Denis or "Den", born on 29 Apr 1921, was the eldest son of Fred and Ethel.
In 1937, at the age of 16, he joined the RAF as a "Halton Apprentice". Entrance to the scheme involved a highly competitive exam, intelligence and aptitude tests, and medical examinations. Admittance was limited exclusively to males between the ages of 15 and 17½ and the Royal Air Force assumed legal guardianship of the boys in loco parentis.
Training was a three-year course, although this was changed briefly to two years for some apprentice entries during the Second World War. Training took place at the No. 1 School of Technical Training, RAF Halton, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire over five and a half days a week, and consisted of both academic and practical training. In addition, basic military training was given.
Following completion of his apprenticeship, Den joined 109 Squadron (based at Boscombe Down at the time) as an Aircraft Fitter in 1940 before undertaking pilot training from 1942-43.
Pilot training changed during the war from 34 weeks in 1941 to 51-53 weeks by 1944. In 1941 it would have consisted of: Initial Training School (8 weeks), Elementary Flying Training School (10 weeks), Service Flying Training School (16 weeks), "Wings", Operational Training Unit (4-6 weeks). By 1944 it had changed to: Initial Training School (17 weeks), Elementary Flying Training School (10 weeks), Service Flying Training School (20 weeks), "Wings", Advanced Training (14-16 weeks for fighters). We do not know how long Den's training was but assume that it was probably about 52 weeks.
His pilot training took place at No. 4 British Flying Training School (BFTS), Falcon Field, 4800 Falcon Drive, Mesa, AZ 85215 in the USA. He was first in the "Wings" examination and graduated on 19 Feb 1943.
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