OTU (02/41)

14 Operational Training Unit, RAF Cottesmore (8th February 1941)

On the 8th of February 1941, Walter Layne reported to 14 Operational Training Unit (O.T.U.) at R.A.F. Cottesmore.  This must have pleased him as he was only 15 miles from his fiancée Joan Maunders in Grantham.  This O.T.U. was one of seventeen such units located about the Midlands, with two more in Morayshire, Scotland.

With few exceptions, all aircrew trainees took a three months course of training with an O.T.U. before joining an operational squadron.  The training at an O.T.U. might be described as a Post-Graduate Course as on arrival at the O.T.U. the airman would be wearing their appropriate trade badges, the pilot wearing his full wings and the Observers, Air Gunners, etc their half wings having earned these at the Initial Training Wings.

Operational Training

By honing the skills they had learned in their Initial Training Wings the airmen were taught how to work together as a crew and familiarize themselves with the type of aircraft they would be flying operationally as compared with the aircraft they had flown previously, they were large and complicated.

There were instructional sections on the station for each crew member: navigation, bombing, signals, and gunnery. The students were in ground school one-half of the day and the other half they flew.  The instructors at an O.T.U. were mainly officers and airmen who had previously completed a tour of wartime flying. Flying in Anson’s or Hampden’s a W/Op and a Navigator did three-hour cross countries, the W/OP supplying the Navigator with loop bearings and then the odd W.T fix to help him in his navigation. Then they gravitated to night cross countries and practiced formation flying, cross-country, and high-level bombing.

These 48 Squadron Avro Anson are an example of the types used at Operational Units

Trainee airman about to board an Avro Anson

Each O.T.U. course was scheduled to last eight weeks but due to a harsh winter, Wally Layne did not get to fly until April 4th, 1942.  However, from that date until the end of his course his logbook records almost daily training flights.

During the night of April 10th and 11th 1941, an estimated 10-15 Luftwaffe aircraft raided Cottesmore dropping illumination flares and bombs, however, the majority of the bombs fell outside of the airfield’s perimeter and affected training in no way.

‘The airfield Q site (dummy airfield) was attacked on the May 12th, 1941 by 2 enemy aircraft at between 2,000 feet and 5,000 feet.  A total of 6 bombs were dropped landing 3/4 mile north of the Airfield.  The Airfield guns opened up but with no visible results,  all the airfield lighting was on.

  14 OTU Hampden at Cottesmore

3 Hampdens

A flight of 14 OTU Hampdens.

Handley Page Hampdens of No 14 OTU, mid-1940

Hampdens from 14 OTU on a training flight.

On June 20th, 1941 Wally completed his O.T.U. course and in the process added an additional 99 hours to his logbook giving him a total of 118 hours of flight time. The R.A.F. granted him 10 days’ leave and issued him orders to join an operational squadron.

Flying Log Book

Wally’s Flying Log Book whilst at OTU reads as follows:

….. and more for the album

This picture taken on 21-2-41 at snowy Cottesmore is of 14 OTU personnel in course No. 24 from 14-2-41 to 20-6-41.

Back row left to right: – Pullen, Layne, Jackson, Matthews, Smith, Wrigley, Mossop, Voysey, Thomson, Welford.

Third row left to right: – Dundas, Britt, Barley, Lord, Nicholl, Bradley, Mitchell, Norris, Matthews.

The second row left to right: – Ringwood, Bartlett, Tate, Grahame, Brister, King, Peace, Bousfield, Busley, Murray.

Front row left to right: – Scott, Watt, Walters, White, Meddon, Morris.


Back row left to right.  Edward Pullen became a Wing Commander, killed in action 20 December 1943 when serving with 50 Squadron.  My father (Layne) completed a tour with 50 Squadron and a tour with 97 Squadron and survived the war. Welford went to 50 Squadron and survived the war.  I believe the airman back row, third from left is Israel Jacobovitch who served under the name of Jackson. He was lost on his second operation, to Bremen, 9 days after joining 50 Squadron in Hampden AE 226.  On Jackson’s left (our right) is A/G John Matthews of 144 Squadron.  He survived the war.

The third row, the extreme left-hand side is Sgt Bruce Dundas (Lord Dundas of Orkney). Killed 24/02/1942 144 Squadron.   Lord Dundas Of Orkney was shot down by a member of the German nobility, Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weißenfeld.   http://ww2db.com/person_bio.php?person_id=692.  On the same row George Hosford Bradley was killed 28/8/1941 when his 14 OTU  aircraft exploded in mid-flight when on a cross country.

Second row, Bousfield, third from right was lost with his crew consisting of Sgt. E R. Bousfield, Sgt. J E S. Burke, F/S. J H. Tittley, and AC1.H L. Reed on 19th July 1941. 50 Squadron moved from Lindholme to Swinderby and the squadron departed Lindholme in formation. Shortly after takeoff Hampden AD 897 rolled onto it’s back and flew inverted for a few seconds before diving into the ground killing Sgt. Bousfield and crew.  

I believe Thompson was killed in the crash of Hampden AE394.


I know nothing of the others in the photograph and would welcome any information about them.

On completion of O.T.U. and prior to joining 50 Squadron, these airmen visited  “The Parklands” Boultham Park Road,  Lincoln in June of 1941. From left to right are pictured “Wally” Layne (my father), “Woof” Welford, “Johnnie” Tytherleigh (with pipe) and Stuart Hobson.


Wally and Johnnie completed their tours with 50 Squadron. Wally moving onto 97 Squadron was shot down 23 September 1943, captured and taken prisoner he survived the war.

Johnnie went to 617 Squadron and was lost on the Dams Raid.  Johnnie was the front gunner for S/L Maudsley in Lancaster ED937 (AJ-Z).

Woof Welford completed his tour with 50 Squadron.  He then went to Swinderby and converted to Lancasters until Aug ’42, Wigsley on Lanc’s until Feb ’43 then onto 57 Squadron Scampton until Aug ’43 when he went to India until Nov ’44 then changed to 276 Squadron in Belgium in ’45 on Airsea Rescue on Walrus’s.

Stuart Hobson was killed on 5th of April 1943 when serving with 9 Squadron.  His aircraft was Lancaster III, ED696 coded WS-T and took off from Waddington to bomb Kiel.  It was shot down by a night-fighter and crashed at 23.50 at Grossenaspe, 10 km south of Neumunster where the crew was buried on the 8th of April.

Another picture was taken at “The Parklands” in the summer of ’41. From left to right,  Stuart Hobson an Unknown Soldier and Woof Welford

From left to right.  The landlady’s daughter, Hobson, Welford, Tytherleigh, Betty Cargill the Landlady of the “The Parklands” and Wally’s fiance Joan Maunders.  Wally probably took the photograph or was getting the drinks in, most likely the latter

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