Bill Chatters' and Tom Drennan's air gunner training
The notes below were written by Dennis Over, a rear gunner on Lancasters and a contemporary of Bill and Tom. Dennis's recollections give an insight into the training that they undertook:
"Gunnery training commenced at the Initial Training Wing. in my case it being Bridgnorth. A hangar was fitted out with several FN & Bristol 175 mid upper turrets. We each did many hours in these for about 6 weeks. The hangar would be under daylight & night conditions with targets being superimposed. When considered competent, we were posted to Air Gunnery School, mine being No 11 Andreas, Isle of Man for about 6 weeks in which time I did 25 trainee flights in Bristol-turreted Ansons, each of about 90 minutes duration, firing 300 rounds on each occasion at target-towing Martinets, mostly "QXO's, (quarter cross overs) the Martinet & Anson on attack & evasion tactics. On 5 occasions a camera was fitted with 25ft of film to show results. There were 3 gunners per exercise. The turret was armed with 900 rounds, 300 of each being green, yellow or red wet painted tips. enabling the instructors to check the scores, 70% being the required standard.
Many hours were spent in darkened classrooms with silhouettes of all anticipated aircraft. being momentarily flashed on screen, these images being from different angles. This training was quite intensive, a 100% pass mark being required. We had unlimited access to black plastic models of all aircraft.
As Air Gunners we had to be able to read the Aldis lamp signals & transmit & receive wireless telegraphy (morse) at 6 words per minute, each of us having a morse key with buzzer.
At the end of the course those of us with an average pass mark of 90% were promoted to Sergeant. those that failed were kept back for one more course, any failing that being remustered."
Below, an extract from an Air Gunnery School report: