THE FLATLEY DRYER

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 01 Feb 2018, 05:19

I note that a German politician told the UK the other day to "stop talking about the War!" He may have had a good general point but this doesn't mean we should forget about it. Not how nasty the Germans were, we did some nasty things ourselves but what it was like when a whole continent was consumed by the conflagration. This is why basically, despite the occasional drawbacks, I have always seen close cooperation in the EU project as an essential route to better understanding and security against any repeat of the two World Wars.
The rabid anti-EU sentiments we see on the far right in the UK at the moment all stem from dinosaurs who were not born then and have no idea how serious it was. I can remember bombs like this exploding overhead!

Image

This one in Liverpool in 1940 thankfully didn't explode. Most of them did and the 'Land Mine', a modified German undersea magnetic mine, was a fearsome weapon. Dropped on a parachute it floated down and was triggered by a barometric switch in mid air. The effect was a blast that hit anything underneath like a giant sledge hammer. So let's talk about the war occasionally and remember....
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by plaques » 01 Feb 2018, 08:22

And we should not forget that we bombed Dresden in 1945 using over 700 bombers and killing over 25,000 civilians. By this time there was no military need for this attack we did it because we could and that we had all these surplus planes and bombs in stock. It couldn't happen now could it? With Trump with his finger on the button and some of his generals saying that it should be possible to neutralize North Korea's installations I wouldn't bet on it.

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 02 Feb 2018, 04:37

As I said P, we did some nasty things ourselves and area bombing when we found that we couldn't guarantee bombs falling within miles of their targets or even in the early days the right city was one of them. Len Deighton's 'Bomber' is a good book, read 'Slaughterhouse Five' and see Norman Davies' comments in his latest book. Incidentally, Norman has picked up on the fact that as a young RAF lieutenant in 'Mespot' in the 1920s Harris learned his trade by bombing Arab Villages that didn't pay their taxes. He said in a report that a 500lb bomb dropped on a village usually had the desired effect. The ultimate of course was dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have never been able to understand why we couldn't have demonstrated its effect by bombing something visible but not populated. Have a look at the Black and Tans in Ireland after the Uprising, they were nothing but UK government sponsored thugs dedicated to terrorising the population.
I was brainwashed like everyone else. I was once asked by one of my American students what my opinion of Area Bombing was and I told her that during the war, when I had spent time in the Anderson Shelter as bombs fell all around us I was all in favour of it. Now of course, with the perspective of time and experience the only thing I am certain about is that none of us should have been doing it. This is what informs my feelings about closer cooperation with the world. It saddens me that what I see happening is a growing nationalism and swing to hard right opinions supported by an ignorant population and cloaked under the guise of Populism'. This is exactly what happened in the aftermath of the German Weimar government and it was exploited brilliantly by Hitler. (It's non-PC to say that but is exactly what happened.) The bottom line is read the history you dummies!
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 02 Feb 2018, 10:12

One of those land mines fell at Durleigh, a couple of miles outside Bridgwater, and the blast shattered every shop window in the Bridgwater high street.

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 03 Feb 2018, 04:17

That was their function Tiz. They were a blast weapon and the aim was to find a use for the magnetic mines made redundant as soon as the war started by our adoption of degaussing technology to make our ships impervious to them. They caused the maximum amount of damage and destruction over a wide area. Once the stocks were used up they didn't make any more. The American MOAB is a derivative of this type of bomb. (LINK)
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 03 Feb 2018, 11:06

Talking of munitions I see there's a plan for a bridge from Portpatrick to Larne. It could get exciting when they start putting in the foundations for the towers out at sea!

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 04 Feb 2018, 04:57

I saw that as well Tiz. We aren't the only ones who remember the Beaufort Dyke! (LINK)
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by PanBiker » 04 Feb 2018, 10:07

Tizer wrote:
03 Feb 2018, 11:06
Talking of munitions I see there's a plan for a bridge from Portpatrick to Larne. It could get exciting when they start putting in the foundations for the towers out at sea!
When the bloke was talking of it on TV he said that the structure would be built on tethered floating platforms very much like deep sea oil rigs. They have to put the anchors somewhere though. :confused: :surprised:
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 04 Feb 2018, 10:26

Somebody ought to give him the bad news! :extrawink:

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 05 Feb 2018, 04:59

One of the best attributes to possess (in my opinion) if you want to have a career travelling around the country is a good sense of direction and the ability to read a map. I think I have these traits and they served me well when I was on the tramp and never knew where my next load would take me. You would imagine that this was a given in the ranks of wagon drivers.
However.... I was travelling South down the M6 one day and saw a Silentnight Van parked on the hard shoulder. This was in the days when you stopped to help each other. I found him studying his map and it transpired that the was going from Barlick to Grimsby.... This may sound strange but I held my tongue and let him have his own route. I reasoned that it would be a mistake to correct him as it wouldn't save any miles and there was no guarantee that he wouldn't get confused and actually get lost. The fact was that his way of getting there via Stoke was quite clear and feasible and it wasn't my job to educate the man.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 06 Feb 2018, 06:57

I have another example of curious route taking. I was at Dorman's steel works on Teeside one day loading an 8 ton billet of cast steel one of two that were needed in Trafford Park Manchester ASAP. I and the other driver got them straight out of the mill and they were still molten inside but just below red heat on the surface, as they were lowered on to the 4X4 timbers on the flat the wood started to smoke. I chained mine down even though there wasn't much chance of it moving and while I was doing this got into conversation with the other driver who told me that he was going to stay at the Hill Top café on the A1 at Doncaster that night and that this was the shortest way to Manchester. I told him he had better go down into Middlesbrough and tell Ridings Transport because they had been running a trunk into Lancashire for decades and were going the wrong way.
I delivered my billet at 3AM that afternoon in Manchester and when they asked me where the other one was I told them, sat in a car park to the South of Doncaster. They were not pleased! I popped down to the docks at Manchester and loaded with ten tons of cattle food for the mill at Gargrave and was home by 6PM.
So don't assume that the professional driver in front is on the right route!
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 07 Feb 2018, 06:43

Looking back I marvel at the way I coped with what would today be seen as impossible if not illegal loads. This wasn't always simply a matter of weight but things like loading a large digger on the flat and watching the bearers bending as it rolled on because all the weight was concentrated on 4 small areas. I picked that up in London, travelled overnight and was very glad when it rolled off the flat in Manchester the following morning. Like capacity loads of timber, high loads and top weight, it was high stress. I remember that on the main route out of London then you went through the middle of Mill Hill and the roundabout there was uphill and had a serious adverse camber. You wouldn't believe the cracking and banging noises that racked the wagon as the load listed to the near side. I took that one very carefully! High loads of hay and straw were also high stress, it was so easy to have a load slip, it never happened to me but I have been laughed at many a time because I roped at four courses and put plenty more on when I got to eight courses, sometimes with a 'rider in the middle if there were no low bridges. Better safe than sorry!
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 08 Feb 2018, 04:35

I have a story for you connected with loads......

I remember going to a farm at Ripon one beautiful summer morning for a load of straw. Another wagon had pulled in the yard just in front of me and the two farm labourers were helping him to load. I pulled in on the other side of the stack and started to load by myself, quietly away. An old bloke, he must have been well on the way to eighty years old, came out of a nearby cottage and, climbing on the rick, started to give me a hand. He was a retired farm worker and liked to make himself useful. At four courses I called a halt and roped down. The old bloke liked this and was telling me so when the other driver came round the corner, they had finished loading him and he was enjoying taking the piss out of me for being too slow and careful. I told him I’d rather spend ten minutes more in the yard than three hours on the road and away he went. Me and the old bloke refused any help and went on until we had eight courses, straight and well roped, a lovely sight to see. This was important because once on the road your mates would see you and a good load well roped didn’t do your reputation any harm.
The old bloke went and brewed up and we leaned on the gate looking down the field. I filled my pipe and offered the old cock my tobacco because I knew he smoked a pipe. He pulled out a pipe with the biggest bowl I have ever seen and stuffed it full with Condor. After about half a dozen matches and a lot of sucking and gurgling he got it lit. He said to me, “Smoking isn’t what it used to be. The problem nowadays is if you’re smoking your own, all you can think of is the price, and if you’re smoking somebody else’s, you can’t get your bloody pipe to draw!” I agreed but pointed out that if he’d shove less in the bowl he would get on better! We had a laugh about this, finished our smoke and off I went with a tight load and a smile on my face.
As I came to the roundabout about three miles down the road towards Harrogate I came across a nasty sight, bales all over the road and my tormentor trying to re-load on his own. This is a terrible job because bales get broken and mis-shaped when they come off. I slowed down and he came across to me. “Give us a hand will you mate?” Note that I was his best friend now! I have to report that contrary to my statements littered through this piece about how we always used to help each other I told him to piss off and rope at half way the next time! All right, it was hard, but how the hell was he ever going to learn if someone pulled him out of the shit every time he screwed up? An entirely disconnected memory comes back, about half a mile down the road I saw a pair of scissors on the white line. I pulled up and retrieved them and have them in my toolbox to this day.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 09 Feb 2018, 05:01

I have another story for you about my contacts with the police.....

Not all incidents with the police were that serious. I remember the first time I ever saw a Boeing 747. It was at Prestwick airport early in 1970 and British Airways had one there fully loaded up to transatlantic weight, that’s almost 400 tons. They were training pilots in take-off and landing and as I drove along the road in Richard Drinkall’s cattle wagon I saw this thing taxiing up to the end of the runway near the road. I stopped to watch it take off and a police car pulled in immediately and told me I couldn’t park there. I told him that this plane weighed 400 tons and obviously couldn’t fly so could we just watch it please? The bobby was as interested as I was and we watched this enormous plane waddle to the end of the runway about 100 yards from us and sit there. I can still see the tyres squidging over on the rims as it turned on to the runway. We were right behind it so when the engines opened up it didn’t seem to move, it just got smaller. Suddenly it seemed to shoot straight into the air. We agreed it was a bloody miracle and went on our way. Little did I know that within eight years I’d be on one making my first flight! After that I was hooked.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 10 Feb 2018, 04:38

I think we all have 'Oh shit' moments. I get them regularly. One of the most memorable was in the days when I had given up wagon driving and decided that we needed a car. Funds being short I bought two scrap Anglias and made one good one out of them. I did a really good job and the last blow was to drill a hole in the rear wing to fit the wireless aerial. Shortly afterwards I realised I couldn't see through the windows of the car and realised I had shorted the wiring loom and the whole car was frying! That took a bit of sorting! We live and learn.....
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 11 Feb 2018, 05:11

Back to patent medicines..... I was reminded by Tiz's Science News this morning of what we used to call 'Pee Green' pills. I forget the actual brand but it was in the days when back pain was linked to kidney problems and the pills were marketed as 'back ache pills'. We knew they were working because they turned your pee green. Those days were so simple and uncomplicated!
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 12 Feb 2018, 05:22

Reaching back in my memory and sometimes remembering things long forgotten could seem a waste of time to some but I like to compare how we were then with today. I know that we see the past through rose coloured spectacles but on the whole, while we have seen great improvements in technology, medicine and 'convenience', many things are not as good. This is particularly noticeable in society.
I think we were more outgoing in those days and had relationships with many of our neighbours. This was reinforced by common dangers and fears caused by the war of course. Our two next door neighbours Walt Pitcher the jeweller and his sister who lived with him and Arthur and his wife next door. Walter and Arthur helped father to dig out the back garden and install the Anderson Shelter starting before war was declared. I remember people coming round and laughing at them but of course their tune soon changed! The trade-off was that their families shared with us when the sirens sounded and all nine of us shared the dubious comforts of the shelter. Walter always carried a suitcase with him containing his most valuable stock (he had a shop in Tommy Fields in Oldham). He was an expert at making small animals out of candle wax to distract us kids while the raids were on.
It might sound funny but I am glad we went through all that together.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 13 Feb 2018, 05:08

These days we are all used to seeing the vapour trails of the airliners criss-crossing the sky but in 1940 sighting planes and sometimes vapour trails from the exhausts meant fighters or bombers and they were either ours or theirs! Fighters were always ours, the German fighters hadn't the range to reach us. The bombers could be either and we soon learned that if the engines were synchronised and running sweetly they were ours, if the drone fluctuated that were German. At the time it was 'common knowledge' that their engines were worse than ours and couldn't be tuned properly but since then I have heard that this de-synchronisation was a deliberate ploy as it made the bombers sound more sinister. Something like the typical screech of a Stuka when it dived, still a sound cliché in any Hollywood film. I remember walking through New Ulm in Minnesota with friends and they were telling me that they were very pro-German during WW2 and had one of the largest National Guard Armouries in the US. A plane was flying overhead and I said they have their own Luftwaffe as well! It was the unmistakeable sound of a JU 88. They asked me how I knew this......
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Wendyf » 13 Feb 2018, 07:39

I was looking again at my father's RAF record last night, trying to work out from the list of scribbled dates and initials when he was at RAF Tangmere in Sussex. He joined up in May 1940 and did some initial training in Blackpool, but he must have been at Tangmere training as a ground gunner during the Battle of Britain. The base was hit badly by Stuka bombers on 18th August 1940 and almost wiped out. He left Tangmere in May 1941 to join 260 Squadron at Drem waiting to go out to the Middle East. I try to imagine what it must have been like for a nineteen year old, it was part of his war he never spoke about.

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 13 Feb 2018, 10:32

Wendy, on 1st February 1942 the RAF Regiment was formed and one of their functions was as ground gunners. Your father joined the RAF before that and I guess he would have been in with the rest of the RAF then but getting his special training in Blackpool. Another ground gunner mentions being trained in Blackpool in this article: Blackpool training Then I suppose he would have been absorbed into the RAF Regiment at the time it was established. You mention him going out to the Middle East. He could have been on static airfield protection but ground gunners also served in armoured cars there. His initial time between training and leaving the UK would have been hectic. The Battle of Britain and bombing of London started in August 1940 but from May the Luftwaffe had been directing its energies at attacking strategic targets like aerodromes, docks and factories. My father had been in the RAF as an armourer since 1938 and he was at airfields from Lincoln up to Catterick until 1941 when he was sent to South Africa to train SAAF men.

Here are a couple of links to RAF Regiment history: LINK 1 LINK 2

Here's a photo I found on Pinterest...

Image
The caption was:
"The RAF in France, Sept 1939 - May 1940. An RAF airman with a quadruple Browning MkII machine gun mounting used for airfield defence at Lille-Seclin, France. Light anti-aircraft defence in France was the responsibility of the Royal Artillery with the Bofors QF 40mm Mk III. They were supported by a number of light machine gun posts that provided close defence. The use of mobility and surprise by German troops demonstrated the vulnerability of airfields long considered safe, deep behind enemy lines."

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Wendyf » 13 Feb 2018, 11:21

From his records I can see that Dad joined up on 1st July 1940, he was in Blackpool for 2 weeks then moved to Tangmere on the 15th July 1940. The description on entry (1/7/1940) is ACH.GD (GG) which I take to mean Air Craft Hand. Ground Defence (Ground Gunner), so he was signed up for that job.
I have his war notebook and from that, letters and looking at the movements of 260 squadron its possible to trace his progress through the Middle East. After an easy time in Haifa they went out into the desert and the ground gunners were part of the forward party establishing temporary airfields in the desert before the "kites" followed.
260 Squadron

He went on a small arms training course near Amman and was lucky enough to be asked to come back as an instructor. he moved there (3 M.E.T.S) at the end of June 1942 and remained there till he came home on compassionate leave in 1944.
Here he is in the desert

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Image

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 14 Feb 2018, 04:08

The loudest noise I heard in the war was one night when we were in the shelter and a detachment of mobile Bofors Ack Ack guns went into action on the park about 150 yards away. The multiple bursts were ear-splitting!
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 15 Feb 2018, 06:43

17 children gunned down in yet another school attack in Florida. This reminds me of the headlines we saw during the war. There is something very badly wrong in the US and it is beyond my comprehension.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 16 Feb 2018, 05:13

Early in the war there was a widespread fear of German paratroopers. I remember my father bringing home a 'parachute gun' as we called it. It was a small pistol that fired .22 blanks, a starting pistol originally perhaps. I started playing with the blanks one day and wondered what would happen if I threw some on the fire. Spectacular! Room full of soot and as I rememberer it the 'parachute gun' vanished after that!
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 17 Feb 2018, 05:01

My mates father who lived across the road from us was in the Home Guard and later in the war he was issued with a Sten Gun and 9mm ammo. We got hold of it one day and had a happy hour in his back garden firing it into the bank. Then we were discovered..... Our parents were not happy! But it soon passed over and at least we had the experience. What amazes me now is that we knew exactly how it worked, a tribute to how simple and effective a weapon the Sten was. Still in use in the 1950s when I was in training for the army. I got to relive a childhood memory firing it! (LINK)

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