WW2 Service Record of RAF Pilot Allan Gent (1079136)
PRIMARY FLIGHT TRAINING
On the 10th July 1941, Allan arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and immediately boarded a train for a 30-hour journey to Toronto, Canada.
On the 11th July 1941, Allan arrived at RCAF Manning Depot No. 1 (a "PTC" or Personnel Transit Camp) in Toronto, Canada, where after being 'documented', he boarded another train heading south and into the USA.
On the 17th July 1941, Allan arrived at Woodward Field, Camden, South Carolina, to attend the "Southern Aviation School" for flight training as part of the "Arnold Scheme". He was a cadet of Class 42B, the second class that attended the school. 42B meant that they should graduate in February 1942 (a 6 month course).
Allan did his first flight on the 21st July, and after 12 dual instruction flights with instructor Q.J. Hazellief, did his first solo on the 1st August.
Click the image below to see a PDF copy of a Booklet called "Goggles" published in September 1941 by the UK Cadets of Class 42B. It contains a personal summary and signature of some of the cadets.
Below is the Gatehouse at Woodward Field:
Below is the Administration building at Woodward Field:
Below is Class 42B doing parade in front of the Administration building. Allan is at the very left of the picture on the back row:
Below is the main Dormitory:
Below is Class 42B doing parade in front of the Dormitory:
Below are some of the 'Boys' at the Flying Line (note the Coke machine where my father said the bottles had ice on them):
are some of my fathers' friends at the Flying Line. They are George
Lock, Dave Horsley and Peter Nash.
Sadly, according to the CWGC database, it appears that George and Dave both lost their lives in 1943:
Below is one of the Stearman PT-17 'Yellow Peril' aircraft they used at Woodward Field (I wouldn't have liked my first flight in number 13!):
That big hanger is still standing at Woodward Field today (picture borrowed!):
Below is one of the Boys and a Stearman:
Below are some of the boys in class. Nearest the camera is Peter Nash and Allan (smoking as usual). The photograph is courtesy of J.D. 'Mac' McCarthy, and was copied (with permission) from Gilbert S. Guinns' book called 'The Arnold Scheme'.
Below is a picture of a flight training simulator installed at Camden:
Below is Dave Horsley, one of my Fathers' friends:
Below is Ron Pearson, one of my Fathers' friends. Looks like this was taken in the Dormitory:
Below is Allan, my father:
Below are the Boys playing baseball at Woodward Field:
Below are the Boys playing Volleyball with the Admin building in the background:
Below is an aerial view of Woodward Field in 1941. The big building with the white roof is the main hanger and the 2 small buildings (where the coke machine was) are just beyond it. Beyond that is the administration building, and beyond that is the parade ground and main dormitory. Behind the main hanger (to the right in the photo) is the Basketball and Volleyball pitches shown in the previous picture:
Below is a modern view of Woodward Field. The hangers and administration building are still there. The main dormitory seems to have been replaced with a T shaped building. The Basketball and Volleyball pitches have been replaced with a Baseball pitch :
Below are the Boys relaxing by either Hermitage or Kendall Lake :
And again, but trying to climb trees this time:
Below are some of the Boys (Allan has his back to the camera) on weekend leave outside the "Carolina Lunch" which was at 409 DeKalb Street just next to the bus terminal at 411 DeKalb Street (neither building exists today). DeKalb Street is the same roadway as U.S. Highway 1 which leads a few miles further to Woodward Field:
Below are some of the Boys relaxing (Allan is 3rd from the left). It looks like they are outside a shop window with the reflection of a Gasoline Pump and attendant in the glass. If you look very closely in the reflection, the word 'GULF' is reflected just to the right of the pump. We think this was taken at Langston's Esso Gasoline Station at 402 DeKalb Street which was just next to the 'Carolina Lunch' and Bus terminal (see above). Yes this was an Esso station, but Gulf was known as a distributor at that time. You will also notice that in the Carolina Lunch photo above there is a truck with a crane (a "wrecker"). Langston's operated a wrecker service, so it was possibly from that business.
Below is the State House at the capital city Columbia, 35 miles from Camden:
Below is the State House today (no cars allowed now):
Below is a view taken from the side of the Columbia State House looking at the American Sentinel building with the (now demolished) Wade Hampton hotel just on the left. In the foreground is the Palmetto tree, the tree which is on the South Carolina state flag:
Below is that building today:
Below is a picture of a lady and (possibly) granddaughter, but I have no idea who they are or where this was taken:
On the 25th August 1941, the UK cadets of Class 42C arrived at Camden, and the flying school became all British for the next month.
On the 29th September 1941, Allan moved to Cochran Field, Macon, Georgia, to do his Basic Flight Training.
In October, just after Allan left for Macon, the one and only fatality happened at Camden when cadet George Pritchard of Class 42C crashed his Stearman. He was buried at the local cemetery:
(Many thanks to Joan Inabinet at the Kershaw County Historical Society for some of the information on this page. May I also thank Gilbert S. Guinn for his very informative book called 'The Arnold Scheme'.)
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