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15 October 2014
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HMS Godwit Recalled

by ruthpeplow

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Ron Swinn and Peter Sirett
Location of story: 
RAF Peplow
Background to story: 
Fleet Air Arm
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
03 February 2004

HMS Godwit recalled

1. by Chief Petty Officer Ron Swinn

I was stationed at Eaton upon Tern from August 1946 to January 1947, the RAF had left by then. The Fleet Air Arm took RAF Peplow over as RNAS Hinstock and in Naval manner it was named HMS Godwit. The CO gave orders that any married personnel could use the deserted buildings as Sub-Standard Married Quarters. My wife, son and daughter lived in the Regulating Office on the WAAF sub-site - away from the main camp. The children had a fine time playing around the deserted camp. Some of our chaps lived in the old NAAFI buildings.

My children went to the local school, transported by a Naval utility van (a Tilly) driven by a WREN. The village bus used to call in on our site to pick up my wife to take her shopping in local towns and deliver her back again, a very personal service indeed.

I was in charge of a Lancaster bomber, an ex-Canadian Air Force Squadron NG232. This we converted into a 'Flying Classroom' for RN Observers. We could take up a dozen or so at a time, as against two in an Oxford or an Anson aircraft. This 'Flying Classroom' was a casualty of a stupid young Sub.Lt. whilst I was doing maintenance on a fuel tank between the two engines on the port wing. The aircraft had been jacked up to take the weight off it whilst I removed a large piece the size of two house doors. I left the aircraft thus whilst I went to RAF Cosford for a spare fuel tank. When I returned the Sub.Lt had moved the Lancaster to get his car into the hangar! This move had twisted the spar making it bend out of shape, the aircraft was 'written off' never to fly again.

The main camp was at Hinstock and I recall a couple of Naval airmen stealing the Station fire engine to transport them into town but 'pranged' it on their way back - I believe it made the local papers at the time.

I stayed until the RN closed the Station down in 1947, it was a very pleasant posting in all respects and I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful area. Sadly I have no photographs of my stay there.

2. by Instrument Flying Instructor Peter Sirett, 758 Squadron

I was stationed at Hinstock and moved to RAF Peplow which the Fleet Air Arm took over in about February 1945. I can remember at one time being quartered in one of Hinstock Hall stables with four other chaps. The manger was still in place but it was very comfortable, there was even a wash basin, which was almost civilised!

The only local pub I can remember visiting was the Four Crosses at Hinstock. We had few means of transport except bicycles but recreational transport was supplied occasionally to visit the cinema at RAF Tern Hill and they in turn visited ours when we had occupied Peplow. An interesting outcome of these visits to Tern Hill was that we unofficially found their low flying area boundaries and we could then indulge in an exhilarating change from instrument flying. This could be only carried out after we had been equipped with the same Harvard aircraft as Tern Hill so we would not be noticed!!

Sometimes, if we were free, we would walk to our nearest bus stop on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday and take a trip into nearby Market Drayton. The local private Butters coach company at Childs Ercall ran daily to Wellington and their evening service was well used. The return journey after the cinemas and pubs closed was quite unforgettable, no one was ever left behind, so you can imagine what it was like, a gallon into a pint pot not a quart! I remember four of us going up the Wrekin one weekend and managing to get a welcome cup of tea at the cafe there. I don't think it was really open but whoever was there kindly obliged. Mostly we stayed in the Mess in the evenings as flying instructing was quite tiring and we had night flying as well.

My wife was a WREN aircraft mechanic at Hinstock and Peplow. The saying was that we, the pilots, broke them (the aircraft) and they mended them. When we were both off duty on a Saturday or Sunday we would go to the cinema but always had to leave before the end of the main film to ensure she was back in Quarters on time. These days we watch some of the old films on TV just to see the endings! We were married after my demob in 1946.

After VE Day our flying intensified in preparation for the assault on Japan. We expanded by sending a detached flight to Henstridge and also to Australia, I went to Henstridge.

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Message 1 - HMS Godwit recalled

Posted on: 03 February 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear ruthpeplow

These are two excellent contributions from Chief Petty Officer Ron Swinn and from Instrument Flying Instructor Peter Sirett of 758 Squadron.

Both accounts are full of absorbing detail. Good work Ruth!


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