Basic flying training.
Messrs Reid & Sigrist, wartime aircraft builders, owned Desford airfield where I was posted for ab initio flying training.1
They were contracted by the Air Ministry to
teach us how to fly Chipmunks. Staff, of course, were civilian. The airfield was grass.
Peckleton was the nearest village, and Leicester the nearest town - to which there
was a public bus service.
We were housed in the 6 room bungalows of what had been a peace time
residential flying school. Our individual rooms were small and basic yet adequately
equipped, and we had our own wash-basins. Showers and toilets were located to
one side of a central corridor. Female cleaners came in on weekdays, so 'bull nights'
were a thing of the past. We had a reasonably comfortable Officers Mess, and food
was served to us. Compared with what we had all just been through, life was
luxurious indeed. In fact two of our bachelor civilian instructors, out of choice, lived
permanently in the same accommodation.
The RAF aspect of the course was run by a Flight Lieutenant who was the
Commanding Officer, and a Flying Officer who was in charge of us u/t
There was a small Orderly Room, bringing the permanent RAF staff to no more
than 12. There were 33 of us on the course, and only one course was run at a time.
We were officially designated as No.5 Basic Flying Training School, RAF Desford.
As was usual the course was divided into two so that each day was split into
morning ground school and afternoon flying (or vice-versa), alternating between the
The u/t pilots and Officers in charge of our flying course outside the ground school building at
RAF Desford. Being the tallest, I am in the centre of the back row.
1 This firm built an experimental prone position fighter during the war. Its fuselage was still in one of the hangars
and we were allowed informally to examine it later in our course.
= under training.