Pilot Warrant Officer Rex Tate
Here is a summary of Rex's story.
Rex Tate, Service Number: Aus 419489.
Course 31, EATS, Intake August 1942;
1942 - ITS, Somers, 11 EFTS, Benalla - DH82;
1943 - SFTS - Mallala, South Australia - Avro Anson - Wings Award;
1943 - To U.K. via Panama, New York, Atlantic Convoy;
1944 - RAF - Pilot AFU - Banff, Scotland - Link & Beam;
1944 - RAF OTU, Aqir, Palestine - Wellington X - Crew of 7;
1944 - RAF HCU, Egypt - B-24 Liberator... 26 hours;
1945 - RAF 70 SQN - Foggia, Italy 26 Ops. 138 hours; and,
1945 - RAF 70 SQN “Supplies/U.K. 39 hours - Total B-24... 203 hours.
RAF 70 SQN
Ex 3 Fighter (Camels) WW 1 - Western Front;
1920 - Transport - (Valencias) Egypt & Iraq;
1940 - Blenheims - North Africa;
1942 - Wellingtons - North Africa, Foggia, Italy;
1944 - B-24 Liberators – 3-hour Conversion on SQN;
1946 - Lancastrians - Cyprus, Palestine; and,
1956 - Hercules - U.K. - Falklands & World-wide.
HCU TRAINING Experience in a B-24 - 1944
Location — Abu Sueir, Nr. Ismailia, Egypt;
Permanent RAF Station, concrete buildings, runways;
Staff: RAF Instructors and Ground Maintenance, and Administration;
Cross wind landings a problem, plus 108 ft. wingspan and 4 engines;
Instructor used an extra dawn flight, light fuel, 2 crew, to demonstrate light handling controls, stall and steep turns. Which corrected my under confidence, on x wind landings;
First circuit and bump solo, mid-upper gunner, checking nose wheel lock down, bent over lock which broke upward into his face — no report, sent Wireless Operator down to find him unconscious with a smashed face, dragged up to flight deck. By this time on fin; approach, called Control for Ambulance, continued approach. Received red Very light from Caravan on Runway — had neglected reselection of Nose wheel “down”. Called Control who advised problem, carried out Overshoot procedure.
Instructor joined me on second landing, after crew member transferred to Ambulance. My hands were shaking on throttle Levers, he suggested one more circuit to settle nerves, which was carried out.
The gunner received a Blighty posting for his face and dental repairs. It is regretted that I did not follow him up post war, but believe the Flight Engineer did so. Crew was allocated a replacement mid-upper gunner from a staff member, who had 22 operations on a Mitchell SQN, and was on tour expired instructor appointment. The Mitchells had high losses over France, on low-level bridge targets.
Operations Experience - Bombed by 'Friendly' Incendiaries
On the fourth Incendiary Operation, (at 4000ft.(+3 to +4 seconds) our aircraft received “flak” damage — starboard aileron jammed to send us 60% over, before recovery and dumping of the load. Flt Engineer took Aldis Lamp to waist ports, and reported two round holes in starboard wing underside, so assumed the anti-aircraft guns were fused on a height and had not detonated, also heard no “crack” of 8 8mm. But the whole airframe was shaking, so reduced speed for two hours return flight, requesting emergency landing in case of hydraulic failure, which did not occur.
But, next morning Wing Maintenance Engineer advised both wings had two 4ft. slashes on topsides, with holes under, which represented Incendiary from above falling at their terminal velocity.
Also, the starboard tailplane had a gap torn in the leading edge, 1 4m x 6 in. — this had caused the shaking, all the way to base. If The Flight Engineer had seen this and reported it to me, I may have ordered “Abandon”!
Rex, with the help of his daughter, recorded his experiences onto a DVD in August, 2013. This DVD is available from our shop in Werribee, Victoria.
Rex is keen to raise funds to aid in appealing for Odd-Bods to be recognised on Memorials - by plaques or a Parchment for sale by Museums (still to be designed). Here are two links to find out more about the Odd-Bods of WWII: http://www.raafa.org.au/odd-bods-association & http://www.theoddbods.org/2010_02/oddsnends07.htm
This DVD is reviewed by a retired commercial pilot, Roger Buck. This is what he wrote, "This interview is an opportunity for all those interested in Aviation, World War II history and what made these men volunteer for active service. Thousands did not return but for some of those that did, life would never be the same again. Rex Tate’s daughter Christine, extracts some of his memories of that experience between 1942-1945."
"This DVD takes the viewer through many of Rex’s experiences, from early Army days while awaiting RAAF training through to flying the B-24 Liberator. Rex was just 21 years of age flying a 4 engine heavy bomber at night into enemy skies with his crew of six."
"In this interview, Rex takes us thorough the training courses in Australia, Scotland, Palestine and Egypt He reflects on coping with the ‘Beams training in Scotland and learning how to land at night on instruments in bad weather, a testing set of circumstances. This was the pro-curser of the ILS landings of today."
"This DVD presents Rex, explaining some of these experiences with honesty and good memory of those three years that occupied his life 70 years ago. He is now over 90 years of age with the good fortune of still having a healthy mind and body."
"I recommend this DVD to all who are air-minded. You will not be disappointed."