ITW

RAF TorquayPosting to No 3 Initial Training Wing, RAF Torquay (September 1943)

Cecil arrived at RAF Torquay to start the next stage of his training on 11th September 1943.

He was posted into C Flight, 2 Squadron, No 21 Initial Training Wing (ITW), which specialised in basic service training of flight engineers. Other ITW’s specialised in training the other aircrew categories, namely Pilot, Navigator, Bomber (PNB Scheme) and Wireless Operator, Air Gunner (WOP / AG).

As a consequence of a reorganisation on 14th September 1943, the training wing was redesignated as No 3 Initial Training Wing.

RAF Torquay

Much like RAF Regent’s Park, RAF Torquay was an area in Devon which had been requisitioned by the Air Ministry for the purpose of providing large scale accommodation and training facilities.

Cecil was allocated the usual “bed space” in a room in one of the hotels that had been allocated to 3 ITW (believed to be the Park Hall, Regina, Dorchester and Devonshire Hotels and smaller hotels in Beacon Terrace.

As trainee aircrew, he was now provided with sheets and pillow cases for his bed, along with the standard “mattress biscuits”, blankets and pillow.

Initial Training Wing

Billets and Physical Training [Photographs © IMW CH1790 / CH10992]

Training and Assessment

The six week training programme at the ITW was designed to improve discipline, physical fitness and mental alertness and provide a sound basic knowledge of the Royal Air force.

The approach was explained in the pamphlet “YOU are going to be a FLIGHT ENGINEER

Cecil was issued with his War Service (“Battledress”) uniform, which consisted of tunic and trousers. This could be worn in place of the “Best Blues” jacket and trousers whilst “working on station” (“Best Blues” had to be worn on parade, at formal occasions and whenever the trainee was “off station”).

The “Initial Training Wing Syllabus” and the supporting “Aircrew Lecture Notes” show that recruits were taught:

  • anti-gas
  • aircraft recognition
  • armament
  • drill and physical training
  • engines
  • hygiene and sanitation
  • law and discipline, administration and organisation
  • mathematics
  • meteorology
  • navigation
  • principles of flight
  • signals

An extract from”Aircrew Lecture Notes”

Flying Clothing, along with a second kitbag, was issued later in the course for use in some of the training exercises. It consisted of:

  • helmet, with oxygen and communication mask
  • goggles
  • flying suit (one piece or separate jacket and trousers)
  • leather gauntlets
  • gloves (silk, wool, chamois)
  • socks
  • boots
  • Mae-West (life jacket)
  • emergency whistle
  • parachute harness

All flying kit issued was recorded on the Flying Clothing Card (Form 667B )

Fatigues, inspections, physical training, lectures and assessments continued to form part of the daily routine, which was timetabled as follows:

Swimming and dinghy practice were actively encouraged to ensure that trainees were prepared for emergency ditching in the sea.

Initial Training Wing (Torquay)

Drill and Anti-Gas Training [Photographs © IWM CH1793 / CH1801]

Rank and Trade

Cecil remained as an AC2 (Grade A), Aircrafthand / U/T Flight Engineer during this stage of his training.

Completion of Course

Trainees were assessed throughout the course and examinations had to be undertaken and passed prior to further posting.

An examination paper

Anyone who “failed” the course was either provided with additional training or was posted to other roles (eg ground staff).

Cecil successfully “passed out” on 3rd November 1943 and he was posted to No. 4 School of Technical Training (4 SoTT) at RAF St Athan, to start his “trade” training as a flight engineer.

C Flight, No 2 Squadron in October 1943 (Cecil is far right in 3rd row from back)

Alphabetical listing of  trainees and staff in the photograph 


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