Wireless School (06/40)

Preparation at RAF Cardington (14 June 1940)

On 14th June 1940, Wally was called off-reserve status and requested to attend Number 2 Reception Centre at RAF Cardington.

Here he underwent a further series of medicals, including a very personal physical by the Medical Officer to determine if he was F.F.I. (Free From Infections). He also received a series of injections, inoculations and a short back and sides. Wally Layne was now Aircraftman Second Class (AC2), service number 963102.

The new trainee received his initial kit issue which consisted of uniforms, boots, mess tins, knife, fork and spoon and a large enameled tin mug. They were also provided with a cardboard box to send their civilian clothes to their next of kin.

Posting to No. 2 Electrical and Wireless School at RAF Yatesbury (17 June 1940)

On 17th June 1940 Wally was posted to R.A.F. Yatesbury Air Operating Section No. 2 Electrical and Wireless School, where he began his Wireless Operator/Air Gunner training.

R.A.F. Yatesbury was one of the many Initial Training Wings (I.T.W.) in which prospective air crew members learned basic service skills and their trade.

The new recruits learned to endure the unrelenting military discipline of a training unit. They were taught the history and traditions of the Air Force and its laws, the ranking system, and who and how to salute.  They were also instructed in the use of a rifle.

“Square bashing,” daily P.T. sessions and cross country runs all supervised by shouting Drill Sergeants were experienced by the new recruits. Bad food and “Spud Bashing” were the order of the day for the trainees.

Wireless Course (Classroom Training)

He and his fellow students attended classes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week learning the theory of wireless and how to maintain and operate various types of wireless sets to include the Marconi R1155 receiver and T1154 transmitter.

They were educated in ground school classrooms where they were taught to master morse code and how to transmit and receive messages. A competitive system was set up between the students.

A trainee sitting at a table would strive to achieve a standard set at six words per minute in the sending and receiving of morse code. The students stayed at that table until they met the criteria that was set for that table. They then moved on to another table demanding eight words per minute and so on until reaching the required twelve words per minute.

Additionally in the event of a wireless failure, the Wireless Operator was taught the use of the Aldis signaling lamp for visual communication in morse code.

“Sparks and Harwell boxes”

Trainee Wireless Operators learning their trade in the “Sparks and Harwell boxes” at Yatesbury

Wireless Course (Aerial Training)

 The De Havilland Dominie aircraft was used for their aerial training. From October 19th 1940 to November 8th 1940 Wally Layne made four flights in the Dominie piloted by civilian employees of the Bristol Aircraft Company. These experienced civilian pilots were over age for R.A.F. service and were part of the “Yatesbury Wireless Flight” contracted by the Air Ministry.

De Havilland Dominies from R.A.F. Yatesbury.

The four flights that Wally undertook totaled 3.30 hours of flight time and were logged as “Air Experience.” During these flights the student airmen were introduced to radio receiver training. They sent and received messages from base and practiced the art of transmitter tuning by calibration and back tuning to the transmitter.

Wally’s Flying Log Book for his time at Wireless School reads as follows:

Qualifying as a Wireless Operator (4th December 1940)

Wally Layne qualified as a Wireless Operator on December 4th 1940, with the ability to transmit morse code at 18 words per minute.

 …. and one for the album

Four young trainee airmen pose for the camera in November 1940 at Yatesbury.

On the immediate right is presumably an instructor, probably Mr. Norman or Mr. Griffiths. Second from right is Walter Layne the remaining trainees are known only as Kevin, Ray and Frank, in no particular order.     

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