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3. Royal Air Force Delegation

Tom Killebrew UNT Press ePub

Chapter 3

Air Ministry officials realized that the sheer magnitude of the proposed training schemes in the United States would require considerable coordination and liaison between British and American military commands, as well as a close working relationship with the individual civilian school operators. Besides the obvious need for training supervision, accounting personnel would need to be involved due to the financial aspects of the new training programs and the complexities associated with payments to the civilian schools. Detailed records would be necessary to account for Crown funds as opposed to lend-lease expenditures. Many decisions would require approval by the British Treasury. Consideration had to be given to the maintenance of personnel records and the issuance of the necessary movement orders for the British students training in the United States, as well as the RAF officers assigned to the various schools.

The work load required by these tasks far surpassed the capacity of the limited staff of the air attache at the British Embassy and the tasks were not compatible with the British Purchasing Commission or British Council. These organizations were departments of the Ministry of Aircraft Production (later the Ministry of Supply) under the direction of Lord Beaverbrook. The relationship between the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Aircraft Production had not always been the most harmonious. Obviously a new organization would be required.

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Chapter 5 America Enters the War

Tom Killebrew University of North Texas Press PDF

America Enters the War

Chapter 5

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United

States entered the war. The next day aircraft at the

Terrell school sat idle as groups gathered to listen to the latest details of the attack and discuss the monumental events. Some buffoon, seemingly always present in any gathering of men during times of stress, boasted, “We’ll lick the goddamn Japs in sixty days.” Others asked what the cadets thought.

With typical British reserve, the cadets tactfully suggested that it might take a bit longer than that.1

The declaration of war immediately affected

Terrell and the school. Guards were added at the front gate and the previously easy access to the base became restricted. Two days after Pearl Harbor the

Terrell city marshal, Zeb Henry, arrested an “alien suspect.”2 Terrell merchants removed all merchandise made in Japan from store shelves. County commissioners passed an ordinance prohibiting parking on the airport road. A week after Pearl Harbor, Mrs.

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1. Overseas Training

Tom Killebrew UNT Press ePub

Chapter 1

Even before the beginning of World War II, British Air Ministry officials, drawing on the flight training experiences of World War I, recognized the need to move some aircrew training out of Great Britain in the event of war. Drawbacks to flight training in Britain during wartime included the limited size of the country, an urgent need for airfield and support facilities for operational squadrons, the often abysmal weather, and the very real possibility of enemy attack.1

In spite of the advantages of moving some flight training to Commonwealth countries, officials also recognized several drawbacks to any overseas training plan. The distances involved were in many cases daunting, literally involving potential locations on the other side of the world. Another concern involved dealing with other governments.

Initial discussions with Commonwealth governments before the war concerning aircrew training produced mixed results. Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, and Southern Rhodesia responded quickly and favorably. Other Commonwealth nations were agreeable. Even with the favorable responses, the extreme distances flight students would have to travel to and from training sites and the associated supply and support problems would be sizable. The political climate in South Africa, not always friendly to Great Britain, precluded negotiations with that country. Even in the best of political climes, the sheer distance between South Africa and Great Britain, along with primitive conditions and limited facilities in much of the country presented considerable disadvantages to training at the bottom of Africa.

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Chapter 8 Epilogue

Tom Killebrew University of North Texas Press PDF

Epilogue

Chapter 8

144

One of the ironies of wartime RAF pilot training is that graduates of early courses from No.1 BFTS suffered heavy losses after posting to operational squadrons due to the intensity of the fighting, while many graduates of later courses saw little or no action.

Bert Allam used both official and unofficial sources after the war to trace the original thirty-three exBritish Army transfers who joined Course 4 in

Terrell. Only seven survived the war.1 Another

Terrell graduate, Douglas Sivyer, traced the operational records of the graduates of Course 3. Of the thirty-eight graduates, only fourteen survived the war. The list includes details of the last flights of those lost. Many of the descriptions contain nothing more than the poignant epitaph, “failed to return.”2

Eight graduates of Course 3 attended an Operational Training Unit (OTU) on Spitfires. One of the pilots, Eddie McCann, flew with 131 and 165

Squadrons at Tangmere and then 232 Squadron in the Mediterranean where he escorted American medium bombers. Of the others trained on Spitfires, Johnny Gallon and Frank Seeley were killed while operating in 11 Group (England); Vernon

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11. After the War

Tom Killebrew UNT Press ePub

Chapter 11

When No. 3 BFTS closed at the end of the war, Spartan School of Aeronautics put together a small looseleaf booklet. This informal publication contained responses from each employee in the school’s various departments to a short questionnaire. Flight instructors listed personal information such as permanent addresses, a summary of experience, ratings held, and total flight hours. Designed as a means for these now former employees to stay in touch, one question stands out. Among the flight instructors, all of whom had anywhere between 2,500 and 6,000 hours of flying time, in the space for “Future Plans” some had jobs, a few were returning to previous jobs, but the most prevalent answer was “Indefinite.”

Following the end of the war, the former students of the British Flying Training Schools and the RAF officers and enlisted men who had served there, along with the schools’ civilian employees, dispersed literally around the world. Most of the British students returned to various civilian occupations, married, and raised families; some remained in the Royal Air Force, while some returned to Canada or the United States to live. Many of the former students and staff who remained in the RAF rose to high rank during the cold war. The schools’ former civilian employees usually entered various commercial or aviation fields.

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