camp, where he lived from two cups of

sugar and two cups of margarine per day for some time (argghh!!). But he lived.

 

I am very glad, that he never had to shoot at anyone.

 

.

Edited by Olham

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Good Lord Olham!!..... You're dad had some Balls! (as we say in Blighty)

Next time you go home, PLEASE grab a pic of him, scan it..and post here!...this is a fascinating thread already!!

 

C'mon Guys!...post your Parents Stories on here! :good:

Edited by UK_Widowmaker

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Yes it is fascinating Olham. I don't actually know anything much my father did, but I don't think we was ever in sheer terror or fear for his life. In fact his flying was all pre-war and must have awesome fun. I think he too missed the excitement afterwards, but I suspect that your father Olham would not feel the same. He does indeed sound extremely brave man.

 

 

Just thinking about it Olham, sugar, fat and two cups of water sounds like the glucose drink given to the starving until they can handle solid food. Sounds like your old fella might have been in a bad way at the time, but that's just a guess....

 

 

Here's another pic, one for Lou perhaps. Anybody know what this is?

post-45899-0-41591300-1311156442.jpg

Edited by Flyby PC

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Thank you guys! But if you had known my dad (he died 1991) - he wasn't the brave, "ballsy" type at all.

He was rather a shy guy (until he had had a few!), and quite introverted, at least after the war.

He liked it best, if he could draw or build something technical or soldering some electronic gadgets.

He never spoke much about war time, but there is one thing I remember.

His iron ore vessel lay in a Norwegian harbour, when the alarm sirens went screaming off,

and the Flak began firing flat towards the enterance of the Fjord. When he came out of his

radio cabin, there were six "Skua" machines (as he called them - don't know what that is) coming in

through the Fjord very low above the surface of the water, firing from all guns. He could see the

muzzle flashes, and he knew that this meant, that he was standing in the line of fire.

But he was, for a second or two, completely shock frozen.

The attackers left as quickly as they had appeared, and when the Captain came over to my dad,

they both could marvel at two or three impacts in the funnel. They were about 2 or 3 feet right of

where my dad had been standing. He was very impressed by those British "Skua" machines.

 

You could be right, Flyby - my dad's pneumonia wasn't really cured and may have come back.

Edited by Olham

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Thanks for the picture, Widowmaker - I had never seen that one before,

not even in our model shop in my hometown, where they had many AIRFIX kits.

I have always thought I had only remembered the sound of the name vaguely;

that the craft had a slightly different name. Otherwise I would have googled for it.

So now I see the plane, that impressed my dad.

Well, maybe it was rather the muzzle flash? Is this a torpedo bomber?

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Yes Olham...it was a 'replacement' for the Fairy Swordfish...though, thankfully for your Dad...not a very good one :drinks:

(maybe they had deposited their Torpedo's elsewhere..and thought they'd have a quick Strafe of your dad's ship on their way home?..I guess we'll never know)

 

 

BTW...I can highly recommend having a look through the BBC's Archive which I posted on about my Father...there are some incredible stories on there, and it was a fantastic idea of the BBC's to start this project...So that stories like these can be accessed for future generations

Edited by UK_Widowmaker

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Well - when it comes towards you firing, I must still be looking quite impressive, I guess. :grin:

I'd say, they must have been from a carrier then. All the way from England should be

a bit far for a plane of that size?

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Well - when it comes towards you firing, I must still be looking quite impressive, I guess. :grin:

I'd say, they must have been from a carrier then. All the way from England should be

a bit far for a plane of that size?

 

And quite scary too I imagine! (where were the Bloody Luftwaffe when he needed them!) :lol:

 

Yes, I imagine they were Carrier Borne

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Yes, carrier based.

 

If I remember right the Skua was the intended replacement for the Swordfish, kind of, but the Swordfish actually outlived it. I think the Skua was more of an all-rounder than the Swordfish, and expected to contribute to the fleet fighter protection roll too, but not up to the job. I'm guessing the Skua was intended to be the obsolete Swordfish and Gladiator rolled into one plane, but fulfilling neither roll satisfactorily. It wasn't a hopeless aircraft, but totally outclassed as a fighter, so couldn't fill the fighter roll required of it. The Swordfish definitely outlived its successor, but there's a little more to it. Biplanes were considered obsolete just because they were biplanes, but by the 1940's they were very effective biplanes, critically because they were highly manouverable to land on deck on a carrier pitching about in heavy seas.

 

Next after the Skua came the Fairey Fulmar, but the Swordfish outlived it too. The Fulmar was pretty decent, but seen off by Seafires. Both were shelved in 1945, but the Swordfish surved into 1946 as a trainer. The Strngbag Swordfish thus so off it's two successors.

 

If I remember correctly, and it is a thin whispy memory, I think the wreck of Ark Royal still has evidence of fulmars on deck.

Edited by Flyby PC

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Simon, I remember I had read this or an earlier, similar text about your dad before, but I'll read it

again tomorrow (I'm in a hurry now - work & social duties calling).

Your dad's service time sounds much more like the "true grit" to me, old chap!

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I wasn't pushing you to read that Olham...more the Archive itself..some amazing stories from all fronts of the War..and many different sides...a gem of Information to be had there :drinks:

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Sorry, Flyby, hadn't seen your topmost post - it must have crossed with mine.

That is a very touching picture. Most people are "of little value" in times of war, it seems.

I will read it all tomorrow.

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They can stick their Samurai Bushido code of Honour where the rising sun don't shine!

 

Rant Over

 

*Edited to avoid a ban*

Edited by UK_Widowmaker

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Sorry guys, I was confused. It was the Albacore that was meant to replace the Swordfish, not the Skua, and the Barracuda which was meant to replace the Albacore. The Swordfish outlived both.

Edited by Flyby PC

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Skua was a Fleet Air Arm dive bomber, the equivalent to the German Stuka , only carrier based... :salute:

 

bombing2.jpg

 

Blackburn_Skua.jpgHMS_Ark_Royal_planes.jpg

Edited by elephant

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Sorry guys, there's VERY thick fog on the runway this morning, and the brain isn't working very well today.

 

It wasn't Barracudas seen with Ark Royal's wreck, but Swordfish.

post-45899-0-09436700-1311166234.jpg

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.

 

Here's another pic, one for Lou perhaps. Anybody know what this is?

 

 

post-45899-0-41591300-1311156442.jpg

 

 

That Sir is a Bristol Jupiter powered Handley Page Hinaidi, which first flew in March of 1927. They built 45 of these beasts.

 

 

Wonderful stories here Gentlemen, and they run the whole gamut of emotions, IMHO. My father was born in 1918, and like so many young American men went down immediately following December 7, 1941 and attempted to enlist in any branch of the service that would have him. He unfortunately suffered from very poor circulation in his legs which caused painful bloody sores to contastly open up just above his ankles. He was classifed 4-F because of it and was never allowed to serve in the military. I believe it honestly crushed his spirit back then, and he always felt guilty about his classification right up until the day he died in 1974. I took his name as my moniker when I joined the online RB3D 209 Squadron, so that I might honour a man who desperately wanted to serve his country in an active fighting role during it's time of need but was denied the opportunity.

 

.

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My dad was a mechanic and part-time radar operator in the RAF. He didn't join up 'till late and was involved in the Hamburg airlift. He said he cried when he first saw what had been done to Hamburg and he wasn't the only one either.

The war was over by then, of course, and the only fighting he was involved in was boxing for his squadron. One of his jobs in Hamburg was to drive the radar wagon to the end of the runway and guide the planes in. One of the freighters was flying blind in the fog, wasn't paying attention to his instruments, and took the aerial off the roof of my dad's wagon. My dad was put on fatigues because he took the aerial and showed the pilot of the freighter what he could do with it.

From the stories he tells (often) it sounds like he was a bit of a joker too and had several deals going with the local Germans, one of which made him an ashtray for his wedding present. Strange really as my dad has never smoked - must have been the language barrier.

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.

 

That Sir is a Bristol Jupiter powered Handley Page Hinaidi, which first flew in March of 1927. They built 45 of these beasts.

 

 

.

 

I know, I know, much too easy for our Lou. I thought about being mean and asking him to name the airstrip, but he'd know it was Catterick in 1933. Spot on Lou, :good: well done sir!

 

..... Looks like one of my landings too.

 

@ Olham - The word Skua is a type of bird which is a bit of a bully. It's not a hawk or a bird of prey, but kills a lot of seagull chicks, and harries gulls and other birds to drop their catches. People in the Hebridies call it a Bronx.

Edited by Flyby PC

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Wonderful stories about your amazing dads and I've really enjoyed reading them all. My dad was 15 years old when WWII ended so he was a bit young to join but his older brother Walter trained as a B-29 bomber pilot but never saw service before the war ended. My father did join the USAF in the 1950's and was stationed in Weisbaden Germany for a few years - not a flier because of poor eyesight.

 

About 20 years ago my father told me a story about when he and his buddy met 2 women at a club in West Berlin and they wanted desparatley to go to East Berlin so my dad posed as either a Russian or German officer (he speaks both) and talked his way through a checkpoint to get them all in. It's been 20 years so I hope I got that story right - I'll ask him when I see him.

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