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Former Worstalls

Someones putting up RAF career records, bit by bit.

They reached GrandPops.

One of the things this confirms is an old family story that he was indeed at Cranwell with Frank Whittle. Both of them being aircraft apprentices (ie, common folk taken on to be artificers) who were picked up by the RAF to train as officers and thus cross into being gentlemen. The RAF being the first of the services to do this in modern times as I understand it.

There’s a mention of him in The Times archives in, I think, 1929, when he walked away from a crash bomber. Telling the journo that that was his 8 th crash so far…..

15 thoughts on “Former Worstalls”

  1. You can’t mean that the RAF was the first service to commission “other ranks”. So I don’t see what you do mean. Perhaps that they had a procedure that made it routine?

  2. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Is surviving 8 crashes lucky or unlucky?

    Also, don’t the aircraft owner start asking questions at some point?

  3. No, not quite what I do mean. Long been possible to join in the ranks, progress up them, then make the leap to officer. Sergeant Majors becoming Lts (altho’ I think they become captains) etc. Rather, WWI style England. Here are the public school boys who will be the officers. And over there are the rude mechanics – in this case, quite literally the artificer mechanics – who are not officer types. The RAF being the first of the services to realise that actually they were going to need quite a lot of officers who knew the spanner end of engineering. So, recruit officers from among the rude mechanics. That is, officer entry to working class lads – rather than the older way, of sergeants to officers.

  4. A friend of mine was non-pilot aircrew. He was/is frustrated by the dominance of influence possessed by the pilot mafia. So incensed he wrote a book about it. Only pilots count in the RAF. They can give commissions to navigators, Air electronics, engineers, quartermasters, comms guys, whatever. But they don’t really COUNT.

  5. @S Evil
    RAF officers are gentlemen? News to me.

    Are you questioning HMQ’s judgement?

    @rhoda klapp
    But they don’t really COUNT.
    Been there, done that and it still rankles some 40+ years on.

  6. Surreptitious Evil

    RAF officers are gentlemen? News to me.

    Are you questioning HMQ’s judgement?

    She (didn’t) sign their commissions. Commissioned =/= “gentleman”.

    Been there, done that and it still rankles some 40+ years on.

    Ah, poor dear, sorry.

  7. The missus’ (English) grandfather was a sergeant in the territorials, wounded in 1914 and while recuperating was offered a job in logistics ( Army Service Corps ), encouraged to apply for a commission and ended the war as a Captain.

  8. I’ve been told that immediately prior to WW2, there was the Royal Air Force (RAF regulars), the Auxiliary Air Force (AAF wealthy young men who learned to fly at their own expense) and the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (young men of a lower social order who trained as rude mechanicals and served part time, unpaid.
    My informant described them as officers trying to be gentlemen, gentlemen trying to be officers, and neither trying to be both.

  9. @Surreptitious Evil

    Your chip is showing. What’s the problem? Did you get turned down?

    And you are wrong, the monarch does sign the commissions personally.

  10. @Glyn,
    I’ve heard the same story about the Royal Naval Reserve (common folk) and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (toffs)

  11. There has, I think, only been one person in the British Army who made it from Private to Field Marshal. And from when he was commissioned as a lieutenant he spent most of his career sidelined in technical roles – quartermaster, logistics and training.

    Think he only got so high because he was serving in India, actually learned some of the local languages, and got spotted by the Intelligence lot (which was another job for those who were ‘not quite gentlemen’).

    Since we so rarely have non-Royal Field Marshals now, his record is likely to stand for a long time.

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