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Cheshire Steve

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About Cheshire Steve

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    Lance Corporal

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    Cheshire, England
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    Cars, Bikes, engineering history, old lathes

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  1. Found something in "RAF Middle East - Official Story of Air Operations Feb 1942 - Jan 1943", which has a chapter on the backup operation that kept the planes flying, including RSUs and the dispersal of all sorts of maintenance (engine repair, plating worn parts, etc), and then mentions the following : "In the summer of 1941 a hangar in an existing airfield was handed over to 5 engineers of British Overseas Aircraft Corporation, and they started to scout the back streets of Cairo to buy hammers, pliers, hacksaws, and such elementary tools, with which to found a unit for the repair of damaged airframes (the body of the aircraft as distinct from its engines). Within a year the unit had grown to many hangars, all crowded with aircraft needing repair, ranging in size from the smallest communications machine to the largest Liberator bomber. And more than 1000 aircraft had been rebuilt and sent back into the fight." So I think that is it - the BOAC Aircraft Repair Unit or BARU grew from a few BOAC engineers to a huge unit in the desparate early part of the war in North Africa. It was the location where recovered aircraft are shipped back to by the RSUs where airframe work is needed, or to salvage airframe parts to repair others. They don't name the airfield, but lots of other sources refer to aircraft being deliveredto or from BARU Heliopolis at least to September 1943, and in early 1944 it seems much of this activity came under 168MU. Steve
  2. That would tie in with him being in 168 MU at Heliopolis from July 1944 to Jan 1946 (though with 3 months out in Athens with 372 RSU in Jan - Mar 45). Before the formation of 168MU Helipolis had been the home for the BARU and while figuring out what this was (see separate thread) I have found evidence that it was a main hub for aircraft, damaged airframes being shipped there from RSUs, old planes being flown there to be retired (which could explain the Blenheims). Probably acted as base servicing, repair and overhaul and reallocation too. Is this a Blenheim? This would have been in 1942/43 - RSU recovery in progress (I always found it amazing that a small bunch of people in desert heat - admittedly with a Coles crane - could strip out engines, remove wings, tail, and recover entire aircraft - even larger aircraft like dakotas and bombers). Steve
  3. Does that help date the photo? Looks like 99 on the side of the nearest one. If I can get a date I should be able to narrow down where it was, as have my father's diary of his postings. Steve
  4. Thanks for the info - I was at RAE 84-87. Wish I had paid more attention to all the wonderful aircraft still there then - main involvement I had was related to the Comet. I guess Dakotas were made in such huge numbers that its hard to keep track of them, but I would be very interested if there is any history of a Dakota which was US, crashed in the Western Desert in WW2, recovered by an RSU and as the Americans had already written it off it was rebuild as the personal transport for the local RAF big wig at the time. I have photos of it polished til you can see your face in it, probably taken at Heliopolis, but you can't see the designation.
  5. I think the acronym B.A.R.U. has a third interpretation - BOAC Aircraft Repair Unit. I have found it called that at this link which says it not only handled servicing of aircraft but also their reallocation between units (and from other sources also the retirement of aircraft and had a major scrapyard too) : http://www.adf-serials.com.au/bombay.htm I have also found some detailed BOAC records, that record the creations of a British Airways Repair Unit in Cairo in August 1941, which is strange as minuted in Jan 1941 that BOAC must continue to call themselves BOAC and not British Airways. BOAC seems to have also taken over the ATA, so maybe BARU was also a main transport hub for ferried aircraft. https://www.ab-ix.co.uk/pdfs/AMIL-BOAC-Gen-reports-services.pdf The more I look at the Operational Records of 58RSU the more planes I see transported to B.A.R.U. mainly by road., and all types too. In the attached extract from the Operations Records, Harvard EX129, Tomahawk AK351, Tomahawk AN467, and Kittyhawk ET532. 4 planes in 4 days. It seems to have a pretty central role, handling and servicing huge numbers of aircraft but can't find much info about it at all. Maybe I am still using the wrong search terms.
  6. Thanks for that link - its the sort of information I was looking for but unable to find. From that I suspect the B.A.R.U. that is referred to is actually the British Airways Repair Unit at Heliopolis or Almaza (which are, as far as I can tell, the same place) - whereas I thought that interpretation of BARU must be a mistake. It still seems rather odd, British Airways Ltd was merged into BOAC in 1940. Civil aviation no doubt came under government control during the war, so were they deploying the in-house civilian expertise of the former British Airways as a Middle East base repair unit? It seems from your link that No 1 BARU became 168MU in 1/3/1944, and No 2 BARU became a BOAC unit at the same time - so maybe that does suggest a mix of military and civilians, later split into military and civilian outfits. I have found a reference to an aircraft scrapyard at Heliopolis, so maybe it was the BARU that ultimately decided what could be saved from a crashed aircraft (or maybe just airframe) and disposed of the rest. Steve
  7. Looking through records of repair and salvage unit operating in the desert in 1943, I often see references to aircraft being delivered by land to B.A.R.U. - which I think is Base Aircraft Repair Unit. So these are planes that the RSU can't repair, as they fly out repaired planes. What I have failed to find is where the B.A.R.U. was located, and whether all planes that were scrap would be sent there as well as repairable ones, possibly for parts recovery. The RSU would change engines, but maybe they weren't able to handle airframe damage? Anyone come across details of the B.A.R.U. operations? Steve
  8. Discontinued about 1943 tied in better with my father's photos - whereas discontinued in 1945 seemed unlikely. In my dad's stuff there are probably books on the Desert War so might look in there and see if we can refine the date.
  9. Seems likely this is Ludion, at least it matches the attached photo in terms of conning tower and location of nameplate, and I can find no other photos of this class that have that conning tower. Earlier photos that claim to be Ludion look different, and the decks seem the same height - so it could be that they modified her along the way. However they might have modified more than one in the same way when they adapted them for harbour patrol, but those with longer names had the nameplate on the side of the conning tower. Hard to be sure. Steve
  10. Looking at photos it seems the three rows of vent holes in the conning tower about the level of the foredeck are unusual - or rather the difference in height between the foredeck and aft-deck is unusual - so might be able to identify her from that.
  11. Yes. that must be the type - in which case those frames for the torpedos are actually Drzeweicki drop collars. Wikipedia says the three of them that were made in Cherbourg served in the channel, the rest in the Med - so as it was in Dunkirk harbour it should be one of those 3 : Naiade, Lynx, or Protee. They were used as harbour defence boats - so it might be possible to find out which one was allocated to Dunkirk harbour. I wonder if they have any distinguishing differences, as I can't see the name or number in the picture.
  12. I have been clearing out some family stuff and found a book of postcards from Dunkirk about WW1 - definitely 1911 or later as one postcard features a statue erected in 1911. Among them is a picture of a French submarine locked into the harbour, and I have been wondering if it is possible to identify which one it is. Among the obvious characteristics are two torpedo cradles on the deck. I wonder if it is Argonaute, which was built in 1905 and commissioned in 1911, or maybe Aigrette - but so far haven't seen a picture that matches. It seems of quite modest size by submarine standards - there is a small penant sticking out of the water on the extreme left of the photo that I assume marks the bow. It seems low in the water, as I thought in harbour the bow would be clear. I was quite surprised to find the French had a lot of submarines - its not an area I have ever looked into before. Hopefully someone here has some info. Thanks, Steve
  13. You realise you have posted this in the Naval section of the forum? My father was out there in 42/43 in 58RSU and I have had a look through his photos and can't see this sort of number plate with dual language. Maybe it was a local thing - perhaps for vehicles operating in Alexandria.
  14. Thanks, just me being dumb. When I looked at the photo I took of the dakota I knew something was missing - but its the lack of squadron codes. Most of the BBMF have the large letters of squadron codes, presumably from their original service, but not this one - which makes it look odd. Fabulous aircraft though.
  15. Oops, yes, looks like it was the Germans - though the City Of Lincoln Lancaster has a load of letters that I might have though was RAF id.
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