AHC: Peerless Air Ministry

How many find they have urgent business elsewhere when it becomes known they are expected to shovel wet sand into bags, and then lug those bags onto lorries?
Avoiding your sergeant assigning you a laborious task, by appearing busy is a fine and under-appreciated art. Being nowhere to be found and still having a perfectly good excuse is even better.
 
Clip boards and brooms are wonderful props.
I would argue that clip boards are better than brooms. In my experience, the best props is a briefcase (borrowed from the mailman). No NCO calls you then.

Oh and when outdoors, brisk walking! Idle walking is rather suspicious.
 
How many find they have urgent business elsewhere when it becomes known they are expected to shovel wet sand into bags, and then lug those bags onto lorries?
I think the Provost Marshall can find enough "volunteers" after Friday/Saturday evenings liberty is done. And should this not be enough, the Sargent Majors on the Island will a Short (shit) List of people that need a little bit of extra exercise.
 

perfectgeneral

Donor
Monthly Donor
How many find they have urgent business elsewhere when it becomes known they are expected to shovel wet sand into bags, and then lug those bags onto lorries?
"It's all right, the sand has been drying off in a dredger barge for a month. Guys...? "

I swear that unit is made of ninjas.

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I know that this is an RAF thread, but would the efficacy of Operation Medium and HMS Revenge's performance increase further due to the increased wariness of German forces against RAF attacks? Maybe they won't even be detected because RAF attacks are so deadly this time. I hadn't even heard of Medium until I watched a cool video explaining it
 
despite what most people think the RAF bomber attacks on barges and other invasion craft in the ports of the Low Countries and France were credited with destroying or incapacitating around 10% of the Barges. That is not an inconsiderable amount. These attacks as well as the regular shelling by RN ships was a primary reason why the barges were dispersed so quickly one the sea mammal was sunk.
 
Sergeants - having been privates are pretty goods at finding members for work parties - or they won't be Sergeants for long and will be part of the work parties.
 
Ah but which sergeants are better? Brown Jobs or Wingless Wonders. Ground crew Sergeants were experts at make work and also spotting those who were not pulling their weight.
 
I will put the next post up for the weekend and am working on the OOB for the RAF in winter of 1940. There is also the little matter of the end of the BoB and the shake up of RAF senior officers that the appointment of a new CAS and a change of focus incur.
 
If anyone asks what the big difference between TTL is so far, you can say this:

Also, because the Nightfighter force is actually effective, Dowding's enemies in the Air Ministry aren't going to be able to use it as a pretext to discredit him
Just curious how does the more obvious effectiveness of night fighters affect Bomber command, which was largely a night fighting force?
 

Driftless

Donor
If anyone asks what the big difference between TTL is so far, you can say this:
Also, because the Nightfighter force is actually effective, Dowding's enemies in the Air Ministry aren't going to be able to use it as a pretext to discredit him
Just curious how does the more obvious effectiveness of night fighters affect Bomber command, which was largely a night fighting force?
Would you get some harrumphing from some of the bomber brass, trying to downplay the nightfighter success, at this point? There would be an element of human nature at play for some - I don't like what this means, so it can't be right.... For many at the top, they've built their careers on Douhet/Trenchard concepts, so the vulnerability and accuracy of their force can't be brought into question. Others would see the growing body of evidence for what it is.
 
These pressure and stances by certain RAF officers have been hinted at throughout the PAM TL. Bomber Command has already been found unfit for purpose and has had to have a fundamental rethink on it's operational modas oprandi. There will be much ado about this in some of the upcoming posts! So all of your queries and ideas are really useful in shaping the story in my mind.
 
10.37 Forewarned is forearmed as much in politics as in war
10.37, Forewarned is forearmed as much in politics as in war



With the increased intensity of the night attacks Sir Phillip felt it was prudent to brief the entire Cabinet rather than just the smaller War Cabinet on the current status of the countries night defence system and had arrange to this with the Prime Minister. This required all the Cabinet to have signed the official secrets act, some of the Cabinet aired feelings that this requirement impinged their integrity as gentlemen but sign they did, before Sir Phillip delivered his summary that then became part of the cabinet records.

Summary of the progress regarding the Night Time air defence for the mainland UK from the Declaration of War to the current Date

Prepared by the Air Ministry. September 1940

Document Status:- Confidential, Circulation Restricted.


August 1939 the RDF/DF network consisted of 21 chain home stations and 9 chain home low stations, with an additional five GCI/PPI (Ground Controlled Interception/Plan Position Indicator) type one stations being built. By the end of September 1940 that network now comprised 35 Chain Home stations, 45 chain home low stations and 32 GCI/PPI stations. Additionally all CHL stations had been updated to Hight finding and GC/PPI standard. this rapid expansion did not include additional work, done on upgrading the CD RDF sets with height finding and PPI displays or the provision of mobile back-up units as gap fillers in advent of stations going off line due to damage. The scale of work can also be illustrated for example by the fact that CHL alone used eight different forms of aerial installation to deal with the variations in local conditions and topography.

Purely from the infrastructure and building aspect in just over one year from August 1939 to September 1940 the Completion of CH, CHL and CHL. Establishment of GCI/PPI network had been achieved, with the additional work of Upgrading of CHL to GCI. and Decentralised filtering. So fourteen new CH stations and thirty six new CHL Stations had been built from scratch under wartime conditions. Alongside this a further thirty two GCI/PPI stations had been constructed, starting initially with mobile units then converting/upgrading to mark two permanent installations and then commencing to upgrade the stations to the Mk3 or ‘happidrome’ status of which ten of the southern station had been now completed with all thirty six stations at least completed to mark 2 standard. The original mobile stations were being held in reserve in case of any of the existing stations being damaged beyond quick repair.


It was just not new hardware and structures that had to be designed procured and constructed, there was the need to supply and train the personnel to man all these new installations.

An appreciation of the scale of expansion in technical staff can be gained by appraising the staffing requirements of a single GCI/PPI station. Each watch at a GCI/PPI station has; On the PPI, one operator . four plotters. One Radio Maintenance Technician. One plotter on the table and four fighter directors/Talkers, plus a Watch leader. Each station has five watches. Allowing for rotation and rest periods. Sixty personnel in total. This number of technical staff is normally at least matched in number by the service staff on the B site (accommodation and administration). B site staff for security reasons are not permitted on to the A or technical site. The two sites are physically separated for that reason and to disperse the staff in case of attack. All of these installations have had to be built furnished, and commissioned. Additionally, they have all had to be linked into the Government communications network for both telephones and teleprinter a major undertaking in itself in time of war.

This extraordinary achievement in recruiting and training personnel has been achieved by the creation of an entirely new and dedicated unit within the RAF

60 group was formally set up as the RAF parent organisation for all the RDF stations and the personnel who operated and maintained them. This took effect in September 1939 under the command of Air Commodore A. L. Gregory, The chain of command was to A.O.C. Fighter Command, Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding via the Director General of Signals Air Vice Marshal Nucking. With the dispersion of the research unit from Bawdsey it was necessary for 60 Group to quickly acquire an administrative headquarters.

Once again the spirit of cooperation between the civilian scientist and the serving RAF personnel has proved beneficial as one of the Bawdsey scientists, called Edward Fennsey, experienced in the siting of and acquisition of land and property for RDF stations came up trumps by finding and requisitioning a property known as Oxedon, Plantation Road, Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, which has room for expansion and is expected to serve as 60 groups base throughout the war. Through RAF channels the RAF base at Yatesbury which had been an old RFC airfield and later a private flying school site was assigned to 60 group as their ground training school. The possible culture clash of simply putting the ‘Bawdsey Boffins’ into RAF uniform and expecting them to immediately conform to RAF discipline and procedure was circumvented by adopting a solution recommended by one of the Naval Group working at Bawdsey. This was to adopt the system used by the Admiralty regarding the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, who like the Bawdsey scientists were Civil Servants, When Constructors were required to work at sea or in charge of naval personnel they adopted an acting rank and wore naval uniform for that rank, however otherwise they dressed and acted as civilians. By adopting this strategy Air Commodore Gregory set the tone for an informal marriage between RAF discipline and attitude and the freedom to act as an individual of the academics to achieve quick results.

60 group are responsible for the administration of all the existing RDF station and the acquisition of new sites, their manning and maintenance. Also within 60 Groups remit was the recruiting and training of all the operators and technicians for the burgeoning RDF system.

Recruitment of radio enthusiasts and radio maintenance people. Even at the recruiting stage there was a difference between those recruited for communications training, known as wireless and those selected for RDF/DF training, known as Radio. This distinction was used as an elementary method of obscuring the nature of the RDF/DF work whilst differentiating between the two function in both correspondence and planning.

Recruitment and training of women in all roles ;- as operators, mechanics and technical supervisors had already been established as the norm before the establishment of 60 group and this legacy was built upon under the new Commanding Officer. Training centres were set up at Yatesbury (No 9 Radio school) and at Cranwell ( No 8 Radio School) with the RDF station at Danby Heath being used as an OTU. Though the requirements for training and establishing new sites had grown so great that by July 1940 the whole of 60 Group had to undergo re-organisation in order to cope. Principally this reorganisation consisted of decentralisation to dissolve, site selection, installation work and maintenance to separate Wings, each responsible for a different geographical area.

Even before the start of the war it was realised that the radio retail and repair and other allied industries could be a rich source of skilled recruits at the outset of hostilities but in a long war recruits would need to be trained from the ab initio level. The already skilled intakes from industry and the amateur enthusiasts were sent on course suitable for the skill required in their deployment. For Operators this was normally a six week course. Mechanics, initially eight to ten weeks and technical officers varying periods depending on specialisation. To this end at the declaration of war a number of suitable departments in the technical colleges were mobilised to provide a six months foundation course that covered comprehensively from the theory of electricity such as Ohm’s law and DC and AC theory to the practical use of hand tools and soldering to build and repair circuits as diverse as tuned radio-frequency receivers, push-pull valves systems and tuned-plate-tuned-grid oscillators, just as a sample of the topics covered on the courses.

From the start the policy was to over train the recruits for any particular job so that they had a grounding in the greater degree of the technical aspects of the task. This was a way of future proofing the technically trained recruits as the speed of development of the apparatus they used brought new marks and models, if not completely new systems into service almost before the last round of updates and modifications had been completed.

Additionally training was required for the fitters and operators for the new VHF radio sets that were now fitted to all RAF day and Night fighters. Ground based version of these radios were also being installed at all the RAF sector stations and GCI/PPI stations . This in itself was a huge task and put additional strain of the available technical staff as well a causing problems between those recruiting for the ‘Wireless’ service and those doing the same task for the ‘Radio’ Service.





As can be seen by all of the above the headquarters and administration work of No Sixty Group has had to be expanded rapidly as well. Commensurate with the ground based expansion there had been a parallel expansion in the night fighter force. Not only had two new types of aircraft been brought into service but no less than three iterations of airborne installation of the 1.5m waveband AI RDF system had been gone through, till eventually all aircraft were fitted with AIMkIV . Currently there are 11 active squadrons flying Nightfighters with a further five squadrons working up in preparation for operations. Every fighter required not only a highly skilled night flying pilot but also an RDF operator who has the technical skill to use complicated electrical systems under the stress of combat conditions. To support these crews the squadrons and bases need not only the usual ground crews but additional technical staff and facilities to maintain and service the AI equipment. At the start of the war a scant fourteen months ago there were only five PPI stations and they were all of the mark one variety and none of them were in the true sense fully operational, neither were the two squadrons of AI night fighters fully equipped or trained. In the period since then, as can be seen a vast amount of work has been done and the night fighter system currently operational in Great Britain is un-matched by any other in the world.

The operational night fighter squadrons covering the UK currently have on strength one hundred and seventy eight night-fighters, with a further five squadrons numbering an additional eighty aircraft currently training to operational standards. As the GCI/PPI system currently exists theoretically one hundred and twenty eight night fighters can be controlled at any one time. Though for practical purposes the figure is closer to half that number. In order for the night fighter force to function not only do they need to track the enemy aircraft, their own aircraft have to be tracked as well and the identity of friendly aircraft known. Also there must be two way radio communication directly between the controller and the fighter on a dedicated frequency. Current VHF radio sets have four frequencies, as do the ground stations this enables them theoretically to control four aircraft at once, the problem then is if the adjacent controller is on the same frequency then their transmittions will cause interference and if they are not on the same frequency then the night-fighter cannot be handed from one GCI controller to another. These constraints currently limit the number of fighters being controlled in by any one GCI.

To differentiate between our own and enemy aircraft there is an electronic identification system but this is not infallible so currently no night fighter will engage a target aircraft until they have a positive visual identification that it is in fact an enemy aircraft. To establish this visual identification in the dark of the night takes time and patience on the part of the night fighter crew who often have to manoeuvre to within feet of the aircraft being pursued whilst themselves endeavouring to remain undetected.

As the prime Minister will recall on the 30th of June 1939 he visited the Bawdsey Research Station and the staff of 60 group who were at that time still based there. Before he left the research station that afternoon he made a speech in which he both praised them for their achievements and set them a challenge. This is the essence of what was said on that afternoon.

‘today has been one of the most exciting days of my life, for you have shown me the weapon with which we shall defeat the Nazis. But Gentlemen, you still have one problem to solve. Let me illustrate it for you. I am a German pilot flying across the North Sea, briefed to bomb London. I am a very frightened pilot, for I know that with your wonderful invention you are watching my every move. But I cross the English coast and I am a very happy pilot. Why is that? Because I have flown from the twentieth Centaury into the early Stone Age. And that, Gentlemen, is the problem you must solve.’ (2)

At the time that speech was made once an aircraft passed the Chain Home stations it was not tracked by RDF but solely visually by the Observer Corps and other service establishments, Who might baulk at being called ‘Stone Age’. However in the sixteen months that have passed since then the challenge has been met and the full force of twentieth century technology has been brought to bear to solve the problem that Churchill had so eloquently identified. This has been done not only against the day bomber but also against the night attacker as well. This leaves no hiding place the for Luftwaffe in the skies over our country.

The electronic battle for mastery of the skies is an ongoing endeavour which requires continual diligence, innovation and incessant application of all aspects of scientific knowledge.

Having finished going through the briefing paper Sir Phillip concluded by stating that no matter from what source they might have heard to the contrary everything that practically could be done to counter the German night raids was being done and that as explained in the briefing papers. Nearly all the uninformed ideas currently being thrown at the Air Ministry both from within the RAF and the Air Ministry as well as from elsewhere would in fact be counter productive and inhibit the carefully constructed defence apparatus and system crafted under the control of Sir Hugh Dowding as Head of Fighter Command.

Churchill having glanced or perhaps more accurately glowered around the cabinet table brought the proceedings on that topic to a close by giving the Air Ministry, RAF and Fighter Command his full support and stating that the Government through all it’s ministries would convey the confidence of the Government in the Air Defence system and those who spoke otherwise would be quietly briefed and told by the whips to hold their tongues.

This endorsement of Sir Hugh Dowding Further strengthened Sir Phillip in his opinion that he was making the right Choice regarding the next head of the Air Staff.





(2), this 20th Centaury to Stone Age quip has been frequently quoted, this version comes from. ‘Radar a Wartime Miracle’, Page 216, as remembered by Sidney Jefferson who at the time was on the technical staff of Watson Watt at Bawdsey Manor
 
A question regarding the RAF's night fighter tactics. I assume at this point the system's similar to the box system used by the Germans, where each GCI station controls an area of the air and has its fighters operating in that (the German '4 poster bed system' IE - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kammhuber_Line)

Also, as always, excellent stuff, damn well written! :)
 
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